Number 358. Siege of Petersburg Diary of the First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, of operations August 1-October 18 including operations in the Shenandoah Valley, August and September

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

No. 358. Diary of the First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, of operations August 1-October 18 including operations in the Shenandoah Valley, August and September.*1

August 1 and 2. – Affairs unchanged.

August 3. – Colonel Carter, with some artillery moves down the river, escorted by two regiments of cavalry, to annoy the enemy’s transports.

August 4 and 5 – Quiet and without change.

August 6. – General Anderson visits Richmond to meet the President and General Lee. Soon after I receive orders to join him with the staff.

August 7.- Leave Richmond at 7.30 a.m. by rail and arrive at Mitchell’s Station at dark.

August 8. – Last of Kershaw’s division arrives to-day.

August 9 and 10. – Quiet. Waiting for our transportation.

August 11. – Cutshaw’s artillery horses and Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry division arrive. Hear of Early at Bunker Hill.

August 12. – With Kershaw’s division and Cutshaw’s battalion of artillery we move from Mitchell’s Station soon after sunrise and halt at Culpeper at midday. At 4 p.m. Kershaw moves for Hazel River, on the graded road, followed by the artillery battalion, and camped for the night on Hazel River. Fitzhugh Lee’s division moves from Culpeper Court-House, and passes the infantry at night.

August 13.- March resumed. Camp two miles north of Flint Hill.

August 14. – March continues at sunrise. Troops arrive at Front Royal in afternoon. Kershaw posts a regiment on picket at the ford on the South Fork, on the Winchester road, and one on the Berryville road a mile from town.

August 15. – Enemy reported to have a brigade of cavalry at Cedarville, on the Winchester pike and an infantry force on the Berryville road. The enemy sends a scouting party across Island Ford, which however, soon retires.

August 16. – About 12 noon information is received of the advance of four brigades of the enemy’s cavalry to Cedarville. To hold Guard Hill and cover the passage of the Shenandoah, Wofford’s brigade of infantry and Wickham’s of cavalry and artillery are sent to seize the position, which is done with the loss of but 8 or 10 men. Wofford, however, moves off to the right to attack the enemy’s cavalry, which had now come up in force, and just at that moment, having charged and driven back our own cavalry, pitches into Wofford and drives him back in confusion and with loss. Brigade is subsequently moved across the river.

August 17.- Our whole force moves across the river and follows the enemy down the Winchester pike. The enemy retired, burning the grain, barns, and grass as he marched. Passing through Cedarville, Nineveh, and Ragtown we encounter, with the squadron of cavalry at our head, a detachment of the enemy’s cavalry and give chase to them for four or five miles. Wickham, with the two brigades of cavalry, had turned off to the right and followed toward White Post the

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*For portion of diary here omitted, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p. 1056 and Vol. XL, Part I, p. 760.

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bulk of the enemy’s cavalry. We camp on the Opequon near Frederick’s Mill, and Wickham is ordered across from the vicinity of Berryville.

August 18. – Move soon after daylight for Winchester, where we meet General Early. Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry is thrown out to the front and Kershaw camped in woods to the right of the Berryville road.

August 19. – No change in the position of our troops. Early moves with his force to the vicinity of Bunker Hill.

August 20. – Without change.

August 21. – At daylight we move with Kershaw and Cutshaw, by the old Charlestown road, for Charlestown. Lomax’s cavalry moves from Bunker Hill in the same direction via Leetown, Early’s infantry by Smithfield, and Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry by Berryville. About six miles from Summit Point we encounter the advance of Wilson’s division of cavalry and drive it before us, skirmishing as far as Summit Point, where we arrive at 3.30 p.m. and camp, picketing all the roads. Fitzhugh Lee encounters Torbet’s division and drives him through Berryville, and encamps one mile north of the town on the Berryville and Winchester pike. Early arrives within two miles and a half of Charlestown and halts for the night. Casualties in all the skirmishes, light.

