No. 188. Report of Major John G. Wright, Fifty-first New York Infantry, of operations July 30.1
HDQRS. FIFTY-FIRST REGIMENT NEW YORK VET. VOLS.,
Before Petersburg, Va., August 8, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the Fifty-first Regiment New York Veteran Volunteers, during the assault on Petersburg on the morning of July 30, 1864:
In accordance with orders received from Colonel Bliss, commanding First Brigade, Second Division, Ninth Army Corps, I marched my regiment from its position on the front line back to the rear and formed it in the covered way skirting the edge of the woods in which we encamped, with the right resting on the left of the Second New York Mounted Rifles. This was between 3 and 4 a.m. We remained here until about 5.30 a.m., when I received the order to march my command by the flank to the front, and proceeded thus until I reached my former position on the front line. In pursuance with orders from Colonel Bliss I made a charge with the regiment and succeeded in carrying the enemy’s line directly in our front. Upon reaching this new position I was soon followed by several regiments of the Tenth Corps, and the fighting became very severe, the enemy enfilading the regiment on both sides with a severe cross-fire of artillery. My regiment remained here some time doing good service and firing with severe effect upon the enemy. The enemy made a very determined charge against the
left of our line, compelling it to fall back precipitately and, thus exposing my left flank, I was compelled to fall back and occupy our old position, where my regiment did good service in preventing the enemy following up the advantages they had gained. We remained here until the assault was abandoned and the main body of our many marched back to their quarters.
Shortly after the regiment fell back to our front line I was compelled to go to the rear, having been somewhat injured by a solid shot striking me on the left side. The command of the regiment then devolved upon Captain George W. Whitman, the next senior officer. I am happy to say he discharged the duties of the responsible position to my entire satisfaction, and it affords me great pleasure to speak of the gallant manner in which he has sustained himself during this entire campaign. I have to regret the loss of Captain Samuel H. Sims, the senior captain of the regiment, who full fighting nobly while endeavoring to check the retreat of a regiment on our right. He was an officer of sterling abilities, and he leaves behind him a reputation untarnished, which, with his fine social qualities, had endeared his memory to all his surviving comrades. I cannot speak in too high terms of the gallant conduct of both officers and enlisted men of my command, and every one performed his allotted duties to my entire satisfaction.
I have forwarded an official list of the casualties which the regiment sustained.
I have the honor to be, captain, respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN G. WRIGHT,
Major, Commanding Fifty-first Regiment New York Veteran Vols.
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), pages 552-553 ↩