Number 112. Siege of Petersburg Report of Colonel Thomas F. McCoy, One hundred and seventh Pennsylvania Infantry, of operations February 5-6

   

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in Siege of Petersburg Reports (95)

No. 112. Report of Colonel Thomas F. McCoy, One hundred and seventh Pennsylvania Infantry, of operations February 5-6.1

HDQRS. 107TH PENNSYLVANIA VOL. INFANTRY,
THIRD BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
Camp near Hatcher’s Run, Va., February 11, 1865.

CAPTAIN: In compliance with circular of 10th instant, I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of my regiment in the late movements:

On the morning of the 5th instant, when about to march with the Second Brigade, to which my regiment belonged, I received an order from the brevet major-general commanding the division to report to Brevet Brigadier-General Morrow, temporarily commanding Third (Hofmann’s) Brigade, to which command I was conducted by Captain Cochrane, of the staff, when it was then massed in front of corps headquarters. The column was soon on the march, heading in the direction of the Yellow House and Halifax road, and upon reaching followed that road and the Weldon railroad, which run parallel and near together, south in the direction of Reams’ Station. When within a mile of the latter point the column moved on the road leading westward, and by a circuitous route in the direction of the Boydton plank road. When near that road, having crossed Rowanty Creek several miles south of where the Vaughan road crosses Hatcher’s Run, the corps having formed connection with the Second Corps extended along that road, went into camp for the night. There was but little skirmishing during the day, the column having encountered nothing but a few pickets of the enemy.

While preparing for our bivouac by collecting wood and making fires, the night being very cold and the men weary after the long march of the day, the brigade was again put on the march and returned to the rear of the corps, and bivouacked at the junction of the Vaughan road and the road upon which we had advanced.

On the morning of the 6th we, with the whole corps, were on the march, at 4 o’clock, on the Vaughan road in the direction of Hatcher’s Run, near the Armstrong Mill, some three miles distant, and arrived soon after daylight at the point from which the Second Corps had driven the enemy. Here the three divisions composing the corps were concentrated with Gregg’s cavalry. It was reported during the forenoon that the enemy was demonstrating in our front. At about 2 p.m. our division received orders to move. We crossed to the west side of the run, the First Brigade leading, ours next, with the Second following, the One hundred and seventh being second in line. After crossing, the head of the column turned toward Dabney’s Mill, about a mile distant. The ground in the direction of the enemy, who was posted in force at this point, was rolling and principally covered with a heavy growth of wood, part of it with thick underbrush, a swamp, and several old fields. The lines were soon formed, the First Brigade in advance, ours (the Third) following in support, the Second having deployed to the left. The battle soon began. The enemy’s skirmishers were driven in and their first line of rifle-pits taken. The advance was continued, our part of the line in the woods, until we came to an opening of perhaps 150 yards, and just as we reached this point the first line was rapidly retiring under a charge from the enemy and rushed into our line. Under the trying circumstances we had great difficulty in preserving our line, but did succeed in so doing and in pouring a heavy fir into the advancing column of the enemy, causing him to stop at the opposite margin of the field. Our brigade, now becoming the front line, with a cheer charged across the field and into the opposite woods, driving him in turn through this woods into his fortifications at or near the Dabney Mill. Forming our line along the margin of this opening, the fight was continued with great tenacity, and evidently with considerable loss on both sides. It was here that the enemy brought artillery to bear upon our line, partly enfilading it. We brought no artillery into the action. Ammunition was nearly exhausted as the day advanced, in being nearly dark. The enemy’s fire was growing more destructive, and their lines of battle were advancing, evidently being strongly re-enforced. At this time part of our line gave way on the left of our brigade, which had the effect of causing part of ours to retire. Many of these were rallied again and brought back to the line.

At this period of the engagement Brevet Brigadier-General Morrow, commanding the brigade, who had been displaying the greatest gallantry during the action, was struck from his force by a rifle-ball piercing his body, and was compelled to leave the field. As he fell from his horse, being near him, he turned over the command and the brigade flag, which he had been carrying through the thickest of the fight, to me, and I immediately relinquished the command of my regiment to Major H. J. Sheafer, and proceeded to the performance of the duties imposed by the exigency to the best of my ability. No ammunition and no supporting column arriving, it was now evident that our troops must retire to their original line,and this they did just in time to preserve themselves from utter destruction, as it has since been ascertained that the enemy in our front was in overwhelming force.

I must express myself as highly gratified with the gallant conduct of my regiment in the afternoon’s contest. I had in my command about 275 muskets; three-fourths of these men were now under fire for the first time. Many of these men fought with uncommon courage. Nearly one-fourth of the number engaged were killed or wounded. I am pleased to have it in my power to name the following officers as having conducted themselves with a high degree of courage: Major H. J. Sheafer; Captain Theo. K. Scheffer, wounded slightly, Company A; Lieutenant Oliver P. Stair, commanding Company D; Lieutenant John F. Williams, commanding Company F; Lieutenant H. H. Hutton, commanding Company K; Lieutenant J. B. S. Venai, commanding Company G; Lieutenant Aaron Treher, commanding Company B, wounded. I would also name the following sergeants who have been named to me as having displayed commendable courage: First Sergt. John A. Tompkins, Company F; Sergt. Isaac S. Dissinger, commanding Company I; Sergt. John Delany, Company I; First Sergt. Michael J. Hawley, commanding Company C; First Sergt. William C. Beck, commanding Company H; First Sergt. Martin V. Cochran, wounded, commanding Company E; First Sergt. Edwin S. Wilcox, wounded, Company G; Sergt. Francis J. Swoyer, color bearer, Company C; and Sergt. Major Lord B. Green. I have also to commend the courage of Asst. Surg. R. S. Dana, who was in the thickest of the fight attending to the wounded.

As soon as the battle commenced Chaplain W. T. Campbell repaired to the division hospital and rendered excellent service. I would respectfully bring to the notice of the commanding general the name of Private John M. Duff, of Company B, who having been captured in consequence of having fallen in crossing a ditch in retiring from the field, but who, upon being required to take off his accouterments and surrender his gun, embraced a favorable opportunity, shot down his captor, and made good his escape. He is an intelligent, brave boy of about sixteen years, and this was his first battle. I feel it a duty in closing this report to express my appreciation of the efficiency and high degree of courage exhibited by my adjutant, James B. Thomas, who was slightly wounded in the action and had his clothing in several places cut with balls. He, in charge of a part of the regiment retiring by the right and closely pursued by the enemy, took advantage of a rifle-pit near the run and fired with good effect their last remaining cartridges.

Attached will be found a list of the casualties.*

I am, captain, very respectfully, &c.,

T. F. McCOY,
Colonel, Commanding Regiment.

Captain HARRISON LAMBDIN,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Brigade.

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*Embodied in table, p.67.

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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 292-294

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