No. 77. Reports of Bvt. Major General Gershom Mott, U. S. Army, commanding Third Division, of operations August 12-19, September 10, October 1-5 and 24-28, and December 6-12.1
HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SECOND CORPS, September 1, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the active operations of this division on the north bank of the James River from August 12 to 19, inclusive:
In compliance with orders from headquarters Second Army Corps, the division broke camp at 3 p.m. and marched to City Point, arriving at 9 p.m. The heat was excessive and the roads very dusty. Although I made frequent halts and marched very leisurely, the command suffered very much, and several cases of sunstroke were reported to me. At 12.30 p.m. of the 13th commenced to embark on board of transports, which occupied until dark, part of the wharf being used by some other troops, who were embarking to proceed to Washington. As the transports were loaded they proceeded down the river, rendezvousing near Light-House Point. At 10 p.m. the fleet started up
the river for Deep Bottom, arriving at 1 a.m. of the 14th. After having a wharf built, part of which a canal-boat and part trestle-work, commenced to disembark at 2 a.m. of the 14th, and finished at 8 a.m., massing the division on the bank of the river, having previously thrown some pickets well out. I immediately deployed two regiments as skirmishers to advance across Strawberry Plains to see if the enemy occupied the woods in front and old rifle-pits from which we drove him on a former expedition. We found some small posts of the enemy in the edge of the woods, but had no difficulty in driving them back to the woods and occupying the works near what is called the Tavern and Pottery, on the New Market and Malvern Hill road, followed by the First Brigade of this division, commanded by General De Trobriand. My skirmish line was again advanced, under the able command of Colonel E. R. Biles, Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, who had already led the advance, driving the enemy across the open field and woods to his main position under the protection of this main line of works. Here some considerable skirmishing and demonstration was carried on until my skirmishers reached a crest running along a corn-field between the enemy’s main line and the New Market road, the left resting on an impenetrable swamp, and the right connecting with General Miles’ brigade, of General Barlow’s division. The Second and Third Brigades massed near the gate-posts on the New Market and Malvern Hill road. About 5 p.m. I received orders to send a brigade to report to General Barlow. The Third Brigade, Colonel McAllister commanding, was sent in accordance with said order. Was relieved, and returned to my command about daylight on the morning of the 15th instant.
On Monday, the 15th, according to instructions from headquarters Second Army Corps, I ordered the Second Brigade (Colonel Craig) to report to Major-General Birney, to form a part of his force during the operations of the day. I would respectfully call the attention of the major-general commanding to the report of Colonel Pulford (who assumed command of this brigade after the wounding of Colonel Craig), and particularly to the part where he claims to have taken 3 commissioned officers and 100 privates prisoners, although I understand that there is none to his credit; also, that during the time it was absent that it was ordered to report to no less than three different general officers, and again to the order of Brigadier-General Birney, when said brigade was relieved from his command. I also relieved the picket-line of General Miles, First Division, and moved the Third and First Brigades, with the exception of the Twentieth Indiana and Fortieth New York, which were left to hold the breast-works and to protect the extreme left, to near the junction of the cross-roads in rear of the line at the intersection of the New Market and Malvern Hill road with the road connecting this with the New Market and Long Bridge road. During the day I made several demonstrations, so as to draw the enemy’s attention to my front and prevent his sending re-enforcements to his left, where an attack was to be made by the Fist Division (General Barlow). At 7.45 p.m. an order was received to send a regiment under a good commander to the piece of woods nearest the bridge-head, with pickets well out on the Malvern Hill road. The Eleventh New Jersey (Lieutenant-Colonel Schoonover) was accordingly sent. On Tuesday, the 16th, I strengthened my picket-line with two more regiments before daylight, with instructions to be very watchful, and to make frequent demonstrations to prevent the enemy re-enforcing his left, while an attack was made at that point by Major-General Birney with the Tenth Corps and a brigade from each division of the Second
Corps. These demonstrations were made frequently during the day. At 3 p.m. I advanced the Eighth New Jersey deployed, supported buy the Eleventh Massachusetts, through the woods and into a corn-field on my right, to feel the enemy. They were received with a hot musketry and shell fire from the enemy’s works. After skirmishing for some forty minutes they were withdrawn with a loss in the Eighth New Jersey of 15 killed and wounded. I made a similar demonstration on my extreme left, with the Twentieth Indiana, driving in the enemy’s pickets, but was soon checked by the fire from the breast-works of infantry and artillery. Pending this, Captain Ford, ordnance officer of this division, with a detachment of the Fortieth New York, secured and brought away one 8-inch howitzer and three wagon-loads of ammunition, for which I inclose a copy of receipt. These demonstrations were materially assisted by a strong shelling of the enemy’s position by Ricketts’ (Pennsylvania) battery and one of the gun-boats in the river. During the day the regiment sent to the woods near the bridge-head was withdrawn. Remained quiet during the night.
