No. 211. Report of Brigadier General Edward Ferrero, U. S. Army, commanding Fourth Division.1
HEADQUARTERS FOURTH DIVISION, NINTH ARMY CORPS,
Near Petersburg, Va., August 1, 1864.*
On the 13th [June] marched to New Kent Court-House. On the 14th marched to near Diascond Creek. The trains of the army being here delayed in crossing the Chickahominy, we did not leave Diascond Creek until the evening of the 15th, when I moved the division to within two miles of Cole’s Ferry and bivouacked for the night. On the morning of the 16th, the trains of the army having all crossed the Chickahominy, I moved my command across that river and marched to a position near the pontoon bridge across the James River, which was occupied by the Sixth Corps, and relieved the troops of the Sixth Corps with my command. On the 17th instant, the army trains having all crossed the James, I moved my division across that river and encamped for the night near Wilcox’s house. On the 18th, moving in rear of the trains, I marched my command to Bailey’s Creek, near Old Court-House, when I reported, by a staff officer, to Major-General Meade, commanding Army of the Potomac, for instructions. Receiving orders from him to leave the dismounted cavalry to guard the trains and to report with the balance of my command to Major-General Burnside, commanding Ninth Army Corps, I moved the division to a position a short distance in the rear of the Ninth Army Corps. On the 20th instant, by command of Major-General Burnside, the division was placed in the second line of works, on the front occupied by the Ninth Army Corps. The division remained in this position, when,
*For portion of report (here omitted) covering operations from May 4 to June 12, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p. 987.
in compliance with orders from Major-General Burnside on the 27th instant, I moved the division to Prince George Court-House, and occupied a position covering that place. On the 30th, in compliance with orders received from headquarters Army of the Potomac, I moved from Prince George Court-House to the Jerusalem plank road, near the Williams house, and reported to Major-General Hancock, commanding Second Corps, for instructions. By his orders the division occupied the line of works vacated by the Sixth Corps, looking toward the left flank of the army.
On July 2, in compliance with orders received from headquarters Army of the Potomac, I moved the division and took position at the crossing of the Blackwater by the Norfolk road, covering the approaches from the left of the Sixth Corps toward Prince George Court-House. At 11.30 p.m. on the 9th, in compliance with orders from headquarters Army of the Potomac, I moved the division to the Jerusalem plank road, near Williams’, and reported to Major-General Hancock, commanding Second Corps, for instructions. By his orders the command was again placed in the breast-works looking toward the left flank of the army. On the 12th I received orders from headquarters Army of the Potomac to report to Major-General Warren, commanding Fifth Corps, for orders, and, in compliance with instructions received from him, occupied a position extending from the old Norfolk road to the Jerusalem plank road, and looking toward the left flank of the army. On the 22nd instant, in compliance with orders received from headquarters Army of the Potomac, I reported with my division to Major-General Burnside, commanding Ninth Army Corps. By his orders one brigade (Colonel Sigfried’s) was placed in the trenches, and my two batteries reported to Lieutenant-Colonel Monroe, chief of artillery, to be placed in position. On the 27th instant, in compliance with orders from Major-General Burnside, my Second Brigade, with Colonel Humphrey’s brigade, of the Third Division, and Captain Wright’s (Fourteenth Massachusetts) battery moved to and occupied a position extending from the old Norfolk road to the Jerusalem plank road. On the 29th instant I received orders from Major-General Burnside to move my command to the vicinity of his headquarters. Colonel Humphrey’s brigade and Captain Wrigth’s battery were ordered to rejoin their respective commands, and I received instructions to have my command in readiness to participate in the assault on the rebel works the next morning. Early in the morning of the 30th, having formed by division in the timber in rear of the covered way, they moved according to instructions in rear of the Third Division of our corps at daylight. On reaching our advanced line of works we were compelled to halt on account of other troops occupying the position that was assigned mine. We there remained some time until I received orders from the general commanding to advance and carry the crest of the hill beyond the crater. I ordered the column forward, when I was requested to halt my command by Lieutenant-Colonel Loring, until he could confer with the general and return. I did so. Shortly after Lieutenant-Colonel Loring returned with orders that my division advance at all hazards, and if necessary to lead them in person. I accordingly advanced the column to the assault in the following order: Colonel Sigfried, commanding First Brigade, in advance, followed by Colonel Thomas, commanding Second Brigade, to move by the flank until they passed the crater (it being impossible to move otherwise), and then advance in line or column, as Colonel Sigfried, commanding the advance, might deem proper on arriving at the point designated; in moving to carry the crest of
the Cemetery Hill the First Brigade to bear to the right and the Second to form on its left. The attempt was made to carry the crest but failed. For more detailed reports see reports from my brigade commanders. Of the behavior of the officers and men I cannot speak too highly. They were repulsed, but veterans could hardly have stood the fire to which they were exposed. Colonels Sigfried and Thomas are entitled to great praise for the manner in which they handled their commands under the most trying circumstances. Lieutenant-Colonel Bross, commanding Twenty-ninth U. S. Colored Troops, fell while leading the charge of his regiment. He was a brave and accomplished officer, and in his death the command sustained a great loss. There is not an officer of the division that was in the engagement against whom aught could be said, but that he did his duty. To the members of my staff great credit is due to the manner in which they performed their duties. Surg. James P. Prince was untiring in his exertions for the care of the wounded, personally superintending the operations of his department from the hospital to the front.
Accompanying this please find a nominal list of casualties during the campaign.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Headquarters 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 594-596 ↩