HEADQUARTERS HAGOOD’S BRIGADE, HOKE’S DIVISION, July 15, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I am instructed to report the operations of my brigade on the 16th, 17th, and 18th ultimo:
On the evening of the 15th about dark my brigade arrived at Petersburg by the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, and I was at General Beauregard’s headquarters reporting for orders when a courier announced that the enemy had carried the defenses from Numbers 3 to Numbers 7, inclusive, and that our troops were retreating. I was ordered to move out immediately upon the City Point road and take a position to cover that approach to the city, and upon which a new defensive line could be taken. It was after dark, and being unacquainted with the country, and unable to learn much from the confused and contradictory accounts of the volunteer guides who accompanied me, I halted my command at the junction of the City Point and Prince George roads and rode forward myself to reconnoiter the country. With the aid of a map opportunely sent me by Colonel Harris, chief of engineers, I finally determined upon the line of the creek which empties into the Appomattox in rear of Numbers 1, and the west fork of which crosses the line near Numbers 15, and established my command upon it.
General Colquitt’s brigade and the other brigades arriving shortly afterward were established in succession upon this line, General Hoke having approved the selection, and by daylight the position was partially intrenched. Colonel Tabb’s regiment, of Wise’s brigade, held the lines from Numbers 1 to Numbers 2, and was relieved by one of my regiments (Twenty-seventh South Carolina). This made by line in echelon, with the echelon thrown forward on the left. Discovering this at daylight, and that this portion of the line was completely enfiladed by the guns of the enemy established at Numbers 7, I withdrew this regiment also to the west side of the creek. The new line now held by our forces was the chord of the arc of the abandoned works. I also brought in and sent to the ordnance officer two field pieces, spiked, that had been abandoned by our troops the day before. The enemy shelled our position furiously during the day and the skirmishers were constantly engaged. They ostentatiously formed for battle several times during the day beyond musketry range, there being no artillery on our portion of the line, and about dark a feeble effort at assault was made upon my center, none getting nearer than seventy-five yards to our line. It was kept up for an hour or more, but they were kept at bay without trouble and finally retired. Captains Hopkins and Palmer and Adjutant Gelling, of the Twenty-seventh Regiment, were killed by the same shell, and several enlisted men were killed and wounded during the day. Lieutenant Allemong was wounded and has since died. I grieve to add the names of these gallant officers to the bloody record of the last two months. In this short time the best and bravest of my command have been laid beneath the soil of Virginia.
On the 17th nothing occurred with me except pretty heavy shelling from the enemy. Having no artillery to reply to them, their practice was very accurate and inflicted some loss upon us. Our earth-works were diligently strengthened and assumed a respectable profile.
At 1.30 a. m. on the 18th I received orders to withdraw to a line some 800 yards in rear of our position which had been partially prepared for occupation. This new line rested upon the Appomattox some 200 yards west of the house of the younger Hare, and ran nearly at right angles to the river, passing over the western end of the eminence upon which the elder Hare resides, known as Hare’s Hill. I was to occupy again the extreme left. This movement was executed safely, and the troops again in position before daylight. Shortly after daylight the enemy advanced upon our old line, and finding it abandoned came on with vociferous cheers. As soon as these skirmishers encountered our new picket-line their line of battle halted and heavy skirmishing commenced. This continued until about 2 p. m., the skirmishers alternately driving each other. We lost several killed and wounded and a few prisoners, but inflicting an equal or greater loss upon the enemy, and capturing between 25 and 30 prisoners. At 2 p. m. the enemy formed for an assault upon the portion of my brigade between the river and the City Point road. A regiment was pushed up in column along the banks of the river under cover of the grove and buildings of the younger Hare, and when its head became uncovered attempted to deploy. The rest of their force attempted to come forward in line of battle, but never got closer than 250 yards. Our fire was opened upon the column as soon as it showed itself, and upon the line at about 300 yards. The enemy attempted to rally, but was driven back in confusion. The Twenty-first, Twenty-seventh, and Eleventh Regiments repulsed this attack. South of the City Point road the skirmishing was heavy, but our line was not attacked. Later in the afternoon, when Colquitt’s brigade was assailed, my right regiment fired a few volleys obliquely upon the attacking column. Lieutenant Harvey, Seventh Battalion, was killed to-day, and Lieutenant Felder, Twenty-fifth, and Major Rion, Seventh Battalion, were wounded.
