HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, FIRST DIV., FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
White House, Petersburg and Weldon Railroad, August 27, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the First Brigade from the 17th instant to present date:
On the morning of the 18th, at 4 o’clock, the brigade, consisting of the One hundred and twenty-first, One hundred and forty-second, One hundred and forty-third, One hundred and forty-ninth, One hundred and fiftieth, and One hundred and eighty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, broke camp and marched from near Fort Warren, via the Jerusalem plank road, south and west toward the petersburg and Weldon Railroad. This brigade led the advance, and when within three-fourths of a mile of the railroad formed in two lines, the One hundred and forty-ninth and One hundred and eighty-seventh Regiments in the first and the One hundred and twenty-first, One hundred and forty-second, and One hundred and forty-third Regiments in the second line, with the One hundred and fiftieth Pennsylvania volunteers, under command of Major G. W. Jones, deployed as skirmishers, covering the brigade. Soon after commencing the advance the pickets of the enemy were encountered and driven rapidly back, the One hundred and fiftieth taking 15 to 20 prisoners and wounding 2. No further opposition was met, the enemy having been completely surprised, and the skirmishers advanced rapidly across the railroad about 500 yards, where they halted parallel to the railroad, and the One hundred and eighty-seventh and the One hundred and forty-ninth Regiments at once commenced the destruction
of the road, while the One hundred and twenty-first, One hundred and forty-second, and One hundred and forty-third Regiments advanced up the railroad above the Yellow House and formed a line across and at right angles with the road, throwing out skirmishers well to the front. This line was soon relieved by the brigade of General hayes, of the Second Division, and the regiments relieved at once commenced the destruction of that portion of the road, under direction of Major H. N. Warren, of the One hundred and forty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers. From 4 to 6 p. m. the brigade was subjected to a severe artillery fire of the enemy. At dark the brigade, with the exception of the One hundred and fiftieth Regiment, on picket, formed a line of battle west of and parallel to the railroad, opposite to the Yellow House, and during the night threw up breast-works.
On the afternoon of the 19th the brigade was moved up the railroad to the support of the Second Division, Fifth Corps, and formed at right angles with the road, our left resting on the railroad. We afterward advanced into the woods, strengthening the works and falling timber during the night. We were subjected in our ;advance to a severe fire of artillery, and throughout the night to an annoying sharpshooters’ fire. On the forenoon of the 20th were relieved from this position, and returned to former position along the railroad. On the morning of the 21st (Sunday) the enemy advanced from the Vaughan road, driving in our pickets, who made stout resistance, falling back slowly, fighting the enemy’s lines of battle. The enemy assaulted our line in gallant style, but was repulsed, with heavy loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners. Their dead and wounded were left in our hands. During this assault the One hundred and forty-third, One hundred and twenty-first, and One hundred and eighty-seventh Regiments were moved rapidly to the left of our lines, and formed to cover the railroad, and at this point repulsed the enemy, with loss. This assault of the enemy was covered by a heavy artillery fire on our whole front, but our men being well covered by their breast-works, our losses were light, our greatest loss being in men captured on the picket-line, when the enemy advanced. During the night of the 21st the One hundred and forty-second, One hundred and forty-ninth, and One hundred and fiftieth moved to the left, and extended our line across the railroad, when strong breast-works and abatis were built, which have since been occupied by the brigade.
The First Brigade led the advance in the movement against the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad and was the first to possess, hold, and destroy this portion of the road, which has been so successfully held against the repeated assaults of the enemy to regain it. We are now strongly entrenched across the road, with the ties and rails destroyed for several miles in our front. The brigade was commanded from the 17th to the 22nd by Colonel W. S. Tilton, Twenty-second Massachusetts Volunteers, and since that time by the undersigned.
Our losses during the operations of the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st, are as follows: Killed, enlisted men, 5; wounded, enlisted men, 13; missing (pickets, supposed to have been captured), officers, 1, enlisted men, 43; total, 62.*
WM. A. THROOP,
Lieutenant Colonel First Michigan Veteran Infantry, Commanding Brigade.
Captain W. S. DAVIS,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, First Division, Fifth Army Corps.
*But see revised statement, p. 123.
- 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 460-461 ↩