Number 49. Reports of Lieutenant Colonel Horace P. Rugg, Fifty-ninth New York Infantry, commanding First Brigade, of operations August 12-26 and October 26-28

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

No. 49. Reports of Lieutenant Colonel Horace P. Rugg, Fifty-ninth New York Infantry, commanding First Brigade, of operations August 12-26 and October 26-28.1

HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, SECOND DIV., SECOND CORPS, August 21, 1864.

SIR: I beg leave to submit the following the report of the operations of this command on the north bank of the James from the 12th day of August, 1864, to the present date:

On the afternoon of the 12th the command broke camp and marched to City Point. The next day (the 13th) embarked on transports, and same night moved up the James River to Deep Bottom, which place we reached at 1.30 a.m. of the 14th. Shortly after daybreak we debarked and moved out about two miles and a half in the direction of Four-Mile Run. Reaching this position we were maneuvered until about 4 p.m., when we were formed in two lines near Fussell’s Mill and ordered to charge the enemy’s works (which at that point parallel with and were just across the creek),which we did in gallant style, but were unsuccessful in driving him from them on account of the intervening brush and creek. Immediately after dusk the command was withdrawn from the creek, in which they had formed after the repulse, and moved a short distance to the left and rear, where we were massed. Our loss was quite severe and foots up as follows: Officers – killed,1; wounded, 11;missing,-. Enlisted men- killed, 24; wounded, 116; missing, 36. Total, 188.

All behaved with the greatest steadiness,and, although unsuccessful, deserve well. Colonel George N. Macy (who commanded the brigade at the time of the charge) and staff behaved with the greatest gallantly and daring. The colonel had two horses shot under him, the second one falling on and inuring him so severely that he had to be carried from the field at a time when success seemed certain. Captain Curtiss, acting assistant adjutant-general, was slightly wounded about the same time, but returned to duty two days after. Nothing important transpired after this except the sending out the Seventh Michigan Regiment on the 17th for the purpose of making a demonstration on their left. The loss in this affair was 2 enlisted men killed and 5 wounded.

The following loss was sustained on the skirmish line after the charge of the 14th, not including the loss in the Seventh Michigan: Enlisted men – killed,2; wounded, 5.

On the evening of the 20th we recrossed the James, marching all night; the next morning occupying our old camp.

I have the honor, captain, to be, your most obedient servant,
HORACE P. RUGG,

Lieutenant Colonel Fifty-ninth New York Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Captain A. H. EMBLER,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, SECOND DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS, August 27, 1864.

SIR: On the 21st instant this command left camp (near Southall’s house) and moved across the Jerusalem plank road to the Gurley house, near Warren’s position on the Weldon railroad.

On afternoon of 23rd instant were ordered to Reams’ Station, which we reached next morning, having halted during the night. Five hundred men were immediately put to destroying the railroad and the Twentieth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers sent on picket, the balance of brigade occupying the breast-works. On the 25th, at 9 a.m., we moved down the railroad, following the Third Brigade, but had not proceeded far before skirmishing commenced. Shortly afterward two regiments (Seventh Michigan and Fifty-ninth New York) were sent out to feel the enemy on the left, and subsequently the balance of the brigade was formed in line of battle some distance in rear of the skirmish line. About 12 m. we were ordered back to the station with orders to report to General Hancock, the two regiments on the left to be withdrawn and posted as pickets from the railroad on a road running at right angles to it and extending to a cluster of houses on the left. On reporting back to General Hancock were ordered to take up a position on Colonel Murphy’s (commanding Second Brigade) left, but before getting into position an order came to report to General Miles (commanding First Division) for temporary service, taking up a position in rear of his division as s support. In this position we remained while the second and third assaults of the enemy were repulsed, when we were moved in reserve to our own division, leaving two regiments (the Twentieth Massachusetts and Thirty-sixth Wisconsin) in position in rear of First Division. Shortly after two regiments were ordered to report to Colonel Murphy (commanding Second Brigade), and one (the One hundred and fifty-second New York) to General Miles, and subsequently the two remaining regiments (First Minnesota and One hundred and eighty-fourth Pennsylvania) were also ordered to General Miles, and were posted in the same position occupied before, on the right of the Twentieth Massachusetts and Thirty-sixth Wisconsin (which had not been from their first position). Directly after getting into line the final assault by the enemy was made, in which he succeeded in piercing the line in front of us, which gave away along its whole length, closely followed by the enemy. The reserves could do nothing, as the First Division, apparently panic-stricken, were passing to the rear over our men, which made it impossible for them to fire on the enemy,and shortly after the panic spread to them, and they also left the field, except a majority of the Twentieth Massachusetts and Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Regiments, which being on the left of the line, and at the point where the enemy first crossed our works, were compelled to surrender. Myself and staff exerted our utmost to rally the men and were partially successful in our efforts. Shortly after dark the command was reformed as well as possible and moved from the field to the vicinity of the Williams house, where it encamped about 1 a.m. on the 26th instant.

