The Battle of Hatcher’s Run, Feb. 5-7, 1865: A Reading Guide

   

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in Eighth Offensive

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The Battle of Hatcher’s Run Series:

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A Reading Guide to the Battle of Hatcher’s Run

(in the Absence of a Published Battle Study)

During my recent studies on the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, fought 150 years ago this week from February 5-7, 1865, I came to realize that those seeking to study this phase of the Siege of Petersburg really don’t have one volume they can go to which focuses exclusively on the Eighth Offensive and its only major battle.  Instead, many good books on the Siege of Petersburg contain sections ranging from a massive chapter (Ed Bearss/Bryce Suderow) to several pages (Earl H. Hess).  The late Art Bergeron also penned an article for America’s Civil War for their March 2003 issue.  Jim Epperson has a really nice intro to the battle on his own Siege of Petersburg site, one of the inspirations for The Siege of Petersburg Online.  The Official Records contain dozens of pages on the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, and I’ve read through all of them.  As a result of my studies, I’ve decided to post a lengthy list of books, articles, web pages and other items which focus on this little known battle and will allow you as an interested reader to learn all you need to know until a proper battle study comes along.

18650225HarpersWeeklyP116HatchersRun1SecDiv5thCorpsFeb5

Books, Articles, and Web Sites on the Battle of Hatcher’s Run

 

18650225HarpersWeeklyP116HatchersRun2FirstDiv5thCorpsFeb7

 

Reports from the Official Records: OR Vol. XVLI, Part 1

 

Reports from the Official Records: OR Vol. LI, Part 1

 

 

Other Reports on the Battle of Hatcher’s Run

 

