HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
Near Petersburg, Va., November 12, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the troops under my command on the north side of the James River, from August 12 to August 20, 1864:
At 12 m. August 12 I received instructions from the major-general commanding to move my corps to City Point, the artillery to cross the Appomattox at Point of Rocks, and to park in some concealed position within General Butler’s lines. Great care was taken to conceal these movements from the enemy, and the idea was encouraged that the command was about embarking for Washington. On the morning of the 13th I received my instructions, which were nearly identical with those furnished me in July when operating from Deep Bottom. An estimate of General Butler’s was furnished me, putting the enemy’s strength north of the James at 8,500 men. General Gregg’s division of cavalry was placed under my orders, and also the Tenth Corps, under Major-General Birney. A portion of this corps was then holding the
bridge-heads at Jones’ Neck. It was supposed that my corps could be readily disembarked from boats by running along shore and throwing out gang-planks, while General Birney used the upper bridge and the cavalry the lower. Leaving Major Mitchell, aide-de-camp, to superintend the embarkation of the infantry, I went up to Deep Bottom, accompanied by General Ingalls and a part of my staff, for the purpose of selecting places for landing the troops. I foresaw that the difficulties of disembarkation would be greater than were apprehended, and at my suggestions the transports left City Point at 10 p. m. instead of at midnight, as was originally contemplated. Colonel Morgan, chief of staff, preceded them with a lighter and materials for constructing temporary wharves. As this expedition was one of considerable magnitude, and accomplished perhaps less than was hoped, I think proper to insert here extracts from the order issued to commanders on the afternoon of the 13th:
CONFIDENTIAL CIRCULAR.] HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
City Point, August 13, 1864.
* * * * * * *
VI. At daybreak, or as soon [as] General Mott’s division is disembarked, he will proceed up the New Market and Malvern Hill road, driving the enemy into his intrenched line behind Bailey’s Creek, or beyond it, if practicable. During this operation the cavalry under General Gregg will cover the right flank of General Mott’s division. As soon as the Second and First Division, Second Corps, are disembarked they will, under command of General Barlow, move to General Mott’s right, and assault the enemy’s line near the Jennings house. If the line is carried General Barlow will move to his left and uncover General Mott’s front, who will then advance along the New Market road.
VII. The cavalry will cover the right flank of General Barlow’s command during this operations. As soon as the Central and Charles City Court-House roads are uncovered by the advance of the infantry, General Gregg will proceed to excuse the orders already received by him, identical with those of July 25.
VIII. General Birney, with his command, will be prepared to attack the enemy in position behind Four-Mile Run at daybreak. The hour for attack will, however, be specially designated to General Birney. If successful, he will advance along the New Market and Kingsland roads to the junction of the Varina road; then along the Varina road to the Mill road, securing, if possible, the cross-roads at Osborne’s old turnpike.
* * * * * * *
By order of Major-General Hancock:
FRANCIS A. WALKER,
As I feared, the command was not able to disembark rapidly; the boats could not run near enough to the shore, and the difficulty materially increased as the tide was running out. Many of the boast were not adapted to the transportation of troops, and considerable delay was caused in landing. I had taken the precaution to send all led and pack horses and all saddle-horses that could possibly be spared around by Bermuda Hundred. Notwithstanding the exertions of the officers, it was 9 o’clock in the morning before the command was disembarked. One boat, containing 1,200 men of General Barlow’s division, grounded in the river, and the troops were not gotten ashore until some time later. I had previously visited General Birney and postponed his assault. General Mott moved out on the New Market and Malvern Hill road, as directed, and proceeded with little opposition to Bailey’s Creek, where the enemy were found, as on the previous occasion, in a very strong position. It was intended that General Barlow should keep the force under his command (nearly 10,000 men) well in hand, and not attempt to develop a line of battle from General Mott’s right. The thick woods prevented my knowing accurately what disposition he was making. It appears, however, that he extended to the right, carry
ing one line held by the enemy’s dismounted cavalry and finally assaulting near Fussell’s Mill with one brigade of the Second Division, when I expected him to attack with the greater portion of two divisions. His report, herewith inclosed, reflects little credit on the troops, showing that he made several unsuccessful attempts on the enemy’s line, but I must say that had they been kept more compact they ought to have broken through the line, then thinly held, by mere weight of numbers, and thus have opened a way for General Mott. General Barlow’s example to the troops was all that could be expected or desired from his well-known gallantry and devotion to duty. I attribute the lack of cohesion in the troops, as set forth in General Barlow’s report, to the large number of new men in the command and the small number of experienced officers. General Barlow’s main assault was not made until about 4 p. m. and night punt an end to further operations, my expectations having been considerably disappointed. On General Birney’s front, on the other side of Bailey’s Creek, we had gained some success. The enemy weakened their line at that point to such an extent to resist General Barlow’s advance, which was always strongly threatening, that General Birney was enabled to seize a part of their line with trifling loss, capturing at the same time four guns (8-inch howitzers), three of which were brought off by General Birney, and one secured on the following day by the exertions of General Mott.
The cavalry covered my right flank, advancing well up the Charles City road, driving the enemy from a line of rifle-pits constructed by them during the campaign of 1862. At night a picket-line was established from this advanced position to General Barlow’s right, and one from General Birney’s position to connect with General Mott. During the night the greater portion of General Birney’s, command was massed in rear of the position occupied by General Barlow, and dispositions were made for an attack on the following morning. The line from the New Market and Malvern Hill road at the point designated on the map as the Potteries, to the extreme right was held by a thin skirmish line only. One of General Mott’s best brigades, under command of Colonel Craig, One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, was sent to General Birney. The remainder of Mott’s division was massed in rear of his picket-line, except a small force left at the Potteries. Gibbon’s division, commanded by Colonel (now Brigadier-General) Smyth in the absence of General Gibbon, was also massed in rear of the skirmish line, and Barlow’s division was concentrated near the fork of the Darby and Long Bridge roads. With his own corps and the brigade of Mott’s division, Major-General Birney was directed to find the enemy’s left and turn it; or, failing in this, to attack if a suitable place could be found. The cavalry under General Gregg covered the movement on the right. General Birney moved out between the Central and Charles City road and met no large force. General Gregg was skirmishing with the enemy on the Charles City road, and General Birney engaged a part of the same force. It was my expectation that General Birney would have conducted his operations considerably more to his left, where the enemy’s line was supposed to be. At 6.40 p. m. he sent me a dispatch saying that he had found the enemy’s line, but that the country was unfavorable for a night attack, and that he would therefore assault in the morning, with my permission. Another day thus passed without accomplish anything commensurate with my wishes.
On the morning of the 16th General Birney was ordered to attack. As a strong diversion, General Greggs was directed to move up the Charels City road, and General Miles’ brigade, of Barlow’s division, was placed under his orders with the understanding that when Birney became engaged General Miles was to return by a cross-road and form on Birney’s right and take part in the main attack. The advance of General Gregg was made at an early hour and the enemy was driven rapidly before him beyond Deep Creek, nearly to White’s Tavern. General Chambliss, of the Confederate cavalry, was killed during this advance, and his body fell into our hands. About 10 a.m. General Terry’s division, of Birney’s corps, advanced against the enemy’s works above Fussell’s Mill, and after a severe contest carried the line, capturing 3 colors and 200 or 300 prisoners, most of them from Wright’s (Georgia) brigade and Lane’s brigade. Craig’s brigade, of Mott’s division, and the colored troops under Brigadier General William Birney, attacked on the right of the line; both are said to have acquitted themselves gallantly. Colonel Craig, commanding the brigade of Mott’s division, was unfortunately killed in this assault. He had but just returned from and absence on account of wounds received during the campaign. The enemy soon rallied and retook the line, but it was several hours before I could ascertain the exact state of affairs, the wooded nature of the country preventing any personal examination. We retained only and advanced line of skirmish pits from which the enemy had been driven. Broady’s brigade, of General Barlow’s division, was sent to General Birney at his request, and was formed to cover his right flank. About 1.30 p. m. the enemy’s cavalry, strengthened by and infantry force, advanced on Gregg and Miles on the Charles City road. Our troops retired fighting to Deep Creek. Here General Miles withdrew his brigade, in accordance with my instructions, and moving in on General Birney’s right, took command of his own and Broady’s brigade. Smyth’s brigade, of Gibbon’s division, was formed on Birney’s left, but was engaged only in brisk skirmishing. General Mott felt the enemy’s line at intervals during the afternoon beyond Bailey’s Creek, to prevent them from sending re-enforcements to our front. They showed on each occasion a strong line in Mott’s front. General Birney proposed to attack again at 5 p. m., but reported at 6 p. m. that on advancing his skirmish linea he found the enemy had massed in his front, and decided that he could not attack successfully. General Gregg was holding his position beyond Deep Creek in an old line of the enemy’s rifle-pits. At 4.45 p. m. he was attacked by the enemy and forced back across the creek. Forming on the south bank he succeeded in holding the enemy in check, although they made a strong effort to cross. The remainder of the day passed without incident. In the evening I received a dispatch from General Grant saying that it was possible that a position secured by General Butler near Dutch Gap would turn the enemy’s line in my front and necessitate its abandonment, and that an examination of it would be made in the morning, and perhaps a part of my command would be sent there.
