Number 268. Petersburg Campaign Report of Colonel Alfred P. Rockwell, Sixth Connecticut Infantry, of operations September 28-October 12

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 268. Report of Colonel Alfred P. Rockwell, Sixth Connecticut Infantry, of operations September 28-October 12.1

HEADQUARTERS SIXTH CONNECTICUT VOLUNTEERS,
In the Field, before Richmond, Va., October 29, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report for the information of the colonel commanding the following account of the part taken by this regiment under my command from September 28 to October 12:

I moved from the camp before Petersburg with the other regiments of the brigade at about 3 o’clock on the afternoon of the 28th of September, crossed the Appomattox and the James at Deep Bottom, and bivouacked there till 4 a. m. on the 29th. At that hour I moved out, and as the enemy’s pickets were being driven in, formed in line of battle upon the Kingsland road, my regiment upon the right of the line. When the order to advance was received I moved across the open field, through a deep ravine, and halted upon the edge of the open field in front of the enemy’s works. During this time we were subjected to an enfilading artillery fire, which, however, occasioned me no loss. As the skirmish line advanced, driving the enemy from their earth-works upon the New Market road, we crossed this field and took possession of them. Thence the column marched up the New Market road, and we were halted and formed in the open field, which we now hold, at an old line of rebel works. Early in the afternoon I marched out to the right, my regiment at the head of the column, to the Darbytown road; thence up that road toward Richmond. We were halted at a point about three miles from the city and in sight of it. Toward evening we marched back by the same route to the open field where we rested at noon, on the New Market road, and bivouacked for the night. The following morning(the 30th) we moved to a position in the line on the left on the New Market road, and were engaged all day in strengthening the line of rifle-pets. The next day (October 1) we marched out to the right by the same route as taken on the 29th to the Darbytown road and along the road toward Richmond in the rear of Kautz’s cavalry to the hill from which the city was plainly seen. Here this brigade was deployed as skirmishers, my regiment upon the right of the line and upon the right of the road. The line was rapidly advanced across an open corn-field, through a ravine (through which ran a brook swollen by continuous rains), across another corn-field, and through a second belt of woods, and halted upon the edge of the woods. The distance advanced seemed to be from a half to three-quarters of a mile through deep mud and almost impassable thickets, making it extremely difficult to keep the connection. At the point where the line was halted the line of he heavy works of the enemy was in plain sight, distance apparently about 1,400 yards, an open corn-field intervening. No pickets of the enemy had been met by us. After holding this position some half hour the order to withdraw was given, and the line fell back, as it had advanced and rallied each regiment at the point where it had been deployed. During the whole of this movement we were subjected to a severe artillery fire from the enemy’s works, which was both direct and enfilading. We then marched back to camp by the same road taken in the morning out. I should state that for each and all these movements I received my orders direct from Colonel J. C. Abbott, Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers, commanding the brigade, as well as for all subsequent movements up to the night of the 12th of October.

From the 2nd to the 6th instant, inclusive, my regiment lay in bivouac within the line of intrenchments. Early on the morning of the 7th the cavalry on the right were driven in and the enemy advanced in force. This brigade was moved at once to a position upon the right in the woods, prolonging the line of earth-works. The main attack was made at this point by the enemy, who came down in force,m but were easily repulsed, leaving some of their dead and wounded within fifty yards of our lines. During this affair my men behaved very well, standing up in an unbroken line and delivering a steady and regular fire. At a later hour orders were received to advance in line of battle. We moved through the woods and over an open country before us for more than half a mile. My own regiment and the Seventh Connecticut were detached and placed under my command. In obedience to orders received from General Terry, commanding division, I advanced in the same direction to support the First Brigade, which was moving out to the Darbytown road. At about 9 in the evening I received orders to withdraw, and marched back to the line where we had repulsed the enemy in the morning, and bivouacked for the night. From the 8th to the 12th my regiment was engaged in building a strong breast-work in our front with abatis in front. The losses in the several engagements have already been reported in full.

The officers and men in general behaved on all these occasions with courage, but it is difficult to single out by name among so many who did well.

I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ALFRED P. ROCKWELL,
Colonel Sixth Connecticut Volunteers, Commanding Regiment.

Lieutenant F. DAVIS,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

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 708-709

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