Number 243. Report of Lieutenant Charles L. Fitzhugh, Battery E, Fourth U. S. Artillery, of operations June 22-29

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 80)

Numbers 243. Report of Lieutenant Charles L. Fitzhugh, Battery E, Fourt U. S. Artillery, of operations June 22-29.1

CAMP HORSE BATTERIES C AND E, FOURTH U. S. ARTY.,

July 3, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of the battery under my command during the recent cavalry expedition under Brigadier-General Wilson:

The battery started from Bryant’s house, near Mount Zion Church, with the First Brigade, Third Division, on the 22nd of June, 1864, at 3 a.m., crossed the Weldon railroad at Reams’ Station, and proceeded toward Burkeville. The battery was engaged near Nottoway Court-House on the 24th, and the enemy defeated. Marched on the 25th along the Richmond and Danville Railroad, the cavalry destroying the road effectually, and came into position at Roanoke Station on the 26th of June, engaging a rebel battery of six guns across the river, and silencing three of the guns in less than half an hour. The destruction of the road as far as the Roanoke River having been completed the expedition started on the return trip, the battery accompanying it through Christianville, Oak Grove, and Smoky Ordinary, and reached Stony Creek on the evening of the 28th, where the battery became engaged and remained in position all night, aiding in the repulse of three severe attacks of the enemy. We left this position on the morning of the 29th, and advanced toward Reams’ Station, on Weldon road, where the enemy was found in heavy force. The battery was placed in position, by order of General Wilson, on the hill on the right of the road between General Kautz’ command and the First [Third] Division, commanding our front and left for some 700 yards. At this time I was ordered by the general commanding to destroy most of my caissons, to put fresh horses at the guns, and to be prepared for a rapid movement. I obedience to this command I destroyed three caissons and put eight horses to each of the remaining carriages, which was hardly accomplished when

the enemy in our left flank in heavy force, three lines of infantry deploying from the woods on the left and within 300 yards of the battery. They were handsomely repulsed with canister from all four of the guns and driven back, with heavy loss, into the woods, but filled the road on the left of the battery, cutting it off entirely from the Third Division and compelling it to move about 400 yards toward General Kautz’s command, which still held its ground. The battery was again placed in position, driving the enemy from its front and enabling General Kautz to withdraw his command with trifling loss. Left, then, without support of any kind, I ordered the pieces t be limbered up, and with my three remaining in front to follow General Kautz’s retreating command. That force took a course impracticable for artillery, so the attempt was made to carry the battery farther to the right in the hope of joining General Wilson’s column, retreating on the road to Stony Creek. On reaching this road there was only time to put the three leading carriages on the road, the rebels advancing so rapidly in pursuit as to cut off the guns from the cavalry column; the caissons were afterward abandoned in the retreat. In the mean time Lieutenant Fuger, commanding the left section, in the rear, was severely pressed and compelled to spike and abandon his pieces, bringing off with him all his cannoneers and drivers but two, who were shot down while spiking the guns, and three drivers captured there. The right section, under Lieutenant Reilly, was here nearly surrounded by the enemy and compelled to spike and abandon one gun, but carried the other piece three-quarters of a mile through the woods before he was forced to leave it. What was left of the company was then armed with carbines and pistols picked up on the road traveled by our cavalry, and, joined by some fifty straggling cavalrymen, marched rapidly across the railroad and reached our lines at about 9 p.m., losing some 15 or 20 men cut off by the pursuing enemy and by the fire of the guards and pickets, through which we had to charge.

I have the honor to state that the guns were only spiked and abandoned when there was not a cavalryman within half a mile to support them, and the enemy so close as to shoot down the men who did not heed their demand to halt and surrender. I cannot too highly praise the gallant conduct of the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates under my command. To Lieutenant Reilly and Fuger I am indebted for the most valuable assistance. Always willing and indefatigable they sustained their reputations as excellent artillery officers. I refer them to my superiors for honorable mention and reward.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHAS. L. FITZHUGH,

First Lieutenant, 4th U. S. Artillery, Commanding Horse Batteries C and E.

Captain SIEBERT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Indorsement]
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY EXPEDITION,
July 3, 1864.

Respectfully forwarded, approved.

No blame whatever can be attached to the officers or men of this battery for its loss, but, to the contrary, they are worthy of the highest praise for their good conduct and gallantry throughout the entire expedition.

JAS. H. WILSON,

Brigadier-General.

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 653-654

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