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OR XL P1 #22: Report of Brigadier General Nelson A. Miles, commanding First Brigade June 12-July 30, 1864

Numbers 22. Report of Brigadier General Nelson A. Miles. U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade.1

October 30, 1864.


Crossed the Chickahominy at Long Bridge [June 12] and reached the James River, near Wilcox’s Wharf, at 5 p. m. on the 13th; went into position, covering the landing, and threw up breast-works.


* For portion of report (here omitted) covering operation from May 3 to June 12, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p. 37O.


On the 14th, at midnight, crossed the James River on transports and bivouacked near Wind-Mill Point until noon (15th), when we marched toward Petersburg, arriving in rear of Eighteenth Corps in front of the city at 3 a. m. of the 16th. At 4 p. m. the brigade was formed on the right of the division line and charged on the enemy’s entrenched line, carrying the first line of rifle-pits and gaining a position within 250 yards of his second line, which position was held.

On the morning of the 18th we advanced and took the enemy’s line of breast-works, which he had evacuated during the night, and moved onto a position near the Norfolk railroad, our left connecting with the Ninth Corps and our right with the Fourth Brigade. Remained in this position until the 20th, when we were relieved by troops of the Ninth Corps, moved to the rear, and went into camp in reserve.

June 21, marched with the division toward the left, across the Jerusalem plank road, and advanced toward the Weldon toward the Weldon railroad; built breast-works, in which we lay all night.

On the morning of the 22nd continued the advance toward the railroad, the brigade forming the left of the division. The enemy attacked the other three brigades, which were advanced, and by direction of General Barlow the brigade returned to the breast-works occupied during the night in time to repulse a charge by the enemy. His attack was made with great determination, but it was repulsed and the enemy driven back. We remained in this position until the 27th, when the brigade was moved into camp near the Jones house, where it remained until the 13th of July, when it moved to the right and rear, and encamped in reserve near the Deserted House.

On the 26th of July the brigade again broke camp and marched to the right, crossing the Appomattox and James Rivers, arriving at Deep Bottom at 3 a. m. the 27th.

On the morning of the 28th advanced first with a skirmish line composed of the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers, Twenty-eighth Massachusetts Volunteers, One hundred and eighty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, and Twenty-sixth Michigan Volunteers, the remainder of the brigade in line. The skirmish line carried the enemy’s line of works, capturing four 20-pounder Parrott guns.

On the 29th we threw up breast-works, in which we lay until dark, when we recrossed the James River, and marching all night took up position in support of the Ninth Corps. Here we remained during the unsuccessful assault on the enemy’s works on the morning of the 30th of July, when we were withdrawn and returned to our former camp near the Deserted House.

In my report of this eventful campaign I deem it a part of my duty to mention a few of the many meritorious officers who acted a conspicuous part with this brigade. Colonel H. Boyd McKeen, commanding Eighty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, an officer of great ability and distinction, both in camp and on the field, a gentleman of high-toned character, who had served in this brigade since its organization and participated in every engagement, commanded his regiment up to the engagement at Totopotomoy Creek, when he was detailed to the command of a brigade in the Second Division, and fell mortally wounded at the battle of Cold Harbor, June 3, at the head of his brigade, near the enemy’s works. Captain McCullough, a very gallant and promising young officer, commanding the One hundred and fortieth Pennsylvania Volunteers, was killed at Totopotomoy Creek. Lieutenant-Colonel Saviers, commander of the Twenty-sixth Michigan Volunteers, a very

accomplished and worthy officer, was severely wounded at the assault at Spotsylvania, may 12, and permanently disabled. Colonel John Fraser, One hundred and fortieth Pennsylvania Volunteers; Colonel Whistler, Second New York Artillery; Colonel C. E. Hapgood, Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers; Lieutenant Colonel K. O. Broady, Sixty-first New York Volunteers, gallant and accomplished officers, were all wounded during the campaign. Lieutenant John B. Hallenbeck, aide-de-camp on my staff, a brave young officer, of singular ability, and a courteous gentleman, was of great assistance to me during the entire campaign herein reported, and contracted a fever in the performance of his duties, of which he has since died. Lieutenant robertson, aide-de-camp, was severely wounded at Totopotomoy Creek, and has been obliged to leave the service. Captain Church, Twenty-sixth Michigan Volunteers, brigade inspector, was also of great service, and has since been made major of his regiment.

I transmit herewith nominal lists of the casualties sustained, together with tabular statement of the same; also the reports of regimental commanders of the operations of their respective commands.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General of Volunteers.

Captain W. R. DRIVER,

Assistant Adjutant-General, First Division.


  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XL, Part 1 (Serial Number 80), pages 332-334
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