No. 82. Report of Brigadier General Byron R. Pierce, U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade, of operations July 26-30.1
HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., THIRD DIV., 2nd ARMY CORPS, September 30, 1864.
SIR: In obedience to circular from headquarters Third Division, Second Army Corps, dated September 24, 1864, I respectfully submit the following report of the operations of this brigade, with a list of casualties, from the 26th to include the 30th of July, 1864:
The 26th of July this brigade was commanded by Brigadier General B. R. Pierce, and comprised the following regiments: First U. S. Sharpshooters, Ninety-third New York Volunteers, Fifth Michigan, Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania, One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania, Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania, First Maine Heavy Artillery, and First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery.
At 4 p. m. July 26 the brigade received orders to move. General Pierce being ill at the time, was obliged to relinquish command, and Colonel D. Chaplin, First Maine Heavy Artillery, assumed command.
At 5 p. m. of the 26th the command left its position at the left of the line of works and in rear of the Fifth and Ninth Corps, and marched all the night following, moving first toward City Point, diverging to the left near Commissary Station, crossing the Appomattox River at Point of Rocks, reaching Jones’ Landing at 4 a. m. the 27th.
July 27, crossed the James River at Deep Bottom at 5 a. m. Halted one hour for breakfast; then formed line of battle in the woods to the left of the Burnt Chimneys, and facing Strawberry Plains. Here the brigade was subjected to quite a severe artillery fire. Our skirmishers being engaged with the enemy in the edge of the woods, half a mile distant, the Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers and First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery were ordered as a support. They advanced through a ravine under a heavy artillery fire and halted within a few rods of the skirmish line, where they remained until about 2 p. m., and then joined the brigade. The enemy were driven from their position without the assistance of this command. Soon after the brigade was ordered to a position on the extreme right of the Second Corps, connecting on our right with the cavalry. From this position we marched by the left flank and formed a new line through a piece of woods, our left connecting with the right of the First Division, while the right rested near the New Market road. At sunset of the same day the line was again changed farther to the left and rear of the position just vacated, where we remained during the night.
On the 28th the First Maine Heavy Artillery was transferred to the First Brigade, and the One hundred and forty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers assigned to this brigade. This occasioned another change of commanders, Colonel H. J. Madill, One hundred and forty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, assuming command. In the afternoon of the 28th the command was marched farther to the rear and formed line of battle along the earth-works taken from the enemy on the morning of the 27th instant. These were immediately reversed in anticipation of an attack from the enemy. At dark of the same day orders were received to march out immediately. This was done, and the command recrossed the James River on pontoon bridges at Deep Bottom en route for the front of Petersburg, where we arrived by daybreak of the 29th. The troops were massed at the rear and right of the Eighteenth Corps, in
which position we remained during the day. At dark the same day, in accordance with orders received, the brigade marched to the left and took a position to the left of the City Point railroad in the front line of entrenchments, relieving a portion of the Eighteenth Corps, our right connecting with the left of the Third Brigade and our left with the right of the First Brigade. In the mean time the First U. S. Sharpshooters were assigned to duty pro tem. with the Eighteenth Corps. Joined the command again at 8 p. m., the 30th.
During the assault upon the enemy’s works by a portion of the army July 30 this brigade did not become engaged, except by brisk firing from the entrenchments, which was kept up during the day. On the evening of the 30th the brigade was relieved by a part of the Eighteenth Corps and marched to our old position of July 25 on the left of the line.
List of casualties: First U. S. Sharpshooters, 1 killed, 1 wounded, on 30th instant; Fifth Michigan, 1 wounded, on 30th instant; One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania, 2 wounded – 1 on 27th, 1 on 30th instant.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. PIERCE,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers.
Captain JOHN P. FINKELMEIER,
Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Second Army Corps.
- 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 399-400 ↩