HDQRS. FIFTY-EIGHTH Regiment MASSACHUSETTS VOLS.,
Before Petersburg, Va., August 8, 1864.
The Fifty-eighth Regiment Massachusetts Infantry was in the rear at the time the mine exploded, and was marched from the rear to the front by the left flank, which took us nearly one hour after moving. At our front line we filed over the breast-works and were ordered to lie down under cover of the fort. At this point orders were received to move the regiment by the left flank past the fort to the westward, then by the right flank to charge on the woods or works at the (our) right of the fort. After having filed a portion of the regiment to the west of the fort I found that the balance of my regiment was not following, and upon going back to ascertain why the balance of the regiment did not follow I found that they had been ordered by another officer to file to the right of said fort, which split the regiment in two. I then received orders from the officer who was in charge of the right of the regiment to charge upon the works to the west of said fort; all this under a heavy fire, both artillery and musketry. They then broke and fell back to the ditch or saps in the rear of the fort. We remained here in the pits or saps, mingled with other troops, the heat being very oppressive and the men almost famished for the want of water. We remained in this place until the enemy charged upon us, and then a charge was made by the colored troops, and they came in upon us tramping us under their feet, which made it impossible for us to accomplish anything, and at this time the enemy were pouring a deadly fire upon us, and those of my command who did escape did so by climbing over the fort. At this time the men in the ditch or saps were surrendering to the enemy or being cut down.
The above is the statement rendered to me by Captain Charles E. Churchill, Company D, who was in command of the regiment on the 30th instant.
E. S. HORTON,
Captain, Commanding Fifty-eighth Massachusetts Regiment.
Captain P. E. PECKHAM,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
- The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XL, Part 1 (Serial Number 80), page 551 ↩