Number 192. Petersburg Campaign Report of Brigadier General John F. Hartranft, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade, of operations October 27 – 28

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 192. Report of Brigadier General John F. Hartranft, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade, of operations October 27 – 28.1

HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, FIRST DIV., NINTH ARMY CORPS,
October 30, 1864.

CAPTAIN: In obedience to orders from the general commanding, I moved my brigade from camp at 3.30 a. m. on the 27th instant, in the following order: Fifty-first Regiment Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, Captain J. K. Bolton commanding; Thirty-seventh Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, Major W. J. Kershaw commanding; One hundred and ninth Regiment New York Volunteers, Major G. W. Dunn commanding; Thirty-eighth Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, Colonel James Bintliff commanding; Twenty-seventh Regiment Michigan Volunteers, Captain James Dafoe commanding; Thirteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (dismounted), Major S. R. Clark commanding, following the Second Brigade, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel B. M. Cutcheon, who after passing outside of the fortifications on the road leading westwardly from Fort Cummings, halted until daylight. At daybreak he moved forward as rapidly as his skirmishers could advance through the woods. I followed him closely, and when the head of my column reached the edge of the clearing at the Watkins house I sent, by direction of the general commanding, the Fifty-first Pennsylvania forward to occupy the Watkins house and the Thirty-seventh Wisconsin in support, leaving my remaining regiments to follow Cutcheon’s brigade. After occupying the house I advanced the skirmishers to the woods in advance. When Lieutenant Colonel B. M. Cutcheon’s skirmishers came up on the right I ordered them again forward. They now continued their advance until coming up with the enemy’s main line of works and took up position less than 100 yards from the same in the edge of the woods. The enemy’s line at this point formed a re-entering angle; the general direction of the same was about north and south; in front was clear ground. Colonel Gregory’s brigade,, Fifth Corps, came up, formed on the left and charged the enemy’s line of works. The men advanced to the abatis but were repulsed. Captain Dan. L. Nicholas, in charge of my skirmishers, thought the enemy had a full line of battle. Colonel Sickel’s brigade, same corps, formed in rear of my skirmishers. Captain Bolton, who was supporting with his regiment his skirmishers, moved so far to the right that he was uncovered by Lieutenant-Colonel Cutcheon’s skirmishers. He advanced to within about 100 yards of the enemy’s work, when he drew his fire from his pits. Captain reported the enemy was moving about considerably, but mostly to the right.

At the first opening of the enemy, I formed my regiments in rear of the Second Brigade in two lines in support to Lieutenant-Colonel

Cutcheon, but soon after, by direction of the general commanding, formed line connecting Lieutenant-Colonel Cutcheon’s left with Colonel Sickel’s (Fifth Corps) right. To make the connection, I placed all the regiments on the line, except the Fifty-first Pennsylvania, which was on the skirmish line. The general direction of my line was about 10 degrees east of north. The troops remained in this position during the day and built line of breast-works. At dusk I withdrew the Fifty-first Pennsylvania, and established pickets from the regiments in their own front. Remained in this position during the night and next day until 12 m., when we withdrew in conjunction with the Fifth Corps. I previously deployed skirmishers in the works from the Fifty-first Pennsylvania, with orders to remain until the pickets were withdrawn from the front, and then fall back gradually as the skirmishers of the Fifth Corps fell back. The brigade was withdrawn and formed in front of the Watkins house, connecting with McLaughlen’s brigade before my skirmishers left the works. Captain ———-, division officer of the day, ordered back Cutcheon’s skirmishers, which left my right exposed for 300 yards. Brigade occupied the works at the Watkins house an hour, when I was ordered to fall back to the Smith house and bring back my skirmishers to the Watkins house, and connect with McLaughlen’s skirmishers. Formed line at the Smith house, right resting on the same; left refused, so as to form right angles. Here deployed the Twenty-seventh Michigan as skirmishers to cover this line; afterward moved them to the left, so as to connect with the Fifth Corps, and also cover the flank. After leaving this line the brigade moved direct to camp, and the Twenty-seventh Michigan and Fifty-first Pennsylvania ordered to follow.

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

J. F. HARTRANFT,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Captain JOHN D. BERTOLETTE,

Assistant Adjutant-General, First 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 560-561

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