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OR XL P1 #295. Diary of the First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, June 16-July 31, 1864

Numbers 295. Diary of the First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.+1

June 16.-Pickett and Field move at 3 and 5 a. m., cross James River at Drewry’s Bluff, and move down the turnpike toward Petersburg to occupy the line abandoned by General Beauregard. We found a picket of the enemy on the turnpike near Chester and the line occupied by the enemy. Reconnoitering, and an effort to get him out, we get the left, including Howlett’s.

June 17.-During the day we possess ourselves of the line by an advance of Pickett and Field. On the night of this day there is heavy fighting at Petersburg, and urgent calls are made by General Beauregard for aid. Kershaw arrives near Perdue’s.


+For portion of this diary (here omitted) covering movements from May 7 to June 15, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p. 1056.


June 18.-At 3 a. m. Kershaw moves for Petersburg, followed by Field, Pickett occupying the whole line. We arrive at Petersburg and Kershaw relieves Bushrod Johnson’s division, Field taking position on Kershaw’s right. A feeble attack is made in the afternoon on Elliott’s brigade, of Johnson’s division.

June 19.-Sharp skirmishing during the day and a sort of advance on Kershaw’s right and Field’s left during the night.

June 20 and 21.-Affairs unchanged.

June 22.-A. P. Hill goes out with Mahone and Wilcox, B. R. Johnson supporting, and drives the enemy from our right. It is a handsome affair-2,000 prisoners, 4 pieces of artillery, 7 colors being among the captures.

June 23.-Preparations made for the contemplated attack to-morrow. Field at night withdraws from the trenches, Bushrod Johnson relieving him, and moves to the left in support of and co-operation with Hoke. Field did not get out clear until dawn the next morning.

June 24.-At 7.05 a. m. our artillery opens, followed in a half hour by an advance of Hagood’s brigade. The affair is a fiasco and is not continued. Field leaves a brigade in Hoke’s trenches and returns with the balance of his division, to be in reserve.

June 25.-Usual skirmishing. At night two of Kershaw’s brigades (Humphreys’ and Kershaw’s) are relieved by B. R. Johnson.

June 26.-The enemy shows some disposition to dig up to us. Anderson’s brigade, of Field’s division, still with Hoke.

June 27.-Some mortar-firing.

June 28.-Orders given to Field to go on the line to the left of the Rivers house, the disposition being thus: Hoke on extreme left, Johnson on his right, and Field on right of Johnson. The change takes place on the night of the 28th, and Field does not get on the line until near morning. Until G. T. Anderson can be brought from the left of Hoke Wofford occupies that portion of the line near the Rives house. Field’s brigade are posted as follows from left to right: Bratton, Benning, Gregg, and Law.

June 29.-Kershaw in reserve. Wofford taken out of Field’s line and G. T. Anderson is retained in reserve for Field. At 12 m. orders are sent to Kershaw to move with three brigades to Reams’ Station to aid Mahone and the cavalry operating against the raiders. He returned about 11 p. m.

June 30.-Unchanged.

July 1.-At 2 a. m. Kershaw moves to the intersection of the Weldon railroad with the line of breast-works to support Hill, who is to attack the enemy’s force at Reams’ Station (Sheridan and the Sixth Corps). That force, however, has disappeared in the night, and our troops returned to their positions.

July 2.-Field still on the line, preferring not to be relieved.

July 3 to 7.-All pass without change or incident.

July 8.-We make in the afternoon something of a Chinese demonstration in the way of shooting and artillery firing to ascertain the enemy’s strength.

July 9.-No change.

July 10.-Kershaw moves out on the railroad at night to cover the movement of some railroad trains laden with corn.

July 11 to 16.-Are passed without change or incident.

July 17.-General Anderson makes a personal reconnaissance for an assault. At night two men desert from Law’s brigade.

July 18.-Further reconnaissance and preparation, in the course of which the desertions of the previous night are learned. The contemplated attack is in consequence abandoned.

July 19 to 22.-No change. Usual shelling and picket-firing.

July 23.-Kershaw moves at 6.30 a. m. for Chaffin’s Bluff.

July 24 to 26.-Affairs unchanged.

July 27.-At 1.30 p. m. we received orders to move our headquarters to the north side of James River. Heth’s division moved over. We arrived at Chaffin’s at 8.30 p. m. Before out arrival four guns of the Rockbridge Artillery, on the left of Kershaw, had been captured by the enemy.

July 28.-In the morning we moved with four brigades-Conner’s, Lane’s, Kershaw’s, and Wofford’s-to dislodge the enemy from the Long Bridge road. The first three become engaged near Whitlock’s and Darby’s house, capturing 1 piece of artillery and about 75 prisoners, but without gaining the Long Bridge road. Our loss is about 250 in killed, wounded, and missing. At night the troops are returned to their positions about Fussell’s Mill. W. H. F. Lee’s cavalry arrived at night on the north side of the James.

July 29.-Nothing done in the morning. In the afternoon Kershaw and Conner moved down to Darby’s to occupy with skirmishers the junction of the Long Bridge and Darbytown roads. Field’s division is sent to us from the south side and arrives at Fussell’s Mill about sundown. He came to Rice’s Turnout by rail. Fitz. Lee’s division of cavalry is also sent to the north side.

July 30.-In the morning the enemy is discovered to have abandoned the Long Bridge road and retired to the other side of the river, leaving a force at Deep Bottom, on the right of our line. Heth’s division is sent back to Rice’s Turnout. His trenches are occupied by Field. In the evening Kershaw recrosses to the south side by Chaffin’s Bluff to half for the night near the Clay house.

July 31.-Affairs unchanged.*


*For continuation of diary, see Vol. XLII, Part I.



  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 760-762
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