Number 244. Petersburg Campaign Reports of Bvt. Brigadier General Charles H. Smith, First Maine Cavalry, commanding Third Brigade, of operations October 26-28 and December 7-12



in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 244. Reports of Bvt. Brigadier General Charles H. Smith, First Maine Cavalry, commanding Third Brigade, of operations October 26-28 and December 7-12.1


CAPTAIN: Pursuant to instructions from division headquarters of this date, I have the honor to submit the following report of operations of this brigade for the 27th instant:

At 2 p. m. on the 26th the brigade broke camp and moved to the Weldon railroad in the vicinity of the Perkins house, where, with the division, it bivouacked. At 3.30 o’clock on the morning of the 27th instant the whole command moved out, this brigade having the advance

of the division, the Sixth Ohio Regiment having the advance of the brigade. Met with but little resistance till we reached Rowanty Creek at the crossing of the Dinwiddie Court-House road. There found the enemy strongly posted behind earth-works on the opposite side of the creek. The Sixth Ohio and one battalion of the First Maine were ordered to dismount and form in line. When ordered to advance they forded the stream under the enemy’s fire, charged, and carried the works and captured a few prisoners. Thence advanced under constant skirmishing to the crossing of the Gravelly Run on the Quaker road, where the enemy was encountered in force in a strong position. He at once opened from his artillery and formed for a determined resistance. Two regiments, the Sixth Ohio, Major George W. Dickinson, and the First Maine, Lieutenant Colonel J. P. Cilley, dismounted and forced the crossing of the stream. The enemy still held his line of works on the brow of the hill. The dismounted men formed i line on the enemy’s side of the stream, while a mounted regiment (Twenty-first Pennsylvania Cavalry, Major O. B. Knowles) filed past their rear, half of tit to either flank. The line thus formed, dismounted men in the center and mooted men on the flanks, charged up the hill, routed the enemy and captured his works. Major S. W. Thaxter, First Maine Cavalry, was very conspicuous in this charge. Although the term of his service had expired and he had received the order for his muster-out, yet he volunteered to go with the command. This position having been obtained with some loss, no further serious opposition was met until we reached the Boydton plank road. Later in the day the Twenty-first Pennsylvania, being on picket on the Boydton plank road, was vigorously attacked. The enemy opened from four pieces of artillery and disclosed a strong force, but the Twenty-first Pennsylvania Cavalry gallantly and persistently resisted the attack, sometimes closing with the enemy in a hand-to hand encounter, and maintained its ground till the rest of the brigade, which at the time was engaged with the infantry, could be withdrawn and brought up as re-enforcements. The First Maine was formed on the right of the Twenty-first Pennsylvania, that regiment having closed to the left, and the Sixth Ohio was formed on the right flank. The line thus formed, with the valuable assistance of a section of Battery I, First U. S. Artillery, Lieutenant Reynolds, was maintained till nearly dark, when the ammunition running short, our men were compelled to fall back a short distance. At this juncture the Second Brigade came up as support, darkness came on, and the fighting ceased. At 2.30 p. [a.] m. [28th] the command was withdrawn, when it returned by the same route to the Weldon railroad, thence to its former camp.

Captain Austin, of the Sixth Ohio Cavalry, who was killed in the action in the evening, had charge of the advance guard during the march and conducted it in the most gallant manner. The brigade captured 7 army wagons loaded with supplies, with mules and harnesses complete, several horses equipped, and about 25 prisoners. The con duct of all the officers and men throughout the day was highly satisfactory. The member of my staff rendered me all the assistance that could be expected from good officers.

The following is a list of casualties sustained by the brigade October 27, 1864.*


Colonel, Commanding Brigade.

Captain A. H. BIBBER,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Cavalry Division.


*Embodied in table, p.160.



CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of this brigade in the recent expedition upon the Weldon railroad:

Wednesday morning, the 7th instant, the brigade left camp at 4 o’clock and marched to Freeman’s Ford, via Lee’s Mill and Proctor’s house, having the rear of the division. The Sixth Ohio was left in camp with orders to report to Colonel Kerwin, of the Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Second Brigade. The Second New York Mounted Rifles were also detailed to guard the flank of the infantry and were retained on duty with the infantry until the expedition returned. The command forded the Nottoway River, proceeded to Sussex Court-House, and bivouacked. At 4 o’clock on the morning of the 8 the the command moved, via Coman’s Well, to the railroad. This brigade was dispatched to destroy the railroad bridge across the Nottoway River, after which it joined the division in destroying the road from that point toward Jarratt’s Station until evening, when the command moved to Jarratt’s Station and bivouacked. Next morning advanced to Belfield, engaged in destroying the road between that point and Three Creeks till late in the evening, and remained until 5 o’clock in the morning. A snowstrom was raging and the weather was very cold. On the morning of the 10th the entire command began to return and this brigade, with a section of Dennison’s battery, was left to cover the rear. At first the enemy advanced vsery boldly. He opesnesd with two piecses of artillery and showed a strong force, mounted andd dismounted. For about four miles he pressed the rear very heavily, but being steadily met by Dennison’s battery and the Twenty-first Pennsylvania and the First Maine Regiments he soon abandoned the pursuit. Bivouacked that night three miles from Sussex Court-House. The morning of the 11st advanced, via Sussex Court-House, to Freeman’s Ford, thence to camp, where there the brigade arrived Monday morning, the 12th instant, about 1 o’clock.

The following is a list of casualties.*

Brevet Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Captain A. H. BIBBER,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Cavalry Division.


*Nominal list (here omitted) shows 1 commissioned officer and 5 enlisted men killed, 26 enlisted men wounded, and 2 commissioned officers and 37 enlisted men missing.



  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 647-649


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