Number 67. Siege of Petersburg Report of Bvt. Major General Gershom Mott, U. S. Army, commanding Third Division, of operations February 5-7

   

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in Siege of Petersburg Reports (95)

No. 67. Report of Bvt. Major General Gershom Mott, U. S. Army, commanding Third Division, of operations February 5-7.1

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

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

On the 4th, at 3.30 p.m. I received orders to make arrangements to move my division, with four days’ rations and fifty rounds of ammuni-

tion on the person and forty rounds of ammunition in reserve train, one-half the ambulances, and all of the stretcher-bearers. At 10 p.m. instructions received to move at 7 a.m. on the 5th, with the addition of one medical wagon and one hospital wagon with each brigade. At 11 p.m. in accordance with orders received, I reported in person to Major-General Humphreys commanding the corps, and received verbal instructions and explanation in regard to the anticipated movement, which were afterward received in circular dated 11.55 p.m., headquarters Second Army Corps, at 1 a.m. of the 5th.

February 5, at 6.20 a.m., Roder’s battery reported. At 7 a.m. moved the division to the Vaughan road, following the Second Division to near the McDowell house, when orders were received from Major-General Humphreys to send forward the brigade that was to cross Hatcher’s Run. The First Brigade, Brigadier-General De Trobriand, was immediately forward, with one section of Roder’s battery, with instructions to force the crossing and make disposition to hold the roads leading to Armstrong’s and Dabney’s Mills. The crossing on the Vaughan road was found to be obstructed by felled trees, and deep holes dug in the bed of the stream. For the dispositions made by General De Trobriand and the crossing of the brigade, I respectfully refer to his report. All the pioneers of the division were immediately put to work, building a bridge across the run where the Vaughan road crosses it and also at the dam a short distance below. This latter bridge was soon completed, so that the cavalry were enabled to cross. The second and Third Brigades having followed the Second Division now arrived near the Cummings house. In pursuance to instructions I sent the Third Brigade, Brevet Brigadier-General McAllister, down the cross-road to near the Tucker house, to take up a position in front of said house, covering any roads leading to the front. The Second Brigade, Brevet Brigadier-General West placed in position near the crossing on the Vaughan road. The brigades being completed and communication across the run easy, I crossed the Second Brigade and formed it on the left of the First and threw up breast-works in the shape of an are of a circle the right of the First and the left of the Second Brigade resting on the run, in the meantime sending forward a small force to hold a wood road near the F. B. Keys house, leading to Dabney’s Mill. This force consisted of the Fortieth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Cannon, supported by the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers. A small force of the enemy were posted at that point but soon retired after exchanging a few shots. Pursuant to orders from Major-General Humphreys I now sent the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers to support the cavalry down the Vaughan road, and to open communication with the Fifth Corps at or near Gravelly Run. This was done with some little skirmishing and a picket-line established with the infantry and cavalry, connecting with the First Division of the Fifth Corps at the run. Ramsey’s brigade of the First Division, having been ordered to relieve McAllister, I sent him instructions that as soon as relieved to move to the left and extend toward, and, if possible, to make a connection with the right of Smyth’s division.

At about 3.35 I was somewhat surprised to receive word from General McAllister, by his adjutant-general, that on being relieved he had massed his command in rear of his former position. I ordered him to hasten back and tell General McAllister to deploy immediately, and fill the gap between General Ramsey’s brigade and General Smyth’s division. Also sent Captain Moore, my aide-de-camp, to see the order executed. It was while going into this position that the skirmishers were driven

in, and an attack was made on and handsomely repulsed by the brigade. As soon as the firing commenced I sent a staff officer to General McAllister to see how he was making out. The general was most gallantly encouraging his command, and sent me word that he was fighting with and without breast-works; also, that he could whip the rebels away. About 4.45 two regiments of West’s brigade, viz, the One hundred and forty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers and the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery were sent to report to General McAllister. These regiments arrived in time to render efficient service in repulsing the last attack of the enemy. Going into position, under a very heavy fire, at about 5 p.m. the balance of brigade, with the exception of the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers was ordered to the support of McAllister. The enemy charged this line three distinct times, and each time he was signally repulsed. It now becoming dark the enemy withdrew leaving a portion of his dead on the field.

