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OR XLII P1 #251: Report of Bvt. Maj. Gen. Alfred H. Terry, commanding X/AotJ, October 13, 1864

No. 251. Report of Bvt. Maj. Gen. Alfred H. Terry, U. S. Army, commanding Tenth Army Corps, of operations October 13.1

Headquarters Tenth Army Corps,

October 13, 1864.

I have the honor to submit the following summary of the operations of the day:

Last evening the First and Third Divisions of this corps, with three batteries of artillery and Kautz’s division of cavalry, were ordered to move at 4 o’clock this morning to the Darbytown road—the infantry by the road from Cox’s house to Johnson’s field, the cavalry and artillery by the road from Four-Mile Church to the Darby town road. The infantry moved at the time and in the manner directed and arrived in due season upon the ground which had been selected for the formation on the right and left of the Darbytown road and were ready to advance at sunrise; but the cavalry (for what reason I am not informed) were not up in time; consequently the attack was delayed. Ames’ division formed on the right of the road, Birney’s on the left, the cavalry on Ames’ right extending over to the Charles City road. Moving forward, the enemy’s pickets were driven in and their line of intrenchments was encountered. It is located on the crest which crosses the road perpendicularly near the Cunningham house, and consists of strong infantry parapets or rifle-pits, covered by slashing and strengthened by redoubts and emplacements for artillery. One redoubt is situated on the road itself, enfilading it with artillery; one other, or an emplacement for guns, is near the Darby house. The line from the Darbytown road to a point beyond the Henrico Poor House was fully reconnoitered by Brig. Gen. William Birney, and Col. N. M. Curtis, One hundred and forty-second New York Volunteers, whose brigade (First, of Second Division) had been posted on the right of the Kell house to protect Birney’s left, and was found to be continuous and formidable. I have no doubt it connects with the works west of the New Market road.

East of the Darbytown road an unusually thick growth of young trees rendered it very difficult to ascertain the character of the line. It was only by pushing up a strong skirmish line and feeling from point to point that any information could be obtained. Everywhere strong , works with slashing in front were developed. Between 10 and 11 o’clock

I forwarded a dispatch stating these facts, and received a reply that its contents had been submitted to General Grant. Subsequent to this and before receiving any additional instructions to those directing the movement, I received information from General Kautz that on a part of his front there appeared to be no works of consequence and that the enemy was still intrenching. I therefore directed General Ames to extend his right toward the Charles City road, and attempt to get through the line. His first attempt left him in front of works of the same character as before, but still extending his right, he, after making a personal examination of the ground, reported that he thought there was nothing in his front, or if there were works, that no obstacles covered them. I directed him to move in at that point. He attacked with his First Brigade, re-enforced by his Second and Third. The movement was vigorously made, but it appeared that the apparent absence of works arose from the fact that the line was refused at a point just west of the attack; so that our troops in moving up presented in some degree their left flank to the fire of the enemy. Here, as elsewhere, the line was a substantial rifle-pit, and covered by a difficult abatis of scrub oak, and appeared to be amply manned. The point of this attack was, I think, within half a mile of the Charles City road. I regret to say that in this movement we met with considerable loss.

While this attack was in progress I received from the major-general commanding the dispatch directing me to reconnoiter fully and retire leisurely. In obedience to it I commenced withdrawing from the right, beginning with Spear’s cavalry brigade, which had been holding in check a force of cavalry and infantry on the Charles City road. The enemy’s skirmishers attempted to follow his withdrawal and the withdrawal of the troops next on his left, but our artillery, posted where the old outer line of intrenchments crosses the Darbytown road, soon drove them back. The troops then quietly retired to camp on the roads by which they advanced in the morning.

I am unable to state definitely the number of casualties, but think they are about 400.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ALFRED H. TERRY, Brevet Major-General, Commanding.

Lieut, Col. Ed. W. Smith,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Headquarters Tenth Army Corps,

October 14, 1864.

My losses yesterday foot up as follows: Killed, 3 officers, 33 men; wounded, 14 officers, 296 men; missing, 1 officer, 23 men; aggregate, 18 officers, 352 men.*


Brevet Major-General, Commanding.

Lieut. Col. Ed. W. Smith,

Asst. Adjt. Gen., Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.


* But see recapitulation of revised statement, p. 148.



  1. 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 681-682
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