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NP: February 9, 1865 Philadelphia Inquirer: Army of the Potomac Feb. 5-6, 1865 (Hatcher’s Run)

Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Brett Schulte.

Army of the Potomac.


The Movement of February 5th




Engagement of the Fifth Corps with the Enemy




3d Division Encounters the Rebels in Force




The Union Loss from 300 to 500 Men.




Gens. Gregg and Davis Wounded.




The Details of the Movement.







Monday, Feb. 6, 11 P. M.—Writing at this same hour last night, the hope was expressed that to-day [February 6, 1865] would prove a decisive one in the present movement against the Rebel right, but the event was not ratified. Taken as a whole, the day has not been auspicious, although our line against the defenses of the Boydtown [sic, Boydton Plank] road has been perfected, the victory of Smyth, last night [February 5, 1865], has secured our right from further molestation, and the army is in much better position for offensive operations than it was on yesterday [February 5, 1865]. Before narrating the occurrence of to-day [February 6, 1865], the history of yesterday must be completed. In my letter of last night the cavalry operations were but hinted at, not sketched.

Leaving his camp at 3 A. M., General [David McM.] Gregg yesterday morning [February 5, 1865] moved via Ream’s station to Malone Bridge, over the Rowanty River. Up to this point no enemy whatever was met, but here the Thirteenth Virginia Cavalry was encountered, and the result of a brisk skirmish that ensued was the capture of a few prisoners and the discomfiture of the enemy so suddenly, that the bridge was saved. After crossing the Rowanty, Gregg moved up the south side of the great Cattail Creek to Dinwiddie Court House without opposition.

Learning that the Rebel wagon train had passed up the Boydtown [sic, Boydton Plank] road, a few moments previously, a party was sent in pursuit, and a short distance beyond it was overtaken and captured. The train consisted of some forty wagons with four mules each, and was unloaded, having been en route for North Carolina for forage when turned back by our advance. After the capture of this train General Gregg lay quiet for some hours, at Dinwiddie, awaiting the coming up of the Fifth Corps, and in the meantime sent out scouting parties, which demonstrated that there was not, yesterday at noon, any Rebel force south of Hatcher’s Run.

Pegram’s and Hoke’s1 Divisions had been camped four miles above Dinwiddie, but early in the morning  had been withdrawn to the north side, and it was these same Divisions that struck General Smyth so heavily late in the afternoon.2 In Pegram’s old camp our cavalry came upon another small wagon train, making the second secured during the day, and at Dinwiddie made prisoners of Colonel William J. Clark and Adjutant O. D. Cooke, both of the Twenty-fourth North Carolina. Late in the afternoon the Fifth Corps coming up Gregg moved northwest, covering the flank, until General Warren had effected a junction with Mott’s left, as narrated yesterday.

To-day [February 6, 1865] the cavalry has well sustained its high reputation, but the late hour in the day in which events occurred prevents more than a sketch, which remark is true of our operations generally. During the most of the morning Gregg, in common with the rest of the army, did comparatively little; but in the afternoon two of his brigades, those of Colonel [J. Irvin] Gregg and General [Henry E.] Davis [sic, Davies], were dismounted, and advanced against the enemy’s infantry skirmish line, which they drove in gallant style for some distance.

The scene of exploits, as well as of the mishap of the day, being on the south side of Hatcher’s Run, and on the west side of the Vaughn Road. Our right flank being protected by the stream for the time, it seemed possible that the cavalry alone could drive the Rebel line to the Boydtown [sic, Boydton Plank] road, but if any one entertained the opinion they were doomed to disappointment.

Obliquing gradually to the right, maintaining all the time a brisk fight, the brigades of Gregg and Davis [sic, Davies] were finally relieved by the Fifth Corps. During this gallant action Brevet Brigadier-General Irwin Gregg, commanding one of the brigades, was severely wounded, and rumor says General Davis [sic, Davies]also, but the truth or falsity of the report has not been ascertained. Major Tremaine, of the staff of Major-General Gregg, was wounded badly in the foot, and many equally valuable officers of the field and line have been lost. The cavalry have every reason to be proud of their action to-day. The Fifth Corps arrived in position to-day, after a tedious and circuitous march, but one in which it encountered no stubborn resistance form the enemy, until nearing the Boydtown [sic, Boydton Plank] road, the only serious resistance yesterday [February 5, 1865] being overcome by Gen. Gwynnes’ [sic, Gwyn’s] Brigade of Ayres’ Division, at the crossing of the Rowanty.

