NP: July 30, 1864 Philadelphia Inquirer: A Battle on the James

   

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in July 1864

Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Bryce Suderow and is included in a collection of Union and Confederate accounts of the fighting on July 27, 1864 at the First Battle of Deep Bottom.  His transcription of this article is published here with his written permission.

A BATTLE ON THE JAMES. The old II corps has again had an encounter with the enemy on new ground, and, as usual, has come out ahead. Four very fine twenty-pounder Parrot guns, with well filled caissons, and a number of prisoners stated at about 100 constitute the trophies won by them and form not a bad day’s work. The total loss of the corps during the day yesterday will probably not exceed 100.It will be recollected that soon after the arrival of the Army of the Potomac before Petersburg, General Foster’s Brigade of the X Corps was thrown acrossthe James River at Deep Bottom, which is about three miles south of New Market,and distant from Richmond, in a direct line, about ten miles. This brigade of General Foster’s has since held its ground on the banks of the James,forming the extreme right of our extended line of battle and connected with theother portions of General Butler’s forces by a pontoon bridge. This bridge spans the river just above the mouth of Four Mile Creek. Some days ago another bridge was constructed below the mouth of the creek just named and about half a mile below the other bridge, and a brigade of the XIX Corps has since held a position on the right of General Foster, and with its left on Four Mile Creek having in the interim considerable skirmishing with the enemy. The construction of this second bridge, and the occupation of the opposite bank of the river, were the preliminaries of a more important movement, the one which has now taken place. It would be contraband, as yet to state the ultimate design of the movement, and I shall only narrate what has already occurred, viz., that the II Corps, followed by a heavy force of cavalry under Sheridan crossed the James River at the lower pontoon bridge yesterday morning and that the cavalry passed to the right of the infantry and started out toward the New Market road. What the ulterior course and destination of the latter is I leave the sagacious reader to conjecture.

Prior to this movement the II Corps had been lying in reserve for nearly two weeks. On the morning of Tuesday the 26th, the order was given to be ready to march at half past 4 p.m. of the same day, and the head of the column started promptly at the hour designated. The cavalry, which was some miles further to the left and rear, commenced moving at about the same time. Every precaution was taken to conceal from the enemy all indications of the movement, and the latter was to be executed with all possible rapidity. For the former object the conditions of the road was highly favorable, recent raid having entirely laid the dust, which otherwise would inevitably have betrayed the presence of a moving column. The men marched with a rapidity that was surprising, and soon after dark the column reached the pontoon bridge at Point of Rocks and commence crossing to the north side of the Appomattox. The cavalry crossed about 3/4 of a mile lower down.

From the Appomattox the column struck across by the nearest route for the bridge at Deep Bottom which the infantry reached at 3 a.m. yesterday morning and immediately commenced crossing to the east bank of the James. General Barlow’s Division took the lead. Next came the 3rd Division, General Mott’s and General Gibbon’s Division last. The cavalry began to cross an hour or two after the infantry had got over.

The latter deployed into line of battle immediately after crossing the river, the 1st Division taking the center, with the 3rd and 2nd on the right and left respectively. Two batteries were also brought over and posted near the edge of the timber which skirts the river, Brown’s Battery (B) of the 1st RI and Sleeper’s 10th Mass. Battery. Each division pushed forward its skirmishers on after daylight and reconnoitered the position of the enemy. The portion of the 19th Corps, which had been picketing there, being relieved, passed to the rear.

The rebel line of battle extended along a road somewhat over a mile from the river, where they had improvised a pretty good breastworks of rails and earth while at some points the road itself was so sunken as to afford a breastwork without much labor in its construction. Near the point where the road is entered by a road running directly out from the pontoon bridge, the Rebels had a battery of four guns, and a section of a battery further to their left.