On the night of the 16th a fleet of steamers was sent from City Point to Deep Bottom, returning at 4 a. m. on the 17th, the object being to convey the impression to the enemy that we were withdrawing from Deep Bottom, and to induce them to come out of their works and attack us. There was no change in the disposition of my lines on the 17th, nor could any movements be detected on the part of the enemy. During the day General Birney sent me a note saying that our wounded and those of the enemy in the affair of the 16th were between the lines ex-
posed to the fire of both parties, and requesting a flag of truck to cover their removal. Under the authority of General Grant a cessation of hostilities from 4 until 6 p. m. was arranged for the purpose indicated by General Birney. I was somewhat mortified to find that a mistake had been made in the matter, for not one wounded man was found, the enemy having removed all of ours and buried some of the dead. General Chambliss’ body was delivered to the enemy during this truce. At 5 p. m. I received a dispatch from Lieutenant-General Grant, saying that the position obtained by General Grant telling me that General Warren would move from our left to the Weldon railroad at 4 a. m. on the 18th, and desiring me to take advantage of any opportunity for success in my front. On the 18th General Barlow was compelled by sickness to give up the command of his division to General Miles. This day passed with skirmishing and reconnoitering the enemy’s position until 5.30 p. m., when the enemy came out of their works above Fussell’s Mill and attacked General Birney. The fight lasted about thirty minutes, when the enemy were repulsed with considerable loss. General Miles, with the First and Fourth Brigades of his command, took part in this affair, attacking the enemy on his left flank. At the same time the enemy appeared in considerable force on the road from the Charles City road over White Oak Swamp, driving Gregg’s cavalry away from the cross-roads and obtaining a position on the Charles City road some three miles in rear of General Gregg’s position at Deep Creek. As usual, under such circumstances, the enemy were reported moving my rear (toward Malvern Hill) with infantry and artillery, and the fire being brisk in that direction, I sent Miles’ brigade out to support Gregg, but the brigade did not engage the enemy. General Gregg kept up his communication with Deep Creek by and interior wood road, and the enemy retired from the cross-roads on the following morning. At 8 p. m. General Mot was ordered to Petersburg to relieve the Ninth Corps from the entrenchments. This made a contraction of our lines necessary, and the following dispositions were made: Smyth’s division held from Bailey’s Creek, on the New Market road, to the right along the wood road leading to the Long Bridge road, connecting with Miles’ division, which held nearly to Ruffin’s, on the Long Bridge road. The Tenth Corps occupied the high ground near Ruffin’s, covering the approaches from the right. The picket-line remained unchanged, except that the right was withdrawn somewhat.
On the 19th, at 10.30 a. m., I received a dispatch from General Grant informing me that the enemy had sent a division to Petersburg, and advising me not to hesitate to attack with my whole force if I found a weak point. No such point had been discovered, but I spent two or three hours in a close examination of the line, and finally concluded to attack a little to the left of where General Barlow had failed on the 15th. The detailed order had been prepared for the assault, which was to be made by a portion of Miles’ division and a brigade of colored troops from Birney, all under command of General Miles. I thought the chance of carrying the line a fair one, the main difficulty being in holding the position, or in gaining any decisive advantage from it. I described the position fully to General Grand, and at his suggestion the projected assault was abandoned. About 1 p. m. I was requested to send a brigade of cavalry to General Meade if I could spare it. General Gregg was at once ordered to send the brigade. Nothing of great interest occurred during the 20th. Im-
mediately after dark I withdrew my command, in accordance with orders, the Tenth Corps covering the movement, and marched my two divisions by Point of Rocks to my old camp, near Petersburg. The cavalry moved by Broadway Landing, reporting to the major-general commanding when they had crossed the Appomattox. The Tenth Corps returned to its former camp. The night was extremely inclement, and the roads were in an exceedingly bad condition, but my command arrived at camp in very good order between 6 and 7 a. m. on the 21st. The subsequent operations have already been set forth in my report of the battle of Reams’ Station, August 25, 1864.*
The death of Major-General Birney has rendered it impossible for me to obtain any detailed report of the operations of his corps. Brigadier-General Terry, whose division led the assault on the 16th, was commended for his gallantry on that occasion.
The reports of Generals Mott, Barlow, and Miles are herewith inclosed. No report has been received from General Gregg, commanding cavalry. Colonel G. N. Macy, Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers, is particularly mentioned by General Barlow for good conduct. He was severely wounded during the attack on the enemy’s position on the 15th. He had only returned to his command on that morning, having been absent from wounds previously received. My staff were active in the performance of their duties during these operations.
I append a list of casualties in my own corps. I regret that I am not able to include the casualties of the Tenth Army Corps and the cavalry, having received no reports from them.
I am, general, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
WINF’D S. HANCOCK,
Major-General of Volunteers.
Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,
HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
September 12, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this corps between the 22nd and 26th of August, including the engagement at Reams’ Station on the 25th of August:
It is proper to premise that the Second Corps, with part of the Tenth Corps and General Gregg’s cavalry, had been operating on the north side of the James River from the morning of the 14th instant, engaged daily in skirmishing with the enemy and on several occasions in considerable affairs, which at an earlier period of the war would have been dignified by the name of battles. General Mott’s division (the Third)
*See September 12, 1864, next, post.
recrossed the James on the 18th and relieved a portion of the troops holding the intrenched line in front of Petersburg. The remaining divisions withdrew from Deep Bottom immediately after dark on the 20th, marching directly to their old camp near the Deserted House, where they arrived about 6.30 a. m. on the 21st. This march was one of the most fatiguing and difficult performed by the troops during the campaign, owing to the wretched condition of the roads, and the men arrived in camp greatly fatigued. They were permitted to rest barely long enough to cook breakfast, when the two divisions were ordered to a position near the Strong house, from which they were again speedily removed to the vicinity of the Gurley house, in rear of General Warren’s position, arriving there about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The following morning, August 22, both divisions were placed on fatigue duty repairing the roads. About noon, the First Division, General Miles commanding, General Barlow being absent sick, was ordered to move on to the Weldon railroad to aid in covering the working party and to assist in the destruction of the road. Nearly two miles was destroyed during the afternoon.
The work was prosecuted on the following day without material incident as far as Reams’ Station. The cavalry under Colonel Spear, consisting of two regiments, and the division of General Gregg, were engaged with the enemy’s cavalry on the roads leading toward Dinwiddie Court-House, in which affairs the enemy were repulsed. General Barlow, who had assumed command of his division during the day, occupied the entrenchments at Reams’ Station at night. The Second Division, Major-General Gibbon commanding, moved from the vicinity of the Aiken house shortly before dark on the 23rd, bivouacking for the night on the plank road and arriving at Reams’ Station at an early hour on the morning of the 24th, relieving the First Division from the entrenchments. General Barlow was again obliged to relinquish command of his division to General Miles on account of sickness. On being relieved from the entrenchments, the First Division proceeded with the work of destroying the railroad toward Rowanty Creek, my instructions being to destroy the railroad as far as that point, if practicable. During the 24th the road was destroyed beyond the cross-road known as Malone’s Crossing, and to a point, say, three miles beyond Reams’. The advance of the working party was covered by two regiments of cavalry under Colonel Spear, while General Gregg, with his cavalry, held the approaches from the direction of Dinwiddie and Petersburg, picketing to General Warren’s left and to my left as far as the plank road. Colonel Spear had some skirmishing with the enemy’s cavalry on the road to Stony Creek and Malone’s road, but with the assistance of 200 infantry from General Miles’ division, drove them from the immediate vicinity of the road. At dark the working party and the division were withdrawn to the entrenchments at Reams’, Colonel Spear holding the cross-roads. Orders were issued for the further destruction of the road on the following day by the Second Division. About 11 p. m. 1 received the following dispatch from Major-general Humphreys, chief of staff:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
August 24, 1864-8 p. m.
Major-General HANCOCK, Commanding Second Corps, Reams’ Station:
GENERAL: Signal officers report large bodies of infantry passing south from their entrenchments by the Halifax and Vaughan roads. they are probably destined to operate against General Warren or yourself-most probably against your operations. The commanding general cautions you to look out for them.
A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Major-General and Chief of Staff.
The following answer was returned:
HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
August 24, 1864-11 p. m.
Your dispatch is received. The signal officer does not say how many men he observed, nor the time. If the enemy have sent any considerable force to operate against me, I do not care about separating my force so far. Rowanty is now reported by citizens to be eight miles from here.
WINF’D S. HANCOCK,
In reply I was informed that the number of the enemy was estimated as 8,000 or 10.000, and the time of leaving their works about sunset.
A copy of a dispatch from General Warren to General Humphreys was also furnished me, and is here inserted:
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
August 24, 1864-9 a. m.
I have received your report of the signal officer. This force may be only working parties going out. All the prisoners I sent you to-day say they are working on a new line all along. I feel certain if they have gone out it is to interfere with General Hancock. They cannot do anything with me here.
G. K. WARREN,
At daylight of the 25th General Miles relieved the pickets of the Second Division, but the order for the work on the railroad was postponed until the result of the reconnaissances General Gregg had been directed to make could be ascertained. The enemy’s cavalry pickets were derived in at two points on the Vaughan road and no indications of any increase of force developed. At 6 a. m. the following dispatch was sent to General Humphreys, chief of staff:
On account of the information you gave me last night, I have concluded not to send General Gibbon’s division out to work this morning until I have satisfied myself that such a force is not in my immediate vicinity. I shall send out and see how far I can clear the roads to my right and front this morning. There are important roads coming in from the estate road between Reams’ and where the working party would go, I consider my force too small to separate such a distance until sure that the enemy’s infantry is not in my front.
WINF’D S. HANCOCK.
When this was written it was intended to send out a brigade of cavalry, supported by infantry, but on the receipt of the reports from the squadrons sent out by General Gregg, it was determined to send General Gibbon’s division out to work, so as to lose no time that could be avoided. The division accordingly started, but had hardly gotten out of the entrenchments when a report was received from Colonel Spear that the enemy were advancing on him in force. He was very soon driven away from the cross-roads. General Gibbon deployed a heavy skirmish line on the right of the road to Stony Creek and advanced against the enemy, developing the fact that his cavalry was supported by infantry. While the skirmishing was going on here a part of the enemy’s cavalry passed to my left and rear, breaking through General Gregg’s picket-line, then running from Reams’ to Gary’s Church, on the plank road. They were speedily driven back by a regiment of cavalry and a small force from General Miles’ division. At this juncture it was deemed prudent to recall General Gibbon’s division, and he took post
*See Hancock to Meade, October 16, 1865, p. 230.
in the entrenchments on the left of the First Division, extending the breast-work to better protect the left and rear. It is proper to say here that the defensive position at Reams’ was selected on another occasion by another corps, and was, in my judgment, very poorly located, the bad location contributing very materially to the subsequent loss of the position, and particularly to the loss of the artillery. Dispatches were sent to the commanding general at 10.20 and 11.45 a. m., informing him of the occurrences above narrated. These dispatches were sent to General Warren’s headquarters, a distance of about four miles, from which point they were telegraphed. At about 12 m. the telegraph line was in operation to within about half a mile of my headquarters, and subsequent dispatches from me were sent by telegraph entirely. The first one sent by the telegraph was dated 11.45 a. m. At 12 o’clock the enemy drove in the pickets of the First Division on the Dinwiddie road, and at about 2 p. m. made a spirited advance against Miles; front, but were speedily repulsed. A second and more vigorous attack followed at a short interval and was likewise repulsed, some of the enemy falling within a few yards of the breast-work.
