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CT AG 64-65: Report of Lieutenant Colonel James F. Brown, 21st Connecticut, of operations September 3, 1864 to April 10, 1865

Report of Lieutenant Colonel James F. Brown, 21st Connecticut, of operations September 3, 1864 to April 10, 18651

Head-Quarters 21st Conn. Inf’ty.,
Richmond, Va., April 10th, 1865

Adjutant-General State of Connecticut.


In compliance with the requirements of your communication of February 6th, I have the honor to submit the following statement of the operations of this regiment since the date of my last report September 3rd, 1864.

We were then holding the Bermuda Hundred line of defences, and remained in that position until September 28th, when orders were received preparatory to a movement.

At 9 A. M., of that day, we were relieved by new troops, and immediately marched to the banks of the James, opposite Aiken’s Landing, where the column was halted until 2 A. M., of the 29th, when we commenced crossing the river upon a pontoon bridge, constructed during the night.

By 4 A. M., the troops were all over and massed in column by division, and in this order moved up the Varina road. After advancing a short distance, the enemy’s pickets were struck and six companies from this regiment forming the right of the 3rd brigade, were deployed to force them back and cover our left. This duty was most gallantly performed by them, while the remaining companies advanced

with the main column, which after passing a broad belt of woods, came in full view of the enemy’s works, still nearly a mile distant.

Without a moment’s delay the brigade moved to the position assigned it and advanced through a dense slashing, and under a heavy artillery fire to the assault. The enemy’s gun boats in the mean time dropped down the James and threw a heavy cross fire into the assaulting columns. No halt was made however until the troops reached a slight cover at the foot of the hill on which was situated the main work of the enemy, and less than a hundred yards from it. A moment was spent here in resting and re-forming the men and then with a shout they rushed into the ditch and over the parapet, and Fort Harrison with its garrison and armament of twenty-two pieces of heavy ordnance fell into the hands of the 1st division of the 18th Corps.

The colors of this regiment are officially reported “among the first on the rebel fortification.” The remainder of the day was spent in heavy skirmishing, but without any general engagement. The following day General Lee brought up three brigades of veterans from Petersburg to retake the Fort. We had improved the night in constructing temporary defensive works and the men waited behind them in the utmost confidence. Twice the enemy advanced to the assault and twice his columns were broken and routed, leaving several hundred on the field, and as many prisoners, with seven battle flags in our hands.

We have since retained undisputed possession of the Fort. After our lines had been properly strengthened, this regiment moved to the line of the 18th Corps in front of port Gilmer, where we remained, engaged in the routine of camp and picket duty until the last of October.

When General Grant moved on the enemy at Hatcher’s Run this regiment accompanied the portion of the army of the James that advanced to make a diversion on the right before Richmond. We reached the Williamsburg road without opposition, but in attempting to carry a line of strong earth works near Fair Oaks were unsuccessful. The object of the expedition having been accomplished, we withdrew and in obedience to orders from the Lieut. General, returned to camp on the following day. The proximity of our lines to the enemy’s works has compelled us to maintain the utmost vigilance and keep up a strong picket line to guard against surprise. This duty with the details for fatigue in corduroying, laying abattis, and building works, have occupied most of the winter months.

Nothing of importance has occurred during this time if I except occasional demonstrations on the part of the enemy which usually ended without advantage to either party.

I enclose a copy of the congratulatory order of General Butler to the soldiers of the army of the James, upon the capture of Fort Harrison, in which appear the names of some of the officers and men of this regiment. Justice requires me to state that others performed their duty with equal gallantry and distinction on that occasion. I cannot forbear mentioning the name of Captain H. R. Jennings, who was fatally wounded on the 29th of September no truer patriot or braver soldier than he, has fallen in defense of the nation’s life. He fell as a soldier would wish in the hour of victory, leaving a noble record for his comrades to emulate.

Annexed is a complete list of casualties, not previously reported. viz.:

K I L L E D .


Private, Samuel Vananken, Sept. 29, 1864.


Sergeant, Joseph Comstock, Sept. 29, 1864.
Private, Edward C. Arnold, Oct. 1, 1864.



Act’g Lieut. George P. Edwards, arm, severely,
Privates, Henry Wright, arm, severely.
A. A. Case, face, severely.


1st Lieut. W. S. Hubbell, back, severely.
Sergeant, D. P. Bradley, shoulder, slightly.
W. H. Wright, arm, slightly.
Privates, John Glynn, hand, slightly.
M. Jones, head, slightly.


Privates, Henry Pecor, leg, severely.
Ed. Woodmansee, hip, severely.


Private, F. A. Adams, hips, slightly.


1st Lieut., H. R. Jennings, breast, severely.
Private, W. F. Barber, shoulder, slightly.


Privates, J. D. Shepard, neck, mortally.
Charles H. Lane, breast, slightly.
John Weinler, hand, badly.


1st Lieut., E. Perry Packer, head, slightly.
Corporals, Orrin S. Rix, arm, slightly.
Charles A. Clark, slightly.
Charles C. Corey, head, dangerously.


Sergeant, E. W. Benton, arm slightly.


Corporal, H. A. Camp, arm, severely.
Private, E. D. Brown, breast, slightly.


Sergeant, H. S. Johnson, arm, severely.



Private, Fielder Whitehouse, Sept. 29, 1864.


Private, Charles W. Jones, Sept. 29, 1864.


Private, Noah Wilcox, Sept. 29, 1864.


KILLED, Enlisted Men, – – – – 3
WOUNDED, Commissioned Ofiicers, – – 3
Enlisted Men, – – – – 21
MISSING, Enlisted Men, – – – 3
Total, – – -30

I am, General,
Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,

J. F. Brown
Lt. Col. 21st Conn. Vols., Comm’g Reg’t


Extract from General Butler’s Order, referred to above.

“Acting Adjutant William P. Long, 21st Connecticut Volunteers, is recommended to his Excellency the Governor of Connecticut, for promotion, for gallantly planting his colors among the first on the rebel fortifications.

Corporal F. Clarence Buck, Company A, 21st Connecticut Sharpshooter Battalion, is recommended to the Secretary of War for a medal for courage. Although wounded in the arm, he refused to leave the field until the engagement closed. In addition he will have his warrant as Sergeant.”


  1. Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of Connecticut, for the Year Ending March 31, 1865 (New Haven: Carrington, Hotchkiss & Co., State Printers, 1865), pp. 401-405
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