OR XL P1 #11: Report of Brigadier General Henry J. Hunt, Chief of Artillery, AotP, June 16-October 31, 1864

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 80)

No. 11. Report of Brigadier General Henry J. Hunt, U. S. Army, Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac, including operations June 16-October 31.1

ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, October 31, 1864.

GENERAL: +

June 16, these headquarters crossed the James and arrived in front of Petersburg.

June 17, soon after General Burnside had driven the enemy from his line north of the Avery house, I examined the position and placed batteries to hold them, and to prepare the farther advance of the Ninth Corps; I also gave the necessary instructions to close the gorges of the captured redoubts and place them in condition to be used against the enemy.

June 18, I proceeded by direction of Major-General Meade to the extreme right, where it was reported the enemy’s batteries across the Appomattox were delaying General Martindale’s movements, and placed

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*For continuation of report, see Vol. XLII, Part I.

+For portion of report (here omitted) covering operations from May 4 to June 12, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p.284. So much of this report as relates to the operations on July 30 was also embodied in a report, dated August 13, 1864, and which, to avoid repetition, is omitted.

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batteries of the Sixth Corps to prepare and follow up the contemplated attack by General Martindale. I took part in the advance, and immediately on the enemy’s being driven from his position brought up batteries to secure our possession of the position taken. I also planted batteries on the bank of the river near the Page house, in the position which commanded the railroad bridge crossing over the Appomattox at Petersburg. This position, now forming the extreme right of our lines, has been since greatly strengthened, and constitutes a strong battery with an armament of three siege guns and four 8-inch mortars. I have thus far reported such operations of the artillery serving with the corps, to which I beg leave respectfully to refer for the operations of their batteries. They have doubtless rendered reports to the generals with whom they respectively served. I have received but two such reports, those of Colonels Tidball and Wainwright, commanding the artillery of the Second and Fifth Corps respectively. In the battle of the Wilderness, and indeed in the greater portion of the battles of this campaign, the ground and the nature of the operations have been unfavorable to the use of field artillery, yet hardly a day has passed from the crossing the Rapidan that one or more batteries have not been engaged. On some occasions, as on the Po, and at Spotsylvania Court-House, many batteries have been called into requisition, and always officers and men have performed the duties devolved upon them with gallantry and skill. The excellent condition in which the batteries have been kept, the promptitude with which their supplies, on which so much depended, were furnished under unusually unfavorable circumstances, and the efficient condition which the batteries have maintained down to the present time, give proof of the excellence of the battery officers, and of the system of organization adopted for the arm.

SIEGE TRAIN.

On the 16th of April, in obedience to the instructions of the major-general commanding, I submitted a project for the organization of a siege train, to consist as a minimum of forty siege guns, ten 10-inch, twenty 8-inch and twenty Coehorn mortars, recommending that the preparation of the train be intrusted to Colonel H. L. Abbot, First Connecticut Artillery. This project (a copy of which is appended, marked A) was approved and Colonel Abbot proceeded at once to the organization of the train, to which by subsequent orders were added six 100-pounder Parrotts and ten 8-inch siege howitzers. Colonel Abbot was ordered to the James River in advance of this army and served under the orders of Major-General Butler, commanding the Army of the James in its operations near Richmond, and on the arrival of this army before Petersburg reported to me. The siege train has since been employed in the siege operations of both armies. For a detailed report of its organization, labors and services, I respectfully refer to the excellent reports of Colonel Abbot, appended and marked I and K.*

June 27 I was placed by Lieutenant-General Grant in charge of all siege operations against Petersburg south of the Appomattox (see Special Orders, No. 42, headquarters Armies of the United States, appended and marked B). This order brought the artillery operations in front of the Eighteenth Corps, extending from the Appomattox to near the Hare house, as well as those of this army, under my direction. Colonel Burton, Fifth U. S. Artillery, was assigned temporarily to the Eighteenth Corps,

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*Embodied in Numbers 244, p.671.

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and in addition to the charge of the siege batteries on that front took that of the batteries of the corps, the artillery of which he reorganized. My aide-de-camp, Lieutenant C. T. Bissell, Fifth Michigan Infantry, was assigned to the personal staff of Colonel Burton.