About the time of these attacks I received the following dispatch from the major-general commanding, at the hands of Captain Sanders:
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH CORPS,
August 25, 1864.
Warren has informed me of your dispatch announcing the breaking through your left of the enemy’s cavalry. I have directed Mott to send all his available force down the plank road to the Reams’ Station road and to take one of Parke’s batteries, now at he Williams house, with him. The officer in charge of this command is directed to report to you on his arrival. I think, form all the information I can obtain, that the enemy are about assuming the offensive, and will either attack you or interpose between you and Warren. under the circumstances, I fear we cannot do much more damage to the railroad. That being the case, you can exercise your judgment about withdrawing your command and resuming your position on the left and in rear of Warren, either where you were before or in any other position which, in your judgment, will be better calculated for the purpose and based on the knowledge of the country your recent operations may have given you. Let me know by the bearer the condition of things in your front, and your views.
GEO. G. MEADE,
Captain Sanders inquired if the direct road along the railroad was open, and being told that it was, took that route back, carrying with him full information as to the state of affairs.
At 2.45 p. m., partly in answer to the one just given, the telegraph being open, the following dispatch was sent to General Meade:
Considering that the enemy intend to prevent any further destruction of the railroad, there is no great necessity for my remaining here, but it is more important that I should join Warren; but I do not think, closely engaged as I am at present, I can withdraw safely at this time. i think it will be well to withdraw to-night, if I am not forced to do so before. Everything looks promising at present, except that, being in an inclosed position, the enemy are liable to pass between myself and Warren and I cannot determine the fact, so that Warren had better be watchful until I can make a practicable connection with him. I shall try and keep my cavalry engaged to keep them off the plank road.
WINF’D S. HANCOCK,
Dispatches were also sent at 3.30 p. m. to General Meade. The first stated that the prisoners thus far belonged to Wilcox’s division, and that A. P. Hill was himself present. The second dispatch gave an account of the second attack on General Miles’ position, and stated that Anderson’s brigade, of Field’s division, was present. A few minutes
past 4 o’clock I received the following dispatch from the major-general commanding by the hands of Captain Rosecrans:
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH CORPS-2.45 p. m.
In addition to Mott’s troops, I have ordered Willcox’s division, Ninth Corps, to the plank road, where the Reams’ Station rod branches off. Willcox is ordered to report to you. Call him up, if necessary. He will have some artillery with him. I hope you will be able to give the enemy a good thrashing. All I apprehend is his being able to interpose between you and Warren. You must look out for this. I hold some more of Warren’s forces ready for contingencies.
GEO. G. MEADE,
To this dispatch the following answer was sent:
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,
August 25, 1864-4.15 p. m.
I have just received your dispatch by Captain Rosencrantz. I fear it will be too late to have Willcox get here for any practicable purpose, as he is between four and five miles off now. Still, I shall order up his division. had the division come down the railroad it would have been here in time. I desire to know as soon as possible whether you wish me to retire from this station to-night in case we get through safe.
WINF’D S. HANCOCK,
To this dispatch a postscript (now nearly illegible) was added, stating that skirmishing was going on and an attack probable on the left.
The second dispatch was as follows:
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,
August 25, 1864-4.30 p. m.
An examination of the country leads me to believe that the enemy cannot turn my right without making a wide detour of the Vaughan road, and they have not time to do this to-night. The right of my line extends nearly to Jones’ Hole Swamp, impassable for troops in line. I am more apprehensive of my left, but it is getting so late the enemy must make vigorous use of the time to gain any advantage. I have ordered up Willcox’s division as a precaution. Have heard nothing of cavalry reported to have passed in the direction of the plank road. There is only skirmishing going on now.
WINF’D S. HANCOCK.
Captain Rosencrantz was detained for a few minutes until I received word from the telegraph operator that the line was working and the dispatches had been sent. The following additional dispatch was sent by telegraph at 4.45 to General Meade:
The latest indications are that the enemy have drawn a line from my left, covering the railroad and the Dinwiddie and Stony Creek roads. They are heard chopping (I suppose felling abatis), though the pickets report they hear artillery moving when the chopping is going on. I still hold the road between me and Warren. The enemy have made no demonstration on the Vaughan road.
WINF’D S. HANCOCK,
As soon as I knew that Willcox’s division had been ordered down the plank road I dispatched a staff officer, Captain McEntee, to conduct it up. Arrangements were made as to its disposition. About 5 o’clock a staff officer from General Mott (Major Willian) reported the arrival of 1,700 men of General Mott’s division at the forks of the road where the Reams’ Station road leaves the plank road. These troops would have immediately been ordered up, but Major Willian stated that before he could possibly get back with the order Willcox’s division
would have passed, so that nothing would be gained. Orders therefore were given to Colonel McAllister, commanding the force, to hold well down the plank road in anticipation of any attempt of the enemy’s cavalry to pass to our rear. An order was also sent to him to arrest all stragglers and form them into regiments. This order, it appears, was handed by the orderly bearing it to General Willcox, who, not observing the address to Colonel McAllister, opened the order, and, thinking it addressed to him, deployed a part of his division to arrest and form the stragglers from the battle-field. How much delay was caused by this error is not known, but it is known that the division, in any event, would not have arrived in time to be of service. Meanwhile the enemy were preparing their forces for a final attack, which was inaugurated about 5 p. m. by a heavy artillery fire, which, while it did little actual damage, had its effect in demoralizing a portion of the command exposed to a reverse fire, owing to the faulty location of the rifle-pits, as before explained. The shelling continued for about fifteen minutes, when it was followed by an assault on General Miles’ front, opposite the position held by the Consolidated Brigade and the Fourth Brigade. Just at the time when a few minutes’ resistance would have secured the repulse of the enemy, who were thrown into considerable disorder by the severity of the fire they were subjected to and the obstacles to their advance, a part of the line (composed of the Seventh, Fifty-second, and Thirty-ninth New York) gave way in confusion. At the same time a break occurred on the right of the One hundred and twenty-fifth and One hundred and twenty-sixth New York. A small brigade of the Second Division, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Rugg, which had previously been sent as aa reserve to General Miles, was ordered forward at once to fill up the gap, but the brigade could neither be made to go forward nor fire. McKnight’s battery, under Lieutenant Dauchy, Twelfth New York Artillery [Battery], was then turned on the opening, doing great execution, but the enemy advanced along the rifle-pits, taking possession of the battery and turning one gun upon our own troops. On the left of the break in the line was Murphy’s brigade, of the Second Division, which was driven back, and two batteries (B, First Rhode Island Artillery, Lieutenant Perrin, and the Tenth Massachusetts Battery, Captain Sleeper) fell into the hands of the enemy after having been served with marked gallantry and losing a very large proportion of officers, men, and horses. I immediately ordered General Gibbon’s division forward to retake the position and guns, but the order was responded to very feebly by his troops, the men falling back to their breast-works on receiving a slight fire from the enemy. By the loss of this position the remainder of General Gibbon’s
division was exposed to an attack in reverse and on the flank and were obliged to occupy the reverse side of the breast-work they had constructed. Affairs at this juncture were in a critical condition, and but for the bravery and obstinacy of a part of the First Division and the fine conduct of their commander (General Miles) would have ended still more disastrously. General Miles succeeded in rallying a small force of the Sixty-first New York Volunteers, and forming a line at right angles with the breast-works swept off the enemy, recapturing McKnight’s guns, and retook a considerable portion of his line. General Miles threw about 200 men across the railroad and toward the enemy’s rear, but the force was too small to accomplish anything. The One hundred and fifty-second New York is reported to have behaved very badly here, running away without firing more than one or two shots. An attempt was made to get some of
the troops of Gibbon’s division to assist in this operation, but the commanders reported that their men could not be brought up to the advance. The enemy’s dismounted cavalry now made an attack on the left, driving General Gibbon’s division from its breast-works. This division offered very little resistance, though the attack was feeble compared with that of the enemy’s infantry, and the enemy, elated at their easy success at this point, were pressing on with loud cheers when they were met by a heavy flank fire from the dismounted cavalry, occupying the extreme left, and their advance summarily checked. General Gregg, with his own command and one regiment and a squadron from Colonel Spear’s command, rendered invaluable services at this point, and the steadiness of his men contrasted more than favorably with the conduct of some of the infantry commands. The enemy turned their attention now to General Gregg’s command, which was not able to hold its position after General Gibbon’s division had fallen back, and accordingly the cavalry was withdrawn by him and formed on the left of the new line which General Gibbon’s division had fallen back, and accordingly the cavalry was withdrawn by him and formed on the left of the new line which General Gibbon had succeeded in forming a short distance in the rear of the rifle-pits. Woerner’s battery, First New Jersey Artillery, rendered efficient service during and after this attack. With the aid of this battery and the troops under General Miles the road running to the plank road was held until dark, the enemy being checked in every attempt to advance beyond that part of the line they had captured. A part of the captured guns were held by the enemy’s skirmishers, and General Miles succeeded in recapturing one, drawing it from the field to the wood within our lines. Owing to some failure to make it known that the piece had been recovered it was unfortunately abandoned when the troops withdrew, making a total of nine guns lost during the action. At this time General Miles and General Gregg offered to retake their breast-works entire, but General Gibbon stated that his division could not retake any of his line. It being necessary to reoccupy the lost works to protect the only communication then open to the rear, and no reenforcements having arrived, the troops were ordered to withdraw at dark, General Miles covering the rear. General Willcox’s division was formed about one mile and a half in rear of the field, and after the troops had passed became a rear guard. This command, with the one under Colonel McAllister, on the plank road, withdrew during the night, returning to their respective camps. The troops of my own corps went into camp about midnight near the Williams house. The cavalry under General Gregg held the plank road and the country between the plank road and General Warren’s left. The enemy made on attempt to follow up their advantage, except to throw out a small force of cavalry on the morning of the 26th to pick up stragglers.
