Number 302. Reports of Major General Bushrod R. Johnson, C. S. Army, commanding Johnson’s division

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 80)

Numbers 302. Reports of Major General Bushrod R. Johnson, C. S. Army, commanding Johnson’s division.1

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, June 22, 1864.

COLONEL: In the Richmond Examiner of the 20th instant I find the following paragraph:

TROPHIES OF THE FIGHT.

There were deposited temporarily in this office on Saturday two flags taken from the enemy on Friday in the battle of Petersburg by General Wise’s brigade. One of these flags that changed bearers on that occasion is a large, elegant silk banner, heavily fringed, which bears the inscription, “One hundred and thirteenth Regiment New York State Volunteers,” and beneath the motto, “Excelsior.” Either face of the banner bears a painting illustrative of battle scenes in the Revolutionary war, with the figure of General Washington in the foreground. It is the largest and most superb regimental flag we ever saw. The silken folds are rent in several places by bullet and shell, and the top of the staff is shattered by a minie-ball. Splashes of blood here and there upon the torn silk suggested a hand-to-hand conflict for the possession of the flag, closing with the death of its supporters.

The other trophy is an artillery bunting flag, and is emblazoned in the center with the red figure of the “ace of clubs.” Its captors went one better, holding a “trump,” and took the “trick.” We understand that General Wise has presented at Excelsior banner to the State, and that it will be hung up in the State library along with the many other kindred trophies of the war that now adorn its wall.

The colors above referred to were captured on Thursday, the 16th instant, by Johnson’s brigade, and were delivered into the hands of a Mr. Trent, acting druggist at Poplar Lawn Hospital, by Corporal Bush, Company I, Forty-fourth Tennessee Regiment, who was wounded and sent to the rear. This fact is attested by a certificate from Mr. Trent, of which I inclose a copy. In the same action of Thursday, the 16th, Johnson’s brigade took as many of the enemy prisoners as they themselves had men engaged. This communication is not intended to blazon the achievements of Johnson’s brigade, nor to detract from the just credit of any other troops. My object is simply to insure that a body of gallant and meritorious men are not bereft of the reward of their heroic deeds, and to procure the restitution of trophies that belong rather to the Confederate Government than to any particular State.

The accompanying statement by Lieutenant Kelso and Colonel Fulton, commanding brigade, furnish formal and conclusive evidence that the colors and prisoners in controversy were captured by Johnson’s brigade.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT, Assistant Adjutant-General.

[First indorsement.]
HDQRS. DEPT. OF N. CAROLINA AND SOUTHERN VA., June 22, 1864.

Respectfully forwarded.

The colors are the property of the Confederate States, and should be properly appropriated. It is respectfully recommended that Colonel G. W. Munford, Secretary of State of Virginia, be called on for them.

G. T. BEAUREGARD,
General.

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*A trefoil-flag design of the First Division, Second Army Corps.

—————

[Second indorsement.]
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, June 25, 1864.

Respectfully forwarded.

The views of General Beauregard are concurred in.

W. H. TAYLOR,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

(For General R. E. Lee.)

[Third indorsement.]

ADJUTANT AND INSPECTOR GENERAL’S OFFICE, July 8, 1864.

Respectfully referred to his Excellency the Governor of Virginia for remarks.

By command of Secretary of War:

SAML. W. MELTON,

Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Fourth indorsement.]

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA, July 11, 1864.

Colors ordered to be delivered to the Adjutant-General of the Confederate States.

By the Governor:

P. F. HOWARD,

Assistant Secretary of the Commonwealth.

[Inclosure Numbers 1.]

BATTERSEA, June 21,. 1864.

The colors turned over to me by Corporal Bush have been turned over by me to General Wise.

WM. J. TRENT,

Druggist, Poplar Lawn Hospital, Petersburg, Va.

[First indorsement.]
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, June 21, 1864.

Respectfully referred to Brigadier-General Wise for explanation.

R. E. FOOTE,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

(For Major-General Johnson.)

[Second indorsement.]

JUNE 21, 1864.

These flags were not turned over to me. On the night of the 17th instant I found two flags at my headquarters-one a New York regimental flag (One hundred and thirteenth I think) with the motto, “Excelsior,” a silk flag, blue with yellow fringe, flag-staff split by a ball at the top. The other was a white triangular flag with an ace of clubs in the center-the badge of the Second Corps, as I am told. On inquiry I was informed that one of my couriers brought the flags to my

office, and that he said he got them from a steward of the Poplar Lawn Hospital, whose name he did not know, and he (the steward) said he got them from a soldier, wounded, who left them at the hospital. He did not know his name or regiment or company. I sent them with the escort of Captain Carter’s body to G. W. Munford, Secretary of State of Virginia, at Richmond.

HENRY A. WISE,

Brigadier-General.

[Inclosure Numbers 2.]
HDQRS. FORTY-FOURTH AND TWENTY-FIFTH TENN. Regiment, June 21, 1864.

Captain WEIR,
Assistant Adjutant-General:

In the formation of the line on the morning of 16th instant, the right of Johnson’s brigade ran perpendicularly to and about twenty yards from the old works about half way between Batteries 14 and 15, leaving a space between the right of the brigade occupied by Forty-fourth Tennessee Regiment and Battery 15 of about 100 yards. Colonel Fulton states that the interval between the Battery Numbers 15 and his right was to be filled by General Colston. The enemy about 5 p. m. made two charges. The first was repulsed when the second was bearing down upon the extreme right, moving right oblique. Myself and seventeen men moved into the interval between the right of Forty-fourth and Battery Numbers 15, and engaged the enemy, who was rapidly advancing. I deployed my men, covering about fifty yards of the interval. The enemy continued marching until they arrived within fifty yards of the work (our intrenchments, which I had but recently occupied). One of the colors was shot down six times. There was a ravine within about fifty yards of our intrenchments in which they laid down and commenced waving their handkerchiefs, and I ordered my men to cease firing and called upon them to surrender. They continued waving their hats and handkerchiefs. I still demanded their surrender. I then brought my men to a ready and told the enemy if they did not come in they would be again fired upon. The firing was again commenced and the enemy continued holding out, waving handkerchiefs, hats, &c. I then with my men marched out of the works and demanded the surrender, which they did, and marched them inside of our works. I found another line was advancing rapidly, and I ordered the men (prisoners) to march up the line, which they did, and I got my men back into position and drove the enemy’s line back. The line (ours) was so weak in this place that I made the prisoners enter the battery (Numbers 15), when they were taken by the Sixty-fourth Georgia Regiment back to the rear. In order to show that I took the prisoners I retained three stand of colors captured with them, two of which were given to Corpl. L. W. Bush, of Company I, Forty-fourth Tennessee Regiment, to take to brigade hospital for safe-keeping. Lieutenant Speck, of Twenty-fifth Tennessee Regiment, volunteered his services and took charge of one of the colors and carried them to Colonel Fulton, commanding brigade, who directed him to take “the colors” to the rear, which he failed to do, and was subsequently captured with the colors.

