Number 127. Petersburg Campaign Reports of Brigadier General Charles Griffin, U. S. Army, commanding First Division, of operations August 18-21, October 27-28, and December 7-12

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 127. Reports of Brigadier General Charles Griffin, U. S. Army, commanding First Division, of operations August 18-21, October 27-28, and December 7-12.1

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
August 27, 1864.

COLONEL: In compliance with Circular Numbers 120, of this date, I have the honor to report the following operations of the First Division, commencing with the 18th instant:

The division struck camp on the morning of the 18th, a little before 4 o’clock, at or near the Chieves house, and marched at about 5 o’clock. Upon reaching a point near the Gurley house, a line of battle was formed by the First and Second Brigades, with a strong skirmish line in front. The command was then pushed forward across the Weldon railroad, at the Yellow House, where it arrived at 9 o’clock, driving the enemy’s cavalry before it, and capturing several prisoners, which position it holds at this present time. A strong picket-line having been pushed some 1,500 yards to the front, toward the Vaughan road, immediate measures were taken, by building rifle-pits and slashing, to strengthen the position. On the 19th, about 5 p. m., First and Third Brigades were moved to the line occupied by the other divisions of the corps. The Third Brigade remained but a few moments, when it returned to its position without being engaged. The First Brigade moved forward about 500 men, consisting of the One hundred and eighty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, to the support of the first line of battle, and was very sharply engaged for about half an hour. The remainder of the First Brigade occupied the rifle-pits of the second line during that night, when the entire brigade next morning was relieved, and took up the position first occupied. The 20th was occupied by the command in felling timber and strengthening its works. On the morning of the 21st the enemy appeared in front of the command, driving in the picket-line with a line of battle, his line of battle extending a little beyond the front occupied by the division. The enemy moved forward slowly, the picket-line falling back, opposing his advance. After reaching the slashing the enemy was compelled by the infantry and artillery fire to fall back in confusion.

The loss of the command during the several days’ fight was 9 killed, 36 wounded, and 94 missing.* Quite a number of prisoners were taken, and the colors of the Twenty-seventh South Carolina Regiment by Private F. C. Anderson, Company A, Eighteenth Massachusetts Battalion, who also brought in the color-sergeant. The command buried 31 rebel dead, and brought in a large number of wounded prisoners and 84 rebel muskets.

In conclusion, I beg to state that the conduct of both officers and men was all that could be desired.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHAS. GRIFFIN,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Lieutenant Colonel F. T. LOCKE,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Fifth Army Corps.

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*But see revised statement, p. 123.

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HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, FIFTH CORPS,
Before Petersburg, Va., October 29, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that, in accordance with orders from the commanding general, the First Division took the advance of the corps on the morning of the 27th instant. When it had followed the course indicated about four miles the advance met the enemy. The Second Brigade was formed in two lines in the woods on the left of the road-the One hundred and eighty-eight New York Battalion and Ninety-first Pennsylvania in the first line, and the One hundred and eighty-seventh New York Battalion and One hundred and fifty-fifth Pennsylvania in the second line. Skirmishers from the Ninety-first Pennsylvania were thrown out in front, and from the Ninety-first Pennsylvania were thrown out in front, and from the One hundred and fifty-fifth Pennsylvania, on the left flank. The brigade advanced under quite a lively fire from the enemy until it arrived within 100 to 200 yards of the enemy’s works, when a portion of the line encountered the slashing of woods and were exposed to a sharp fire from the enemy in his works, which were found to be difficult to reach on account of the fallen timber and a strong abatis. A line was established here and temporary entrenchments thrown up. Later in the day, in obedience to orders of the commanding general, two regiments of the Third Brigade were sent to strengthen the left, connecting on the right with the Second Brigade and left resting on a creek. The rest of the Third Brigade was formed in line of battle in rear on the road crossed by the advance in the morning. The First Brigade was formed in line on the right of the road, midway between the Second and Third Brigades.

The enemy attempted an advance on the morning of October 28, just at daylight, but were promptly driven back to their works by the Second Brigade. During the forenoon of the 28th instant the Third Brigade covered the retirement of the corps without much loss, the enemy following only with cavalry; the First Division returning to its former camp near the Squirrel Level road.

The casualties during the movement were 22 killed, 170 wounded, 27 missing, as per report furnished this day. Many of the missing have since joined the command.

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

CHAS. GRIFFIN,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Lieutenant Colonel FRED. T. LOCKE,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Fifth Army Corps.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, FIFTH CORPS,
Camp Before Petersburg, Va., December 15, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to the orders of the general commanding the corps, the First Division left its camp near the Jerusalem plank road at 7 a. m. the 7th instant, marched southward on the road a distance of fifteen miles, and halted at 3 p. m. near the Nottoway River, at Freeman’s Bridge. Moved again at 2 a. m. the 8th instant, crossing the Nottoway River, passed Sussex Court-House and halted at 3 p. m. near the Nottoway, at the Weldon railroad crossing, having marched about eighteen miles. At 5.30 p. m. the division moved on the Weldon railroad about three miles north of Jarratt’s Station, and effected the destruction of the road to that station by 12 p. m., when it bivouacked for the remainder of the night. At 9 a. m. the

9th instant escorted the wagon train to a point about five miles north of Hicksford, on the railroad, and destroyed one mile and a half more of the railroad. At 7 a. m. the 10th instant the division moved in charge of the wagon train, taking a road leading to Sussex Court-House, and halted near the place for the night, having marched a distance of twenty-one miles. At 7 a. m. the 11th instant moved with the pontoon train to the Nottoway River, at Freeman’s Brigade, and, after the laying of the pontoon bridge, crossed the river and went into bivouac beside the Jerusalem road, about two miles from the left bank of the stream; distance marched, about eight miles. At 7 a. m. the 12th instant the division moved, and arrived in its present camp at 3 p., having marched a distance of thirteen miles.

There were no casualties in the First Brigade; in the Second Brigade, 15 men (stragglers) still missing; in the Third Brigade, 43 men (stragglers) still missing. Died, 1; legs broken, 2. Captain J. D. McNaughton, One hundred and eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, is missing (Second Brigade). Total loss, 1 officer and 61 men. As the command were not at any time during the expedition engaged with the enemy, there are no other casualties to report.

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

CHAS. GRIFFIN,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Bvt. Colonel F. T. LOCKE,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters Fifth 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 458-460

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