June 29, having received orders from Major-General Meade to furnish to Major-General Burnside the powder, &c., required for a mine General Burnside was running under one of the enemy’s works, I procured the necessary material and selected the positions for the guns to cover the operations. As rapidly as the works could be prepared the guns were placed in position. Those not needed at the time were held ready to be so placed so soon as the necessity should arise.

July 6 to 9, the Sixth Corps, ordered to Washington, left its trains and six batteries at City Point, whence they were soon after ordered to the Artillery Reserve and placed in position on the lines. The batteries thus left were: Parsons’ (A), First New Jersey, four 3-inch; Rhodes’ (E), First Rhode Island, four Napoleon; Dorsey’s (H), First Ohio, four 3-inch; Brinckle’s (E), Fifth United States, four Napoleons; White’s, Fourth Maine, four 3-inch; McLain’s, Third New York, four Napoleons.

July 3, received orders from Major-General Meade to examine, with Major Duane, chief engineer, the enemy’s works in front of Petersburg to ascertain whether offensive operations at any point were practicable (see Appendix C).

July 6, after a careful examination of the enemy’s position, a joint report from the chief engineer and myself was made, pronouncing an assault impracticable and recommending regular approaches (see Appendix D).

On the 9th of July orders were given from general headquarters to commence operations by regular approaches against Petersburg (see Appendix E).

In pursuance of these instructions I designated the positions of the batteries to be constructed for the operations then ordered. The positions were selected in accordance with a plan submitted by Major Duane and myself on the 10th, and approved and ordered to be executed on the 11th of July (Appendix F, G). The direct object of these proposed operations was the possession of the crest of the ridge behind the enemy’s line which dominates Petersburg and the possession of which it was believed would involve the fate of the town.

The operations in view were: First, to destroy the obstructions to an assault on the enemy’s line, such as abatis, palisades, 7c. Second, to silence his guns and especially those bearing on the point of assault. Third, to sweep the ground over which his troops must pass to attack our assaulting columns and to hold his troops in check and cover the retreat should the assault fail. To accomplish the first object the batteries were so placed as to bring all the abatis, palisades, &c., under an artillery fire, which could reach them either by a direct slant or enfilade fire, for this field guns were sufficient. The second purpose required that the batteries should be so placed as to give so far as possible a direct fire upon the enemy’s embrasures, and especially upon those which flanked the point of attack. These embrasures were placed principally on the face and flank of the enemy’s redoubt and works which formed the salient in front of the Fifth Corps, and in sunken batteries near this redoubt. For this purpose siege guns were best and field, was so arranged that all the visible ground between the enemy’s line and the crest behind it should be swept by as many of the guns as a compliance with the first two conditions would permit.

From the position of the batteries of the enemy which flanked the mine work, it was evident that there would be great difficulty in bringing a direct fire of sufficient power to silence them so promptly as to protect our assaulting columns. The redoubt is well placed, in a commanding position, and well provided with traverses. It was, therefore, considered as indispensable that we should bring, in addition to the horizontal,a powerful vertical fire to bear upon the redoubt and sunken batteries near it. All the siege mortars remaining in the train (viz, ten 10-inch and six 8-inch) were, therefore, set apart for this service. The Coehorns were distributed along the line, so that all points of the enemy’s position should be more or less under a vertical fire. The location of the different batteries will be seen by a reference to the drawing submitted herewith.* They were constructed by details from the different corps under the general direction of Major Duane, chief engineer.

On June 30 Brooker’s battery (B), First Connecticut, six 4 1/2-inch siege guns, was placed in Battery No. 19, which commands the enemy’s crest, behind the mine.

July 6, for 8-inch mortars were placed in Battery No. 29. They were served by a platoon of Battery A, First Connecticut, Captain Gillett.

July 8, two 8-inch mortars and July 9 four Coehorns were placed in battery near the Hare house, under command of Lieutenant Sargeant, Battery G.

July 14, the Fourth New York Artillery, Lieutenant-Colonel Allcock commanding, reported for duty with the siege train.

July 25, Pratt’s battery (M), First Connecticut, six 4 1/2-inch siege guns, was placed in position in Battery No. 24. A few field batteries were also in position on the line.

