Number 19. Reports of Brigadier General Nelson A. Miles, U. S. Army, commanding First Division, of operations August 12-26, October 27-30, and December 9-10

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 19. Reports of Brigadier General Nelson A. Miles, U. S. Army, commanding First Division, of operations August 12-26, October 27-30, and December 9-10.1

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
October 10, 1864.

MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this division from August 12 to 20, inclusive:

At 4 p. m. the division left camp near the Deserted House and marched to City Point, where it bivouacked for the night. At 11 a. m. on the 13th the troops commenced to embark on transports. At 7 p. m. the last regiment was embarked. At 10 p. m. the transports moved up the James River. At 1 a. m. on the 14th they commenced disembarking at Deep Bottom. With the exception of the One hundred and forty-wight Pennsylvania and part of the Seventh New York Artillery, all were on shore at 6 a. m. The steamer with the regiments named having grounded, they were transhipped and arrived a few hours later. As soon as the last were on shore the division moved across Strawberry Plains and through the woods skirting them to the New Market road, Miles’ brigade, on the left, being the first to strike that road. The enemy made no attempt to molest us before that road was reached. Here they were found occupying the works thrown up on the occasion of the previous movement to this place. The division was pushed up to these but though an advance line of slight rifle-pits in front of our right was occupied, the main line was successfully held by the enemy against our attempt. By placing two guns in position on a hill in front of our left, which bore upon the New Market road, he annoyed us somewhat, but our line was established across the Central road, near Fussell’s Mill. The First Brigade, Colonel Macy, of the Second Division, was sent to General barlow, who was then in command of this division, to attempt to carry by assault th enemy’s works at the mill. The attempt was unsuccessful, and resulted in the injuring of Colonel Macy and about 100 officers and men. A line was established about 100 yards in rear of the farthest position attained by the division and entrenched during the night. On the 15th the First Brigade, General Miles, was sent to support the cavalry under General Gregg, on the right, and the remainder of the division was withdrawn to the New Market road.

On the morning of the 16th General Miles, with his brigade and the cavalry under General Gregg, made a reconnaissance up the Charles City road to White’s Tavern. General Miles reached a point within half a mile of White’s Tavern when the enemy attacked in force, and, the object of the movement having been attained, he withdrew to the right of the Tenth Corps, Major-General Birney. The Fourth Brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Broady, was also sent to assist the Tenth Corps. on the morning of the 17th General Barlow was obliged by illness to go to the hospital at City Point, and the command of the division devolved upon me. I found the division disposed as follows: The First and Fourth Brigades in position on the right of the Tenth Corps, on the Central road, about two miles from its junction with the New Market road, and the consolidated Second and Third Brigades and the Fourth New York Artillery massed on the New Market road opposite that junction. A picket-line of about two miles was held by the division. About 5 p. m. the troops on the New Market road were hurried to the line of the Tenth Corps, the enemy having made a demonstration. They were not, however, called into action, and returned to their former position before dark. On the morning of the 18th the First Brigade was withdrawn and the entire division deployed along the New Market road, where a line of entrenchments was thrown up and the timber in the front slashed. This position was held until the evening of the 20th, when the troops recrossed the James and Appomattox Rivers, arriving in the old camp, near the Deserted House, early in the morning of the 21st.

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

NELSON A. MILES,

Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding Division.

Major H. H. BINGHAN,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Army Corps.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
August 30, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this division from August 22 to August 26, 1864:

At 12 m. August 22 I received orders from Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan, chief of staff, to move the division to a point on the Weldon railroad near the Parker House, to the left of the position occupied by

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*But see revised statement, p. 116.