Had my troops behaved as well as heretofore, I would have been able to defeat the enemy on this occasion. A force sent down the railroad to attack the enemy in flank would have accomplished the same end, or a small reserve in the field about 6 p. m. I attribute the bad conduct of some of my troops to their great fatigue, owing to the heavy labor exacted of them and to their enormous losses during the campaign, especially in officers. The lack of the corps in this respect is painfully great and one hardly to be remedied during active operations. The Seventh, Fifty-second, and Thirty-ninth New York are largely made up of recruits and substitutes. The first-named regiment in particular is entirely new, companies being formed in New York and sent down here, some officers being unable to speak English. The material compares very unfavorably with the veterans absent.
My force at Reams’ Station consisted of about 6,000 arms-bearing men of the infantry, at most, and about 2,000 cavalry, excluding that part of the cavalry on picket from General Warren’s left to the plank road. The enemy’s force in not known to me. Prisoners were taken from Wilcox’s and Heth’s divisions, Anderson’s brigade, of Field’s division, and Hampton’s cavalry, which was in large force. One brigade, if not two, of Mahone’s division, was also said by prisoners to be presents. I forward herewith the report of Major-General Gibbon, Second Division; Brigadier-General Miles, First Division, and Brigadier-General Gregg, commanding cavalry. A tabular statement of casualties also accompanies this report.
The following officers of my staff were with me on the field and were unusually exposed, owing to the peculiar formation of the lines, and were prominent in the performance of their duties, especially in restoring order after the enemy broke my line:
Lieutenant Colonel F. A. Walker, assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenant Colonel C. H. Morgan, assistant inspector-general and chief of staff; Lieutenant Colonel J. S. Smith, chief commissary of subsistence; A. N. Dougherty, medical director; Charles Smart, assistant surgeon; Major A. W. Angel, Fifth New Jersey, topographical engineer; Captain Clark, commanding artillery; Captain E. P. Brownson, commissary of musters; Major W. G. Mitchell, aide-de-camp; Captain I. B. Parker, aide-de-camp; Captain W. D. W. Miller, aide-de-camp; Captain J. S. Conrad, Second Infantry, judge advocate; Captain W. P. Wilson, One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, acting assistant-adjutant-general; Captain C. S. McEntee, assistant quartermaster.
I regret to record the death of Captain E. P. Brownson, commissary of musters, mortally wounded while conducting to the front men he had assisted in rallying. Lieutenant Colonel F. A. Walker, assistant-general, was sent to the front with an order just before the troops were withdrawn, and owing to the darkness rode into the enemy’s lines and was captured. Private Canby B. Alrich, Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, chief clerk in the assistant adjutant-general’s office, was employed during the day, in the temporary absence of my staff officers, as an aide, and performed the duty with great promptness and intelligence. The report of the chief of artillery has been delayed by the absence of this officer, but will be forwarded hereafter.
WINF’D S. HANCOCK,
Major-General of Volunteers, Commanding.
Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS, Asst. Adjt. General, Army of the Potomac.
Major General GEORGE G. MEADE,
GENERAL: In my report of the operations of the Second Corps between the 22nd and 26th of August, 1864, including the engagement at Reams’ Station on the 25th, I state as follows:
A copy of a dispatch from General Warren to General Humphreys was also furnished me, and is here inserted:
“HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
“August 24, 1864-9 a. m.
“I have received your report of the signal officer. This force may be only working parties going out. All the prisoners I sent you to-day say they are working on a new line all along. I feel certain if they have gone out it is to interfere with General Hancock. They cannot do anything with me here.
“G. K. WARREN,
It seems to me that a mistake has been made in copying the dispatch. I think the time should read 9 p. m. instead of 9 a. m. I will be much obliged if you will have the original dispatch referred to, and inform me whether the above copy is correct. If the time should be 9 p. m. instead of 9 a. m., I respectfully request that you will cause it to be corrected in the original report in the office of Lieutenant-General Grant. The spelling of the name of the assistant adjutant-general of the Fifth Corps might be corrected from Korcke to Locke at the same time.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WINF’D S. HANCOCK,
Major-General, U. S. Volunteers.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
Camp near Petersburg, November 10, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command on the 25th, 26th, 27th, and 28th ultimo: On the morning of the 25th Gibbon’s division (under the command of General Egan, during the absence of General Gibbon) and Mott’s division assumed the entire line, from near Redoubt Converse on the Appomattox to Battery 24 on the left. At 2 p. m. on the 26th Egan and Mott moved along the rear line of intrenchments to the vicinity of Fort Dushane on the Weldon railroad, where they went into bivouac. I was expected to bivouac on the Vaughan road near the Davis house, though it was not so stated in the order, but there was some difficulty in fixing the road to that point, and it was found that we could move with equal facility from Fort Dushane, taking a cross-road from Wyatt’s house, on the Church road, over to the Vaughan road. The order for the movement on the 27th was further modified by changing the hour for starting from 2 a. m. to 3.30 a. m. The order of movement prescribed that I should move down the Vaughan road with my two divisions, cross Hatcher’s Run; thence by Dabney’s Mill to the Boydton plank road; thence by the White Oak road, recrossing Hatcher’s
Run, and, finally, that I should strike the South Side Railroad. Gregg’s division of cavalry was placed under my orders, and was to move on my left flank by way of Rowanty Post-Office and the Quaker road. the operations of the Ninth and Fifth Corps were intended, I presume, to occupy the enemy to an extent that would forbid their concentration against me.
The cavalry bivouacked near me on the night of the 26th. At 3.30 a. m. it moved out by the Halifax road, while the infantry (Egan’s division in advance) moved over to the Vaughan road, where the enemy’s vedettes were first encountered. The march was somewhat delayed by obstructions in the road, but the head of Egan’s column reached Hatcher’s Run very soon after daylight; and Egan at once made his arrangements to force the crossing. The enemy were posted in a rifle-pit on the opposite bank. They were in small force, but the approaches were difficult, trees having been felled in the stream, which was waist deep, above and below the ford. Smyth’s brigade was deployed in the first line, and went forward in gallant style, carrying the works, with a loss of about 50 men. Lieutenant-Colonel Spalter, Fourth Ohio, commanding the skirmish line, was killed here. As soon as the command was in hand on the opposite bank, Egan moved by the nearest road to Dabney’s Mill, while Mott’s division followed the Vaughan road for a mile, and then struck over to the mill by a cross-road. About the time we arrived at the mill I received a dispatch from General Gregg, telling me he had crossed the run, and the sound of his guns could be heard on our left. I should have stated that at the ford I sent a dispatch to the major-general commanding stating that I had effected a crossing, and expressing some uneasiness at not hearing the firing of the Ninth Corps. As soon as Mott reached Dabeny’s Mill Egan moved on toward the Boydton road. The sound of Gregg’s guns became more distinct, and it was hoped that we might strike the plank road in time to inflict some damage to the enemy, but we arrived in season only to hurry up their rear guard. A small party of good cavalry might perhaps have captured a part of their train, then passing over Hatcher’s Run, but nothing could be accomplished with the cavalry I had in my advance. As soon as we emerged into the clearing at the plank road the enemy opened fire on us from near Burgess’ Tavern and from our left, having apparently a section of artillery at each place. Beck’s battery, of the Fifth Artillery, soon silenced the fire of the section by the tavern. Soon after my arrival at the Boydton road General Gregg came in by the Quaker road, and preparations were at once made for continuing the march by the White Oak road. General Egan’s division moved down the Boydton road toward the bridge, for the purpose of driving the enemy across the run. Mott’s division was put in motion for the White Oak road, and a brigade of cavalry sent down to relieve Egan, in order that he might follow Mott.
At this juncture, about 1 p. m., I received instructions from the major-general commanding to halt at the plank road. General Mott formed one brigade in line, looking toward the upper bridge, while General Egan continued to press the enemy’s dismounted cavalry, who held their ground with tenacity, but were finally derived over the run by a charge from a part of Smyth’s brigade. Very soon after the order to halt was received, General Meade came on the field, accompanied by Lieutenant-General Grant. General Meade informed me that Crawford’s division, of the Fifth Corps, was feeling its way up along the south bank of the run, and desired me to assist in making the connection by extending to the right. The same information substantially
and a caution concerning the vacant space between the Fifth Corps and my right, had been received from General Humpreys, chief of staff, but a few minutes before General Meade’s arrival. Under instructions from me, General Egan deployed two of his brigades to the right of the plank road, and subsequently deployed two regiments as far as they would reach to the right, and it was at one time reported that the connection with General Crawford was made, but the report was erroneous. Major Bingham, of my staff, was sent to communicate with General Crawford, and states that he found him about one mile from my headquarters, and a short three-fourths of a mile from my right. The enemy meanwhile were not idle. They placed nine guns in position in front of Egan on the north bank of the run, and five more about 800 yards from Egan’s left, on the White Oak road, from which they opened a very annoying artillery fire. Beck, with four guns of his battery, replied gallantly. General Gregg was directed to send one of his brigades to drive away or capture the battery on our left, but on making a reconnaissance of the position thought he discovered infantry protected by hastily constructed works, and did not advance against the battery. More important events diverted my attention from this point, though Granger’s battery, Tenth Massachusetts, was sent forward to relieve Beck, that the latter might replenish his ammunition. As soon as Major Bingham returned from General Crawford and reported his (General Crawford’s) whereabouts, Lieutenant-General Grant and General Meade left the field, giving me verbal orders to hold my position until the following morning, when I was to fall back by the same road I had come.
For a better understanding of the events of the day reference is made to the accompanying sketch,* which shows the position of my command between 3 and 4 p. m.
