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OR XL P1 #177: Report of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph H. Barnes, 29th MA, commanding 1/1/IX/AotP, June 14-July 30, 1864

No. 177. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph H. Barnes, Twenty-ninth Massachusetts Infantry, commanding First Brigade, of operations June 14-July 30.1

HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, FIRST DIV., NINTH ARMY CORPS, Before Petersburg, Va., August 16, 1864.+


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

Crossed the Chickahominy on June 14; marched to the James; camped on the north side of the river. At 1 a.m. June 16 crossed the James and marched in direction of Petersburg.

June 17, at 4 p.m. charged and carried the enemy’s works, and held them until about 10 p.m., when the brigade was obliged to retire for want of ammunition.

On the 18th the brigade was re-enforced by the addition of the following infantry regiments: Third Maryland, Twenty-first Massachusetts, One hundredth Pennsylvania, and One hundred and seventy-ninth New York. From the charge of June 17 to the assault on the 30th of July the brigade occupied various positions in the work in front of Petersburg, doing its usual amount of picketing, &c.


+For portion of report [here omitted] covering operations from May 4 to June 14, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p.919.


On the 23rd of July the Third Maryland and One hundred and seventy-ninth New York Regiments were transferred to Second Brigade, and the Twenty-ninth Massachusetts Regiment was assigned to the First Brigade. On the same day Brigadier General W. F. Bartlett relieved Colonel Gould of the command.

In the assault on July 30 the brigade followed the Second and entered the enemy’s works, and after remaining in the fort some hours, and meeting with large losses, was forced to retire. Brigadier-General Bartlett was taken prisoner and the command of the Fifty-seventh Massachusetts, the commanding officer being a lieutenant, and an enlisted man at the commencement of the campaign, who has no papers by which he can obtain an account with any accuracy.

The commanding officer of the brigade would here take the opportunity to state that this report has been obtained with considerable difficulty, owing to so many different changes in brigade and regimental commanders.

I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant Colonel 29th Mass. Vols., Commanding 1st Brigadier, 1st Div.,9th A. C.

Captain C. J. MILLS,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, FIRST DIV., NINTH ARMY CORPS, Near Petersburg, Va., August 3, 1864.

CAPTAIN: In reporting the operations of this brigade in the action of July 30 I have the honor to state that it is extremely difficult to render a detailed report of operations as a brigade, for the reason that the general commanding the brigade in the action was captured, and his staff, with one exception, were killed, wounded, or captured; therefore, I can do little more than compile the reports of regimental commanders, which reports I have the honor to inclose herewith. The brigade moved from the front line of works occupied by the First Division about midnight, and marched through Willcox’s covered way to a ravine immediately in rear of General Willcox’s front line and opposite the point of attack. Here the brigade was formed in two lines, the Fifty-ninth, Fifty-seventh, and Twenty-ninth Massachusetts Volunteers forming the first line, and the Twenty-first and Fifty-sixth Massachusetts and One hundredth Pennsylvania Volunteers the second line, and the two lines thus formed in rear of the Second Brigade, First Division. The brigade remained in this position until the explosion of the mine, when it moved forward, following rapidly the Second Brigade and charging directly toward the ruins of the fort. As will be seen by the reports of the regimental commanders, the command upon entering the fort was somewhat disorganized and crowded, but effective measures were adopted to place the regiments in position, and the brigade was posted in the traverses and covered ways connected with the fort, and a portion of the brigade commenced protecting themselves from a very severe enfilading fire. Shortly after the Fourth Division of the corps entered the fort and formed their lines for an advance, but before they had accomplished anything the enemy made a decided attack, causing the Fourth Division to retire precipitately, and owing to the crowded condition of

the works many of our brigade were absolutely pressed to the rear by the retreating lines, and subsequently it became necessary for other portions of the brigade to retire to prevent capture. A portion of the officers and men were in the fort and were there captured. From this time until afternoon the regiments were separated. They were then formed near division headquarters, under my command as senior officer, and went into camp.

Brigadier General W. F. Bartlett, commanding the brigade was captured within the enemy’s fortifications, as was also Captain Charles B. Amory, assistant adjutant-general of the brigade. Captain George H. Howe, Fifty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, brigade inspector, was killed while standing on the enemy’s works and encouraging the men; First Lieutenant Robert B. Chamberlin, Twenty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, aide-de-camp, was severely wounded in the head soon after reaching the enemy’s fort; Colonel J. P. Gould was seriously wounded; Colonel S. M. Weld, Fifty-sixth Massachusetts Volunteers, was captured; Lieutenant Colonel John Hodges, jr., Fifty-ninth Massachusetts Volunteers, was killed, as also Major Prescott, Fifty-seventh Massachusetts; Major Hamilton, One hundredth Pennsylvania Volunteers, was wounded and captured; all doing their duty nobly. We have to mourn the loss of many other valuable officers and men of the brigade, reports of which losses have been heretofore forwarded.

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


Lieutenant Colonel Twenty-ninth Massachusetts Vols., Commanding Brigade.

Captain C. J. MILLS,

Asst. Adjt. General, First Division, Ninth Army Corps.


  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 537-539
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