Number 62. Petersburg Campaign Report of Captain James C. Farwell, First Minnesota Infantry

   

1 comment

in Part 1 (Serial Number 80)

No. 62. Report of Captain James C. Farwell, First Minnesota Infantry.1

HDQRS. FIRST BATTALION MINNESOTA INFANTRY.

Near Petersburg, Va., August 7, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report the part taken by my command during the present campaign, since its assignment to this brigade, at Cold Harbor, on the 11th day of June, 1864, by order of Major-General Hancock, commanding Second Army Corps.

On the evening of the 12th, in accordance with orders from the general commanding, we left our position at Cold Harbor, marched that night, and at 9 o’clock on the morning of the 13th reached the Chickahominy River, where we halted and rested until 3 p. m., when we crossed and again halted until sundown. We then proceeded to Charles City Court-House, where we arrived at 1 a. m. of the 14th, and remained until 7 o’clock, and then marched to army headquarters, distant nearly two miles, where we formed in line of battle. At 3 p. m. we moved to Wilcox’s Landing, on the James River, where we took transports and crossed to the south side. Four miles from said river we were formed in line of battle and remained there until 12 m. of the 15th, when we moved toward Petersburg, and arrived within the outer fortifications at 11 p. m. on that day. The men were immediately put to work, and by the morning of the 16th had succeeded in constructing a strong line of rifle-pits, connecting with those abandoned by the enemy on the day previous. During the day the men were constantly exposed to the artillery fire of the enemy, but suffered no loss until 4 p. m., when a charge was made by our forces. Part of my command, being on picket duty near the enemy’s line, was exposed to this fire, and one man was wounded. During the charge the most of my battalion were stationed in the rifle-pits, which they had constructed, and directly in rear of the Sixth Maine Battery, which during the battle was enabled, from the effectiveness of its fire, to advance midway between our works and those of the enemy. We remained in this position until the morning of the 18th, when we were moved nearer the enemy’s works, and massed by brigade. At a given signal the line moved forward, led by General Pierce, who was slightly wounded during the engagement. Owing to the thick woods through which we were compelled to charge it was necessary tho halt the line several times for the purpose of reforming, when we were again moved forward and succeeded in driving the enemy before us for some distance, when the line was halted, it being impossible to force the enemy from his position by a direct attack on his front. This brigade was then moved to the extreme right of this corps. I then received orders from General Pierce, who still retained command, to deploy my command as skirmishers, and if possible take possession of a certain road running perpendicular to and striking the City Point railroad, about three-quarters of a mile from Petersburg. My men moved forward steadily, although exposed to a heavy fire from the front and an enfilading fire from the enemy in front of the Sixth Corps, who up to this time had not been forced from their position. I at last succeeded, though with severe loss, in gaining the position ordered. I then, by General Pierce’s order, moved my command forward and occupied a position beyond the road and near the enemy’s works, which were very formidable and still remain in his possession. The presence of my men on the enemy’s right and rear compelled him to fall back in front of the Sixth Corps, on a line with those in our immediate front. That corps

then moved forward and joined my right, while the troops to the left were advanced on a line with us. My loss during this engagement was as follows: Killed 2; wounded, 1 commissioned officer and 4 enlisted men. Works were thrown up at this point, and my command occupied the right of the Second Corps, resting on the City Point railroad, and connecting with the Second Division of the Sixth Corps. We remained in this position until the evening of the 20th, when we were relieved by a portion of the Sixth Corps, and moved to the left and halted near the Suffolk railroad, where we remained until the p. m. of the 21st, when we moved forward as skirmishers and extended our line in the direction of the Weldon railroad. We met with little opposition from the enemy, and by the morning of the 22nd were stationed in rifle-pits thrown up during the night. On the p. m. of that day Captain McKnight’s battery, the Twelfth New York Artillery, on which effect, but the battery still continued its fire until we were flanked on the left, and the enfilading fire of the enemy’s forces compelled me to withdraw my command. I did not leave the position, however, until the enemy was fairly upon my left and had taken possession of the battery mentioned. I then withdrew to the cover of the woods and reformed my line and reported to Adjt. General O. A. Williams, First Brigade. I then received orders from General Pierce to deploy my command as skirmishers, and moved forward toward the works lately occupied by our troops. The right of my line soon became engaged with the enemy’s skirmishers, and forced them back in rear of their line of battle. This was accomplished, however, with severe loss. Our line of battle then advanced and opened fire before my men could withdraw, consequently some of them were disabled from the fire of our own troops.

On the morning of the 24th we were relieved by a portion of the Fifth Corps, and moved to the left of the Jerusalem plank road, where we dug rifle-pits and remained there until the 25th, when we were relieved by a portion of the Fifth Corps, and marched to the rear and left of the Sixth Corps, where we remained until the 27th, when we were ordered on picket, and relieved a portion of the Sixth Corps. We remained on the left until on or about the 2nd of July, when we removed to our present position, and remained here until the 22d. During this time the men were frequently on fatigue, but did not perform other duties of consequence. We then moved to the rear and left and relieved the colored troops, and remained here until the 22d. During this time the men were frequently on fatigue, but did not perform other duties of consequence. We then moved to the rear and left and relieved the colored troops, and remained in that position until the 26th, when I received orders to hold my command in readiness to march. Left camp on the p. m. of that day and marched to and crossed the Appomattox at Point of Rocks and the James at Jones’ Neck on the morning of the 27th. We were immediately formed in line and occupied the rifle-pits. We were then, with the rest of the brigade, advanced to the woods in our front, when I received orders from Colonel Pierce, commanding brigade, to deploy my battalion as skirmishers, my right resting on the left of the Fifty-ninth New York Volunteers and my left on Four-Mile Creek. This I accomplished without loss, although exposed to the fire of their skirmishers, who were concealed behind trees. We were relieved in the evening, and returned to the brigade.

On the 28th moved toward Malvern Hill as a support to General Sheridan, but did not become engaged with the enemy. The next morning returned to or near the point occupied by us on the 27th and threw up earth-works. Marched out of the works that evening and recrossed the James shortly after dark and the Appomattox

about midnight, and arrived in front of Petersburg early on the morning of the 30th, where the brigade was massed. Remained here till dark, when we marched to the left and occupied the position which we left on the 26th.

My total loss during the campaign, i. e., since my command was assigned to the brigade,was as follows: Killed, 7 enlisted men; wounded, 25 enlisted men and 1 commissioned officer; missing, 22 enlisted men; making a total loss of 54 enlisted men and 1 commissioned officer, or about one-third of my command.

To my officers I feel deeply indebted for the prompt manner in which all my orders were executed, and to the men too much praise cannot be awarded for their coolness and bravery under fire. Many of these men were new recruits, but they under all circumstances acted like veterans.

I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. C. FARWELL,

Captain, Commanding First Battalion Minnesota Infantry.

Captain J. E. CURTISS,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, First Brigade.

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 373-375

***



What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: