Number 344. Petersburg Campaign Report of Major Franklin A. Stratton, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, of operations September 16-17

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

No. 344. Report of Major Franklin A. Stratton, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, of operations September 16-17.1

HEADQUARTERS ELEVENTH PENNSYLVANIA CAVALRY,
Stage Road, Near Rollins’ House, September 18, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report that a large force of the enemy’s cavalry attacked the left of my line on the stage road yesterday morning [16th] at 5 o’clock, a few minutes after a like attack on the line of the First District of Columbia Cavalry on the left of the brigade. My force on the stage road consisted of Companies B and D, eighty-five men, under Captain McFarlan, who, alarmed by the firing on his left, had his men promptly in line. The enemy’s force, presenting an extended front, advanced on both the roads which meet at the reserve station, the mounted men on the road and dismounted men in the woods overthrowing the line of vedettes, outflanking and threatening at once to envelop the reserve. Captain McFarlan after some resistance fell back in good order, losing a few men and horses of the advance posts, captured on the Sycamore road. He continued to skirmish, falling back as slowly as possible before the rebels, who pressed their advance with vigor, until they had driven him within sight of Prince George Court-House. Here they were met by the Third New York Cavalry reserves, who drove them back toward Rol-

lins’ house. On hearing the firing on the left I immediately, under Captain Titus, Company M, and soon after sent Company C, in all sixty-five men, to re-enforce the left, but before he arrived the firing on the stage road had extended to the direction of the Court-House. He was therefore directed to hold the left center, near Mrs. Cahoon’s, which he did, until ordered to the cross-roads.

Meantime the firing along several miles of the line and the appearance of the enemy’s pickets on the roads leading from Mount Sinai Church indicated a general attack, and I could not further strengthen the left of my line of five miles without too much weakening my position at the church, which I continued to hold under the direction of the major commanding the brigade, depending upon the Third New York Cavalry to occupy the stage road, until ordered to the crossing of the City Point and stage roads. Upon concentrating my command at the latter point I was again ordered to move forward toward Sycamore Church. I marched in rear of the Third New York Cavalry in pursuit of the retreating enemy to near the Jerusalem plank road, where we arrived some time after dark. I did not participate directly in the engagement had there by the Third New York Cavalry.

At daylight on the morning of the 18th [17th] I sent Captain Titus, with his company, by a wood road, to the right to reconnoiter to the plank road, two miles distant, which he accomplished, returning by the main road and coming in front of the Third New York Cavalry, where the engagement had occurred the night previous, without finding anything of the enemy. The command then took up the return march, my regiment having the advance, taking the direct road from Gee’s house via Hill’s to Mount Sinai Church, where we arrived about 1 p.m. Captain McFarlan, with his company (B), which I detailed to march in the rear of the regiment for the purpose, brought in fifteen head of cattle collected by him, which have been turned in. Captain Ringland, with seventy-five men of Companies A, C, and G, detached from the regiment at Gee’s house, returned by the original route for the purpose of driving in several head of cattle left by the rebels in their retreat, but none were found, they probably having been taken off by the rebel scouts, several of whom were seen by Captain Ringland’s party (one rebel officer and two men), who were accompanied by Lieutenant Nimmon. They were met by the lieutenant, aided by some men who came up from the main column, and in the skirmish the rebel officer was shot. The others escaped, leaving in our hands one man of the Third New York Cavalry, who had been taken by them. Our men charged another party of ten rebels at the Blackwater, but they escaped in the woods. Captain Ringland rejoined the command at Mount Sinai Church at 2 p.m. From the latter point, after a halt of two hours, I removed, as ordered, to my present position on the stage road near Rollins’ house.

The number of casualties during the attack on my line has not yet been exactly ascertained, but is small, as most of the men captured on post escaped in the confusion and darkness. Several horses belonging to the dismounted pickets were captured.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

FRANKLIN A. STRATTON,
Major Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, Commanding Regiment.

Lieutenant FURMAN GULIC,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Second Brigade, Kautz’s Division.

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 842-843

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