Number 100. Reports of Bvt. Brigadier General Robert McAllister, U. S. Army, commanding Third Brigade, of operations August 13-20 and 25, September 9-10, October 1-5 and 24-28, November 5, and December 7-12

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 100. Reports of Bvt. Brigadier General Robert McAllister, U. S. Army, commanding Third Brigade, of operations August 13-20 and 25, September 9-10, October 1-5 and 24-28, November 5, and December 7-12.1

HDQRS. THIRD Brigadier, THIRD DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS, August 21, 1864.

MAJOR: In pursuance to orders from the general commanding the division, directing me to make a demonstration in front of the enemy’s works, I proceeded at once to the trenches. Orders were issued to the command to strike shelters in front where they could be seen by the

enemy, the men to sling their knapsacks and take arms. After the batteries had opened on our line orders were given and repeated throughout our line to prepare to advance, banners were unfurled, and every demonstration made to jump over the breast-works by raising muskets and hats, while the whole line was cheering. This had the effect of bringing the enemy up partly on top of their breast-works, apparently waiting for our advance. Opposite our center we observed a strong line of skirmishers, and behind an extensive abatis (Spanish ridas) a line of battle in strength fully equal to ours. On the right (their left) they did no appear quite so strong, owing to the continual fire kept up.

R. McALLISTER,

Colonel Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Major JOHN HANCOCK,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Division, Second Corps.

HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, SECOND CORPS, August 22, 1864.

MAJOR: In pursuance to orders from headquarters Third Division, of the 21st instant, I have the honor to submit the following report of operations of this command north of James River, Va., from 13th to 20th instant, inclusive:

At 5 p. m. of the 13th this command embarked on board of the steamers Perit, Sedgwick, and Collins, and was landed at Deep Bottom bridge at 5.30 next morning, the 14th. At 9.30 a. m. marched forward from the river up to New Market road. At 7 p. m. the brigade was ordered to report to General Miles, who ordered us to take position on his right near New Market in front of the enemy’s works, where we remained in line until 4 o’clock next morning, the 15th, when we were ordered to rejoin our division in the rear. At 9 a. m. we were again advanced to the front on the left of Four-Mile Creek, massed in the woods, and remained there all day. Toward evening the Eleventh New Jersey was ordered to proceed to Malvern Hill road to support our cavalry. At 2 p. m. of the 16th one of our regiments (the Sixth New Jersey) was ordered to make a demonstration on our left to draw the enemy’s attention, while at the same time two other regiments (the Eighth New Jersey and Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers) made a demonstration on the right of our picket-line to feel the enemy’s strength. A heavy line of skirmishers was thrown out, consisting of the Eighth New Jersey, and ordered to advance, while the Eleventh Massachusetts remained in reserve. Our skirmish line was at once exposed to an enfilading fire from he enemy. Although the enemy’s force being apparently weak in our front, it was found that his works were too strong to be surprised by a small force. After one hour’s heavy skirmishing, in which the officers of the Eighth New Jersey and all the men, with very few exceptions, behaved in a very gallant and creditable manner, we fell back to our former position, with the loss of about 15 in killed, wounded, and missing. On the 17th and the most part of the 18th remained quiet in bivouac, when, at about 6 p. m., the enemy made a demonstration in our immediate front and then turned to our right, in consequence of which the brigade was ordered to take position between New Market and Malvern Hill roads to protect the pontoon bridge, as an attack of the enemy was expected. At 10 p. m. orders were received to rejoin our division then recrossing the James River; crossed

pontoon bridge at 11, and marched back to the front of Petersburg, where we arrived at 8 a. m. on the 19th. At 3 p. m. relieved the Second Brigade, Fourth Division, Ninth Army Corps, U. S. Colored Troops, in the works on the Norfolk and Suffolk Railroad, and took position in the trenches.

At the demonstration of the 16th I wish to mention the efficient and gallant conduct of two of my staff officers who had accompanied me to the scene of action, viz, Captain J. P. Finkelmeier, assistant adjutant-general, and Captain R. T. Lombard, acting aide-de-camp, and also Major Willian, of General Mott’s staff, who assisted me most bravely and effectually in the midst of the enemy’s fire.