Correspondence from the Battle of Hatcher’s Run: OR Vol. XLVI, Part 2

UNION

  • Jan. 31:
    • First reference is a dispatch from Grant to Parke asking him to have the AotP ready to move at a moment’s notice. (314) Earlier, Grant had been given info that Mahone’s Division had left and gone south.
    • Parke asked to estimate what portion of his troops would need to be left behind to hold the fortified lines around Petersburg (315)
    • Second Corps issues orders to be ready to move at moment’s notice (316)
    • Grant asks Ord to “prepare your troops with six days’ rations, four of them in haversacks, from Thursday next, preparatory to moving with all available forces at that time.” (318)
    • Strength of AotP by Corps on Jan. 31, 1865 (324)
  • Feb. 1:
    • Second corps issues orders to division commanders to be ready to move at a moment’s notice, and to have six days’ rations on hand. (345)
    • Sixth corps issues same order as Second corps (346)
  • Feb. 2:
    • Grant asks Ord to check out the possibility of Kautz’s cavalry moving around Confederate left “from the Nine Mile Road into the city”, and talks of backing him up with a corps from the AotP if the weather holds. (356)
  • Feb. 3:
    • Ord asked Kautz about Grant’s message of day before to “stir him up” (363-364)
  • Feb. 4:
    • Grant writes to Stanton to tell him he’d like to have Schofield w/ Terry move first before trying to force Lee out of Richmond. (365)
    • Grant to Stanton telling him Gregg has been ordered to “move down the Weldon road” to break up Rebel supply wagons with an infantry corps ordered to Stony Creek in support. (366)
    • Grant to Meade, Feb. 4: telling Meade the object of the Eighth Offensive, Meade’s slight tweaks to plan follows (367-368)
    • Meade tells Grant cav will move at 3 a.m. and infantry to follow at 7 a.m. Butler’s division of cavalry (correctly) reported to have left the area for North Carolina (368)
    • Grant asks if Gregg can go to Belfield, it’s possible he can destroy a lot of supplies given that Rooney Lee’s division is the last one left to Lee at the moment (368)
    • Meade forwards Grant’s question to Gregg and asks him to do as Grant says and head to Belfield if contraband info makes the trip seem worthwhile (369)
    • Meade replies that Gregg has been told to head to Belfield after getting to Dinwiddie CH IF he finds evidence making the trip is worth the risk (369)
    • Grant asks Meade if he will be at AotP HQ on Feb. 5. If so, Grant would like to see him and will be taking his wife.  Meade replies he will be out the Vaughan Road near the expected action.  Grant says, go be with your troops, we’ll do it another day. (369)
    • Intel info reinforces that Butler’s cavalry division has left for North Carolina. (370)
    • AotP Circular (370-371):
      • Gregg to start at 3 am and to Ream’s Station and then on to the Boydton Plank Road (which way?), to capture as many enemy supply wagons as possible.
      • Waren starts at 7 am and heads to “a point designated as J Hargrave’s house, on the road leading from Rowanty Post-Office to Dinwiddie Court-House.”
      • Humphreys to take two of his divisions to the Vaughan Road crossing of Hatcher’s Run near Armstrong’s Mill, keeping a connection with the established Union fortifications to the right and Warren to the left to prevent any Confederate flanking attacks they favored so much during the Siege.
      • Ninth and Sixth Corps to be ready to send help if needed.
    • Meade’s Chief of Staff Alexander S. Webb instructs A. A. Humphreys to take the two divisions which aren’t on the line, which means Smyth and Mott, with four days’ rations and 50 rounds of amo. They haggle over the exact nature of the rations, and Humphreys asks if he should bring intrenching tools. (371)
    • Specific orders to Humphreys’ Second Corps on what they are to do on Feb. 5. Leave at 7 am and hold Vaughan Road crossing of HR and Armstonrg’s Mill. Take two batteries of artillery (which ones?) (372)
    • Humphreys asks Webb and Meade if one medicine and one hospital wagon should go with each brigade. He also says he has gotten three batteries ready instead of two, and could take all three. (372)
    • Second Corps circular detailing line of march and specific instructions (373-374)
    • Humphreys to Miles, whose division is staying behind (374)
    • Humphreys sends another circular telling Smyth and Mott what to take with them on the march. (375)
