Number 188. Petersburg Campaign Reports of Brigadier General Julius White, U. S. Army, commanding First Division, of operation August 19-20

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

No. 188. Reports of Brigadier General Julius White, U. S. Army, commanding First Division, of operation August 19-20.1

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, NINTH ARMY CORPS,
Blick’s Station, Va., August 23, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by this division in the engagement of the 19th instant, at this

place, during which I was acting under the orders of the major-general commanding Fifth Army Corps:

On the morning of the 19th instant I received orders to report with my command to Major-General Warren, commanding Fifth Army Corps, and about 3 p. m., the division having been relieved from its position on the left of the lines east of Petersburg by a brigade of General Mott’s division, Second Army ‘Corps, started, the First Brigade in front, followed by the Second. The artillery of the division, in accordance with instructions from headquarters Ninth Army Corps,was left behind. The infantry moved on the Jerusalem plank road, turned to the right near the Williams house, and took the right-hand or most northerly road leading to the position of the Fifth Army Corps. The roads, owing to the rain, were exceedingly bad, and the column moved slowly; it was, in consequence, about 5 p. m. when it reached the Aiken house, shortly after passing which musketry was heard to our right and front. I immediately sent forward an officer for instructions from the major-general commanding Fifth Army Corps, and moved forward at the double-quick in the direction of the firing. As this seemed to approach rapidly I formed line, with my right resting on the road a short distance east of the open field, where we now are. The division being right in front, this was necessarily done by forcing on the right by file into line. By the time that the First Brigade was formed, the officer whom I had sent forward returned with instructions to connect my left with the right of the Third Division, Ninth Army Corps, which I immediately did, moving by the left flank. Such regiments of the Second Brigade as had arrived were formed on the right of the First, and all except the Third Maryland Battalion arrived in time to take part in the action. I now received ordered to advance. The enemy were encountered in line of battle a short distance within the edge of the woods, and after a sharp engagement of abut half an hour were driven from the field in disorder, leaving their dear, a considerable number of wounded, and many small-arms.

About 60 prisoners were captured, and 516 stand of small-arms have been collected of the found of front of which this division fought, about half of which belong to the enemy and the remainder, form their position, had apparently been abandoned by troops of this army who had been driven from the ground previous to our arrival. these have been turned in by my ordnance officer. Owing to the absence of my provost-marshal on other duty, the prisoners captured were not regularly forwarded, and I can only estimate their number from the reports of my brigade commanders and the number from the reports of my brigade commandeers and the number which I saw myself. The number given above is certainly not too large. I inclose the reports of my brigade commanders, and a return of casualties, and effective strength at the close of the action, by which it will be seen that 17 men were killed, 11 officers and 90 men wounded, 1 officer and 60 men missing,* out of about 1,120 engaged.

Both officers and men behaved throughout the engagement with great steadiness and gallantry. The spirit and alacrity witch which the troops, after a fatiguing march, moved forward at a double-quick and engaged the enemy, were highly commendable. My brigade commanders, Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Barnes, twenty-ninth Massachusetts volunteers, and Lieutenant Colonel G. P. Robinson, Third Maryland Battalion, were untiring in the discharge of all their duties and seconded my efforts in the most cordial and efficient manner. Owing to the departure of three of my staff, be-

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* But see revised statement, p. 126.

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longing to a regiment whose term of service expired the day previous, I was obliged to make use of the services of Surg. M. K. Hogan, U. S. Volunteers, surgeon-in-chief of the division, as an aide, he having volunteered them in that capacity, and rendering material service in addition to the performance of his other duties. The other officers of my staff who were present, Captain C. J. Mills, assistant adjutant-general, Captain J. W. Hudson, Thirty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteers, engineer officer, and Captain E. E. Howe, Twenty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, ordnance officer, discharged their duties with gallantry and efficiency.. I would respectfully refer you to the reports of my brigade commanders for the names of other officers who distinguished themselves. During the action my left had become separated by considerable interval from General Willcox’s right, and, owing to the darkness and the density of the woods, the connection was not established until daylight of the 20th, after which works were thrown up, from which, in the course of the day, they were withdrawn to the edge of the woods and subsequently to their present position, leaving the picket-line as before, with reserves in the works referred to.

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

J. WHITE,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.

Lieutenant Colonel F. T. LOCKE,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Fifth Army Corps.

[Inclosure.]

Return of casualties of the First Division, Ninth Army Corps, and effective strength at the close of the action, August 19, 1864.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, NINTH ARMY CORPS,
Blick’s Station, Va., August 26. 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of this division while acting under the orders of Brigadier-General Willcox, commanding Third Division, Ninth Army Corps, on the 19th and 20th instant:

About 8 p. m. of the 19th instant I ordered by Major-General Warren, commanding Fifth Army Corps, under whose command I then was, to report to General Willcox. At this time my division, having attacked and driven the enemy, with severe loss, was in line of battle a short distance within the edge of the woods in my front, holding the ground previously occupied by the enemy, who had entirely left my front. I now received orders to connect my left with the right of General Hartranft, First Brigade, Third Division. In the darkness and extreme density of the woods it was impossible to do this until daylight of the next morning, when it was accomplished without difficulty, and works were begun in this new position. About noon I received orders to withdraw my main line into the edge of the field this side of the woods, leaving my pickets in their original position, with reserves in the works referred to. Shortly after this was done Major-General Parke arrived and assumed command of the corps, so that I ceased to act under the orders of General Willcox.

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

JULIUS WHITE,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.

Captain W. V. RICHARDS,

Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Ninth 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 549-552

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