Number 133. Petersburg Campaign Report of Brigadier General Lysander Cutler, U. S. Army, commanding Fourth Division

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 80)

No. 133. Report of Brigadier General Lysander Cutler, U. S. Army, commanding Fourth Division.1

HEADQUARTERS FOURTH DIVISION, FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
August 13, 1864.

COLONEL: *

FIFTH EPOCH.

At 4 p.m. the 13th [June] I was ordered to move on to Charles City and to take charge of the trains of the corps on the march. It was nearly night when I got the trains all in motion. I arrived with the trains at 3 a.m. on the 14th, and went into camp one mile from Wilcox’s Landing, where I remained until 4 a.m. of the 16th, when I crossed the James River and moved toward Petersburg, following General Griffin, and encamping within about three miles of the town at Burchett’s house. At daylight on the 17th I sent the One hundred and forty-seventh New York to picket the Blackwater, and moved my command forward and went into position on the left of the Ninth Corps, my left extending toward the Blackwater, and intrenched within about 600 yards of the enemy’s works. At daylight on the 18th I was ordered to move on the enemy’s works. The order was immediately executed. The enemy’s first and second lines were found to have been abandoned during the night. A few men who were left asleep only were found. I pushed my skirmishers and line of battle forward across the Norfolk railroad, and found the enemy on the crest beyond and in front of Petersburg. The enemy had set fire to the bridges across the railroad cut as they retired. I immediately rebuilt the bridge in my front to enable the batteries to come up. Having formed my command on the left of the railroad in two lines, I moved forward, my right resting on the road, and drove in the enemy’s pickets on his works in front of the town, General Ayres’ (Second) division having in the mean time come in on my left. At 2.50 p.m. an order was

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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.610.

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received to advance on the enemy’s works; at 3 o’clock an order saying the movement was general. I immediately put my command in position to advance and at 3.20 moved forward, my Second Brigade (Colonel Hofmann) leading, supported by my First Brigade (Colonel Bragg). General Ayres, of the Second Division, did not receive the order in time to enable him to move simultaneously with me. My command suffered severely both by direct and flank fire of both infantry and artillery,and though a part of both brigades got within about seventy-five yards of the enemy’s works they were unable to carry them. My men held the ground gained until dark, when, in obedience of orders, I withdrew the most advanced portions of my command and intrenched, connecting with Griffin on my right and Ayres on my left. In this affair I lost in killed and wounded about one-third of the men I had with me, and among them many valuable officers. After intrenching I remained in the same position to the close of the month, on the last day of which* a mine was sprung in front of the Ninth Corps and a little to my right. In obedience to orders received the evening before, I had my First Brigade in the trenches and my Second Brigade in reserve ready for any duty required of them. At 9.30 a.m. I strengthened my skirmish line and pushed it forward in close proximity to the enemy’s works. Beyond this I took no part in the operations. This closes the period for which reports are at present required.

Since the commencement of the campaign the Third Brigade (Stone’s) has been transferred to the First Division. The term of service of the Fourteenth Brooklyn, in the Second Brigade, and the Second Wisconsin, in the First Brigade, have expired. Three small regiments (the Third and Fourth Delaware and One hundred and fifty-seventh Pennsylvania) have been added to the Second Brigade. The regiments which still remain* of the old division had, when the campaign commenced, 3,742 enlisted men in the ranks. They now have (excluding those who have been wounded and returned) 1,324; including those, 1,404. The regiments whose terms have expired suffered equally with the others while they remained.

The changes in the command have been so frequent, and the losing of nearly every original brigade, regimental, and company commander, render it impossible to make anything like an accurate report as to details. One thing I think may safely be claimed for the division-that it has endeavored to discharge its duties as promptly and cheerfully as any command in the army. If in common with the army it has not achieved any brilliant victories its list of casualties shows that it lacked not in its endeavors nor shrunk from its duties.

I cannot close this report without saying how deeply I felt the loss of the many brave officers and men who have fallen in this campaign.

To my personal staff I am under great obligations. They have all, without exception, discharged the constant, fatiguing, and dangerous duties imposed on them in the bravest manner and with the almost alacrity. One only of their number has been killed, Lieutenant Chilson, of the Twenty-fourth Michigan, who fell by my side in the charge of the enemy’s works on the 18th of June.

The list of casualties which is herewith inclosed is necessarily incomplete on account of the frequent changes and great loss of officers in the command.

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* Rather July 30.

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No report has been received from the First or Third Brigades. That from the Second Brigade (Colonel Hofmann) is herewith submitted.*

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

L. CUTLER,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Lieutenant Colonel FRED. T. LOCKE,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Fifth Army Corps.

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* Same as given in Hofmann’s report, p.477.

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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), pages 473-475

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