Number 282. Petersburg Campaign Report of Colonel Andrew W. Evans, First Maryland Cavalry (dismounted), of operations August 14-20

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

No. 282. Report of Colonel Andrew W. Evans, First Maryland Cavalry (dismounted), of operations August 14-20.1

HEADQUARTERS FIRS MARYLAND CAVALRY,
Deep Bottom, Va., August 23, 1864.

CAPTAIN: In compliance with directions from brigade headquarters, calling for a report of the operations of this regiment from the 14th to the 20th instant, inclusive, I have the honor to state that the regiment was formed on the left of the line shortly after daybreak on the 14th in the woods just west of the Deep Bottom road. Deployed with two companies in reserve, and one company refused, on the extreme left, and immediately in front of some small farm houses just across the Kingsland road. Colonel Hawley’s brigade was soon after formed behind our left, and in the charge shortly after ordered the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania, Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, advanced upon my line. In this charge the First Maryland Cavalry carried the rifle-pits in its front, capturing 2 officers and 1 man there and int he ravine across the field, to which it advanced with the rest of the brigade. In this engagement, which was only with the enemy’s picket-line, my loss was 2 officers wounded and 2 enlisted men killed and 19 wounded. The regiment was not afterward directly under fire, but was moved to the right, through the woods in the afternoon and evening, crossing Four-Mile Creek, and in the night as far to the right as Strawberry Plains, where it was formed in column with the rest of the brigade and rested until morning.

On the 15th the regiment moved by the right flank, in rear of the brigade, by a cross-road through the wood, in a direction nearly due north, crossing the New Market road, a distance of about three miles, and rested in line of battle during the afternoon and night in rear of the skirmish line of the Second Army Corps, not far from Fussell’s Mill. While resting here during the day the heat of the weather was so extreme that as many as thirty cases of sunstroke occurred in this regiment, many of them being removed to hospital in rear, though I have not been informed of any fatal results.

On the morning of the 16th this regiment was moved again a short distance to the right, and formed in the edge of the wood, on a line facing

about north by west, in rear of the Eleventh Maine and Twenty-fourth Massachusetts, having the One hundred New York on its left. An advance was then ordered in support of the two former regiments, the left wing of ours crossing directly through a bad swamp and resting under cover of rising ground on the opposite side during the skirmishing with the enemy’s pickets, who were encountered a short distance in front. The right wing, being exposed on higher ground, was directed to fall back behind a slight hill. A charge was very soon ordered, the notice given to us almost solely by the shouts of the men. The First Maryland Cavalry rushed forward, passed some seventy-five yards beyond the Eleventh Maine and Twenty-fourth Massachusetts, and carried the rebel rifle-pits in the woods. Three very gallant officers were here severely wounded, and a large number of enlisted men killed and disabled, but the exact loss at this point has been unavoidably consolidated with that of the day. Colonel Pond’s brigade was in support at this point. The regiment was then rallied and formed on the left of the latter, being thereby separated from other regiments of its brigade. An order was then received to move to the left and to replace on the skirmish line the Tenth Connecticut, whose ammunition was exhausted. In carrying out this order 150 men, properly officered, were moved to the having the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts on its right and the One hundredth New York on its left. A deep ravine, having in its center a small stream of water and on its opposite and steep bank some important rebel works, lay in our immediate front, but of the existence of this ravine I was not aware, all view to any distance being cut off by trees and thick underbrush. From the position last mentioned I was directed by the brigadier-general commanding to form a direct which we had never lost sight of, and I accordingly ordered an advance of my line, an advance which unexpectedly to me developed into a charge of the whole line. No notice of this charge was given me, nor had I any opportunity of communicating it to the regiment on my left. Of the 150 men mentioned as skirmishing in front a portion was in our immediate front and a large part more to the left, so much so that by the advance of the line in this charge they became separated from the regiment, were thrown on the left of the One hundredth New York, and did not again join us until late in the afternoon. The skirmishers in our immediate front were among the first to enter the enemy’s works on the opposite side of the ravine, closely followed by a portion of the officers and men that had remained in line. It was nearly impossible to preserve order in line in a charge over such a piece of ground through woods; nor after the first rush was it practicable to collect and lead to the front under fire the men scattered about the ravine. At no time, however, was my regiment separated from the left of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts, not was their left at any time exposed to be turned by any defection of my regiment or the One hundredth New York. I could mention several officers who displayed great gallantry in charging and surmounting the steep bank upon which the enemy’s works stood, and who, with their men, reached them in advance of any portion of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts. The enemy soon rallied and opened a severe cross-fire upon our line and the men in the ravine, and soon a portion of our own men, believed to have been of the One hundredth New York, formed upon the top of the bank directly in our rear and commenced firing over our heads. Our men

were driven from the works in front, and I directed all to retire to the right and rear and form upon the bank above, which was done. The regiment remained here in line with the rest of the brigade until night, when entrenchments were thrown up a few yards to the rear, behind which we remained until the night of the 18th.

The loss in my regiment upon the 16th was 3 officers wounded and 14 enlisted men killed, 63 wounded and 16 missing. Ten rebels were captured on this day.

Upon the afternoon of the 18th an attack was made by the enemy upon a portion of the lines, and what appeared to be a feint upon the front of this brigade. The pickets of this regiment were driven in, and about the same time our artillery opened from the left almost directly upon our lines. Several men were killed and wounded on the right of the One hundredth New York, which regiment was immediately upon my left, and one man was wounded on my right. An unfortunate panic originated upon my left, caused in a great measure by this fire and encouraged by some one crying out that a retreat was ordered, and rapidly spread to the right. By great exertions of the officers the regiment was rallied in the wood in rear and brought back to its place in line. This incident is mentioned, as much obloquy has been thrown upon the regiment on account of it, a great part of which is believed to be undeserved, and in the hope that an investigation may be made to throw the blame where it should justly fall. My loss in the attack upon the 18th was 1 man killed and 2 wounded. On the night of the 18th the regiment moved with the brigade to a position about two miles in rear, on the New Market road, not far from Malvern Hill, where it was entrenched and remained without further incident until the night of the 20th, when we marched back to Strawberry Plains, and on the morning of the 21st returned to camp at this place.

In the several skirmishes during the week the officers under my command behaved with great gallantry, and it would appear invidious to particularize them by name. Lieutenant-Colonel Counselman was unfortunately taken severely ill upon the 16th, and was obliged to return to camp, thus depriving to Major von Koeber; to the acting adjutant, Lieutenant Hiteshew, and to Sergeant-Major Campbell. Captain Shamburg was wounded in the hip by almost the very first fire on the 14th, and Captain Hancock in the break and leg in the charge of that morning. In the first charge of the 16th Captain Dirks and Lieutenants Dittman and Clements were severely wounded while gallantly leading their men. The other officers present with the regiment, and who all displayed great spirit, were Captains Cook, Buckley, McMachan, and Norwood; and Lieutenants Clagett, Fowler, Philapy, and Embrey. Lieutenant Clagett participated in the first charge of the 16th and was then obliged to retire, from severe prostration by the heat.

A list of non-commissioned officers and privates whose conduct was very favorably noticed has been presented to me, but is much too long for insertion here.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. W. EVANS,

Colonel First Maryland Cavalry.

ASST. ADJT. General,3rd 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 751-753

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