Subjoined is a list of casualties from the 13th up to the 20th instant, inclusive.*

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

R. McALLISTER,

Colonel Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Major JOHN HANCOCK,

Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Second Army Corps.
HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, SECOND CORPS, September 8, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: In obedience to orders received this morning from division headquarters I would respectfully report that my command, consisting of the Third and part of the Second Brigades, left their position near Jones’ house at 2 p. m. on the 25th ultimo. After a detachment of cavalry, consisting of forty men under Captain Hare [Hess?], Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, had joined us, we proceeded down the plank road to the intersection of the Reams’ Station road. On our arrival there at 5 p. m. our troops were massed to the right and left of said plank road and the fact reported to Major-General Hancock at Reams’ Station. Meantime the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac arrived at this point, and ordered me to take a good position and deploy my command across the plank road. After reconnoitering I found a suitable place about a mile south of the intersection and deployed my command, advancing the cavalry detachment stationed in our front well toward Blackwater. While receiving this order at 6 p. m. the head of General Willcox’s brigade [division] passed Mrs. Fuller’s house, at the intersection toward Reams’ Station. A battery of six pieces of artillery had at this time reported to us, and we immediately after took position on the line designated. After having posted two pieces of this battery on the left and rear and four pieces to the right and rear of our position, so as to afford a complete sweep of both roads, breast-works were erected along the line occupied. At 1 a. m. next morning received orders from General Hancock to remain in our old position until General Willcox’s command had passed and then march in their rear back to our old position near Jones’ house, where we arrived at 5 a. m. No casualties occurred during this movement except an officer missing, Assistant Surgeon Heritage, who while reconnoitering happened to come in the enemy’s lines and was taken prisoner.

I am, lieutenant, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. McALLISTER,

Colonel Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Lieutenant J. H. LOCKWOOD,

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

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*Embodied in table, p. 119.

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HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, SECOND CORPS, September 12, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: In compliance with orders from division headquarters of September 11, 1864, I respectfully report the following part taken by this command in the operations of the 9th and 10th instant:

On receiving orders advising me of a movement on our right, the Fifth and Eleventh New Jersey and Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers were sent to the front in reserve with instructions to be in readiness in case of need to support our picket-line at the advance. Having increased before the strength of the pickets, the headquarters of this brigade was moved to the reserve during the operations. When the advance was made at 1.30 a. m. the detail from the Sixth New Jersey Volunteers advanced with the right of our line with their pickets, and, after successfully driving the enemy, occupied their line in our front in company with the Second U. S. Sharpshooters. Toward morning, at about 3 o’clock, when the enemy threatened the right of our line, re-enforcements were sent from the Sixth and Eleventh New Jersey and Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers, under a most rigid fire. The effort of the enemy to retake this part of the line was twice repulsed and the picket-line firmly held. During the operations the whole command stood under arms ready for any emergency. On the evening of the 10th orders were received to advance during the night the left of our picket-line, which, under a heavy musket fire of the enemy, at about 2 a. m., was done equally successfully. The enemy has since kept up a constant firing, thus causing daily casualties.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. McALLISTER,

Colonel Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Lieutenant J. H. LOCKWOOD,

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

HDQRS. THIRD Brigadier, THIRD DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS, September 20, 1864.

MAJOR: In compliance with orders received this morning from division headquarters, relative to a report of my operation during the action at Reams’ Station, I would respectfully state that I have, on the 8th instant, rendered a report to that effect, a copy of which, marked “I,” is hereby inclosed.* The order to be ready (Numbers II) and the one to move (Numbers III) were received at 12 m. and 2 p. m., respectively, on the 25th ultimo. When leaving camp at 2.30 p. m. my command consisted of 685 men of the Second and 1,307 of my own brigade, making a total of 1,992 enlisted men, exclusive of the cavalry and artillery detachment previously reported. At the Jones house we were waiting about half an hour for the Second Brigade. On my arrival at the Fuller house (intersection of Reams’ Station road), at 5 p. m., a staff officer, in company with Major Willian, went to Major-General Hancock to report this fact, and a verbal order was brought by these officers to take a position across the road and to hold it until further orders against an attack of the enemy in our rear. Another order from Major-General Hancock, directing me to remain in the position indicated until General Willcox’s command has passed on its way back and then bring up the rear and destroy all property left, was conveyed to me verbally by Col-

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*See p. 391.

