Numbers 299. Report of Brigadier General John Bratton, C. S. Army, commanding Bratton’s brigade, Field’s division.1
BRATTON’S BRIGADE, Camp near Williamsburg Road, January 1, 1865.*
On the morning of the 13th [June] we moved to the right, crossed Chickahominy on the McClellan cavalry bridge, marched through Seven Pines battle-fields, where we bivouacked for two days. On the evening of the 15th I received orders to move up the Kingsland road to the Varina road and picket toward the river from Deep Bottom up. We arrived at the place designated about 10 p. m. We found no enemy in this vicinity, except squads from gun-boats lying in the river. I received orders about midday on the next day to move across the river at Drewry’s Bluff and rejoin the division, which was moving down the Telegraph road toward Petersburg, I moved in accordance with orders and found the division in line of the left of and parallel with the road preparing to drive the enemy out of our works, which had been abandoned by Beauregard to re-enforce Petersburg. I was put in position on the right of the division near Kingsland Creek, but night coming on and the woods being dense only a line of skirmishers was advanced. My skirmishers occupied a line of works that night, and it was not discovered until next morning that the enemy were still in partial possession of Beauregard’s line. About the middle of the day [June 17, 1864] the division made a sort of spontaneous charge, in which my skirmish line participated, and recovered and reoccupied the line that had been abandoned on the morning before. On the next morning (18th) we were relieved by troops from Pickett’s division and moved across the Appomattox to Petersburg, and were put in position on the line about Battery Numbers 34. At dark we moved to the left and relieved troops on the new line covering the Baxter road, my left resting on the battery under which the enemy afterward sprung a mine. The works here were very imperfect, and the sharpshooting was incessant and active. The enemy was found next morning well intrenched close to our front, and could sharpshoot us from two lines. We suffered for the first two days from this advantage over us, losing heavily. The fire upon us here was incessant night and day, and the labor of completing the works, added to the heavy guard-duty necessitated by the close proximity of the lines at this point, rendered this probably the severest tour of duty that my men have been subjected to during the war. We made the position comparatively secure, and thought that we inflicted more damage than we received by sharpshooting before we were relieved. We were relieved by Elliott’s brigade about daybreak on the morning of the 24th, and moved down to the iron bridge on City Point road. We remained there in a ravine for four days, during which time one of my regiments-the Palmetto Sharpshooters, Colonel Walker-was ordered to report to General Hoke as a support to some point on his line against which attack was threatened. The attack, however, was not made and the regiment was not engaged. I moved it with the rest of the brigade back to the old position on the Baxter road on the 28th, relieving Elliott’s brigade. A portion of the line was now assigned to the division to hold, and a system of reliefs established by which each brigade of the division got forty-eight hours’
*For portion of report (here omitted) covering operations from May 7 to June 12, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p. 1065.
Our daily loss was small, but the sum total for the month, particularly when the nature of the wounds is considered (unusual proportion fatal), loomed up heavily, ay, and sadly. Many of my noblest veterans, whose kindling eyes had flashed out their staunch hearts’ enthusiasm on so many glorious fields of battle, were stricken from our rolls, as it were, by the stealthy hand of the assassin. There in the chill of murder about the casualties of this month, and sad, sad is the regret when death thus stricken the brave. We lost on this line 53 killed and 72 wounded, many of them mortally.
On the night of the 28th [July] we were relieved, and took cars on the morning of the 29th on the Petersburg and Richmond Railroad for Rice’s Station. From thence we marched across James River at Drewry’s Bluff to the vicinity of Fussell’s Mill, and were put in position on the morning of the 30th to meet the enemy, who had made demonstration on that point, but found that he had retired on the night previous. My brigade was moved up during the day along the line of works over New Market Heights and put in position on that line, with its right resting on Four-Mile Creek.*
*For continuation of report, see Vol. XLII, Part I.
- 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 766-767 ↩