Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Mark Hinson.
The Fighting Around Petersburg- Further Particulars of the Flanking of Hancock’s Corps- Movements of the Two Armies.
From the Petersburg papers of yesterday [June 24, 1864] we make up the following summary:
The Flanking of Hancock’s Corps.
Officers who participated in the movement give the following account of the flanking of Hancock’s corps:
The column was composed of Wright’s (Georgia), Saunder’s (Alabama) and Mahone’s (Virginia) brigades. Wright occupying the centre, Mahone the right and Saunders (Wilcox’s old brigade) the left. The column commanded by General Mahone marched from camp about two o’clock, and struck the Yankee skirmishers in a skirt of woods near the house of Mr. George Baylie, (Now owned by Silvanus Johnson,) and distant only about 600 yards. The skirmishers returned rapidly before our advance, and we had moved through the woods only a half mile, before we encountered the enemy’s rifle pits. These were speedily cleared, and a mile further on we came across the Yankee line of breastworks, the enemy occupying it in large force, and drawn up in line of battle. Wright’s brave Georgians charged the breastworks with their usual impetuosity, delivering their volley at a distance of about seventy-five yards, and bounding forward with a yell. At the same time the brigades of Saunders and Mahone swung around on either side, and for a half hour the contest was quite severe. The enemy finding, however, that he was completely flanked, commenced to give way and hundreds threw down their guns and sued for quarter. Colonel Weisiger commanded the brigade of Mahone, and a member of General Wright’s staff informs us that the Colonel came into position beautifully, and handled his troops very skillfully. By 4 o’clock the contest was well nigh over with the following results:
Eight stands of colours, four beautiful three inch steel rifled guns, fifteen hundred stand of small arms, and one thousand seven hundred and forty-two prisoners, sixty-six of whom were commissioned officers, the number of prisoners we obtain from Major Bridgford, the courteous and efficient Provost Marshal of General Lee’s Army. The total number registered yesterday morning at his office was on thousand seven hundred and forty-two.
The prisoners are chiefly from the Second and Fourth brigades of Birney’s Division, Hancock’s Second Corps.
The colours were captured as follows: Two by Colonel V.D. Groner, Sixty-first Virginia; two by the Forty-first Virginia, Colonel Parham; one by the Eleventh Alabama, Colonel Taylor; one by the Third Georgia regiment, and one by the Third Georgia Battalion.
Another division, which moved out at early dawn and succeeded in getting very near to the rear of the enemy, unexpectedly encountered a mill pond and a morass, which prevented them from approaching as closely as was desired and intended. But this provoking circumstance, but few of Hancock’s Second corps would have escaped.
A Yankee General, who had stopped with several of his aids, at a small spring to procure water, narrowly escaped capture. His Adjutant and two aids were taken.
The engagement took place in a densely wooded country, and not a drop of water was to be had, our troops as well as the enemy suffering greatly for the need of it.
Our casualties were not heavy, and it is the opinion of an officer who participated that they will not exceed three hundred killed and wounded- We did not lose a prisoner.
Among the officers we learn that Colonel Shelly, of the Tenth Alabama, was killed; Captain Wynn Adjutant of Wilcox’s Old Brigade, was painfully wounded in the knee joint, and Ensign Shaw of the Eleventh Alabama, was killed; Captain T. G Williams of Nansemond, (Sixty-first Virginia) was killed. No more noble spirit has fallen in the sanguinary war than Captain Williams.
Movements on Wednesday
The movements of the enemy Wednesday [June 22, 1864] were confined exclusively to his extreme left, (our right) so far as we have been able to ascertain- Our forces having retired to their original line of breastworks during Wednesday, the enemy moved forward at an early hour, yesterday morning and about nine o’clock took possession at the Yellow Brick tavern, long known as the Six Mile house, on the old stage road. Their march was unopposed, and they immediately put out their pickets and proceeded to tear up the track, building fired and burning the sills and heating the iron. It is also stated that they are fortifying. Yesterday afternoon, a gentleman just from the vicinity informed us that the enemy’s pickets extended to Davis’ house, within two miles of Petersburg, and westerly towards the Appomattox River. A distance of two miles. Our troops were moving also and it is though that a battle is imminent.
