No. 66. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Francis E. Pierce, One hundred and eighth New York Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, of operations August 14-21.1
HEADQUARTERS THIRD BRIGADE, SECOND DIVISION, August 21, 1864.
CAPTAIN: In compliance with circular from division headquarters the following report is submitted of the operations of the Third Brigade north of the James River from the 14th to the 21st of August:
The Third Brigade disembarked at Deep Bottom at 6 a.m. of the 14th instant, and was massed for a short time to permit the men to cook coffee. It was then moved in rear of the division and took position on the Central road, where it remained until 4 p.m., when all but two regiments (the Twelfth New Jersey and First Delaware, that were left to guard the Central road) were moved to the New Market road, near which it was placed in line of battle, where it remained during the night. On the morning of the 15th it was withdrawn and massed a short distance in rear of the position previously occupied, where it remained until the morning of the 16th. The Fourteenth Connecticut was sent on the skirmish line, and the First Delaware and Twelfth New Jersey rejoined the brigade, which was massed three-quarters of a mile to the left of the Tenth Corps, and instructed to protect the left flank of that corps, provided the enemy attempted to turn it by crossing or coming around the mill-pond on which the left of the Tenth Corps rested. Here it remained until the afternoon of the 17th, when it was ordered to report to Major General D. B. Birney, who directed it to report to General A. H. Terry for orders. He directed that it should be formed on the extreme right of the Tenth Corps and prepare to assault the works of the enemy as soon as possible. The order to assault was countermanded and the brigade ordered to throw up a line of works, which it did. At 10 p.m. it was ordered to form on the left of the Tenth Corps, making close connection with the right of the other two brigades of this division. As it was impossible to comply with this order, the right of this division being about a mile and a half from the left of the Tenth Corps, General Birney was asked the intention of the order, and it was learned that the brigades was to protect the left flank of the Tenth Corps, as it had previously done, and it returned to the position occupied by it in the morning. During the day two demonstrations were made by the brigade, the first by the Twelfth New Jersey near the left of the mill-pond. It was advanced as a skirmish line, driving in the enemy’s pickets, and as it neared their line of works it assembled on the center, securing a good position close to the works of the enemy. It was afterward withdrawn without serious loss. The Fourteenth Connecticut, which was on the skirmish line, made a splendid advance, driving in the enemy’s skirmishers and maintaining its position under a heavy musketry fire and enfilading artillery fire. On the evening of the 18th the whole brigade was moved to the extreme left and placed on picket along the New Market road, the left resting near the Pottery on the Central road, the right at a point about a quarter of a mile in front of New Market road and three-quarters of a mile from Four-Mile Creek. It remained on this duty until the evening of the 20th, when at 10.30 p.m. it was withdrawn and crossed the James at 1 a.m. of the 21st. Marching the remainder of the night it reached the Southall house at 1 p.m. of the 21st, very
much fatigued, but in good condition, there being but very few stragglers. During the eight days the brigade conducted itself well, and all orders were obeyed with promptness and cheerfulness. Regimental commanders were attentive to duty and personally superintended whatever was assigned them to do. The conduct of the Twelfth New Jersey and Fourteenth Connecticut on the afternoon of the 17th cannot be too highly commended. The coolness and steadiness of their advance and the manner in which it was conducted show that these regiments can be relied upon under the most trying circumstances, and furnished additional proof of the courage and skill of their commanders.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
F. E. PIERCE,
Lieutenant-Colonel 108th New York Vols., Commanding Brigade.
Captain A. H. EMBLER,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Second Division, Second Army Corps.
- 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 321-322 ↩