Number 173. Petersburg Campaign Report of Captain William B. Rhodes, Battery E, First Rhode Island Light Artillery

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 80)

No. 173. Report of Captain William B. Rhodes, Battery E, First Rhode Island Light Artillery.1

HDQRS. BATTERY E, FIRST RHODE ISLAND ARTILLERY, Before Petersburg, Va., August 30, 1864.

SIR: +

I left that position [near Old Tavern] the morning of the 13th [June], and marched to the Chickahominy River, crossed, and went into camp.

June 14, marched to Charles City Court-House.

June 15, broke camp at 2 a.m., crossed the James River at Nine Oaks, and camped near the river. I again broke camp at 10 p.m., marched all night, and arrived in front of Petersburg the evening of the 17th.

June 18, was placed in position by Colonel Tompkins within 300 yards of the enemy’s skirmish lines, where I covered a charge made by the Eighteenth Corps. Was then placed in position nearer the city, on a point of land formed by a bend of the Appomattox River, where I covered another charge of the Eighteenth Corps, and was under a sharp musketry fire. I was then ordered to throw solid shot into the city, which was the first fired directly into it; was then enfiladed by a rifle battery on my right, which was out of range for my guns. A battery also opened in my front. The men worked all night throwing up earth-works. I fired 186 rounds of ammunition, principally solid shot, with the following casualties: Privates William E. Hooper, Emil Thomas, George H. Kelly, William Crothers, and Thomas Nolan wounded, and three horses killed.

June 19, kept up a slow fire on the city and railroad bridge, expending 224 rounds of ammunition, and losing four horses killed. Just at

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+For portion of report [here omitted] covering operations from May 4 to June 12, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p.770.

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night I discovered the enemy throwing up a work for a battery in my rear on a bend of the river, in consequence of which the men worked all night, throwing up a traverse in rear of the guns.

June 20, the enemy opened on my position at daylight with three batteries, two on my right and one [a 20-pounder Parrott] in my rear. The sharpshooters in my front had advanced during the night to within a few hundred yards, and both kept up a brisk fire for four hours, when, finding that they could not silence my guns or drive me from my position, they ceased firing. They would have undoubtedly ruined the battery were it not for the strength of my works, the battery in my rear being completely out of range. I lost four horses killed and expended 127 rounds of ammunition. My officers and men behaved splendidly in this as well as in previous engagements.

June 21, was relieved by Battery E, Fifth U. S. Artillery, and went into camp in the rear. Broke camp at 9 p.m. and marched all night, arriving at the extreme left of our line at 8 a.m.; was ordered to report to General Ricketts; took position by his order, and was then ordered to throw up an earth-work, which took nearly all night.

June 23, lost Privates Joseph F. Divens and Israel Riley, probably taken prisoners by guerrillas.

Remained in position until June 29, when I accompanied the corps to Reams’ Station, to re-enforce General Wilson, who was returning from his raid. Arrived there at 10 p.m. and bivouacked for the night.

June 30, was placed in position by Major Tompkins, and ordered t throw up breast-works; worked all day and was relieved at dark, reporting to General Getty. Marched all night with his division, and camped at daylight near Lee’s Mill.

July 1, was placed by General Getty in a position to command the plank road from Reams’ Station, and remained all day and night.

July 2, was relieved, and marched with the corps to Williams’ farm, and took my former position on the left. Remained there until July 9, when I was relieved at 11 p.m., and marched with the corps to City Point, arriving there at daylight the 10th. The corps, with six batteries, embarked for Washington. I remained in camp near the Point until July 13, when I was ordered to embark, with the remaining batteries of the corps, to join the corps in Baltimore, where we arrived the morning of the 15th.

July 16, received orders to disembark, march to Camden Station, and take the cars for Washington; which I did, and arrived at Washington in the afternoon, and camped at Camp Barry.

July 17, received orders to march to Sixth-street Wharf, and embark for City Point, where we arrived the 19th and went into camp near the Point.

July 26, the batteries were ordered to report to General Hunt, chief of artillery of the army. We were then ordered to relieve the batteries of the Second Corps, which were in the reserve. Remained there until the evening of the 29th, when I was ordered to report to Lieutenant-Colonel Monroe, chief of artillery Ninth Corps, and was placed in reserve for that corps.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. B. RHODES,

Captain First Rhode Island Artillery, Commanding Battery E.

Lieutenant E. N. WHITTIER,

Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Artillery Brigade, Sixth 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), page 519-520

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