The Siege of Petersburg in Early September 1864 by Bryce Suderow

   

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SOPO Editor’s Note: No one I have come into contact with has been as invaluable to me when creating this web site as author and researcher Bryce Suderow.  He knows as much about the Siege of Petersburg as any person living.  It is with great pleasure that I introduce a guest post Bryce created on the Siege of Petersburg in early September 1864.  The Federals have just won the Battle of Globe Tavern from August 18-21, 1864, and are busily consolidating their gains into a new line of rectangular fortifications. Meanwhile, Confederate Cavalry probes this new line for weakness, while Confederate infantry wearily digs a new line to the west to protect the Boydton Plank Road.  By mid-September, the Union forces send out a brigade sized recon mission to scout in the direction of Poplar Springs Church.  Only two weeks after this recon mission, Grant would launch the Fifth Offensive against Petersburg.

MILITARY OPERATIONS AT PETERSBURG: SEPTEMBER 1-18, 1864

by Bryce Suderow1

Grant decided to hold the Weldon Railroad.  This meant the army needed to build a line of works that spanned the four miles between the railroad and the Jerusalem Plank Road.  On August 23rd using laborers from Crawford’s division Warren began constructing a permanent line by building Fort Wadsworth, located west of the Halifax Road and the Weldon Railroad.  The IX Army Corps constructed forts along its front between the Weldon Railroad and the Strong House.  The II Corps built forts between the Jerusalem Plank Road and the Strong house which was one third of the way between the road and the railroad.2

South of the new north-facing line of forts, the federals also built a line of forts facing south that spanned the distance between the railroad and the Jerusalem Plank Road.  This was called the Secondary Line.  Warren began the work on this line by constructing Fort Dushane.  The black division of the IX Corps constructed this line.  On September 6 the 2nd Brigade 3rd Division V Corps “Moved out at 5.30 a. m. and built breast-works to connect with the works of Ninth Corps at the Gurley house.”3 The two lines of new Union forts formed a four mile long rectangle.  At the western end the rectangle was one mile from north to south.  At the eastern end the rectangle measured two miles from north to south.  Within this rectangle was the main east-west road, a new railroad from City Point (which got as far as Warren’s headquarters at Globe Tavern on Sept. 11)4, and the camps of the Union infantry.  A Union cavalry picket line guarded the approaches to the northern line of forts.  Another cavalry picket line guarded the approaches to the southern line of forts.

The east face of the Dimmock Line stretched south from the Appomattox River to Rives Salient.  It was defended up to the Crater by the two divisions from Lt. Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard’s Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia.  Robert Hoke’s division held the left and Bushrod Johnson’s division held the right up to just north of the Crater.  The ground between the Crater and the Rives Salient was defended by two of Heth’s brigades under Generals John R. Cooke and Joseph Davis.  The four battalions of Col. Hilary P. Jones’ artillery brigade provided fire support for the infantry,

Opposite them was the X Corps from Butler’s Army of the James and Hancock’s II Army Corps.  The X Corps occupied the line between the Appomattox and the Norfolk Railroad.5

The line held by Mott’s division of the II Corps rested its right on the Norfolk Railroad. The line continued south up to the Jerusalem Plank Road, crossed the road, and continued along in a southwest direction opposite the southern face of the Dimmock line until it rested its left on Fort Alexander Hays on the Strong Farm.  The 1st and 2nd divisions were in reserve behind the 3rd division and were working on building a second line of forts.6.

The Union forces were busy building new forts and connecting lines near the Weldon railroad as September 1864 began. Note the vaguely rectangular shape of these new lines from northeast to southwest.

The southern face of the Dimmock Line was defended by Maj. Gen., William Mahone’s division from Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill’s III Army Corps.  Mahone’s left rested on fortifications located just west of the Rives Salient and his right extended to the Weldon Railroad.,  Col. Reuben Lindsey Walker’s artillery brigade from III Corps defended this line.  The battalions of Lane and Richardson defended the east end of the line. The Washington Artillery Battalion defended batteries 30-35.  Batteries from McIntosh’s Battalion and possibly part of Pegram’s battalion defended the west end of the line.7.

Opposite Mahone’s left was the left wing of Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock’s II Army Corps.  Its right rested on the salient and its left on the Strong House.  The rest of the southern face was held by the IX Army Corps under John C., Parke.

