Number 269. Petersburg Campaign Report of Captain John Thompson, Seventh Connecticut Infantry, of operations August 13-16

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

No. 269. Report of Captain John Thompson, Seventh Connecticut Infantry, of operations August 13-16.1

CAMP OF THE SEVENTH Regiment CONNECTICUT VOLS.,
Bermuda Hundred, Va., August 23, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Seventh Connecticut Volunteers in the late movement on the north side of the James River:

The regiment left camp about 11 o’clock on the night of the 13th of August, under the command of Captain Theodore bacon, and was assigned to position of left center of the four regiments comprising the Second Brigade. Captain Bacon wa taken sick on the night of the 15th, thus leaving me in command of the regiment. The following officers were present for duty, viz: Surg. George C. Jarvis, Asst. Surg. E. C. Hine, Lieutenant J. I. Hutchinson, acting adjutant; Lieutenant William H. Augur, acting regimental quartermaster; Captains Bacon, Thompson, and Perry; Lieutenants Wildman, Barker, Young, Bradford, Merriam, Lee, and Taintor; Lieutenants Hicks and Baldwin remaining in camp sick. I have to report that the regiment proceeded with the rest of the brigade across the James River and to a position about a mile and a half from the river, where we lay concealed in the woods until daylight

or after, and about 7 a. m. the regiment was ordered to move forward in close column by company along the road, as the enemy had been driven some distance from our front. In this order the regiment was moved with the rest of the brigade for about a mile, when we were formed on the left of the brigade in double column closed en masse in an open field and ordered to lie down. Some of the enemy’s sharpshooters opened upon us with some effect, and eight men were selected as sharpshooters and thrown forward and on our left flank to silence the enemy’s fire, and Companies B and G, under command of Lieutenant Young, were also sent forward soon after for the same purpose. In this position we remained until about 4 p. m., when the regiment deployed in line of battle and marched by the right flank to the rear for nearly a mile on the same road that we had marched on in the morning, when we halted and lay in the woods until about 9 p. m. and were exposed at times to the enemy’s shells from a battery in the woods in front of us. Our casualties up to this time amounted to 1 killed and 5 wounded. We then had orders to move with the brigade by the right flank and marched about three miles, when we were ordered to halt and lie down in line of battle for the night, the brigade being in column of battalion.

On the morning of the 15th, after obtaining more ammunition, the march was resumed, and the regiment moved by the right flank with the brigade being now in column of battalion. Here we were exposed to the fire from the enemy’s battery for some time, though but one casualty occurred during the day, and just before dark we were moved by the right flank about 800 yards, and took our position for the night in the edge of a piece of woods or small scattering pines, and apparently about 1,000 yards from the enemy’s works. Directly in front of us was a corn-field and beyond that a deep ravine and mill-pond, which separated us from the enemy’s main works. The following officers were present for duty at this time, viz: Asst. Surg. E. C. Hine, Lieutenant J. I. Hutchinson, acting adjutant; Lieutenants Barker, Lee, and Taintor. Captain Perry, Lieutenants Wildman, Young, and Bradford being sick and unfit for duty and Lieutenant Gill had received a slight wound two days previous, from the effects of which he had not recovered. Surgeon Jarvis was detached from the effects of which he had not recovered. Surgeon Jarvis was detached from the regiment, being senior medical officer of the brigade.

Owing to the excessive heat an unusual number of the enlisted men were compelled to fall out of the ranks while on the march from sunstroke and excessive fatigue, being burdened with their knapsacks, so that on the morning of the 16th they numbered but 161 men. I am sorry to have to report that some managed to straggle away from the command without any other object than to cowardly shirk their duty, but I think the number of this class is small.

