No. 78. Reports of Brigadier General P. Regis de Trobriand, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade.1
HDQRS. FIRST BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, 2nd CORPS, October 20, 1864.
At 8 p. m. of the 12th of June the brigade again moved to the left, crossing the Richmond and York River Railroad near Dispatch Station at 9 p. m. of the 13th instant, crossing the Chickahominy River at Long Bridge at 12 m., and arriving at the north bank of the James River near Wilcox’s Landing at 6 p. m.
At 10 a. m. 14th instant crossed the James River on transports, and massed near the river about two miles above Wilcox’ Landing. Remained here for the night, with the Fortieth New York on picket.
At about 10 a. m. 15th instant marched toward Petersburg, and at night bivouacked behind rebel fortifications which had that day been captured from the enemy by the Eighteenth Corps.
On the morning of the 16th instant, at daylight, the enemy opened upon us with their batteries, killing and wounding a considerable number of the brigade. The brigade was at once formed, and an assaulting column, consisting of the Seventeenth Maine and Twentieth Indiana Volunteers, was ordered to charge and take the enemy’s works in our front. An advance was made, but the position being one of great strength and held by a large force, it was found impossible to carry it. The line was reformed, and a second attempt, with a larger force, was unsuccessful. The enemy were too strong and their position impregna-
* For portion of report (here omitted) covering operations from May 3 to June 12, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p. 468.
ble to the small force brought against it. The gallantry of the charging party was not equal to taking a position which a whole division afterward failed to carry. The brigade then formed a line at right angles to the line deserted by the enemy. Here Colonel Egan, commanding brigade, was severely wounded, and Colonel Madill, One hundred and forty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, assumed command of the brigade. This position the brigade held until 5 p. m. 16th instant, when it was relieved by a portion of Colonel Brewster’s brigade, of the Second Division,* when this brigade moved to the right, taking position in the works as support of an attacking column. This position it held until the morning of the 17th instant, when it moved out to the advance line of works.
At daylight of the 18th instant advanced upon the enemy’s works and found them deserted. A portion of the brigade immediately advanced to within 200 yards of the enemy’s new line and intrenched themselves, while the remainder of the brigade was employed in turning the works abandoned by the enemy. At 1 p. m. the brigade advanced and formed line near the Hare house, preparatory to making a charge. At 4.30 p. m. of the 18th instant a general assault on the enemy’s line was made by our forces, resulting in no decided success. The brigade then took a position in the second line, where it remained until dark, and then moved to the front and erected a new line of breastworks. This position the brigade held until 11 p. m. of the 20th, when it was relieved by a division of colored troops of the Ninth Corps, and withdrew behind the first line of captured works.
At 9 o’clock of the 21st the brigade moved to the left and took position on the left of the Jerusalem plank road about 3 p. m. At 11 p. m. moved to the front and relieved a brigade of the First Division, and early on the morning of the 22nd moved to the right, to fill up a gap occasioned by the Second Brigade moving to the front.
At 3.30 a. m. on the 23rd the brigade formed in line of battle, and at daylight advanced to a position formerly held by the Second Brigade. At 5 p. m. relieved from this position, moved to the left and relieved a portion of the First Division.
At 9 a. m. of the 24th the brigade moved to the right and commenced to construct works on front and rear of division headquarters, but the order was countermanded before the works [were] completed.
On the evening of the 26th instant the brigade move out and occupied the works build on the 23rd instant. This position was held until daylight of the 27th instant, when a portion of the brigade returned to its former position in the second line. At 1 p. m. of the 29th instant the reserve of the brigade was moved out to the front line and established a temporary camp behind the works. The Seventy-third New York Volunteer, numbering —, were here transferred to this brigade July 6. The brigade lay in this position until the night of July 11, when, after having leveled the works in its front, the brigade, with the remainder of the division, moved to the left of the Jerusalem plank road, where it remained until daylight of the 13th instant, when it moved to the rear of the Fifth Corps and went into camp in the woods. Here Brigadier-General De Trobriand, U. S. Volunteers, was assigned to command the brigade per orders from army headquarters. The brigade remained in this camp doing fatigue duty alternately with the other brigades and divisions of the corps most of the time until 5 p. m. of the 26th instant, when the brigade marched rapidly to the James
* Brewster’s brigade belonged to the Third Division.