August 22.- March resumed at daylight for Charlestown. Meet General Early. Latter’s troops encamped in front of Charlestown, ours back on the road we came, about two miles and a half from town.

August 23. – Without change.

August 24. – In the afternoon the enemy makes a slight demonstration with his cavalry on Early.

August 25. – Kershaw moves at daylight, with Cutshaw, to relieve Rodes and Ramseur. Early’s force moves to threaten Martinsburg, and Fitzhugh Lee (who has resumed command of all the cavalry) toward Williamsport.

August 26.- Enemy in position and quiet until afternoon about 5 o’clock, when he advances four or five regiments of infantry and one of cavalry to feel our lines. The picket-line of the Fifteenth South Carolina Regimental, Kershaw’s brigade, breaks, and about 100 men of it are captured. The enemy soon retires. During the night we hear from Early, who is at Leetown, and it is determined to move for Brucetown at early dawn.

August 27. – Move at day via Smithfield, McCausland’s, and Lomax’s brigades of cavalry in our rear. Camp near Brucetown. The two cavalry brigades picket the line of the Opequon. Early moves to Bunker Hill.

August 28. – McCausland moves his brigade toward Leetown, under orders from Fitzhugh Lee.

August 29. – Early drives the enemy’s cavalry through Smithfield. His troops afterward return to camp.

August 30. – Without change.

August 31. – Bryan’s brigade moves at daylight into Winchester to watch a probable movement of the enemy on Winchester from Berryville, where he seems to be in force. In the afternoon the whole division moves and takes its former camp near town.

September 1. – Some cavalry skirmishing on the Berryville road. A small party of enemy’s cavalry reported to have crossed Front Royal road toward Newtown. Humphrey’s brigade is sent down on Berryville road to support the cavalry; but the enemy’s force having been exaggerated, it returns to camp. Wofford is posted near town on the Valley pike.

September 2. – Enemy’s cavalry at Berryville. It is proposed for Kershaw and Fitzhugh Lee to surprise him. As it is about being executed it is abandoned, the enemy having retired toward Charlestown. Early gets up toward Stone Chapel and a small body of enemy’s cavalry attack his rear.

September 3. – Move at 12 m. from Winchester for Berryville by the pike. Strike the enemy about four miles from Berryville and encounter the Eighth Corps, which after a sharp engagement, we drive away. The Sixth Corps is meanwhile at Longmarsh Run, near Summit Point. General Humphreys wounded.

September 4. – Between 9 and 10 a.m. General Early arrives to aid us, and proposes to attack by his left. Agreed to and he starts to execute it. He accomplishes nothing, however, deeming the enemy’s position too strong to be forced.

September 5. – Retire toward Winchester. Some skirmishing at the Opequon between Early’s rear guard and the enemy’s advance. Troops camp in same place on Berryville pike.

September 6. – Without change.

September 7. – A division of Yankee cavalry moves up as far as White Post and returns toward Berryville. Enemy’s infantry reported crossing the Opequon and advancing. Our troops turned out to meet them. Enemy retire across the Opequon. Object of the movement supposed to be a reconnaissance.

September 8 to 14. – Without change.

September 15.- Move at sunrise with Kershaw and Cutshaw up the Valley pike and camp on North Fork of Shenandoah, opposite Buckton. September 16. – Move at sunrise, cross North Fork at Buckton Ford, cross South Fork at McCoy’s Ford, and encamp at Bentonville.

September 17. – Move at sunrise on the mud turnpike, from which we turned off four miles north of Luray and camped four miles from Luray on the Sperryville and Luray pike.

September 18. – Move at sunrise cross Thornton’s Gap, pass through Sperryville, Woodville, and camp two miles east of the latter.

September 19. – Move at sunrise and arrive at Culpeper in time to meet a Yankee raiding party (Sixteenth New York Cavalry) which is found to have passed down to Rapidan bridge on burnt it. We intercept the party on its return by Bryan’s brigade near Pony Mountain.