July 28, orders were given to prepare for an assault, and on that night ten 10-inch mortars and six 8-inch were placed in position, the 10-inch in Battery No. 8, the 8-inch in Battery No. 9; the first served by Captain Pierce’s battery (C), First Connecticut, the latter by part of Battery A, Lieutenant Patterson.

On the night of the 29th Captain Brown’s battery (H), First Connecticut,+ six 4 1/2-inch siege guns, Battery No. 4, and the field batteries of the Fifth and Eighteenth Corps, not heretofore on the lines, were placed in position.

On the 28th I visited the different batteries and gave detailed instructions for the employment of each gun under the different probable circumstances that might arise. These orders were impressed on the battery officers by their commanders, and on the morning of the 29th circular instructions were furnished to all artillery commanders (see Appendix H) for their government. The following pieces were placed in battery in front of the Fifth and Ninth Corps: ten 10-inch mortars, ten 8-inch mortars, 17 Coehorn mortars, 18 siege guns, 86 field guns; total, 141; and near the Hare house, to bear upon the enemy’s batteries and lines on the right of Burnside’s corps, six 8-inch mortars, 11 Coehorns, 6 field guns; total, 23. The total number of guns and mortars was, therefore, 110 guns and 54 mortars.

On the morning of the 30th, as soon as the mine exploded, our fire opened along the whole line. The firing was from each piece slow, deliberate, and careful, partaking of the nature of target practice, and was very effective, the amount of fire required being provided for by the large number of pieces brought into action. The enemy’s guns in

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*To appear in the Atlas.

+Brown’s battery belonged to the Fourth New York Artillery.

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front of the Fifth Corps were soon silenced and his fire in front of the Ninth confined to a battery on the hill behind the mine A (see sketch) and to one gun from his work B, next south of the mine, which could not be effectually reached by the guns in front of it, and which was sheltered from the fire of Batteries Nos. 20 to 24 by the trees in front of the latter, which had not been falled by the troops as required. This work having been delayed by the Ninth Corps until the night of the 29th, it was then objected by General Burnside that the noise of chopping would alarm the enemy, and that it could be done after the mine was sprung. The battery in which this one gun was placed was expected to be in our possession within a few minutes after the explosion, but was not taken possession of by our infantry. The Battery A on the crest behind the mine and near a place known as the Chimneys, opened from time to time, but was always silenced by a few rounds from Brooker’s battery and the field guns which could be turned upon it. As a whole the practice was excellent, keeping down the enemy’s fire, destroying the embrasures, especially of the enemy’s redoubt and works at the angle, exploding one of his magazines and several caissons, and preventing troops passing by the direct line from his right to the point of attack. At 10 a.m. orders were given for the withdrawal of the troops, which was covered as far as possible by the artillery. Our works were so well constructed and the fire of the enemy’s batteries so effectually kept down that the casualties were few. Major Fitzhugh, First New York Artillery, is included in the list of wounded.

I have to acknowledge my indebtedness in these operations to Colonel H. L. Abbot, Firt Connecticut Artillery and captain Engineers, U. S. Army, commanding siege train; Colonel C. S. Wainwright, First New York Artillery, chief of artillery, Fifth Corps; Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Monroe, First Rhode Island Artillery, chief of artillery, Ninth Corps; Colonel A. Piper, Tenth New York Foot Artillery and captain Third U. S. Artillery, chief of artillery, Eighteenth Corps; and Lieutenant Colonel E. R. Warner, First New York Artillery and first lieutenant Third U. S. Artillery, inspector of artillery on my staff.

Colonel Abbot was indefatigable in his labors. When the order was received by him to send the siege guns and material to the lines, it was on board ship at Broadway Landing, seven miles distant, but the same night he had the sixteen heavy mortars, with all the ammunition and material in their batteries, ready for service at the required moment, and Colonel Abbot took immediate command of the 10-inch mortar battery during the bombardment.