River, crossing on pontoon bridge about 3.30 a. m. of the 27th instant, at a point called Deep Bottom. On arriving at the north bank of the James the brigade immediately took position behind a wood near by, with the front and right properly protected by one regiment forming a line of pickets down to the river. Two regiments were sent forward to feel the woods occupied by the enemy and to connect with the First Division, then advancing on our left. The two regiments were soon hotly engaged and another regiment was sent up to their support. At the same time two regiments were sent to hold an important position in and around a house situated on the center of the advanced line, keeping in reserve four regiments. The enemy were soon routed, and the brigade advanced about on mile and a half and formed a strong picket-line, covering the flank of the corps from the left of the main line, keeping in reserve four regiments. The enemy were soon routed, and the brigade advanced about one mile and a half and formed a strong picket-line, covering the flank of the corps from the left of the main line to the river. This position was kept for twenty-four hours, when on the afternoon of the 28th instant the brigade was relieved by General Miles’ brigade, of the First Division, and joined the remainder of the division near the pontoon bridge. During the night the brigade marched back to Petersburg and halted in rear of the line of the Eighteenth Corps, near the Appomattox.
On the evening of the 29th the brigade relieved Turner’s division, of the Tenth Corps, in the front line near Hare’s house, and held that position during the assault following the explosion of a mine on the 30th July.
Much might be said, no doubt, concerning the gallantry and daring acts of many brave officers and soldiers of this brigade, who have given their lives for their country’s cause during the eventful campaign, but as justice could not be done I will mention none of them.
This brigade changed commanders three times during the campaign, and its present commander being the fourth, and the present assistant adjutant-general having been lately assigned to this brigade, a full detail of the several positions taken cannot be given with accuracy.
R. DE TROBRIAND,
Captain J. P. FINKEMEIER,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Division, Second Corps.
HDQRS. FIRST BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, 2nd CORPS, September 26, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the First Brigade, Third Division, Second Corps, in the active operations in the north bank of the James River near Deep Bottom, from the 26th to the 30th of July last:
On Tuesday, the 26th, the brigade broke camp in the afternoon, and by a night march reached Deep Bottom on the 27th at daybreak, crossed the James River on a pontoon bridge, and by 6 o’clock took position behind a wood near by, our front and right properly protected by the Fortieth New York Volunteers, forming a line of pickets down to the river. In compliance with orders from General Mott, commanding division, I soon sent forward the Ninety-ninth and One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, under command of Lieutenant Colonel E. R. Biles, of the Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to feel the woods occupied by the enemy and connect with the First Division, then advanc
ing on our left. Those two regiments were soon hotly engaged, and I had them re-enforced by the Seventy-third New York Volunteers, filling the gap between the right of the One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania Volunteers and the left of the Fortieth New York Volunteers. At the same time I sent the One hundred and forty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers and the Second U. S. Sharpshooters to hold an important position in and around a house situated on the center of my advance line, keeping in reserve the Seventeenth Maine Volunteers, Twentieth Indiana, Eighty-sixth and One hundred and twenty-fourth New York Volunteers. The enemy was driven back on our left with a loss of 4 guns, and a rebel battery which had opened on my reserve was soon silenced by our artillery and disappeared in the woods. The ninety-ninth and One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and part of the Seventy-third New York Volunteers, having advanced on the retreating enemy, the balance of the brigade soon followed the movement, and was ordered to form a strong picket-line covering the flank of the corps from the right of our line of battle to the river. This position we kept during twenty-four hours, when on the afternoon of the 28th we were relieved by General Miles’ brigade, of the First Division near the pontoon bridge. During the night the division marched back to Petersburg and halted in the rear of the line of the Eighteenth Corps, near the Appomattox.
On the evening of the 29th my brigade relieved Turner’s division, of the Tenth Corps, in the front line near Hare’s house, and held that position during the assault following the explosion of a mine on the 30th of July.
R. DE TROBRIAND,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding.
Captain J. P. FINKELMIER,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Division.
- 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 390-393 ↩