Hampton placed Butler’s division near the quaker meeting house, ten miles south of Petersburg.  Rooney Lee’s division was positioned on his right near the Stage Road.  Dearing‘s brigade was stationed on the right of the infantry.  Lee recommended that Hampton use Dearing’s brigade to picket the roads leading west from Globe Tavern in order to give Butler’s and Lee’s divisions a rest.  Apparently Hampton did so.8

David M., Gregg’s 2nd Division headquarters were at the Williams house near the Jerusalem Plank Road., The troopers of the 1st and 2nd brigades were camped nearby in the vicinity of the plank road.9

West of the Weldon Railroad on September 16 the Confederates began constructing the Boydton Plank Road line which followed the course of the Boydton Plank Road and was sited a bit south of the Boydton Plank Road stretched from Battery 45 in the east to just north of Burgess Mill. Two of Heth’s brigades (McRae’s and Archer’s) and the three brigades of Gen. Charles Field’s division (Bratton’s, Anderson’s, and Perry’s) south of the James labored on the earthworks for four days before Lee sent them south to construct another line.  During this time the Confederates accomplished little.  They had built a weak and primitive line consisting of logs covered by dirt.10

The Halifax Road was the gateway into the terra incognito west of the Weldon Railroad.  Five roads traveled west from the Halifax Road and provided avenues for the Federals to seize the Boydton Plank Road and the Southside Railroad.  Lee ordered the five brigades to construct earthworks along the Squirrel Level Road which ran southeasterly and was located three miles east of the Boydton Plank Road and a mile west of the Weldon Railroad.  The line was three miles long and blocked the five roads leading into Lee’s rear. McRae’s Brigade was located on the far southern end of the line and built Fort McRae.  Unfortunately, the new line was very weak.11

*****

Individual Actions during this Time

September 1, 1864 Skirmish Near Gurley House

On September 1st Rosser attacked the pickets of the 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry between Union and Confederate cavalry that took place in the rear of the Fourth division, Ninth Army Corps.

First Person Accounts:

Rosser’s Cavalry Brigade:

Red Tavern.

On the first of September 1 made a  reconnaissance of the rear of Grant’s army near the Red Tavern, drove off the enemy, and captured their camps and drove the infantry outpost guards inside their intrenchments.,  I found the army as grand and as well fortified from the rear as from the front; the troops were not only covered by a good breastwork but strong abatis (barricades of felled trees with sharpened branches) was planted along the whole line and all the roads used in communicating and supplying the troops ere constructed between these two strongly fortified lines.12

4th Pennsylvania Cavalry:

. . . on the 31st we went on guard duty, relieving the Thirteenth Penna. Cavalry at Gurley House. Our picket line was here supported by Gen. Farrero’s Division of Colored Troops, a fine review

of which we had seen while we were on picket. Our lines were now considerably troubled with guerillas, who continually picked our men off post. These guerillas were the military outlaws, the cowards and felons of the war. There was not, by possibility a spark of true manhood, to say nothing of courage or valor, in their composition—the very scum of the foul wave of treason, as it rolled and blackened along the Union lines; the sloughcd-off rottenness of the cancer of slavery; the foetid, decomposed humanity which even the rebel cast oft’ from his living armies;a paltry, weasel- spirited horde, who were dragging about bodies of which they had robbed the Potter’s fields of the South, ever since their first escape from the gallows. Strange to say, when we captured any of these, by the humane provisions of our government, they were treated as prisoners of war.13

 

On the 2d [sic, 1st] of September, a brigade of rebel cavalry drove in our pickets, coming in on them suddenly at a gallop, and taking our reserves even by surprise.They completely cut off one detachment of thirty men, of which I was in command. After scouting round and discovering that the enemy had pursued, far along and past our flank, and that they might possibly return by the road on which we were doing duty, i concluded to cross the path by which they had gone in, on their rear, as they were now fighting our main reserve in our own rear.

I accordingly led the command to the road, and ordered them to quickly charge across. The regimental commander had given us up as having been captured and lost, as- another small detachment or reserve had been. When, however, we made the movement successfully, and he saw us safely before him, he was surprised, and complimented us highly, on the happy issue of our effort. We had dashed across the road and into the woods on the opposite side by a circuitous movement, and had entered our own lnes several miles to the right at Geary’s Church, having lost two of my command, privates Drake and Druinbore, both of whom were captured through the stumbling of their horses. But they were both soon afterwards paroled. The enemy finding us well supported,rapidly retired in the direction of Reams’ (page 230 ends) Station. Their intention had only been, to make adash and find out what force we held in that vicinity.

On the 3d of September, we were relieved from picket duty, and returned to camp.14

 

UNION. Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 1, 1864. Major-General Parke, Comdg. Army of the Potomac, Headquarters Ninth Corps: The following just received from the staff officer I sent out. I have notified Hancock and Warren: Headquarters Second Army Corps, September 1, 1864—5.10 p. m. General Humphreys, Chief of Staff: The picket-line of the Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry, on right of Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Second Brigade, Cavalry Division, Colonel Smith, on right of plank road, was attacked. Colonel Smith, temporarily commanding Cavalry Division, strengthened his lines and sent out reconnoitering forse. It has returned, and Colonel Smith reports they found no enemy, and thinks the attack was only a raid on the picket-line. All quiet now. C. D. EMORY, Captain and Aide-de-Camp. A. A. HUMPHREYS, Major-General and Chief of Staff.

