No. 184. Report of Colonel Zenas R. Bliss, Seventh Rhode Island Infantry, commanding First Brigade, of operations July 30.1
HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, SECOND DIV., NINTH ARMY CORPS, Before Petersburg, Va., August 2, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the First Brigade, Second Division, Ninth Army Corps, during the attack on the enemy on the 30th ultimo:
I was ordered to the front soon after the mine exploded, and I moved up opposite the crater. General Griffin had not yet got all of his regiments in; the Sixth New Hampshire was in our line. General Griffin went immediately to the front, and soon after the Sixth New Hampshire went in, and I ordered the Fifty-eighth Massachusetts, Fourth Rhode Island, and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania to pass through the crater and form on the right of the Second Brigade, and if there was room I would take in the other regiments. The front line near the crater was crowded with troops, and I put the Fifty-first New York and Second New York in our line of works, and the Seventh Rhode Island was ordered under the hill in reserve. As there was no more need of troops in front, I ordered the Fifty-eighth Massachusetts to charge
to the right down the rebel lines, supported by the Fourth Rhode Island and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, with the understanding that as soon as I saw the flag move I would order the New York regiments to charge across between the two lines, and if they carried the rebel lines to connect with the other regiments of the brigade and hold the line. It was some time and no charge was made, and I sent an aide with orders to move immediately. Soon after I saw the colors start, and I sent in the Fifty-first and Second New York; they crossed without much difficulty. The Fifty-first got the enemy’s line on the left of the ravine, and the Second New York took the line on the right of the ravine and a few prisoners. As soon as the line was established two regiments of the Eighteenth Corps [the Forty-eighth and Ninety-second New York*] took position on the left of the Second New York. The Fifty-eighth Massachusetts, Fourth Rhode Island, and Forty fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, instead of charging to the right, as I directed, charged obliquely to the right toward the cemetery, and went about 100 yards and fell back into a ditch on the west side of the rebel works. Soon after the colored troops came up the enemy appeared and charged upon the pits occupied by them, their right covering the ditch in which were my three regiments. Concentrating on the flank of our line, they succeeded in capturing about 100 prisoners from the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania and Fifty-eighth Massachusetts, who were mixed up with the Thirty-first and Thirty-second Maine, of the Second Brigade. The Fourth Rhode Island and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania held their position in the pits, fighting hand-to-hand with the enemy, until ordered out of the ditch. The Fifty-first New York, whose right rested on the Fourth Division, was compelled to fall back when that division did, and the Ninety-second* and Forty-eighth New York were ordered back into the original line at the same time; but the Second New York, being on the right of the ravine, held this line within twenty yards of the rebel fort, at the old barn, until ordered back to the trenches by me at 4 p.m.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Z. R. BLISS,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Captain SAMUEL WRIGHT,
Asst. Adjt. General, Second Division, Ninth Army Corps.
*The reference is probably to the Forty-eighth New York and Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania; see Coan’s report, p.702.
- 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 549-550 ↩