Very respectfully,

F. M. KELSO,

Second Lieutenant, Second Co., Forty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Tenn. Regiment

[First indorsement.]
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S BRIGADE, June 21, 1864.

In pursuance of a note of this date received from division headquarters I have procured from Lieutenant Kelso the within statement of the time and manner in which the prisoners were captured on the evening of the 16th instant. I am cognizant of the facts in the case and approve his statements as in accordance therewith. Had Lieutenant Kelso not acted in the manner he did I am satisfied that the prisoners would not have been captured.

JOHN S. FULTON,
Colonel, Commanding.

[Second indorsement.]
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, June 22, 1864.

Respectfully forwarded.

I understand that the two colors carried to the rear by Corporal Bush fell into the hands of Brigadier-General Wise, and were by him presented to Colonel G. W. Munford, Secretary of State of Virginia. I respectfully ask that these colors be returned to the Adjutant-General of the Confederate States. They are the property of the Confederate States and not of the State of Virginia. Lieutenant Kelso is the same officer who is mentioned for gallant conduct in my official report of the battle of Drewry’s Bluff, on the 16th of May, 1864.

B. R. JOHNSON,
Major-General, Commanding Division.

PETERSBURG, VA., June 22, 1864.

Colonel JOHN S. FULTON:

SIR: In reply to your note received a few minutes since concerning two stand of colors left in my hands by Corpl. L. W. Bush, Forty-fourth Tennessee Regiment, I furnish you the following information: On the morning of the 17th Corporal Bush was admitted in Poplar Lawn Hospital in my ward, suffering from an injury received the previous evening. He had the above-mentioned colors and delivered them to me for safe-keeping. One was a large blue silk flag belonging to the One hundred and thirteenth New York Regiment; the other was a small triangular flag with a red club in its center. Corporal Bush informed me that Lieutenant F. M. Kelso, Company B, Forty-fourth Tennessee, was the captor of one; the other taken by some member of the same company. I kept the colors until compelled to leave the hospital we then occupied by the enemy’s shells. Having no transportation for them I thought it best to deliver them to the commanding general, which I did through our druggist, together with the name of Lieutenant Kelso, the captor. I trust this may be satisfactory and that your command receive the credit due for its bravery and noble deeds.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. A. DREWRY,

Assistant Surgeon, Provisional Army, C. S.

P. S.-I neglected to mention that in a conversation with General Wise on yesterday he informed me that the colors had been sent to Richmond, and that he wished to know who left them with me, which I will let him know this evening as he wished the true captors to get the credit.

E. A. D.

[First indorsement.]
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, June 23, 1864.

Respectfully forwarded, with the request that the within be considered a portion of the communication (in regard to the captured colors) forwarded yesterday.

R. E. FOOTE,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

(For Major-General Johnson.)

[Second indorsement.]
HDQRS. DEPT. OF N. CAROLINA AND SOUTHERN VA., June 29, 1864.

Respectfully forwarded.

G. T. BEAUREGARD,
General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, Near Petersburg, Friday, July 1, 1864.

COLONEL: In the absence of Major-General Johnson on the line I have the honor to submit the following report for the last twenty-four hours:

Brigadier-General Elliott reports that there has been no perceptible approach of the enemy’s works within the last twenty-four hours. Colonel Faison, commanding Ransom’s brigade, reports only the usual picket-firing in front of his line. His works are gradually being strengthened, the completion of which is somewhat delayed, however, on account of the scarcity of tools. General Cracie reports that he has been busily occupied in strengthening his line since yesterday, and thinks he can “hold his position against all that comes.” In the afternoon of yesterday, about 5 p. m., the enemy advanced with a skirmish line and two lines of battle on that portion of the line in the woods between the railroad cut and the branch, General Cracie’s skirmish line retiring. He opened upon the enemy with musketry, and soon repulsed them, they first throwing themselves upon the ground, and then retiring. During the engagement the enemy replied with musketry and artillery, doing but little injury with the former, but killing and wounding a few with the latter. At night General Gracie re-established his skirmish line and sent out scouts, the most reliable of whom report no change in the enemy’s rifle-pits, and contradict the report that the enemy are erecting a battery in his front. He reports all quite at 7 a. m. this day.

The following list of casualties within the last twenty-four hours is respectfully submitted: Gracie’s brigade, 5 killed, 17 wounded; Johnson’s brigade, 2 killed, 11 wounded; Ransom’s brigade, 1 killed, 6 wounded; Elliott’s brigade, 4 killed, 5 wounded. Total, 12 killed, 39 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, &c.,

R. E. FOOTE,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

(For Major-General Johnson.)

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

N. B.-Colonel Keeble, Seventeenth and Twenty-third Tennessee Regiments, killed; Colonel John S. Fulton, Forty-fourth Tennessee Regi-

ment, mortally wounded. Colonel Fulton was mortally wounded by a fragment of a shell during the assault on Gracie’s line. Colonel Keeble was killed on the railroad in rear of trenches by a small ball in the evening or after dark; was found during the night of the 30th of June.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, Near Petersburg, July 2, 1864.

COLONEL: By direction of Major-General Johnson I have the honor to submit the following report for the last twenty-four hours:

Brigadier-General Gracie reports that his command has been actively engaged in strengthening his works, principally to the left of the branch. A Yankee was wounded and brought into his line last night. The only information elicited from him was that he belonged to the Second Maryland Regiment, Ninth Corps. Johnson’s brigade have placed palisades in front of their line; the enemy seem to be strengthening their rifle-pits. Colonel Faison, commanding Ransom’s brigade, reports nothing of interest on his line during the past twenty-four hours. The intrenchment thrown up on the left of his line, parallel to the railroad, to guard against an advance up the railroad, was completed last night. Brigadier-General Elliott reports the works upon Pegram’s battery steadily advancing. There was heavy picket-firing upon his line about 11 o’clock last night, which was drawn by a volley from the enemy’s rifle-pits; it ceased in a few moments; there was no advance.

The following list of casualties within the last twenty-four hours is respectfully submitted: Elliott’s brigade, killed, 4; wounded, 9. Ransom’s brigade, wounded, 5. Gracie’s brigade, killed, 2; wounded, 3. Johnson’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 4. Total, 7 killed; 21 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. FOOTE,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

(For Major-General Johnson.)

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 3, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the last twenty-four hours:

Colonel Faison, commanding Ransom’s brigade, reports nothing of interest, the situation unchanged, and his works in excellent condition. Brigadier-General Elliott has nothing of importance to report. No change or matter worthy of reporting has occurred in General Gracie’s front. Johnson’s brigade has been occupied in placing palisades in front of the works.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Elliott’s brigade, 1 killed, 4 wounded; Ransom’s brigade, 5 wounded. Total, 1 killed, 9 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. FOOTE,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

(For Major-General Johnson.)

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 4, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report for the last twenty-four hours:

General Gracie reports unusual activity among the enemy in his front last night, and the commanding officer of Johnson’s brigade thinks that he prevented the enemy from establishing a line of rifle-pits by the constant fire of his vedettes and pickets. Brigadier-General Elliott and Colonel Faison report nothing of interest, save that the fire from the enemy’s pickets was brisker last night than it has been for some days. The two mortars and one mountain howitzer were placed in position near General Gracie’s line last night.

