HEADQUARTERS FIRST U. S. SHARPSHOOTERS, October 31, 1864.
LIEUTENANT: In compliance with circular from corps headquarters, dated October 29, 1864, requiring a report of the part taken in the operations of the 27th instant, I have the honor to make the following report:
The First U. S. Sharpshooters started with the brigade from the Weldon railroad about one mile below Warren’s Station at 3.30 a. m., and moved in a southwesterly direction. After crossing the first line of the enemy’s works, captured by the Second Division, the regiment was formed in line of battle along the edge of a piece of woods to the rear of the works and on the right of the brigade. We remained in this position a short time and then resumed our march, again halting near the Boydton plank road. At 2 p. m. I was ordered by General Pierce to advance across a corn-field to the right of the road, letting my right flank rest at the edge of the wood on the right of the field, making connection with the left of the Fifth Michigan Veteran Volunteers and forming a line along the crest of the hill to the rear of a section of artillery. The enemy were shelling this field, but we did not suffer any loss in consequence of it. About 3.30 p. m. heavy skirmishing was heard in the woods upon our right. I was ordered to deploy the regiment as skirmishers, connecting with the right of a portion of the Fifth Michigan, which had previously been deployed, and to let my right flank rest in the field. This brought my line nearly at right angles with the one established by the Fifth Michigan. The formation of this line had not been completed when the enemy charged upon the Fifth Michigan with a line of battle, striking the left flank of my line, the enemy cutting their way through the line at the angle which rested upon an old road. This brought them to the rear of both regiments. The left of my line swung back a few rods, when Lieutenant Robins, of Company I, brought up the support (a part of his company), but was unable to do more than check the enemy for a very short time. The enemy passing our left flank, the line again swung back. We rallied and made another stand, but being unable to check the enemy’s advance were compelled to fall back to the edge of woods, where I reformed the line along a rail fence. The One hundred and forty-first Pennsylvania Vol-
unteers here came to our assistance. We here succeeded in stopping the enemy’s advance in our front, but they again pressed forward on our left and passed out into the open field, forming a line along the crest of the hill and between our left flank and the section of artillery before spoken of.
I would wish to call your attention to the bravery displayed by Sergt. Alonzo Woodruff and Corpl. John M. Howard. They were posted on the extreme left of the line. As the enemy passed our left flank, after both first discharging their rifles and being unable to reload Corporal Howard ran and caught one of the enemy, who seemed to be leading that part of their line. He being overpowered, and receiving a severe wound through both legs, Sergeant Woodruff went to his assistance. Clubbing his rifle, had a desperate hand-to-hand encounter, but succeeded in getting Corporal Howard away, and both succeeded in making their escape. The enemy’s line being at right angles with the fence the line fell back to change front and reform. I deployed my battalion on the right of the One hundred and forty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers to protect its flank. The enemy were unable to make any farther advance, and were soon driven back. After remaining in this position until nearly dark I was ordered to assemble the regiment and move back to a road in our rear. Just at dark I was ordered to deploy the regiment as skirmishers upon the right flank of the Twentieth Indiana Veteran Vollunteers, who were posted in front of the road in the woods. Some two or three hours after this the officer commanding the Twentieth Indiana assembled his men upon the right and moved back to the road. I then sent a man to tell General Pierce that I had no connection upon either my right or left flanks, but owing to the extreme darkness he was unable to find the general or any of his staff. After consulting my officers it was thought best to move to the right. After moving a few rods I found the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers on our right, who, owing to the darkness, had failed to make the connection on our right. I halted and reported to General Pierce what I had done and the condition of the line in his front. About midnight I was ordered to withdraw. We marched some two miles outside of the works captured in the morning and halted for the night. The next day returned to camp.
We lost 2 privates killed, 1 corporal and 4 men wounded, and 6 men missing.
BENJ. M. PECK,
Captain, Commanding First U. S. Sharpshooters.
Lieutenant C. W. FORRESTER,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
- 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 388-389 ↩