 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 1, 1864. Major-General Parke, Commanding Army of the Potomac: The following dispatch just received by General Gregg: Headquarters Second Division Cavalry, September 1, 1864. (Received 4.40 p. m.) Brigadier-General Gregg, Headquarters Army of the Potomac: Pickets of Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry attacked by enemy. Colonel Smith has sent out First Maine. All quiet on other parts line. The Fourth is near Gurley’s house. H. C. WEIR, Assistant Adjutant-General. A. A. HUMPHREYS, Major-General and Chief of Staff.15

 

September 2, 1864 Reconnaissance beyond Yellow Tavern, on Weldon Railroad

Map:

September2FederalCavalryReconSommers638639

The Federal Recon on September 2 was conducted just west of their new entrenchments on the Weldon Railroad. Base map taken from Richard Sommers’ masters thesis, which became Richmond Redeemed.

 

First Person Accounts:

4th South Carolina Cavalry:

In a letter of Sept. 2nd Lt. Col. William Stokes of the 4th South Carolina Cavalry wrote, “We are under marching orders to move at a moment’s notice.  The enemy are reported as moving on the South Side RR which is about ten or twelve miles to the northwest of this place.”16

 

1st Maine Cavalry:

September 2.—Went on a reconnaissance, passing through the infantry lines at Yellow Tavern, driving in the enemy’s pickets on the Vaughn road, and then turning to the right, taking Poplar Spring road, finding nothing more than pickets until within half a mile of Boydton plank road, where the enemy was posted with artillery; withdrew and returned to camp same day.17

 

2nd Pennsylvania Cavalry:

September 2, when, at 2 a. m., moved to Weldon railroad, in front of Fifth Corps; regiment made a scout; no casualties; returned to railroad and remained in open field in rear of infantry until 5 p. m., when we returned to camp on the Jerusalem plank road.18

 

8th Pennsylvania Cavalry:

September 2.—Moved out and made reconnaissance toward Petersburg and returned to camp same day, having discovered nothing of any consequence; marched nineteen miles; in camp until the 4th.19

 

13th Pennsylvania Cavalry:

September 2.—Moved with brigade across Weldon railroad at Yellow Tavern out to Vaughan road 5 found the enemy in entrenchments; returned to Yellow Tavern and to camp in the evening.20

 

16th Pennsylvania Cavalry:

September 2.—Moved with brigade across Weldon railroad at Yellow Tavern out to Vaughan road 5 found the enemy in intrenehments; returned to Yellow Tavern and to camp in the evening.21

 

V Army Corps (V/AotP)

 

Crawford’s 3rd Division (3/V/AotP):

September 2. One brigade went on a reconnaissance to support the cavalry one mile down the Halifax road, but soon returned to camp; no casualties.22

 

2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, V Corps, AotP (2/3/V/AotP):

September 2.—Brigade moved at 2 a. m. to support cavalry on a reconnaissance; marched about a mile on the Halifax road and halted until daylight; marched back to Yellow House and went outside the works about ten rods; remained there until 10 a. m., when the cavalry returned, then marched back to camp; no casualties.23

 

Correspondence:

City Point, Va., August 31, 1864. Major-General Meade: As soon as it can be done I would like to have a column of cavalry, perhaps supported by infantry would be well, thrown out west from Warren’s position to cut off wagon trains carrying supplies into Petersburg. It should be a rapid, sudden dash to gather up all the teams and straggling escorts they could find. U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant- General. City Point, Va., August 31,1864. Major-General Meade : I go this morning to Fort Monroe. Expect to start back this evening. U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant- General.24

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps, September 2, 1864—7 p. m. Major-General Humphreys, Chief of Staff: I send yon the following, just received: Headquarters First New Jersey Cavalry, September 2, 1SG4. Capt. H. C. Weir, Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Division, Cavalry Corps: I have the honor to report that I drove in the enemy’s pickets on the railroad to within 400 yards of the junction of it with the Dinwiddie Court-House road, at which point the enemy appeared in force of about fifty, firing on my men, and on the Vaughan road I drove them across the swamp. Both these roads they had barricaded by trees and wires. Across the swamp they had a camp of cavalry, probably a reserve of their pickets. No movement of the enemy could be detected on either of these roads. The pickets belonged to Colonel Gregg’s brigade, and were picketing strongly. The Second Brigade does not connect wTith my left, and this line is in good condition, excepting the left. JOHN W. KESTER, Colonel, Commanding Cavalry Pickets. G. K. WARREN, Major- General, Commanding.25

