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OR XL P1 #43: Report of Captain Nelson Penfield, 125th NY, June 12-July 30, 1864

No. 43. Report of Captain Nelson Penfield, One hundred and twenty-fifth New York Infantry.1

Near Petersburg, Va., August 8, 1864.

SIR: *


We left our position near Cold Harbor at 8 o’clock on the night of the 12th of June and marched all night. We rested about two hours next morning and then took up the line of march, crossing the Chickahominy about 10 a. m. and reaching our position near Charles City Court-House about 5 p. m. We remained here during the 14th throwing up earth-works.

At 3 a. m. of the 15th we took transports at Moore’s [Wilcox’s] Landing and crossed over the James to Wind-Mill Point. We moved at noon and marched until midnight and then lay down until 3 o’clock of the 16th, when we moved again and marched into position on front of Petersburg.

The regiment, with the division, was on the left of the line during the 16th of June; was moved to the right about 6 p. m. and was closed en masse, and with the corps charged upon the enemy. The brigade led in the charge, the regiment being in the first line. It moved through some woods down into a deep ravine, up a hill and down into another and worse ravine, and up another hill on Shands’ farm, where it halted. We lost quite heavily here. losing some 41 in all, as follows.+

We remained in the position taken on the 16th during the 17th and 18th. The brigade was moved to the right during the night of the 17th, excepting the regiment, which was left to support a battery. The regiment was moved to the right the night of the 18th, and was employed all night building breast-works.

We fell back with the corps on the night of the 19th, and were moved about 9 a. m. of the 20th [21st] some six miles to the left. When we came near the Weldon railroad skirmishers were thrown out, and in the skirmishing that followed the regiment lost 6 men, as follows.++

The men were moved from point during the night of the 21st, and were occupied also in building breast-works.

About 2 o’clock on the afternoon of the 22nd of June we moved with the corps out of the breast-works into the woods. We moved forward about a mile, the enemy retiring before us. The whole regiment ex-


* For portion of report (here omitted) covering operations from May 3 to June 12, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI., Part I, p. 403

+ Nominal list (omitted) shows 2 officers and 10 enlisted men killed, and 1 officer and 28 enlisted men wounded.

++Nominal list (omitted) shows 1 officers and 3 enlisted men wounded and 2 enlisted men missing.


cepting the colors was sent on the skirmish line. This line was flanked and was forced to fall back. We lost in this affair some 39 [38] officers and men, as follows.*

We went into camp behind the breast-works at this place and remained until the morning of July 12, when, after destroying the works thrown up at this point, we fell back a few miles. We remained here during the day, and at night went out as support to the cavalry near Ream’s Station; returned during the night and went into camp next day near Petersburg, Va. Were employed on fatigue duty here until the 26th of July, when we broke camp in the afternoon between 3 and 4 o’clock and marched until 3 a. m. of the 27th, crossing the Appomattox at Point of Rocks and James River at Deep Bottom.

Occupied our assigned place in line of battle a. m. of the 27th, but met with no casualties.

Recrossed the James on the night of the 29th; marched all night, reaching position near Petersburg about 5 a. m. of the 30th. Took no part in the battle fought on that day. About 8 p. m. took up the line of march for our old camp.

The regimental colors are torn by the rough usage of the march and battle-field, so that but about one-third remains clinging with ragged hands to the staff.

The regiment left Stevensburg with 365 men; we have now 140 left; to this number some have been added on the march, but those that remain, with brave hearts and strong hands, relying on God’s providence, will uphold, defend, and carry forward the old flag, until the cause it represent is fully triumphant.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain, Commanding.

Lieutenant I. H. WILDER, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


* Nominal list (omitted) shows 1 officer (died June 26) and 6 enlisted men wounded and 2 officers and 29 enlisted men missing.



  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 352-353
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  • Linda Milks August 3, 2016, 11:09 pm

    My ancestor David Milk was killed on June 16, 1864 at Petersburg with the 125th NY. He is probably one of the 10 enlisted men listed as killed (“+ Nominal list (omitted) shows 2 officers and 10 enlisted men killed”). Does any body know what happened to the bodies of those killed? Where they shipped home or buried nearby? Perhaps they were reburied at a national cemetery close by? I am trying to discover where he may have been buried. Thanks

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