Knowing the views of my superiors, I had determined to assault the bridge and gain possession of the high ground beyond. General Egan, whose division occupied the crest of the ridge near Burgess’ Tavern, had been intrusted with the necessary preparations, and McAllister’s brigade, of Mott’s division, had gone forward to support him. De Trobriand’s, of Mott’s division, was still in line of battle, facing the approaches from the upper bridge. The remaining brigade of Mott’s division (General Pierce’s) had been moved up to support a section of Beck’s artillery, under Lieutenant Metcalf, which was in position on a secondary ridge about midway between Mott and Egan. Constant firing had been heard on my right, which was attributed to Crawford’s advance. Becoming uneasy, I ordered two regiments of Pierce’s brigade to advance well into the wood and ascertain what was there. Lieutenant Stacey, of my staff, was sent to General Crawford to inform him that I was about to assault the bridge, for which preparations were complete. A section of Granger’s battery had been advanced to cover the bridge; the artillery had already opened, and a small party of the One hundred and sixty-fourth New York, the advance of the storming party, had pushed across the bridge, capturing a 10-pounder Parrott gun. Just at this time, about 4 p. m., a volley of musketry immediately on my right, which was followed by a continuous fire, left no doubt that the enemy were advancing. The small force of Pierce’s brigade in the woods were overrun by weight of numbers, and the enemy broke out of the woods just where Metcalf’s section was placed. Metcalf changed front, and fired a few rounds, and the part of Pierce’s brigade in support endeavored to change front, but were unable to do
*See page 233 for diagram.
so successfully, and most of the brigade was driven back in confusion, rallying at the plank road, the section falling into the hands of the enemy. At the first sound of this attack I sent Major Mitchell, my senior aide, to General Egan, with orders for General Egan to desist from his assault on the bridge and to face his command to the rear and attack the enemy with his whole command. When Major Mitchell reached General Egan he found that the general, with the instinct of the true soldier, was already in motion to attack the force in his rear. I do not think the enemy comprehended the situation precisely. They pushed rapidly across the ridge, resting their right across the Boydton road, and facing south, commenced firing. De Trobriand’s brigade was quietly formed just in front of the Dabney’s Mill road, with Kerwin’s brigade of dismounted cavalry on its left. Roder’s and Beck’s batteries were opened on the enemy. Major Mitchell in returning from General Egan found the enemy in possession of the road, and taking the First Minnesota, of Rugg’s brigade, Second Division, opened fire on them. This was perhaps the earliest intimation they had of the presence of any considerable force in their rear; and they immediately directed a part of their fire in that direction. General Egan swept down upon the flank of the enemy with Smyth’s and Willet’s brigades, of his own division, and McAllister’s brigade was largely composed, faltered but were speedily reformed. The general advance of Egan was, however, irresistible, and the enemy were swept from the field, with a loss of two colors and several hundred prisoners. The Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Volunteers are particularly mentioned for good conduct, capturing more prisoners than the regiment had men. The captured guns were recaptured by us, and were soon afterward drawn off the field by a party of volunteers, under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel J. S. Smith, chief commissary of the corps.
Rugg’s brigade, of Egan’s division, did not advance with the division as was expected and desired. As the matter is now being investigated by a general court-martial,* I forbear commenting upon it further than to say that had the brigade advanced the rout of the enemy would have been greater, and a larger number of prisoners would have fallen into our hands. The enemy were driven into the woods in complete confusion, and another brigade advanced the rout of the enemy by advancing upon them through the wood from my extreme right. Almost instantaneously with this attack the enemy commenced pressing my left and rear heavily. Mott’s skirmishers in the direction of the upper bridge were sharply engaged, and several valuable officers were lost on this line. The enemy in front had hardly been repulsed when the firing in rear became so brisk that I was obliged to send to General Gregg all of his force I had used to meet the attack in front as well as another of his brigades, which I was about putting in on my right to cover the Dabney’s Mill road, constantly threatened by the enemy.
*Rugg was found guilty of neglect of duty and disobedience of orders, and by General Court-Martial Orders. Numbers 45, headquarters Army of the Potomac, November 17, 1864, was dismissed from the service. The disability arising from this dismissal was removed by letter from the Adjutant-General’s Office January 26, 1865, on report of the Judge-Advocate-General, and the Governor of New York was authorized to re-commission the officer.
The attack on Gregg was made by five brigades of Hampton’s cavalry, and was persevered in until some time after dark. I desired to send infantry to Gregg’s assistance, seeing that he was being pressed very vigorously, but I feared a renewal of the attack in my front, and I therefore trusted to General Gregg to hold his own, and I was not disappointed. About 5 p. m. I sent Major Bingham, of my staff, to communicate with General Warren or Crawford, to state what had occurred, and to say that unless the Fifth Corps moved up and connected with me, I could not answer for the result, as I was pressed by the enemy in heavy force. Unfortunately, Major Bingham was captured by the enemy in attempting to execute my order, and though he subsequently escaped saw neither General Warren nor Crawford.
At 5.20 p. m. I received a dispatch from Major-General Humphreys, chief of staff, telling me that our signal officers had discovered the enemy moving down the Boydton plank road, undoubtedly concentrating against me. The dispatch further stated that my orders to withdraw the following morning were unchanged. I gave to Captain Mason, the staff officer who brought me this report, full information as to my position, and he left me shortly before dark. Soon after I sent two of my staff to represent to the major-general commanding the exact condition of affairs as follows: Having moved in the morning, by order, without any reserve ammunition, I found myself seriously crippled for lack of it. This was particularly the case with the batteries, only on of which had a fair supply of ammunition, and this battery had lost both officers, and had but three men left per gun. The other batteries had expended nearly every round of ammunition. My command had been moving and fighting till after dark, and as a consequence was in considerable disorder. Quite a heavy rain was falling, and the wood road to Dabney’s Mill,, my only communication with the rest of the army, was seriously threatened by the enemy, and was becoming very bad. It was a question with me whether ammunition could be brought up and issued during the night, and I did not think my command could make a strong fight in the morning without it. Between 6 and 7 p. m. I received a dispatch from Major-General Humphreys stating that immediately on the return of Captain Mason, Ayres’ division, of the Fifth Corps, had been ordered to my support, but had halted at Armstrong’s Mill, which was as far as it would be able to get. The dispatch also authorized me to withdraw that night if I thought proper, but stated that if I could attack successfully in the morning with the aid of Ayres’ and Crawford’s divisions, the major-general commanding desired me to do so.
Though these re-enforcements were offered to me, the question of their getting to me in time, and of getting ammunition up in time to have my own command effective in the morning was left for me to decide, and I understood that if the principal part of the fighting in the morning would be thrown upon these re-enforcements it was not desired that they should be ordered up. They would at least have been called upon to do the fighting until my own command could have replenished their ammunition, which I was quite certain would not be in time to resist an attack at an early hour in the morning. The cavalry, a considerable proportion being armed with repeating rifles, had almost wholly exhausted their ammunition; and General Gregg did not think it practicable to get ammunition up and issued to the men during the night. I was of the opinion that the necessary preparations to meet successfully the enemy’s attack in the morning could not be made, and I understood from Major Mitchell that the major-general
commanding took the same view. Reluctant as I was to leave the field, and by so doing lose some of the fruits of my victory, I felt compelled to order a withdrawal rather than risk disaster by awaiting and attack in the morning only partly prepared. The hour for the movement to commence was fixed at 10 p. m., giving time for my staff officers to return from headquarters of the army. They got back about 8.30, bringing me a dispatch substantially the same as the one just mentioned. The wounded were transported to the rear to the extant of my transportation, 155 being removed. The Dabney’s Mill road was impassable in more than one direction at the same time. I was therefore under the necessity of leaving a part of my wounded, who were collected as far as practicable in the darkness of the night and placed in the neighboring houses under care of our own surgeons detailed for that purpose.
At 10 o’clock General Mott moved out, followed by General Egan. Egan’s division halted at Dabney’s Mill until after daylight to cover the withdrawal of Crawford’s division, Fifth Corps. The cavalry commenced withdrawing by the Quaker road at 10.30. The pickets did not commence withdrawing until 1 a. m. on the 28th, when they were brought off under the direction of Brigadier-General De Trobriand. A party of about seventy men belonging to First Minnesota and Seventh Michigan Volunteers, under the command of Captain Farwell, of the First Minnesota, was left on the field through some neglect and remained until nearly 9 o’clock on the morning of the 28th, when they commenced withdrawing. They were twice charged by the enemy’s cavalry, but both charges were repulsed, and Captain Farwell marched his command into the wood between the Dabney’s Mill and Quaker road, followed for some distance by the enemy. By the display of excellent judgment and tact Captain Farwell extricated his little command, coming into our lines by way of Reams’ Station, having moved nearly all the way in sight of the enemy’s cavalry. Captain Farwell has been recommended for advancement one grade by brevet for good conduct on this occasion. Mott’s division massed between the Vaughan road and the Wyatt house, after crossing Hatcher’s Run on the morning of the 28th, while Egan’s division massed near the Armstrong house, awaiting the withdrawal of the Fifth Corps. About 10 a.m. both divisions moved within the line of entrenchments and returned to their old camp near the Norfolk railroad.
I desire to acknowledge my indebtedness to Brevet Major-General Mott and Brigadier-General Egan, commanding the Third and Second Division of my corps, respectively, and to General Gregg, commanding the cavalry, for their services on the field. General Egan had, perhaps, an unusual opportunity for distinguishing himself, and he availed himself of it to the utmost, contributing most materially to our success. He has been recommended for the appointment of brevet major-general of volunteers for his distinguished services rendered it necessary to separate the brigades of Mott’s division, and this fine body of troops had not the opportunity that I desired to give them and their brave commander. General Gregg, by his stubborn and successful resistance to Hampton’s attack, completed our success.