*****

Headquarters Second Cavalry Division, September 2, 1864. General Warren : The force of the enemy that attacked last evening not ascertained. The commander of pickets sends his report to the nearest commander of infantry, General Ferrero. I will instruct him to send you a report also. D. McM. GREGG, Brigadier- General. Headquarters Second Division, Fifth Army Corps, September 2, 1864. 26

*****

Lieut. Col. F. T. Locke, Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters Fifth Army Corps: Sir: By an act of treachery on the part of rebel officers, who approached our outposts on the Weldon railroad this morning, two commissioned officers were drawn out of the post and shot; one slightly, the other severely. They were fired on by about fifteen men posted near where the interview took place, and immediately after the rebel officer who conversed with them had left. The above is reported by the division picket officer. General Griffin has furnished me with a  few of his sharpshooters, who, I hope, will be able to punish this perfidy. As I understood the report our officers were invited out by the rebel officers, who waved papers, as if they desired to exchange orders concerning deserters, which have lately been exchanged by the pickets. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, C. P. STOKE, Colonel Fourteenth U. S. Infantry, in Temporary Command.27

*****

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 2, 1864—3,10 p. m. Brigadier-General Greco, Confmanding Cavalry: The commanding general desires to know what your losses were, and what those of the enemy this morning. A. A. HUMPHREYS, Major-General and Chief of Staff.28

*****

Headquarters Second Division, Cavalry Corps, September 2, 1864. Maj. Gen. A. A. Humphreys, Chief of Staff, Army of the Potomac: General: In the attempt to reach the plank road this morning, three men of the First Maine Cavalry were wounded. Three prisoners were captured from the enemy. What other loss the enemy may have had is not known. D. McM. GREGG, Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding.29

*****

Headquarters Second Division, Cavalry Corps, September 2,1864. Major-General Humphreys, Chief of Staff, Army of the Potomac: The cavalry is very closely massed in the only open space within our lines in this vicinity, a space too small for camping. If the command is to return to its former camp I would request that I may be permitted to send a portion away before dark, as the road across to the plank road is very difficult to travel in the dark. Parties sent out reconnoiter-ing can discover no movement of the enemy in a southwesterly direction. D. McM. GREGG, Brigadier-General of Volunteers.30

*****

Hatcher’s, Ya., September 2, 1864. (Received 9.20 p. m.) “General Humphreys, Chief of Staff: Is there anything new in your front? E. O. C. ORD, Major-General. Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 2,1864. (Received 9.50 p. m.) General Ord: So; nothing new. A column of Gregg’s cavalry made a dash close to the Boydton plank road, opposite Warren’s headquarters, this morning early, but found the road guarded. The losses on both sides were few. Nothing further during the day. A. A. HUMPHREYS, Major-General.31

 

 

September 10, 1864 Attack at the Chimneys on Jerusalem Plank Road

Map:

AssaultOnTheChimneysSept101864

Sources:

SEPT. 10-A.M.-At  a point of our line just west of the Jerusalem plank road, occupied by the 3d Division of the [2]d Corps, the pickets have been so close together that they could convene without difficulty. On a part of this line, and some distance in the rear of their advance, the enemy had thrown up a line of slight works, with the intention, it is supposed, of falling back to them when occasion might demand. It was determined last night to drive them back to this line, and thus straighten our own.  About midnight, when all was quiet, the division was formed in line of battle, and the picket lines, being reinforced, were ordered to advance.

The Rebels were evidently not prepared for such a movement, as they were taken by surprise, and nearly the entire line was captured. They made every effort to retake the lost ground, but did not succeed. Our men now occupy the line, and are securely entrenched. We took about 100 prisoners, while our own loss was very light.

Desultory firing has been kept [up] in that vicinity all the morning, and the enemy evidently feel sore at being so taken by surprise. Some of them called over to our men saying-“That was a cursed mean Yankee trick, any how; but we’ll pay you up for it before long.”32

 

 

September 11, 1864 Davenport Church

Headquarters Second Division, Cavalry Corps,
September 13, 1864—10 a. m.

Maj. Gen. A. A. Humphreys,
Chief of Staffs Army of the Potomac :
General : I have the honor to report all quiet on the line of the Second Division since last report. Last night strong scouting parties were sent to Lee’s Mill and toward Wood’s Shop. No enemy discovered at the former place. Beyond Wood’s Shop and toward Reams’ Station tires were seen which indicated the camp of a regiment of cavalry. I had dismounted men concealed well in front of my line; but none of the enemy approached, as on previous nights. General Kautz was instructed to send out a strong scouting party toward Disputanta and Union, and thence around to Prince George. No report received of the operations of this party. General Kautz’s line is much annoyed by dismounted guerrillas at night. These men lurk in the thickets for the purpose of stealing horses. Night before last a small reserve near Davenport Church was surprised by a dismounted party of the enemy; six horses were stolen and one man killed. Increased precautions are being taken on that portion of General Kautz’s line to prevent surprises and to destroy these small parties of the enemy.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. McM. GREGG,
Brigadier-Generalj Commanding Second Division.33