The following list of casualties is respectfully submitted: Ransom’s brigade, killed, 2; wounded, 1. Elliott’s brigade, wounded, 5. Johnson’s brigade, wounded, 1. Total, 2 killed and 7 wounded.

Brigadier-General Elliott keeps details at work by day on trench cavalier, and Wise’s brigade furnishes the detail by night. Two hundred men of Wise’s brigade worked last night in rear of Pegram’s battery, and 100 men on the new battery near the left of Elliott’s brigade, making chambers for two additional guns. [The whole second line in rear of Pegram’s battery has been opened and can be occupied by troops.*] A part only is completed. Ransom’s brigade had 200 men at work last night strengthening the batteries on its line; eighty men from the reserved regiment of Ransom’s brigade were engaged last night on works for mortar batteries, &c., in rear of Gracie’s brigade. General Gracie reports his line ready to receive the enemy. The condition of the whole line of this division is very much improved and is in good condition, but will be still further improved. One-third of this division is required to be awake at all times, and the whole command until further orders will be placed under arms in the trenches at 2 a. m. every night.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. FOOTE,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

(For Major-General Johnson.)

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 5, 1864.

COLONEL: Nothing of importance has occurred along the line during the last twenty-four hours. General Gracie reported clouds of dust in rear of the enemy’s line which seemed to indicate the movement of troops toward the enemy’s right. It might have only been the movement of wagons. His command is still engaged in making traverses; one well affording good water has been dug by the Forty-first Alabama and two more are nearly completed. Brigadier-General Elliott reports no change in his front. The work upon the batteries on Colonel Faison’s line is nearly completed. He also reports that clouds of dust were seen in rear of the enemy’s line yesterday evening.

—————

*Clause in brackets is marked on the margin of Letter Book as “error.”

—————

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Gracie’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 3. Johnson’s brigade, wounded, 2. Ransom’s brigade, wounded, 5. Elliott’s brigade, killed, 3; wounded, 7. Total, 4 killed and 17 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, &c.

B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 6, 1864.

COLONEL: The enemy were unusually quiet along the line last night. Colonel Goode, commanding Wise’s brigade, relieved Brigadier-General Gracie’s command at 8 o’clock last night. The trenches are reported in good condition and the work is being pushed steadily forward. Nothing of importance has occurred on General Elliott’s line during the last twenty-four hours. He reports everything unusually quiet on the part of the enemy.

The following list of casualties is respectfully submitted: Ransom’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 1. Wise’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 2. Gracie’s brigade, wounded, 3. Total, 2 killed and 6 wounded.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
R. E. FOOTE,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

(For Major-General Johnson.)

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 7, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to inform you that no change on the part of the enemy has occurred in my front during the past twenty-four hours. Abatis have been placed nearly along the entire front of Ransom’s brigade; the front of Wise’s brigade is obstructed both by abatis and wire fencing. While at Walthall Junction, in May last, an officer from Richmond reported to me with what he called “subterraneous torpedoes.” I would respectfully suggest that these torpedoes might perhaps be used for the defense of our salients, and other points liable to attack. They doubtless can be obtained by application to Chief of Ordnance, at Richmond. I do not find that the duties of the provost guard are satisfactorily performed; some of the defects arise from the want of efficiency in officers or a want of industry and experience on their part; this I am endeavoring to correct in my command. I would suggest that patrols be each assigned to duty in certain districts, and that the system of posting sentinels be abandoned, or, if continued, that there be a regular line established along the plank road, as far as safety from the enemy’s fire will permit, and that the line, when necessary, be deflected to the rear. I find men from different commands occupying many of the deserted houses in east part of Petersburg, and you cannot pass the streets without finding soldiers without passes. I am under the impres-

sion that my division is, perhaps, the only one that is keeping up sentined posts in rear of our line, at least I have failed to observe either patrols or sentinels from the provost guard of other divisions. I would respectfully urge that my inspector be relieved from his present duties with the provost guard, by a provost-marshal regularly detailed from the supernumerary or other officers of the line. Under the present system I regard my division inspector as entirely useless to me as a staff officer. By instructions from the Inspector-General he is not permitted to come forward to my headquarters near the line, yet his time seems imperfectly employed; practically the present system only removes the inspectors and their men from the dangerous vicinities. The number of staff officers allowed to a division commander is barely sufficient for duty on the line, and I feel very much the want of the services of my acting inspector.

The following list of casualties is respectfully submitted: Elliott’s brigade, wounded, 1. Ransom’s brigade, wounded, 1. Wise’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 1. Total, 1 killed and 3 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 8, 1864.

COLONEL: In obedience to instructions from department headquarters the pickets were kept on the alert last night, and scouts sent out. They report that no increase or diminution of the enemy could be perceived. The palisades and abatis in front of Wise’s brigade and Ransom’s also will be completed to-night. Colonel Goode, commanding Wise’s brigade, reports that the enemy have thrown up a work in the railroad cut. He is unable to determine whether it is intended for a battery [or] as a connection for their rifle-pits. The unusual quietude prevailing in the Yankee lines portends, as all agree, some new movement of the enemy. If this movement is being made at all, it is being executed with consummate skill, and, as a consequence, may be fruitful of most serious results. Occupying as my command does a position opposite to the center of the enemy’s front, it is impossible to determine accurately what the enemy are doing; their wagons are seen this morning coming to and going out from their lines as usual, and men on foot and on horseback are passing leisurely about, yet the picket-firing is very light and the fire from our artillery has failed to elicit a response from batteries of the enemy that have never failed before, yet the enemy have fired this morning from two batteries. With all due deference I would suggest that it appears to me that, with the James River for a base, the only practicable movement for the enemy is to turn or crush our left flank, and that this is the movement which, I skillfully executed before we are advised, is most deeply to be apprehended.

I submit the following list of casualties for the last twenty-four hours: Ransom’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 3. Elliott’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 3. Wise’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 6. Total, 3 killed and 12 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 9, 1864.

COLONEL: Brigade commanders report the situation remains unchanged in their front, and all agree that the force of the enemy has not been diminished, and that a strong line of battle yet remains in the enemy’s rifle-pits. Scouts from Wise’s brigade report that the enemy were working on their line last night, probably placing palisades; the work on this line is being pushed forward rapidly.

I have the honor to submit the following list of casualties: Elliott’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 4. Wise’s brigade, killed, 2; wounded, 3. Ransom’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 9. Total, 4 killed and 16 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 10, 1864.

COLONEL: Brigadier-General Elliott reports that the third line of intrenchments in rear of Pegram’s battery is so far completed as to admit of its being occupied by two companies last night; the sharpshooting was brisker than it has been for several days. Scouts from Wise’s brigade report the enemy placing palisades and moving artillery last night.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Elliott’s brigade, wounded, 3. Wise’s brigade, killed, 2; missing, 1; wounded, 4. Ransom’s brigade, wounded, 5. Total, 2 killed, 1 missing, and 12 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 11, 1864.

