Number 52. Reports of Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Rice, Nineteenth Massachusetts Infantry, of operations August 12-25

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

No. 52. Reports of Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Rice, Nineteenth Massachusetts Infantry, of operations August 12-25.1

HDQRS. NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS, In the Field,
August 23, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command during the late movements north of the James:

Broke camp in the afternoon of the 12th instant, and took up the line of march in brigade toward City Point, which we reached at 9.30 p.m.; rested for the night. Drew rations next morning, and at 2 p.m. embarked on transport, moved out, and anchored with the rest of the fleet. Weighed anchor at 10 p.m., and arrived at Deep bottom at midnight, where we disembarked at 7 a.m. of the 14th. After a short rest moved off in brigade and occupied the ground of the fight of 26th ultimo, but were almost immediately ordered forward to the support of the First Division, which was engaging the enemy and where we were shelled by them. Lay in support of skirmishers until 4 p.m., when the regiments in its place in the brigade charged the enemy’s works, which, besides being of a formidable nature, lay upon the other side of a deep ravine. We became much exposed here before the descent, having 2 killed and 4 wounded, but succeeded in occupying the enemy’s advanced rifle-pits until night, when we fell back under orders, and having reformed in brigade took up a new position in rear of works, which latter we occupied next day, supporting a section of Sixth Maine Battery, which opened fire at 1.45 p.m. and continued engaged until dusk. The night of the 16th was spent in quietness. 17th, very little firing in our front all day, flags of truce going out twice. The night same as previous one. At 4 p.m. of the 18th, the right being heavily engaged, the enemy opened on us with his artillery and the men placed in readiness to receive any advance which might be made. At 9 p.m. took ground to the left at some distance, which brought us in proximity to the river, when the regiment (together with the Twentieth Massachusetts) was detailed to throw up works. This occupied the night.

The day and night of the 19th it rained incessantly, and nothing of importance transpired in our immediate front, beyond that the enemy was observed to have strengthened his position. All quiet on the 20th, at dusk of which we received orders to retrace our steps toward Petersburg. The night very dark and a heavy rain falling contributed to make the march in the highest degree laborious. We crossed the last pontoon upon the Appomattox at midnight 20th-21st, and arrived in camp at 9 a.m. of the latter day.

Notwithstanding the small strength of the regiment, it performed a considerable share of the picket and fatigue duties of the expedition, and in the charge of the 14th, the majority being recruits who had not been under fire before, behaved in a manner which exceeded my expectation.

Respectfully submitted.

EDMUND RICE,

Lieutenant Colonel Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, Commanding.

Lieutenant-Colonel RUGG,

Commanding First Brigade.
HDQRS. NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS, In the Field,
August 28, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this regiment during the late operations on the Weldon railroad, near Reams’ Station:

Upon our arrival at the railroad the regiment occupied for a short time the works upon the north side, when it was ordered out as skirmishers to protect the front of the remainder of the brigade, which was engaged in destroying in a more complete manner railroad property, &c., which had been but partially damaged. The regiment was called in toward evening and with the brigade occupied for the night the works on south side of the road. On the morning of the 25th this command in the brigade laid for some time in a corn-field near the road, whence we moved down the road to support skirmishers, which had become hotly engaged with those of the enemy, and also were in support of a battery which lay upon our left point, and which was engaged with some of the enemy’s artillery. We were withdrawn from here early in the afternoon, and making a detour through the field before alluded to, arrived in rear of the First Division (which occupied the works herein first mentioned) and laid in close support. The enemy charged at this time, and were handsomely repulsed. About 3 p.m. we were detached from the brigade and occupied some very slight works upon the rise of the hill, in rear of the corn-field, in easy fire of the enemy’s musketry and in full view of his artillery. The latter was not slow to take advantage of this and opened on us with his guns, and for some time this regiment was under a terrific shower of shell and solid shot, which, together with the enemy’s musketry, compelled us to lie close. At this time the right of the troops occupying the front line of works was flanked and driven in with great confusion, and this regiment, under the impression that the brigade was about to charge and endeavor to turn the fortunes of the day, advanced toward the enemy on the double under a galling cross-fire, but observing that my command alone had charged, I halted and re-formed them behind a couple of houses, and we returned and took our place in the brigade. The enemy had by this

time turned the left of our lines and came pouring in. The fire at this moment coming from three points (front, rear, and left), and the enemy’s shelling being kept up with much effect, this command was withdrawn at dusk, when I re-formed my men and marched to the rear under orders, having lost 24 men wounded and missing.

Respectfully submitted.

EDMUND RICE,

Lieutenant-Colonel Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteers.

Lieutenant-Colonel RUGG,

Commanding First Brigade.

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 307-309

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