The conduct of General McAllister and his troops deserves special mention, having repulsed successfully the vigorous attack of the enemy, who were in greatly numbers (prisoners being taken from each division of Hill’s and Gordon’s corps), part of the command without any protection; yet all bravely stood firm and inflicted severe loss on their assailants, who were employed through the night in carrying off their wounded and dead; yet my pioneers who were sent out next day buried thirty-three, and found twenty-two newly made graves, some of them large enough to contain five to six bodies.

February 6, at 3 a.m. the First Division of the Fifth Corps, Brevet Major-General Griffin, relieved all my troops on the other side of Hatcher’s Run. As soon as relieved, in accordance, with orders received from the major-general commanding the corps, I marched De Trobriand’s brigade and the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, of the Second Brigade, and massed them in the rear of the Tucker house, near the line held by McAllister’s and West’s brigades, of this division and Ramsey’s brigade of the First Division, assuming command of the latter. At 9 a.m. I sent General De Trobriand with four small regiments to reconnoiter the enemy’s position, and to watch if there was any movement of troops in my front. We met the enemy’s skirmishers and drove them into his line of works near the Watkins house; also sending out a force on a wood road, marching west toward the Duncan road, found the enemy in his intrenchments and a small redoubt, with two guns mounted, on the rising ground, near a barn in front of the Armstrong house. The object of this reconnaissance having been accomplished General De Trobriand was withdrawn. At 3 p.m. I sent General McAllister out with a small force to reconnoiter the same ground but nothing further was developed. At 5 p.m. I received orders from the major-general commanding to immediately send De Trobriand’s brigade down the Vaughan road to the crossing of Hatcher’s Run to the support of the Fifth Corps, which was actively engaged and apparently hard pressed by the enemy. A few minutes afterward orders were received to withdraw West’s brigade from the line, to follow De Trobriand, I also withdrew one regiment from McAllister’s and one from Ramsey’s line to have ready to send, if necessary. Stretching the balance of McAllister’s and Ramsey’s brigades out so as to occupy the line, I reported these brigades as on the way to Major-General Webb, by Captain Moore, aide-de-camp, who was informed that the emergency having passed they would return. The regiments of McAllister and Ramsey were now returned to the line, and De Trobriand’s and West’s brigades massed in the rear.

February 7, the positions of the troops were not changed, but large details were at work slashing in front.

The conduct of officers and men of this division merit high commendation and fully maintained their well-earned reputation. My brigade commanders were prompt, and carried out my orders with alacrity. Brigadier-General De Trobriand superintended the crossing at Hatcher’s Run, himself dismounted and crossing on foot with his skirmishers, it being at that time impossible to cross mounted. Brevet Brigadier-General McAllister I have recommended on former occasions for promotion, and take pleasure in again urging it. Brevet Brigadier-General West rendered efficient service. The officers comprising my staff performed their part energetically and efficiently. Captain George W. Perkins, judge-advocate of the division, and Captain C. F. Moore, aide-de-camp, rendered efficient service-the former in establishing, in connection with the cavalry a picket-line to connect my left with the Fifth Corps, on the 5th instant, also in accompanying the reconnaissance made by General De Trobriand on the 6th, and giving valuable information as to the enemy’s position; the latter was with the advance of General De Trobriand when it crossed Hatcher’s Run in the morning and with McAllister’s brigade when attacked in the evening acting in his usual gallant manner. I would respectfully recommend that the services of these two officers be acknowledge by a brevet promotion.

The casualties in my division were, 13 enlisted men killed, 3 commissioned officers and 52 enlisted men wounded, 1 enlisted man missing, and 7 enlisted men injured by the falling of trees while cutting slashing.

Annexed is a nominal list. I also inclose brigade commanders’ reports.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. MOTT,
Brevet Major-General, U. S. Volunteers.

Major S. CARNCROSS,
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 223-226

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