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OR XL P1 #94: Report of Captain Thomas C. Godfrey, 5th NJ, June 14-July 30, 1864

Numbers 94. Report of Captain Thomas C. Godfrey, Fifth New Jersey Infantry.1

HEADQUARTERS FIFTH NEW JERSEY VOLUNTEERS, Camp near Petersburg, Va., August 9, 1864.



June 14, crossed the James River from Wilcox’s Landing to Wind-Mill Point, and after marching some two miles bivouacked for the night.


*For portion of report (here omitted) covering operations from May 4 to June 13, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p. 496.


15th, at 11.20 moved in the direction of Petersburg, and at about 12.30 on the morning of the 16th arrived at the Dunn house, front of Petersburg, and at 6.20 a. m. moved up to the works and reversed them, and after occupying them until about 5.30 p. m. formed line for attack, and at 6 advanced about three-quarters of a mile, where we were stubbornly resisted by the enemy and were severely engaged until 3 o’clock on the morning of the 17th, when we were relieved, leaving a picket-line, losing in killed and wounded 34. On the night of the 17th again went on picket and remained until 4 a. m. on the morning of the 18th, when the regiment advanced as a skirmish line, and halted at the Hare house, where we remained until 6 p. m., being under fire all day with a loss of 6 killed and wounded. Returned and joined the brigade at 8 p. m., and bivouacked in the woods in the rear of the Hare house until the 20th, when we marched near to the Doctor Bryant house, where we bivouacked for the night, losing 3 men wounded. On the 21st marched to the left of the Second Division and threw up breast-works. On the morning of the 22nd advanced about 900 yards in front of the breast-works, and after lying in this position for two hours, changed front and was in that position until about 3 p. m., when the enemy suddenly appeared on our left flank, causing the troops on our left to become panic-stricken, and in the general stampeded that followed the whole line fell back to the breast-works. Every effort was made to stay the flying troops, but all efforts proved utterly futile and of no effect. Ten men were here lost in wounded and missing. We remained behind these breast-works until July 12, when we leveled them and moved in the rear of the Fifth Corps, where we remained doing fatigue duty until July 26, when we took up line of march for James River, which we crossed about daylight on the morning of the 27th, and halted near Deep Bottom and went into battle column and received a severe shell fire from the enemy, but receiving no injury or loss. About 11.30 advanced in line of battle across Strawberry Plains, halting on the river road. About 5.30 p. m. moved by the right flank and took position on the left of the river road between the First and Second Divisions, where we remained until 7.30 p. m. of the 28th, when we recrossed the river, halting about daylight on the morning of the 29th in rear of the Eighteenth Corps. About 8 p. m. went into front line of breast-works on the right of the Hare house and remained here until relieved on the night of the 30th, when we returned to our old camp, where we still remain.

During the above actions and marches the regiment was under several commanders, and although I cannot pay a true and just tribute to their worth and bravery (having just joined the regiment on the 15th day of May from detached service), but as Colonel Sewell was the first who led in the first few days in the battles of the Wilderness, and around whom so many associations cling, but was compelled by the stern hand of sickness to succumb and retire from the field, but his former conduct on the field had not only won for him imperishable honors, but no one questions his zeal or bravery and fitness for the position he occupied, or even higher honors. Major V. M. Healy was for a few days in command, and Captain H. H. Woolsey, who fell in the discharge of his duty on the 18th day of June, in the full vigor of his manhood, true, brave, and always found at his post where duty called him, and nobly battling with the enemies of his country. I cannot speak of the other officers individually, where all were brave and each tried to emulate the other in the performance of each and every duty. All nobly assisted me in sustaining the reputation of the regiment, and accomplishing the duties that it performed.

I took command on the 18th of June, and since that time I have endeavored to enforce discipline and make this regiment maintain its former high reputation, and although reduced to meager numbers, the pride of the brigade and an honor to the State and themselves.

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


Captain, Fifth New Jersey Volunteers, Commanding Regiment.


  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 415-417
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