Number 275. Petersburg Campaign Report of Brigadier General Robert S. Foster, U. S. Army commanding Third Brigade, of operations August 14-21

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

No. 275. Report of Brigadier General Robert S. Foster, U. S. Army commanding Third Brigade, of operations August 14-21.1

HDQRS. THIRD Brigadier, FIRST DIV., TENTH ARMY CORPS,
Deep Bottom, Va., August 23, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command from the 14th to the 21st of August, inclusive:

At 3.25 a. m. August 14 I received an order from Brigadier-General Terry to advance with my brigade and engage the enemy on the right of my position at Deep Bottom. The regiments in camp were immediately formed, and those on picket ordered in, and at 5.10 a. m. I met the enemy, having the Eleventh Maine, One hundredth New York, Tenth Connecticut, and First Maryland [Cavalry (dismounted)] in line of battle, preceded by a heavy skirmish line, and the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts in column of division in support, driving them into their rifle-pits. At 7.15 a. m. I ordered a charge,which was gallantly made, at 7.35, by the twenty-fourth Massachusetts,in column of division, supported by the other regiments of my command, and the Sixth Connecticut, Colonel Rockwell (who had been temporarily assigned to my command), in support, driving the enemy out of three lines of rifle-pits and into the main line of intrenchments, across a deep ravine, with considerable loss capturing about 100 prisoners, their dead and wounded, and 200 small-arms. Skirmishing continued from this time until 3 p. m., when by direction of Brigadier-General Terry, I ordered Colonel G. B. Dandy,

with the One hundredth New York, supported by the Sixth Connecticut, Colonel Rockwell, to move to the right, and, if possible, connect with the Second Corps on the lower bank of Four-Mile Creek. The regiments moved across the field in line of battle under a very heavy fire of artillery, capturing four 8-inch siege howitzers, and forming the desired connection with the Second Corps. Colonel Dandy was subsequently re-enforced by Lieutenant-Colonel Coan’s brigade, of the Second Division, Tenth Army Corps, and remained in position until the morning of the 15th. (For details see report of Colonel G. B. Dandy, One hundredth New York, accompanying. At 10 p. m. the brigade moved to the right across Four-Mile Creek and formed en masse on Strawberry Plains, where they rested during the night. On the morning of the 15th we moved to the right across the Long Bridge road to an open field, where we remained, formed en masse, until the morning of the 16th, when at daylight the command moved to the right and was ordered to support Colonel Hawley’s brigade, but subsequently was ordered to engage the enemy on the right of Colonel Hawley’s brigade in the woods. The Tenth Connecticut, Twenty-fourth Massachusetts, and the Eleventh Maine were placed in the front, preceded by a heavy skirmish line, with the One hundredth new York and First Maryland Cavalry as supports, and in this position advanced through the woods, crossing two almost impassable ravines, and driving the enemy from two lines of rifle-pits, capturing over 100 prisoners. In this advance my right was protected handsomely by Colonel Craig’s brigade of the Second Corps. After reforming, t 1.40 p. m. a charge was ordered on the enemy’s line of works, situated on the opposite bank of a deep ravine, which was made by my brigade in line and Colonel Hawley’s and Colonel pond’s brigades en masse on my right. The enemy’s line was gained and held for one hour and forty minutes,under a very heavy flank and front fire of musketry and artillery, when the re-enforcements which had been sent for not arriving, and my left flank being partially turned and the line on my right pierced, I fell back across the ravine and reformed in line about 200 yards from the enemy’s works. Colonel Broady’s brigade of the Second Corps soon after reported to me, and by mi direction formed in line on my right. About dark a line of intrenchments was commenced and thrown up in front of the line of the enemy’s second line of rifle-pits, to which we retired about midnight.

On the 17th and during the day of the 18th we remained in this line of intrenchments, nothing occurring excepting picket-firing until about 6.30 p. m. on the 18th, when the enemy advanced in considerable force and drove in my pickets, but were easily repulsed by my main line. About 9 p. m. on the 18th, by orders from Brigadier-General Terry, I withdrew my command, retiring to the Long Bridge road, up which we advanced some two miles, forming in column of battalion on the right of Colonel Hawley’s brigade. I remained in this position until the 20th, when at dark I retired (following the artillery) to Strawberry Plains occupying the works at that place until the crossing of all the troops on the morning of the 21st, when I returned to camp at Deep Bottom.

I desire to bear testimony to the gallant conduct of the troops comprising my command, who with few exceptions, on every occasion conducted themselves most gallantly, obeying all orders coolly and promptly charging when ordered with impetuosity, and remaining well in hand throughout all operations. Captains Maker (who was forced by sickness to retire on the night of the 14th) and Gardner, of the Twenty-

fourth Massachusetts (who subsequently commanded), deserve great credit for the manner in which they handled the regiment in the engagements in which they participated, both displaying gall the qualifications requisite to competent commanders.

To my staff i desire to return thanks for the valuable assistance rendered me in all situations. Captain Sellmer, acting assistant inspector-general, received a slight wound in the leg, and Lieutenant Odiorne, acting commissary of subsistance, had his horse shot under him, while in the prompt discharge of their duties.

For the details of the operations I have the honor to refer you to the accompanying regimental reports.

In recapitulation I would report about 200 prisoners, 4 guns, and 200 small-arms captured, and my loss, 566 killed, wounded, and missing, 24 of whom are commissioned officers, among them Lieutenant-Colonel Hill, Eleventh Maine, and many other valuable officers.

In closing, I wish to state, in excuse for the small portion of my command who broke and went to the rear during the attack of the enemy on the evening of the 18th, that there was no faltering on their part until our batteries on my left and rear opened a heavy fire of shell and case-shot, much of which fell short and inside my line of works, killing and wounding a number of men of my brigade.

Very respectfully,

R. S. FOSTER,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Captain A. TERRY,
Assistant Adjutant-General, First Div., Tenth 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 727-729

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