Number 8. Siege of Petersburg Report of Major Frank W. Hess, Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, of operations February 5-7

   

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in Siege of Petersburg Reports (95)

No. 8. Report of Major Frank W. Hess, Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, of operations February 5-7.1

HDQRS. BATTALION THIRD PENNSYLVANIA CAVALRY,
February 8, 1865.

In compliance with orders received on Saturday evening, February 4, I reported, at 6 a. m. on the 5th instant, with my command, to Major-General Humphreys, commanding Second Corps, and was sent by him to report to Brigadier-General Smyth, commanding division, Second Corps. My orders given me by General Smyth were to send a detachment of fifty men, under command of a commissioned officer, on the road leading from the Vaughan road to Armstrong’s Mill. The rest of

the battalion was to take the advance of the infantry moving up to Vaughan road; to drive the enemy’s vedettes beyond Hatcher’s Run, and, if possible, to force the crossing at Cumming’s Ford. Lieutenant Ewing, who had command of the detachment moving toward Armstrong’s Ford, was also directed to drive in the vedettes and secure the crossing.

The advance of the column on the Vaughan road struck the enemy’s vedettes in the vicinity of the Cummings house, charged them, and drove them down the road to the ford. Captain Stille, who commanded the advance, was ordered to follow them, closely and to charge the ford. This was done, but the obstructions placed there by the enemy rendered it impossible for cavalry to cross. This I reports to Brigadier-General De Trobriand, commanding brigade, Third Division, Second Corps, whose command was supporting the cavalry. At about 11 o’clock, a bridge having been constructed, I moved my command across Hatcher’s Run and, to comply with the orders of Major-General Humphreys, took the road leading to Armstrong’s Ford, in order to open communication with the troops crossing at that point. I was also directed to post a picket of thirty men at Dadney’s Mill. At about a quarter of a mile from the Cummings Ford my advance came upon the enemy’s skirmish line, formed along the edge of a wood and posted behind a fence. Company A, commanded by Captain Stille, was dismounted and ordered to drive them back, but found them too strong. I ordered Company E, under command of Lieutenant King, to charge, mounted, on Captain Stille’s left, and Company M, commanded by Lieutenant O’Donovan, to charge on the right of Captain Stille. This was done; five prisoners were taken, the enemy was driven away from the fence and forced back into the woods, where I found them in considerable force. This I reported to Major-General Humphreys, and was directed by him to return to the Vaughan road, and open communication with the Fifth Corps at J. Hargrave’s house. At about two miles from the Cummings Ford my advance, under Lieutenant Frazer, Company D, encountered the enemy stationed along the woods on the right of the road. The advance charged down the Vaughan road, followed by the rest of the command, and supported by the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, General De Trobriand’s brigade, Third Division, Second Corps, and moved forward until the column of the Fifth Corps was seen on the Reams’ Station road. I reported to Major-General Warren, and then returned to general Humphreys, informing him that the road was open. Until 2 o’clock on the morning of the 6th detachments of the battalion patrolled the Vaughan road. I was then directed to take my command back to the Cummings house and await further orders. At 3 p. m. on the 6th instant I was directed by Major-General Humphreys to return to the camp at the Aiken house. The only loss suffered was 2 men killed and 3 wounded; 16 horses killed and wounded.

On the 6th instant, at 8 a. m., I was directed to move out of camp with my command and arrest all stragglers found on the roads, and to report with them to Brevet Major-General Webb at Cummings’ Ford. About 500 men belonging to the Fifth Corps were taken to the front, but, being unable to find General Webb, I reported to Lieutenant-Colonel Locke, assistant adjutant-general, Fifth Corps, and was directed by him to turn them over to the provost-marshall of the corps. I was then ordered to return to camp.

On the 7th instant an order was received from the provost-marshal-general’s office directing me to proceed to the camps of the Fifth Corps and drive up to the front all the men I could find there. About 100

men were arrested and about fifty more were found on the road, and turned over to the provost-marshall of the corps. I then returned with the battalion to camp.

F. W. HESS,
Major, Commanding Battalion, Third Pennsylvania Cavalry.

Captain PH. SCHUYLER,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

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 163-165

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