OR XL P1 #1: Report of Lt Gen U. S. Grant June 13-July 30, 1864

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 80)

No. 1. Reports of Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, U. S. Army, commanding Armies of the United States.*1

NEAR WILCOX’S LANDING, VA.,
June 13, 1864 – 4.30 p. m.

The advance of our troops have just reached this place. Will commence crossing the James to-morrow. Wilson’s cavalry and Warren’s corps moved from Long Bridge to White Oak Swamp to cover the crossing of the balance of the army. No fighting has been reported except a little cavalry skirmishing. Smith’s corps went around by water and will commence arriving at City Point to-night.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.

***

BERMUDA HUNDRED, VA.,
June 14, 1864 – 1.30 p. m.

Our forces will commence crossing the James to-day. The enemy shows no sings yet of having brought troops to the south side of Richmond. I will have Petersburg secured, if possible, before they get there in much force. Our movement from Cold Harbor to the James River has been made with great celerity and so far without loss of accident.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 17, 1864 – 11 a. m.

The Ninth Army Corps this morning carried two more redoubts, forming part of the defenses of Petersburg, capturing 450 prisoners

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* For Grant’s reference in his general report to operations of this period, see. Vol. XXXVI, Part I, pp. 22-27.

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and 4 guns. Our successes are being followed up. Our forces drew out from within fifty yards of the enemy’s intrenchments at Cold Harbor, made a flank movement of an average of about fifty miles march, crossing the Chickahominy and James Rivers, the latter 2,000 feet wide and 84 feet deep at point of crossing, and surprised the enemy’s rear at Petersburg. This was done without the loss of a wagon or piece of artillery and with the loss of only about 150 stragglers, picked up by the enemy. In covering this move Warren’s corps and Wilson’s cavalry had frequent skirmishes with the enemy, each losing from 50 to 60 killed and wounded, but inflicting an equal, if not greater, loss upon the enemy. The Eighteenth Corps (Smith’s) was transported from White House to Bermuda Hundred by water, moved our near to Petersburg the night of its arrival, and surprised or rather captured the very strong works northeast of Petersburg before sufficient force could be got in there by the enemy to hold them. He was joined the night following this capture by the Second Corps, which in turn captured more of the enemy’s redoubts farther south, and this corps was followed by the Ninth, with the result above stated. All the troops are now up except two divisions covering the wagon trains, and they will be up to-night. The enemy in their endeavor to re-enforce Petersburg abandoned their intrenchments in front of Bermuda Hundred. They no doubt expected troops from north of the James River to take their place before we discovered it. General Butler took advantage of this and moved a force at once upon the railroad and plank road between Richmond and Petersburg, which I hope to retain possession of. Too much credit cannot be given the troops and their commanders for the energy and fortitude displayed during the last five days. Day and night have been all the same, no delays being allowed on any account.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 23, 1864 – 9 a. m.

Yesterday and this morning have been consumed in extending our lines to the left to envelop Petersburg. The Second and Sixth Corps are now west of the Jerusalem plank road. Yesterday, in moving to this position, the two corps became separated. The enemy pushed out between them and caused some confusion in the left of the Second Corps, and captured 4 pieces of artillery. Order was soon restored and the enemy pushed back. This morning no enemy is found on the left. This will be pushed forward until the enemy is found. The Petersburg papers of yesterday state that Hunter has been routed and already 3,000 of his men have been captured.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 24, 1864 – 9 a. m.

No special change or news to report for yesterday. The enemy showed himself in large force on our left in the evening, and General Meade ordered him attacked. Failing in getting the attack made before dark, he then ordered the left corps back to the position which they had just left. This was taken without being followed up by the enemy.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington.

***

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
June 24, 1864 -2.30 p.m.

I find the affair of the 22nd was much worse than I had heretofore learned. Our losses (nearly all captures) were not far from 2,000, and 4 pieces of artillery. The affair was a stampede and surprise to both parties and ought to have been turned in our favor. Richmond paper of yesterday states that Hunter, at last accounts, was at Salem, retiring by the route taken by Averell last fall. Our cavalry (small detachment) is now on the Weldon road destroying it. Wilson, with 7,000 cavalry, started the night of the 22d. Richmond paper announces that he struck the South Side road in Dinwiddie. This morning, about 7 o’clock, the enemy attempted an assault on General W. F. Smith’s front, prisoners say in three lines. None but the skirmish line reached our advance and most of them were captured.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General

Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 25, 1864 – 11.30 a. m.

