1Lt WILLIAM H. APPLETON
Co. H, 4th U.S. Colored Troops
15 June 1864
Over 10,000 Union Soldiers assaulted Confederate defensive works at New Market Heights, Va. Amongst them were 3800 Men of the 4th U.S. Colored Troops along with other USCT units were the first to breach confederate works.
Leading them from the front was 1lt W.H. Appleton.
Appleton was the first man of the Eighteenth Corps to enter the enemy’s works at Petersburg and the first man to reach and breach the confederate lines in full view of other Union troops inspiring then to drive forward.
The men of the USCT took the confederate works and captured Confederate entrenchments, artillery positions, and cannons. They could have easily held them but for the mismanagement of the battle at the command level.
Unfortunately in an act recorded as “unspeakable stupidity” the Union Command hesitated and didn’t reinforce colored troops’ positions giving the Confederates a chance to counter-attack with a superior force. The men of the Fourth Negro Troops stood their ground and fought.
– So began the 9 months of hell history records as the Siege of Petersburg.