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OR XLII P1 #65: Reports of Colonel James M. Willett, 8th NYHA, commanding 2/2/II/AotP, October 26-28, 1864

No. 65. Reports of Colonel James M. Willett, Eighth New York Heavy Artillery, commanding Second Brigade, of operations October 26-28.1

HDQRS. SECOND Brigadier, SECOND DIV., 2nd ARMY CORPS, October 29, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to report that on the 26th instant, at 2 p.m., this brigade – consisting of the Eighth Regiment New York Heavy Artillery, 428 strong, commanded by Major J. W. Holmes; Sixty-ninth Regiment New York National Guard Artillery, 116 strong, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John Coonan; One hundred and fifty-fifth Regiment New York State Volunteers, 69 strong, commanded by Captain M. Doheny; One hundred and sixty-fourth Regiment New York State Volunteers, 87 strong, commanded by Captain R. Heggart, and One hundred and seventieth Regiment New York State Volunteers, 63 strong, commanded by Captain C. Hagan – broke camp near Fort Bross and joined the balance of the troops of the Second Division, near division headquarters, and proceeded on the march. That night at about 9 o’clock, we bivouacked together nearer the Yellow Tavern, and at 3.30 o’clock on the morning of the 27th resumed the march. After proceeding some distance and a little after daylight, by order of Brigadier-General Egan, commanding the division, I caused flankers to the number of 120 to be thrown out upon either side of the brigade,and soon afterward, by a like order, I sent Captain Hagan, One hundred and seventieth New York Volunteers, with his command, to deploy as skirmishers on the right of the line of battle, then formed in our front by the Third Brigade, Second Division. Subsequently, and at about 8 a.m., I formed the balance of my command into line of battle immediately in the rear of the Third Brigade within supporting distance thereof, with its right resting upon the road on which the division had been marching, the left extending nearly to the left of the Third Brigade. Immediately after both lines moved forward, and the Second Brigade occupied a line of earth-works then captured by the Third Brigade, across a small run. Soon after we moved on by the right flank for a mile or more, and deployed Lieutenant-Colonel Coona’s command, Sixty-ninth New York National Guard Artillery, as skirmishers in our front, and again moved forward. At about 1 p.m. the skirmishers last sent out rejoined the command, and we filed to the right into an open, and on the right into line, forming line of battle nearly parallel to the road and facing forward the elevated grounds upon what is known tome as the Burges farm. At about 2 p.m., under the direction of the general commanding the division, I advanced my whole command as a skirmish line. Without deploying, crossed the open field and charged through a belt of timber in a ravine, reformed the line upon the opposite side, and charged and carried the elevated ground before referred to, driving the enemy before us toward and across Hatcher’s Creek, after which I halted the brigade and formed line of battle on the high ground, the left wing nearly at right angles, facing to the left, and prepared to hold the position my throwing up breast-works, which was done. An hour later the flankers rejoined their commands, and the brigade was moved across the grounds to the front and right, and took position near the base of the hill in a semicircle line, extending along on this side of Hatcher’s Creek, the left resting near the main road and the bridge. The enemy made several attacks upon this position, but was each time repulsed, with loss. This line the brigade continued to hold until withdrawn at

about 10 p.m., and joined the other troops of the command at or near division headquarters, moved over the same road upon which we had advanced, halting several hours near the works captured by the Third Brigade the morning of the 27th, and reached camp near Fort Bross about 4 p.m. of the 28th instant.

The losses of the brigade were as follows, to wit: Killed, 2 officers and 6 men; wounded, 3 officers and 43 men; missing, 39 men; total, 93.

I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of the whole brigade, both on the march and in action, and believing that men capable of and willing to charge upon the enemy’s works under a severe fire with an unwavering line, and the enthusiasm exhibited at Burgess’ farm or Hatcher’s Creek, are worthy to fight beneath the old flag as well as for it, I respectfully recommend and earnestly request that those regiments in this brigade heretofore deprived of the right to carry colors may at once be restored to that most important privilege, and hereafter be allowed while facing the enemy upon the field of battle at least to look, upon the stars and stripes for which they are so ready to “do or die,” as they shall float side by side, with that pride and idol of a true soldier – the regimental banner.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel, Commanding Brigade.


Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Second Division, Second Army Corps.
HDQRS. SECOND Brigadier, SECOND DIV., 2nd ARMY CORPS, October 29, 1864.

SIR: Since making my report of the part taken by the Second

Brigade, Second Division, Second Army Corps, in the operations of the 27th instant, I have learned the following additional particulars, which I desire to submit as a part of such report, viz:

Captain T. J. Burke, One hundred and sixty-fourth New York Volunteers, reports as follows: That after the Second Brigade had occupied the hill on Burgess’ farm, and the Third Brigade had united on the right, he saw the line advancing, and believing it to be the whole line he also moved forward upon the left of the Third Brigade, and entering the woods soon found himself, with ten men of his company, in rear of the enemy’s works, who were hastily evacuating the same, and captured one 12-pounder gun and 1 small caisson, which, being unable to remove, they broke off the axles of the gun carriage, and threw the gun into the stream, which he called Hatcher’s Creek; that they drew off the caisson and afterward reported the captured to Brigadier-General Egan, commanding Second Division, Second Corps. Captain Burke reports the gun as being marked July 12, 1864. Washington Arsenal, Richmond. I have also to report the capture and destruction of several sabers and muskets and the capture of about 40 prisoners. I beg further to state the regiments of this brigade deprived of the privilege of carrying colors, by orders, are the following: The Eighth New York Heavy Artillery, the One hundred and sixty-fourth New York State Volunteers.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding Brigade.

Lieutenant W. H. GILDER,

Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Second Div., Second Army Corps.


  1. 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 319-320
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