Number 95. Petersburg Campaign Reports of Captain Thomas C. Thompson, Seventh New Jersey Infantry

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 80)

Numbers 95. Reports of Captain Thomas C. Thompson, Seventh New Jersey Infantry.1

HDQRS. SEVENTH REGIMENT NEW JERSEY VOLUNTEERS, Near Petersburg, Va., August 8, 1864.

SIR: *

FIFTH EPOCH.

The march across the Chickahominy and the James, and the operations in front of Petersburg up to July 30, 1864.

Reaching Charles City Cross-Roads the march was continued in direction of the Chickahominy River, arriving and crossing that stream about 3 p. m. [June 13]. Still pressing on, after marching until 8 p. m., found the brigade in camp within three miles of the James River. On the morning of June 14 moved down to the banks of the river at Wilcox’s Landing, and there remained until 4 p. m., when crossed on a steamer and landed at Wind-Mill Point. Proceeding about three miles from this locality I halted and camped for the night. Resuming our march on the morning of June 15, midnight found the regiment beside the rebel entrenchments before Petersburg, which were captured during the day by the negro troops.

The greater part of June 16 was occupied in changing the front of the captured works, and about 6 p. m., pursuant to orders, line of battle was formed inside of the works, on the

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road, the Sixth New Jersey being on the regiment’s right and the Fifth New Jersey on the left of the regiment. A line of battle advanced 300 yards ahead, drove in the pickets of the enemy, and then veering to the right crossed the road and left the way open for Major Cooper to advance, the regiment quickly joining with the Sixth New Jersey, which, at one time, from some unknown cause, became detached from the right. Major Cooper ordered the command forward, and while under a severe fire of the enemy succeeded in crossing the ravine in our front, and taking a secure position within a short distance of the rebel entrenchments. Here a small rifle-pit was thrown up, and early on the morning of the 17th received orders to fall back across the ravine to the adjacent hill, leaving a small detachment to hold the line. I am pained to report

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*For portion of report (here omitted) covering operations from May 3 to June 13, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p. 498.

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that on the afternoon of the 16th Captain Mullery, a brave and accomplished officer, was mortally wounded while in the act of cheering on his men.

Remained idle during the greater part of the 17th, and at night moved to the right of the road and there remained all night. During the night the enemy abandoned the line of works in front and fell back to another line beyond the old State road. At daylight on the 18th, when their retreat was discovered, the regiment joined in the advance, and upon arriving beside the road halted and erected a small rifle-pit. No movement of consequence took place during the day until about 4 p. m., the brigade having massed by the roadside, just to the right of the O. P. Hare house, when an attempt was made to carry the enemy’s rifle-pits, but was repulsed. The First Maine Heavy Artillery lead the column, the Sixteenth Massachusetts following, and this regiment behind the latter regiment. The Sixteenth Massachusetts failed to follow the First Maine, whereupon Major Cooper ordered the regiment forward, but not being properly supported did not advance beyond the Hare house. After the failure of this charge the brigade was withdrawn to the rear.

On the morning of June 19 Major Cooper, who throughout the campaign had ably commanded the regiment, was disabled by a wound in his ankle, received while performing the duty of division officer of the day. Being the senior officer present, I assumed command of the regiment.

On the 20th I marched to the left, and on the 21st joined in the reconnaissance beyond our left flank. Upon returning and being assigned a position on the right of the Second Division of the Second Corps, I entrenched my front, and on the morning of the 22nd advanced with the brigade, halting a short distance from the enemy’s works. After being furnished with intrenching tools I began to strengthen my position. My right joined the left of the Sixteenth Massachusetts, and my left connected with a regiment of the First Division, the whole of which division, I believe, being the left of the line of battle. While engaged at work in the trenches the enemy attacked the left flank of the First Division, which gave way and retreated past my command in great disorder. Shortly after the left gave way I was informed by several of my officers that there were no troops upon my right, and finding that to remain was certain capture, I ordered my command to fall back. Following along the line of earth-works, I halted and rallied a portion of my command, but finding the confusion so great that a stand would be useless I again ordered a retreat. Amid the confusion incident to the occasion the colors by some means became separated, and upon regaining our main works I learned that the national colors, 2 officers, and some 40 enlisted men were missing. It is supposed that the color bearer, when retreating, as well as officers and men, took the wrong direction and fell into the enemy’s hands. I trust that the loss of the colors will not be considered discreditable to the reputation of the regiment and that the loss will be attributed more to accident than to any other cause.

On the 23rd of June I was assigned a place in the line of entrenchments, which I occupied until the 11th of July, when that portion of the line was abandoned. Encamping in rear of the Fifth Corps, no notable event (if I except the fatigue duty at the front) occurred until the night of July 26, when with the brigade I marched toward the James River, crossing the Appomattox at midnight and the James early on the morning of the 27th. When in the vicinity of Deep Bottom Creek

line of battle was formed in a piece of wood, my right joining the Sixth New Jersey and my left the Eleventh New Jersey. The enemy slightly annoyed us with a battery, but it was of short duration. While in this locality my command was not engaged in battle, and on the night of July 28 I recrossed the James and Appomattox, arriving and halting in rear of the Eighteenth Corps at daybreak July 29. At night I occupied a portion of the line of breast-works in front of the city, on the left bank of the Appomattox, where I remained until the night of July 30, 1864, when on being relieved I returned to the camp which I occupied previous to the movement across the James on the 26th.

My loss during the campaign is as follows: Commissioned officers-killed, 2; wounded, 10; missing, 2. Enlisted men-killed, 10; wounded, 88; missing, 56. Making an aggregate loss of 168.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

THOS. C. THOMPSON,

Captain, Commanding Regiment.
HDQRS. SEVENTH REGIMENT NEW JERSEY VOLUNTEERS, Fort Davis, near Petersburg, Va., October 6, 1864.

SIR: In conformity with circular from brigade headquarters of this date, I have the honor to make the following report in reference to the operations of this regiment in the first Deep Bottom campaign, from July 26 to July 29, 1864, inclusive, I being at that time in command:

Broke camp near Jerusalem plank road on the evening of July 26; crossed the Appomattox that night and the James River at daybreak on the following morning. Formed line of battle along the edge of a wood skirting Strawberry Plains, Sixth New Jersey being on my right and the Eleventh New Jersey joining me on the left. Here the enemy opened fire from a battery but injured none of my command. After considerable maneuvering finally were placed in position in a large wood in front of the enemy’s works, where I remained until the night of July 28, when the line of march was again taken up. Recrossing the James and Appomattox I arrived in vicinity of Petersburg at daylight on the morning of July 29, and halted in rear of the Eighteenth Corps, where I remained until dark, when I was assigned position in the entrenchments near the Appomattox, there remaining until the night of July 30, when, upon being relieved, returned to the old camp near the Jerusalem plank road. No casualties.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOMAS C. THOMPSON,

Captain, Seventh New Jersey Volunteers.

ASST. ADJT. General, THIRD Brigadier, THIRD DIV., SECOND CORPS.

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 417-419

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