OR XL P1 #20: Report of Brigadier General Francis C. Barlow, commanding First Division June 22, 1864 and July 26-29, 1864

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 80)

Numbers 20. Report of Brigadier General Francis C. Barlow, U. S. army, commanding First Division, of operations June 22 and July 26-29.1

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, SECOND CORPS,
June 23, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that on June 22, instant, I moved to the right and front to connect with and prolong the line of General Mott’s division in obedient to orders. This necessarily severed my connection with the Sixth Corps. My left flank being thus unprotected I placed one brigade on the left of General Mott’s line and

threw back two small brigades at nearly a right angle to General Mott’s line as a protection to my flank. I had scarcely got into position before the enemy’s skirmishers began pressing into the gap between me and the Sixth Corps. They were driven back from that part of my flank which was covered by the two brigades which were thrown back, but soon extended farther to my right and rear. i immediately brought my second line (General Miles’ brigade) back into the rifle-pits to reestablish, as far as possible, the connection with the Sixth Corps. Be fore i execute any change of position with my advanced line the great part of that line (Second, Third, and Fourth Brigades) came back in confusion to the rifle-pits. The enemy pressed in vigorously, capturing a considerable number of the troops that broke, and such parts of the troops as stood fast; the troops on my right came in also. I had hardly arranged my division in the rifle-pits before the enemy made a smart attack upon one part of them, but were repulsed; a few of their dead and wounded were left in our front. Prisoners say the attack was in line of battle preceded by a skirmish line. Our advance separation from the Sixth Corps exposed us to be attacked under very unfavorable circumstances. At the same time it must be admitted that the troops did not meet the attack with vigor courage

and determination. The brigades of my front line (Second and Third) are too unsteady, from loss of commanding and other officers and other causes, to be much depended on in circumstances requiring much nerve and determination.

A report of casualties is being prepared.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

FRANCIS C. BARLOW,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.

Lieutenant-Colonel WALKER,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Corps.

P. S. – This report was prepared and ordered to be sent forward yesterday morning, but through a mistake was not forwarded until now.

F. C. BARLOW,

Brigadier-General.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, SECOND CORPS,
June 25, 1864.

COLONEL: In obedient to orders I have the honor to report as follows in relation to loss of prisoners on June 22 instant:

On the morning of that I received the following orders:

You will move forward division, connecting with General Mott on your right, swinging forward until your whole line is in close proximity to that of the enemy.

Your movement will not be dependent on any movement of the Sixth Corps.

In obedience to these orders I moved forward, placing one brigade on the prolongation of General Mott’s line, and protecting my flank by throwing back two small brigades on my left. By the movement ordered not only my flank but my rear was exposed to the enemy, who soon pressed into the gap between the Second and Sixth Corps. As soon as it became evident that the enemy were pressing in this direction I moved my reserve brigade in double-quick to our old line of riflepits to re-establish as far as possible the connection with the Sixth Corps. The brigades of my front line (Second, Third, and Fourth) came back in confusion under the fire from their flank and rear before any changes in

their position could be executed. No change of position, however, short of coming back to their old line or the advance of the Sixth Corps could have rendered them safe. I attribute the loss of prisoners to the position in which we were placed by swinging forward. At the same time it must be admitted that the troops engaged did not meet the attack with the vigor and determination which they would have shown at an earlier period of the campaign. Loss of commanding and other officers, exhaustion and other causes have so affected the three concerned in these operations, Second, Third and Fourth Brigades, that they cannot just now be relied on to meet critical emergencies with much determination and spirit. I had hardly got my First Brigade into position in the rifle-pits before it was smartly attacked. The enemy were repulsed.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

FRANCIS C. BARLOW,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.

Lieutenant-Colonel WALKER,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Corps.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, SECOND CORPS,
June 25, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that I was with my command in the affair of June 22. I was at the point where the skirmishing began-in front of that part of my advanced line which made a return. Our skirmishers drove back the enemy from the front of this return. I ordered the return to be prolonged by a skirmish line, and, the firing having cease, I went to my reserve brigade to change its position and sent orders to my first line to make proper changes of front. The first line broke and came out while I was with the second line. The thing took place without any warning to me and entirely unexpectedly. It was all over in a few minutes and the men were out of the woods. I did not then, and do not now, think there was a large force of the enemy, but our men were disconcerted by receiving and hearing a fire in their rear and on their flank. I did not see the enemy and cannot speak of their numbers from observation. Reports come to me of “overwhelming numbers” and ” three lines of battle,” but I do not believe them, In the thick woods it was impossible to tell what the force of the enemy was unless you were among them.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

FRANCIS C. BARLOW,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.

Lieutenant-Colonel WALKER,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of my division at deep Bottom in July and august, * 1864:

At 4 p. m. of July 26 the division marched with the rest of the corps for Deep Bottom During the night we crossed the pontoon bridge at that point, and massed in a concealed position on the north bank of the James River, near the earth-works held by Foster’s brigade. the march James River, near the earth-works held by Foster’s brigade. The march was a severe one and the roads in some places bad, and considerable falling out occurred.

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*For report of operations in August, see Vol. XLII, Part I.

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Early on the morning of July 27, in obedience to orders, the division, in conjunction with the remainder of the corps, pressed forward against the line of the enemy’s rifle-pits, which covered the road running parallel to the river. The skirmish line of the division, consisting of regiments of Miles’ brigade, advanced under a fire of musketry and artillery, and by a well executed movement drove the enemy from the rifle-pits in their, front, capturing four pieces of artillery. The enemy held the line weakly. Subsequently we advanced through the woods about one mile to the New Market road, and went on the river road to the deserted hotel. The woods were deep and thick, and the advance through them occupied some time. Beyond the New Market road and crossing it and the river road, the enemy occupied in considerable force a strong and commanding line of rifle-pits. Pressing a skirmish line as close as possible to this line, and made a reconnaissance with a view to discover, if possible, the left flank of the enemy’s works and a suitable place for an attack, I could not find the point where the line ended on the enemy’s left, and further operations were prevented by night-fall.

On July 28, the Second Division of the corps was engaged in maneuvering to attack the enemy’s left, and the First Division held its lines, acting as a support or reserve to the Second Division. No operations of importance were executed by the division on the 29th, and at night, in obedience to orders, we withdrew to the line of the entrenchments on the river road. On the evening of that day i left the front upon leave of absence.

* * * * * *

FRANCIS C. BARLOW,

Brigadier-General of Volunteers.

[Captain WILLIAM P. WILSON,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.]

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 328-331

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