About 3 a. m. of the 16th I received orders from Colonel Hawley, commanding brigade, to throw up some sort of protection in front of our line, as the enemy’s sharpshooters were annoying us. I collected a quantity of rails and soon had good protection from musketry. About 8 a. m. I was ordered to move by the right flank, which was done in connection with the rest of the brigade, and after marching about half a mile through the woods we were halted. I soon after received orders to move forward with the rest of the brigade in line of battle in the direction of the enemy’s works, and after moving about 700 yards through dense woods and across a deep ravine, we were ordered again to halt. Here our line of battle was changed so as to conform with the enemy’s works in front of us, and we were again ordered forward

about 400 yards and ordered to lie down in line of battle. Colonel hawley informed his whole brigade that a brigade in front of us were to charge the enemy’s works and cautioned the whole command to remain firm, and in case the leading brigade were repulsed to allow them to pass over us to the rear, and then to hold our position at all hazards. The brigade in front of us then rose up and rushed forward through the woods toward the enemy’s works, when a galling fire of musketry greeted us from the enemy. When they had proceeded about fifty yards I heard Colonel Hawley give the command “Forward, Second Brigade,” when my regiment rose up instantly and rushed forward at a double-quick, cheering loudly, and following the leading brigade in as good line of battle as the dense woods and the nature of the ground generally would permit. On arriving within fifty yards of the works we came upon a slashing of fallen tree s very difficult to pass, but through it we went with a will, and over their works, driving the enemy before us. On crossing the enemy’s works, without halting I moved the regiment by the left flank to avoid a dense thicket of young trees, in order to reach an open field about 100 yards to the left. We then formed in line of battle and moved forward across an open field about 400 yards and halted in the edge of a piece of woods, in order to guard against the approach of the enemy on our right flank. Other regiments coming up to our support, a severe and general engagement with the enemy ensued.

During the engagement I perceived the enemy coming down through the woods on my right flank. I changed my line of battle, accordingly, so as to front the enemy, and opened upon them vigorously with the Spencer carbine and soon succeeded in driving them from before us. I soon after received orders from Colonel Hawley to fall back to the enemy’s works which we had passed over; here I formed the regiment in line of battle fronting the enemy. I then received orders from General Terry to march my regiment to the rear, our ammunition being very nearly exhausted. Of the six officers who were engaged in battle four were either killed our wound, and myself being very unwell from the effects of sunstroke a few days previous, turned over the command to Lieutenant Taintor, the only remaining officer. Of every officer and enlisted man who participated in this engagement, I can only speak in terms of the most unqualified praise. Every order was promptly, cheerfully, and fearlessly obeyed, and I could neither ak nor expect more of them. Lieutenant Hutchinson was wounded and disabled during the assault on the enemy’s works while gallantly performing his duty, and compelled to retire. Lieutenant Merriam had been wounded in the engagement of the 14th, but had resumed his command, and was again wounded while nobly discharging his duty, and too much praise cannot be awarded him. Lieutenants Barker and Lee, I regret to say, were wounded in the latter part of the engagement (supposed mortally) and of necessity were left on the field to fall into the enemy’s hands. They displayed great coolness and courage throughout the entire engagement. Surg. G. C. Jarvis and Asst. Surg. E. C. Hine were deserving of great praise for their efficient and untiring efforts in caring for the wounded of the command.

The men displayed unusual zeal and bravery during the whole engagement, and where al who were with me have done so well it is difficult to mention any particular individuals as worthy of most praise. I will take the liberty, however, to give the names of Sergt. W. W. Plumb, acting sergeant-major; Sergeant Cook, Company E; Sergt. H. H. Smith, Company C; Sergt. B. Starr, Company B; Sergeant Shailer,

Company I; Sergeant Whaples, Company B; Sergt. Willard Austin, Company G; Sergeant Cook, Company A, and Corporal Clark, Company F.

I append an entire list of casualties from the 14th to the 16th, inclusive: Killed, 7; wounded, 31; missing, 7; total, 45.

I am, lieutenant, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN THOMPSON,
Captain, Seventh Connecticut Volunteers, Commanding Regiment.

Lieutenant E. LEWIS MOORE,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, 2nd Brigadier, 1st Div., 10th 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 709-712

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