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onel Morgan at 1 a. m. on the 26th ultimo. While on my way to the old camp, and near the Williams house, an orderly brought me a written order from Major-General Humphreys to the same purport as the one marked Numbers III, which unfortunately was lost by Lieutenant Rusling, aide-de-camp, now out of service. The order itself was undoubtedly intended to come to my hands the afternoon previous.

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

R. McALLISTER,

Colonel Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Major JOHN HANCOCK,

Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Second Army Corps.
HDQRS. THIRD Brigadier, THIRD DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS,
Before Petersburg, Va., October 7, 1864.

CAPTAIN: In compliance with circular from headquarters Third Division of this date, I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the recent operations on the left of the army:

On the morning of the 1st instant I received orders to hold the brigade in readiness to move to the trestle bridge as soon as relieved from the works I held near the Avery house. At a later hour in the morning, 4 o’clock, I was instructed to commence the movement without waiting for the troops sent to relieve me, and arrived at the trestle bridge soon after daylight, remaining there until 3 p. m. I was then ordered to place my brigade aboard the cars and proceed to the Peebles house, southwest of the Weldon railroad. Arriving at the Yellow House the brigade again took up the line of march at 4.30 p. m., arriving at the Peebles house at 6.30 p. m. of this date, where we bivouacked for the night. During the night I received orders to be ready to move at daylight, and at 6 a. m. of the 2nd I moved forward with my command and ordered to close en masse. We moved up the road, following General Pierce’s orders to form regiment after regiment on the left of him, as he was to swing around his left to right. I was ordered also to deploy regiment after regiment as a very strong line of skirmishers. The One hundred and twentieth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Tappen, and the Fifth and Seventh New Jersey Volunteers, Colonel Price, marched up toward the enemy’s redoubt through the slashing, driving the enemy from the redoubt and breast-works. Colonel Price was ordered to support General Pierce’s advance, at the same time my left stretched out past the white house (Smith’s house) and far into the woods, driving the enemy before them.

After our forces had got possession of the works we were ordered to move by the right flank, having all my brigade but two regiments deployed as skirmishers. I closed them up, leaving a sufficient number of skirmishers to more than cover my brigade, and followed General Pierce by the right and left flank until we came in sight of the enemy’s second line of works near the Boydton road, where we halted and pushed the skirmishers forward, who were hotly engaged and under a sharp fire from the enemy’s sharpshooters, together with an enfilading fire from the rebel batteries in earth-works. I was ordered to make a demonstration in front of General De Trobriand’s brigade, while General Pierce charged on the works on my right. I ordered Major Rivers to make the demonstration, which he did with the Eleventh Massachusetts. This regiment marched under a galling fire and did all that was

asked of them. After the demonstration was over the enemy moved on my left flank and made it very unpleasant for this regiment, as well as my whole brigade, together with a portion of General Pierce’s. Late in the afternoon Colonel Biles, of the First Brigade, informed me that he was taking his regiment from my left and that I must look out for my left flank. I soon received orders to move my whole command back. My first effort was to get the Eleventh Massachusetts out of its critical position, which was accomplished by Major Rivers in a manner highly creditable to himself and his command. The manner in which the officers and men during the transactions of the day performed their duty is alike creditable to themselves and the brigade. All showed a willingness to obey every order. Colonel Tappen and Major Rivers deserve particular mention. Captain Snyder, in command of my picket-line, showed himself a brave, efficient officer. He was badly wounded.