The total loss was as follows:Officers-killed,1; wounded,4; missing, 14; total.19. Enlisted men-killed,9; wounded,49; missing, 357, total,415. Aggregate,434.*

I am captain, very respectfully,&c.,

HORACE P. RUGG,

Lieutenant Colonel Fifty-ninth New York Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Captain A. HENRY EMBLER,

Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Second Division, Second Corps.

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*But see revised statement,p.130.

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HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, SECOND DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS, October 28, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of operations of this command from the 26th to 28th instant:

At 2 p.m. on the afternoon of the 26th we left camp, in the rear of Fort Bross, and moved to the Vaughan house, on the Weldon railroad, where we bivouacked for the night. The next morning, at 3.30 o’clock we moved out in the direction of the Boydton plank road, first meeting the enemy at Hatcher’s Run, but as they were driven from this position by the Third Brigade, the First Brigade was not engaged. From this point we took the advance, driving the enemy to the Boydton plank road. At this point we formed line of battle across the road, but before getting into position we were opened upon from a battery of the enemy, which was soon after silenced by Beck’s battery (C and I), Fifth U. S. Artillery. From this point we advanced in line of battle and took up a position on the left of the plank road, extending from the Burgess house, connecting with the Second Brigade on the right, to a ravine on the left, which was not connected but was protected by the First Minnesota Battalion and Seventh Michigan Volunteers, which I deployed to cover our flank and rear. While in this position the enemy opened upon us from the left with a battery of rifle guns, which enfiladed our lines, and continued firing from them during the remainder of the day, killing and wounding many of our men. Our skirmish line in front was continually engaged with the enemy’s lines and at one time was driven by him. We held this position until after the assault by the enemy was made. While in this position the enemy succeeded in obtaining possession of the plank road in our rear, severing for the time our communications, when Major Mitchell, of General Hancock’s staff, charged down the road with the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Regiment, capturing many prisoners and one color, as is shown by the special report, accompanying this, of Captain Fisk, commanding Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Regiment. Major Mitchell desired me to move my whole brigade in this charge, but I did not do it, for the following reasons: First, I had just received orders, by a staff officer from General Egan, to hold the position I was then in at all hazards; second, the enemy were continually threatening our left flank and front; third, the enemy on the road was not in force,but a disorganized body, and I considered that one good-sized regiment, charging down the road in line, would be as effectual as the whole brigade.

About 5 p.m. the brigade was moved to the extreme left of the second line, facing to the right and rear, and shortly afterward was again moved to the right and in rear of Colonel McAllister’s brigade of the Third Division. When moving from our position on the left of the plank road I left the First Minnesota and Seventh Michigan Volunteers in their position in the wood on our left and rear, as they were continually picking up prisoners. After dark the command was moved down and formed in the plank road, connecting on the right with the Third Division, and on the left with Colonel McAllister’s brigade, throwing out vedettes in front and rear. About 11 p.m. we left this position and moved off with the rest of the column, forming the rear guard. Halting the next morning about 4 o’clock in rear of the Second Division of the Fifth Corps, I received orders from in line of battle, connecting with the Second Brigade on the right and extending to the left. That brigade did not form line, but moved to the rear of the Fifth Corps. As they were the directing brigade I followed them and conformed myself to their movements. Shortly after daylight we took up the line of march (at the

head of the division) for our present camp, which were reached about 4 p.m. The First Minnesota and Seventh Michigan Volunteers were left on the skirmish line, as they had changed their position and could not be found when the balance of the brigade left. They remained on the field until the next morning (October 28), when they left at 9.30 o’clock and reached camp at 9 o’clock this morning (October 29). I inclose report of Captain Farwell.*

Our loss during the operations was 1 officer and 9 enlisted men killed, 34 enlisted men wounded, and 95 enlisted men missing; making a total of 1 officer and 138 enlisted men.+ The number missing will probably be reduced by the return of stragglers. The officer killed was Captain Musson, commanding One hundred and fifty-second New York Volunteers, a brave and able officer. The troops of the command behaved gallantly. Two colors and upward of 400 prisoners were captured, besides a color captured by a man of the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, which was afterward taken from him.

I beg leave to mention for especial gallantry my acting staff, Captain George W. Ryerson, Fifty-ninth New York Veteran Volunteers, acting assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenant Ansel L. White, Nineteenth Maine Volunteers, acting aide-de-camp; W. Stone, Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, acting aide-de-camp (each of these officers had his horse shot under him while carrying orders, and my own horse was wounded while rallying one of the brigades of the Third Division); and also Capts. J. C. Farwell, First Minnesota Battalion, and George W. La Point, Seventh Michigan Volunteers, for fighting their way through the enemy’s cavalry on the morning of the 28th; Sergt. Alonzo Smith,++ Company C, Seventh Michigan Volunteers, for capturing the colors of the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina (rebel) Regiment, and Sergt. Daniel J. Murphy,++ Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, for capturing the colors of the Forty-seventh North Carolina (rebel) Regiment.

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

HORACE P. RUGG,

Lieutenant Colonel Fifty-ninth New York Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Lieutenant WILLIAM H. GILDER,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

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*Not found.

+But see revised statement, p.153.

++Awarded a Medal of Honor.

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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 301-304

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