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the Fifth Corps, and to destroy the railroad, keeping half my force at the work, the remainder being held in reserve and covering the working party. The Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry was ordered to report to me for duty in covering my left flank. Working until dark, abut two miles of the road were destroyed. The division bivouacked for the night near the Parker house. On the morning of the 23 I was directed to continue the destruction of the railroad. Colonel Spear, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, was ordered to report to me with his brigade of two regiments, relieving the Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, then under my command. At 11 a.m. the road had been destroyed to within a mile of Reams’ Station. General Barlow, having returned from hospital, resumed command of the division. He directed me to send two regiments, under Colonel Lynch, to occupy Reams’ Station, three squadrons of cavalry having previously been sent to the same place. Immediately upon hearing from these regiments, I moved my brigade there, occupied the works, and commenced destroying the track. At dark the remainder of the division also moved into the works. On the morning of the 24th General Barlow turned over to me the command of the division. By direction of Major-General Hancock I moved the division out of the works and continued the destruction of the railroad, General Gibbon’s division occupying the works and relieving my picket-line. The road was effectually destroyed for three miles south of Reams’ Station. During the day Colonel Sper’s cavalry, supported by 100 infantry from the Fourth Brigade, was engaged in slight skirmishing with the enemy’s cavalry, driving it at least two miles beyond the working parties, or five miles from Reams’ Station toward Rowanty Creek. At dark the division was withdrawn to the works around the station, leaving the cavalry, under Colonel Spear, at the cross-roads, near Sharp’s [Smart’s?] house, picketing all the roads in that direction.

By order of Major-General Hancock, at daylight on the morning of the 25th, I relieved the troops of General Gibbon in the works and his picket-line of 700 men around the station. At 9 o’clock, while General Gibbon’s division was moving out, Colonel Spear’s cavalry was attacked and driven from its position. About half an hour later the cavalry in front of the extreme left of my picket-line was attacked by dismounted men and driven in on the road leading to Jerusalem plank road. The picket-line was also driven in a short distance. I ordered two small regiments (about 200 men) to their support, which with the cavalry, drove the enemy back, after which he disappeared. I then ordered these regiments back, as firing and commenced on my front. The cavalry in my front was attacked and compelled to retire. General Gibbon’s division then returning to the works, one of his brigades relieved the left brigade of my line, which was then placed in the front, on the right of Sleeper’s battery, closing up my line to the right, it having been hitherto formed in one rank. The line as then formed, and as it remained until it left the works, was as follows: Fourth New York Artillery, Lieutenant-Colonel Allcock, connected with the right of General Gibbon’s division at the railroad. On its right was the Fourth Brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Broady, Sixty-first New York Volunteers; the consolidated Second and Third Brigades, Major Byron, Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers; and connecting with this, its left resting on the railroad, the First Brigade, Colonel Lynch, One hundred and eighty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers. My troops could not fill the works on the right, but in the center the line was strong, Lieutenant-Colonel Broady having one regiment, the One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania, in reserve. The two batteries of artillery

on the left were very much exposed to the fire of sharpshooters, and in a position from which it was difficult to withdraw under fire. It was not posted under my direction, and I did not consider the position strong, but was obliged to occupy the works as I found them. Immediately upon occupying them the entire pioneer corps of the division, and an additional detail of fifty ax men, were set at work in slashing timber in front of the Consolidated, First and Fourth Brigades, and in cutting roads for the movement of troops and artillery in rear of the line. At 12 o’clock the enemy drove in my picket-line and advanced in some force upon the line of battle, but was quickly repulsed with some loss, and the picket-line re-established. At 1 o’clock he again advanced, driving the skirmishers to the rifle-pits, and, advancing in line of battle, came within thirty yards of them, under a severe fire of musketry, before he was checked, but was repulsed and fell back. The One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania was quickly advanced as skirmishers, and took a few prisoners of Wilcox’s division of Hill’s corps. Soon after another vigorous attack was made in front of the Fourth Brigade, which was handsomely repulsed, with the assistance of the Fourth New York Artillery and the Consolidated Brigade, firing to the right and left oblique, the troops fighting with determination. In this attack, rebels were killed within three yards of the line. I directed a few skirmishers to be thrown forward in front of each regimental line to pick up prisoners and watch the enemy’s movements. Prisoners were taken of Anderson’s brigade, of Field’s division. Soon after this repulse it was reported to me by officers of the skirmish line and an officer of my staff that the enemy was placing a battery in position and massing troops in my front. A rebel sergeant also reported that his force consisted of Wilcox’s division, two brigades of Heth’s division, and Anderson’s brigade. I directed the Twelfth New York Battery, Lieutenant Dauchy, to shell the woods in my front. During the second assault part of a brigade, five small regiments, of General Gibbon’s division, reported to me in place of the skirmish line I had in front of that division, for a support to my line. These regiments were under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Rugg, Fifty-ninth New York Volunteers, and were posted on the eastern side of the railroad cut, about twenty yards in rear of the Consolidated Brigade of this division, within easy supporting distance of any part of the line, and perfectly covered from the enemy’s fire.