COLONEL: Gracie’s brigade relieved the greater portion of Elliott’s at 8 p. m. yesterday; he reports the trenches in good condition, and the enemy unusually quiet. Colonel Faison, commanding Ransom’s brigade, reports nothing of interest. Colonel Goode, commanding Wise’s brigade, reports that the enemy annoy him very much with mortar shells, as his casualties will show; the mortars by which the injury is inflicted are stationed near Taylor’s house.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Gracie’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 3. Wise’s brigade, killed, 7; wounded, 19. Ransom’s brigade, killed, 1. Total, 9 killed and 22 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 12, 1864.

COLONEL: Brigadier-General Gracie sent out a reliable man yesterday evening ostensibly for the purpose of exchanging newspapers, but with the real design of reconnoitering the enemy’s works in his front. Upon his return the man reported that the enemy have a line of works thickly manned, varying in distance from our lines from 80 to 150 or 175 yards. He could see two lines, the farthest being 500 or 600 yards. There are no palisades, abatis, or wires in front of the nearest line, but the works are very strong. The men he represented as being clean and newly clothed. They were anxious to exchange papers, but were prohibited from doing so by their officers. General Gracie reports that the Forty-first Alabama Regiment has placed a wire fence along its front. His brigade now occupies the line until recently held by General Elliott’s brigade. Colonel Faison, commanding Ransom’s brigade, reports no change; the enemy annoy him with mortars and he is unable to reply, as there are no mortars along his line. Colonel Goode, commanding Wise’s brigade, reports that his line is exposed to a murderous fire from mortars and field pieces; although this line is more exposed than any other, there is only one mortar in rear, and it cannot fire from want of ammunition. I would earnestly request that mortars be placed along this line, for without them we will suffer very heavily without inflicting a corresponding loss. If wooden mortars could be obtained they could be supplied with ammunition from the 12-pounder guns. I would earnestly request that decided and prompt measures be taken by engineer and artillery officers to protect the men in this part of the line. The engineer did not report at these headquarters yesterday to give the instructions about bomb-proofs, as proposed by the commanding general.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Wise’s brigade, 2 killed, 23 wounded. Ransom’s brigade, 3 wounded. Gracie’s brigade, 1 killed, 1 wounded. Total, 3 killed, 27 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 13, 1864.

COLONEL: General Gracie reports no change no the part of the enemy in his front that can be observed; the sharpshooting along his line has been brisker than usual. He complains of the scarcity of tools, and requests that he be furnished with additional spades and picks; he also requests sand bags. I hope they will be furnished immediately if possible, as they are much needed by General Gracie and Colonel Goode, commanding Wise’s brigade, Colonel Faison, commanding Ransom’s brigade, reports nothing of interest on his line. Colonel Goode, commanding Wise’s brigade, reports that the enemy were busily at work in the grove in front of the Thirty-fourth Virginia Regiment last night, and keep it up to some extent this morning. He does not know what they are constructing, but feels much anxiety about the matter. I take the following extract from his report:

The mortars at my command are still without ammunition, will be all day and perhaps a greater part of the night. This is certainly terrible, when it is remembered

that this is all the artillery I have, and this is a dangerous point of the line. I respectfully request that this matter be attended to, and that more mortars be sent me, if possible; I also ask that some of the miners be sent here for the purpose of sinking the listening galleries.

The following list of casualties is respectfully submitted: Gracie’s brigade, wounded, 4. Ransom’s brigade, killed, 3; wounded 4. Wise’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 4. Total, 4 killed and 12 wounded.

Respectfully, &c.,

B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 14, 1864.

COLONEL: General Elliott occupied his former position last night, relieving General Gracie; nothing of interest has been reported this morning; the picket-line of Colonel Goode, commanding Wise’s brigade, which runs across the front of the line, by which the enemy are approaching our works, was connected and strengthened last night.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Gracie’s brigade, wounded, 2. Wise’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 3. Ransom’s brigade, killed, 4; wounded, 10. Total, 5 killed and 15 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 15, 1864.

COLONEL: General Gracie relieved Wise’s brigade at 8 p. m. yesterday. General Gracie reports from his own and the observations of others that the enemy have made no change in their positions, except to connect the rifle-pits on the left of his right regiment. They threw mortar shells into his lines at intervals of ten minutes nearly all night, without inflicting much injury, however, General Elliott and Colonel Faison report nothing of interest. The losses and annoyance which the enemy occasion in my lines are simply due, in my opinion, to a want of proper ammunition; from necessity, no doubt. So far as appliances with this army are concerned, we are husbanding our ammunition-that is, men or ammunition; one or the other-the enemy compel us to sacrifice. This is the simple question with us: Which shall we expend, human life or ammunition? We have none of the former material to spare, and the supply of it for future purposes is necessarily limited; of material for manufacturing the latter nature affords a bountiful supply. So far as I am informed, human energy and toil is all that is required to furnish us ammunition enough to give us daily immense advantages over the enemy. Surely this energy and toil can be supplied, if the proper officers are duly aroused to the necessity for their action and of the great responsibility which is resting on them. I refer to the officers whose duty it is to see that the ammunition is

manufactured in sufficient quantity and that it is properly distributed. As the contest is now daily going on, our success depends as much upon the active operation of our troops and the expenditure of ammunition as it every does on a field of battle. Daily casualties are reducing both armies, and our object should be to cause double, treble, or quadruple the number of casualties in the enemy’s lines that they cause in ours. I feel satisfied I can do this on my line if I am supplied with ammunition; at least, if supplied with ammunition, I shall be able to bring to bear a great amount of human energy and activity which now lies idly wasting away under the enemy’s fire. I may also be permitted to state the fact that whilst we husband our ammunition and the enemy are thinning our ranks with comparative impunity-our men being compelled simply to suffer and endure-a moral effect is being produced which may prove very detrimental to our future success. I hope and implore that all the human energy in our workshops may be at once brought into successful action, and I think we can confidently and securely answer for the result in the field. I would also suggest that our artillery, guns and mortars, so far as employed, inflict loss and annoyance on the enemy’s front line. While we see within our reach their troops resting securely in the rear, or engaged actively in firing or other measures of attack on our lines, we need ammunition to be used freely on all lines within our reach.

The following list of casualties is respectfully submitted: Elliott’s brigade, killed, 2; wounded, 3. Ransom’s brigade, wounded, 4. Wise’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 10. Total, 3 killed and 17 wounded.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 16, 1864.

COLONEL: Colonel Goode, commanding Wise’s brigade, relieved the two left regiments of Elliott’s brigade at 8 p. m. yesterday; he reports nothing of interest during the night. Colonel Faison, commanding Ransom’s brigade, and Brigadier-General Elliott report no change in the situation, and only the usual amount of sharpshooting and shelling. General Gracie feels confident that the line which the enemy have been running toward his line has not been extended more than fifteen feet from their rifle-pits. The Yankee officer of the day requested permission to bury three of their dead last night. The men were killed in their advanced skirmish line. The Yankee pickets told General Gracie’s last night that Baltimore was in possession of the rebels; they still decline to exchange papers.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Elliott’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded 5 (1 shot accidentally). Ransom’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 2. Gracie’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 5 (4 of the 5 wounded were shot by carelessly exposing their persons). Total, 3 killed and 12 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 17, 1864.

