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OR XL P1 #51: Report of Captain James Patton, 53rd PA, June 12-July 30, 1864

No. 51. Report of Captain James Patton, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Infantry.1

Near Petersburg, Va., August 7, 1864.

SIR: *


The march across the Chickahominy and James, and the operations in front of Petersburg up to the assault on the enemy’s position, July 30, 1864.

At 9 p. m. June 12 the command was ordered to march. Crossed the Chickahominy at Long Bridge, marched to near Charles City Court-House, and bivouacked for the night.


* For portion of report (here omitted) covering operations from May 3 to June 12, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p.423.


At 8 p. m. June 14 crossed the James River on transports and camped about one mile from the river on the south side.

At 10 a. m. June 15 marched, and on the morning of the 16th arrived in front of the enemy’s fortification at Petersburg. Line of battle was formed, with the regiment on the left of the line. The command was then ordered forward by Colonel Beaver, commanding brigade. In advancing through a corn-field the line was exposed to a severe fire from the enemy’s artillery. After advancing some distance a halt was ordered and breast-works were constructed. At 6 p. m. the regiment, in connection with the remainder of the brigade, was ordered to charge upon a rebel fort in our front. The troops advanced gallantly, breasting a murderous fire from the fort of the enemy. The line advanced nearly up to the fort, when it was found that the line was not strong enough to carry the enemy’s position. The troops were pressed so hard on the lines of the enemy that many of the command were taken prisoners. Those that were able to fall back formed promptly behind the earth-works that had been constructed in the morning.

June 17, the regiment was deployed as skirmishers.

On the 18th it was discovered that the enemy had vacated his position. The regiment advanced as skirmishers for about one mile and a half when the enemy was found in a fortified position. In the evening were relieved on the skirmish line and joined the remainder of the brigade.

On the 21st moved seven miles to the left of the line and erected breast-works.

On the afternoon of the 22nd moved forward through a dense wood and formed line. Soon it was discovered that the enemy had flanked us and were getting in our rear, and the command fell back to the line of entrenchments, with a slight loss in missing. Remained here until July 10, at 1 p. m., and then moved about half a mile to the left and went into camp in rear of the breast-works, remaining until 3 a. m. July 12, when we moved about two miles to the left and halted until 7 p. m. at the Williams house. Then moved out to near Reams’ Station, on the Weldon railroad, distance about three miles, and remained until 11 p. m., when we returned to the Williams house.

At 4.30 a. m. July 13 we took up the line of march for this place, arriving here at 11 a. m., where we remained until July 26, at 4 p. m., when we took up the line of march, crossing the Appomattox River at Point of Rocks and the James River at Jone’s Neck, arriving at the latter place at 3 a. m., and after marching about one mile from the river halted to rest. At 6 o’clock moved forward in line of battle. We did not become engaged with the enemy, although we were exposed to the shells from the enemy’s batteries.

On the evening of the 27th the regiment was detailed as support to the picket-line, where it remained until the evening of the 28th, when it was relieved and joined the rest of the brigade, where it was engaged in throwing up earth-works until daylight 29th. During the 29th remained in camp, and at dark, with the remainder of the brigade, took up the line of march, and crossing the James and Appomattox Rivers arrived in front of Petersburg at 5 a. m. July 30, where we remained until 8 p. m., when we received orders to march back to our former camp, where we are still encamped.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Veteran Vol., Commanding Regiment

Lieutenant J. WENDEL MUFFLY,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


  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 358-359
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