Numbers 106. Report of Captain James H. Wood, Fourth New York Heavy Artillery, commanding Mortar Battery, of operations June 12-21.1
IN CAMP, NEAR PETERSBURG, VA., July 1, 1864.
On the 12th of June the whole battery was ordered out of position. Lieutenant Bradt’s pieces immediately joined the ammunition train, reaching it at 12 m., and marched across the Chickahominy and James Rivers to Petersburg, reaching the rear of our lines at 2.30 a. m. of the 18th of June.
The section in charge of Captain Jones being unable, by reason of the persistency of the enemy’s fire, to leave its position, did not withdraw until the evening of the 12th, and accompanied by the artillery of the Second Corps reached the front of Petersburg on the 16th day of June. In the forenoon of the 17th the section took position in front of the enemy’s lines at a distance of 150 yards and on the left of the Second Corps. At 1 p. m. the section opened fire on the rebels at an assumed distance of 300 yards with three and a half ounces of powder and 10-second fuse. The firing was successful. At 2 p. m., immediately after the firing of one of the mortars, Captain Jones arose to witness the effect of the shot. He was struck in the forehead by the bullet of a rebel sharpshooter. He never spoke afterward, and at 5 p. m. breathed his last. Thus was slain a brave and efficient officer and a courteous gentleman. At 3 p. m. Captain James H. Wood, of Battery C, Fourth
*For portion of report (here omitted) covering operations from June 1 to June 12, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p. 527.
New York Artillery, was placed in command of the mortar battery and, accompanied by Captain Miller, inspector of artillery, advanced, under a terrific artillery fire, to assume command. At 5 p. m. a charge was made by a brigade of the Ninth Corps, directly in front of the section in charge of Captain Wood. The assault was repulsed, and a rebel battery at a distance of about 900 yards played upon the retreating columns with murderous effect. The mortars were trained upon the rebel battery, with a charge of six ounces of powder and 18-second fuse. The result was the silencing of the rebel guns and the blowing up of a rebel caisson. The colonel commanding the brigade, addressing Captain Wood, said, “Your mortars have saved my brigade.”
In the afternoon of June 19 the sections in command of Lieutenant Bradt were ordered into position in front of Petersburg at about 250 yards’ distance from the rebel lines. The firing was calculated at 250 yards with three and a half ounces charge and 10-second fuse. The practice was entirely satisfactory.
On the 21st of June the sections were all brought together on the Hare farm.
In the foregoing report there may be inconsistencies in the distances, the size of charges and the length of fuses. This can all be accounted for by the fact that the first supply of powder was not equal in strength to that subsequently obtained, and the cartridges were made partly from the one and partly from the other. The last supply (the former being now all expended) is considered reliable, so that the firing can hereafter be considered as reduced almost to a mathematical certainty.
JAMES H. WOOD,
Captain, Commanding Mortar Battery.
ACTG. ASST. ADJT. General, ARTY. BRIG., SECOND 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 433-434 ↩