I returned and took position in the rifle-pits on the right of the Squirrel Level road. Large details were made to slash in our front, and from that time details were kept slashing and building new works until 10 p. m. on the 5th, when I received orders to march my brigade to occupy the works connecting between Forts Davis and Alexander Hays. On my arrival I found the only troops occupying the works were the Nineteenth U. S. Colored Troops, whom I relieved at the breast-works and on the picket-line at 11 p. m., at the same time placing 575 men in Fort Davis and massing three regiments in rear of General Pierce’s old headquarters, my brigade being in position, as ordered, at 12 midnight.

I cannot close my report without favorably mentioning Major Willian, of your staff; always where he is needed, regardless of danger.

My own staff did all that I asked or desired of them, and deserve my warmest thanks.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. McALLISTER,

Colonel Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Captain J. P. FINKELMEIER,

Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Second Army Corps.

HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, SECOND CORPS, October [30], 1864.

CAPTAIN: Pursuant to circular from headquarters Second Army Corps, dated October 29, 1864, I have the honor to report the following operations of this brigade as a part of the late movement on the left of the army:

I left camp at 10 o’clock on the evening of the 24th, and massed my brigade near the Southall house, where I remained in bivouac until 3 o’clock of the 26th, when I followed the Second Brigade of this division, taking the road leading through the wood, by the Widow Smith, Williams, and Gurley houses, reaching and going into bivouac near the Lewis house at 5.30. At 4 o’clock on the 27th followed the Second Brigade of this division, arriving near the Boydton plank road at 12 m. I was halted by General Meade before reaching the Boydton road, where I was to mass my brigade. Firing could be heard a little to the left and in rear of me. I formed my rear regiment in line across the road, facing it to the rear, to be prepared for an attack in that direction. I

was then directed by General Mott to form a connection with General Crawford, and was in motion when the order was countermanded, and I massed my brigade, as previously directed, near the Boydton road. At 1 o’clock I reported to General Egan. At 9 o’clock I withdrew from the battle-field, taking the plank road leading to General Mott’s headquarters, to whom I reported, and was directed to follow to Second Brigade of this division, taking the road General Egan advanced upon in the morning; bivouacked near the Davis house at 3.30 a. m. of the 28th. At 11 a. m. followed the Third Brigade of the Second Division; at 2.30 passed the Second Division and bivouacked for the night near the Southall house.

Subjoined is a list of casualties:

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

R. McALLISTER,

Colonel, Commanding.

Captain J. P. FINKELMEIER,

Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Second Army Corps.

HDQRS. THIRD Brigadier, THIRD DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS, October 30, 1864.

CAPTAIN: Pursuant to circular from headquarters Second Army Corps, dated October 29, 1864, I have the honor to report the operations of my brigade while under your command in the battle of the 27th instant.

At 1.30 p. m. I was directed to report to Brigadier-General Egan, commanding Second Division, and without delay moved up the Boydton plank road, turning it on the right along the crest of the hill overlooking the mill-dam. Here I reported to General Egan in person and was directed by him to form my brigade in two lines of battle, facing the enemy across the mill-dam stream. Fifteen minutes after I was ordered to form in one line of battle by extending my left to the plank road. While executing this movement I received a severe fire from the enemy on the opposite hill. I had just got this movement completed when I heard heavy musketry in our rear, which plainly told that the enemy were there in some considerable force. I was now directed by General

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*But see revised statement, p. 155.

