Number 179. Siege of Petersburg Reports of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army, commanding Army of Northern Virginia, of operations February 5-8 and March 25

   

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in Siege of Petersburg Reports (95)

No. 179. Reports of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army, commanding Army of Northern Virginia, of operations February 5-8 and March 25.1

PETERSBURG, February 5, 1865.
(Received 2.45 p.m.)

At 11 a.m. to-day enemy forced a passage across Hatcher’s Run, at Vaughan’s road believed to be Second and Fourth [Fifth?] Corps, accompanied by cavalry; preparing to meet them.

R. E. LEE.

General S. COOPER, Richmond.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
February 6, 1865.

The enemy moved in strong force yesterday to Hatcher’s Run. Part of his infantry, with Gregg’s cavalry, crossed and proceeded on the Vaughan road-the infantry to Cat-tail Creek, the cavalry to Dinwiddie Court-House, where its advance encountered a portion of our cavalry and retired. In the afternoon parts of Hill’s Gordon’s troops demonstrated against the enemy on the left of Hatcher’s Run, near Armstrong’s Mill. Finding him entrenched they were withdrawn after dark. During the night the force that had advanced beyond the creek returned to it and were reported to be crossing. This morning Pegram’s division moved down the right bank of the creek to reconnoiter, when it was vigorously attacked. The battle was obstinately contested several hours, but General Pegram being killed, while bravely encouraging his men, and Colonel Hoffman wounded, some confusion occurred, and the division was pressed back to its original position. Evans’ division, ordered by General Gordon to support Pegram, charged the enemy, forced him back, but was in turn compelled to retire. Mahone’s division arriving, enemy was driven rapidly to his defenses on Hatcher’s Run.

Our loss is reported to be small; that of the enemy not supposed great.

R. E. LEE,
General.

General S. COOPER.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
February 8, 1865. (Received 3.55 p.m.)

The enemy yesterday made no advance from Hatcher’s Run. His skirmishers, supported by a continuous line, were pushed forward against some parts of our position, but no attack was made. He still retains his position.

R. E. LEE.

Honorable JAMES A SEDDON,
Secretary of War.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
February 8, 1865.

SIR: All the disposable force of the right wing of the army has been operating against the enemy beyond Hatcher’s Run since Sunday. Yesterday, the most inclement day of the winter, they had to be retained in line of battle, been in the same condition the two

previous days and nights. I regret to be obliged to state that under these circumstances, heightened by assaults and fire of the enemy, some of the men had been without meat for three days, and all were suffering from reduced rations and scant clothing, exposed to battle, cold, hail, and sleet. I have directed Colonel Cole, chief commissary, who reports that he has not a pound of meat at his disposal, to visit Richmond and see if nothing can be done. If some change is not made and the commissary department reorganized, I apprehend dire results. The physical strength of the men, if their courage survives, must fail under this treatment. Our cavalry has to be dispersed for want of forage. Fitz Lee’s and Lomax’s divisions are scattered because supplies cannot be transported where their services are required. I had to bring William H. F. Lee’s division forty miles Sunday night to get him in position. Taking these facts in connection with the paucity of our numbers, you must not be surprised if calamity befalls us. According to reports of prisoners we were opposed on Hatcher’s Run by the Second and Fifth Corps, part of the Ninth, one division of the Sixth, and Gregg’s division (three brigades) of cavalry. It was also reported that the Twenty-third Corps (Schofield’s) reached City Point the 5th, and that it was present; but this is not confirmed by other reports. At last accounts it was stated to be on the Potomac, delayed by ice. A scout near Alexandria reports it is to march on Gordonsville, General Baker on Kinston. I think it more probable it will join Grant here.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,
General.

Honorable JAMES A SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.

[First indorsement.]

Respectfully sent to the President for perusal.

Please return it.

JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE,
Secretary of War.

[Second indorsement.]

This is too sad to be patiently considered, and cannot have occurred without criminal neglect or gross incapacity. Let supplies be had by purchase, or borrowing or other possible mode.

J. D.

HEADQUARTERS,
March 25, 1865.

At daylight this morning General Gordon assaulted and carried enemy’s works at Hare’s Hill, captured 9 pieces of artillery, 8 mortars, between 500 and 600 prisoners, among them one brigadier-general and number of officers of lower grade. Enemy’s lines were swept away for distance of 400 or 500 yards to right and left, and two efforts made to recover captured works were handsomely repulsed; but it was found that the inclosed works in rear, commanding enemy’s main line, could only be taken at great sacrifice, and troops were withdrawn to original position. It being impracticable to bring off captured guns, owing to nature of ground, they were disabled and left. Our loss reported is not heavy. Among wounded is Brigadier-General Terry, flesh wound, and Brigadier General Phil. Cook, in arm. All the troops engaged, including two

brigades under Brigadier-General Ransom, behaved most handsomely. The conduct of the sharpshooters of Gordon’s corps, who led assault, deserves the highest commendation. This afternoon there was skirmishing on the right between the picket-lines, with varied success. At dark enemy held considerable portion of the line farthest in advance of our main works.

R. E. LEE.

Honorable J. C. BRECKINRIDGE,
Secretary of War.

HEADQUARTERS,
March 28, 1865. (Received 4 p.m.)

General Gordon informs me that in his report of the action at Hare’s Hill, on the 25th instant, he omitted to mention that Colonel H. P. Jones, commanding the artillery, on that portion of the line, was at the front superintending in person the operations of the artillery, and that a select body of officers and men, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Stribling, carried the enemy’s breast-works will the sharpshooters of the corps, and immediately turned upon the enemy the captured guns.

R. E. LEE.

Honorable JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE,
Secretary of War.

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), pp. 381-383

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