Number 93. Siege of Petersburg Report of Bvt. Brigadier General Horatio G. Sickel, One hundred and ninety-eighth Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding First Brigade, First Division, of operations February 5-7

   

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in Siege of Petersburg Reports (95)

No. 93. Report of Bvt. Brigadier General Horatio G. Sickel, One hundred and ninety-eighth Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding First Brigade, First Division, of operations February 5-7.1

HDQRS. FIRST BRIG., FIRST DIV., FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
In the Field, near Hatcher’s Run and Vaughan Road, Va.,
February 13, 1865.

CAPTAIN: In accordance with circular from division headquarters of the 11th instant I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the First Brigade, First Division, Fifth Corps, in the operations of the army on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of the present month:

Pursuant to orders we broke camp at 6.30 a.m. on the 5th instant and marched west to the Weldon railroad, the south on the Halifax road about three miles, then southwest to a point on Hatcher’s Run,

when the column crossed and was halted for a few minutes in an old earth-work just previously abandoned by the enemy. We were again put in march, heading northwest, on a road leading toward Dinwiddie Court-House, halting at 4 p.m. on the plantation belonging to Oliver Chappell, where we remained until 11 p.m., when we returned by the same road to its junction with the Vaughan road, then marched north on the Vaughan road to the south bank of Hatcher’s Run. Upon arriving at this point we were directed by Major-General Griffin to occupy the earth-works covering the crossing of that stream, in which position we remained until about 3 p.m. of the 6th instant, when I was ordered by Major-General Griffin to report with the First Brigade to General Gregg, commanding cavalry division, on the left of our lines, about five-eighths of a mile south on the Vaughan road. Upon reaching the field occupied by the cavalry and reporting to GEneral Gregg, I found General Winthrop’s brigade, of the Second Division, Fifth Corps, fiercely engaging the enemy upon the open ground on the west side of the Vaughan road. I was directed by General Gregg to support General Winthrop, whose line at the time was being pressed by a vigorous assault of superior numbers of the enemy. I immediately formed my brigade in line of battle, facing west, and marched forward in that order. On reaching General Winthrop’s line his troops retired. As I am informed his men had exhausted their ammunition. I at once ordered a charge upon the enemy’s line, whose numbers, I believe, were equal, if not superior, to those of my own. This was executed in a most gallant style and with great steadiness, both officers and men conducting themselves in a manner which would have done credit to the best veteran troops. The enemy broke at the first volley from our men and left the field in great disorder, leaving their killed and wounded in our hands, together with several prisoners. After pursuing them for some distance my line was halted, in consequence of the troops having exhausted their ammunition. This fact was communicated to Major-General Griffin, then present, who directed me to hold the ground we then occupied and to throw forward a strong skirmish line, which was promptly done. In the meantime Major Ashbrook (ordnance officer) issued to the regiments a supply of ammunition.

It was now about 5.30 p.m. Rapid firing had commenced on my right and to the rear, when, by direction of General Griffin, my line was changed to face northwest. A brigade of dismounted cavalry, commanded by Colonel Knowles (Twenty-first Pennsylvania Cavalry), formed on my left, facing west, and some of General Winthrop’s troops formed on my right, the right of his line resting on the Vaughan road. At dark General Winthrop received orders to withdraw his brigade from the position it was then holding and to form his line on the Vaughan road, when the command on the left devolved upon me, General Gregg having previously turned over the command to General Winthrop. At this juncture the cavalry also withdrew from the field, except one small company on our extreme left, picketing the Vaughan road, which remained on duty all night. Finding my troops the only occupants of the field, I at once proceeded to establish my picket-line, connecting on the right with General Ayres’ pickets at a point on the Vaughan road, and on the left with General Gregg’s cavalry. I then took up a new and more eligible line for defensive operations and remained under arms all night. Our casualties during the engagement were comparatively small, consisting of 1 officer and 3 enlisted men killed, 3 officers and 24 enlisted men wounded, and 1 officer and 4 enlisted men missing. The enemy’s loss was much greater.

On the morning of the 7th the enemy’s cavalry appeared on our left in considerable force, followed by a skirmish-line of infantry, which for a time seemed to threaten an attack. Sharp firing was kept up between the two lines of skirmishers for three-fourths of an hour, in which two of my men were severely wounded. I reported these facts immediately to Major-General Griffin, and, by his direction, to General Gregg, who immediately sent to the left a regiment of cavalry, and a battery of artillery was also sent to our support. About 7 a.m. a heavy rain and hail storm set in, when the enemy withdrew to cover of the woods. At 11 a.m. my brigade was relieved by General Gregg’s cavalry, and by orders from General Griffin we returned and reoccupied the works we had left on the previous day.

Among the officers who particularly distinguished themselves in the engagement I am happy to present the names of Colonel Erwin S. Jenney, of the One hundred and eighty-fifth Regiment New York Volunteers, and Major Erwin A. Glenn, of the One hundred and ninety-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, both of whom displayed great coolness on the field and ability in the management of their troops. Indeed, the conduct of all the field officers was unexceptionably good, as also of the line. My staff, consisting of Captain Francis B. Jones, brigade inspector, Lieutenant Thomas Mitchell, acting assistant adjutant-general, Lieutenant Theodore K. Vogel, aide-de-camp, and Lieutenant Amos. N. Seitzinger, acting pioneer officer, were all present on the field and rendered good service; particularly Captain Jones, who displayed upon this, as upon former occasions, a zeal, ability, and gallantry worthy of imitation, and I respectfully submit his case to the commanding general as especially deserving notice. Among those missing I regret the loss of that gallant and efficient officer, Major Robert P. Bush, of the One hundred and eighty-fifth New York Volunteers. He was lost on the evening of the 6th instant, while establishing the pickets a short distance west of the Vaughan road.

I am, captain, with great respect, your obedient servant,

H. G. SICKEL,
Brevet Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Captain G. M. LAUGHLIN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, First Division.

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 265-267

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