As we draw nearer to the start of the Overland Campaign during the spring of 1864, I thought it would be useful to present the second part of the uniquely interesting story of Private William H. E. Mott. I gave you the first part of this story, An Orphan’s War – Part 1, August 23, 2013, and it might be helpful to read that post again before delving into this second part. Note: The material below is from background material included in The Diary of a Dead Man, 1862-1864, the unedited diary and letters of Private Ira Pettit, compiled by J. P. Ray. Mott was instrumental in preserving Pettit’s diary for Pettit’s parents.
Returns of the Fourteenth Regiment, Connecticut Infantry (Co. F), acknowledged that Private William E. Mott was gained as a recruit at Cedar Run, Virginia, on August 11, 1863. The gaps left in the Union Army at Gettysburg were being filled.
During September, 1863, the Fourteenth Regiment advanced from the Rappahannock to the Rapidan. It participated in the Bristoe Campaign in October and the Mine Run Campaign in late November and early December. After those affrays it remained at Stevensburg, Virginia, until April, 1864. In the comparative calm of winter quarters during late February, 1864, Private Mott contracted a case of measles.
Grant’s Army of the Potomac started on its journey to Appomattox one early morning in May, 1864, although at the moment it was unaware of its exact and final destination. This army, whose polish paled the morning dew that rolled truculently off its boots and lay the early morning’s dust, began its journey through a thick, second growth forest in search of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
Beyond that wilderness, Robert E. Lee, whose army had been washed in its own blood, seasoned by the salt of its own tears, and inspired by its own history, would not wait for the sophisticated and manicured Army of the Potomac. With the speed and agility of a moccasin in water, Lee’s army plunged into this wilderness to meet that army and to fight it wherever it was found.
In the bloody and fiery confusion that came to be known as the Battles of the Wilderness, William H. E. Mott became disconnected from the Army of the Potomac. Various records of the Fourteenth Regiment recorded various theories of his departure. On May 4 he was reported to have deserted on the march, and on May 6 it was recorded that he deserted at Wilderness. Finally, the company muster rolls stated that he was taken prisoner at the Battles of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864, thereby accounting for him, statistically, from desertion.
Wherever and whatever the circumstances of his departure from the Fourteenth Regiment, the Rebels took possession of his corporal limits at Wilderness/ Fredericksburg, Virginia, on May 8, 1864. Private Mott was confined at Richmond, Virginia, on May 9, 1864, and on June 8, 1864, he was sent to the Andersonville Stockade, Camp Sumter, Georgia. Confederate records do not provide any information concerning the terms, time, place or manner under which they dismissed William Mott from their custody.
Note: Yes, there will be a Part 3 to Private Mott’s story. Look for it next fall or winter.