Numbers 108. Report of Major John G. Hazard, First Rhode Island Light Artillery, commanding Artillery Brigade, of operations October 26-28. 1
HDQRS. ARTILLERY BRIGADE, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
October 29, 1864.
MAJOR: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by this command in the battle of Hatcher’s Run October 27, 1864, and the operations of the portion of my brigade which moved with the column previous to and after the engagement:
At 12 a. m. October 26 Beck’s battery (C and I), Fifth U. S. Artillery, six light 12-pounder guns, was ordered to report to Brigadier-General Egan, commanding Second Division; Granger’s (Tenth Massachusetts), six 3-inch Parrotts, and Roder’s (K, Fourth United States), four light 12-
pounders, to Brevet Major-General Mott, commanding Third Division, for the march. Captain A. Judson Clark, First New Jersey Artillery, senior officer, was placed in command of the batteries left on the intrenched line held by the First Division. The batteries moved with the division to which they were assigned at 2 p. m., and camped for the night near Fort Dushane. At 3.30 a. m. of the 27th the column moved down the Halifax road to the Church road to the Vaughan road, and by that route to Hatcher’s Run. No artillery was used in the affair at this position on the west bank of the stream. The troops moved on at once, accompanied by the artillery, the Second Division to the right, the Third by a different. A junction was formed at Dabney’s Mill, and the column moved by a narrow wood road toward the Boydton plank road. As the infantry emerged from the woods and massed on both sides of the plank road a battery opened on them from a hill near Burgess’ Tavern. A battery which had fired a few shots from a point near Mrs. Rainey’s house, taking our line in reverse, retired about this time. Beck’s battery was hurried forward and placed in position at the junction of the wood road with the Boydton plank road. Lieutenant Beck opened on the enemy’s battery at Burgess’ Tavern, silenced it, and drove it away. At this time Lieutenant Thomas Burnes was struck by a bullet while fighting his section. The wound was mortal, and Lieutenant Burnes died during the night. Lieutenant Beck continued to fire on the enemy at this point as General Egan’s division advanced to fire on the enemy at this point as General Egan’s division advanced across the plain against the position at the tavern. The enemy attended to get artillery in position so as to open fire on our advancing line, but the heavy fire from Beck’s battery drove them away. The line advanced and occupied the crest at Burgess’ Tavern. One section of Beck’s battery, under command of Second Lieutenant R. Metcalf, was ordered forward, and went into position on the crest in rear of the ravine near the tavern, opened on the enemy’s battery west of the Boydton road, which was enfilading General Egan’s line, and drew the fire on himself. Lieutenant Beck, with another section, was ordered forward across the ravine. I went into position near the tavern and opened fire on the enemy’s battery in the road.
The enemy replied heavily, and the other section was ordered up and took position with Lieutenant Beck. The enemy then concentrated a heavy fire on him from there batteries. Lieutenant Beck fought his battery stubbornly, losing heavily. The enemy then charged his battery in flank with infantry, but broke and ran back when he opened on them with canister. They seemed determined to silence him, but they did not succeed. In the meantime Roader’s and Granger’s batteries had arrived on the field and were massed near the junction of the roads. It soon became evident that Lieutenant Beck needed assistance. I ordered up Lieutenant Granger’s battery of six 3-inch guns, which went into position by the side of Lieutenant Beck. The enemy’s fire had already begun to slacken and almost ceased when Lieutenant Granger opened. General Egan now advanced toward the brigade over Hatcher’s Run. Lieutenant Smith’s section of Granger’s battery moved forward with the infantry and took position near the south end and opened on the enemy. During this time the enemy kept up a continuous artillery fire, enfilading the Boydton road and crossing it at rights angels. The fire did not seem to be directed at any particular point, and did but little damage. Lieutenant Metcalf continued to fire occasionally from his position near the woods. Lieutenant Beck was
now ordered to withdraw his four guns by General Egan, and massed his battery near Lieutenant Roder’s. He had expended all his ammunition except canister. At about 3 p. m. the enemy commenced a furious attack on our right, and succeeded in driving the line back for a time to the Boydton road. They swept over Lieutenant Metcalf’s section by the time he could fire a halt dozen shots. Their fire killed nearly all the horses, severely if not mortally wounded Lieutenant Metcalf, who was made prisoner and carried off by the enemy. Many of the men were killed and wounded, and it was impossible to get the guns away. The enemy hauled one of the limbers off into the woods and it was not recovered. The movement of General of General Egan’s division, made about this time, forced the enemy to retire, and the infantry hauled the guns off by hand. As General Egan’s division returned from the brigade for the purpose of attacking the enemy, who were in their rear, a staff officers of General Egan’s directed Lieutenant Smith to withdraw his section to the tavern and join the rest of the battery at that point. He did so, and at the moment of arrival received a mortal wound, from which he has since died. The battery commenced firing to the rear and continued to do so as long as there was any ammunition left; as only the limbers were there the supply was small. After the charge of Egan’s division the battery retired down the plank road and massed near Mrs. Rainey’s house without serious loss in men or horses.