COLONEL: General Gracie reports nothing of interest last night; the usual movement of wagons, shelling, and picket-firing. Commanding officers of Wise’s and Ransom’s brigades have nothing of importance to report. Inclosed I send a communication* from General Gracie, giving his observations while on flag of truce yesterday.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Gracie’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 3 (1 wounded from carelessness). Wise’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 1. Ransom’s brigade, wounded, 1. Elliott’s brigade, killed, 4; wounded, 2. Total, 6 killed and 7 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, &c.,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 18, 1864.

COLONEL: No movement has been made by the enemy since last report. The enemy were unusually quiet yesterday until about 7 p. m., when they opened quite a brisk mortar fire.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Elliott’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 6. Wise’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 6. Ransom’s brigade, wounded, 1. Gracie’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 6. Total, 3 killed and 19 wounded. One of the above carelessly exposed his person.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 19, 1864.

COLONEL: Nothing unusual has occurred along the lines since last report. Sharpshooting and shelling was quite brisk yesterday; General Gracie’s pickets got the best of the sharpshooting; they claim to have killed a Yankee officer of some rank while crossing an open place. General Gracie’s brigade collected 1,000 shells and solid shot yesterday, together with 350 or 400 pounds of lead; the other commands were also engaged in the same manner but have not yet forwarded detailed reports. General Gracie suggests that a ration of whisky would be very acceptable to his command.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Wise’s brigade, wounded, 1. Gracie’s brigade, killed, 1 (unnecessarily exposed); wounded, 4. Elliott’s brigade, wounded, 6. Ransom’s brigade, killed, 2; wounded, 3. Total, 3 killed and 14 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

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*Not found.

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HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 20, 1864.

COLONEL: General Gracie reports that the enemy attempted to throw hand-grenades into his trenches, which fell fifteen yards short. He thinks that wooden mortars along his line would effectively prevent the enemy from using hand-grenades in the future. General Gracie again calls attention to the railroad cut. He thinks a piece of artillery of heavier caliber should be placed there, as it is a very weak point, and would probably be selected as a proper place to attack. He also suggests that subterraneous shells or torpedoes be placed in front of the railroad cut. Other brigade commanders report the situation unchanged. Major Boggs, of the artillery, reports that a gentleman named Zimmer-a citizen of Petersburg, of high respectability-reports that a citizen passed our line by the Baxter road (Field’s division) this morning and saw no enemy; the brigade commanders of this division have since reported the enemy in front, as active as usual. It appears to me, however, that their fire has decreased.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Gracie’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 3. Ransom’s brigade, wounded, 1 (carelessness). Elliott’s brigade, wounded, 2. Wise’s brigade, killed, 1. Total, 2 killed and 6 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, &c.,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 21, 1864.

COLONEL: No change has been observed on the part of the enemy since last report; the sharpshooting slackened yesterday, but toward night became as brisk as usual. General Gracie requests that the engineer be sent to his line to sink a mine, as digging, apparently at some depth, was heard in his front yesterday.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Elliott’s brigade, wounded, 2. Ransom’s brigade, killed, 1. Wise’s brigade, killed, 1 (carelessly); wounded, 1. Gracie’s brigade, wounded, 5 (2 carelessly). Total, 2 killed and 8 wounded.

The following is a statement of the amount of shells and lead picked up on yesterday: Wise’s brigade, 10 shells and 5,300 balls. Elliott’s brigade, 10 fuses, 2,300 bullets, 14 solid shot, 100 fragments shells, 5 Wiard shells, 5 shrapnel, and 9 Parrott shells. Ransom’s brigade, 15 Hotchkiss shells and some lead.

I am, colonel, respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 22, 1864.

COLONEL: Nothing unusual has occurred along the lines since last report. The trenches are reported to be in good condition again; the

covered ways and other works are being pushed forward. As General Gracie’s report* contains several matters of interest I forward it entire.

The following list of casualties is respectfully submitted: Wise’s brigade, killed, 2 (1 carelessly); wounded, 4. Elliott’s brigade, wounded, 11. Ransom’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 2. Gracie’s brigade, killed, 2; wounded; 2. Total, 5 killed and 19 wounded.

I am, colonel, respectfully, &c.,

B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 23, 1864.

COLONEL: Nothing unusual has occurred along the line during the past twenty-four hours. General Gracie kept up such a brisk fire upon the enemy last night that they were unable to advance their sap-rollers. They again attempted to threw hand-grenades into his trenches, but without success. Brigade commanders report all work being pushed on. A great deal of lead, number of balls and shells of every description were collected yesterday. Private Reamey, Company B, Thirty-fourth Virginia Regiment, Wise’s brigade, alone collected 1,567 minie-balls, 2 shot, and 2 shells.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Elliott’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 11. Ransom’s brigade, killed, 4 (2 carelessly); wounded, 4 (2 carelessly). Wise’s brigade, wounded, 4. Gracie’s brigade, killed, 2; wounded, 7. Total, 7 killed and 26 wounded.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel GEORGE WILLIAM BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 24, 1864.

COLONEL: The enemy have been very quiet during the past twenty-four hours. General Gracie has kept the enemy from advancing their sap-rollers. Colonel McAfee, commanding Ransom’s brigade, reports that the artillery on his left opened upon a working party on the Baxter road yesterday and compelled them to cease work. Colonel Goode, commanding Wise’s brigade, reports that in picket-firing he gives the enemy as good as is sent. General Gracie suggests that if he was supplied with the “Travis fire,” which is prepared by Captain Travis, in Mobile, Ala., that he thinks he could destroy the enemy’s sap-rollers.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Wise’s brigade, wounded, 4. Elliott’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 4 (1 mortally). Ransom’s brigade, wounded, 4. Gracie’s brigade, killed, 1. Total, 2 killed and 12 wounded.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel GEORGE WILLIAM BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

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*Not found.

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HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 25, 1864.

COLONEL: General Gracie reports that the enemy’s sap-roller Numbers 2 advanced eight feet last night. He kept up a fire upon it, but says that “the artillery mortar batteries were so careful of their ammunition that they did not fire a shot during the night, until early this morning,” although they have orders to keep up an irregular fire all the time. No change has been observed in the force or position of the enemy along the other portions of the line. Colonel McAfee, commanding Ransom’s brigade, reports that the enemy seem to be throwing up a heavy work near Taylor’s house. Four thousand one hundred and eighty-eight minie-balls, fifteen pounds of lead, a few shells, solid shot, and a number of fragments were collected and turned over to the ordnance officer yesterday.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Gracie’s brigade, killed, 2; wounded, 1. Wise’s brigade, wounded, 2. Ransom’s brigade, wounded, 2. Elliott’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 4. Total, 3 killed and 9 wounded.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel GEORGE WILLIAM BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 26, 1864.