In the reports of subordinate commanders particular mention is made of the following officers and men:
First, Brigadier General Thomas A. Smyth, commanding brigade of Egan’s division. General Smyth is spoken of by General Egan as “the life of
his (Egan’s) command.” His gallantry was very conspicuous at the crossing of Hatcher’s Run in the morning and throughout the action on the plank road. Major and Byt. Lieutenant Colonel W. G. Mitchell, my senior aide, was with General Egan during the advance of the Second Division against the enemy’s flank, and General Egan speaks in high terms of his services and of his example to the troops; particularly commending him for effecting, at the head of the First Maine Heavy Artillery, the capture of about 200 prisoners and 1 color. I have had occasion to acknowledge the services of Major Mitchell in every action in which I have been engaged during the war. He always finds an opportunity for increasing his reputation for bravery and high soldierly qualities. I hope the brevet appointment of colonel, for which I have heretofore recommended him, may be conferred upon him. Captain A. H. Embler, acting assistant adjutant-general of the Second Division, and one of General Gibbon’s personal aides, is also commended for gallantry, and is again recommended for a brevet appointment of major. Of Mott’s division, Colonel McAllister, Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, commanding a brigade, is complimented by General Egan for bravery and good conduct. The services of his brigade are set forth in the body of this report. He is recommended for the brevet appointment of brigadier-general of volunteers. Lieutenant W. B. Beck, Fifth U. S. Artillery, is also mentioned for the gallant manner in which he maintained his position against a greatly superior force of the enemy’s artillery. Sergt. Alonzo Woodroff and Corpl. John M. Howard, of the First U. S. Sharpshooters, are spoken of as having exhibited unusual courage.
General Gregg commanding the cavalry, calls particular attention to the case of Major S. W. Thaxter of the First Maine Cavalry. This officer was embraced in an order to proceed with a part of his regiment to Maine, to be mustered out, but remained voluntarily, and took command of the skirmish line of his brigade during the action.
The following officers of my staff were on the field assisting me by conveying orders: Lieutenant Colonel C. H. Morgan, assistant inspector-general, chief of staff; Lieutenant Colonel J. S. Smith, chief commissary; Surg. A. N. Dougherty, medical director; Major W. G. Mitchell, aide-de-camp; Major S. Carncross, assistant adjutant-general; Major J. G. Hazard, chief of artillery; Major S. O. Bull, provost-marshall; Major H. H. Bingham, judge-advocate; Surg. J. M. McNulty; Asst. Surg. C. Smart, medical inspector; Captain I. B. Parker, aide-de-camp; Captain B. C. Ammon, assistant provost-marshal; Captain T. L. Livermore, acting assistant inspector-general; Captain M. H. Stacey, commissary of musters; Captain J. G. Pelton, chief of ambulances; Captain C. J. Mills, assistant adjutant-general; Captain F. E. Town, signal corps; Lieutenant Richard P. Strong, signal corps.
I desire to mention particularly the services of Lieutenant-Colonel and Brevet Colonel Morgan, assistant inspector-general and chief of staff, throughout the movement and on the field. I request, as I have often done heretofore, that he may be appointed a brigadier-general in the volunteers. I also request that the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel, recently withheld from Surg. A. N. Dougherty, medical director, may be conferred upon him for gallantry and good conduct.
The reports of commanders are forwarded herewith. For the operations of General Miles I respectfully refer to his report, as he was not under my immediate command. It will be seen that he was not idle, though holding a line several miles in length, with but a little over 6,000 men. On the night of the 27th he carried one of the enemy’s forts
near the crater with a storming party of the One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, led by Captain Brown of that regiment and Lieutenant Price of the One hundred and sixteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, acting assistant adjutant-general of Mulholland’s brigade. Lieutenant Price was unfortunately killed. This party held the work for a short time, capturing several prisoners, including two field against them, and General Miles had not the troops at his disposal to pursue his advantage. On the same night he captured a part of the enemy’s picket-line, on the Jerusalem plank road, holding it for two or three hours, and retiring at leisure. Lieutenant Colonel Burke, Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, is highly commended for his good conduct on this occasion. He had command of the attacking party. Captain Jerry Brown, One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, is recommended for promotion by brevet to the rank of major for the gallant manner in which he led the storming party from the One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers.
A tabular statement of casualties is hereto appended.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
WINF’D S. HANCOCK.
Major-General of Volunteers.
Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
October 30, 1864
Major S. CARNCROSS,
MAJOR: In accordance with instructions received, I have the honor, most respectfully, to submit the following report:
At about ten minutes past 1 o’clock on the afternoon of the 27th of October, 1864, Major-General Hancock, at the suggestion of Major-General Meade, directed me to ascertain the whereabouts of the left of Major-General Warren’s command. I immediately started, with some ten mounted men as an escort, taking a road through the woods leading to the front and right of the Second Corps. I found General Crawford without difficulty at a point about one mile from Major-General Han-
cock’s headquarters, and as reported to General Crawford, a short three-quarters of a mile from the right of the Second Corps line, General Crawford was then near a house, which he informed me was the Arnold house. I informed him where General Hancock’s headquarters were, and also pointed out on the map the Burgess house, designating it as a point held by the line of the Second Corps and a part of its front. I further informed him that the bridge over Hatcher’s Run and near the Burgess house-pointing it out to him on the map-was, when I left, held by the enemy; but the propriety of its capture was being considered.
I would record here that I passed Major Roebling, aide-de-camp to Major-General Warren, on the road which I took to reach General Crawford. Major Roebling informed me that he was looking for General Crawford, but had failed to find him. Major Roebling did not go with me. Upon my return-returning the same road I went-I informed Major-General Meade and Major-General Hancock where I found General Crawford, and pointing out on the map a point designated by General Crawford, which he stated to me I should inform them “that when he reached it he intended throwing around his left and connecting with the right of the Second Corps.”
At about 10 minutes of 5 o’clock on the same afternoon Major-General Hancock directed me to communicate to Major-General Warren, or Brigadier-General Crawford, that the enemy at a little past 4 p. m. had assaulted his right flank, and between his right and General Crawford’s left; that the assault had been successfully repulsed by the troops of his (Second Corps) command; that he was in need of re-enforcements; that he, the commanding officer of the Fifth Corps, should move down and connect his left with the right of the Second Corps of the whereabouts of General Hancock’s line and headquarters.
In endeavoring to carry out this order I made an effort to reach General Crawford by the same road I has succeeded in reaching at an earlier hour in the afternoon, but I found it impossible, the road being held by the pickets of the enemy in the front and left flank of General Crawford’s line.
I then as expeditiously as possible struck the road leading to Dabney’s Mill, over which the troops of the Second Corps had marched in the earlier part of the day. Upon reaching Dabney’
s Mill I took the rad leading to the left, on which I was informed General Crawford’s command had marched, and after going a distance of about two mile and a half, was halted and called upon to surrender by the Thirty-ninth North Carolina Volunteers, about 200 strong, commanded by Colonel Hunter, of the Confederate service. In surrendering I informed Colonel Huter, to whom I surrendered, that “I did so because I considered resistance as useless, but that I was of the opinion he was my prisoner instead of my being his.” This regiment had captured three ambulances, some 20 horses, and about 20 prisoners. The night being excessively dark I succeeded in effecting my escape some time after 8 p. m., and upon reaching the headquarters of the Second Corps informed General Hancock that I had failed in communicating with either General Warren or General Crawford, and gave the raisons for my failure in communicating.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. H. BINGHAM,
Major and Judge-Advocate, Second Army Corp.
GENERAL ORDERS, HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
Numbers 40. November 4, 1864.
The major-general, commanding desires to express his gratification at the conduct of Mott’s and Egan’s divisions, as well as the artillery of the command and General Gregg’s cavalry, in the action of the 27th ultimo, on the Boydton plank road. Newspaper correspondents who were not on the field have misrepresented the affair, speaking of it as a disaster, giving those troops less credit than is accorded them by our with the bearing of the troops, particularly with that of regiments whose conduct was open to censure on a previous occasion. While in pursuit of a definite object, and one distinct from the other parts of the army, the command was attacked on its flank by a large force of the enemy’s infantry, and in rear by five brigades of cavalry. The flank attack was speedily repulsed and resulted disastrously to the enemy, who lost nearly a thousand prisoners, several colors, and one gun. The assault in rear was met by the gallant cavalry under General Gregg, and repulsed. The enemy expected much from this attack and gained nothing. The troops under General Miles forming a part of the force holding the entrenchments at Petersburg are also entitled to great commendation for their services while detached.
By order of Major-General Hancock:
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
Copy of daily memoranda* taken at headquarters of the Second Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, during the campaign commencing May 3, 1864, with copies of messages, dispatches, &c. The Army of the Potomac commanded by Lieutenant General U. S. Grant in person, Major-General Meade second in command.
W. G. MITCHELL,
Major and Aide-de-Camp to Major-General Hancock.
August 1, 1864.-No movements to-day by Second Corps.
August 2 to 4, 1864.-No movements by Second Corps. Usual firing in the trenches. Hot and dry.
August 5, 1864.-5.30 p. m., very heavy firing in the trenches in line of Eighteenth Corps. 6.15 p. m., General Hancock received orders to march two divisions to the support of the Eighteenth Corps. First and Third Divisions put in motion immediately, but the order was countermanded before they had reached the position of the Eighteenth Corps. The troops returned to their former position. Firing on line of Eighteenth Corps said to have been occasioned by the enemy springing a mine; don’t know whether this is true or not.
August 6-11, 1864.-No movements of any kind by the Second Corps during these days. The customary artillery and picket-firing in the trenches, which never ceases. Hot, very dry, and exceedingly dusty and disagreeable in all of the camps.
August 12, 1864.-12 m., this day orders received to move the corps to City Point, preparatory to embarkation on steamers. Moved immediately; reached City Point in the evening and bivouacked for the night.
August 13, 1864.-Was directed this morning by General Hancock to superintend the embarkation of the corps. 12 m., the troops commenced moving on board the steamers; by 7.30 p. m. the embarkation of the corps was completed-the infantry. The artillery was sent by land to Jones’ Neck, and it was then apparent that we were about to make a second attempt on the enemy’s lines at Deep Bottom, such as we made there on the 27th, 28th, and 29th of July. 10 p. m., transports containing our troops steamed up the James River toward Jones’ Neck at Deep Bottom. Suffocatingly hot to-night on board the crowded steamers-almost impossible to get any sleep. The mosquitoes infernally tormenting.