 

 

September 12, 1864 Sandy Run

7th Georgia Cavalry:

On page 128 of The Gallant Little Seventh, the battle at Sandy Run is mentioned as having taken place in early September 1864.  On page 129 private William Henry Fleetwood of the 7th Georgia Cavalry was shown to have been wounded on September 12 at an unknown location.34

 

 

September 13, 1864 Scout to Poplar Spring Church

First Person Accounts:

4th Pennsylvania Cavalry:

September 13.—Regiment, accompanied by the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, was on a scout to Poplar Spring Church; drove in the enemy’s pickets a respectable distance.35

 

 

September 15, 1864 Reconnaissance to Poplar Grove Church aka Fall’s Church

Map:

The Union Recon towards Falls Church (aka Poplar Grove Church) occurred over the ground represented on this map from the Official Records, Vol. 42, Pt. 1, p. 513.

First Person Accounts:

Field’s Division, First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia:

Maj. Gen. Field wrote, “Some days after this I was with three brigades (Bratton’s, Anderson’s, and Perry’s) summoned to Petersburg. The Texas brigade and Benning’s (Colonel DuBose) were left on the north side, Gregg falling in command. After reaching Petersburg it was found that the particular event for which I had been wanted did not occur, and I remained there for some weeks doing nothing very special, but going from point to point, wherever the enemy threatened or my services were required. I think it was about the last of September that early one morning General Lee sent for me and directed me to proceed at once to Chaffin’s Bluff, showing me at the same time a telegram from Gregg stating that Fort Harrison had been captured.”36

 

Bratton’s SC Brigade, Field’s Division, First Corps, ANV:

Bratton’s wrote,”We worked on the fortifications and lie in reserve at night. . . . 37

On Sept. 17 Bratton wrote: “We moved out on the Boydton Plank Road three days ago to meet what was supposed to be a movement of the enemy against the South Side r. road. . . . It turned out to be a false alarm the other day  But we are ordered into camp here probably to be on the ground should the enemy reach out for this road. . . We are at present encamped some four miles from Petersburg about opposite the enemy’s position on the Weldon R. Road.38

 

16th Pennsylvania Cavalry:

Orders to march at 3 a.m. with 1 days forage and 2 days ratios.  We started on time and reported to General Warren’s head quarters at dawn o’ day.  Went on a scout or reconnaissance in force – our regiment = the 4th Penn. Cavalry and General Baxter’s brigade of Fifth Corps of infantry.  We drove in the enemy’s pickets via Poplar Springs Church over the Hawks farm to Clemens farm – had some rough little skirmishes but suffered no casualties of note but got back to Genl. Warren’s Head Quarters and lay in woods  til 8 pm   I had the honor to become acquainted  and have some talk with Generals Warren and Baxer. Both were very affable, especially the latter  I spent some time in their tents.39

 

4th Pennsylvania Cavalry:

September 15.—Regiment was on a scout to Falls Church, being severely engaged with the enemy; Sixteenth Pennsylvania Regiment returned to camp.40

We also remained in camp three days, when our regiment, with the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, was ordered out in light marching order, proceeding in advance of a division of the 5th Army Corps, on a reconnaissance to and beyond Poplar Spring Church. We found the rebels, and drove in their pickets, and after reconnoitering their whole line, returned to camp.41

 

V Army Corps:

September 15.—A reconnaissance was made by the (Baxter’s) Second Brigade, Third Division, Brigadier-General Baxter, out on the Vaughan road, for the purpose of developing the position of the enemy; found them in force; the brigade returned about 12 m.42

*****

Formed line at 4 a. m. and went on a reconnaissance to the vicinity of Poplar Spring Church; found the enemy in force behind works; drove in their pickets and returned to camp with small loss.43

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,
September 15, 1864—7.30 a. m.

Major-General Humphreys, Chief of Staff:

General Baxter’s brigade, with the cavalry, started out a little past 4 o’clock this morning and met some of the enemy on the Vaughan road southwest from here and on the road running west. Some skirmishing has been going on for the last hour, but no report has yet been received of what force the enemy has.

G. K. WARREN,
Major-General.

(Transmitted to Lieutenant-General Grant at 7.45 a. m.)44

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,
September 15, 1864—8.30 a. m.

Major-General Humphreys, Chief of Staff:
The commanding officer of the cavalry has just sent in to say that they have met a considerable force of the enemy on both roads. He states they have both cavalry and infantry. No report has yet been received from General Baxter.

G. K. WARREN,
Major-General.

(Transmitted to Lieutenant General Grant at 8.40 a, m.)45

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,
September 15, 1864—9 a. m.

