HDQRS. TENTH BATTERY MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS,
In the Field, August 30, 1864
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by the Tenth Massachusetts Battery in the action at Reams’ Station Va., August 25, 1864:
The battery, in company with the First and Second Division of the Second Corps, arrived at Reams’ Station, Va., on the Weldon railroad, ten miles south of Petersburg, Va., on the morning of Wednesday, August 24, 1864, and was massed in an open field on the left of the church and on the east of the road. Shortly before noon Captain Sleeper placed the pieces in position on the west of the railroad behind a low line of breast, running parallel with it, and received orders to, hold the road running west at right angels with the railroad. Everything remained quit during the rest of the day and the right ensuing; no enemy made his appearance. During the forenoon of the following day, August 25, skirmishing began on the left and of the position, and Captain Sleeper ordered Lieutenant Granger to report for duty to General Gibbon with the right section of the battery. he did so, and was assigned a position an the left, east of the railroad, to operate against a rebel battery. After engaging this battery, and finally silencing and driving in from its position, after using forty-eight rounds of ammunition, he received orders to report back to Captain Sleeper, and was ordered to take same position occupied by the section in the morning. About noon the rebel skirmishers advanced upon our pickets in front, but were repulsed by them in connection with a few shells from our guns. Shortly after 1 o’clock they advanced again in strong force, drove in our pickets, and their skirmishers and sharpshooters took position in the dense woods on the right, and the corn-field and buildings on the left of the road we were guarding. We immediately shelled these woods, corn-field, and buildings, driving the sharpshooters from the latter
At this stage of affairs Captain Sleeper was wounded in the arm and left the field, Lieutenant Granger assuming command of the battery. The rebels sharpshooters, from their position in the corn-field had full range of the horses attached to our limbers and rapidly shot them down until not one remained unhurt on either limber, many receiving five or six bullets before they fell. By 5 p. m., 45 minutes before the last charge, not one house was left standing, and several of the men had been wounded. The rebels now attempted to charge on the right of our guns, but were repulsed and driven back before reaching half the distance across the field. Soon after this the rebel artillery opened a furious cannonade on our lines from twelve pieces of artillery, and under cover of this their infantry again advanced in solid column with regimental front. They succeeded in reaching the works and partly breaking the line, some of our infantry stampeding. The latter, however, were rallied again, and with the aid of canister from our guns a second time drove them back in confusion. About 6 o’clock they advanced again for the final charge, and breaking the lines a short distance from our right, they poured over the works, and driving our infantry before them, turning, advanced upon our guns. The right piece was swung round and poured charge after charge of canister into the approaching column. The cannoneers then fell back to the next piece, under direction of their lieutenant, and fired that piece in like manner. So, falling back from piece to piece firing each in!, they did not leave their guns until all their supports had gone and the last round of ammunition had been expended, then being compelled to leave the field. Some time after dark Lieutenants Granger, Adams, and Smith, with about forty men, came together, and with one single caisson, the sole remains of the battery, were ordered to report to the Williams house, which was accordingly done, arriving there at 11.30 p. m. and camped for the night. The following morning we marched for our former camp, arriving there at 8.30 a. m.
Total loss of the battery was all 4 guns captured, 3 caissons destroyed or captured, 33 horses shot, and 30 men killed, wounded, and missing.
I must say that great credit is due Lieutenant J. Webb Adams for his promptness and fearless conduct in the discharge of all duties assigned him on that day. likewise to Lieutenant Asa Smith, as chief of caissons, in keeping the limbers well supplied with ammunition and for the safety of one caisson and seventeen horses.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. H. GRANGER,
Lieutenant, Commanding Tenth Massachusetts Battery.
Lieutenant U. D. EDDY,
Actg Asst. Adjt. General, Arty. Brigadier, 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 414-415 ↩