August 14, 1864.-2.30 a. m., the corps commenced disembarking at Deep Bottom. Facilities for getting them off the transports exceedingly bad; some one should by punished in this matter, engineers or quartermasters, for great delay is occasioned by the wand of proper platforms or wharf to disembark on. 5. a. m., only one-half of the corps off the transports at this hour, at this moment firing is commencing on Birney’s front. (Birney is already in position on north side of James with his corps (Tenth), and is to co-operate with General Hancock.) Cavalry has just crossed the pontoon bridge at Jones’ Neck, and is marching over the plain in our front. Wrote a note by direction of General Hancock to General Grant, telling him that one-half of the Second Corps was disembarked, and that he had directed General Birney to suspend his attack if it had not been commenced before the order reached him. 7.40 a. m., rear of Mott’s division on shore. First Division all on shore save Broady’s brigade, which was nearly all on one transport, and it is grounded in the stream. 7.45 a. m., General Mott directed to advance his division along New Market and Malvern road toward Bailey’s Creek. 8.10 a. m., General Birney sent word that he had captured 100 of the enemy’s pickets and had driven their picket line back. 9.30 a. m., General Grant arrived at Deep Bottom and rode along our line. 11.35 a. m., First Division advanced to New Market and Long Bridge road, connecting with our cavalry. Second Division, General Smyth commanding, also ordered forward. The day was passed until about 5 p. m. in getting our lines formed properly, &c. At that hour General Barlow assailed the enemy’s lines with some of his own troops and Macy’s brigade, of Second Division, near Fussell’s Mill, but was repelled with quite severe losses; Colonel Macy among the wounded. Before dark General Gregg (D. McM.), commanding the cavalry, sent word to General Hancock that he had advanced as far as practicable on Charles City road. Troops slept on the line of battle this night.
August 15, 1864.-7 a. m., General Birney’s corps massed last night on Strawberry Plains, preparatory to attacking the enemy this morning. Barlow, Mott, and Smyth also massed their troops ready to support Birney’s attack. Our line held by the pickets during the night. General Birney to attack on Central road. 11 a. m., General Miles’ brigade 1st Division, marched to oppose enemy reported by General Gregg to be marching down Charles City road. General Birney also sending a brigade out toward Charles City road by a wood rad leading form Hughes’ house; said to be two miles on this road from Hughes’ house to Charles City road. 12 m., General Birney’s troops moving across New Market and Long Brigade road and forming on right of First Division near Turner’s house, getting ready for an attack on enemy’s position near Fussell’s Mill. 12.40 p. m., firing heard on Birney’s right, sup-
posed to be the brigade sent toward Charles City road. Birney did not make his attack to-day; it is deferred until to-morrow. Miles’ brigade returned from reconnaissance.
August 16, 1864.-4 a. m., General Miles’ brigade ordered again to make reconnaissance on Charles City road. General Hancock directed me to accompany Miles and to keep him informed (General Hancock) of what occurred. Miles joined General D. McM. Gregg’s division of cavalry at the point where Charles City road crossed Deep Creek. Sent a messenger back from this point to General Hancock informing him of position of enemy and our movements. Found enemy holding south side of Deep Creek in rifle-pits. The infantry (Miles’ brigade) was deployed in the woods, and as soon as it began firing the cavalry charged in column of fours over the creek (the ravine was very deep and abrupt), and burst over the enemy like a whirlwind. The men cheered wildly as the horses took the gallop, and the “rebs” broke in all directions. It was the brigade of Colonel John Irvin Gregg which made the charge. Colonel G. was shot through the wrist while I was going down the ravine with him during the charge. The enemy field up Charles City road toward White’s Tavern. We pursued at a gallop for about one mile and a half, when he made a stand. As soon as the infantry came up our line was formed and we again charged them, breaking their line and killing their commanding officer, Brigadier-General Chambliss, who was shot through the body while standing in the road endeavoring to rally his men. General D. McM. Gregg and myself both got to his body a moment or two after he fell, but the men had cut some of the buttons and ornaments off his uniform before we arrived on the spot. General Gregg took possession of a small Testament found in one of General Chamliss’ pockets, which he will send to his family when opportunity offers, and also secured a most excellent map of Richmond and its defenses from his person. This map is of great value to us. The body of General Chamliss was sent to the rear. The troops, cavalry and infantry, pushed forward rapidly until within half a mile of White’s Tavern and about six miles from Richmond, when enemy’s cavalry and infantry attacked Generals Miles and Gregg in such force as to compel them to retire. This was accomplished in ordinary time all the way back to Deep Creek, although the enemy was very strong and attacked fiercely. We retired the whole distance to Deep Creek under fire by forming a line of battle of about one-half of our forces, which would give the enemy a rough reception when he came up to it; in the meantime the remaining troops would retire about half a mile and form line, when they would permit the front line to pass by them and check the enemy in their turn, until finally we reached the banks of Deep Creek and refused to go farther, and the “rebs” did not care to assail us in that position. Gregg’s cavalry behaved splendidly in this day’s fight. From Deep Creek I returned to General Hancock at the “Potteries” and informed him of the day’s proceeding with Gregg and Miles. In the evening Miles marched from Deep Creek and took position on Birney’s right near the Hughes house. I learned on my return to corps headquarters that General Birney (Tenth Corps) had assaulted the enemy’s lines about 11 o’clock this a. m. near Fussell’s Mill, and captured a; portion of their works with some prisoners; the enemy, however, assailed him later in the day and recaptured their line. General Birney directed by General Hancock to make another attack at 5 p. mn., but having made a reconnaissance, reported the enemy as having been re-enforced and being too strong to attack with any good hope of success.
August 17, 1864.-This day passed without heavy fighting; Second and Tenth Corps on same ground as held by them yesterday at termination of operations. Miles’ brigade and Fourth Brigade of same division (First Division) on Birney’s right. Mott’s Creek on left of “Potteries.” This day General Mott succeeded in getting away and 8-inch howitzer which had been captured by the Tenth Corps on the 14th instant, but had not been taken off the field because it was still under enemy’s fire. 12.30 p. m., General Hancock, at request of General Birney, commanding Tenth Corps, sent me out with a flag of truce to propose to the enemy a cessation of hostilities to enable us to get the dead and wounded of both sides from between the lines at Fussell’s Mill, where the attack was made yesterday. I took an orderly to carry the fag and rode out in front of our line in a meadow where the lines were close together; the enemy’s works, filled with their troops, ran around the crest of a hill which rose from the meadow. As soon as I got within musket-range some of these men fired at myself and the orderly, notwithstanding my flag was plainly visible. I rode on, however, toward them and then an officer jumped over the parapet and waved a newspaper as a recognition of my flag of truce and their men ceased firing on me. I was just going to order our pickets (whose line I had only passed and who were protected by little half-moons which they had thrown up) to commence firing when I saw the officer coming to meet me as the jumped over the parapet. When I met the officer I gave him my opinion in plain language of the conduct of his troops in firing upon me when I was the bearer of a flag of truce. He apologized for the brutality of the men and said they had fired without having been ordered to do so. I reported the circumstance of the flag having been fired upon to General Hancock when I returned. I informed the officer of the object of the truce, when he returned to his commanding officer, agreeing to let us know at 3 p. m. whether the proposition for a short truce will be acceded to on their part. I returned to our lines and the firing recommenced. At 3 p. m. I again stated that they agreed to a truce from 4 until 6 p. m. Turce commenced at 4 p. m. accordingly, when we met enemy’s officers near Fussell’s Mill; they delivered up our dead from their lines, while we did the same for them. There were no wounded living between the lines; all were dead. During this truce we delivered to the enemy the body of Brigadier-General Chamliss, of the rebel service, who, as before stated in these notes, was killed at Deep Creek, on Charles City road, on the 16th instant. His remains had been buried by our soldiers near the “Potteries” on the evening of the 16th and were taken out of the grave to-day to be given to his people. So that his family might know where he was buried hereafter, I had made the following notes as to his place of burial at the “Potteries:”
Brigadier General John R. Chambliss (rebel service) buried at “Potteries” where New Market road crosses Bailey’s Creek. His gave is directly in front of the house (hotel) about thirty feet from the road; ten feet from the corner of the icehouse. He was killed on the 16th of August near Deep Creek on the Charles City road. Head-board at his grave marked as follows: Brigadier General John R. Chambliss, C. S. Army, killed in battle August 16, 1864, buried by Third Brigade, Third Division, Second Army Corps.
The truce expired at 6 p. m., as arranged, and the firing recommenced.
No change in position of troops.
August 18, 1864.-General Miles in command of First Division, Second Corps. General Barlow taken very ill and gone to hospital. Comparatively quiet until 5 p. m., when the enemy came out of their works and attacked General Birney very heavily on right of Fussell’s Mill on Central road. He was repulsed, with considerable loss, after a fight of thirty minutes; musketry very heavy. About same time enemy attacked General D. McM. Gregg’s cavalry at Deep Creek on Charles City road and at junction of New Market and Long Bridge roads, but were also repulsed. Fighting ceased at dark. 8 p. m., General Mott, Third Division, directed to march his command across Bermuda Hundred to front of Petersburg. Our general line of battle was then contracted as follows: Second Division on left from “Potteries” to wood road leading to New Market and Long Bridge road. First Division from right of Second Division along New Market and Long Bridge road to Birney’ left. Birney in position on right, left, and front of Ruffin’s house; his line running near New Market and Long Bridge road. Pickets not changed save on Birney’s right, where they were refused more on our right and rear. Gregg in same position as yesterday.
August 19, 1864.-10.30 a. m. troops in same position as yesterday evening. General Hancock received a dispatch from General Grant stating that one division of the enemy’s troops, it was thought, had recrossed the James and Appomattox to General Meade’s front, advising General hancock not to hesitate to attack if opening offered. 2.30 p. m., delivered order from General Hancock to General D. McM. Gregg to send one brigade of cavalry to General Meade. This day passed without serious fighting or important movements on our part. One brigade of General Gregg’s cavalry crossed James River in accordance with orders, on its way to report to General Meade.