At this time there were indications of a movement by the enemy to my right. The right of the skirmish line, however, had not been disturbed. This line connected with that of a brigade of cavalry posted at the junction of the Brock road and road running parallel with railroad. I sent the strongest regiment of those from General Gibbon’s division up the railroad in charge of Captain Marlin, my division inspector, with directions in case the enemy appeared in that direction, to deploy along the railroad and support the picket-line, or, in case he attacked the front of the Consolidated Brigade, near the angle of our works, to attack him in flank and rear, with the assistance of the picket-line on the right. A more favorable opportunity was never offered a regiment to render distinguished service. I expected the next assault of the enemy would be at this point (the angle) and had every reason to believe he would not only be repulsed with severe loss, but would be attacked by about 300 men in rear, and followed up by the reserve of General Gibbon’s division. I had placed one gun (12-pounder) of the Twelfth New York Battery at the angle to rake the railroad cut in case the enemy took it. At 5 o’clock the enemy drove in the skirmish-

ers of the Consolidated Brigade, who made feeble resistance, debouched from the woods in front of that and the Fourth Brigade, advancing through the slashing, which was thirty yards wide. At first he was met by a sharp fire from these brigades, part of the First Brigade, which fired to the left oblique, and the Fourth New York Artillery to the right oblique. Although he pushed forward with determination, he was repulsed at several points and his organization greatly broken up by severity of the fire and the obstacles in his front; but, unfortunately, just as his entire repulse seemed certain, a portion of the Consolidated Brigade, consisting of the Seventh, Fifty-second, and Thirty-ninth New York Regiments, broke and fell into confusion. At the same time a break occurred in the right of the same brigade-the One hundred and twenty-fifth and One hundred and twenty-sixth New York Regiments. I stood at the time on the bank of the railroad cut and saw a rebel color-bearer spring over our works and down into the cut almost at my feet.

But few of the enemy had reached the work, and a determined resistance for five minutes would have given us the victory. I looked for Lieutenant-Colonel Rugg, but not at the moment seeing him I directed his brigade to rush into the gap and commence firing. Not a minute’s time was lost before giving this order, but instead of executing it they either lay on their faces or got up and ran to the rear. I then rode down the line of the Fourth Brigade, ordering it to move toward the right and hold the rifle-pit. These troops were then fighting gallantly, their brigade commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Broady, being conspicuous, encouraging and directing his men. Finding the enemy had gained the angle and flanked my line, I rode to the Twelfth New York Battery and directed Lieutenant Dauchy to fire canister at that point, which he did with great effect, working his guns gallantly until the enemy was upon him. His horses were killed, and it was impossible to limber up and draw off his guns on the breaking of the line. The enemy pushed forward, and taking possession of them, turned one of them and opened fire with it upon our troops. The One hundred and fifty-second New York Regiment, Captain Burke [Burt] commanding, when the assault was made, was directed to attack the enemy in flank and rear. The regiment had changed front, was moved up to within 200 yards, and directed to open fire. Captain Marlin, division inspector, a very cool and reliable officer, reports that not a shot was fired at it, but the men broke from the ranks and fled in a disgraceful manner, only two men in the regiment discharging their pieces.