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Egan to change front to the rear. Having a large number of recruits, and but few officers and time precious, I deemed it best to about-face and move on the enemy with my rear rank in front, General Egan keeping the Seventh and Fifth New Jersey Volunteers (Colonel Price), as a reserve for the front line. I moved to the slope of the hill and halted a few moments. The enemy were advancing in my rear (now front) and also along the plank road. I ordered Colonel Schoonover, commanding Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, to wheel the left wing of his regiment (now the right) to oppose the enemy’s movements in that direction, which he did, and had the desired effect. A charge was now ordered and made with the One hundred and twentieth New York Volunteers (Lieutenant-Colonel Tappen), Eighth New Jersey Volunteers (Colonel Ramsey), Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers (Captain Granger), and the one wing of the Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers (Lieutenant Cummings). We moved down the hill on the charge over the gulleys and through the thick hazel-brush under a severe flank fire. On reaching the high ground on the opposite side I received a severe fire in our front, which was too much for our raw recruits to stand and they broke. We tried to rally them on the low ground, but could not. On reaching the high ground we reformed very nicely with a full line of battle. The enemy again advanced in our front, when our line opened a destructive fire upon them, driving them back to the shelter of the wood. As our charge was made the enemy tried to get a battery into position in front of our left center, but seeing us charging upon them, they limbered up and moved off as my left regiment (One hundred and twentieth New York Volunteers) swung around onto them. Had my left extended the distance of one more regiment it could have captured the battery entire. As it was, we captured many prisoners. The enemy opened with musketry, shell, and canister from all sides. For a short time we were completely surrounded, receiving a fire from four directions. Had our line broken while in this critical situation all would have been lost, but the gallantry displayed by officers and men of your entire command saved the day. I had but few officers and can truly say they did nobly. The enemy now moved on our right (now left flank) with the intention of making an attack there. I was ordered by General Egan to change position of some of my regiments so as to form a second line, which I did, connecting with Second Division troops, and also sent men forward to strengthen the outer line. I have never seen officers work harder and brave danger more willingly than all did on that day, without an exception.

My staff did anything that I could desire; all deserve great credit.

I regret exceedingly the loss of Captains Granger and McTavish, of the Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers, and Chamberlain, of the One hundred and twentieth New York Volunteers, who were killed while showing an example of the greatest heroism. Their loss will be mourned by all who wish to see this rebellion crushed. I would also mention Captain Beahen, Eighth New Jersey Volunteers, who was wounded while behaving handsomely, rallying his men for a second charge.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. McALLISTER,

Colonel Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Captain A. H. EMBLER,

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

HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, SECOND CORPS, November 6, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that last night, 11 p. m., my picket-line in front of Fort Morton was charged upon by a rebel line of battle with a loud yell and vigorously attacked. The left of the part charged gave way and the enemy took possession of about forty pits. In about three minutes our men about-faced and retook one-half of them, driving the enemy to our right. The struggle for the balance of those pits was a desperate one, hand-to-hand across the breast-works with but and bayonet, and lasting until near daylight this morning. I re-enforced the fighting party three different times. Our enfilade fire on the enemy’s lines was very destructive to him. Besides the great number of the enemy’s killed and wounded carried back by them quite a number of the dead lay in our trenches, also a large number of shovels and picks. We captured 1 lieutenant and 41 men prisoners, whom I sent up to you. My officers and men behaved splendidly. Our loss is light. We think they got from us very few prisoners. They captured the adjutant of the Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers. I do not now know of any other. The names of those who did so nobly in this affair I will give when I get all the facts; also the number of killed, wounded, and missing. I strengthened the pickets, and placed the balance of command in the inclosed works and along the breast-works to be prepared for the worst. The colonel commanding a brigade from the First Division massed here furnished me with one regiment, which I placed in Fort Morton to take the place of troops taken from there to the picket-line. All is now quiet. The old line is re-established.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. McALLISTER,

Colonel, Commanding.

Captain J. P. FINKELMEIER,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Division, Second Corps.

HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, SECOND CORPS, November 7, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor, in accordance with your wishes, to forward you the following report relating to the attack on my picket-line on the night of the 5th instant:

On receiving orders from headquarters of the corps and division relative to the disposition of the troops under my command for defense in case of an attack, I immediately placed them as follows: Fifth New Jersey Volunteers, Captain Thomas G. Morrow, on the right and as garrison to Battery 14, connecting with General Egan’s command; Eleventh Massachusetts Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Rivers, in the curtains between Battery 14 and Fort Morton; Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel John Schoonover, in Fort Morton, one company at Battery 15; Eighth New Jersey Volunteers, Colonel John Ramsey, on the left of Battery 15; One hundred and twentieth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel J. R. Tappen, connecting with the Eighth New Jersey Volunteers, and extending to Fort Meikel; Seventh New Jersey Volunteers, Captain Thomas C. Thompson, in and occupying the left wing of Fort Meikel. A strong picket-line in front, ninety-two posts,