August 17, at 7 a.m. received word that the brigade sent on the 15th to form part of Major-General Birney’s force could be spared from his line. I immediately dispatched a staff officer to bring it back to the division, where it arrived about 11 a.m. No active operations during the day, the enemy, however, showing considerable force along the breast-works and are re-enforcing his picket-line. Thursday, the 18th, the day had been quiet along my line until about 5 p.m., when the enemy opened with artillery on my picket-line (throwing an occasional shot into the woods where the troops were massed) and at the same time making an attempt to advance his pickets. These demonstrations, twice repeated, were repulsed without difficulty, and were evidently made to keep us where we were and to create a diversion while making an attack on the extreme right. Pending this, I deployed that balance of the First Brigade near the junction of the cross-roads of the New Market, Malvern Hill, and Long Bridge roads, where the attack was the most persistent. The other two brigades were held in readiness for any emergency. At 6.30 orders were received from Major-General Hancock to immediately send a regiment to the woods near the bridge-head, with pickets well out on the Malvern Hill road. The Eleventh New Jersey was sent in accordance. Soon after orders were received from the same source to send the balance of the brigade to re-enforce and hold the position at all hazards. The Third Brigade (Colonel McAllister) immediately started and took up the position as ordered. At 8.40 p.m. received orders from corps headquarters that on being relieved I should proceed with my division to the vicinity of Petersburg and report to the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac. At 10 p.m. crossed the James River on the lower pontoon bridge. Massed on the neck waiting for my pickets. Resumed the march at 1 a.m. of the 19th. Crossed the Appomattox at 3 a.m. and reported to Major-General Humphreys at 7 a.m. There received orders to relieve the Ninth Corps in the intrenchments, which was accomplished at 11 a.m. – the right resting on the Eighteenth Corps near and across the Petersburg and Norfolk Railroad, the left connecting with the pickets of the Fifth Corps at the Strong house.
I beg respectfully to state that all my officers and men behaved in a commendable manner. My brigade commanders were active and attentive in carrying out orders, particularly Brigadier General R. de Trobriand and Colonel Robert McAllister, who deserve honorable mention as brave and efficient officers. The officers composing my staff rendered me
great assistance by their promptness and efficiency in carrying out my orders. Conspicuous among them were Major J. Hancock, assistant adjutant-general; Major J. William, assistant inspector-general, and Captain Braman, provost-marshal.
A nominal list of casualties has been forwarded, consisting of 1 commissioned officer and 18 enlisted men killed, 9 commissioned officers and 145 enlisted men wounded, and 2 commissioned officers and 82 enlisted men missing, making an aggregate of 257.* I regret to have to record among this list Colonel C. A. Craig, One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, and Colonel D. Chaplin, First Maine Heavy Artillery,both mortally wounded and have since died.
I forward herewith brigade commanders’ reports.
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding Division.
