Number 236. Petersburg Campaign Reports of Colonel Michael Kerwin, Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, commanding Second Brigade, of operations August 1-20 and October 26-27



in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 236. Reports of Colonel Michael Kerwin, Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, commanding Second Brigade, of operations August 1-20 and October 26-27.1

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to forward the following report of the operations of the Second Brigade, while under my command in the month of August last:

August 1, in camp near Prince George Court-House, with a picket-line connecting with the First Brigade at Second Swamp, and extending to near the James River, connecting with a line of dismounted pickets from Jordan’s Point. August 2 and 3, doing picket duty. August 4, moved camp to near Jordan’s Point. August 5, 6, and 7, all the brigade in camp. August 8, relieved the First Brigade on picket-line extending from the plank road on the right to the Blackwater on the left, along the Lee’s Mill road. August 10, still on picket. August 11, relieved by the First Brigade and returned to camp near Prince George Court-House, when Colonel Gregg resumed command. August 12, moved at 4 p. m. to the Appomattox River; crossed at Point of Rocks and moved to the James River; crossed at Deep Bottom and encamped on Strawberry Plains. August 14, Colonel Gregg again resumed command. August 16, Colonel Gregg being wounded in the engagement near Deep Run, the command again devolved on me. Drove the enemy back toward Richmond along the Charles City road, the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry in advance, supported by the Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry and two regiments of infantry (from Miles’ brigade, Second Corps). Moving near White’s Tavern on the Charles City road, the enemy was encountered in large force, when we were forced back and compelled to retire beyond Deep Run. August 17, the brigade unsaddled and went into camp, leaving one regiment to picket the Quaker road from Malvern Hill to its junction with the Charles City road. August 18, relieved the First Brigade, picketing Malvern Hill to Deep Run along the Charles City road. While establishing the line the enemy attacked in considerable force and drove in our line. The line was, however, soon re-established on the same ground. August 19, still in camp, with two regiments on the picket-line. August 20, Colonel Smith returned and assumed command.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

Colonel, Commanding Brigade.

Captain A. H. BIBBER,

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

HDQRS. SECOND Brigadier, SECOND DIV., CAVALRY CORPS, November 25, 1864.

CAPTAIN: After Colonel Gregg was wounded, * the command of the brigade devolved on myself, and I received orders to push forward rapidly on the road, which I did for the distance of three-fourths of a


*August 16.


mile, when I was ordered to halt. The infantry relieved my skirmishers on the right and left of the road, and we again moved forward to within one mile of White’s Tavern, meeting no serious opposition from the enemy. At that point the enemy were found in considerable force and behind entrenchments, with a battery covering the Charles City road, which they opened on our advance and simultaneously charged our line, which obliged us to fall back to the open field in rear. The brigade was then disposed in column of regiments to meet the attack. Heavy firing on our left flank was heard and the infantry were withdrawn, heaving us the entire line to protect and hold. The first position was abandoned, and another more available chosen to the rear of it, which was defended gallantly and successfully against repeated assaults of the enemy as long as was practicable. A second line was formed in the edge of the woods fronting the plain near Fisher’s house, composed of the Second Pennsylvania Calvary, behind which we retired without being closely followed, and again formed. The attack on the Second Pennsylvania Calvary was made soon after, and with such vigor that it was obliged to fall back slowly, contesting every inch of ground. This gave the enemy an opportunity to operate on our right flank, which rendered our position untenable. It was consequently changed to the opposite side of the swamp under cover of the Second Pennsylvania Cavalry, which was dismounted and in the rifle-pits. After crossing, the command was reorganized, and every available man placed behind the works. The enemy made no attempt to follow across the swamp. Relieved by the First Brigade at dark and moved back to our camp of the night previous.

August 17, remained in camp picketing the roads leading east from Malvern Hill, and sending one regiment (Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry) to picket a portion of country on the right of First Brigade line and on Charles City road. August 18, a. m. Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry relieved Eighth Pennsylvania, and at 4 p. m. remainder of brigade directed to relieve First Brigade. One regiment (Fourth Pennsylvania) was sent to relieve the troops occupying the works at Deep Run. Arriving there the staff officer whom I sent found heavy skirmishing going on at that point, and at once dismounted a portion of the regiment and threw them into the works, losing two men by a shell exploding in the column while moving to its post. I, with three regiments (First Maine, Second and Eighth Pennsylvania), proceeded by the Malvern Hill road to relieve the right of General Davies’ line. While in the act of relieving, a general attack was made on the entire line, and with such fury that [we] were driven back some distance. The battery was put in position and checked their farther advance. The Second Pennsylvania lost heavily-4 officers in killed, wounded, and missing, and 32 men. First Maine, 2 men killed and 2 wounded. The line during the night was re-established, and the entire command kept under arms. August 19, on picket. August 20, in camp; greater part of command on duty, picketing. In the evening I was relieved by Colonel C. H. Smith.

Too much cannot be said in praise of the gallantry displayed by the officers and men under my command.


Colonel, Commanding.

[Captain A. H. BIBBER,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.]

HDQRS. SECOND Brigadier, SECOND DIV., CAVALRY CORPS, November 4, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the lat engagement near the Boydton plank road:

The brigade broke camp at 3 p. m. October 26 and moved in rear of Third Brigade as far as the Weldon railroad, when it encamped near the Perkins house. At 3 a. m. on the following morning (27th) the march was again resumed, in the same position, no part being taken in the occasional skirmishing which took place during the march until we reached Quaker road at its intersection with the Vaughan road. Here the enemy made a faint attack upon our rear, which was repulsed by the Second Pennsylvania Cavalry, dismounted. The brigade was here relieved by the First Brigade and proceeded on its way up the Quaker road to where it intersects the Boydton plank road, when the following dispositions were made: The Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry was ordered to move along the plank road and hold in check a body of the enemy’s cavalry which made its appearance near the road about one mile in front of our lines; the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry was dismounted, supported by the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry (mounted), and placed on the left of infantry, facing the White Oak road, which line was held by them until the brigade was ordered back; the Second and Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiments were dismounted and ordered to the support of the Third Brigade, as was also the Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, which had been withdrawn from its former position. The brigade remained in this position until about 10.30 o’clock, when the orders was given to move back over the same road advanced by Second Brigade in advance.

The following is a list of casualties and losses unstained in the engagement: Killed, 9 enlisted men; wounded, 2 commissioned officers (Captain I. H. Ressler, Company L, and Lieutenant S. H. Brown, Company F, Sixteenth Pennsylvania Calvary) and 35 enlisted men; missing, 20 enlisted men; total, 2 commissioned officers and 64 enlisted men; aggregate, 66.*

One caisson and tender was left on the field, having received a shot through its stock which rendered it unserviceable.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding Brigade.

Captain A. H. BIBBER,

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


*But see revised statement, p.159.



  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 639-641


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