Colonels Wainwright and Piper and Lieutenant-Colonel Monroe were also prompt and effective in getting their batteries in position and superintending their respective lines during the action. At 11 p.m. July 30 orders were received by me to withdraw so much of the siege train as was in front of the Fifth and Ninth Corps and part of that in front of the Eighteenth and move it to City Point. The order was telegraphed to Colonel Abbot immediately, and in thirty-six hours fifty-two heavy siege guns and mortars, with their ammunition, platforms, equipments, and other material, were secretly and safely withdrawn, moved by land seven miles to Broadway Landing, and loaded on barges. A few siege guns and mortars were left on the Eighteenth Corps front to control the enemy’s batteries on the opposite side of the river.

Since July 31 various changes have taken place as necessity required in the position of the batteries on the lines and in the armament of the works; but no operations of importance have been undertaken, the batteries being employed principally to keep down the enemy’s fire.

At times, however, by order of corps commanders, they have opened fire on the town of Petersburg. A number of the works having been inclosed and garrisons with artillery ordered to be left in them in case the army should move, the magazines in the forts designated were supplied with ammunition so that each gun should have 150 rounds, including that in the limbers, which in most cases were left in the forts. The ammunition for this purpose was taken from the wagons of the brigade ammunition train, and from those of the artillery park, the wagons being left empty so as to withdraw the ammunition at the shortest notice. The caissons of the batteries in the works were thus rendered disposable to take the place of these empty wagons in the brigade, and so complete the supply of ammunition for the batteries that should move. When the army was moved on 26th of October these works had their armaments left in them, so that the amount of artillery which accompanied the army was hut small.

For the services of the field artillery in the affairs on the Weldon railroad, 19th-22nd August, at Reams’ Station on August 25, on Hatcher’s Run October 26-28, and in the various operations of the cavalry, I respectfully refer you to the reports of the commanders of the troops to which the batteries were attached.

For want of complete returns I am unable to state the losses of the artillery in killed and wounded. The captures and losses of guns reported are as follows: Captured, 32 guns; lost, 25 guns; showing an excess of 7 guns captured over the number lost from May 4 to October 31, 1864.

XLPart1Pg282Table1

I have respectfully to call attention to services in this campaign of the commanding officer of the Artillery Reserve, Colonel H. S. Burton, Fifth U. S. Artillery; of Colonel J. C. Tidball, Fourth New York Foot Artillery and captain Second U. S. Artillery; Colonel C. S. Wainwright, First New York Light Artillery; Colonel C. H. Tompkins, First Rhode Island Light Artillery, chiefs of artillery of the Second, Fifth, and Sixth Corps,

respectively; of Colonel H. L. Abbot, First Connecticut Foot Artillery and captain U. S. Engineers, commanding siege train; of Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Monroe and Major J. G. Hazard and Major J. A. Tomkins, First Rhode Island Light Artillery; Lieutenant Colonel E. R. Warner and Major R. H. Fitzhugh, First New York Light Artillery. These officers have always and everywhere discharged the duties devolving upon them with skill, gallantry, and zeal, and the most of them have served long and faithfully with this army, have often been recommended for reward, and have established their claims to the higher rank, the duties of which they have been performing. Colonel Tidball (distinguished for his gallantry and former services in the Horse Artillery), Colonels Tompkins, Wainwright, and Major Hazard have long commanded, and in our principal battles have fought artillery brigades with gallantry and skill. The organization, management, and service of the siege train entitle its commander, Colonel Abbot, to whom its efficiency is due, to promotion. Lieutenant-Colonel Warner has served as my assistant in the organization of the Artillery Reserve and of the battle, and as inspector of artillery for this army has proved a valuable and efficient officer. The services of the other officers named have been varied and important. Colonel Wainwright and Major Hazard have been recently brevetted, and I respectfully recommend that the same honor be conferred upon the others. This acknowledgment of its services is due as much to the artillery as to the officers who commanded it.

My staff, Captain J. N. Craig, assistant adjutant-general; Lieuts. W. S. Worth, Eighth [U. S.] Infantry, C. T. Bissell, First Michigan Cavalry, and Carl L. Berlin, Eighth New York Cavalry, aides-de-camp, have performed their duties with efficiency and gallantry.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY J. HUNT,

Brigadier-General, Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac.

Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

APPENDIX.

A.

ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, April 16, 1864.

