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OR XL P1 #283: Report of Captain John M. Willson, 3rd NY Cav, June 21-30, 1864

Numbers 283. Report of Captain John M. Willson, Third New York Cavalry, of operations June 21-30.1


Near Bermuda Hundred, Va., July 1, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report that on the 21st day of June last the Third New York Cavalry Regiment, of which Major N. Hall, had command (and to which I afterward succeeded him on the 25th of June), left camp near Hatcher’s, Va., and crossed the Appomattox River and joined Brigadier-General Wilson’s division of cavalry, where we bivouacked until next morning. June 22, at 2 a.m. we moved forward with the column and bivouacked at Ford’s Station, on the Petersburg and South Side Railroad, where we assisted in tearing up and destroying the road in general. The next morning, June 23, we again moved forward in the column, and halted at Burkeville, the junction of the Richmond and Danville and Petersburg and South Side Railroads, where we assisted in destroying the road and burning the depot. Here we worked pretty much all night. The next morning, June 24., we took the advance and destroyed and burned Davis’, Meherrin, and Keysville Stations. At each of the above-named places we took up from one to five miles of railroad.

June 25, we moved forward and assisted in destroying Drake’s Branch, Mossing Ford, and Carrington Stations, and at 4 p.m. we came in sight of Staunton River bridge, where we found quite a force. After forming the regiment into line of battle we dismounted the men and attacked the enemy guarding the bridge. Major Hall had command of the dismounted men. We skirmished with the enemy until 9 p.m., when we fell back and I took command. Here we lost 2 killed and 5 wounded, two of whom were officers. We lay here until next morning, when Brigadier-General Wilson’s division took the advance.

June 26 and 27, we moved in column in the rear of Wilson’s division. Bivouacked at about 12 (midnight) each night.

June 28, we marched all day night and passed General Wilson’s division, who were fighting near Stony Creek Station, on the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad. Moved on, and Wednesday morning, June 29, one squadron consisting of Companies C, E, and H, commanded by Captain Hall was ordered by brigade commander, Colonel West, to hold the bridge across Stony Creek until the wagon train had crossed, and it was reported to me that after the train had crossed General Wilson ordered the squadron to fall in the rear of his division, and, consequently, the squadron did not return to the regiment, and I have not heard of them since. Company G, Lieutenant Ford commanding, was ordered to report to some officer on General Wilson’s staff (by command of Colonel West) to open communication with Lieutenant-General Grant. The remainder of the regiment was drawn up in line of battle, and I dismounted the carbineers and sent them forward, under command of Captain Pierce, who moved into the woods, forming a part of the right wing. Here we remained until 12 m., when he fell back, per order, to the house in the center of the field. Here they remained until I ordered them to mount their horses, as all the other regiments had left the field, the enemy having appeared in heavy force and opened fire from the woods on my left. After I had mounted my men I received orders

to fall to the rear of the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry. I brought my regiment off the field through the woods in good order, under a heavy fire, until I reached a narrow dirt road (before reaching the railroad), fire, until I reached a narrow dirt road (before reaching the railroad), when the enemy fired on a column of men with led horses, and they broke through my column. The consequence was a general confusion. But I soon formed them into column again and then crossed the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad, about three miles above Stony Creek. After crossing the railroad I had several skirmishers with the enemy, but I finally succeeded in gaining the cross-road, where I found General Kautz. We marched and bivouacked inside of our lines.

June 30 we arrived in camp at 4 p.m.

Loss in missing-2 captains, 6 lieutenants, and 229 enlisted men.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain, Commanding Regiment.

First Lieutenant I. H. PUTNAM,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

The missing are constantly rejoining the regiment at this camp.


  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 737-738
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