    • Orders to Smyth’s Div. from 2nd Corps HQ (375)
    • Smyth’s 2nd, 2nd Corps has a march order by brigade of First, Second, Third. (376)
    • Orders to Mott’s Div. from 2nd Corps HQ (376)
    • Mott sends a circular to his 3rd 2nd Corps, with order of march being First Brigade, BG Regis de Trobriand, then Roder’s btty, then Second Brigade, Bvt BG West (who?, find out), then Third Brigade, Bvt BG McAllister; then ambulances, spring wagons, ammunition train. (376)
    • Mott to his Frist Brigade commander at 11 pm (376-377)
    • HQ AotP to Warren instructing him to move with 4 days’ rations and 50 rounds of ammo on the person, 40 in wagons (377)
    • Warren asks if he can move down Halifax Road to Rowanty Post-Office, then to take the direct road to the crossing of Rowanty Creek at W. Perkins’. He says it shorter than going to Reams’ Station. (377)
    • AotP HQ agrees with Warren and changes his instructions accordingly, telling him what the other pieces of the operation will be doing. (377-378)
    • Warren asks if he can just leave his 1400 man picket force on the picket line, and AotP HQ defers to his judgment on the question. (378)
    • 5th Corps Circular telling his commands to be ready to move. Sent at 1:30 pm on Feb. 4 (378)
    • More detailed 5th Corps circular setting the march order and what to take with them. March order: First, Ayres’ Division, Second, Griffin’s Division, then three batteries (which ones?), Third, Crawford’s Division, Fourth, ambulances, Fifth, reserve ammo wagons. (379)
    • 1st, V Corps circular tells the three brigade commanders what to bring with them. (379)
    • Message to Gregg from AotP HQ telling Gregg to bring 3 days’ rations for his men and 1.5 days’ forage for the horses. (380)
    • AotP HQ sends specific orders to Gregg (380-381)
    • Gregg reports intel from a deserter saying Mahone’s Division had just been headed to Belfield. (381)
    • A contraband is sent to Gen. Gregg with valuable information, and also to act as a guide. (382)
    • 2nd Div. orders from Gregg to his brigade commanders at 8:50 pm on Feb. 4. March order, moving at 3 am: First, 2nd Brig., second, 3rd Brig., third, ½ of the ambulances of the division, fourth, 1st Brig. They would move down JPR to Gary’s Church, then to Ream’s Station, at which point Gregg would verbally give further orders.  Forage for horses would travel with Warren’s Corps at 7 am and stay with him for protection.  Third Brigade to detail one cavalry regiment to stay with Warren and to report to him at 6 am, one hour before the infantry move. (382)
    • Gregg to his brother J. I. Gregg about his pickets. (382)
  • Feb. 5:
    • Grant to Halleck at 10:30 pm telling him Gregg’s Cavalry went to Dinwiddie CH after meeting “but little opposition.” Gregg captured 18 wagons and 50 prisoners, but didn’t go to Belfield.  Warren moved at 7 am to get to Stony Creek and also met “but little opposition,” capturing 30 prisoners.  Humphreys moved on the Vaughan Road to crossing of Hatcher’s Run and was attacked late in the afternoon, repulsing every attack.  Grant not sure on what the casualties are yet. (388)
    • Meade to Grant, Crossing of Hatcher’s run by Vaughan Road, Feb. 5, 2:30 pm (sent 3 pm) Humphreys reached his assigned points by 10 am, capturing nine prisoners from Pegram’s Division. At the time of the letter, Humphreys is sending troops down Vaughan Road to connect with Warren.  Warren crossed most of infantry (over Hatcher’s Run) by 1 pm, would have to build a 50 foot bridge to get over wagons and artillery, and hoped to be fully over by 3 pm. Nothing heard yet from Gregg. Meade believes from prisoner reports that Confederates are attempting to get between Warren and Humphreys, a gap of four miles at that point in time.  Meade sent up one of Parke’s Divisions, Hartranft’s, to be available to help close that gap if needed. (395)
    • Meade to Grant, Crossing of Hatcher’s run by Vaughan Road, Feb. 5, 6:15 pm (sent 7:10 pm) Humphreys was attacked on his right at 5:15 pm on Feb. 5, with Humphreys repulsing all attacks. Meade had ordered up Hartranft from IX Corps and Wheaton from VI Corps to come to Humphreys’ aid.  Warren had reached his objective of J. Hargrave’s house without ever even meeting the Confederates.  Gregg had been to Dinwiddie CH and returned to Hatcher’s Run by the Malone Road.  Meade ordered Gregg to move to Warren’s position.  Meade suspects the enemy is trying to cut off the expedition from the permanent Union works.  Deserters were reporting the divisions of Pegram and Gordon (Evans’) from Second Corps and Heth and Mahone from Third Corps (all correct info).  Meade says he will leave Humphreys and Warren in place overnight. (389)