The panic had become somewhat general, and it was with the greatest difficulty that any line could be formed. One regiment, the Sixty-first New York, was observed fighting with determination. It had changed front after the rifle-pits had been flanked, and with its right resting on the works was contesting every foot of ground gained by the enemy. I rallied a line on this regiment perpendicular to the line of works, forming it as well as possible under fire, with its right extended about 100 yards in front of the works, the enemy holding the works but a short distance from it, and directing his fire chiefly to our left. On account of the smoke he apparently did not observe this new line on his left flank, and ordering the firing to cease I directed it to advance, with a cheer. It swept the enemy from the entire north face of the works, recapturing the three guns of the Twelfth New York Battery, and driving the enemy into the railroad cut. This line was held by us until dark. I then succeeded in getting about 200 men around to our right and across the railroad, about 200 yards from the

left flank of the enemy and partially in his rear. This force advanced, taking the enemy by surprise, and forcing him back a short distance. A brigade in this position would have swept him from the works and captured those of his troops who were in great confusion in the railroad cut, but the force was too small. This was the position of affairs at dark. With the exception of the loss of our artillery, our loss had been very slight. I established a picket-line along the road parallel with the railroad, near the church. In going to the front I could hear the enemy’s men calling out their regiments, and I felt confident his loss was much heavier than ours, that his confusion was equal, and that I could retake all my line. I sent by Captain Driver, assistant adjutant-general, to Major-General Hancock information of the state of affairs. At 8 o’clock I received orders from General Hancock, by Captain Conrad, to withdraw and march to the Williams house on the Jerusalem plank road.

I am much indebted to the officers of my staff. Captain Driver, assistant adjutant-general, behaved gallantly in rallying the men. Lieutenant Black, acting aide-de-camp, was fearless in his endeavor to press the men forward again after they had broken. Captain Marlin, division inspector, rendered efficient service. Captain Hizar, assistant commissary of musters, and Lieutenant Binney, acting aide-de-camp, were wounded.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

NELSON A. MILES,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.

Captain W. P. WILSON,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Army Corps.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
October 30, 1864.

MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this division during the recent movements:

Reports of signal stations, pickets, and officers on the line indicated that the enemy had left a force in his works smaller than my own. To determine his strength, I directed demonstrations on two points of his lines-namely, a work opposite Fort Morton near the Crater, and his picket-line opposite Fort Sedgwick. Just at dark 100 men of the One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania, under command of Captain J. Z. Brown, went over our work in front of Fort Morton, across the space, about forty paces to the enemy’s work, cutting through his cheval-defrise with axes, and into the work. No shots were fire from this point, but a sharp fire was opened with musketry on the right and left. Arriving in the work, the enemy’s troops left it, with the exception of 4 officers and 13 enlisted men, who were taken prisoners. Among them were the colonel, lieutenant-colonel, and one lieutenant of the Forty-sixth Virginia, and a lieutenant of the Thirty-fourth Virginia. A regiment of the enemy, who had entered a work on the enemy’s right of the one thus occupied, immediately charged into it and, by force of superior numbers, our men were driven out, fighting gallantly. Supports were on their way, but could not reach them before they had been driven out. About 8.30 p.m. a party of 130 men, under Lieutenant Colonel D. F. Burke, Eighty-eighth New York, charged the enemy’s picket-line at the Chimneys opposite Fort Sedgwick. The line for about 200 yards was carried, and eight prisoners taken. Not considering the point of sufficient

importance to warrant the weakening of the garrison of the fort to the extent necessary to hold it, and finding that there were indications on the part of the enemy of an attempt to reoccupy it, my troops were withdrawn.