I am unable to give an accurate statement of casualties on these days, as in the record preserved by my assistant adjutant-general the casualties of a later day and of some preceding skirmishers at Cold Harbor are included. About 220 is supposed to be the aggregate, of which, killed, 36; wounded, 121; missing, 63.
I am, captain, respectfully,
Captain JOHN A. COOPER,
HDQRS. HAGOOD’S (S. C.) BRIGADE, HOKE’S DIVISION, June 26, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I am required to make a full report of the operations of my command in front of Petersburg on the 24th instant:
My brigade occupied the left of our line of intrenchments, resting on the south bank of the Appomattox, the Twenty-seventh, Twenty-first, and Eleventh Regiments filling the space from the river to the City Point road, and the Twenty-fifth and Seventh Battalion extending along the lines south of the road. The enemy’s intrenchments were at this point parallel to ours at a distance of about 400 yards, an open field with a rank growth of oats upon it intervening. Each side had slight rifle-pits a short distance in advance of its first line of intrenchments. Our line of intrenchments was single. The enemy was intrenched in
three lines close together, and the attack developed the fact that four and a half regiments, numbering some 1,600 or 1,700 men, occupied their first line.
My division commander, Major-General Hoke, about dawn on the 24th informed me that a general engagement was contemplated on that day, and gave me detailed instructions as to the part my command was to take in bringing it on. He had the night before given me directions to be ready for movement at daylight. He stated that a heavy cannonade was to be opened from the north side of the river ont eh enemy’s position. Five minutes after it had ceased I was to charge the portion of the enemy’s line between the river and the City Point road with the Twenty-first, Twenty-seventh, and Eleventh Regiments, and I would be closely supported by Anderson’s brigade. When we had succeeded in driving them from their first line Anderson was to occupy it till his supports arrived, when he was to press on against their second and third lines. While pivoting my three regiments already spoken of on their right and bringing up the other two I was to form my line along the City Point road perpendicular to my first position; then, taking the enemy’s first line as a directrix, I was to clear Colquitt’s front (on my front) as far as and including Hare’s Hill, &c.
While General Hoke was still explaining the plan of battle to me Lieutenant Andrews reported to me from General Anderson, stating that the latter was in position and had sent him to keep in communication with me. In consultation with General Hoke my plan of attack was settled and every arrangement made.
The artillery opened precisely at 7 a. m. and ceased precisely at 7.30 a. m. At 7.20 a. m. I sent Lieutenant Andrews to say to General Anderson that I would move in exactly fifteen minutes. He left me with speed. A delay of seven minutes, however, occurred in my movements, and at precisely 7.42 a. m. I advanced.
I am so far thus accurate as to time, because I did not see my supports; did not know their precise locality, and being governed in my instructions by time noticed the watch closely.
My advance was made with 400 picked men and officers as skirmishers, followed by the balance of the three regiments (about 550 men) in line at close supporting distance. Lieutenant-Colonel Nelson, Seventh Battalion, was selected to command the skirmishers. I took charge of the second line.
The attack was made, and the enemy were driven from their rifle-pits without resistance of moment. Their first line of intrenchments was gained and a portion of it captured. Some 30 prisoners here taken and sent to the rear and the enemy’s whole line seriously shaken, his men in numbers running from the works.
Discovering our small force, and the attack not being followed up, his first line rallied, re-enforcements were rapidly pushed up from his rear, and we were compelled to fall back. This was done slowly, and the enemy, endeavoring to charge us, was driven back into his works.
My men, under orders, laid down in the oats about half way between the two hostile intrenchments to await Anderson’s advance and then go with him. Numbers of them, however, got back as far as our rifle-pits, before spoken of, and were allowed to remain there, with the same orders as the more advanced line. None of them came back to our intrenchments except the few skulkers whom every attack develops, and in this instance I am pleased to say there were very few. How much time was occupied in these movements I am unable to say accurately, as I did not look at my watch again.
