OR XL P1 #260: Report of Lieutenant Colonel William B. Coan, 48th NY, commanding 2/2/X/AotJ, July 30, 1864

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 80)

Numbers 260. Report of Lieutenant Colonel William B. Coan, Forty-eighth New York Infantry, commanding Second Brigade of operations July 30.1

In the Field, Va., August 3, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report for the information of the brigadier-general commanding:

On the night of the 29th ultimo I marched my command, in obedience to orders, to a position in rear of the Ninth Corps, before Petersburg, where I remained until about one hour after the explosion of the mine on the morning of the 30th, and moved down the covered way toward the front; was obliged to come to a halt during the passage of the covered way for about thirty minutes, the covered way being blocked up by troops which preceded me. On arriving at the intrenchments near the entrance to the mine received orders from General Turner to form in the rear of the First Brigade. Before the formation was completed Brigadier-General Carr ordered the Forty-seventh Regiment New York Volunteers and a portion of the Ninety-seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers to the right. Soon after this I moved my whole command to the right, in obedience to orders from General Turner, and immediately ordered the Forty-eighth New York Volunteers to move across the creek bottom and take a position under cover in the belt of woods on the side of a steep hill. Soon after the Forty-eighth got in position I ordered the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania and Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers to move forward and take position as follows: The Seventy-sixth to form in rear and the Ninety-seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers on the left of the Forty-eighth Regiment New York Volunteers. After the three regiments referred to got in position as directed I received orders from General Turner to put my whole command in the belt of woods above referred to. I immediately moved the Forty-seventh Regiment New York State Volunteers forward to join the balance of the command,and started along the line myself to reconnoiter the position occupied by my command. I found about 100 of the Second New York (dismounted) Cavalry, in front of my center, occupying small rifle-pits in front of the enemy’s main work. I was in position to charge when the men in front line began to fall back. I made an effort to stop them, and partially succeeded, when my attention was called to forces on my left in the open field, who were rushing to the rear in confusion. My left followed the example, as the enemy, after reaching the line from which our troops were retreating (on my left), could enfilade the left of my line. Captain Taylor, with a portion of the Forty-eighth Regiment New York State Volunteers and about 100 of the Ninety-seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, remained under cover of a bank on the hill-side near the (our) right. About one hour after all the other forces fell back to our intrenchments, when I directed him to withdraw and join the balance of my command. On arriving back to our intrenchments I immediately took steps to keep my command there for the purpose of holding the work should the enemy attempt to take it. For a few moments there was considerable confusion, but soon I had two strong lines in position to defend the intrenchments. After this I received orders from General Turner to relieve the First Brigade on my right, and soon after my command was relieved by the Third Brigade, when I moved up the covered way and formed my brigade on the ground where it lay at the

time of explosion in the morning. I remained here about one hour and marched back to the rear of the position occupied by the division for the past month. After dark moved to the front and relieved that portion of the Second Corps occupying my old line.

It is proper to state that during the time my command was moving from the intrenchments to the belt of woods above referred to the enemy kept up a constant fire on my troops. Major Swartwout, commanding Forty-eighth New York Volunteers, was killed while gallantly leading his command across the creek bottom to the woods.

Too much praise cannot be awarded to Major Diller, commanding Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers; Captain Price, Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers; Captain Kirby, Forty-seventh New York Volunteers, and Captain J. Taylor, who command the Forty-eighth New York Volunteers after the fall of Major Swartwout, for gallantry displayed during the affair. My staff officers performed their respective duties with great promptness and gallantry.

I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant Colonel Forty-eighth Regiment New York Vols. Commanding Brigadier

Captain I. R. SEALY.

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


  1. 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 702-703

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