Number 207. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Byron M. Cutcheon, Twentieth Michigan Infantry

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 80)

No. 207. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Byron M. Cutcheon, Twentieth Michigan Infantry.1

HDQRS. TWENTIETH Regiment MICHIGAN VOL. INFANTRY,
Before Petersburg, Va., August 7, 1864.

CAPTAIN: *

FIFTH EPOCH.

June 12, we withdrew from Cold Harbor, bringing up the rear of the division as rear guard, which duty we performed up to 11 p.m. of the 13th of June. Reached

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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.975.

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James River at 6.30 p.m. of the 14th and sent out seventy-five men on picket. On the 15th crossed the James River, marched all night, and took up position in front of Petersburg. At 7 p.m. on the 16th sent out ninety men as skirmishers.

On the 17th day of June we supported the charge of the First Brigade, suffering but slight loss.

On the 18th of June the regiment made a charge across a wide open field and through a deep cut on the Suffolk railroad, suffering very severely from a galling cross-fire; then charged again from the railroad up to within 160 yards of the enemy’s works and threw up rifle-pits. Our loss on this day was about one-half the effective force engaged. About midnight the regiment was withdrawn from the front and lay in reserve, where it remained until the 20th of June, when it again moved into the trenches.

This completes the report of Major Grant.

The regiment remained in the trenches until July 25 without relief. On the 25th we were withdrawn to the rear, where we rested two days, and on the 27th of July we moved two miles and a half to the left and rear of the Suffolk railroad. We were occupied with the picket duty until the evening of the 29th, when we again returned to the front, bivouacking near the headquarters of the Fifth Army Corps.

For the operations of this command in the assault upon the enemy’s lines before Petersburg on the 30th and the operations on the 31st I respectfully refer to my report forwarded on the 3rd instant* and the list of casualties appended. The following is the list of casualties during the operations around Petersburg.+

I cannot close this too lengthy report without at least an allusion to the conduct of the officers and men of this command. It is only necessary to state that at all times and under all emergencies they have discharged their duties faithfully, gallantly, and uncomplainingly. Our casualties have been greater in number than the number of muskets we carried at the beginning of the campaign. We entered the campaign with 22 officers; of these, a major, 3 captains, and 4 lieutenants have been killed; the colonel commanding, 3 captains, and 3 lieutenants wounded, and a captain and lieutenant missing; total loss of officers, 17.

Among so many gallant officers it is impossible to speak of all who merit it, whether living or dead, but I must make an exception in favor of Major George C. Barnes, who fell gallantly leading his regiment in the charge of June 18. He was a brave, intelligent, and thoroughly reliable officer, often tried and never found wanting. Also Major (late Captain) Grant, who assumed command on the death of Major Barnes, of whom all may be said that has been said of the latter. One other man deserves special mention. Color-Sergt. Alexander Bush, after having carried his colors with the greatest bravery in every action of the campaign, was reported wounded and missing after the assault of the 30th of July; his commission as first lieutenant came two days too late to reward his gallantry. In short, the command has honored every call upon it and only ninety-one effective men now remain in the ranks.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

BYRON M. CUTCHEON,

Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Twentieth Regiment Michigan Vol. Infantry.

Captain THOMAS MATHEWS,

Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, 2nd Brigadier, 3rd Div., 9th Army Corps.

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*See p.509.2

+See appendix following.

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.

B. M. CUTCHEON,

Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Twentieth Regiment Michigan Volunteers.
HEADQUARTERS TWENTIETH MICHIGAN INFANTRY,
Before Petersburg, Va., August 3, 1864.

CAPTAIN: In obedience to circular of this date I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of this regiment in the action of July 30, 1864:

We left the bivouac at about 4 a.m., having left knapsacks under guard, and halted in the covered way near Roemer’s battery. When the mine was sprung we advanced at the double-quick and formed in the brigade column in rear of our works, the regiment being the third battalion in the column. We lost several men before the charge was made. At 8.30 a.m. we formed in the trenches for the charge, the Second Michigan on our right and the Forty-sixth New York on our left. We were ordered to follow and be guided by the movements of the regiment upon our right. The regiment on our right moved by the right flank, on the double-quick, toward the fort, and I led my regiment in the same direction. Seeing that great numbers of men were crowded behind the fort I moved by the left flank, and threw my regiment upon the enemy’s rifle-pit to the left of the fort. The enemy occupying the pit surrendered to the number of between 30 and 40, including 2 commissioned officers, to my certain knowledge. When the first rebel counter-charge was made I moved my command over the rebel rifle-pit and into the left of the fort, or battery, which was only slightly injured, and planted our colors beyond the fort. When the stampede of the troops took place my command did not participate beyond a very few men, who were carried away in the rush. This regiment participated actively in repulsing the rebel charge, both in the forenoon and afternoon, behaving with gallantry and coolness. All the men of the command participated in the charge except some half a dozen, against whom I have directed charges to be preferred. A few of the men being lost in getting over the breast-works went to the left with the Forty-sixth New York Regiment and returned again to our lines; one officer also being delayed in getting his men over made the same mistake and went with the Forty-sixth into the ravine to the left. All the rest, officers and men, went into the enemy’s works and remained

till afternoon. At about 1.30 p.m. I came back to our lines to endeavor to obtain water and ammunition for the men, and also to try to get a gun silenced that was enfilading us from the battery on the left. I did this by permission of Brigadier-General Hartranft, who was near me. Before I could return the last charge was made and nearly all our forces came back. It was sometime before I learned that any part of my command was still in the rebel fort, but I learned at about 3 p.m. that our colors were still flying on their works, defended by about thirty of the men of my command; of these about ten made their escape and the remainder were taken, among them all that remained of the color guard, of whom only two remained uninjured. So far as I can learn the colors of the Twentieth and Second Michigan were the last displayed on the reel fort. After the withdrawal of our forces I assembled the remains of my command and was assigned to a position in the trenches adjacent to the Eighteenth Corps, where we remained till the 1st of August.

I append a list of casualties.*

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

BYRON M. CUTCHEON,

Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Twentieth Michigan Infantry.

Captain THOMAS MATHEWS,

Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, 2nd Brigadier, 3rd Div., 9th Army Corps.

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*Embodied in table, p.247.

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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 588-591
  2. This is a typo.  The correct page number is 590.

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