Number 109. Siege of Petersburg Report of Bvt. Brigadier General Henry A. Morrow, Twenty-fourth Michigan Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, Third Division, of operations February 5-6

   

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in Siege of Petersburg Reports (95)

No. 109. Report of Bvt. Brigadier General Henry A. Morrow, Twenty-fourth Michigan Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, Third Division, of operations February 5-6.1

HDQRS. THIRD Brigadier, THIRD DIV., FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
February 9, 1865.

MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Third Brigade in the late operations of the army on the left, near Dabney’s Mill:

The brigade was composed of the following regiments: Fifty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel J. T. Jack, 9 officers and 155 men; One hundred and twenty-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Major West Funk, 5 officers and 82 men; One hundred and forty-second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel H. N. Warren, 8 officers and 135 men; Ninety-fourth New York Volunteers, Captain George French, 9 officers and 212 men; Ninety-fifth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel James Creney, 6 officers and 247 men; One hundred and forty-seventh New York Volunteers, Captain James Coey, 15 officers and 249 men. The One hundred and seventh Pennsylvania

Veteran Volunteers was attached to my command on the 5th instant, and its movements are included in this report. The brigade, having 59 officers and 1,301 muskets, making a total of 1,360, moved from camp at 6.30 o’clock on the morning of the 5th instant, following the First Brigade, under General Bragg, and after a march, variously estimated at from fifteen to eighteen miles, halted near — Mills, on Gravelly Creek. Pickets were established, and the men had built fired and were preparing to bivouac, when orders were received to retrace our steps for the distance of two miles in order to form a junction with the Second Brigade, under General Baxter. This was accordingly done; the troops, though greatly fatigued with their long march and suffering with intense cold, exhibited the greatest good feeling and cheerfulness. I at once forwarded a strong line of pickets in our front, and extended them to a swamp on our left, having advanced posts on the road near — Mills. The duty of establishing the pickets was instructed in its details to Lieutenant-Colonel Jack, who discharged the duty in a manner altogether satisfactory. This officer deserves credit also for the handsome manner in which he withdrew his pickets the next morning. To appreciate the difficulties under which this officer labored and the delicate task he had to perform, it is only necessary to state that he was totally unacquainted with the ground, which was much broken and covered with a dense wood. It may be stated here also that it was currently reported among the troops, and generally believed, that we were in the immediate vicinity of a division of rebel infantry.

On the morning of the 6th, before daylight, the brigade was again placed in motion and marched to Hatcher’s Run, where with other troops of the division it was bivouacked on the right bank. Early in the afternoon we recrossed the run and filed off through a woods in a northerly direction. The First Brigade was in the advance, and on reaching a cleared field, distant perhaps a quarter of a mile from our bivouac, the First Brigade was deployed and advanced in line of battle into the woods beyond, and at once became engage with the enemy’s skirmishers. My command was now formed in line of battle, perhaps 300 yards in rear and overlapping the left of the First Brigade, my right and left being a little refused, and in this order advanced. The Second Brigade subsequently took position on my left. General Bragg was now actively engaged in our front, and I diminished the distance between the brigades to about 100 yards. The left of the First Brigade being driven back and falling considerably to the right, my front became entirely uncovered, and I ordered the troops at once into action. The several regiments advanced in handsome style at the double-quick, and drove back the advancing enemy for a considerable distance into a wood beyond a small cleared field.

The fighting was now heavy and continuous, and our losses very considerable. This line was held by us until the troops fell back, late in the afternoon, though the bulk of our ammunition had long before that time been exhausted. The enemy repeatedly pressed forward in our front, but was as often repulsed. It was here that all our losses occurred, and it may give some idea of the fierceness of the contest when it is told that our losses number 1 officer killed and 9 wounded, and 22 men killed and 171 wounded, a total of 10 officers and 193 men killed and wounded on this single line of battle without our yielding a foot of ground.