August 20, 1864.-Quiet, comparatively, throughout the day; some picket-firing. Preparations made to move line in front of Petersburg again. Colonel Thompson, Twelfth New Jersey Volunteers, corps officer of the day, to bring off the pickets after the infantry has been withdrawn. At dark troops marched toward pontoon bridges at Jones’ Neck, Second Division in advance. Troops commenced crossing brigade about 7 p. m.; infantry on upper bridge, Gregg’s cavalry on lower. General Hancock and portion of the staff remained on north side of James until troops had crossed. Returned to vicinity or Deserted House, in front of Petersburg, where we again encamped about daylight on the morning of August 21.
August 21, 1864.-11.30 a. m., corps moved toward Strong house, where the troops remained in position for a few hours, then marched to Gurley house and took position, supporting Fifth Corps, which is holding on Weldon railroad at Yellow Tavern, called also Globe Tavern.
August 22, 1864.-12.30 p. m., First Division advanced on Weldon railroad with orders to cover working party engaged in destroying railway and to assist in the destruction of the same. No fighting to-day.
August 23, 1864.-Railroad destroyed as far as Reams’ Station. Heavy skirmishing in front between enemy and our cavalry under Colonel Spear. First Division took position and encamped for the night at Reams’ Station; Second Division of the corps moved up on Jerusalem plank road to junction of the same with Reams’ Station road; Third Division remained in works in front of Petersburg.
August 24, 1864.-First Division destroying railroad from Reams’ Station toward Rowanty Creek; Second Division moved up to Reams’ Station, taking position there, Gregg’s (D. McM.) cavalry covering our
working parties in front and on right and left flanks. First and Second Divisions with Gregg’s cavalry encamped at Reams’ Station for the night.
August 25, 1864 (Battle of Reams’ Station).-Early this morning the work of destroying the railroad was continued. Our cavalry well in front and on our flanks to protect working parties. 9.20 a. m., Spear’s cavalry began to skirmish in front with the enemy (Wade Hampton’s cavalry) on Malone’s cross-road. Gibbon’s division, Second Corps, immediately moved out to meet enemy’s cavalry. Our cavalry forced back to high ground in rear of Smart’s house by the time Gibbon’s troops had advanced that far. 10.30 a. m., enemy opened on us with one knocked enemy’s section out of time in a few rounds. Our skirmishers now constantly engaged in front and on our right flank. Some prisoners just captured state that Hill’s corps of infantry with two brigades of Field’s division is moving on us in conjunction with Hampton’s cavalry. We then commenced to get ready for a battle by retiring our infantry (two small division) within the rifle-pits at Reams’ Station, previously thrown up by Sixth Corps when it occupied that point, and very defectively located and constructed. Our cavalry occupied the roads to give notice of the enemy’s movements. 1.50 p. m., enemy made quite a heavy assault upon the front of Third and Fourth Brigades, First Division, in front of the small white church. The attack continued about ten minutes, when the enemy was repulsed. Prisoners stated that two brigades of the enemy were engaged in this attack, formed in two lines. Colonel James A. Beaver, One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, desperately wounded, his thigh shattered by a minie-ball. 3.25 p. m., sharp skirmishing on General Gibbon’s front; soon over. 3.35 p. m., another assault on First Division in front of the church; continued only four or five minutes; enemy repulsed, with severe loss. 5 p. m., enemy made another brisk dash against our line, which was at once repelled. 5.20 p. m., enemy opened a fierce cannonade. Carried an order at once from General Hancock to General Miles to open upon enemy with his battery on right of church. The enemy reported to General Hancock to be massing in the wood in front of the church, preparatory [to] another assault upon our lines. 5.30, enemy’s artillery fire slackened and was at once succeeded by a powerful assault by their infantry on our lines in front of the Third and Fourth Brigades, First Division. The fighting very close and severe for a short time, when a portion of Third Brigade, First Division (belonging to Second Division), commanded by Colonel Rugg, would not advance against the enemy, and the right of Gibbon’s division, at the angle where our line of works crossed the road, gave way almost without contesting the point, leaving Sleeper’s and Brown’s batteries in the hands of the enemy; 1 gun lost also on line of Third Brigade, First Division, making 9 guns lost in all. The enemy now pressed forward over the crest, forcing our troops back into the wood in rear of the church, although the First Brigade (Miles’) of the First Division continued to oppose them along the breast-works, toward where the road to the plank road crosses the swamp. General Hancock now endeavored to push Gibbon’s division (Second) forward against enemy from its position in the corn field to retake our lost lines and guns, and ordered General Gibbon to advance with that object. A portion of Gibbon’s division advanced a part of his line to the crest in rear of the road (in the corn-field), but upon receiving the
enemy’s fire these troops at once retired in confusion to the position held by them when the battle began (or rather to a point a short distance to the left), where they were reformed. General Hancock’s horse was shot under him while he was urging these troops forward. A minie-ball struck the horse through the neck and it fell to the ground as if killed; in a few moments, however, it recovered enough to get up, and after a short time the general mounted it recovered enough to get up, and after a short time the general mounted it again. By this time General Miles was fighting back toward the church, along the breast-works, with considerable success. He had also gotten a skirmish line out on the enemy’s left flank to the right of the large white house near the railroad. This skirmish line pushed well in on the enemy’s flank, fighting with great gallantry. General Hancock now directed me to tell General Gibbon to push one of his brigades, if possible, upon the enemy at the church, so as to meet Miles, who was gallantly fighting up on the right toward the church. In going to General Gibbon I met General Smyth, commanding one of his brigades, and telling him my orders to General G., I gave him also General Hancock’s directions, telling him to attack as quickly and forcibly as possible toward the road and church. General Smyth answered that his brigade had just been repulsed and he could not get if forward again. I then went on to General Gibbon and gave him the order. He answered that his division had made an advance toward the crest near the church, but had retired upon receiving the enemy’s fire; that he was at that moment trying to get a line of skirmishers forward. This was about 6.15 p. m. About 6.45 p. m. the enemy made a spirited advance upon General Gibbon’s line of rifle-pits in the corn-field. Gibbon’s division at once fell back in great confusion. Gregg’s cavalry, dismounted, which was posted in rifle-pots on Gibbon’s left, fought gallantly, and completely checked the enemy’s advance in that direction until darkness came on, when our troops were withdrawn from the field and marched to the vicinity of the Williams house. No re-enforcements reached General Hancock on this occasion, although they could readily have been sent down the railroad. Willcox’s division, Ninth Corps, was sent around by the Jerusalem plank road, but did not get on the field. In this action Captain Brownson, commissary of musters, Second Corps was killed, and Colonel F. A. Walker, assistant adjutant-general, Second Corps, was captured by the enemy.
August 27, 1864.-First Division moved from near Williams’ house to a position supporting Third Division; the troops of the first Division being massed between Deserted House and the house formerly occupied by General Warren.
August 28, 1864.-Quiet. No changes in positions of troops.
August 29, 1864.-Quiet. No movements by Second Corps this day.
August 30, 1864.-Picket-line advanced in front of Strong’s house. Commenced building fort on crest directly in front of same house; Second Division moved rom its position near Williams’ house to secure line of works in rear Jones’ house.
August 31, 1864.-Quiet. Troops engaged in building fort in front of Strong’s house and strengthening redan on left of plank road at Fort Hell.*
*Officially known as Fort Sedgwick.
September 1, 1864.-Quiet until about 8 p. m., when enemy’s cavalry made a dash against our cavalry picket-line, driving a portion of it in on the left of the Gurley house. Second Corps got under arms, but the enemy was at once driven away by our cavalry and the line re-established.
September 2, 1864.-Quiet. Troops of Mott’s division into new fort and rifle-pits. Deserter executed in First Division to-day (shot).
September 3, 1864.-No movements. Rifle-pits completed between fort in front of Strong’s house and Fort Crawford.
September 4, 1864.-Quiet all day. At 11.45 our batteries opened according to orders received from General Grant, firing a national salute of shot and shell from each battery in our lines into the rebel works. Batteries in lines of Tenth and Eighteenth Corps firing at same time.
September 5, 1864.-Miles’ and Gibbon’s divisions moved to new line of battle from Williams’ house to fort on Norfolk road; batteries placed at right of Williams’ house, between the house and plank road; one battery (in redan) on plank road on right of Ferris’ house; Miles occupied line from right of Williams’ house (where he connected with Willcox, Ninth Corps) to open plain near Widow Smith’s house; Gibbon’s line entrenching to fort on Norfolk road; Mott’s division in front line.
September 6, 1864.-First Division moved to left, its right resting on plank road near Williams’ house; Second Division also moved to left, occupying fort on Norfolk road and covering ground to the Blackwater.
September 7, 1864.-Nothing of importance occured this day; usual artillery firing on front lines.
September 8, 1864.-No movements this day.
September 9, 1864.-Quiet, save artillery firing on line of Tenth Corps; First and Second Divisions moved back in reserve-Second Division in vicinity of Deserted House, First Division in vicinity of Jones’ house.
September 10, 1864.-In compliance with orders from corps headquarters three regiments of Mott’s division advanced on the enemy’s picket-line at 1 a. m., in front of and to the left of Fort Hell. Captured about one mile and a half of their line with 83 prisoners, and killing and wounding a number of the enemy. Sharp musketry all day and night between enemy’s picket-lines and ours, and from the redan on the left of Fort Hell; also heavy artillery firing.
September 11, 1864.-Nothing of importance. The firing between our pickets and those of enemy continued all day in front of Fort Hell, with some artillery.
September 12, 1864.-Usual picket-firing in front of Fort Hell; quiet otherwise.
September 13, 1864.-Nothing of importance occurred to-day.
September 14, 1864.-Quiet until 5 p. m., when enemy shelled train on railroad near Fort Crawford; our batteries replied.
September 15, 1864.-All quiet except firing on picket-line.
- The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLII, Part 1 (Serial Number 87), pages 216-247 ↩