The casualties in these operations were 4 officers and 63 men killed, wounded, and missing. A statement of these accompanies this report.*

Lieutenant Colonel D. F. Burke, Eighty-eighth New York; Captain J. Z. Brown, One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania,and Lieutenant Henry D. Price, One hundred and sixteenth Pennsylvania, acting aide-de-camp to the commandant Fourth Brigade, killed and left on the field, were conspicuous for their spirit and good conduct.

In the affair at Fort Morton no artillery was used, but at the attack at Fort Sedgwick the artillery of the enemy opened along the entire line, and being actively replied to a furious cannonade ensued, lasting for about half an hour. At about 11 p.m. the enemy again opened, and, though not so generally replied to, a brisk fire was kept up for about the same length of time. No other operations were undertaken, and the line remained quiet during the remainder of the night and the succeeding day.

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

NELSON A. MILES,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Major SEPTIMUS CARNCROSS,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Army Corps.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
November 2, 1864.

MAJOR: I have the honor to transmit herewith the statements of Colonel MacDougall, the brigade commander, and the officers in charge of the picket-line captured by the enemy on the evening of the 30th ultimo. I am satisfied that the enemy were allowed to enter our lines through treachery. I think the deserters from the Sixty-ninth New York were rebels and informed the enemy of the position of our line. The majority of the men on our line were new recruits, which may account for their mistaking the rebels for the proper relief; but there is no excuse for the officers on the line. They have been placed in arrest and will be tried by court-martial.

Very respectfully,

NELSON A. MILES,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Major S. CARNCROSS,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Corps.

[Inclosure Numbers 1.]
HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, FIRST DIVISION, SECOND CORPS,
November 1, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to inclose the statements of the officers on the picket-line on the evening of the 30th of October, and also to offer in explanation that the reason why it was not sent in before was my absence during the whole of the day yesterday and until late last

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*Nominal list (omitted) shows 4 killed, 25 wounded, and 38 missing.

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night upon the picket-lines, in the discharge of my duties as corps officer of the day. I am making still further investigations, and just as soon as possible I will report the result. I have put all the officers under arrest, and will prefer charges against them.

Captured from Sixty-ninth [New York], 164; from One hundred and eleventh [New York], 82-246; 1 officer from Sixty-ninth.

Very respectfully, yours,

C. D. MacDOUGALL,

Colonel 111th New York Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Captain W. R. DRIVER,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Inclosure Numbers 2.]
HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, FIRST DIVISION, SECOND CORPS,
Before Petersburg, November 1, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I would respectfully report that I have been engaged nearly all day investigating the affair concerning the capture of the pickets of this brigade on the evening of October 30. Second Lieutenant Hoff, One hundred and eleventh [New York Infantry], who was on post Numbers 1 of the One hundred and eleventh, states that he was sitting by the fire at his post and heard a body of men coming down the line along that occupied by the Sixty-ninth [New York]; supposed it was the new relief, and commenced preparing his men to move out. He stepped to one side to let them pass and noticed men with blue caps, light-blue overcoats, and gray pants. As soon as he discovered the color of the pants he immediately started to tell the officer of the picket that the enemy were capturing his men. This seems the most disgraceful affair of the whole. Had this officer attended properly to his duties and informed post Numbers 2, he might have opened fire upon the enemy and scattered the whole party. Instead of that he ran away to tell the officer in command and let the enemy pass on; and post Numbers 2, supposing also it was the relief, were captured, and so on down nearly along the whole line occupied by the One hundred and eleventh. Lieutenant Murphy, of the Sixty-ninth, states that a party of the enemy came up along the line of the Sixty-ninth almost to his post, but were discovered and halted; giving no reply, were fired upon and dispersed. Had Lieutenant Hoff, of the One hundred and eleventh given the alarm quietly to the posts on his, left, he might have accomplished a splendid feat by capturing the enemy instead of being captured by them. He has been placed in arrest and charges are preferred against him. From all the facts I can gather, I am satisfied that the first approach of the enemy was through the lines of the Sixty-ninth. They then separated, half passing up and half down the line. The fact that ten of that regiment deserted to the enemy while on duty there would indicate that the enemy must have known something of the position. Captain Mumford, of the One hundred and eleventh, who was captured by them, but escaped in the woods near their lines, estimated their number at about 150 to 200. About a dozen stragglers have come in to-day belonging to the One hundred and eleventh and Sixty-ninth. I apprehend many more of the cowardly rascals will turn up.

