No. 165. Report of Brigadier General Henry Baxter, U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade, of operations September 15.1
HDQRS. SECOND Brigadier, THIRD DIVISION, FIFTH CORPS,
September 15, 1864.
MAJOR: In compliance with instructions from headquarters Third Division, Fifth army Corps, dated September 14, 1864, I have the honor to submit the following report of reconnaissance made to-day toward the Boydton plank road with the following force: My own brigade of infantry, 1,200; 600 cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Robinson, and 200 cavalry, commanded by Major Falls:
Started at 4 a. m., taking a wood road leading from Fort Davis (south fort), on the Weldon railroad, toward the Vaughan road. Struck Spring Church road joins it. Here the force was divided, Major Falls, with his command, driving the enemy’s pickets down the Vaughan road, and the rest of the command, Lieutenant-Colonel Robinson leading, moved toward Poplar Spring Church. On both roads the enemy had but a small force, but made a stubborn resistance, being aided by numerous barricades thrown across the narrow wood roads. Major Falls drove them across Arthur’s Swamp on the Vaughan road proper. On the other side of the swamp the enemy made a stand behind a baricade, from which they were not dislodged. Connection was then
established down the Church road with Gregg’s pickets on the railroad. The force on the roads belonged to Wade Hampton’s command. At divided, the greatest part going up the Squirrel Level road. Lieutenant-Colonel Robinson, who had simounted about one-third of his command as skirmishers, drove them up the Squirrel road into a line of rifle-pits. These rifle-pits run east and west across the road about three-quarters of a mile north of the cross-roads; are about a mile long. the eastward end of them rests on the little swamp running past the church; the western end rests on another branch of the swamp. they are situated on the edge of the woods north of the large field around Mr. Peebles’ house. After some lively skirmishing a line of infantry was developed in these pits; it was a single line and rather thin; they also held Peebles’ house in front of them. As soon as this was ascertained I deployed the Eleventh Pennsylvania, Colonel Coulter, as skirmishers, and, to relieve the cavalry skirmishers, the Ninetieth Pennsylvania, Captain W. P. Davis, moved out on a by-road from Falls Church, leading into the Squirrel road. A line of battle consisting of Ninety-Fourth New York, Major McMahon; Ninety-seventh New York, Colonel C. Whellock; One hundred and seventh Pennsylvania, Colonel McCoy; sixteenth Maine, Colonel tilden, covering the cross-roads. The two remaining regiments (Thirty-ninth Massachusetts, commanding), formed line of battle covering road at Poplar Spring Church. The cavalry then proceeded west toward Hawks’ and down a road leading south into the Vaughan road; there was but little opposition. A few rebels were found stated there was no force in that direction except a brigade of cavalry on the plank road near Burgess’ Tavern. They knew nothing of any the Squirrel road an old man stated that no one was allowed to pass in or out past the rifle-pits. When the advance reached the church the long roll was heard twice in that direction. The enemy showed no disposition to come out of their pits to attack us. Orders to retire being received at 11 o’clock, a withdrawal was effected without any pursuit worth mentioning.
Major Reobling, of General Warren’s staff, eighth his knowledge of the roads and localities, together with his energy and promptness of action, rendered valuable service. The cavalry did all that could be asked of them with promptness and efficiency. The officers and men of my brigade, for their alacrity and energy displayed in this movement, deserve great credit.
I forward herewith Lieutenant-Colonel Robinson’s report; Major Fall’s report not received.
The country is rather unfavorable for military operations; plenty of thick pines and little swamps. Just beyond the church there is a half-drained mill-dam, the road running where the dam was. A small force could hold that point for a long time. The rifle-pits before mentioned were old, and did not appear formidable. Their location on the map* would place them about on a line west form the Flowers house.
Our loss was small, perhaps 2 killed and 8 wounded.
Brigadier-General, Commanding Second Brigade.
Major E. C. BAIRD, Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division.
* See P. 513.
- 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 511-513 ↩