Number 370. Petersburg Campaign Report of Colonel James R. Hagood, First South Carolina Infantry, of operations August 14 – December 10

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

No. 370. Report of Colonel James R. Hagood, First South Carolina Infantry, of operations August 14 – December 10.1

HEADQUARTERS FIRST SOUTH CAROLINA INFANTRY,
December 20, 1864.

CAPTAIN: *

On the 14th of August the enemy attacked our position in heavy force, breaking the skirmish line of the regiment on my left and pen-

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* For portion of report here omitted see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, 1068, and Vol. XL, Part I, p. 767.

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etrating to a point in the rear of my skirmishers. My left company was thus cut off and, with the exception of one man, captured. After shelling our position heavily for an hour he withdrew and shifted his forces toward our left. We executed a corresponding movement.

On the following day brisk skirmishing ensued, but my regiment was not regularly engaged.

My losses in the aggregate amounted to 3 men wounded and 1 officer and 18 men missing.

On the 23rd of August we returned to Petersburg, and were engaged until the 28th of September in throwing up field-works in its vicinity. On that day the enemy attacked Battery Harrison, near Chaffin’s Bluff, and carried it by storm. We were immediately ordered to that point and arrived on the 29th.

On morning of the 30th preparations were made to regain the fort, which lasted until midday, when the attack began. We were then 1,000 yards from the point to be carried. Immediately the regiment on my left began to double-quick, which soon increased to a run, thus exhausting the men wasting their energies at a time when both should have been economized for the struggle on the parapet. I was opposed to this, but, believing it to be an order, acquiesced. The enemy shortly opened fire on us, which increased in effect every moment and soon began to tell fearfully in the ranks. At this critical moment the brigade which preceded us gave way, and rushing through our line caused immediate confusion. Added to this the village of soldier’s huts which lay in our track offered the temptation to skulk, which many failed to resist, and which was impossible in the confusion to prevent. With those of my men who still adhered to their colors I continued to advance until I attained a point within sixty yards of the fort. Here, owing to the little support which was accorded to my by the remainder of the brigade, I ordered a halt and began firing to divert my men. I waited here for ten or fifteen minutes for re-enforcements, but their failure to come up and the fearful destructiveness of the enemy’s fire impressed me with the necessity of falling back, which I accordingly did. I rallied my men at the earlier practicable moment and reported to the brigadier-general commanding, who instructed me to return to my position of the morning. A short time afterward I was ordered to advance again on the enemy, bearing to the left so as to strike his works on the right of Colonel Walker’s regiment, which was reported as having gained them. I executed this order, but discovered no enemy this side of the fort, the flank work having been manned by only a line of skirmishers, who were driven from it by Law’s brigade before the arrival of Walker. After dark we were withdrawn to our old position.

My losses in this engagement amounted to 3 officers and 10 men killed, 9 officers and 62 men wounded.

Two days later we threw up a line of works in advance of our old position. In doing this I had 1 man killed and 2 wounded.

At sunrise on the morning of the 7th of October we attacked the enemy on the Darbytown Pass and drove him from the line of works. My regiment and Colonel Bowen’s were advanced to storm the redoubt on the enemy’s extreme right, occupied by his dismounted cavalry, which was carried in fine style. General Field then directed me to change front to the right and attack in flank with the two regiments (Second [Rifles] and First) a redoubt farther to the right, which was defying the efforts of Anderson’s entire brigade. I executed this order, the men charging with great spirit and driving from the work a body of the enemy.

Anderson’s brigade then came up, and we awaited further orders. I was now ordered by brigadier-general commanding to move on the enemy’s artillery, posted on the farther edge of the field, and which was still resisting. We reached it after double-quicking for three-fourths of a mile; shot down the horses and secured the cannon. After long delay, which has never been explained to me, we followed the enemy nearly to the New Market road, where he had retired after his reverse of the morning and fortified. His re-enforcements had arrived, and his position, surrounded by a dense undergrowth impassable to a line of battle, was thus rendered almost impregnable. We attacked it, and, after a hard fight, were repulsed. A short time afterward we were withdrawn, abandoning all the ground we had gained in the morning.

My losses amounted to 2 killed and 17 wounded.

On the 27th of November the enemy attacked us on the Williamsburg road, but were easily driven back. I had no casualties. In skirmish preceding the attack my skirmishers, under Captain Southern, captured 30 or 40 of the enemy.

December 9 [10] we moved down the Darbytown [road] to the enemy’s position, and, after considerable maneuvering (for which purpose and with what effect I have been unable to learn), withdrew in the night and returned to camp. I had 1 man wounded.

I have had altogether in the field since the opening of the campaign 572 men and officers. My losses in the aggregate amount to 37 killed and 209 wounded, and 19 captured or missing. Among the former I have to deplore many of my bravest men and officers. Captains Grimes and Kirk and Ensign E. W. Bellinger, all conspicuous for their gallantry under trying circumstances, fell in the assault on Battery Harrison nobly discharging their duty.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JAMES R. HAGOOD,
Colonel, Commanding.

Captain A. C. SORREL,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

NOTE. – At this length of time it is impossible to refer accurately by dates to events related in the foregoing report.

J. R. H.

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 937-939

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