Report of Brigadier General Henry Baxter, U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade, Third Division, Fifth Army Corps, of operations February 5-7.1
HDQRS. SECOND BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, FIFTH CORPS,
February 16, 1865.
MAJOR: I have the honor to forward the following report of part taken by this brigade in late movement near Hatcher’s Run:
Brigade moved from camp on Jerusalem plank road in light marching order early on morning of 5th instant, First and Third Brigades in advance, marching west to Halifax road, thence south on said road about two miles, leaving this road to the left, still marching south, crossing Rowanty Creek and bearing westerly to Vaughan road and Gravelly Run farm. Here was directed by the general commanding division to halt, mass brigade, and await the passing of wagon train. After remaining about one hour, received orders to remain for the night and to guard well the approaches from all directions. The Thirty-ninth Massachusetts, Lieutenant-Colonel Tremlett, was immediately placed on picket, forming connection at Gravelly Run with pickets of Second Corps and extending to the left around our position to near Vaughan road. Detachments of Eleventh Pennsylvania were sent to guard approaches on left of Vaughan road, which were soon relieved by First Brigade, as was a portion of Colonel Tremlett’s line by Third Brigade having returned to this position. Remainder of brigade formed line of battle and bivouacked. Early on morning of 6th moved back, crossing Hatcher’s Run on Vaughan road about 8 a. m. and massing on north bank of stream. About 2 p. m. recrossed Hatcher’s Run, First and Third Brigades in advance, moving to the right, First Brigade soon encountering enemy’s pickets and driving them for near a mile to vicinity of Dabney’s Mill. I was directed to move forward and form connection with First Brigade, to form two regiments in extension of line of said brigade to left. Thirty-ninth Massachusetts and Sixteenth Maine were moved forward. Ninety-seventh New York, Eleventh Pennsylvania, and Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania formed to left and rear. The line immediately advanced, encountering a heavy fire, but succeeded in driving the enemy and occupying Dabney’s Mill. The rear line was immediately moved forward and the position held for some time, until, the enemy receiving heavy re-enforcements, we were pressed back some 200 yards, when it was checked and soon moved forward, reaching the position we had left. We were again forced back, the enemy being again heavily re-enforced, and the troops on our left being forced back, subjecting us to a galling flank fire. The line was again checked, about 200 yards to the rear, and the enemy checked in their advance. Was here directed to throw up a slight protection of logs, and succeeded in partially doing so. The brigade had expended all their ammunition and was awaiting a supply which had been ordered forward. It was near dark when a persistent attack was again made by the enemy, and the troops giving way on our left, the brigade fell back in some disorder. Brigade was massed on south side Hatcher’s Run and remained until morning of 7th. About 9 a. m. morning of 7th received orders to move out, taking advance of division and moving beyond work occupied by First Division toward Dabney’s Mill. On arriving outside of works was directed by the general commanding division to deploy double line of skirmishers, which was immediately done, the Thirty-ninth Massachusetts,
Lieutenant-Colonel Tremlett, in advance, and Eleventh Pennsylvania, Major Overmeyer, second line, with Sixteenth Maine, Ninety-seventh New York, Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania in line of battle. The line of skirmishers was at once moved forward, meeting enemy’s skirmishers and pressing them steadily back, line of battle closely following. Continued to move forward for a mile or more under a severe skirmish fire until within about 300 yards of enemy’s works and was directed to hold this position.
It became necessary to deploy remainder of line as skirmishers to right and left, receiving a severe fire on either flank. Remained in this position until near 6 o’clock, the men suffering severely from the cold storm which continued the entire day. The Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania, Lieutenant-Colonel Jack, of Third Brigade, had reported to me, and was held in reserve until an advance was ordered, when it moved forward with skirmishers, officers and men acquitting themselves with credit. Near 6 o’clock p. m. an attack by the division was made on the enemy’s works in our front. Skirmishers advanced about 100 yards supported by Third Brigade, and here encountered so severe a fire from enemy’s works was forced to retire, as was also Third Brigade. Again occupied same position as during the day. Was relieved from skirmish line about 9 p. m., a portion of the line by troops of a brigade of Sixth Corps, which had been moved up, and portion by Third Brigade. Formed line and threw up works about 400 yards from enemy’s works, connecting on right with Third Brigade and on left with brigade of Sixth Corps. One a. m. 8th moved to north side Hatcher’s Run, near Vaughan road, massed, and bivouacked. Colonel Tilden, Sixteenth Maine, received a painful wound on the 6th, rendering him unable to remain with his command, but although still suffering returned to his regiment on the morning of the 7th and remained with it, sustaining his well-earned reputation. Lieutenant-Colonel Haines, Eleventh Pennsylvania, commanding Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania, was seriously and dangerously wounded while gallantly leading his regiment on the 6th, proving himself a true soldier. Lieutenant-Colonel Spofford, Ninety-seventh New York, was wounded while directing and encouraging his men on the skirmish line on the 7th, which took him from the field. Lieutenant-Colonel Tremlett, Thirty-ninth Massachusetts, and Major Overmeyer, Eleventh Pennsylvania, did all that could be asked of the best soldier. Captain Cowdrey, assistant adjutant-general, was severely wounded on the 6th, depriving me of service which were performed with coolness and judgment. Captain Plummer, Sixteenth Maine, brigade inspector, and Lieutenant Leavitt, Sixteenth Maine, aide-de-camp, are entitled to favorable mention for energetic and prompt action and soldierly bearing before the enemy. Reference is made to regimental commanders’ reports, which are herewith forwarded, for mention of officers and men of their commands. I forward tabular statement of casualties.*
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Brigade.
Major E. C. BAIRD,
*Embodied in table, VOL. XLVI, Part I, p. 66.