Number 232. Petersburg Campaign Reports of Brigadier General Henry E. Davies, Jr., U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade, of operations August 1-27, October 26-29, November 24, and December 7-12

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 232. Reports of Brigadier General Henry E. Davies, Jr., U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade, of operations August 1-27, October 26-29, November 24, and December 7-12.1

HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, SECOND DIV., CAVALRY CORPS, November 21, 1864.

CAPTAIN: *

From the 1st to the 11th of August the brigade was encamped near McCann’s Station, on the Norfolk railroad, and held a picket-line from Lee’s Mill to Mount Sinai Church. On the 11st of August the brigade moved to Prince George Court-House and remained there until the 13th. On the 13th of August the brigade again crossed the James River at the point previously mentioned, attacked the enemy’s cavalry near Malvern Hill and drove them out of their breast-works. The brigade remained in position near Malvern Hill for the four suc-

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*For portion of report here omitted, covering operations July 26-30, see Vol. XL, Part I, p.618.

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ceeding day, each day engaging the enemy successfully. On the 18th the brigade recrossed the river and moved to the left flank of the Army of the Potomac, on the Weldon railroad. On the 19th the brigade was severely engaged with the enemy in their position and drove him some distance. During the 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th the brigade was occupied in the destruction of the railroad and in protecting the infantry engaged in that work. On the 26th the brigade relieved the enemy, lasting over four hours. On the 27th command moved back to the Jerusalem plank road near Temple’s, and there went into camp, establishing a picket-line from the left of the Fifth Corps, on the Weldon railroad, to the Jerusalem plank road.

The above is a sketch of the movements of the command so far as I am able to describe them. I am informed that lists of casualties, &c., have been properly forwarded from time to time as they were received.

Respectfully,

H. E. DAVIES, JR.,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Captain A. H. BIBBER,

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

HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, SECOND DIV., CAVALRY CORPS, October 31, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to forward the following report of the operations of my command in the recent movement against the enemy:

I broke camp on the 26th instant and moved to the Perkins house, in the rear of the division, and there camped for the night. On the morning of the 27th I left camp, marching in rear of the division, and after crossing the Rowanty moved on to Vaughan’s house, at the crossing of the military road with the Vaughan road. Here W. H. F. Lee’s division, coming up from Stony Creek, made a spirited attack upon the rear of my command, which was halted at the point mentioned, while the head of the column was engaged in forcing the passage of Gravelly Run, but they were readily driven off by the Tenth New York Cavalry, commanded by Captain Snyder. The column moving forward, I marched on to Gravelly Run, covering my rear with the First Pennsylvania Cavalry, which skirmished handsomely with the enemy up to that point, beyond which I was not followed. At that point the enemy moved by a cross-road toward the Boydton plank and the military road, then Spiers’ house, picketing down to Gravelly Run. About 7 p. m. a small detachment of the enemy attacked one of my picket-posts, but were driven off by the reserve. About 2 a. m. of the morning of the 28th I moved out on the return of the command to its former camps, and covered the rear of the division on the march, seeing nothing of the enemy. On the 29th instant I moved my brigade to the McCann house on the Petersburg and Suffolk Railroad, where it is at present in camp.

I desire to mention for good conduct on this movement the names of Captain Thomas, commanding First Pennsylvania Cavalry, and Captain

Snyder, commanding Tenth New York Cavalry. Both of these officers were engaged with the enemy and displayed courage and good judgment in performing their duty.

I forward herewith nominal and numerical lists of casualties.*

Respectfully,

H. E. DAVIES, JR.,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Captain A. H. BIBBER,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Division Cavalry.
HDQRS. FIRST BRIGADE, SECOND DIVISION CAVALRY, Camp at Westbrook House, November 24, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that the post of my picket-line established on the stage road was attacked last night about 1 a. m. by loss amounts to 2 killed, 4 wounded, and 1 man taken prisoner; also 18 horses and equipments. The enemy had 1 killed and 1 wounded, both of whom they carried off. The attack was a surprise; the sergeant in charge of the post was killed, and cannot be made responsible. Colonel Newberry, who commands the picket-line of which that position forms a part, informs me that Captain Taylor, who is in charge of the post at Prince George Court-House, and who had the superintendence of the position attacked, has been guilty of neglect and inattention to their safety, and he will prefer charges against him for the same.

Respectfully,
H. E. DAVIES, JR.,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Captain A. H. BIBBER,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Indorsement.]
HEADQUARTERS SECOND DIVISION, CAVALRY CORPS, November 24, 1864-3.30 p. m.

Respectfully forwarded for the information of the major-general commanding.

Upon receiving the report of this capture by the enemy, Brigadier-General Davies sent a battalion in pursuit of the enemy. The battalion has not yet returned. A more full investigation of the circumstances attending the loss of horse, &c., will be made, and report made.

Respectfully,
D. Mc, GREGG,

Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding Second Division.