I have the honor to remain, captain, very respectfully,

C. D. MacDOUGALL,

Colonel 111th New York Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Captain W. R. DRIVER,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Inclosure Numbers 3.]
HEADQUARTERS SIXTY-NINTH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS,
October 31, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: In reply to communication of this date from brigade headquarters, asking for a report respecting the recent capture of our picket-line opposite Fort Davis, I have the honor to inclose a statement from Lieutenant M. Murphy, of my regiment, who was in command of a portion of the picket detail; and to make the following report of the number of old soldiers, and new recruits from the Sixty-ninth, on the line that night; New men (recruits recently arrived), 190; old soldiers, 40; total, 230. Old commissioned officers, 2; acting lieutenants, 3; total, 5. Of this number 1 old commissioned officer and the 3 acting lieutenants, with 141 new men and 23 old men, were captured. I would state in regard to the acting officers that they were all old soldiers, awaiting commissions from His Excellency the Governor of the State of New York to be mustered into the service.

I have the honor to remain, lieutenant, your obedient servant,

ROBERT H. MILLIKEN,

Commanding Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers.

Lieutenant GEORGE MITCHELL,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Sub-inclosure.]

CAMP OF THE SIXTY-NINTH Regiment NEW YORK VET. VOLS..,

October 31, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to forward the following statement in reply to your communication of this date, calling for a report from me in regard to the capture of a portion of the picket detail of this regiment on the night of the 30th instant:

I was detailed on the evening of the Sixty-ninth, who were posted opposite Fort Davis, the left resting on an almost impassable swamp, and the right connecting with the Sixty-third New York Volunteers. After night-fall on the 30th instant I gave orders to the different posts along my line to fire at intervals of five minutes, which they continued to do until the sergeant on the left flank of my detail discovered men advancing partly in front and to the left of his post. He first thought that they were our own men coming to relieve him, but being somewhat doubtful, he hailed them and receiving no answer he ordered his men to fire on them, which they returned in a few moments. At this time a sharp fire was opened along the line to my right. I immediately went to the left of my detail and found the men in their proper positions firing briskly on the enemy. I had extra ammunition distributed to the men, as I could plainly hear the pickets on my left running through the brush. I had no idea at that time that they were captured, but as a matter of precaution I went some distance to the left and rear, fearing that the enemy might steal a march through the swamp, as our pickets lost sight of each other at this particular point, they being some twenty yards apart. Finding there was no one in the brush in my rear, I returned to my post feeling that everything was right, as I heard a smart fire from our picket-line on the left. Shortly afterward a captain of sharpshooters of the Third Division came along my line and stated that he was ordered to relieve the pickets on my left, but found that they were either captured or had run away,

leaving their muskets behind them in the trenches. During all this time I kept up a left oblique fire and held my position until relieved, the officer informing me that we had again established communication with the Fifth Corps.

I have the honor to remain, lieutenant, your obedient servant,

MURTHA MURPHY,

First Lieutenant Company G, Sixty-ninth New York Vet. Vols.

Lieutenant J. C. FOLEY,

Acting Adjutant Sixty-ninth Regiment.