Richmond papers of yesterday state that Hunter at last accounts was at Fincastle. He will probably go to Beverly. There will be no use in Stahel attempting to reach him. All quiet here. Sheridan is now crossing the river where the army crossed. Yesterday evening Gregg’s division had a very severe fight with the enemy between Charles City Court-House and Long Bridge. I do not know the result, but understand unofficially that we saved all the wagon train, which seemed to be the object of the attack. The loss was said to be heavy on both sides, the enemy coming in close canister range. The same Richmond paper announces that Wilson reached Burkeville. I shall try to give the army a few days’ rest, which they now stand much in need of.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 26, 1864 – 4 p. m.

All is quiet and our men resting. Sheridan is crossing the river near Fort Powhatan unmolested by the enemy. Gregg’s loss was much less than I was led to suppose by the verbal report first received. General Sheridan says he thinks 225 killed, wounded, and missing will cover it, while he thinks the enemy’s killed and wounded is much greater. This is Gregg’s loss between the Chickahominy and James Rivers, not counting losses in previous engagements. Nothing heard from Wilson since he left Burkeville. If it is possible I wish paymasters could be sent here to pay the troops. The officers particularly are suffering.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 27, 1864 – 3 p. m.

All is quiet here now except from our own guns, which fire into the bridge at Petersburg from a distance of about 2,000 yards. Petersburg papers of the 25th state that Hunter is striking for Jackson River depot, about forty miles north of Salem, and say that if he reached Covington, which they suppose he will of with most of his forces, but with loss of material, he will be safe. The same paper accuses Hunter of destroying a great amount of private property and stealing a large number of wagons, horses, and cattle. The same paper also states that Wilson destroyed a train of cars loaded with cotton and furniture, burned the depot building, &c., at Burkeville, and destroyed some of the track and was still pushing south. All the railroads leading into Richmond are now destroyed are now destroyed and some of them badly.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 1, 1864.

The enemy’s cavalry finding that Sheridan was secure where he was crossing James River, left him and interposed themselves on the Weldon railroad between Wilson and return. Kautz, with his cavalry and a portion of Wilson’s, succeeded in passing the enemy and getting in, but with the loss of his artillery and wagons. Wilson, with most of his command, was cut off, and is supposed to have gone back south. Immediately on receipt of news that Wilson was returning, General Meade sent Wright’s corps to Reams’ Station to aid him. Sheridan was also ordered to join him. Wright and Sheridan are both now out, and the latter with orders to push on until he learns reliably from Wilson. Our artillery is now so located that it plays easily on the bridges in Petersburg. They were hit a number of times yesterday by Smith’s guns. A small steamer lying at the Petersburg wharf was also hit and burned.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 27, 1864 – 9 p. m.

The movement this morning to the north bank of James River resulted in the repulse of three brigades of the enemy from an intrenched position, and the capture of four 20-pounder Parrott guns. The loss was very slight and capture of prisoners small. The troops having marched all night were fatigued, and did not follow up their success as they otherwise would. Generals Sheridan and Kautz are now with Hancock, and the two together will try in the morning to push the enemy back into Richmond or south of the James River.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 28, 1864 – 3.30 p. m.

The enemy have attempted to drive our cavalry from the vicinity of Charles City road near New Market. Casualties are not reported, but I suppose have been small. Torbert’s division repulsed the enemy in his front, capturing 150 of their number. At last report the enemy in front of Gregg’s division were still standing. I am just starting for the scene of action.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major-General HALLECK,
Chief of Staff.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 28, 1864 – 9 p. m.