About half past seven o’clock our skirmishers advanced and drove back those of the enemy and this opened the fight. The Rebel batteries just mentioned opened fire and were replied to by Brown’s and Sleeper, and the gun boat Mendota. The latter fired one-hundred pound shells from rifled Parrots which appeared to strike great terror in the Johnnies and added much in silencing their batteries. After the latter object was accomplished the skirmish line of Barlow’s Division, consisting of the 183rd Pa, 28th Mass. and 5th NH regiments of General Miles’ brigade, under command of Colonel Lynch of the 183rd Pa., advanced on the four gun battery on their front. Colonel Lynch left a few men to skirmish in front while with the rest of his line divided into two parties he moved by the flank, and coming in on each side of the battery, effected its captured along with the adjacent portion of the rebel picket line.

This occurred at about half past 8 a.m. or within less than an hour after the fighting commenced. The enemy now relinquished their intrenchments along the whole line and fell back to a ridge about two miles to the rear, where they commenced intrenching.

Our want of familiarity with the country rendered it necessary to advance cautiously, or it might have been practicable to dislodge them from that position also. At dark last night our line of battle had been satisfactorily posted, and some anticipated that an advanced would be made during the night, but whether it took place I have no means of knowing.

The Rebel troops supporting the captured battery were Kershaw’s South Carolina brigade. The battery itself consists of guns manufactured at West Point and is supposed to be the one captured in the attack on Heckman’s Brigade near Drury’s Bluff, some two months ago.

We lost less than a dozen men in the charge on the battery, and our entire loss during the day will hardly exceed one hundred. I enclose a partial list.

List of Casualties in the Third Division Second Corps on June [July] 27th

1. Captain Chas. Copelin, 110th Pa., flesh, thigh

2. Lieut. A.J. Miller, 110th Pa., flesh, leg & thigh

3. Captain F. Cassiday, 110th Pa., left leg

4. Adjutant A.L. Chamberlain, 74th NY, neck

5. Samuel Smith, K, 74th NY, leg

6. J.C. Bell, C, 110th Pa., arm

7. J. Atwell, C, 110th Pa., face

8. A. Tetwyler, B, 34th Pa. arm

9. E.A. Allen, A, 99th Pa., thigh

10. G. Deaumill, A, 110th Pa., back

11. Corporal A. Cullen, F, 110th Pa., arm

12. Corporal G.. Maxwell, C, 110th Pa., dead

13. C. Winner, H, 99th Pa., thigh

14. Corporal Wm. Little, A, 110th Pa., chest and thigh, mortal

15. Jas. Irwin, C, 110th Pa., arm and chest

16. Dan. Bowman, C, 110th Pa., thigh

17. John M. Davis, C, 110th Pa., thigh

18. Corporal H.M. Miles, 110th Pa., wrist

19. Sergt. E. McGrann, A, 99th Pa., legs, dead

20. R. Spittar, A, 110th Pa., thigh, amputated

21. Jacob Burck, B, 110th Pa., arm, flesh

22. J.A. Sutton, C, 110th Pa., shoulder, slight

23. John Lockman, C, 110th Pa., abdomen, flesh

24. Francis Crowell, A, 110th Pa., throat

25. Corp. J.W. Buchanan, N, 1st Mass. Heavy Artillery, face, flesh

26. George W. Baird, C, 110th Pa., face, severe

27. J. Merninger, C, 110th Pa., thorax

28. Samuel Smith, C, 110th Pa., leg, flesh

29. Herbert Schmitz, I, 73rd NY, chest, fatal

30. Sgt. Chas. Eckley, A, 110th Pa., face

31. W. Springer, B, 63rd Pa., hip

32. George Weight, A, 110th Pa., back

Killed in 110th Pa.

Company A, John A. Barnes, A, 110th Pa., John Parsons

Company B, Sergt. N.H. Alger, Sergt. Thomas A. Ruggles, B, 110th Pa. Sergt.

M.W. McCarthy, B, 110th Pa.

Company C, Sergt. A.R. Taylor1

Source:

  1. “A Battle on the James,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 30, 1864, p. 1, col. 1-2

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