four men to a post, commanded by Captain James A. Hyde, One hundred and twentieth New York Volunteers, senior officer; Captain J. K. Holmes, brigade officer of the day. Between 11 and 12 p. m. the enemy charged on the picket-line front of Fort Morton, meeting the picket details from One hundred and twentieth New York Volunteers and Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers. The Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers held their ground and stood firm except one post on the left. A part of the One hundred and twentieth New York gave way, being unable to fire but one volley. They rallied again and retook a portion of their lost posts. It was at this time reported to me that the line was re-established, and I so reported it. I sent out Captain C. F. Gage, Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, to inspect the line, accompanied by Adjt. Michael Boucher, Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers. The latter was captured by the enemy in our pits. I ordered one company from each the One hundred and twentieth New York and Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers to retake those pits. Captain C. F. Gage and Lieutenant William Plimley, my aide-de-camp, went with them. After a hard struggle a few were retaken. I then sent two companies from the One hundred and twentieth New York Volunteers to report to these officers, and they fought with the others hand to hand across the pits with brave determination and gallantry. The struggle was long, and I sent two more companies from the Eleventh Massachusetts Battalion to assist. The line was re-established and the enemy beaten back, leaving 42 prisoners, including 1 officer, in our hands.

Their dead have not been counted, but are quite numerous, lying between the two lines. A part of the staff of one of their colors, guns, and cartridge-boxes, and entrenching tools were left lying in front of our pits. They came in force, and, as prisoners say, with the intention of staying. The enemy’s loss must have been quite heavy as we kept a constant enfilade fire on his flanks as well as his front. The night was very dark, and as the contest was raging, fearing that the enemy was massing troops in rear of battle, I ordered the mortar batteries of Fort Morton to open and throw their shells over the fighting line into the enemy, and have no doubt it had a good effect.

Officers and men worked in this affair with a will and determination to recapture the line that merits the greatest praise.

I take great pleasure in mentioning the following officers as having borne a conspicuous part in the re-establishment of our line: Captain Rodney B. Newkirk, Lieutenant C. F. Bowers, and Lieutenant William Plimley, of my staff; Captain James A. Hyde, Lieuts. A. R. Cole, T. C. Brooks, Ambrose M. Barber, and Richard W. Clark, of the One hundred and twentieth New York Volunteers; Captain C. F. Gage, Lieutenant C. A. Oliver, and Sergt. E. White, commanding company of the Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers; First Lieutenant and Adjt. Michael Boucher, Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers.

My orderly, Private Thomas McBride, deserves great credit for the fearless manner in which he performed his duties. He fell while contending with the enemy near the rifle-pits.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. McALLISTER,

Colonel Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Captain J. P. FINKELMEIER,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Division, Second Corps.

HDQRS. THIRD Brigadier, THIRD DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS, December 15, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command during the late movement under command of Major-General Warren, commanding Fifth Army Corps.

December 6, at about 2 p. m., I received orders from General Mott, commanding this division, to prepare my command to move at 6 a. m. on the following day.

December 7, moved at 7 a. m., marching in rear of Second Brigade, Third Division, Second Army Corps, and on arriving at the Gurley house at 7.30 a. m. orders were received to march left in front. Moved on the Jerusalem plank road to the Nottoway River, which I crossed with my command at 7.45 p. m. and bivouacked for the night near its bank. My command was in the rear of the column, and the march being a rapid one, and having many recruits and new men (unused to marching in heavy order), caused many to straggle, consequently they failed to arrive at the river before the pontoons were taken up, and they were taken to the rear by the cavalry escort. The most of these men have since been returned to their respective regiments.

December 8, marched to Sussex Court-House. Flankers were thrown out at the left and right of the column. Halted from 8 a. m. to 8.30 a. m. Passed Sussex Court-House at 8.45 a. m. Halted at 9.20 a. m. and moved at 9.45 a. m. Passed Coman’s Well at 11.40 a. m. Halted at 12.50 p. m. until 1.10 p. m. Resumed the march, and at 4 p. m. bivouacked near Jarratt’s Station, on the Weldon railroad, my command being well closed up.

