Numbers 200. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Byron M. Cutcheon, Twentieth Michigan Infantry, of operations September 30 – October 8.1
HDQRS. TWENTIETH MICHIGAN INFANTRY VOLUNTEERS,
Near Peebles’ House, Va., October 16, 1864.
SIR: In compliance with circular from headquarters Second Brigade, First Division, Ninth Army Corps, of this date, I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of this regiment west of the Weldon railroad:
September 30, 1864, we were in readiness to march at 6.30 a. m., but we did not move until between the hours of 10 and 11 a. m. On reaching the Peebles farm we were formed in line in the low ground west of the house, facing nearly westward. This regiment occupied the left of the brigade line, and was soon after detached with the Second Michigan and sent up the road to the westward to guard the approach from that direction. I sent scout some way up the road, who reported no enemy. We were soon after withdrawn and joined the brigade, which now moved about half a mile to the right and reformed, with its left resting nearly west of the Pegram house, with a dense swamp in front. By direction of the general commanding the brigade i sent Lieutenant Parker, with twelve men as skirmishers, to penetrate this swamp and report upon its practicability. The skirmishers passed through the swamp and reported that it could be passed, but with difficulty. I reported accordingly. Soon after we again moved to the right, crossing a country road and changing front forward, came into line nearly facing the north, the left resting upon two log barns on the road already mentioned. At this time this regiment was the extreme left of our army, with nothing between it and the enemy’s works, which curved around cur left, except a very thin line of skirmishers. In our rear was an almost impenetrable swamp jungle. The works upon our left seemed to be occupied only by cavalry, at least they did not develop either artillery or infantry upon that flank, but a regiment or brigade of cavalry, since known to be Hampton’s, occupied the works near a yellow house on their line.
While we were lying in this position waiting further orders the enemy charged upon the line to the right of the brigade and succeeded in
breaking it. Our line, however, maintained its position until the enemy was upon our flank and rear, when I received orders to fall back in good order, which I did. On reaching the road before mentioned I halted and again faced the enemy; I again received orders to fall back, which I did in perfect order until reaching the swamp, by which we were cut off from the rest of the brigade. As we were about entering the swamp the enemy’s cavalry charged upon our left flank, pouring in several volleys as the men were forcing their way with great difficulty through the swamp, tangled with vines and brambles. At this point I lost 2 officers and 21 men. Adjt. J. E. Siebert, a most valuable officer, fell while steadying and encouraging the men; Captain Oliver Blood also fell here mortally wounded, and was taken by the enemy. He was also a meritorious officer. Of the men captured quite a number were wounded, but the exact number I am not able to state. After extricating ourselves from the swamp I rallied and reformed the regiment as speedily as possible and took position a little to the left of the Pegram house in a belt of woods. In conjunction with Major Stearns, of the Sixtieth Ohio, I threw out skirmishers to protect our left flank, connecting with the One hundred and ninth New York. It was now dark. We lay upon our arms until midnight, when our pickets were relieved by the Twenty-fourth New York Cavalry, and we moved back and took position on the ridge near the Clements’ house west of the Peebles house; here, by daylight, we had thrown up a good breast-work, with pickets well out in front. By 7 a. m. all stragglers had rejoined the regiment and at that hour we moved down by the right flank into the flat west of the Peebles house, where we threw up a second line of breast-works. At this time our skirmishers were driven in, but the attack did not reach the main line. These works we occupied until the next morning, the rain meanwhile falling in torrents, making our position on the flat very disagreeable.
At about 8 o’clock on the morning of Sunday, October 2, 1864, we again advanced in line, the Forty-sixth New York being upon our right, until we reached the Pegram house, when the enemy opened some light guns upon us, which did us no damage. We next moved by the left flank a short distance, into an open field, and threw up another line of breast-works, which we occupied until near night, when we were again withdrawn and took position near the rebel fort in front of the Peebles house, where we felled timber and threw up the fourth line of breast-works within two days. The next day we went into camp on the same ground, where we remain at the present time. On the 8th instant we participated in a reconnaissance on the enemy’s right flank, in which we did not become actually engaged nor did we suffer any loss. This regiment was assigned no special duty, except to cover the withdrawal of the troops, which was successfully done, this regiment coming in after dark.
Appended is a list of casualties on the 30th ultimo.*
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
BYRON M. CUTCHEON,
Lieutenant-Colonel. Commanding Twentieth Michigan Volunteers.
Captain THOMAS MATHEWS,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, 2nd Brigadier, 1st Div., 9th Army Corps.
* Embodied in table, p. 141.
- 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 570-571 ↩