Captain W. P. WILSON,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Army Corps.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SECOND ARMY, September 14, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that in accordance with a plan submitted to and approved by the major-general commanding the Second Corps to drive the enemy from their rifle-pits at the point known as the Chimneys, on the Jerusalem plank road, and to occupy said pits as my picket-line, at 12 o’clock on Friday night I had the division to take arms without any noise, so as to be ready for any emergency, while Lieutenant-Colonel Meikel, commanding the Twentieth Indiana Volunteers, and the Second U. S. Sharpshooters, massed on the hollow ground in front of our breast-works, and on the left of the redoubt, which, having no name, is called by the soldiers Fort Damnation,+ At the same time, Colonel Biles commanding, the Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers had taken a position on the right of the plank road and in front of the redoubt known as Fort Hell. These movements were executed with perfect order, and so quietly that the pickets of the enemy, in spite of their proximity, did not suspect anything as going on. Instructions were given to Lieutenant-Colonel Meikel to strike at a rush with the Twentieth Indiana Volunteers the enemy’s line half way between the Chimneys and the point where our main line was to connect with the old one; to double up and carry on the right all the rifle-pits up tho the plank road and establish his line there, reversing the old pits, &c., while the Second U. S. Sharpshooters would perfect the connection between the captured pits and the old line, the enemy to be driven by the bayonet, and without unnecessary firing.
At 1 o’clock, the hour fixed upon, these instructions were most punctually and brilliantly carried out by Lieutenant-Colonel Meikel. The enemy, completely surprised and overpowered, offered but feeble resistance, and abandoned the line in great haste, leaving in our hands 1 lieutenant and about 100 prisoners. On the right of the plank road Colonel Biles, commanding the Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, was instructed to rush forward as soon as the attack should take place on the left, keeping three companies in reserve to re-enforce and assist Lieutenant-Colonel Meikel, if necessary, in carrying the pits at the Chimneys, with the balance of his command to establish a straight line of
*But see revised statement, p.119.
+Officially known as Fort Mahone.
rifle-pits from that point to a certain tree, where my old line of pickets had been advanced during the previous night in view of the contemplated operations. The colonel being deceived by the darkness, and carried on by the success, did not stick literally to his instructions, but having got beyond the limits assigned, occupied a portion of the enemy’s rifle-pits which only ought to have been leveled. The consequence of this more bold than wise advance was to put a part of his regiment in a position untenable after daybreak, and to involve the loss of 2 officers and 52 men when they had to retire, leaving a gap open where they should have established themselves strongly during the night. It was at this place that Lieutenant George W. Ellsler was killed and Captain Thomas A. Kelly wounded and taken prisoner, both bravely defending the undefensible pits, both of the Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers. However, the mistake arising from the darkness of the night, as well as from a generous impulse to pursue a retreating foe, did not otherwise impair the complete success of the operations, the gap having been filled with great ability by Captain H. G. Harrower, Eighty-sixth New York Volunteers, while in charge of the pickets, during the following night. My picket-line is now strongly established on the crest in front of the main works, part of which was formerly occupied by the enemy’s pickets.
I have the honor to report that the officers and men engaged in the operation most gallantly did their duty, and performed the work instructed to them in a manner worthy of their old services and well-earned reputation.
Thanks are due to Brigadier-General De Trobriand, commanding First Brigade, who had a general supervision of this delicate movement, and gave it his undivided attention; and to my their to my entire satisfaction: also to the different battery commanders on the line, who fully carried out instructions, and effectively silenced the guns of the enemy that opened on us.
It is with deep regret I have to report the death of Lieutenant Colonel George W.. Meikel, Twentieth Indiana Volunteers. He fell on Saturday morning, on the ground wrested by him from the enemy with marked ability and his usual gallantry, and died with the consoling feeling of a victory, the most arduous and important of which was due to his generous efforts.
A list of casualties is herewith transmitted.*
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers.
Captain W. P. WILSON,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Army Corps.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS, September 17, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded together with a return of casualties.
The number of prisoners reported as received by the provost-marshal of the corps is 83 aggregate. The line which we desired to occupy as a picket-line is now in our possession, so that the operation in justly claimed by General Mott as a complete success.
WINF’D S. HANCOCK,
Major-General, Commanding Corps.
*Shows 2 officers and 6 men killed, 14 men wounded, and 1 officer and 58 men captured or missing.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS, October 8, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to forward the report of the movements of this division from the 1st to the 5th instant, inclusive.