Major-General Humphreys,
Chief of Staff:
I send the following, just received:
7.45 a. m.
General Warren :
We are at the cross-roads, just beyond the church. The enemy have a line of infantry stretching in a circle around the Poplar Grove Church as a center, radius three-quarters of a mile. We are forming line of battle immediately around the church. The cavalry is skirmishing heavily north and west from the cross-roads; the infantry skirmishers are now being deployed for their assistance. The western road, out which the cavalry was to go, is also guarded by the rebel infantry, and it therefore seems doubtful at present whether the cavalry can go out that road. Major Falls has gone two miles down the Vaughan road, driving a small cavalry force before him. We have found out nothing more so far. Mrs. Smith, near the church, knows nothing. The road was barricaded for a few hundred yards, obstructing our march very much.

W. A. ROEBLING,
Major and Aide-de-Camp.

(Copy to General Griffin.)

G. K. WARREN,
Major-General.46

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,
September 15, 1864.

Brig. Gen. S. Williams,
Assistant Adjutant-General:
I have the honor to report that nothing of importance transpired in my front yesterday or during the night. The One hundred and ninety-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Sickel, reported last night and is assigned to General Griffin. One hundred and twenty-seven recruits arrived yesterday, eighty-one for Twentieth Maine and forty-six for Thirty-second Massachusetts.

G. K. WARREN,
Major- General, Commanding.47

*****

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 15, 1864—9.30 a. m. (Received 9.40 a. m.)

Major-General Warren,
Commanding Fifth Corps:
Your several dispatches are received. Whenever you are satisfied that the reconnaissance has obtained all the information that can be got by it the troops can be withdrawn.

A. A. HUMPHREYS, Major-General and Chief of Staff.48

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,
September 15, 1864—9.30 a. m.

General Humphreys:
The force I sent out this morning was Baxter’s brigade of infantry, about 1,400 strong, and added the 200 cavalry I had here to the two (page 840 ends) regiments. They all got off at 4 a. m. The infantry have reached the point (Poplar Grove Church) at which I directed them to halt and cover the roads coming in and let the cavalry attempt to penetrate farther. From Major Boebling’s dispatch of 7.45 a. m. I think it probable a farther advance will not be practicable, and they will then need instructions whether to stay there till forced back or withdraw. I do not think it advisable to send any body of infantry beyond the church.

Respectfully,

G. K. WARREN,
Major- General.49

*****

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 15, 1864—9.50 a. m. (Received 9.55 a. m.)

Major-General Warren,
Commanding Fifth Corps :
Since sending you my dispatch of 9.30 a. m. your dispatch of 9.30 a. m. has been received. The object of the reconnaissance was to obtain information of the supposed movements of the enemy. Whenever you are satisfied no further information can be obtained withdraw the troops. It is not intended or wished that they should remain out until forced back.

A. A. HUMPHREYS.
Major-General and Chief of Staff.50

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,
September 15, 1864—10.30 a. m.

General Humphreys:
I sent out word to General Baxter to withdraw as soon as he had accomplished all he deemed practicable in the way of a reconnaissance. The officer just returned from the Poplar Spring Church says: I found General Baxter near the church, from which point he had sent his advance one mile. Had not found the enemy in force nor any evidence of the passing of any considerable body of troops.

Respectfully,

G. K. WARREN,
Major-General.51

*****

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 15, 1864—10.40 a. m. (Received 10.45 a. m.)

Major-General Warren,
Commanding Fifth Corps:
The wagons of the Fifth Corps near the plank road are in sight of the enemy’s batteries and draw^ their fire upon the reserve troops of the Second Corps. There is woods on the right of the Second Corps headquarters, behind which they would be concealed from the view of the enemy.

A. A. HUMPHREYS, Major-General and Chief of Staff.52

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,
September 15, 1864—12.30 p. m.

General Humphreys:
The reconnoitering party has returned. Their casualties were about a dozen killed and wounded. They found the enemy occupying an old intrenched line on the Squirrel Level road, about one mile north of Poplar Spring Church. Our cavalry forced the enemy’s back westward over a mile beyond the church. The enemy was not in any considerable force nor could a knowledge of any movement of troops be gained. A brigade of cavalry were said to be stationed on the plank road south of Hatcher’s Run. Our cavalry on the Vaughan road pushed back the enemy’s for a considerable distance southwest. A patrol I sent down the railroad found the enemy’s vedettes about one mile south of our own. On the whole, I consider that there is no great force of the enemy between me and the Boydton plank road, and the report of the signal officer of the battery moving in that direction and the dust confirms it as it was probably a re-enforcement. The map we have is very imperfect and the country is not easy to operate in wrest of us. I will send up the detailed reports and sketch this evening.

G. K. WARREN,
Major-General.53

*****

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 15, 1864—12.30 p. m. (Received 12.35 p. m.)