Major-General HUMPHREYS,

Chief of Staff:

GENERAL: I have respectfully to submit the following proposition for the organization of a siege train, should one be required for service with this army near Richmond:

The train should be prepared in Washington, and as a minimum composed of forty 4 1/2-inch siege guns; six spare carriages; ten 10-inch mortars, two spare carriages; twenty 8-inch mortars, four spare carriages; twenty Coehorn mortars, with the proper implements and equipments, tool-wagons, sling carts, battery wagon and forges, mortar wagons, &c., the eight 4 1/2-inch siege guns of Abbot’s regiment (First Connecticut Heavy Artillery), lately sent to Washington, to constitute a part of the train. If the material can be brought by water or rail to within a reasonable disenable distance of the point at which the train is to be used, the horse teams of the two siege batteries and those of the Artillery Reserve would be available for transporting the guns, and such additional mule teams as are required to bring them up can, it is supposed, be furnished from the

quartermaster trains. The ammunition trains of the Artillery Reserve and artillery brigades attached to corps can be employed for the transport of the ammunition. There should be provided for each siege gun 1,000 rounds of ammunition; for each siege mortar 600 shells; for each Coehorn mortar 200. Of this ammunition 200 rounds per piece should be brought up before opening fire; the remainder to be near enough to enable the supply to be kept up. At least 500 sand-bags should be supplied for each gun and mortar of the train, with an equal number in reserve. I would propose that the organization of the train be instructed to Colonel Abbot, First Connecticut Artillery, whose regiment served with the siege train at the siege of Yorktown. That the work may proceed with the utmost rapidity, another regiment of foot artillery (Kellogg’s, Warner’s, or Piper’s) might be added to Colonel Abbot’s command. Colonel Kellogg served with credit in the First Connecticut Artillery at Yorktown, and is familiar with the duties. The two regiments of foot artillery in the reserve will be available as reliefs, guards for working parties, fabrication of gabions and fascines, filling sand-bags, &c. The instruction of the regiments with the train in the mechanical maneuvers, laying of platforms, &c., should commence at once. A thorough knowledge of these duties will save much time when every hour is valuable. The material and working directions for constructing magazines, one for every four guns, should also be prepared in advance, that workmen drawn from the foot artillery regiments with the army may assist the engineers or construct them themselves. It is understood that there are rifled 32-pounders, 4-inch caliber, in the works at Richmond. Should it be considered necessary to oppose to them guns of corresponding power (100-pounders) the ordnance officer should be instructed to prepare them and their material. This would be a timely precaution. In case it should be thought necessary to move the train by water up the Pamunkey to the neighborhood of Hanover Court-House, instructions should be given to load the material on barges, double-decked ones if possible, such as are used on the Hudson River for transportation of flour, and do not draw more than five feet. This depth I understand is found as far up as the bridge at Widow Lumkin’s, near Crump Creek, and within five miles by land of the railroad. The depth of water and the nature of the road from the bridge to the railway should be ascertained positively before procuring the barges. A decked scow or two and 100 or 200 feet of trestle bridging, similar to that prepared by Major Duane for the pontoon train, but of stronger dimensions, should be provided to enable landings to be effected at any point.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY J. HUNT,

Brigadier-General and Chief of Artillery.

B.
SPECIAL ORDERS,
HDQRS. ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,

No. 43. City Point, June 27, 1864.

In all siege operations about Petersburg, south of the Appomattox, Brigadier General H. J. Hunt, chief of artillery, Army of the Potomac, will have general charge and will be obeyed and respected accordingly. Colonel H. L. Abbot, in charge of siege train, will report to General Hunt for orders.

By command of Lieutenant-General Grant:

T. S. BOWERS,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

C.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, July 3, 1864.

Brigadier General H. J. HUNT,
Chief of Artillery:

Major DUANE,

Chief Engineer:

The lieutenant-general commanding is desirous of knowing whether any offensive operations from the lines now held by this army are practicable.

* * * * * * *

Major-General Burnside, who is now running a gallery for a mine, is of the opinion that if successful in this operation an assault could be made to advantage. I desire you to carefully examine the proposed point of attack, after conferring with General Burnside, and furnish me with your views.

