Number 20. Report of Colonel James C. Lynch, One hundred and eighty-third Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding First Brigade, of operations August 22-26

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 20. Report of Colonel James C. Lynch, One hundred and eighty-third Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding First Brigade, of operations August 22-26.1

HDQRS. FIRST BRIGADE, FIRST DIVISION, SECOND CORPS,
August 28, 1864.

CAPTAIN: In accordance with circular of yesterday, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this brigade from the morning of the 22nd to the morning of the 26th instant:

On the 22nd the brigade moved about noon from its bivouac near the Gurley house and marched to the vicinity of the Perkins house, on the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad, where it was formed in line east of the railroad and parallel with it, facing west. Skirmishers were thrown out well to the front, and the remainder of the command was employed in destroying the railroad on its front and southward toward Reams’ Station. On the 23rd the brigade marched southward along the railroad . I was relieved from command of the brigade and sent with the One hundred and eighty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers and Eighty-first Pennsylvania Regiment to occupy Reams’ Station, which was accomplished without opposition. About 1 p.m., the rest of the brigade having arrived, was employed in destroying the railroad to the north and south of the station until ordered to fall in under arms in consequence of an attack of the enemy on the cavalry covering our front. The brigade at this time occupied a position in intrenchments built by the Sixth corps in June last, its right extending across the railroad and facing north and west. In this position in bivouacked for the night. On the 24th, about 8 a.m,. I assumed command of the brigade, which was relieved by a portion of the Second Division of this corps, and moved southeast along the railroad, about one mile, where pickets were thrown out and the work of destroying the railroad renewed. About 5 p.m. we moved about one mile and a half farther to the left, and continued the destruction of the track until dark, when the brigade returned to Reams’ Station and bivouacked in the rifle-pits to the west of the railroad, the right of the brigade resting on it.

On the 25th, about 7 a.m., the Second Division having vacated the works east of the railroad facing north. I was ordered to occupy the with this brigade, which was complied with, my left resting on the railroad and the regiments being formed in the following order from left to right, viz: Eighty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, Twenty-eighth Massachusetts Volunteers, Twenty-sixth Michigan Volunteers, Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers, One hundred and eighty-third Pennsylvania

Volunteers, McKnight’s battery, Second New York Heavy Artillery, Sixty-first New York Volunteers, and One hundred and fortieth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and about 12 o’clock the enemy made his appearance to the south and west, and at the same time threatened our right and rear. In accordance with orders from General Miles, I directed Captain Henry, commanding One hundred and fortieth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to make a reconnaissance with his regiment on a road running to the Jerusalem plank road from a point on the Jerusalem plank road from a point on the Reams’ Station and Wood’s Shop road, near the right of my line. Captain Henry moved out about three-fourths of a mile, meeting no enemy, and established his skirmish line across this road, his right connecting with the left of the picket-line of the division. He occupied this position during the afternoon, and did not rejoin the brigade till after its withdrawal from Reams’ Station. The main portion of the brigade did not become engaged until about 4 p.m., when the enemy, having made a successful assault on the work on my left, broke through and attacked my left and rear with vigor, causing considerable confusion, and for a few moments McKnight’s guns were in the hands of the enemy; but several colors having been halted, men were rallied around them without regard to organization, and by a prompt advance recaptured three of the guns and nearly all of the rifle-pits previously occupied by this brigade. These three guns were hauled off the field by volunteers from the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers, Eighty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, and the Sixty-first New York Volunteers.

About this time I was directed by General Miles to move across the railroad and attack the enemy in his left flank, for which purpose I had a force of about 200 officers and men, in which nearly every regiment in the First and Second Divisions of the corps was represented. We took position at the white house, on the enemy’s left flank, and annoyed him considerably by our fire; but the main object of the attack (to repossess the works captured from the Third Brigade) failed on account of the column being exposed in its advance to a galling fire from our own troops occupying the rifle-pits, as well as to the fact of there being no regimental or other organization in this force, the officers for the most part being strangers to the men and in many instances rather discouraging than urging an advance. Had it not been, however, for the fire on the flank, I have no doubt that the attack would have proceeded and been successful. Just before dark the enemy advanced a strong force against this party and finally succeeded in forcing it to withdraw and re-enter the breast-works. At dark I was directed by General Miles to establish a picket-line covering the left and front of the brigade, in accordance with which the Sixty-first New York Volunteers was deployed as skirmishers parallel with the railroad and its right resting on the rifle-pits. This regiment advanced to the dirt road in front of the church and each of the other regiments threw out vedettes, forming a line communicating with the right of the Sixty-first New York Volunteers. At about 9 p.m. received orders to withdraw, which was accomplished in good order, each regiment being well organized and having its colors with it. We marched via Wood’s Shop to a position on the Jerusalem plank road, near the Williams house, where we bivouacked till morning.

Respectfully submitted.

JAS. C. LYNCH,

Colonel, Commanding Brigade.

[Captain W. R. DRIVER,

Assistant Adjutant-General.]

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*But see revised statement, p. 129.

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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 261-263

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