Number 78. Siege of Petersburg Report of Brigadier General Byron R. Pierce, U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade, of operations March 25

   

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in Siege of Petersburg Reports (95)

No. 78. Report of Brigadier General Byron R. Pierce, U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade, of operations March 25.1

HDQRS. SECOND Brigadier, THIRD DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS
March 27, 1865.

MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the action of Saturday, March 25, 1865:

At 6 a.m. received orders from the general commanding division to break camp and be ready to move; remained under arms until 2 p.m., when I received orders to move my brigade to the front and place it in two lines in rear of General De Trobriand’s brigade and be ready to assault the enemy’s works. I moved my brigade at once to the front through the main line of works, and in advance of the old picket-line,

where I commenced the formation as ordered, by placing the following regiments in line in rear of General De Trobriand’s brigade; Fifth Michigan, Colonel John Pulford; First Massachusetts [Heavy Artillery], Major Nathaniel Shatswell; Seventeenth Maine, Lieutenant Colonel William Hobson; Ninety-third New York, Lieutenant Colonel Haviland Gifford. The Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph H. Horton, were halted, by order of the right, near the Watkins house.

Colonel Pulford, commanding the right wing, finding his right exposed, deployed skirmishers across the swamp to connect with the right wing, commanded by Colonel Zinn. As soon as Colonel Zinn’s line was formed he sent out details from each regiment, with orders to connect the pits that had been captured from the enemy in the morning; while these details were at work a brigade of rebels charged them, driving them back on the line of battle. Colonel Zinn at once ordered a charge of the regiments under his command; they went forward with a cheer, retook the pits, and captured 6 commissioned officers and 167 enlisted men. Our men drove the enemy, by getting on their flank and rear,in the direction of the One hundred and twenty-fourth New York Volunteers, which were on the right of my brigade, the One hundred and twenty-fourth New York charging after we had driven the enemy from their position on the crest of the hill. The same charge of the enemy extended to the front of the left wing of my brigade, when the line in front of the Fifth Michigan Infantry and First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery gave way and came near carrying the second line with it; but through the exertions of Colonel Pulford and Major Shatswell, they rallied their regiments and advanced them to the first line, which they held until relieved by the postion of the pickets.

At 1 a.m. of the 26th, the picket-line having been established, I moved my brigade back to their old camps, by orders from the general commanding division.

The casualties in this brigade were; 4 enlisted men killed, 1 commissioned officer and 29 enlisted men wounded, 2 enlisted men missing; total, 36. A nominal list herewith attached.

Officers and men of my command, with the exception of a few recruits, behaved with great gallantry and coolness. I would especially mention Colonel John Pulford, Fifth Michigan, commanding the left wing, for exertions used in rallying his men after being broken by the First Brigade; also, Colonel Zinn, Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, commanding the three regiments on the right, for the gallant, manner in which he charged the enemy, taking a large number of prisoners. My staff officers, with their usual bravery and gallantry, rendered me efficient aid.

I have the honor to be, respectfully your obedient servant,

B. R. PIERCE,
Brigadier-General.

Major WILLIAM R. DRIVER,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Div., 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 236-237

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