* * * * * * *

You will please give me your views at the earliest possible moment, that the necessary orders may be issued and requisitions made. Both Generals Warren and Burnside have been notified of your instructions and directed to confer with you and facilitate your operations.

Respectfully, yours,

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General, Commanding.

D.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, July 6, 1864.

Major-General HUMPHREYS,
Chief of Staff:

SIR: We have the honor to make the following report of an examination of the enemy’s lines in front of the Fifth and Ninth Corps in compliance with instructions of the commanding general given in a letter dated July 3:

The general direction of the enemy’s line from the front of the Hare house to the plank road is north and south. The line is indented and apparently well flanked. From the plank road the line runs in a southwesterly direction. The salient thus formed is on a commanding ridge, which overlooks and flanks, by the artillery fire, the work in front of the Ninth Corps. It would, therefore, appear that the first attack should be made from the front of the Fifth Corps. When the first line of the enemy’s works at this point has been taken or their fire silenced, the attack by the Ninth Corps may be commenced. The enemy’s front had been very much strengthened. It consists of a system of redoubts connected by infantry parapets; the ground in front obstructed by abatis, stakes, and entanglements, rendering an assault impracticable; regular approached must, therefore, be resorted to. It is probable that the siege will be a long one, inasmuch as soon as one line of works is carried another equally strong will be found behind it, and this will continue until ridge is attained which looks into the town.

HENRY J. HUNT,

Brigadier-General, Chief of Artillery.

J. C. DUANE,

Major of Engineers.

E.

ORDERS.] HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, July 9, 1864.

1. The operations of this army against the intrenched position of the enemy defending Petersburg will be by regular approaches on the fronts opposed to General Burnside’s and General Warren’s corps.

2. The siege-works will be constructed under the direction of the acting chief engineer of the army (Major J. C. Duane, Corps of Engineers), upon plans prepared by him and approved by the commanding general. Those plans that relate to the employment of the artillery will be prepared jointly by the acting chief engineer and the chief of artillery of the army, General H. J. Hunt, U. S. Volunteers.

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By command of Major-General Meade:

S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

F.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, July 10, 1864.

In conformity with instructions contained in paragraph 2 of orders dated July 9, we submit the following plan for the operations against the enemy’s works in front of the line occupied by this army:

First. The lines of the enemy being in front of the crest that overlooks Petersburg, the object to be attained is the possession of this crest, which will probably decide the fate of Petersburg.

Second. The general direction of the enemy’s line from opposite the right of the Ninth Corps to the left of the Fifth Corps is north and south; opposite the left of the Fifth Corps, near the plank or Jerusalem road, the line turns to the west, forming an angle with the first, somewhat greater than a right angle.

Third. The line is indented, and thus affords to a certain extent flank defenses. At intervals batteries are placed, which may be increased in number almost at will. At certain points, and notably at the angle and to the west of and near the plank road, there are strong redoubts prepared for guns, and beyond the line the ground is favorable for the construction by the enemy of interior retrenchments.

Fourth. The salient, formed by the redoubt at the angle of the enemy’s line, flanks that part of the line in front of the Ninth Corps. Its distance from he lines of the Fifth Corps varies from 400 to 800 yards. From this salient to the redoubt southwest of it, some 500 yards, the works face a space of apparently smooth open plain. Between the Fifth Corps and the salient a ravine commences, which, rapidly deepening, becomes quite deep in front of the Ninth Corps, which had passed it at open point and effected a lodgment within about 150 yards of the enemy’s line and immediately in front of one of his batteries. Toward this General Burnside is running a mine, with the intention of destroying the battery and immediately assaulting the works, and if possible gaining the crest overlooking Petersburg.

Fifth. To render an assault successful, it is necessary to destroy the obstructions, abatis, palisades, &c., in front of this line, to silence, if practicable, the guns, and especially to capture or effectually silence the redoubt at the salient of the enemy’s line, which not only flanks that line, but sweeps the ground on which the supports to the assaulting columns must pass.

Sixth. To destroy or to occupy the salient regular approaches are the proper means. The ground in front is favorable as a whole, and in our report of the 6th instant this plan was proposed. The recent reduction of the force of the army will not, it is understood, permit the occupation of any ground in front of the south line of the enemy’s defenses, and we are therefore limited to such operations as we can effect on a line parallel to that of the enemy facing east.