Having been relieved from the forts and rifle-pits extending from Fort Morton to Fort Alexander Hays during the night before, the division was massed near the trestle bridge and in the woods in the rear of the Averny house. About 12 m. on the 1st instant I received orders from the major-general commanding the Second Corps, that I, with my division, would take the cars to the Yellow House of General Warren’s headquarters, there procuring a guide, would march to the vicinity of the Ninth Corps, reporting to Major-General Parke. At 1 p.m. the cars being ready I commenced to embark at two points, viz: Hancock’s Station and near the trestle bridge. There were three trains and each train made three trips. The head of the column reported to General Parke at 2.30 p.m.; the rear was up at 5 p.m. I with my staff reported at 4 p.m., having remained to superintend the embarkation. The march from the railroad terminus to the headquarters Ninth Corps was severe owing to its raining very had and the muddy condition of the roads. My division was massed in the rear of the Peebles house and remained until next morning.
On Sunday, the 2nd, having received orders from the major-general commanding the Ninth Corps to be in readiness to move at 5.30 a.m., and to report in person at 6 a.m. to his headquarters, my command was ready at said time, and I reported accordingly. The orders I Ninth Corps, and to advance with said division, keeping up the connection on my right, and to keep a good lookout for my left flank. At 8 a.m. I deployed the Second Brigade (General Pierce) on the left of General Willcox’s division, with skirmishers well thrown out, followed closely by the Third Brigade (Colonel McAllister), with instructions to deploy as soon as the movement commenced and the nature of the ground would admit, the First Brigade (General De Trobriand) in reserve, with instructions to throw out flankers and to leave a regiment at the point where the roads forked near the Clements house. Advancing a mile, I came upon a line of the enemy’s works, which was carried at once, the enemy making but little resistance. After taking this line of works I advanced about a mile, driving the enemy’s skirmishers, when I came upon a second and stronger line of works. These works were manned by infantry and artillery. After skirmishing with the enemy for some little time, I received orders from General Parke to develop the force and ascertain how much of the enemy were in the position. I immediately ordered General Pierce to carry out the order, which he did by advancing the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, One hundred and forty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, and the Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers, with the First U. S. Sharpshooters on the right flank. I also instructed Colonel McAllister to move a regiment of his brigade to the left of the position occupied by the battery, and when the attack was made by General Pierce to open a severe fire upon the battery, in order to draw part of the fire and relieve the attacking column as much as possible. At 3 p.m. the line was ordered forward, when it charged most gallantly to within a few rods of the work under a concentrated fire from musketry and artillery. At 3.10 p.m. I received a communication from Major-General Parke saying that he had just seen Major-General Meade, who did not wish me to run any great risk, but to take
up a line and intrench. The attacking column was immediately recalled. The casualties in this charge was 1 commissioned officer and 4 enlisted men killed, 5 commissioned officer and 44 enlisted men wounded. At 5.15 I received orders to withdraw to the line of works near the Clements house and to occupy said line with pickets well out, which was done and completed at 6.30 p.m. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th I continued in the same position. Furnished large details to work at the forts building near Clements’ house, Smith’s house, and the Poplar Spring Church. At 2.30 p.m. I received orders to send one brigade to relieve the troops in the works between Fort Davis and Fort Alexander Hays. The Third Brigade (Colonel McAllister) was accordingly sent. At 5 p.m. the balance of the division was relieved by General Feerero’s division, of the Ninth Corps, and marched to the position now occupied, arriving at 9 p.m.
The conduct of the officers and men of the division during these five days’ operations was eminently satisfactory. All behaved well and carried out my orders promptly and gallantly.
Brigadier-General Pierce, U. S. Volunteers, deserves particular mention as leaving the immediate charge of the advance for his promptness and efficiency during the operations of the 2nd instant.
Annexed is a list of casualties.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brevet Major-General, Commanding Division.
Captain JOHN C. YOUNGMAN,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Ninth Corps.
Major-General by Brevet.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS, November 1, 1864.
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that taken by my division in the late operations on the left of the army.
