HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS
October 9, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report:
In obedience to your instructions received at midnight on the 17th I ordered the skirmish line of the corps to advance at 7 o’clock the 8th. Each division commander was directed to support his line by one brigade the line was to advance and drive in the enemy’s skirmishers and develop his force, and, by threatening to advance, detain him in his works. The line advanced slowly. The enemy’s skirmishers were encountered first on the right between the Weldon road and the right of the corps-pits back into their works. On the left, connections had to be kept up with the Ninth Crops. Their right advanced slowly. General Griffin, whose left connected with that corps, advanced his support to the Boswell house, and his picket-line to within 1,000 yards of the enemy’s works and in full view. General Ayres advanced to the W. W. Davis house, keeping his connection right and left, one brigade on the Vaughan road and one on the Squirrel [Level] road. He advanced until the enemy’s skirmishers were struck. He reported about 2 o’clock that the enemy had a line of infantry in the front, “sufficient with their artillery to make a strong fight.” The W. W. Davis house, being simply a cover for the enemy’s sharpshooters, was destroyed. Brigadier-General Baxter advanced the line of the Third Division until the enemy’s skirmishers were driven into their works opposite the right of his line, and maintained this position until dark, having advanced the left on the skirt of woods beyond the burnt Davis house on the railroad.
While holding this advanced position I communicated with both Generals Griffin and Ayres, direction that an advanced position from that previously occupied by their picket-line should be taken up. Both of these officers report that there was no suitable position that gave any advantages the original line, being already three quarters of a mile from camp.
The enemy, as Ayres’ skirmishers advanced across the open space to the W. W. Davis house, at once made their appearance behind their parapets. They presented a weak line. From information derived from prisoners it was discovered that Scales’ and McGowan’s brigades, Wilcox’s division, of Hill’s corps, were in our front, and that Heth’s division was opposite our extreme left. The object of the reconnaissance having been attained I directed that the line should fall back at dark to its original position in front of Griffin’s and Ayres’ line; that it should be maintained in its advanced position on the right. A reference to the map will show the charge. Just before dark the enemy massed a force in the woods opposite the left of Baxter’s line, on right of the railroad, and drove in the skirmishers from the burnt Davis house. They failed to break the line or to move it from its position in front of Bragg on the right. As Ayres had withdrawn, I did not deem it advisable to retain this line, as it would be enfiladed by any fire from the W. W. Davis house. The advance on the right has rectified the original line materially in direction and efficiency. In taking the W. W. Davis house our casualties were 2 men killed, 4 wounded, and 3
missing. There was no advanced regular entrenchment observed out left of the railroad, and the only new line discovered is the one indicated on the map, directly north of Fort Howard, and which appears from the information I can gain to be continuous from the lead-works to the northwest, and the main works to the northeast. The dotted lead line in the sketch* indicates the advanced position of yesterday; the dotted red line, the present position of the picket-line of the corps, and the continuous lead line, the former position of the picket-line on the right.
S. W. CRAWFORD,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Corps.
Chief of Staff.
- 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 450-451 ↩