Seventh. To effect this, the lines now occupied by the Fifth Corps should be advanced as far as practicable, if possible to the edge of the ravine before mentioned, and as much artillery as can be safely and advantageously used placed in battery. Artillery should also be placed in position in Burnside’s front, not only for its direct fire, but to bear upon the salient and batteries in front of the Fifth and Eighteenth Corps.

Eighth. The enemy’s fire being silenced approaches should be made if practicable across the ravine and possession so gained of the angle, and the way cleared at the same time for the assault of the Ninth Corps. The mine should not be sprung until all the preparations for an assault are made.

Ninth. The crest above the enemy’s present line may be crowned with batteries by him. Its possession gives the defense great advantages over the attack. If the assault is successful an immediate and vigorous attempt should be made to get possession of the crest. Should it fail, the assaulting troops should make good a lodgment as far in advance as practicable, and operations be continued from the salient to get possession of the crest behind it. To do this it will probably be necessary to occupy more ground to our left.

Tenth. Should these operations offer to the enemy in front of the Eighteenth Corps means of annoyance, which are not at present very apparent, the necessary measures must be taken to overcome them as they develop themselves.

Eleventh. The advantages of position on the part of the enemy, with the restricted number which will prevent our making use of the ground which would envelop him, will make success of our operations difficult and probably costly both in time and men.

HENRY J. HUNT,

Brigadier-General and Chief of Artillery.

J. C. DUANE,

Major and Chief Engineer.

G.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, July 11, 1864.

Brigadier General H. J. HUNT,
Chief of Artillery:

Major J. C. DUANE,

Acting Chief of Engineers:

SIR: Your report of the 10th instant, submitting a plan for operations against the enemy’s works in front of the line occupied by this army, has been laid before the commanding general, and by him indorsed as follows:

The above project, being in conformity with my views, is approved and adopted. The operations against the salient on the plank road and the battery in front of the Ninth Corps will be at once commenced.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General, Commanding.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

H.

CIRCULAR.] ARTILLERY HDQRS., ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, July 29, 1864.

1. The batteries are not to open to-morrow morning until the signal is given. This signal will be the explosion of the mine under the battery in front of the advanced position of Burnside’s corps.

2. Immediately on the mine being sprung the batteries will all open. The greatest possible pains will be taken to avoid interfering with the storming party, which will advance as soon as the mine is sprung, and over the ruins of the explosion. So soon as an entrance is effected here, strong bodies of troops will move to the right and left behind the enemy’s line to clear out his troops, and to the front to gain the crest, and, if possible, enter the town of Petersburg. A careful watch must be kept on these movements so as to avoid the possibility of interfering with the advance.

3. The fire will in preference be turned on those batteries which command the point of assault and the ground on which our troops will move. These batteries will probably be found on the crests near the salient, or on the flank of the salient looking toward the Ninth Corps.

4. The batteries in the small redan, and the work known as Fort Hell, will not fire on the advanced point of the salient, as there is danger of such shot striking our attacking troops. They will be directed against the face of the salient, so that the shot that pass over may strike the work on the crest above it, and after time has elapsed sufficient for an assaulting party to pass well over the crest, the guns will be directed still more to the left so as not to strike the town.

5. Commanders on the line will watch the fire closely and take all possible precautions against injuring our own troops, whilst bringing their guns to bear on the batteries of the enemy. They will also watch for the movements of the enemy’s troops toward our attacking columns, and use every effort to drive them back or retard their movements.

6. The artillery on the line of the Eighteenth Corps will open at the same time as that of the Fifth and Ninth so as to fully employ the enemy in its front. The fire of the guns and mortars on the left of the line of the Eighteenth Corps will especially be brought to bear on such batteries in front of them as have a fire on Burnside’s front.

7. When the enemy’s fire has been silenced, the firing on his batteries will cease and a strict watch be kept on the movements of his troops, and any attempt to reopen the fire of his batteries will be at once met.

HENRY J. HUNT,

Brigadier General, Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac.

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), pages 278-288

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