At 10 p.m. on Monday, October 24, pursuant to orders from headquarters Second Corps, the garrisons of Forts Sedgwick, Davis, and Alexander Hays were relieved and my division withdrawn from the front and massed near the Southall house, where it remained until Wednesday, the 26th. At 2 p.m. I moved the head of the column and
marched by the way of the Widow Smith, Williams, and the Gurley houses. Passed through the breast-works at the latter, moved across the open country in front of the fortifications to the Weldon railroad, and bivouacked near the Lewis house at 5 p.m. On Thursday, the 27th, at 3.30 a.m., resumed the march, following the Second Division down the Halifax to the Church road, thence by the way of the Wyatt house and Mrs. Davis’ house to the Vaughan road, down said road to near the Cummings house, where I received orders from the major-general commanding the corps to mass, while the Second Division, commanded by General Egan, drove the enemy from the ford on Hatcher’s Run, which was soon accomplished and some defensive works carried. At 8 a.m. I crossed Hatcher’s Run with my First Brigade (Brigadier-General De Trobriand), followed by the Second Brigade (Brigadier-General Pierce), Battery K, Fourth U. S. Artillery, and Tenth Massachusetts [Battery], ambulances, &c., with the Third Brigade (Colonel McAllister) in the rear. Immediately after crossing I relieved a brigade of the Second Division in the works that had been captured and there forward two regiments (the Second U. S. Sharpshooters and the Seventy-third New York Volunteers) as skirmishers to drive the enemy out of a corn-field where it was reported they were throwing up some works to delay our advance, which they had no difficulty in doing. The column them advanced through a wood road to Dabney’s Mill, where the road intersected another on which the Second Division was lying. At this place the major-general commanding the corps ordered a lieutenant in command of some 150 cavalry to report to me. I gave him instructions to look well after the rear and to throw vedettes well out on all by-roads; also to drive up all stragglers. The march was continued with flankers well thrown out on both flanks and arrived at the Boydton plank road at 12.30 p.m., when I immediately relieved a brigade of the Second Division with my First Brigade, and placed it in position in a curved line facing to the left and rear, with a strong skirmish line thrown forward to the White Oak road, on the right connecting with the Second Division, and on the left with cavalry pickets. The Second Brigade massed in the open field near the junction of the roads. The Third Brigade while coming up the road was halted by orders of Major-General Meade.
At 1.30 p.m., in compliance with orders from Major-General Hancock, I sent one of my aides-de-camp, Lieutenant Moore, to the lieutenant in command of the cavalry, which had been placed under my charge, with orders to report with his cavalry to General Gregg, which order was delivered at 1.45 p.m. At 2.15 p.m. I received orders to send a brigade to make a connection between General Crawford’s division of the Fifth and the Second Division of this corps. As the brigade was about to move the order was countermanded. At 2.30 I sent two regiments to the support of a section of artillery posted in the corn-field near the woods on the right of the plank road. Soon after I sent forward the balance of the brigade and the Second, commanded by Brigadier-General Pierce, to take up a position in the field and to be ready for any emergency, and to throw our pickets well into the woods to guard against any surprise in that quarter. At 3 p.m. I received orders from Major-General Hancock to send a brigade to report to Brigadier-General Egan. The Third Brigade, Colonel McAllister, was accordingly sent. For the part by this brigade I respectfully refer to the report of Colonel McAllister. I will also add that Brigadier-General Egan expressed himself highly pleased with its conduct while under his command. Although composed in a great measure of new recruits, and there being a paucity of officers, it behaved most gallantly
and acted like veterans. During this time my command was subjected to a brisk artillery fire, which, however, did very little harm. The enemy commenced feeling all along the lines, and the firing increasing in the woods to the right of the Second Brigade, I sent a staff officer to inquire the cause of it. He returned with word from Brigadier-General Pierce that it was only a few stragglers that General Crawford’s pickets were driving. The firing increasing, I ordered General Pierce to strengthen his picket-line, when he sent the First U. S. Sharpshooters and the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers. The enemy finding there was no connection between us and the Fifth Corps must have immediately taken advantage of it, for at 4 p.m. they attacked my Second Brigade, with on overwhelming force, and with great vigor, driving back the regiments on the right, and striking the balance