COLONEL: General Gracie reports that the enemy were unusually quiet yesterday; about dark they opened their mortars, but without inflicting much damage. Our picket-fire and the irregular fire of the mortars prevented the enemy from advancing his sap-roller. Other brigade commanders report no change on the part of the enemy. Sixteen thousand six hundred and forty-four minie-balls were collected yesterday and turned over to the ordnance officer; also a number of shells, solid shot, and fragments.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Gracie’s brigade, wounded, 1 (carelessly). Elliott’s brigade, wounded, 7 (2 mortally). Wise’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 1. Ransom’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 3 (1 mortally). Total, 2 killed and 12 wounded.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 27, 1864.

COLONEL: General Gracie thinks the enemy have abandoned the design of pushing sap-roller Numbers 1 farther forward, as they have placed abatis in front of it; sap-roller Numbers 2 did not advance last night. The usual picket-firing, display of flags, &c., along the line, has been observed during the last twenty-four hours. Twelve thousand six

hundred minie-balls, ten pounds of lead, fourteen Hotchkiss shells, eighteen solid shot, and a number of fragments have been collected since last report.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Elliott’s brigade, wounded, 4. Ransom’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 3. Total, 1 killed and 7 wounded.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT, Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 28, 1864.

COLONEL: There is nothing of importance to report this morning. The usual amount of picket-firing and shelling was kept up along the line last night, but no change on the part of the enemy. General Gracie thinks that our mortar batteries, especially in rear of left of Ransom’s brigade, did great execution yesterday. Groans were distinctly heard near the sap-rollers. Nineteen thousand minie-balls, 137 solid shot, several Hotchkiss and Parrott shells, fuses, &c., were collected yesterday.

The following is a list of casualties: Wise’s brigade, wounded, 2. Elliott’s brigade, wounded, 4 (1 mortally). Ransom’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 6. Gracie’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 3. Total, 2 killed and 15 wounded.

I am, colonel, respectfully, &c.,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT, Assistant Adjutant-General.

P. S.-The scurvy has made its appearance in Gracie’s brigade. Cannot vinegar, fresh meat, or vegetables be issued to the troops to prevent its further progress?

B. R. J.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, July 29, 1864.

COLONEL: The commanding officer of Ransom’s brigade reports that the enemy have placed three guns in position on the work in front of his extreme right. They shelled our working parties on batteries in the rear yesterday evening, but without inflicting much injury. He reports that he occupies the space vacated by Wise’s brigade last night, and as much as was occupied by the two left companies of Elliott’s brigade. The work on the batteries and covered ways is progressing rapidly.

The following casualties are respectfully submitted: Elliott’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 6 (2 mortally). Ransom’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 4. Wise’s brigade, wounded, 1. Total, 2 killed and 11 wounded.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT, Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, August 1, 1864.

COLONEL: The following is a list of casualties for July 31, 1864: Gracie’s brigade, wounded, 1. Ransom’s brigade, wounded, 4. Elliott’s brigade, wounded, 2. Total, 7 wounded.

Respectfully, &c.,
B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, August 4, 1864.

COLONEL: I send you the following list of casualties for July 29, which, owing to the excitement that prevailed on the morning of the 30th, has not yet been sent you; Wise’s brigade, killed, 1; wounded, 2 (1 mortally). Gracie’s brigade, killed, 4; wounded, 2. Elliott’s brigade, killed, 1. Total, 6 killed and 4 wounded.

Respectfully, &c.,
R. E. FOOTE,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION, August 20, 1864.

COLONEL: The following report of the part taken by this division in the action of Saturday the 30th of July, 1864, is respectfully submitted:

For a proper understanding of the condition of this command on the occasion referred to it is necessary to state that on the night of the 28th of July every man in reserve in this division was placed in the trenches. Colquitt’s brigade, of Hoke’s division, was temporarily transferred to my command in exchange for Gracie’s brigade and placed on my right. For the purpose of relieving Field’s division from the trenches my line was extended to an attenuation that was deemed barely secure against an ordinary assault. From the left to the right the brigades were stationed in the trenches in the following order, viz: Ransom’s, Elliott’s, Wise’s, and Colquitt’s brigades.

About 4.55 o’clock on the morning of the 30th of July the enemy sprung a large mine under that portion of my line about 200 yards north of the Baxter road, known as Pegram’s salient. In this salient there were four guns of Captain Pegram’s battery, and the Eighteenth and Twenty-second South Carolina Regiments, of Elliott’s brigade, occupied the parapets in the battery and adjacent to it. The Twenty-second South Carolina Regiment extended from a point some seventy yards to the right of the right gun to a point beyond, but near to the left gun of the battery. The Eighteenth was posted on the left of the Twenty-second South Carolina Regiment. The regiments of Elliott’s brigade were distributed along the parapet from left to right as follows, viz: The Twenty-sixth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Twenty-second, and Twenty-third South Carolina Regiments. To strengthen Pegram’s salient a

second line or trench cavalier had been thrown up in its rear, commanding our front line and the enemy’s works at a distance of from 150 to 200 yards. Owing to the extension of our line, already explained, our troops occupied only the front line of our works. The mine, as has been since ascertained, was laid along two wings, extending to the right and left of the main gallery, nearly parallel to the interior crest of our work and beneath the foot of the slope of the banquette, or perhaps farther back, and completely destroyed a portion of the front or main line of our fortification and the right of the trench cavalier. The crater measures 135 feet in length, 97 feet in breadth, and 30 feet deep. The two right guns of Pegram’s battery were not disturbed by the explosion. The two left guns were thrown out in front of our works, and only eight men out of twenty-eight men and two officers with the battery escaped alive and unhurt. The battery was occupied by five companies of the Twenty-second South Carolina Regiment which were blown up. The Eighteenth South Carolina Regiment, on the left of the battery, had four companies blown up or destroyed by the falling earth.

From the facts furnished by Colonel F. W. McMaster, commanding Elliott’s brigade since Brigadier General S. Elliott was wounded, it appears that the losses sustained by the explosion of the mine are as follows, viz:

Of 4 officers and 72 men missing from the Eighteenth South Carolina Regiment, over and above the foregoing estimate, a part may have been blown up or killed by the falling earth, but most of them are supposed to have been captured.

The astonishing effect of the explosion, bursting like a volcano at the feet of the men, and the unweaving of an immense column of more than 100,000 cubic feet of earth to fall around in heavy masses, wounding, crushing, or burying everything within its reach, prevented our men from moving promptly to the mouth of the crater and occupying that part of the trench cavalier which was not destroyed, and over which the debris was scattered. Each brigade of this division had, however, been previously instructed as to the course to be pursued and the stubborn resistance to be offered on each flank in case a breach was made in our lines, and the troops of Elliott’s brigade, not blown up or injured, maintained their ground with remarkable steadiness. When the torrents of dust had subsided the enemy was found in the breach. Some four flags were counted, and a continuous column of white and black troops came pouring on from the enemy’s lines to support those in the advance, while their artillery, mortars, and cannon, opened all along their lines, concentrating on our works and grounds adjacent to the crater one of the heaviest artillery fires known to our oldest officers in the field. Their heaviest fire was from batteries in the vicinity of the Baxter road, where they had, since the 16th of June, seemed to concentrate their greatest strength, worked with greatest industry, built the strongest works, and fought with unwearied energy.