The raiders struck the Petersburg and Weldon railroad Wednesday morning at half-past seven. They came up the road just below Oak Grove church, at Duval’s blacksmith shop; and are supposed to number about four thousand. They comprise the whole of Wilson’s division, who commands in person and is accompanied by Kautz and Speare. They remained at Reams’ some three hours and destroyed the water tanks, wood sheds and office. The track was also torn up for a distance of about one hundred and fifty yards. All the citizens in the vicinity were robbed of their bacon and horses, and such Negroes as manifested a willingness to accompany them were gladly welcomed. Buggies and carriages were also taken.- The rear guard of the enemy encountered by a portion of General W.H.F. Lee’s cavalry before they left Reams’ and a brief fight ensued, which resulted in the killing and capturing of some fifteen or twenty of the gang. It is stated that about one hundred and fifty were cut off here from the main command, and that there was a probability yesterday morning of their capture. That hope, however, has now vanished, since Grant’s infantry no occupy the railroad between Reams’ and Petersburg.
The raiders reached Dinwiddie Court House by twelve o’clock, and here their rear guard was overtaken again by our cavalry during the afternoon and another skirmish ensued, resulting in the capture of ten prisoners and thirteen horses. At Dinwiddie Court House the enemy stole all the horses and liberated the prisoners from jail.
During the afternoon of Wednesday, the raiders reached the Southside railroad, cut the wires and tore up the track between Ford’s depot and Wilson’s. At Wilson’s they burnt the depot, water tanks and two long trains of cars, with engines attached, belonging to Norfolk railroad. At the fifteen mile post, this side of Ford’s, they overturned about one and a half miles of railroad track.
From Prince George
Advices from Prince George Court House as late as yesterday [June 23, 1864] morning, state that the enemy then had an enormous wagon train at that point. This it was stated by officers, was to furnish the troops who are to invest Petersburg.
A Yankee Nest Broken Up.
For the past few days the enemy on our extreme left have occupied the residence of Captain J. Alexander Pace, in Prince George, known as “Green Croft” and opposites to the New Market race course. Here they have been luxuriating on fresh vegetables and ripe fruits and enjoying themselves hugely. Yesterday [June 23, 1864] one of our batteries determined to disturb the “happy family” and for this purpose most unceremoniously plunged a shell through the building. An eye witness informs us that bees never poured from a hive faster and in greater numbers than did the blue coats from this house. They swarmed in the yard, garden, and field adjacent. Three of our guns instead of one, now opened fire, and contributed greatly towards scattering the free loaders and freebooters. They have been very scarce in the vicinity of Green Croft since, except the dead and wounded, who at twilight last evening still remained.
The Colours and the Captors
There were five stands of colours captured Wednesday [June 22, 1864] by Mahone’s brigade, as follows: one by the Sixth Virginia, two by the Forty-first Virginia , and two by the Sixty-first Virginia. The following are the names of the captors: Lieutenant Howilleir, Company E, Sixth Virginia; Private William E. Fritchett, company F Forty-first Virginia; Private Coleman Hines, company I Forty-first Virginia; Lieutenant St. Julien Wilson, company C, Sixty-first Virginia; Sergeant Christopher Halstead, company K, Sixty-first Virginia.
A gentleman who left the vicinity of the Six Mile house at eight P.M. Thursday [June 23, 1864] evening reports that a hot musketry fight was progressing in that hour. Our forces had driven the enemy from the railroad, and appeared to be still pushing them as was indicated by the receding of the firing.1
- “The Fighting Around Petersburg.” Richmond Examiner. June 25, 1864, p. 2 col. 4-5 ↩