of the brigade on the right flank and rear, which caused it to fall back in some little confusion. I immediately rode out with a part of my staff and succeeded in rallying them again. Seeing the danger of being cut off from the road up which we had advanced, and the necessity of having a force there as soon as the attack commenced, I sent Major Willian, of my staff, to General De Trobriand for at least a regiment for that purpose. The Seventeenth Maine Volunteers was selected and taken on the double-quick to that point, when it was faced to the left and marched into the woods, striking the attacking force on the flank. I also sent word to General De Trobriand to take up a new line with the balance of his command along this road to hold it at all hazards. About the time it was formed a charge was ordered by the major-general commanding the corps, and gallantly responded to by Fortieth New York, Twentieth Indiana, Ninety-ninth and One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, commanded by General De Trobriand in person, driving the enemy and clearing the open fields from which they had been pressing us. At the same time the First Maine Heavy Artillery, with a portion of the One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, was led by Major Mitchell, aide-de-camp to the major-general commanding the corps, across the same field to the left of General De Trobriand. These troops with portions of the Fifth Michigan and First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery recaptured a section of Battery C, [Fifth] U. S. Artillery, which had been taken from us at the first onset of the enemy. The firing on my left now increasing, and as it was only held by a skirmish line, I recalled General De Trobriand and the troops he had with him, excepting a line of skirmishers, to the road from which they started on the charge. This line of my left extended on the right along the White Oak road, with the center and left along the edge of a dense pine woods, and refused to connect with the cavalry. The enemy being posted on the opposite side of a large open field now made a vigorous attack on this line, but were handsomely repulsed. Some portion of the line was thrown into slight confusion for a few moments, but the exertions of the officers and steadiness of the veterans soon reformed it, and the enemy fell back to their original position, baffled in their attempt to break through, and as they thought, to destroy us. These regiments consisted of the One hundred and twenty-fourth, Eighty-sixth, and Seventy-third New York Volunteers, and Second U. S. Sharpshooters. This line was held until dark, when, by some misunderstanding of orders, two of the regiments came in. I attribute this to the fact that the One hundred and twenty-fourth New York Volunteers had its two field officers and two senior company officers wounded, leaving it with so few officers to command it that in the extreme darkness
some of the men came in, and the impression got among the balance that they had been ordered to do so. A line was subsequently established by General De Trobriand and no accident arose from it. I had also ordered General Pierce to reform his brigade on the road to the right of General De Trobriand with pickets well out. I deployed the First Maine Heavy Artillery down the plank road for the purpose of keeping a connection with the Second Division. This was my position when darkness closed the fighting, the enemy having been repulsed on all sides and in every attack made upon us, with large losses in killed, wounded, and prisoners, although in much superior force, as I took prisoners from the three divisions of Hill’s corps and Hampton’s cavalry. I now received orders to start the ambulances, pack-mules, and the two batteries of artillery (which were out of ammunition) toward the Globe Tavern, under the escort of a good regiment (the Seventeenth Maine Volunteers was detailed for the purpose), and the I would move my division at 10 p.m.; in the meantime to send for my Third Brigade (Colonel McAllister), who reported to met at 8.30. At the hour named I commenced to withdraw, having previously sent my provost guard ahead to clear the road, which, being a narrow wood road and the night very dark, was very much blocked up by the usual appendages of an army. When near Dabney’s Mill I was met by a staff officer from army headquarters, who said he had orders from the major-general commanding the army to Major-General Hancock “to have me stop after crossing Hatcher’s Run.”
At 1 a.m. of the 28th, having crossed said run, I massed near the Widow Smith’s house until after daylight, when I sent one brigade (Brigadier-General Pierce commanding) to the Wyatt house. During the morning I received orders from corps headquarters that I would follow the Second Division (General Egan), which was now coming on the road. At 12 m. I followed this division and arrived at the Southall house at 5 p.m. and massed my Second and Third Brigades. The First Brigade was massed near the Chieves house.
