Number 204. Petersburg Campaign Reports of Colonel Napoleon B. McLaughlen, Fifty-seventh Massachusetts Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, of operations September 30 – October 8 and October 27 – 28

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 204. Reports of Colonel Napoleon B. McLaughlen, Fifty-seventh Massachusetts Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, of operations September 30 – October 8 and October 27 – 28.1

HDQRS. THIRD Brigadier, FIRST DIV., NINTH ARMY CORPS,
Near Pegram House, Va., October 16, 1864.

CAPTAIN: In compliance with circular from division headquarters, dated October 16, 1864, I have the honor to report that my command left bivouac on the morning of the 30th of September, near the Gurley house, moved in the direction of the Yellow House, passing through the works and moving in the direction of the Peebles house by Squirrel Level road. The Fifth Corps were in our front and soon became engaged with the enemy. My brigade was placed in reserve. I was soon ordered by General Willcox to put my brigade in position in the woods to the right of Pegram house. I immediately deployed the One hundredth Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers as skirmishers and sent them into the woods, with orders to connect General Potter’s right and with the left of the Fifth Corps, and I followed with the balance of my command in line of battle. Just before my skirmishers became engaged I was ordered by a staff officer of General Willcox to return outside the woods with my command, which order was quickly obeyed. Was then ordered across the field to the left of Pegram’s house as a support to the front line, then fighting. At this point a very severe shelling commenced, and my command was in exact range, when I moved to the left under cover of a small hill. Went into column of battalions closed in mass; remained in this position until I discovered the front line had given way, whey I deployed my brigade to stop the running soldiers from the first line, and succeeded in stopping very many. At this time I received, from General Willcox in person, the order to throw forward my right and advance, which order was promptly obeyed, and moved up to the right and left of the Pegram house, when we united on the right with the Fifth Corps line. Considerable firing was kept up during the night. When it ceased, about 10 p. m., received orders to move to the left and unite with Colonel Harriman’s (First) brigade on the left, and with the troops of General Potter’s division on the right near the rebel works that they captured. I attempted to obey this order; united on the left with General Hartranft, but could not find General Potter’s troops. During the night I was ordered to throw up breast-works, but

as I could not tell the direction to establish a line and could not find the troops on my right I moved forward to the crest of a hill – a very good position; advanced a strong picket-line 150 yards and went into bivouac for the night.

October 1, threw up a line of works, connecting on the left with Colonel Harriman and on the right with General Hartranft. October 2, advanced from intrenched position in two lines of battle about one mile to the line left on the night of the 30th of September. Was ordered to the left to support a division of the Second Corps that was to assault the enemy’s works. Returned to the vicinity of Pegram’s house and threw up breast-works. From October 3 to October 8 remained in same position, continually strengthening our works by slashing and abatis. On the night of October 7, at 12 m., received orders to be ready to move in light marching order at 7 a. m. Moved, as ordered, on a reconnaissance about two miles to the left near the Hawks house and the rebel Fort McRae. Advanced in two lines of battle, my left resting on the Squirrel Level road and my skirmishers connecting on the right with Colonel Harriman, of the First Brigade. I deployed the Fifty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers as skirmishers, and ordered the Third Maryland Battalion to their support; advanced nearly half a mile, driving the enemy’s pickets until we passed beyond the house and woods in rear of house. Here the skirmishing was very sharp, and the Fifty-seventh Massachusetts was compelled to fall back to the house, having had 2 men killed and 9 wounded at one volley from the enemy’s line of battle. Discovered the enemy’s works about a quarter of a mile from where their line of battle was found, consisting of breast-works, redoubts, and abatis. Remained at the house, continually skirmishing, until dark, when I withdrew my skirmishers without further loss and returned to our old camp, having advanced our picker-line about 200 yards.

Appended please find a list of casualties.

Respectfully submitted.

N. B. MCLAUGHLEN,

Colonel Fifty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Captain JOHN D. BERTOLETTE,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Report of casualties in Third Brigade, First Division, Ninth Army Corps, from September 30 to October 9, 1864.

N. B. MCLAUGHLEN,

Colonel Fifty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers.

HDQRS. THIRD Brigadier, FIRST DIV., NINTH ARMY CORPS,
October 29, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report the operations of my command during the advance of the corps on the morning of the 27th instant: Struck camp at 3 a. m. and moved to the left by Squirrel Level road; passed beyond the picket-line and moved my command to the right of the road between the picket and vedette line. I ordered Major Doherty, with forty men from his regiment, to pass to the right and rear of the enemy’s vedette post at the old rebel redoubt and capture the vedettes. He made the attempt but failed, owing to the premature discharge of a gun of one of his party, and he only succeeded in killing one man of the four stationed there. I immediately moved up the head of my column to the old redoubt and halted for General Hartranft to pass, when I followed, as directed by General Willcox. The First and Second Brigades having got into position, my command was placed in the second line to support General Hartranft and Lieutenant-Colonel Cutcheon. Remained in this position until about 5 p. m., when I was ordered to move one wing of my command to right and rear and support Roemer’s battery, and move the other wing to the right to support General Ferrero’s colored troops. About 12 m. 28th instant received orders to advance a picket-line and remain until the colored troops had withdrawn and uncovered my front, when I was to withdraw by the main road, the left of my skirmish line resting on the breast-works and the right connecting with General Hartranft. I then moved to the rear of the Smith house and went into line of battle; waited until the skirmishers were up, when I returned with my command to my old camp. My skirmishers arrived about twenty minutes after, without loss.

Appended please find list of casualties during the move: 1 enlisted man One hundredth Pennsylvania Volunteers killed; 1 enlisted man One hundredth Pennsylvania Volunteers wounded; 1 enlisted man Fifty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers wounded; Lieutenant Stocking, One hundredth Pennsylvania Volunteers, wounded; Lieutenant Johnson, One hundredth Pennsylvania Volunteers, wounded.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

N. B. MCLAUGHLEN,

Colonel Fifty-seventh Massachusetts Vet. Vols., Commanding Third Brigadier

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 574-576

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