On the advancing column the Twenty-third and a part of the Twenty-second South Carolina Regiments, on the right, and the Seventeenth and part of the Eighteenth South Carolina Regiments, on the left, opened from our parapets a most destructive fire. The flanking arrangements of our works on both sides of the breach afforded peculiar advantages. Soon the fire along the line of the division, extending far out on each flank wherever the enemy’s could be reached, swept the ground in front of the crater. To the men of Wise’s brigade, occupying the eminence south of the Baxter road about 200 yards from the crater, the enemy’s masses moving on the open ground up to the breach, presented a most inviting and accessible target, upon which their fire took unerring effect. Wright’s battery, of four guns, admirably located, and intrenched on the left of Elliott’s brigade and in rear of our lines, poured its whole column of fire in the right flank of the enemy’s masses. The position of this excellent battery was perhaps unknown to the enemy, and the superior manner in which it was served, the rapidity of the fire, and the terrible effect on the enemy’s forces no doubt greatly astonished and demoralized them.

One gun of Davidson’s battery, commanded by Lieutenant Otey, occupying a position on our main line on the right of the Baxter road-admirably adapted to throw canister-shot into the enemy’s left flank, and with Wright’s battery to sweep the ground in front of the breach with a destructive cross-fire–opened with a few rounds, and for some reason, not explained to me, became silent, and was deserted by the officers and men. This battery was connected with my command on the night of the 28th of July by the extension of my line to the right, and did not comprise a part of the artillery properly serving with this division. The battery was, however, subsequently manned and officered by Wise’s brigade, under instructions from Colonel Goode, and did excellent service.

Major Haskell’s mortar batteries, in charge of Captain Lamkin, consisting of four Coehorns on the Jerusalem plank road, one Coehorn and two 12-pounder mortars in the ravine some 200 yards to the left and in rear of the breach, and two mortars to the left of Wright’s battery, were all opened promptly upon the enemy’s columns. The practice of the four mortars on the plank road was admirable. Its shells were dropped with remarkable precision upon the enemy’s masses clustering in disorder in front of and in the crater. Some three mortars on the right of the Baxter road, commanded by Lieutenant Langhorne, also opened early in the engagement, and continued to fire at intervals with good effect until its close.

As soon as I was aware that the enemy had sprung the mine and broken my line near the center I immediately communicated with the brigades in both wings of the division and directed them to extend their intervals and re-enforce the wings of Elliott’s brigade, so as to give as great strength as possible to the forces on which the weight of the enemy’s columns must first all. At the same time I dispatched staff officers to the two divisions on my flanks for re-enforcements. From the left I received through Captain Saunders, aide-de-camp, the response that no re-enforcements could be furnished, as the line was already too weak. Captain Smith, acting aide-de-camp, who went to the right, promptly reported that General Mahone was moving up to our support with two brigades.

As soon as the enemy occupied the breach they attempted to advance along our trenches upon the flanks of our broken line; but our men, sheltering themselves behind the angles and flanks of our works, in

the boyaux running out perpendicular to the rear of our trenches, and behind the piles of earth above their bomb-proofs, opened a fatal fire on every point where the foe exposed themselves. Thus their advance was stayed, and they commenced the work of intrenching, while they still tried by more cautious means to press back our faithful and gallant men.

Brigadier General S. Elliott, the gallant commander of the brigade which occupied the salient, was making prompt disposition of his forces to assault the enemy and reoccupy the remaining portion of the trench cavalier when he was dangerously wounded. He had given the necessary orders for the Twenty-sixth and the left wing of the Seventeenth South Carolina Regiments to be withdrawn from the trenches, and had preceded them to the open ground to the left and in rear of the cavalier when he was struck by a rifle-ball. The command of this brigade now devolved upon Colonel F. W. McMaster, of the Seventeenth South Carolina Regiment. This officer (having received the re-enforcement of one regiment, sent to him by Colonel McAfee, commanding Ransom’s brigade) directed Colonel Smith, of the Twenty-sixth South Carolina Regiment, to form in a ravine on the left and rear of the breach a rear line consisting of the Twenty-fifth North Carolina, Twenty-sixth South Carolina, and three companies of the Seventeenth South Carolina Regiments, arranged from left to right in the order named.

Some fourteen Federal flags were now counted on our works, and it became evident that it would be better to endeavor to hold the enemy in check until larger re-enforcements arrived than risk the disaster that might follow from an unsuccessful assault by a very inferior force without any support.

The new line to the left and rear of the salient was scarcely formed when the enemy attempted, with a force thrown out to the rear of our works, with those in our trenches, and with a line in front of our trenches, to charge to our left along our breast-works and in rear and front. The Twenty-fourth and Forty-ninth North Carolina Regiments, Ransom’s brigade, had promptly closed in on the part of the Seventeenth South Carolina Regiment remaining in the trenches when the intermediate regiments were drawn out to form the rear line, and now met and repulsed the charge in front, while the line under Colonel Smith, of the Twenty-sixth South Carolina Regiment, was equally successful in rear. Two companies of the Forty-ninth North Carolina Regiment, posted in the covered way near the main line, poured a heavy volley on the flank of the enemy in rear, and our men of the Seventeenth South Carolina and Forty-ninth North Carolina Regiments, under cover of angles, boyaux, &c., drove back the charge along the trenches. After this the enemy continued to fight along the parapet, keeping under cover; but, though our forces on the left failed in several attempts to throw up barricades in the trenches, the former made but slow progress in this movement.

In the meantime the Twenty-third South Carolina Regiment, under Captain White, and a few remaining men of the Twenty-second South Carolina Regiment, under Captain Shedd, aided by the Twenty-sixth and part of the Forty-sixth Virginia Regiments, gallantly defended the trenches on the right of the breach.

The South Carolina troops on that side succeeded in placing a barricade in the trenches on the side of the hill, and planting themselves behind it and in the boyaux running to the rear, maintained their position within thirty yards of the crater for about fiver hours, during which the enemy never drove them a foot to the right, though they made sev-

eral assaults, and attempted several times to form a line in rear of our works, so as to move on the flank and rear of this gallant little band. In the events of the 30th of July there will perhaps be found nothing more heroic or worthy of higher admiration than this conduct of the Twenty-second and Twenty-third South Carolina Regiments.

Colonel Goode, commanding Wise’s brigade, caused the Fifty-ninth Virginia Regiment, under Captain Wood, to be formed in a ditch running perpendicular to the rear of the main work, and when the enemy attempted some five times to form in rear of the breach for the purpose of charging to the right, and after they had planted four colors on the line, by which the movement designated was to be made, this regiment, under Captain Wood, and the Twenty-sixth Virginia Regiment, under Captain Steele, with the Twenty-second and Twenty-third South Carolina Regiments and two guns of —— battery near the junction of the Baxter and Jerusalem plank roads, opened with a fire that drove them precipitately back to the crater. In this way the conflict was maintained from 5 till nearly 10 a. m. with coolness and steadiness by determined men and officers on both flanks of the breach, and with a success worthy of much praise and with great damage to the enemy.

