Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Brett Schulte.
The Late Advance of the Potomac Army—Our Troops Driven Back—They Recover their Lost Ground.
HEAD-QUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Feb. 7, P. M.—The fight near Hatcher’s Run, yesterday [February 6, 1865], was one of the severest that has taken place in this army for some time, and taking into consideration the unfavorable character of the country through which the troops had to move, and the large force opposing their advance, it is not strange the enemy should gain a temporary advantage.
The country from the crossing of the run to Dabney’s Mills is very woody, with swamps and ravines running through it in all directions, and the only road is a narrow by-road, not wide enough to allow two wagons to pass, and is in many places in very bad condition. Along this road the Indiana [Crawford’s Third] Division of the Fifth Corps advanced, supported by the First and Second, and also by a brigade of the Sixth.1
The enemy were driven to and beyond the mill on this road about two miles from the crossing line of breastworks. There were no less than four divisions of the enemy opposing them, viz., Mahone’s, Heath’s [sic, Heth’s], Pegram’s and Gordon’s old [Evans’] divisions, the latter three opposing the Fifth, while Mahone’s, acting independently, engaged Gregg on the Vaughn road for some time, when Gregg had his cavalry dismounted, and held his opponent back well, inflicting some loss.2
Mahone finding no chance to accomplish anything in this position, wheeled, and marching on a by-road running north-westwardly, struck the left flank of the Fifth Corps, doubling it up and causing it to fall back on the centre.3 The woods here being so thick as to render the formation of a continuous line impossible, the command became somewhat confused and the heavy fire which was poured in by Mahone’s men made things still worse, and in a few moments the entire line left their position, falling back rapidly towards the point whence they had started. The fear of being cut off at the crossing of the Vaughn road no doubt increased the confusion, and for a short time it seemed as though a regular panic had seized upon the men, but on reaching the open country near the Vaughn road and finding no enemy there and the bridges all safe in the possession of our own troops, they became reassured, and in a short time the greater part of the corps were in line ready to meet the enemy as soon as he should appear.
A few minutes after, when they did show themselves at the edge of the woods, they were met by such a storm of bullets as to send them back into the woods very quickly.
Our loss during the day amounts to about six hundred, and on Sunday [February 5, 1865] two hundred, making a total for two days of eight hundred killed, wounded and missing. The loss of the enemy is not known, but is believed to be fully as large as our own. We took altogether one hundred and eighty prisoners, including a number of officers.
Notwithstanding a severe storm of snow and rain which set in last night and continued all day [February 7, 1865], freezing as it fell, the Third Division of the Fifth Corps advanced to the point it reached yesterday [February 6, 1865] at Dabney’s Mill, driving the Rebels before them, and into their works beyond.
The casualties in this affair have as yet not been reported, but are said to be very few.
This was all the fighting done to-day [February 7, 1865].
Our permanent lines now extend from what was formerly the extreme left at Fort Cummings, on the Squirrel Level road, to and across Hatcher’s Run, at Armstrong’s Mill, with the advance well out towards Dabney’s Mill, a distance of about four miles, all of which ground has been wrested from the enemy in the past three days, and makes the line much safer and more formidable than before.
As soon as the weather permits, further active movements will no doubt take place in this vicinity, and one or two more like the last will bring us within easy striking distance of the Southside Railroad, which, it is hoped, will soon be in our possession.
Captain Fobes, Division Commissary to Gregg’s Cavalry, was last night thrown from his horse, on the Corduroy road, near Hancock’s Station, and was so badly injured that his life is despaired of. Few officers in the service stand higher than Captain Fobes, and his loss will be severely felt in the service as well as regretted by a large circle of friends. W. D. McG.4
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Hubbard’s 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Sixth Corps was the brigade which advanced briefly very near the fight at Dabeny’s Mill on February 6, 1865. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: The article is correct on the Confederate divisions which were present at Hatcher’s Run, but not on the details of the two fights. Gregg faced two brigades of Pegram’s Division and W. H. F. Rooney Lee’s cavalry division on the Vaughan Road. Warren faced Pegram, Evans, and Mahone near Dabney’s Mill. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: As far as I know, Mahone’s men were not ever in the fight against Gregg. This is incorrect. ↩
- “Grant. The Late Advance of the Army of the Potomac…” Philadelphia Inquirer. February 10, 1865, p. 4, col. 3 ↩