The Twenty-fourth New York is one of the regiments recently mounted.

HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, SECOND DIV., CAVALRY CORPS, December 15, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to forward the following report of the operations of my command in the recent movement against the enemy’s right, resulting in the destruction of the Weldon Railroad:

On the 7th instant I broke camp at the Westbrook house; marched via Lee’s Mill and Proctor’s to Freeman’s Bridge, on the Nottoway;

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*Embodied in table, p.159.

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crossed that river by a ford and moved to Sussex Court-House, where the command encamped for the night. On the morning of the 8th I moved out at 4 a. m., and marched in advance of the division, via Coman’s Well, to al point on the Weldon railroad, within three miles of Jarratt’s Station. My advance encountered along the road small parties of the enemy’s cavalry, apparently placed for purpose of observation, at they fell back readily and without much resistance. At the point mentioned, the command halted to several hours, and the Tenth and Twenty-fourth New York Regiments were dismounted and placed at work in destroying the railroad, of which they demolished a mile. In the afternoon I moved forward to Jarratt’s Station, which was reached at dark, and the command encamped for the night.

On the morning of the 9th I moved from Jarratt’s Station along the railroad in the direction o Hicksford, my advance driving before it small parties of the enemy. At Three Creeks the enemy was first found in force, probably about 200 men with a small howitzer, posted on the south bank of the stream, and resolved to oppose our crossing. The road bridge had been cut down, the railroad bridge was in flames, and all the fords had been thoroughly obstructed with felled timber. After some skirmishing Colonel Avery, of the Tenth New York, succeeded in effecting a passage for dismounted men, and crossed with his regiment, driving the enemy before him for about a mile toward Hicksford. A ford having been cleared, I succeeded in crossing my brigade and moved forward ion the direction of Hicksford. The First New Jersey Cavalry had the advance, and charging along the road drove a considerable force of the enemy (mounted) into their first line of works, on the north bank of Meherrin River. The First New Jersey Cavalry was then dismounted, and, led by Colonel Janeway, advanced on either side of the road toward the works, while the First Massachusetts Cavalry charged, mounted. The First Pennsylvania Cavalry (dismounted), on the right, also participated in this movement. The enemy made no stand, but as our men neared them flied across the railroad bridge to the south side of the river, whence a heavy fire was opened upon my troops from nine guns in position in three large and well-constructed forts. The dismounted regiments I had sent in soon gained the enemy’s abandoned works, where they were well protected from fire and should cover the crossing. I directed the First Massachusetts Cavalry to withdraw from the range of the enemy’s guns, and while executing that movement the gallant Major Sargent fell mortally wounded by a fragment of shell. The ground occupied with me had been carefully and thoroughly obstructed by the enemy, and was covered with abatis, chevaux-de-frise, and felled trees, rendering movements of artillery and cavalry difficult in the extreme. At this time I received orders to hold the ground I had gained without advancing. After dark the dismounted men were withdrawn and their place supplied by a line of mounted vedettes, and the command withdrew about a mile on the road we had marched up and camped for the night. The enemy during the night made a demonstration on one of my picket-posts on the left, but were driven back, without loss on my part. Before daylight on the 10th I withdrew my pickets and recrossed Three Creeks by a pontoon bridge, unmolested by the enemy, and started on the return march, having the advance of the division. Upon nearing Jarratt’s Station my advance guard encountered a party of the enemy, which they drove to the station, and thence on the road to the left running to Wyatt’s Mill. Here the enemy was found in considerable force, with two pieces of artillery, and made a strong attack on the flank of my column. I placed two guns of Dennison’s battery

in position and charged with the Tenth New York Cavalry, which drove their artillery off, and took up secure position for holding the road. I then moved on by the road over which the column advanced two days before, and after halting to feed and rest at Coman’s Well came up with the infantry, which had marched by a shorter route in the neighborhood of Sussex Court-House, meeting no resistance from the enemy, small parties sof whom were driven in every direction by my advance guard. On the 11th my brigade acted as rear guard until the command reached Sussex Court-House, seeing nothing of the enemy. From Sussex Court-House the command moved to the Nottoway, which was crossed at Freeman’s Bridge, and then marched to the camp it occupied before the movement.

I desire to mention, for good conduct and gallant service, Colonel Janeway, First New Jersey Cavalry; Lieutenant-Colonel Avery, Tenth New York Cavalry; Captain Thomas, First Pennsylvania Cavalry; Captain Brooks, First New Jersey Cavalry, and Captain Snyder, Tenth New York Cavalry, all of whom gallantly led their men in action and contributed greatly to my success.

The officers of my staff all behaved with gallantry and zeal and rendered me most valuable service. I inclose nominal list of casualties.*

Respectfully,

H. E. DAVIES, JR.,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Captain A. H. BIBBER,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Cavalry Division.

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*Shows 1 officers and 5 men killed, 19 men wounded, and 2 men missing.

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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 628-632

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