HEADQUARTERS SECOND MICHIGAN INFANTRY,
Before Petersburg, Va., August 14, 1864.
At 10 p.m. of the 12th [June] the regiment, with the brigade, withdrew from its position about Cold Harbor and took up its line of march for the James River, going via Tunstall’s Station and crossing the Chickahominy at Jones’ Bridge, reaching Wilcox’s Landing, on the James, about 5 p.m. of the 14th. On the evening of the 15th crossed the river and moved direct for Petersburg, before which place we arrived about 3 p.m. of the 16th. After dark we moved to a position
+For portion of report (here omitted) covering operations from May 4 to June 12, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p.953.
just in rear of the left of the Second Corps, where we remained until 10 a.m. of the 17th, when we were moved to the left and front preparatory to a charge on the enemy’s second line of works. This charge did not succeed. By some error the lines were not formed correctly, but so formed that when the advance was ordered and the column moved forward it moved not toward the enemy’s line it was intended to carry but along his front in a direction parallel to this line. The men suffered severely during this charge and my loss in killed and wounded was heavy. The regiment moved along the front of the enemy’s pits for some 200 yards exposed to a sharp fire on their flank, then sought the protection of the works of the Second Corps. It was now about 4 p.m. Another charge was to be made, and the regiment was moved into line with the rest of the brigade as a support for the First Division, which was to make the assault. When the First Division advanced I moved forward to a pit some thirty yards in front of the line on which my instructions, but the remainder of the brigade did not move, and I halted my regiment in the pit, where I remained till the morning of the 18th.
At 6 a.m. of the 18th another advance was ordered. In this advance my regiment formed part of the first line. The order under which we moved was to go forward to the Norfolk railroad and drive the enemy from the shelter afforded his troops by its cuts and embankments. By 10 a.m. we occupied the road. A farther advance was ordered in the afternoon, and was attempted, but was attended with only partial success. We, however, succeeded so far as to establish our pickets on the line now occupied as our advance work. At 1 a.m. of the 19th the regiment was moved to the rear and bivouacked with the rest of the brigade in the pine woods, and soon after was transferred to the Second Brigade.
My losses during these two days (17th and 18th) were excessively severe. On the morning of the 17th the regiment numbered 310 men present for duty. I lost in killed, 19; wounded, 156; missing, 13; giving a total of 188, or over 60 per cent. of the number engaged.
The above hastily prepared report of the part taken by my regiment in the operations of this army for the part of the time it was attached to the First Brigade, together with the attached report of casualties for the same time, is most respectfully submitted.
I remain, captain, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Captain JOHN D. BERTOLETTE,
Asst. Adjt. General, 1st Brigadier, 3rd Div., 9th 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 587-588 ↩