Number 30. Siege of Petersburg Reports of Bvt. Major General Nelson A. Miles, U. S. Army, commanding First Division, of operations February 5-7 and March 25

   

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in Siege of Petersburg Reports (95)

No. 30. Reports of Bvt. Major General Nelson A. Miles, U. S. Army, commanding First Division, of operations February 5-7 and March 25.1

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, SECOND ARMY, CORPS.
February 13, 1865.

MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this command in the operations of the 5th, 6th, and 7th instant:

During the night of the 4th the picket-line of the Second Division was relieved by troops from my command, and at 8 a. m. on the 5th the Third-ninth New York Volunteers was placed in garrison at Fort Emery, and the One hundred and twenty-fifth and One hundred and twenty-sixth New York occupied Fort Siebert. At 3.30 p. m. I received order by telegraphs from the major-general commanding the corps to send a strong brigade to relieve General McAllister in the position then held by him near the Tucker house. The Fourth Brigade, Brevet Brigadier-General Ramsey, was immediately sent. At 5.30 p. m. orders were received to send another brigade to the same spot, if possible, at double-quick. The Third Brigade, Colonel George von Schank, Seventh New York Volunteers, moved at once to the Tucker house and reported to General Ramsey, but returned to their old camp night, having received orders to do so from him. In the meantime I had received orders from the major-general commanding to recall Colonel von Schank, as his brigade was not required. February 6, at 6.45 p. m., I received a telegram from the major-general commanding the corps, ordering me to send a brigade to the Vaughan road at the crossing at Hatcher’s Run. The Second Brigade, Co. R. C. Duryea, Seventh New York Artillery, was moved out accordingly, but before reaching their destination were met by orders from the same source directing it to return to camp, which it at once did. General Ramsey with his brigade reported back to me 9 a. m. on the 9th instant.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

NELSON A. MILES,
Brevet Major-General, Commanding.

Major S. CARNCROSS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Army Corps.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
March 28, 1865.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this division in the operations of the 25th instant:

At about 6.30 a. m. I received orders from the major-general commanding the corps to send out reconnoitering parties to ascertain the strength of the enemy in my front. I therefore directed two detachments (one of 200 men from the Sixty-first New York Volunteers, and one of 100 men from the Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers) to charge the enemy’s picket-line. The detachment of the Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers (Fourth Brigade) succeeded in driving the enemy’s pickets to their works, and occupied their picket-line; that of the Sixty-first New York Volunteers (First brigade) was at first unsuccessful, being repulsed, but was moved to the left of my division line, near the Watkins house, where they again attacked with success, driving the enemy, capturing fifteen prisoners (one officer) and occupying their line of rifle-pits. Being in possession of the enemy’s picket-line along my entire front, the remainder of the First-Brigade was moved out and placed in support; they were afterward moved up to the line captured from the enemy, and the picket-line advanced about fifty yards. About 2 p. m. I received orders from the major-general commanding the corps to move my entire command out of the works into position near the Skinner house, preparatory to attacking the enemy in force – the First Brigade (Colonel Scott, Sixty-first New York Volunteers) forming the left, the Second Brigade (Colonel R. Nugent, Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers) extending the line to the right, and the Third Brigade (Colonel A. Funk, Thirty-ninth New York Volunteers) in reserve. The Fourth Brigade (Colonel Mintzner, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers) was on its way to skill further extend my line to the right, when the enemy made a vigorous attack upon that portion of the line held by the First Brigade. After a spirited fight of about half an hour they were repulsed.

At about 4 p. m. another attack was made by the enemy farther to my right upon the line of the Second Brigade. They were met in the most gallant manner, and after repeated efforts to turn my right flank, which were foiled by the presence of the Fourth Brigade (Colonel Mintzer) and the Third (colonel Funk), which was brought up and placed only extreme right, they were again repulsed with heavy loss. My line of battle now extended from the Watkins house on the left to the Smith house on the right. During the progress of this fight the Second Brigade was re-enforced by a regiment from General Bartlett’s brigade, of the Fifth Corps, which had arrived on the ground and was lying in reserve in rear of the Skinner house. The enemy’s last attack was made at about 6 p. m., and extended along my whole division front. It was made with a heavy force (prisoners were taken from Heth’s and Johnson’s divisions). The enemy were repulsed and driven back at all points. Toward the close of this action the Second Brigade, being out of ammunition, after having once replenished their boxes, and having sustained a loss of about one-fourth its numbers, was relieved by three regiments of General Bartlett’s brigade, Fifth Corps. The enemy fell back, leaving his head and wounded on the field.

At 8 p. m. the Fifth Corps troops, above mentioned, were withdrawn, and their ground partially covered by men of the First and Fourth Brigades. A strong picket-line was established, and at 1 a. m. (26th), under orders from the major-general commanding the corps, I withdrew my command to the entrenchments left the previous morning.

The fighting on the part of the troops of this command was marked by an unusual spirit of determination and enthusiasm; they fought in line of battle without works, in as perfect order as if upon drill; scarcely a skulker or coward was noticed in rear of the line of battle. Colonel Nugent particularly distinguished himself by the gallant manner in which he fought his brigade, resisting and repulsing the several attacks of the enemy in the most stubborn manner. His conduct is worthy the highest praise. Colonel Scott also commanded his brigade with coolness and skill.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

NELSON A. MILES,
Brevet Major-General, Commanding.

Lieutenant Colonel CHARLES A. WHITTIER,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Second 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 195-197

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