December 9, marched at 6.30 a. m., passing Jarratt’s Station at about 8 a. m., halting about two miles south of the station, where my brigade was formed in line of battle on the railroad. Received orders from General Mott to have pickets well thrown out. Arms were stacked and orders given to destroy the railroad, at which the whole command commenced with a will. At 11 a. m. the pickets of the Seventh New Jersey Volunteers, in front of the brigade line, south of Jarratt’s Station, captured 1 prisoner, 19 head of cattle, and 3 mules, all of which were taken in charge by the officers of the quartermaster and commissary of subsistence departments. At 12.40 p. m. moved, halting at 3 p. m., and resumed our operations, destroying the line of the railroad south of this point. My brigade was formed in single line of battle along the road. When orders were given to destroy the same they commenced and soon had the entire length of the road in front of our command utterly demolished. Thus the men worked, and at three different times and places the command was put at works and nothing left undone toward destroying the enemy’s communication by rail. We then bivouacked midway between Jarratt’s Station and Hicksford. At 12 midnight received orders from General Warren that the object of the expedition had been fully accomplished and that the command would return at daylight in the morning. The weather was very inclement at the time; the ground was covered with sleet and snow.

December 10, marched at 8.30 a. m., leaving the Weldon railroad to the left, taking the road leading to Sussex Court-House. Passed a church at 10 a. m. Halted at 11.10 a. m. At 11.25 a. m. resumed the march and at 12.30 p. m. rested the column. At 1 p. m. resumed the march until 2.10 p. m., when we halted and at 2.40 p. m. again took up the line of march until 6 p. m., when the command was halted and we bivouacked for the night. Heavy rain setting in during the night rendered our situation very uncomfortable.

December 11, resumed the march at 7.10 a. m., passing Sussex Court-House at about 10 a. m., halting near the Nottoway River at 12 m. to refresh the troops. The Third Division of the Fifth Corps passed us, leaving us to cover the rear of the whole command. The Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers (Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Rivers commanding) deployed across the Halifax road, holding the enemy in check, their vedettes following in proximity of the Third Division, Fifth Corps. The Eighth New Jersey Volunteers, Bvt. Brigadier General John Ramsey commanding, were deployed to the right of the road running at right angles with the Halifax road, where a squad of the enemy’s cavalry was held in check until the whole command had crossed the river with the exception of one section of Battery B, Fourth U. S. Artillery, which after the above-named regiments were drawn in and assembled near the section of artillery, two rounds were discharged on the enemy’s front, after which the guns were quietly withdrawn, the Eighth New Jersey and Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers bringing up the rear. At 5 p. m. crossed the river and bivouacked for the night about three miles distant on the Jerusalem plank road.

December 12, resumed the march at 7 a. m., arriving at the Yellow House at 1.30 p. m. Bivouacked in front of the rear line of entrenchments west of the Halifax road.

I am happy to say that the conduct of both officers and men of this brigade was highly satisfactory-the former without an exception; the latter did all that was desired of them, and all deserve great credit.

Appended is a list of casualties occurring in this command.*

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

R. McALLISTER,

Brevet Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers.

Captain J. P. FINKELMEIER,

Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Second Army Corps.

ADDENDA.
HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, SECOND CORPS, November 8, 1864.

OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS OF THE THIRD BRIGADE:

With pride and gratification the colonel commanding the brigade returns his thanks to the officers and men of this command for the noble bearing and gallant conduct in the affair of the evening of the 5th instant. Special credit and praise is due the three companies of the One hundred and twentieth New York Volunteers and one company Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, and staff and line officers, who so nobly led these gallant bands of brave soldiers to a successful recapture of the lost works against an overwhelming force of the enemy. The skill, bravery, and determination of the officers and men thus engaged representing these (the Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers and nearly all the regiments in this brigade) is worthy of note, and should be placed side by side with the heroic deeds and gallantry displayed in other and greater battles.

By a firm reliance on God and by His blessing and a firm determination to do our duty, this contest for our glorious Union will soon be ended in favor of its restoration.

R. McALLISTER,
Colonel, Commanding.

—————

*Shows 1 officer and 1 man wounded.

————–

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 389-400

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