September 20. – Move at 12 m. for Rapidan Station.

September 21 and 22. – At Rapidan Station awaiting the completion of the bridge.

September 23.- Bridge finished. Move to Gordonsville.

September 24. – Kershaw moves at sunrise to join Early via Swift Run Gap.

September 25 and 26. – We take up the march (headquarters) for Richmond, where we arrive on the 26th.

September 27. – Move from Richmond to Swift Run.

September 28. – General Anderson receives orders to move to north side and assume command.

September 29. – Move to north side early and find the enemy holding Fort Harrison, which he had taken by a coup de main. One battalion of reserve (150 men.) were in the fort. Gregg had previously repulsed an attack near Four-Mile Run. In the afternoon Field arrives with Law’s brigade just in time to aid Gregg’s and Benning’s brigades in repulsing a most violent assault on Fort Gilmer. Many negroes were killed in the ditch. General Lee arrives, and Bratton’s and Anderson’s

brigades come over, making Field’s full division. In the afternoon Colonel Montague, with four regiments of Pickett’s troops, pushes up toward Fort Harrison.

September 30.- During last night Hoke came over with Kirkland’s, Clingman’s, and Colquitt’s brigades and Scales’. After reconnaissance Fort Harrison is attacked by Law, Anderson, and Bratton and Clingman and Colquitt. The attack is repulsed.

October 1. – Dispositions made for taking up a new line. A movement of the enemy to our left up the Darbytown and Williamsburg roads is discovered. Field,with Law’s brigade and Montague’s four regiments, is hurried off. On arriving at the point we find Moore’s and Barton’s brigades of reserves in the fortifications and the artillery at work. Montague is left on the New Market road, and Law is posted in the salient on the Darbytown road.

October 2. – Law and Montague are moved back to Chaffin’s farm.

October 3 to 5. – No change of note.

October 6. – No change during the day. At night Field and Hoke are taken out of the trenches and sent to the vicinity of Curry’s house, on the Darbytown road. Law’s brigade was previously sent over to Gary.

October 7. – At sunrise we move down the Darbytown road with Field and Hoke. The former encounters Kautz’s cavalry in the exterior trenches. With Anderson’s and Bratton’s brigades, and Gary and Law on the Charles City road, the cavalry is drawn off, leaving us nine pieces of artillery, ten caissons, and prisoners. Field’s division is then thrown to the left on the outside of the exterior line and Hoke on the inside of it. After crossing a thick abatis and an almost impenetrable swamp, the enemy is found in position near the New Market road. Field at once attacks him, and Major Johnson has a spirit artillery combat. Field’s attack fails. Hoke cannot get at the enemy out of his trenches and does not move. In the afternoon the troops are posted behind Cornelius Creek. General Gregg killed; Bratton wounded.

October 8 and 9. – Quiet and without change.

October 10.- Field and Hoke move down in front of Cornelius Creek and a line of rifle-pits formed. Gary puts two regiments on the left of Field.

October 11 and 12. – Quiet. Troops occupied in strengthening their defenses.

October 13. – Early in the morning Gary’s pickets are driven in on the Charles City road. He has hastily to send for the mounted regiment he had on the Nine-Mile road. A force of the enemy presses Field’s left and endeavors to turn it. The Texas and Law’s brigades are thrown rapidly to the left of the Darbytown road, and the others moved up to it, Hoke closing in on Field. The day passes in efforts of the enemy to feel our lines or break through them. The enemy’s cavalry on the Charles City road disappears, and by night everything is again quiet, the enemy having retired. Gary’s two dismounted regiments were sent to him in the morning, two regiments of Bratton relieving them. At night Field has four brigades on left of Darbytown road and Bratton on the right of it, Hoke touching his right, and Colquitt’s brigade, of his division, extending to New Market road.

October 14 to 18. – Are all without change of note.

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 873-876

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