No. 70. Reports of Captain Henry F. Chew, Twelfth New Jersey Infantry, of operations August 23-26 and October 27-28.1
HEADQUARTERS TWELFTH NEW JERSEY VOLUNTEERS, August 27, 1864.
SIR: In compliance with circular of this date, I have the honor to forward the following report of the part taken by this regiment in the recent battle at Reams’ Station:
About sunset on the afternoon of Tuesday, 23rd, we left our bivouac in front of the Williams house, and in rear of Fifth Corps, where we had laid since the 21st; marched back by the said Williams’ house to the Jerusalem plank road, down which we proceeded until near 9 o’clock, when we halted for the night. Next morning, 24th, at 3 o’clock, we again took up the line of march, and at or before 8 o’clock we reached Reams’ Station, and were put into a position on the left of the First Division which was already there. We lay quietly here until evening, when we were moved to the right a short distance, where we lay until morning of the 25th. Soon after sunrise we were moved from the
breast-works out into the field just back, where we lay until near 10 o’clock, when we were moved out and down the railroad about half a mile; were deployed into line as skirmisher and moved forward in advances of us. We went forward near half a mile farther and engaged the rebel skirmishers posted along the edge of thick pine wood and behind a fence ridge. Part of the right wing swung around with the First Delaware and drove the rebels from part of their line, and in turn were driven off by them. We fell back a short distance to the crest of a hill. From here the Seventh Virginia again charged in the same place, supported by two companies from the Twelfth. Our casualties here were two men wounded. Soon after this we were withdrawn from here and returned to our former lines around Reams’ Station. Were formed on the left of the line of works already built, where we hastily constructed a continuation of the works. While in this position a rebel battery opened heavily on us from rear, a fragment of a shell striking and wounding Lieutenant Colonel R.
S. Thompson. Simultaneous with this, the rebels attacked and broke the First Division. We were hastily moved out by the left flank, and, by order Captain Brownson, of the Second Corps staff, were for a short time in support of a battery that had taken position on a knoll in the rear of the former line. Soon after the same officer ordered us forward to retake the breast-works then in possession of the rebels, which we did, and these we held until after dark, when the regiment was withdrawn. During the night we marched back, and on the morning of the 26th halted near the Williams house within former lines.
The total casualties in the regiment were: 1 commissioned officer and 2 enlisted men killed, 2 commissioned officers and 4 enlisted men wounded, First Lieutenant Frank M. Riley and 5 enlisted men missing.
H. F. CHEW,
Lieutenant T. E. PARSONS,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS TWELFTH NEW JERSEY VOLUNTEERS, October 30, 1864.
LIEUTENANT: In compliance with circular of this date, I have the honor to forward the following report of the part taken by this regiment in the late engagement:
At 3 o’clock on the morning of the 27th instant we moved from the bivouac of the night down the Weldon road a short distance, then turning to the right into a small road through the woods leading in a northwesterly direction, marched on this road until about daylight, when a few shots from the front denoted our approach to the enemy’s pickets. Moved forward a short distance, then halted and formed line at right angle with the road by changing front forward on first company; advanced through thick woods and underbrush of briers to the edge on an open field, where we were halted for a short time, the enemy being found posted in a strong position across the road, having some works well defended by a slashing, and a deep ditch of water into which brush, &c., had been tangled. My regiment was formed, the right resting on the road, the First Delaware Veteran Volunteers on my left. The command “forward” was given about 6.30 a.m. We advanced slowly until the enemy opened on us, when, at a double-quick, we carried
the works handsomely, capturing some prisoners. I claim that my colors, carried by Sergt. Ellwood Griscom, were the first to cross the rebel works. Advanced some distance beyond, and was halted, the First Delaware being in the advance as skirmishers. Shortly afterward were relieved by the Third Division, Second Army Corps, and by another road took a more northerly course, still through thick woods, marching some four or more miles, when we came to another open field, across which we formed a line of battle, rear rank in front, to left of road. Two companies, C and K, under charge of Captain Slater, were sent out as skirmishers, some cavalry appearing in front, but which proved to be part of our own force. Soon after formed line, right in front, on the other side of the road, advancing through a piece of wood into the open field. From here we moved by the right flank onto a road running north and south, up which we advanced a short distance and then crossed the field to the right at a double-quick, under a heavy artillery fire from a rebel battery posted to the left of the road, taking a position along a ravine in line at right angle to the road. Soon after I received orders to deploy my regiment in one rank to the right, connecting with the left of the Tenth New York, which was similarly deployed. In this position I was facing northward. Shortly afterward a rebel force appeared in the swamp directly in my rear, causing me to about face but still holding the same line. Their skirmishers engaged my right (now my left) and center slightly, making a more formidable demonstrating on my left (now the right). I however held the line. Corpl. Charles H. Letts, Company B, captured a rebel first lieutenant. While here I lost in killed 3 enlisted men; wounded, 7 enlisted men; 1 captain missing.
About 1 o’clock on the morning of the 28th instant I withdrew my regiment, and, with the rest of the pickets, joined the brigade, which had marched back earlier in the night. My entire loss was 3 enlisted men killed, 10 wounded, and 12 missing; 1 commissioned officer missing. Very many of my men were new recruits, and this either first time under fire, but owing to the efficiency of my officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, they behaved well.
H. F. CHEW,
Captain, Commanding Regiment.
Lieutenant T. E. PARSONS,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Brigade.
- 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 331-333 ↩