    • Grant to Meade, City Point, Feb. 5, 7:15 pm Grant indicates he received Meade’s 6:45 dispatch. Grant asks Meade to “bring Warren and the cavalry back” and to see if the enemy attacks on Humphreys’ right lead to an opportunity to reach the South Side Railroad, or “a positions from which it can be reached.” (390)
    • Meade to Grant, Crossing of Hatcher’s run by Vaughan Road, Feb. 5, 8 pm (sent 8:22 pm) Meade says he has withdrawn Warren and Gregg to near the Hatcher’s Run crossing of Vaughan Road to consolidate, pulling one of the three V Corps divisions over to the north side to provide a reserve for Humphreys. He has asked Humphreys to attack if it makes sense to do so.  Meade doubts the ability to reach the SS RR or even Boydton Plank Road “without a flank movement considerably to the left.” (390)
    • Meade to Grant, HQ AotP, Feb. 5, 9:30 pm (sent 10 pm) seems to be outdated by a day. This order doesn’t make sense on the night of Feb. 5.  It looks like it should have been Feb. 4.  (390)
    • Meade to Grant, HQ AotP, Feb. 5, 10 pm Meade tells Grant that upon arriving at AotP HQ he found a dispatch from Gregg, and that a staff officer who came from Warren told him that reports there from Gregg indicated his rear guard may have gotten cut off. Meade tells Grant he is worried that the Confederate cavalry will get between Gregg and Warren, cutting Gregg off entirely, and then getting onto the road Warren had used to advance.  He asked Gregg to keep that road open and protect Warren’s left, or southern, flank. (390-391)
    • Grant to Meade, City Point, Feb. 5, (Received 10:25 pm) Grant asks Meade to give him a report of the locations of his troops and the enemy’s, and to tell Grant what Meade proposes for the next day. Grant wants Meade to stay and fight. (391)
    • Meade to Grant, HQ AotP, Feb. 5, 10:30 pm (sent 11:15 pm) Meade goes over the events of February 5, telling Grant he will attack the Confederates in the morning if they venture outside their trenches. (391-392)
    • S. Webb orders out the “Provisional brigade” (I think) commanded by Andrew H. Tippin of the 68th Pa. See the recent report you pulled out of this correspondence volume of the ORs.  Order is forwarded to Tippin. (392)
    • Union signal corps reports for Feb. 5 (393-395)
    • Alex S. Webb orders up the Engineer Brigade at 1:10 pm on Feb. 5 to report to Gen. Parke, presumably to help him man the defenses in the absence of Hartranft. (395)
    • Second Corps correspondence on Feb. 5 (396-400)
    • Fifth Corps correspondence on Feb. 5 (400-404)
    • Sixth Corps correspondence on Feb. 5 (404-407)
    • Ninth Corps correspondence on Feb. 5 (407-409)
    • Second Cav. Div. correspondence on Feb. 5 (409-410)
  • Feb. 6:
    • Grant and DC correspondence Feb. 6 (414-416)
    • Grant and Meade correspondence Feb. 6 (416-418)
    • Union signal corps reports for Feb. 6 (418-421)
    • Second Corps correspondence on Feb. 6 (422-430)
    • Fifth Corps correspondence on Feb. 6 (430-436)
    • Sixth Corps correspondence on Feb. 6 (436-437)
    • Ninth Corps correspondence on Feb. 6 (438-439)
    • Second Cav. Div. correspondence on Feb. 6 (439)
  • Feb. 7:
    • Grant and DC correspondence Feb. 7 (445-447)
    • Grant and Meade correspondence Feb. 7 (447-450)
    • Union signal corps reports for Feb. 7 N/A
    • Second Corps correspondence on Feb. 7 (450-453)
    • Fifth Corps correspondence on Feb. 7 (454-461)
    • Sixth Corps correspondence on Feb. 7 (461-463)
    • Ninth Corps correspondence on Feb. 7 (463-464)
    • Second Cav. Div. correspondence on Feb. 7 (464-466)
  • Feb. 8:
    • Grant and DC correspondence Feb. 8 (473-476)
    • Grant and Meade correspondence Feb. 8 (476-479)
    • Union signal corps reports for Feb. 8 N/A
    • Second Corps correspondence on Feb. 8 (479-485)
    • Fifth Corps correspondence on Feb. 8 (485-490)
    • Sixth Corps correspondence on Feb. 8 (490-493)
    • Ninth Corps correspondence on Feb. 8 (493)
    • Second Cav. Div. correspondence on Feb. 8 (494)
    • Meade to Ord, Feb 8 (494-495)