At the moment the attack commenced Lieutenant Roder was directed to put his battery in position on the right of the plank road, near its junction with the wood road, covering the edge of the wood toward which the enemy were advancing. He did this with great rapidity; Lieutenant Beck’s four guns took position on his left. Lieutenant Beck obtained a supply of ammunition from Lieutenant Roder, and accurate fire was opened upon these eight light 12-pounders. A brigade advancing checked the enemy’s and the fire of spherical case in addition to that of the infantry forced them to retire at this point, and skirmishers reoccupied the edge of the woods. Our line being a few yards in front of the guns an attack on the rear and attempted to force their way up the plank road from south. The cavalry were severely engaged with them, and as a precautionary measure, Granger’s battery, was placed on the west of the road and facing toward the threatened point. Soon after taking up this position Lieutenant Granger was shot through the body. It is that the wound will prove mortal. The battery, was left without officers. Lieutenant E. S. Smith, of Roader’s battery, was directed to take command, and Lieutenant J. G. Deane (Sixth Maine Battery) acting aide-de-camp, sent to assist his. Until some time after dark the enemy kept up a heavy fire of artillery on the position held by the troops. The attack on the cavalry was repulsed, and by 7 p. m. all was quiet. About this time I sent to the rear with the ambulance train, under an escort of the Seventeenth Maine Infantry, Beck’s and Smith (late Grangers) batteries. They moved back to the Yellow House and parked there. Lieutenant Roder was ordered to report to General Egan, and moved back with him. The battery halted at Hatcher’s Run until 6 p. m. of the 28th, and then returned with the Second Division. The commands moved back to the points from which they had stared, and the batteries camped at the same.
The limber of Beck’s battery, which the enemy drew back into the woods, was not recovered. The loss of this and horses rendered it necessary to abandon one caisson body, which was destroyed.
The casualties and loss of material were as follows:
Second Lieutenant Thomas Burnes, serving in C and I, Fifth U. S. Artillery, killed; Second Lieutenant R Metcalf, serving in C and I, fifth U. S. Artillery, wounded and missing; First Lieutenant H. H. Granger, commanding Tenth Massachusetts Battery, mortally wounded; Second Lieutenant Asa Smith, commanding Tenth Massachusetts Battery wounded.
The loss of Lieutenants Granger, Burnes, Metcalf, and Smith will be severely felt in the command. They were all experienced officers of more than there years’ service. Burnes and Metcalf were promoted from the ranks in the Regular Army for gallantry and meritorious conduct. Both fell in the faithful discharge of duty. To Lieutenant Granger great praise is due for the able and manner in which he fought his battery. Lieutenant Smith was a most efficient officer, and one who took a deep interest in the cause for which he died. Forgetful of self, even after he had received a mortal wound, on learning that fire ceased for lack of ammunition, he told Lieutenant Granger that a few more rounds were left in his section.
Lieutenant Smith, of Roder’s battery, who was ordered to take command of the Tenth Massachusetts after Lieutenant Granger was wounded, deserves great credit for the energy shown by him in getting the battery into fighting condition so short a time. Lieutenants Beck and Roder also deserve great praise for the coolness and judgment with which they fought their batteries.
I conclusion, I would beg leave to call attention to Lieutenants Eddy, Bull, and Deane, of my staff, for their good conduct, and the valuable assistance rendered on the field and on the march during the entire move.
JNO. G. HAZARD,
Major SEPTIMUS CARNCROSS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, 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 410-413 ↩