In closing this report I take pleasure in stating that my division behaved well, repulsed successfully every charge, that was made upon it; that from the time of going into position all were exposed to a severe artillery fire, not only in front but from both flanks and from the rear. There has seldom been an action where there was as much individual bravery shown by both officers and men, fighting when completely surrounded and maintaining positions against fearful odds, and in some cases firing their last round of ammunition. Where so many did so well it would be invidious to particularize. Two of my brigade commanders claim to have captured flags from the enemy. As they were not sent to these headquarters I can lay no claim to but one of them, which was captured by Private W. W. Scott, Company A, First Maine Heavy Artillery, and taken from him by a sergeant of the Seventh Michigan, who was himself a prisoner of the rebels in the barn, and was delivered by my command. This sergeant has no possible claim to the capture of this flag.
Two pieces of artillery, which had fallen into the hands of the enemy, were recaptured by my command, and from 400 to 500 prisoners. The exact number is difficult to tell, for a number of them were delivered direct to the provost-marshal of the corps.
For the part taken by the batteries attached to my division I respectfully refer to the report of Major Hazard, chief of artillery of the corps, he having taken charge of them on our arrival on the field.
I would call the attention of the major-general commanding to report of Brigadier-General Pierce, where it speaks of the bravery displayed by Sergt. Alonzo Woodruff and Corpl. John M. Howard, First U. S. Sharpshooters. Such conduct deserves particular mention.
Major Rivers, Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers, division officer of the day, rendered me great assistance in forming skirmish lines and gallant conduct in all parts of the field.
All the officers of my staff rendered me efficient service by their promptness in carrying orders, and were conspicuous for their bravery and gallantry during the entire action. Two of them (Captain Bell, judge-advocate, and Lieutenant Lockwood, acting aide-de-camp) were seriously wounded (the former, I fear, fatally) while nobly performing their duties.
The casualties in my division during the action were 5 commissioned officers killed and 28 wounded, 49 enlisted men killed and 338 wounded, 3 commissioned officers and 3242 enlisted men missing; aggregate, 665.*
I forward brigade commanders reports.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major S. CARNCROSS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Army Corps.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS, November 1, 1864.
MAJOR: In compliance with instructions from headquarters Second Army Corps, of the 31st ultimo, I have the honor to report that the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers lost three stand of colors during the action of the 27th ultimo (two national and one State color), under the following circumstances: As the skirmishing commenced in the woods to the right of the open field near the Boydton plank road, I ordered General Pierce, commanding brigade, to send some troops to the support of the skirmish line. The One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania and Fifth Michigan, both small regiments were sent. Just as they were forming the skirmishers were driven in, and they were charged upon by an overwhelming force of the enemy,and obliged to retire with a loss of a number of officers and men, together with the color bearers and color guard. Upon investigation I find the regiment behaved well, and the loss of the colors was owing to being attacked suddenly as they were forming into line by a very much superior force. The regiment was composed of the veterans of the One hundred and fifth and Sixty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, and had both of their national colors with it. The officers and men have always sustained a good reputation for gallant conduct.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major S. CARNCROSS,
*But see revised statement, p.155.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SECOND CORPS, December 19, 1864.
COLONEL: I have the honor to report the part taken by this division during the late move on the Weldon railroad.
On Tuesday, the 6th instant, at 2 p.m., I received orders from headquarters Army of the Potomac to report immediately to Major-General Warren for orders. On reporting I received instructions to be ready to move with division at daylight the next morning, with six days’ rations and 100 rounds of small-arm ammunition. Wednesday, the 7th, left camp at daylight and marched just south of the Yellow Tavern, of the Gurley house, Smith house, and of the Temple house, following General Ayres’ division, of the Fifth Corps, and being joined by Battery B, Fourth U. S. Artillery, commanded by Captain Stewart, which battery was assigned to my division by the chief of artillery of the Fifth Corps. Thence proceeded south by the Jerusalem plank road, arriving at Hawkins’ Tavern at 4.30 p.m. At 6 p.m. received orders from the major-general commanding the expedition to pass the divisions of General Griffin and Ayres, and to cross the Nottoway on the pontoon bridge which had been previously laid. On arriving near the bridge there was some delay occasioned by a wagon having run off the bridge and broken one of the boats. The damage was soon repaired, under the immediate superintendence of Major-General Warren, and I crossed the bridge at 7.30 and bivouacked near the forks of the roads leading to Stony Creek and Sussex Court-House.