[Inclosure Numbers 4.]
HEADQUARTERS 111TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS,
October 31, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: In compliance with orders from brigade headquarters I have the honor to report what I know in regard to the capture of our pickets on the evening of October 30, 1864:

I was detailed as brigade officer of picket on the evening of October 27, and remained until the evening of the 30th of October, 1864. I visited the lines and gave instructions to the officers and men, and saw that the men were properly posted. Nothing unusual occurred until the evening of October 30, 1864, when our pickets and the rebels commenced talking across the lines. I immediately gave orders to have this stopped. Captain Myers commanded the left wing of the brigade picket, consisting of four commissioned officers and 173 enlisted men from the Sixty-ninth Regiment New York Volunteers, and four commissioned officers, including himself, and 157 enlisted men from the One hundred and eleventh Regiment New York Volunteers, the right resting on the ravine, and the left connecting with the Fifth Corps pickets. I ordered Captain Myers, commanding left wing of brigade pickets, and Captain Geddis, One hundred and twenty-sixth New York Volunteers, commanding right wing, to report to brigade headquarters, and there meet the officer of the day, and conduct the relief to our lines at dusk. My headquarters during the three days of my tour of duty were about 100 yards in rear of the picket-line, and while there awaiting the arrival of the relief, between the hours of 7 and 8 p.m. I heard the tramp of men and the rattling of canteens in the corner of the woods, on the left of the open field, and the low hum of voices as is usual with pickets while relieving. I had two orderlies with me from the Sixty-ninth Regiment New York Volunteers and I ordered one of them to go up and tell the officer of the day that I wished to see him. By this time the men had got half way across the open field, going toward the ravine. The orderly soon came running back and informed me that the pits were deserted and that he heard a noise in front of them which sounded like men crawling through the grass. I then sent one up on the left of the open field to strike the pits, and the other up on the right, and instructed them to follow the pits down and see if they could find any men in them, and I would ride out and see if I could find the relief to fill the pits in front of the open field, and to meet me there in about five minutes. I rode out of the woods for a short distance and could not see or hear any relief. I then rode back and met the orderlies, who reported the pits all deserted. I then rode back as rapidly as possible to Fort Hays and there met an officer of Brigadier-General Mott’s staff. I told him our pickets were “gobbled” and that they had better get under

arms. I then started of Third Brigade headquarters to report the fact to the colonel commanding brigade, [and met] Lieutenant Hoff, commanding a section of the One hundred and eleventh New York Volunteers, connecting with the Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers, and from him I learned that the rebels came through the picket-line of the Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers (at the section commanded by Lieutenant [Murphy], of the Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers, who was captured) near the corner of the woods and filed to the right, “gobbling” up our pickets as they went along. There must have been another column which filed to the left, as they were all captured down to the ravine. The right of the line across the ravine was not disturbed. I met at Third Brigade headquarters the major of the Fortieth New York Volunteers just doing out with his detail to relieve the right of the line. I went out with him and went over the lines and saw that the connections were made and the lines again formed. In the morning I rode down to Fort Davis and there I found some men of the Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers, whom I took and proceeded to the picket-line to gather the arms left by our men in the pits when they were captured. I there met the major of the Fortieth New York Volunteers, who informed me that the arms had been gathered up and that his orders were to send them to Third Division headquarters.

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

LEWIS W. HUSK,

Lieutenant-Colonel 111th New York Volunteers, Commanding Regiment

Lieutenant GEORGE MITCHELL,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Inclosure Numbers 5.]
HEADQUARTERS 111TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS,
October 31, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: In compliance with instructions from headquarters Consolidated Brigade, I have the honor to report as follows:

Lieutenant-Colonel Husk, brigade officer of picket, October 28, 29, and 30, 1864. Captain R. J. Myers commanded left of brigade picket-line on the 28th, 29th, and 30th of October, 1864; Captain Mumford commanded the detail from this regiment on the 28th, 29th, and 30th of October, 1864; Lieutenant A. P. Camp and Lieutenant Hoff commanded each a section of Captain Mumford’s detail. I have also to report that Captain Myers, Lieutenant Hoff, and three enlisted men joined the regiment on the night of the 30th of October, 1864, and that Captain Mumford, Lieutenant Camp, and sixty-six enlisted men joined the regiment on the morning of the 31st of October, 1864. There was captured by the enemy of the detail from this regiment 82 enlisted men. The detail of officers and enlisted men from this regiment was as follows:

