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The 7th New York Heavy Artillery had five commanders. The third one died in a ditch. His name was Edward Springsteed. Unlike most soldiers attached to the 7th New York Heavy Artillery, he was an old hand at war.  During the war’s first summer, he received a commission as first lieutenant, Company D, 43rd New York Infantry. He served during the Peninsula Campaign, fighting at Lee’s Mill, Williamsburg, Goulding’s Farm, Savage’s Station, White Oak Swamp Bridge, and Malvern Hill. During the summer of 1862, Lieutenant Springsteed resigned his commission and returned to Albany to help raise the 113th New York, a story that I described in my earlier post. Although he was only twenty-two-years old, Springsteed’s extensive combat experience made him a shoe-in for field command. He mustered in as major and took command of one of the regiment’s three battalions. After the 113th was sent to Tennallytown and converted into heavy artillery, Springsteed assumed command of Fort DeRussy.  During that attack, Major Springsteed led the right-most battalion of the 7th New York, the one that was supposed to connect with the Irish Brigade. When the Irish Brigade fled the field in disorder, Major Springsteed was compelled to halt his battalion in a gulch on the opposite side of Harrison’s Creek. The heavy artillerymen tried to weaken the Confederate position with their firepower, but with the Irish Brigade in full retreat, the regiment’s decision to halt just made it a tempting target for Colonel John Fulton’s Tennessee brigade, which eventually left its earthworks to encircle the stranded heavy artillerymen. As Major Springsteed recalled it, his troops had not halted for long when he was struck by a Confederate musket ball. As he wrote to his father, “I supposed at first that it was one of our own men in the rear trying to fire over us, but I soon found out that the enemy had got around our right flank, and were firing at us from the rear.”The ball hurt Springsteed, but it did not disable him. The unfriendly projectile struck him in the small of his back. Coming from the right side, it clipped his belt, cutting off his pistol and holster, and then dug into his flesh before bouncing off into the gulch. Still, Springsteed realized he had escaped death through a little bit of luck. A narrow inch of metal had saved his life. The hostile bullet had glanced off a small brass ring attached to Springsteed’s sword belt—where the scabbard’s straps hooked into the belt—preventing the ball from ripping into his spine, “in which case,” Springsteed wrote to his father, “I should probably not have been writing this letter now.”   Major Edward Springsteed fell during the last enemy charge. I have yet to stumble onto an account that describes his final moments, but apparently, a bullet felled him just as his line gave way, and the last that anyone saw of him, he was lying in a pit, mortally wounded. The 7th New York’s second-in-command, Major Joseph Murphy, directed Quartermaster-Sergeant William O’Brien to stay with Springsteed. As the rebels surged over the line, both men were captured. Springsteed died before the end of the day. O’Brien was sent to the prison camp at Salisbury, North Carolina. Eventually, he died there on January 18, 1865.

Rare Lg Albumen Major Edward Springsteed 7th NYHA KIA

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