Major-General Warren,
Commanding Fifth Corps:
Deserters who came into General Birney’s line this morning state that the reserve troops moved toward the Weldon railroad last evening.

A. A. HUMPHREYS, Major-General and Chief of Staff.54

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,
September 15, 1864.

General Humphreys:
I think these movements indicate that the enemy were not in force here and that they are preparing for any demonstration we may intend making. Major Roebling says from our advance this morning the long roll could be heard in places by the enemy. I think 1 am fully prepared for anything that occurs to-day, and I am of the opinion that the enemy will wait our attack rather than attacking us.

G. K. WARREN,
Major- General.55

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,
September 15, 1864—5 p. m.

General Humphreys :
If it is all quiet, shall I send back the two regiments of cavalry?

G. K. WARREN,
Major- General.56

*****

Headquarters Army of the Potomac,
September 15, 1864. (Sent 6 p. m.)

Major-General Warren,
Commanding Fifth Corps:
Yes; send back the cavalry.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Major-General and Chief of Staff57

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,
September 15, 1864—7.30 p. m.

General Humphreys :
The enemy’s infantry came this afternoon in small force this side of the Poplar Spring Church, almost to the Vaughan road, but did not drive oft* my cavalry at the fork of the road. They fired a little at the cavalry and disappeared. All quiet.
Respectfully,

G. K. WARREN,
Major- General.58

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,
September 157 1864—8.20 p. m.

General Humphreys:
The cavalry picket, on the fork of the Vaughan road going to Poplar Spring Church, sends in word that the enemy’s infantry were seen moving toward Petersburg lately and fired a few shots at our outposts.

G. K. WARREN,
Major-General.59

*****

Hdqrs. First Pennsylvania Veteran Cav. Battalion,
September 15, 1864—8.30 a. m.

[Col. F. T. Locke,]
Assistant Adjutant-General:
Colonel : I have the honor to report all quiet on my road from the forks to the railroad. I have had a brisk skirmish of about one hour’s duration, in which I had two men wounded, one probably mortally. The enemy is in considerable force on my right, their line extending down to near the railroad on my left, where 1 connected with General Gregg’s cavalry.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. J. FALLS,
Major, Comdg*. First Pennsylvania Veteran Cavalry Battalion.60

*****

Hdqrs. First Pennsylvania Vet. Reserve Cavalry,
September 15, 1864—3 p. m.

Lieutenant-Colonel Locke,
Assistant Adjutant-General:
Sir : I have the honor to inform you that on my return here I found my picket had retaken his post, and now holds indisputable possession of it. The enemy are not supposed to be in force in this vicinity, having* drawn off on my pickets repossessing their post. Everything is apparently quiet.

I am, sir, very respectfully, yours, &e.,

E. J. FALLS,
Major, Commanding.61

*****

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps,
September 15, 1864—3.40 p.m.

Major Falls,
Commanding First Pennsylvania Veteran Cavalry:
Information has been received from the signal station that the enemy are moving large forces to our left. Keep a bright lookout in all directions, and send in word if anything transpires. Keep your command out till dark, when word will be sent you when to withdraw.
By command of Major-General Warren:

FRED. T. LOCKE,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.62

*****

September 15,1864.

Maj. Gen. G. K. Warren,
Commanding Fifth Army Corps:
General: I have the honor to state that, in pursuance of your order, I visited General Baxter. I found him near a church, from which point he informed me he had advanced one mile. He had not found the enemy in force, nor had he discovered any evidence of the passage of any considerable body of troops. The order to withdraw was given in my presence.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. H. HIGBEE,
First Lieutenant, Eleventh Infantry, and Acting Aide-de-Camp.63

*****

Headquarters Second Army Corps,
September 15, 1864.

General Warren:
The following just received:
Signal Station,
Plank Road, September 15, 1864—4.40 p. m.
Captain Taylor :
Cavalry and infantry have been passing, bearing south of west. Wagons and ambulances accompanied the movement.      Movement commenced at 3 o’clock, but the dust prevented seeing everything that passed. Cavalry and infantry were passing      three-quarters of an hour, but owing to the dust cannot tell in what proportion. Enemy quite active, and stragglers still passing.