CONFEDERATE

  • Feb. 1: (1188-1191)
  • Feb. 2: (1192-1193)
  • Feb. 3: (1193-1198)
  • Feb. 4: (1199-1204)
  • Feb. 5: (1204-1205)
    • Lee to Cooper, Feb. 5 (Received 2:45 pm) Lee informed Cooper that the Union army, likely 2nd and 5th Corps, had crossed Hatcher’s run on the Vaughan Road with cavalry, and that Lee was “preparing to meet them.” (1204)
    • Taylor (Lee) to Pendleton (probably near the same time as previous dispatch) Taylor tells Pendleton of the Union movement and asks him to have the artillery along the lines ready for any attacks (1204)
    • Dunn (Longstreet) to Kershaw, Benning, G. W. C. Lee, and A. C. Haskell (i.e. troops north of James River), telling them that Lee anticipates a Federal move on his left too, just as they had done several times in previous offensives. (1204)
    • Taylor (Lee) to Grimes (11 pm) Lee reports (correctly) to Grimes, commanding a Second Corps division, that the Union cavalry went to Dinwiddie CH and then retired, so Grimes doesn’t need to head in that direction any longer. (1205)
  • Feb. 6: (1205-1208)
    • Lee to Cooper (no time, presumably late in the day) Lee describes the Union movements of February 5-6, 1865 from the Confederate perspective as well as the fighting which had occurred on the 5-6. (1206)
    • Longstreet to Lee (no time) Longstreet tells Lee there are no indications the Union had also moved on the north side of the James in this case. (1206)
    • Longstreet to Taylor (Lee) Tells Lee that a deserter reported (false) part of the Second Corps crossed over to the north side of the James on Feb. 5. (1207)
    • Latrobe (Longstreet) to Benning (no time) Longstreet tells Benning that the Union tried to cross White Oak Swamp, and that Gary’s Cavalry has been ordered to stop such attempts going forward. (1207)
    • Bushrod Johnson to R. R. Duncan (presumably Anderson’s 4th Corps AAG) (no time) Reports new Union troops on the line in front of Wise’s brigade. (1207)
    • Latrobe (Longstreet) to Gary (no time) Longstreet tells Gary to resist attempts by the Union to force crossings of White Oak Swamp, and to call on Confederate infantry if necessary. (1207)
  • Feb. 7: (1208-1209)
    • Longstreet to Taylor (Lee) (no time) Longstreet tells Lee he has learned the Army of the James has written orders to have four days’ cooked rations on hand, presumably for a sudden movement if necessary. (1209)
    • Latrobe (Longstreet) to G. W. C. Lee at Chaffin’s Bluff (no time) Longstreet tells G. W. C. Lee that he needs to hurry up the bombproofs on his portion of the line north of the James River. (1209)
    • Bushrod Johnson to Duncan (presumably Anderson’s 4th Corps AAG) (no time) Johnson indicates that thirteen of his wagons were captured by Gregg’s cavalry near Dinwiddie CH on the Boydton Plank Road on Feb. 5. (1209)
  • Feb. 8: (1209-1210)
    • Lee to SoW Seddon (no time) Lee pens a lengthy dispatch to Secretary of War Seddon telling him what happened from Feb. 5-7, 1865. He tells Seddon something must be done about the supply issues, and recommends a reorg of the commissary dept. before a disaster occurs. (1209-1210)

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John Horn February 29, 2016 at 10:56 pm

Hi.

In your timeline around Jan. 31, you have as false Grant’s information that Mahone’s Division had gone on a march south. On the contrary, the information was true. Mahone’s Division headed southwest on Boydton Plank Road Jan. 24. It reached a point several miles east of the junction of Boydton Plank Road and Lawrenceville Plank Road Jan. 27. It arrived back in Petersburg Jan. 31. The men thought the movement was in response to a rumored raid on Weldon. John F. Sale Diary, John F. Sale Papers, Virginia State Library, Richmond, Virginia.

Brett Schulte March 1, 2016 at 6:54 am

Thanks John. I don’t even recall what led me to put false in parentheses above. I’ll make that change when I get home from work tonkght.

Brett

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