No. 204. Report of Colonel William Humphrey, Second Michigan Infantry, commanding Second Brigade, of operations July 30.1
HDQRS. SECOND Brigadier, THIRD DIV., NINTH ARMY CORPS,
Before Petersburg, Va., August 4, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of my command during the action of July 30:
According to orders from the general commanding the division I moved the brigade into the covered way leading by the right of Roemer’s battery to the front before daylight of the morning of the 30th. I was to hold my command here until the First Brigade, General Hartranft commanding, which I was to follow in the attack, should move forward from the ground on which it was then formed, then to move to and form on the ground it should leave. This being done I was to follow General Hartranft in his movement as closely as possible, and after passing through the enemy’s line of works to take position to his right, forming the connection between him and the left of the First Division. These instructions were promptly carried out so far as circumstances would permit. As soon as the advance commenced I moved my command forward, and as fast as the regiments of the First Brigade were advanced formed in column of battalions on the ground thus cleared. This was at 5.15 a.m.; but the whole of the First Brigade was not moved beyond our pits, hence I could follow my previous instructions no further. But wishing to assist the troops occupying the captured redoubt, I requested permission to form the brigade incline behind our work for a charge on the pits. The line was formed with its right opposite to the left of that part of the enemy’s line then held by our own men, the left resting on the road. The regiments were placed from right to left in the following order, viz: First Michigan Sharpshooters, Second and Twentieth Michigan Infantry, Forty-sixth New York and Fiftieth Pennsylvania Infantry, with the Sixtieth Ohio Infantry and Twenty-fourth New York Cavalry (dismounted) in rear of the Forty-six New York and Fiftieth Pennsylvania. At 8 a.m. the three regiments on the right of the line charged across the field as directed, taking the pits in their front and the men by whom they were occupied. After clearing our pits the Forty-sixth New York hesitated, lost the connection with the regiment on its right, broke, and crowded through and carried with it the regiment on its left to the road. These regiments were afterward put in the pits forming our front line, where they remain to this time. This charge, so far as the instructions were carried out, was a success, and had it not been for the causeless breaking of the Forty-sixth New York there is no doubt but the whole line would have been carried and the troops occupying it captured, and the achievement of the object for which we set out in the morning rendered more than probable.
The regiments that reached the enemy’s works helped hold these works against the three assaults of the enemy, and were among the last to obey the order to retire at 2.30 p.m. As I have already forwarded you reports of the losses they need not be reported here.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Captain ROBERT A. HUTCHINS,
Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Ninth Army 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 586-587 ↩