General Warren moved northwest after crossing, and having made a junction with the Second Corps last night, nothing more was done until this afternoon, the morning being occupied in getting into position, and here it is necessary to say a word of our lines, as finally established. General Smyth still holds the extreme right at Armstrong House, the scene of his brilliant fight of yesterday [February 5, 1865], precisely where General Mott was this afternoon. A skirmish line of the Fifth Corps was unexpectedly found joining Smyth on the south side of the run; first came the division of General Crawford, next, Ayres, and finally Griffin’s, General Warren being on the field handling these three divisions.

Our line as thus formed ran nearly North and South, facing West, and the object doubtless being to swing around the left until it should cross the Boydtown [sic, Boydton Plank] road, the advance of this portion of the line threw the burden of the fighting of the day upon it. The part performed by the cavalry on this ground has already been told, and after its withdrawal the Fifth Corps steadily advanced for some time, taking two of the enemy’s field works in its progress.

All had proceeded favorably  until about half-past five P. M., when the mischance of the day suddenly deranged our programme and compelled General Meade to spend the few remaining moments of daylight in reforming his line. This mishap can be told in a very few words. An onset by the enemy with a heavy volley of musketry, accompanied by the invariable Yei, yei, yei, of the Rebel ranks, resulted in the giving way of the right brigade of Crawford’s Division [Morrow’s 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac].

In a moment’s time the whole aspect of affairs was temporarily changed. The brigades of Baxter and Bragg were also borne back of necessity by this defection on their right, but they came in good order, with their faces to the foe, and it was well they did, for the Rebels, seeing the flight of our right, evidently imagined they had worked our utter discomfiture and pressed us with vigor. Their often repeated yells were not calculated to animate the fugitives who already crowded the Vaughn road, and who were only stopped by lines of cavalry across the road. Other and more efficient succor was at hand in Wheaton’s Division of the Sixth Corps, which had just crossed Hatcher’s Run as a support, and with its aid our broken line was immediately reformed and again pushed forward, the Rebels on becoming aware of this state of affairs retiring behind their works.

The cause of this stampede is undeveloped. The brigade has always had a good reputation, and its sudden collapse this evening is hence unaccountable. There are many rumors afloat of no cause at all, of flanking, of massing of overwhelming numbers upon them; but having no time to-night to investigate these rumors, and being entirely free of any desire to do injustice to the brigade, time is taken for consideration of the affair.

Our losses so far have not been heavy. Yesterday [February 5, 1865] they were under one hundred, Smyth’s loss being only sixty-five; to-day [February 6, 1865] it will probably fall under three hundred, being confined principally to the cavalry and the Fifth Corps. What was lost in prisoners when the line broke, is thought to be small. The Rebel loss yesterday was somewhat over-estimated; it is thought to-day that it did not exceed six or seven hundred.

An amend must be added to the account of yesterday’s [February 5, 1865] fight. McAllister’s Brigade of Watt’s [sic, Mott’s] Division was brought forward by Gen. Humphreys to Smyth’s aid, and that gallant soldier gladly acknowledged their efficient service in maintaining his position, which, assaulted as it was by Hoke and Pegram, could scarcely have been held by his own division.

Generally, while a crowning victory cannot be chronicled to-night, we have met with no serious repulse. Our line is still maintained, and in better position than in the morning.

Whether the determined attempt for the Boydton road and the Southside Railroad is intended yet is a matter for conjecture. But in this event it is sufficiently plain that to-morrow or next day must bring on a general engagement, the Rebels still holding with their old tenacity to their lines defending those roads.

The weather continues clear, though somewhat uncomfortably cool, but the troops are undergoing no very severe hardships by reason of their present winter campaign. 3

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  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: Hoke’s Division was gone.  It had headed for North Carolina to protect Wilmington earlier.  Crapsey probably means Heth’s Division, or one of the other Second Corps divisions, or he is simply mistaken.
  2. SOPO EDitor’s Note: This is incorrect.  Pegram’s Division was south of Hatcher’s Run nearer to Dinwiddie Court House.  Heth’s Division and Evans’ Division struck Smyth on the late afternoon of February 5, 1865.
  3. “Army of the Potomac. The Movement of February 5th…” Philadelphia Inquirer.  February 9, 1865, p. 1, col. 1-3
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