I have just returned from Deep Bottom. The enemy evidently became very restive over our move to the north bank of the river, and have been moving to meet it ever since they discovered it. The position of our troops to-day was – the left of the Second Corps resting at Deep Bottom, and extending along Bailey’s Creek; Gregg’s and Torbert’s cavalry divisions were down to the right of the Second Corps, and extend to the New Market road, with one brigade at Malvern Hill. In getting their position they were attacked by the enemy in heavy force. The fighting lasted several hours, resulting in a loss which Sheridan thinks will not exceed 200 on our side, the greater part of whom are but slightly wounded, and some are prisoners in the hands of the enemy. We have taken 200 prisoners, besides wounded, many of whom were left in our possession. The number could not be estimated because ambulances were still engaged bringing them in when I left the ground. In front of Torbert’s division 158 of the enemy’s dead have been counted. There was equally as much, if not more, fighting in front of Gregg’s division, and probably as many of the enemy’s dead were left there. We have failed in what I had hoped to accomplish – that is, to surprise the enemy, and destroy them out to South Anna. I am yet in hopes of turning this diversion to account, so as to yield greater results than if the first object had been accomplished.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 30, 1864 – 10 a. m.

Finding that my effort to surprise the enemy by sending an army corp and three divisions of cavalry to the north bank of the James River, under cover of night, for the purpose of getting on to the railroads north of Richmond, drew all of his forces from Petersburg except three divisions, I determined to attack and try to carry the latter place. The enemy’s earth-works are as strong as they can be made, and the ground is very broken and favorable for defense. Having a mine prepared running for a distance of eighty feet along the enemy’s parapet, and about twenty-two feet below the surface of the ground, ready loaded, and covered ways made near to his line, I was strongly in hopes, by this means of opening the way, the assault would prove successful. The mine was sprung a few minutes before 5 o’clock this morning, throwing up four guns of the enemy and burying most of a South Carolina regiment. Our men immediately took possession of the crater made by the explosion, and a considerable distance of the parapet to the right of it, as well as a short work in front, and still hold them. The effort to carry the ridge beyond, and which would give us Petersburg and the south bank of the Appomattox, failed. As the line held by the enemy would be a very bad one for us, being on a side hill, the crest on the side of the enemy, and not being willing to take the chances of a slaughter sure to occur if another assault was made, I have directed the withdrawal of our troops to their old lines. Although just from the front, I have little idea of the casualties. I think, however, our loss will be but a few hundred, unless it occurs in withdrawing, which it may not be practicable to do before night. I saw about 200 prisoners taken from the enemy. Hancock and Sheridan returned from the north side of the river during the night, and are now here.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff.

***

CITY POINT, VA., August 1, 1864.

The loss in the disaster of Saturday last foots up about 3,500, of whom 450 men were killed and 2,000 wounded. It was the saddest affair I have witnessed in the war. Such opportunity for carrying fortifications I have never seen and do not expect again to have. The enemy with a line of works five miles long had been reduced by our previous movements to the north side of James River to a force of only three divisions. This line was undermined and blown up, carrying a battery and most of a regiment with it. The enemy were taken completely by surprise and did not recover from it for more than an hour. The crater and several hundred yards of the enemy’s line to the right and left of it and a short detached line in front of the crater were occupied by our troops without opposition. Immediately in front of this and not 150 yards off, with clear ground intervening, was the crest of the ridge leading into town, and which, if carried, the enemy would have made no resistance, but would have continued a flight already commenced. It was three hours from the time our troops first occupied their works before the enemy took possession of this crest. I am constrained to believe that had instructions been promptly obeyed that Petersburg would have been carried with all the artillery and a large number of prisoners without a loss of 300 men. It was in getting back to our lines that the loss was sustained. The enemy attempted to charge and retake the line captured from them and were repulsed with heavy loss by our artillery; their loss in killed must be greater than ours, whilst our loss in wounded and captured is four times that of the enemy.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, N. C.

***

ADDENDA.

CITY POINT, August 2, 1864 – 9.30 p. m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Chief of Staff:

I have the honor to request that the President may direct a court of inquiry, to assemble without delay at such place as the presiding officer may appoint, to examine into and report upon the facts and circumstances attending the unsuccessful assault on the enemy’s position in front of Petersburg on the morning of July 30, 1864, and also to report whether, in their judgment, any officer of officer are censurable* for the failure of the troops to carry into successful execution the orders issued for the occasion, and I would suggest the following detail: Major General W. S. Hancock, Brigadier General R. B. Ayres, Brigadier General N. A. Miles, Volunteer service; Colonel E. Schriver, inspector-general and recorder.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

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* As received by Halleck this word is answerable.

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Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XL, Part 1 (Serial Number 80), pp. 12-18

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