When the vigor of my attack was broken, however, and my men had begun to fall back, the left of Benning’s brigade moving by a flank reached the right of the intrenchments I had left in advancing, and there stopped. A discussion ensued between Major-Generals Hoke and Field, and after some delay this brigade moved in and was ready to advance. General Anderson’s report will explain the delay in his arrival. The report of Lieutenant-Colonel Du Bose, commanding Benning’s brigade, will show the time of his arrival and the then condition of affairs. Major-General Hoke was on the ground during the whole morning, and can speak of his personal knowledge. The order for attack being countermanded, I kept out all day as many of my men as the rifle-pits would hold, withdrawing the rest by squads. At night all were withdrawn and the regiments were reorganized.
My loss was about a third of the force engaged, 25 being killed, 73 wounded, and 208 missing. Among the missing are, I fear, many killed and wounded, who fell nearest the enemy’s intrenchments. The gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Nelson is missing-it is hoped not killed; Captain Axson, Twenty-seventh Regiment, was killed at the head of his company; Lieutenants Huguenin and Trim, of the Twenty-seventh; Lieutenants Chappell, Ford, and Vanderford, Twenty-first and Lieutenant Smith, of the Eleventh, were wounded. Captains Mulvaney and Buist were captured upon the enemy’s work, the latter after receiving two wounds. Captain Raysor and Lieutenant Reilly, Eleventh Regiment; Lieutenant White, Twenty-seventh Regiment, and Lieutenant Clemens, Twenty-first Regiment, are missing.
The following is a tabular statement of casualties:
Captain JOHN M. OTEY,
General instructions for a proposed attack on the enemy to-morrow morning.
DUNN’S HILL, Petersburg, June 23, 1864.
First. The batteries on the north side of the Appomattox shall open at daylight to-morrow morning on the lines and batteries of the enemy in front of General Hoke, and will continue the firing for half an hour from the time of firing the first gun. They will then cease firing for five minutes as a signal for General Hoke to commence his movement. They will
then resume their fire, concentrating it only on batteries and distinct lines and masses of the enemy as can be fired upon without any danger whatsoever to our troops. Our shells, the fuses not being very reliable, should be used mostly as solid shot.
Second. At the same time that the batteries on the north side of the Appomattox shall open a serious demonstration, partaking of all the characteristics of a real attack, should be made from the right of our line, and continued until it should be too late for the enemy to re-enforce his right from his left.
Third. Major-General Hoke shall move to the attack as soon as the batteries on the north side of the Appomattox shall have resumed fire after the cessation of five minutes referred to in article I. He will swing around on his right flank, so as to take the enemy’s first and second lines in flank, advancing rapidly to the attack of the enemy’s position near Hare’s house, making use of his artillery to the best advantage. Having taken Hare’s house he will continue the movement to retake our old line of works between the Norfolk railroad and our second line of works.
Fourth. Field’s division, being relieved to-night by Johnson’s, will be put in the best position by Lieutenant-General Anderson to support Hoke’s attack and protect his left flank. He shall place as soon as practicable a brigade in the abandoned lines of the enemy, on which shall rest the left flank of Hoke. This brigade will follow in those lines the advance of Hoke, and General Anderson will continue to fill up with other troops the gap between the river and Hoke’s left until the whole line shall be occupied. Should he meanwhile find it opportune to advance to the attack of the old lines from Battery Numbers 9 to Battery Numbers 2, and thence to our second line, he is at liberty to do so, provided no interval shall be left between his right and Hoke’s left. As soon as Hoke’s right shall have disengaged his present lines, Kershaw’s division will follow its movement in order to form a reserve to Hoke’s line of battle. Kershaw will advance his left toward the lines of the enemy occupied by Field’s division.
Fifth. Johnson’s division will relieve Field’s at about 8 p. m. this evening, keeping the surplus of his force within reach to replace Kershaw’s division as it will move out of the lines to-morrow morning. When Major-General Hoke shall attack the enemy on the east side of the Norfolk railroad, opposite to Johnson’s front, Major-General Johnson shall take the offensive and attack boldly the forces of the enemy between that railroad and his lines, so as to retake the old line of works from [Battery] 19 to [Battery] 24.
Sixth. He will place, as well as General Hoke, batteries in position to enfilade the railroad and Taylor’s Creek as soon as he shall find it practicable.
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
- 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 801-805 ↩