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OR XL P1 #271: Report of Captain James F. Brown, 21st CT, June 13-August 26, 1864

Numbers 271. Report of Captain James F. Brown, Twenty-first Connecticut Infantry.1
In the Field, Va., September 3, 1864.


At 2 a.m. of the 13th [June] I received orders to quietly withdraw the remainder of the regiment, except a skirmish line covering our front, which was also to be withdrawn on intimation of a similar movement by the Sixth Corps on our immediate left. By 3 a.m. the troops had all been withdrawn without opposition, and we were on our way to White House, which we reached at 10 a.m. and immediately embarked on transports, the men gratefully embracing the opportunity for a few hours’ rest after their late exhausting labors.

At 11 a.m. the 14th we landed at Point of Rocks, near Bermuda Hundred, and encamped for the night. At 1 on the following morning we were again under arms, and crossing the Appomattox moved on the enemy’s works in front of Petersburg. The Third Division of the Eighteenth Corps, with the cavalry, advanced rapidly, driving or capturing the enemy’s outposts, and at 9 a.m. we were in position in front of his main works, situated on a high ridge and within easy range of the city. We were formed in column by division, ready for the assault whenever it should be deemed practicable, but the position was too formidable to be carried without the aid of more artillery. Some delay occurred in getting this into position, while the enemy worked his most vigorously. Finally, about 6 p.m., three full batteries were brought up, and under cover of their concentrated fire a strong skirmish line, advancing rapidly with the main body in supporting distance, rushed gallantly upon the parapet, driving the enemy from his guns, which


*For portion of report (here omitted) covering operations from June 3 to June 12, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I,p. 1014.


were captured, together with the whole garrison and material in the fort. At the same time the supporting column moved up nearly abreast of the fort, and deploying to the right advanced in line across the open plain to the right and rear of the fort up to the road leading directly to the city, meeting with no opposition but what was easily overcome by the skirmishers, who captured here two fine pieces of artillery, with caissons and limbers, which the enemy in his haste and been unable to get away. Darkness, prevented any farther advance for the night. Next morning this regiment was detached from the Third Brigade and deployed as skirmishers to feel the enemy’s line in our front. After ascertaining his strength and position all but two companies were withdrawn and rejoined the Third Brigade in the position it occupied the previous night.

At 5 p.m. of the 17th the Third Brigade was ordered to the left to support the Second Corps in a charge on the inner line of defenses before the city. This charge was but partially successful, and on the following day we were withdrawn and returned to Bermuda Hundred, where we remained in reserve till the 21st, when we again joined the army before Petersburg, relieving the Sixth Corps in the trenches on the right next to the Appomattox. This position we held until the 29th of July. During this time there was almost constant picket and artillery firing on our front, with more or less casualties daily. Early on the morning of June 24 the enemy opened upon us a heavy artillery fire, which was continued for an hour or more, when he advanced a strong line to carry our works supposing, as we learned from prisoners, that our force had been mostly withdrawn. Our men kept well concealed till the enemy were close upon them and then opened a most deadly fire that threw the enemy’s line into complete confusion. Most of those we escaped the first fire at once threw down their arms and surrendered. Several hundred prisoners, in addition to the killed and wounded, thus fell into our hands. The enemy never repeated this attempt upon that portion of our lines.

On the afternoon of July 29 we received marching orders, and at 10 p.m. that evening were relieved in the trenches by a portion of the Second Corps, and moved to the left, in rear of the Ninth Corps. At 4 a.m. the following morning we were in position on the front of the Ninth Corps, with the right of the regiment resting opposite the celebrated Burnside mine under the enemy’s works on Cemetery Hill,which was sprung at twenty minutes to 5, and which at first promising a most brilliant success ended without any favorable results. We held the position occupied in the morning during the day under a most terrific artillery fire, and at 10 p.m. were withdrawn, returning next morning to our old position in the trenches on the right. Here we remained until August 26, when the Eighteenth Corps was relieved by the Tenth, and we moved to our present position on the Bermuda defenses, where there is a comparative truce between the opposing forces.

Annexed is a complete list of casualties that have occurred during the operations embraced in the above report.*

Recapitulation: Killed-commissioned officer, 1; enlisted men, 5. Wounded-commissioned officers, 2; enlisted men, 30; Total, 38.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain, Commanding Regiment.

Brigadier General H. J. MORSE,

Adjutant-General State of Connecticut.


*Nominal list omitted.



  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 717-718
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