Thursday, December 8, I was charged with the protection of the general trains. Captain Stevenson, with 150 of the Second New York Mounted Rifles, reported to me for duty. At 6.30 moved the head of column, consisting of the Second and Third Brigades, the First Brigade, General De Trobriand, with five regiments with and five in rear of the train, and 100 of the mounted rifles with the five rear regiments; the balance were used to protect the flanks. At 8.30 the pontoon train was in motion and we moved rapidly forward, passing through Sussex Court-House and Coman’s Well to the Chambliss farm, where I massed in rear of General Ayres’ division at 3 p.m., reporting my arrival to the major-general commanding and receiving instructions to move forward to within about one mile a half of the Weldon railroad, and bivouacked for the night at 4.30. Friday, the 9th, pursuant to instructions, moved at daylight and struck the railroad a little south of Jarratt’s Station at 7.30 a.m., and immediately commenced the destruction of the rails and ties along my division front. After this had been accomplished I passed down the road to a point about one mile south of the Bailey house and completed the destruction of the road to that point, and at 4.30 went into bivouac for the night on the Bailey farm. About 6 p.m. I received verbal orders from the major-general commanding that there was a space of about one mile between General Ayres’ division and the cavalry division which was not destroyed. Moved the division to the point designated, destroyed the road, and returned to the Bailey farm at 10 p.m. The object of the expedition having been accomplished, orders were received to withdraw at 7 a.m. next morning, following General Ayres’ division.
Saturday, December 10, moved at 8.30 a.m. and marched steadily, with but few halts, until 6 p.m. when darkness set in, and the road becoming obstructed with wagons sticking fast, it was impracticable to proceed farther, so I massed my division and bivouacked for the night about three miles from Sussex Court-House. Sunday, December 11, moved at daylight and marched about three-fourths of a mile, when,
coming up to General Ayres’ division, I massed in his rear until he moved off, then proceeded through Sussex Court-House to within about three-fourths of a mile of Freeman’s Bridge, on the Nottoway River, when I received orders to mass and allow the trains and General Crawford’s division to cross and to cover the same. Dispositions were accordingly made by throwing out the Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers as skirmishers on the Sussex Court-House road, and the Eighth New Jersey Volunteers on the Stony Point [Creek] road. Small squads of cavalry were seen on the flanks, evidently watching our movements, and for the purpose of picking up stragglers rather than with the intention of attacking. After passing all the command, with the exception of these two regiments and a section of Captain Stewart’s battery, six shoots were fired as a parting salute, and by dark the last man was across the river without any hostile demonstration from the small force that followed our rear. Bivouacked at 8.30 about three miles north of Nottoway River on the Jerusalem plank road. Monday, December 12, moved at 7 a. m. along the Jerusalem plank road toward our old camping ground; reported at headquarters Second Army Corps at 2 p. m., and went into camp outside of the fortifications between the Halifax and Vaughan roads. As the division was not engaged with the enemy the operations were limited to forced marches of six days and nights, exposed to the most inclement weather of the season, the destruction of the railroad, and devastation of the country.
Officers and men performed the duty with alacrity, although at times suffering severely on account of extreme coldness of the weather. The first day’s march was very severe on the command, being in the rear of the column, and having in one of my brigades many recruits and new men unused to marching caused many to straggle; consequently, they failed to arrive at the river before the bridge was taken up, and were therefore gathered up by the cavalry and returned to the headquarters of the corps.
My brigade and battery commanders, together with the officers of my staff, carried out all orders with promptness and zeal, and deserve commendation, as on many former occasions.
My loss, which was from straggling (as no casualties occurred where the men staid with their commands), was 2 killed, 2 wounded, and 25 missing; total of 29.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain F. T. LOCKE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Fifth 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 339-351 ↩