Our ammunition failing and the enemy being largely re-enforced, as it now appears, the troops became restless under a galling fire without the means of returning it, and it required the greatest gallantry and

exposure on the part of officers to keep the men up to the work. At this time the following regimental officers particularly distinguished themselves: Lieutenant Colonel James Creney, Ninety-fifth New York Volunteers; Major West Funk, One hundred and twenty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers; Captain Coey,* One hundred and forty-seventh New York Volunteers, and Captain Bush, Ninety-fifth New York Volunteers. Colonel Creney and Major West Funk seized the colors of their regiments, and rushing to the front, by both word and gesture, urged their men to advance. Captain Coey repeatedly exposed himself in front of his men, attempting in every possible way to keep his command up to their duty. Indeed, I must say the conduct of Colonel Creney, Major Funk, Captain Coey and Bush was of the most daring and inspiring character and deserving of every praise. Colonel Creney, Major Funk, and Captain Coey were each severely wounded. Captain French, Ninety-fourth New York Volunteers, exhibited much coolness throughout the engagement. About 5 o’clock I received a wound in my right side from a musket-ball, and was forced to leave the field, not, however, until I had formally turned over the command to Colonel McCoy, of the One hundred and seventh Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, and delivered to him the brigade colors, which I happened to hold in my hand at the moment, and which he brought safely back from the field.

Great praise is due to each of the regimental commanders and their officers and men for their gallantry in this engagement. The conduct of officers whom I especially named came under my own observation, and for this reason is prominently noticed in this report. Others may have done as well, though I did not see them.

My thanks are due to the officers of my staff for their prompt, efficient, and gallant assistance rendered throughout the engagement.

Captain Harrison Lambin, assistant adjutant-general, deserved special mention for his gallant conduct; he was cool, methodical, and daring, and everywhere on his horse, which was twice wounded, urging forward the troops and inspiring them by his own example.

Lieutenant Richard Esmond, acting aide-de-camp, exhibited much courage and coolness under fire; he was conspicuous everywhere on the field for his daring.

Captain D. J. Dickson, brigade inspector, rendered gallant service. Captain E. B. Cochrane is deserving more than a passing notice, not only for his conduct during the engagement, but from the fact that his term of service had expired before the troops left camp, but he volunteered to serve with me as in aide. He had his horse shot under him early in the engagement; such devotion is worthy of special mention. Captain H. R. Whiting and Lieutenant George W. Chilson, of the Twenty-fourth Michigan Volunteers, were volunteer aides, and deserve credit for their coolness and the efficient manner in which they discharged their duties.

This report would be imperfect did it fail to notice the gallant conduct of Orderlies James Titus, Ninety-fifth New York Volunteers, Eldridge T. Rogers, One hundred and forty-seventh New York Volunteers, and George H. Hardman, One hundred and forty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, each of whom displayed courage worthy of officers far above them in rank.

The following-named officers and enlisted men have been particularly mentioned for gallantry by their respective regimental commanders: Lieutenant Alba A. Johnson, Ninety-fourth New York Volunteers, for coolness and bravery; Sergt. Major William Shields, One hundred and forty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, who was severely wounded, for distinguished

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*Awarded a Medal of Honor.

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gallantry; Corpl. James X. Walter, One hundred and forty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, promoted to sergeant on the battle-field for bravery in grasping and carrying the colors after the sergeant and two corporals had been wounded; Sergt. Major William Boyce, Color-Sergt. Patrick Cashman, Sergt. Peter Fannon, Sergt. John A. McDonald, Sergt. John S. McCoy, Corpl. Volney Russell, Private William Wilson, and Corpl. Patrick Cunningham, all of One hundred and forty-seventh New York Volunteers, volunteered their services to follow Lieutenant Esmond with the brigade colors to the front of the line. Sergeant Fannon was severely wounded, and Private Wilson killed.

I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. A. MORROW,
Brevet Brigadier-General.

Major E. C. BAIRD,
Asst. Adjt. General, Third Div., Fifth Army Corps.

Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLVI, Part 1 (Serial Number 95), pages 286-289

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