Lieutenant Colonel Lewis W. Husk, brigade officer of picket; Captain R. J. Myers, commanding left of brigade picket from Fifth Corps on the left to ravine on the right; Captain L. Mumford, commanding One hundred and eleventh detail, headquarters near the road leading from Fort Hays to picket-line, Lieutenant A. P. Camp, commanding left section of detail from One hundred and eleventh New York Volunteers, and Lieutenant E. W. Hoff, commanding right section of said detail. Original detail 175 enlisted men, of which the One hundred and eleventh furnished 157, Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers furnished 18. Recapitulation: Returned of One hundred and eleventh detail from picket-line sick,

October 29, 6 enlisted men; October 30, 3 enlisted men; October 31, 66 enlisted men, captured on the picket-line night of 30th, 82 enlisted men; total, 157 enlisted men.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

LEWIS W. HUSK,

Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding 111th New York Volunteers.

Lieutenant GEORGE MITCHELL,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

Veteran officers: Lieutenant-Colonel Husk, Captain Myers, Lieutenant Camp, and Lieutenant Hoff. New officer; Captain L. Mumford. Enlisted men: Veterans, 16; recruits and substitutes, 141; total, 157.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
December 13, 1864

MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the troops engaged in the reconnaissance of December 9 and 10:

The force consisted of the First, Third, and Fourth Brigade of this division, three regiments of cavalry under Colonel Kerwin, Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Battery B, First Rhode Island Artillery, Brevet Major Brown, and a section of horse artillery with the cavalry. The force left camp at daylight on the morning of the 9th, marching on the Vaughan road. A few vedettes were found at Cummings’ house, about a mile from Hatcher’s Run. These left as soon as the head of the column came in sight. At the crossing of the road over Hatcher’s Run the enemy were found intrenched on the opposite side, and opened with carbines as soon as our men appeared. The run had been dammed about one-eighth of a mile below the crossing, making the water about four feet deep and fifty feet wide. Holes had been dug in the bed of the stream, and trees slashed in it for a considerable distance above and below, making a most difficult obstruction. After some delay a crossing was effected and the works occupied, the enemy leaving at once. The fords at Armstrong’s Mill, about a mile above, and on the road by the Cummings house, half a mile below, were then taken possession of an guarded. The cavalry was sent down the Vaughan road to Davis’ Shop, the infantry being posted to cover the fords and the roads leading to the right. The dam was cut to let the water off, and a practicable bridge built by night. At dark Brigadier-General Wheaton, with part of two divisions of the Sixth Corps, connected on the right, extending along the Squirrel Level road in the direction of the intrenchments. At dark the cavalry was withdrawn from Davis’ Shop and posted outside of the infantry on the Vaughan and Duncan roads and on the left flank.

On the morning of the 10th parties of cavalry were sent in the direction of Stony Creek. These parties returned about 1 p.m. The information obtained by the various scouting parties was communicated to the major-general commanding in dispatches immediately upon their return. At about 1 p.m. I received orders for the withdrawal of my troops. While the movement was in progress a cavalry force of the enemy attacked the cavalry in front of each for and drove it back upon the infantry. This force followed me after the withdrawal, but made no further attack. My troops reached the intrenchments at dark on the evening of the 10th.

The casualties in this division were 20 wounded and 13 missing, all from the First Brigade. I had no report of casualties in the cavalry. Nineteen prisoners were taken during these operations and sent to headquarters Second Army Corps.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

NELSON A. MILES.

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Major S. CARNCROSS,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Army Corps..

Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLII, Part 1 (Serial Number 87), pages 249-261

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