I. Thickstun,
Captain and Signal Officer.

WINF’D S. HANCOCK.64

 

 

September 16, 1864 Skirmish on Fifth Corps Picket Line

First Person Accounts:

September 16.—About 8 a. m. the enemy advanced upon our picket line, when a brisk skirmish ensued, in which the brigade sustained a loss of 1 commissioned officer and 60 enlisted men captured, 1 enlisted man killed and 5 wounded.65

 

 

September 18, 1864 Weldon Railroad

7th Georgia Cavalry:

On page 129 of The Gallant Little Seventh Richard Patterfield of the 7th Georgia Cavalry is listed as a casualty on 18 September on the Weldon Railroad.66

*****

Notes:

  1. This article appears here with the express written consent of author Bryce Suderow.  No part of this piece may be reproduced without his express written consent.  All rights reserved.
  2. Hess, In the Trenches at Petersburg, pp. 143-144
  3. September 6, 1864 entry in Itinerary of 2nd Brigade 3rd Division V Corps August – December 1864 in OR Vol. 42, Part 1, p. 65
  4. Wainright, Diary of Battle, p. 460
  5. Entry for September 1-24 1864 in itinerary for first division X Corps OR Vol. 42, Part 1, p. 100
  6. Entry for September 1, 1864 in Itinerary Second Army Corps August 1-December 1864 OR Vol. 42, Part 1, p. 42
  7. Sommers, Richmond Redeemed, p. 206
  8. Hampton’s post-war report p. 77
  9. Entries of August 31 and September 1, 1864 in Itinerary for 2nd Cavalry Division August 1-Dec.31, 1864 OR Vol. 42, Pt. 1, p. 87
  10. Hess, Lee’s Tarheels, p. 258
  11. Hess, Lee’s Tarheels, p. 258
  12. Rosser, Riding with Rosser, p. 40
  13. Hyndman, History of a Cavalry Company, p. 229
  14. Hyndman, History of a Cavalry Company, pp. 230-231
  15. OR Vol. 42, Pt. 2 p. 627
  16.   Saddle Soldiers, p. 168
  17. Itinerary 1st Maine Cavalry Aug 1-Sept. 30, 1864 OR Vol. 42, Pt. 1, p. 84
  18. September 2, 1864 entry in Itinerary of the 2nd Pennsylvania Cavalry Aug 1-Dec. 31, 1864 OR Vol. 42, Pt. 1, p. 88
  19. Entry for September 2 1864 entry in Itinerary for the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry August 1-Dec. 31, 1865 OR Vol. 42, Part 1, p. 92
  20. September 2, 1864 entry in Itinerary Itinerary for the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry August 1-Dec. 31, 1865 OR Vol. 42, Part 1, p. 94
  21. Entry for September 2 1864 entry in Itinerary for the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry August 1-Dec. 31, 1865 OR Vol. 42, Part 1, p. 96
  22. Entry for September 2 1864 entry in Itinerary for the 3rd Division V Corps August 1-Dec. 31, 1865 OR Vol. 42, Part 1, p. 63
  23. Itinerary for the 2nd Brigade 3rd Division V Corps August 1-Dec. 31, 1865 OR Vol. 42, Part 1, p. 65
  24. Grant to Meade August 31, 1864 OR Vol. 2, Pt. 2 p. 601
  25. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 665
  26. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 665
  27. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 665-666
  28. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 671
  29. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 671
  30. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 671
  31. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 671
  32. New York Daily Tribune Sept. 12, 1864 p. 1 col. 2
  33.  OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 810
  34. Latty, The Gallant Little SEventh: A History of the 7th Georgia Cavalry Regiment, pp. 128-129
  35. Entry for September 13, 1864 Itinerary 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry Aug. 1-Dec. 31, 1864 OR Vol. 42, Part 1, p. 90
  36. Charles Field, Campaign of 1864 and 1865 in Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. 14 p. 555
  37. Letter to Bettie Sept. 5, 1864 in General John Bratton: Sumter to Appomattox in Letters to His Wife, p. 234
  38. Letter to Bettie Sept. 17, 1864 in General John Bratton: Sumter to Appomattox in Letters to His Wife, p. 235
  39. Entry for Sept. 15, 1864 in The Cormany Diaries: A Northern Family in the Civil War, p. 477
  40. Entry for September 15, 1864 Itinerary 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry Aug. 1-Dec. 31, 1864 OR Vol. 42, Part 1, p. 90
  41. Hyndman, History of a Cavalry Company, p. 231
  42. Entry of Sept. 15, 1864 in Itinerary V Army Corps August 1-Dec 31 1864 OR Vol 42, Part 1, p. 55
  43. September 14 entry in Itinerary of 2nd Brigade 3rd Division V Corps August – December 1864 in OR Vol. 42, Part 1, p. 65
  44. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 839
  45. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 839
  46. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 840
  47. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 840
  48. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 840
  49. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, pp. 840-841
  50. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 841
  51. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 841
  52. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 841
  53. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 842
  54. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 842
  55. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 842
  56. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 842
  57. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 843
  58. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 843
  59. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 843
  60. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 843
  61. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 843-844
  62. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 844
  63. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 844
  64. OR Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 844
  65. Entry for Sept. 15, 1864 in Itinerary 2nd Brigade (2nd division V Corps) August-December 1864 OR Vol. 42, Part 1, p. 61
  66. Latty, The Gallant Little Seventh: A History of the 7th Georgia Cavalry Regiment, p. 129

***



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