The assailing force of the enemy, consisting of the Ninth and parts of two other army corps, was directed upon the breach at Pegram’s salient, and was held in check by little more than three regiments of Elliott’s, two regiments of Ransom’s, and two regiments of Wise’s brigades, with the efficient aid of artillery, especially of Wright’s battery and the four mortars, under Captain Lamkin, on the Jerusalem plank road. The enemy also made considerable demonstration in front of Wise’s brigade, and appeared in front of their works on south side of Baxter road. On the left of the crater a large force was advanced to threaten the works occupied by Ransom’s brigade. It came forward in irregular order and took shelter at the foot of a steep hill, which descends to Taylor’s Creek, in front of that portion of our line. This force was engaged without and important results by Ransom’s brigade and the right howitzer of Slaten’s battery. Our whole line, from the right of Colquitt’s to the left of Gracie’s brigade, suffered from artillery fire.

The Sixty-first North Carolina Regiment, of Hoke’s division, sent to re-enforce the troops engaged at the breach, arrived at the same time with Mahone’s division and proceeded to form in the ravine in rear of Pegram’s salient for the purpose of charging the enemy in the breach. General Mahone had placed one brigade in position, and was waiting for the second to come up, when the enemy advanced upon his line of battle. He met their advance by a charge, in which the Twenty-fifth and Forty-ninth North Carolina and the Twenty-sixth and part of the Seventeenth South Carolina Regiments, all under Colonel Smith, of Elliott’s brigade, gallantly joined, moving upon the left of General Mahone’s line. The enemy was driven from three-quarters of the trench cavalier and most of the works on the left of the crater, with moderate loss to our forces and heavy losses to the enemy, especially in prisoners. During this charge a large number of the enemy’s troops, black and white, abandoned the breach and fled precipitately to their rear. Upon this fleeing mass, in full view from our works on the right of the Baxter road, the left regiments of Wise’s brigade poured a raking fire at the distance of from 150 to 500 yards, while the left gun of Davidson’s battery (which Colonel Goode had manned with a company of the Thirty-fourth Virginia Regiment, under Captain Samuel D. Preston) discharged upon them several rounds of canister.

It is proper here to state that Captain Preston was wounded, and Edward Bagby, aide-de-camp to Colonel Goode, commanding brigade, was killed while serving this gun, and that Captain A. F. Bagby, with Company K, Thirty-fourth Virginia Regiment, then took charge of it and served it with fine effect until near the close of the action.

The first charge having failed in completely dislodging the enemy I ordered all of my available forces to press steadily on both flanks with a view to their final expulsion.

Between 11 and 12 a. m. a second unsuccessful charge having been made by Wright’s brigade, of Mahone’s division, I proceeded to concert a combined movement on both flanks of the crater, to which most of the enemy’s troops were now drawn. By arrangement a third charge was made a little before 2 p. m., which gave us entire possession of the crater and the adjacent lines. This charge was made on the left and rear of the crater by Sanders’ brigade, of Mahone’s division, by the Sixty-first North Carolina, of Hoke’s division, and Seventeenth South Carolina Regiments, of this division. The last two regiments, under Major Culp, of the Seventeenth South Carolina Regiment, Elliott’s brigade, advanced on the right of Sanders’ brigade. These movements on the left were all placed under the direct supervision of General Mahone, while I proceeded to the right to collect what troops I could from the thin line on that flank to co-operate in the charge and divide the force of the enemy’s resistance. The time allotted only permitted me to draw out the Twenty-third and the fragments of the Twenty-second South Carolina Regiment, under Captain Shedd. They moved gallantly forward as soon as the main line was seen advancing on the left, and entered the crater with the troops of that line, capturing 3 stand of colors and about 130 prisoners. Previous to this charge the incessant firing kept up by our troops on both flanks and in rear had caused many of the enemy to run the gauntlet of our cross-fires in front of the breach, but a large number still remained, unable to advance, and perhaps afraid to retreat. The final charge was therefore made with little difficulty, and resulted in the complete re-establishment of our lines and the capture of many additional prisoners.

To Major-General Hoke I am indebted for some sixty men of the Twenty-first South Carolina Regiment, who occupied about 1 p. m. a portion of the works on right of Baxter road, from which my troops were moved to the left, and also for Colonel Radcliffe’s Sixty-first North Carolina Regiment, which re-enforced my command in the morning and joined the charge, as already stated.

To the able commander and gallant officers and men of Mahone’s division, to whom we are mainly indebted for the restoration of our lines, I offer my acknowledgments for their great service. It is not, however, my privilege to make any further report of the operations of that division than is necessary for a proper understanding of those of my own command.

To the officers and men of my command, whose steadiness, determination, and courage held in check for five hours a greatly superior force elated with success, and aided to inflict on them a chastisement so memorable, my admiration and gratitude are due. It is believed for each buried companion they have taken a twofold vengeance on the enemy, and have taught them a lesson that will be remembered as long as the history of our wrongs and this great revolution endures.

The troops of this division I would invite to a lesson yet more profitable, in view of what may lie before them. They have learned in practice that which has been taught them by theory and historical example–

that the coolness and steadiness of a few resolute and determined officers and men will prove the salvation of a command, whether in an unavoidable surprise or against the disordered lines of a charging column.

To the prompt and energetic co-operation of Colonel Jones, chief of artillery, and Major Haskell, commanding the mortar battery, and to their officers and men, my acknowledgments are due.

The gallantry of Private Patrick Sweeney, Company A, Fifty-ninth Virginia Regiment, has been justly reported by his brigade commander. He voluntarily joined in the last charge and captured two colors of the Twentieth Michigan Regiment, and though wounded through the body he persisted in bringing them off, with a Sharps rifle.

In the last charge Sergt. J. W. Connelly, Company F, Twenty-second South Carolina Regiment, captured the colors of the First Michigan Sharpshooters, which he delivered to General Beauregard in person.

The zeal and activity of my aides-Capts. E. R. Smith, John E. Saunders, and T. H. Skinner-were arduously tasked on the lines and fully merit the compliment of this official notice. Captain Skinner, who had joined me within the previous twenty-four hours as a volunteer aide, from a foreign soil, besides doing much arduous duty during the day, gallantly joined the troops on the right in the final charge, by which the enemy were utterly repulsed.

The following is the state of casualties of the division:

For the purpose of preserving the records of this division the following casualties of Gracie’s brigade are added, though that brigade was detached from my command on this occasion. It, however, occupied its usual position in the trenches on my left: Killed, 1 commissioned officer and 9 enlisted men; wounded, 1 commissioned officer and 45 enlisted men; total, 2 commissioned officers and 54 enlisted men.

The losses of the enemy have been pretty well ascertained, and are between 5,000 and 6,000 including —- prisoners.

The reports* of the brigade commanders of Elliott’s and Wise’s brigades are herewith inclosed. The reports of the other two brigades furnish little else than the casualties.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

B. R. JOHNSON,

Major-General.

Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

—————

*Not found.

—————

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 769-793

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