OR XLII P1 #273: Reports of Colonel Joseph C. Abbott, 7th NH, Aug 13-20 and Oct 13, 1864


in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

No. 273. Reports of Colonel Joseph C. Abbott, Seventh New Hampshire Infantry, of operations August 13-20 and October 13.1

August 24, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers in the movement on the north side of the James River, commencing August 13 and ending August 20:

At 11 p. m. of August 13, with 21 officers and 360 men, I marched from camp at Bermuda Hundred and took the road to Deep Bottom. Owing to an understanding that the corps was to march to Bermuda Landing, and there embark on transports, many men were reported for duty who were not able to endure a march or a campaign. In consequence there was an unusual amount of straggling, and I crossed the pontoon bridge at Deep Bottom with less than 300 men. After passing over the pontoon bridge, my regiment occupying the right of Hawley’s brigade, passed by the earth-works at Deep Bottom and formed in line of battle on the left of a road. At this time the Seventh Connecticut Volunteers formed on its left, and my line was a prolongation of that of Pond’s brigade, which was on the right of the road. Soon after daylight, our forces having pressed in the enemy’s pickets, I advanced to an open field fronting a line of the enemy’s earth-works, where, by order of Colonel Hawley, I formed in double column in mass on the right of the brigade. nearly this position I occupied until about 4 p. m., when I moved to the right about 1,000 yards, and rested in line of battle. This position I left at about 10 p. m., and marched to Deep Bottom, where I bivouacked for the night. At about 9 o’clock on the morning of the 15th I marched from Deep Bottom along the New Market road about three miles and rested in line of battle in the rear of a piece of woods, my front being toward the west. At about 4 p. m. I moved about 2,000 yards to the right and took position behind slight intrenchments during the night. On Tuesday, the 16th, I was detailed and entered upon duties as corps officer of the day, the command of the regiment thereby devolving on Lieutenant-Colonel Henderson; but at the request of Colonel Hawley I was present with the regiment, and did, in fact, exercise the command during the day.

About 10 a. m. of the 16th still occupying the right of Hawley’s brigade. I moved about 1,000 yards to the right by flank, and then advanced in line of battle, changing the point of direction gradually to the left, across a ravine, where the whole brigade was halted. The assault on the enemy’s works having been commenced and the outer works carried, I advanced to the line of those works. Upon reaching the works, by order of General Terry I passed beyond them, changed front to the right, and advanced about 100 yards, taking position so as to intercept a flank movement of the enemy from that direction. As the action progressed, finding that the brigades that had advanced were falling back, and that there were movements of the enemy on my left flank which promised to be serious, while there was very little in my front, I recrossed the intrenchment and took position on a line with it. This position I occupied during the remainder of the fight. While here portions of Hawley’s brigade retired from the advanced position and took position on my right, while portions of other brigades occupied the line of works on my left. Nearly all the time while in this position my command sustained an annoying fire on the left flank, with

some slight fire from the right. Two distinct charges were also made by the enemy in my front, which were handsomely repulsed. At length, finding the extreme left of the line giving way, and myself the ranking officer on the line, I became solicitous for orders. Accordingly, I passed a short distance to the left, then through the slashing to the rear, with the design of finding either General Terry or General Birney. Not succeeding, I was returning by the same path when I found that the enemy were already occupying that portion of the intrenchments. Making a detour to the right, I reached the slashing, where, finding an aide of Colonel Hawley, I sent the order for the line to retire. Thus my regiment was one of the very last to retire from the line of rebel works. While at these works Lieutenant-Colonel Henderson fell, having been struck near the hip by a rifle-ball. He died in about four hours. He was a most valuable and useful officer and fell in the faithful performance of his duty. The regiment retired across the ravines, and with Hawley’s brigade reformed near the intrenchment which they occupied on the night of the 15th. Thence advancing again across one ravine in the direction of the enemy’s works, my regiment took position, erected intrenchments, and remained until about 11 p. m. of the 18th. During this time it did its share of picket and fatigue duty and in repelling the attack made by the enemy on the works about dark of the 18th.

Withdrawing from this position as above stated, i took position with Hawley’s brigade, about two miles to the southeast on the Chickahominy road, where I remained until 5 p. m. of Saturday, the 20th. Having been detailed as corps officer of the day, I again marched to the point near where I rested on the night of the 15th, where my regiment was placed on picket, and, in connection with the Fourth New Hampshire Volunteers and One hundred and fifteenth New york Volunteers, held the front of the Tenth Corps. At 10 p. m., by order of Major-General Birney, I withdrew the picket, reformed the regiments, with my regiment in the rear covered by a detachment of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry, retired to the lower pontoon bridge, and crossed it. Making a halt near Jones’ Landing until daylight, I reached my former camp at Bermuda Hundred early on Sunday morning, the 21st.

It is gratifying to be able to speak in terms of commendation, both of officers and men, during this brief period of somewhat severe service. Upon the whole I do not know that any regiment could by expected to perform its duties more faithfully or with more alacrity under like circumstances.

My loss during this movement (a list of which is hereto appended) was as follows: Killed, 1 officer and 2 men; wounded and missing, 13 men.

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

Colonel Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers.

Lieutenant E. LEWIS MOORE,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

Laurel Hill, Va., October 14, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part-taken by my regiment in the movement of the 13th instant:

My regiment was in line and reported to Brigadier-General Hawley, commanding Second Brigade, at 4 a. m. By his order I moved by the

right flank to the sally-port on the right of the Third Brigade, and thence to the old rebel earth-works on the Darbytown, or Central, road. The brigade was then formed in two lines at right angles with, and on the north side of, the road, my regiment being in the second line and in double column in mass. Still in this order and relative position, and with little delay, I advanced 300 or 400 yards into the woods, my left resting near the north side of the above-named road, when a halt was ordered. In this position I remained until about 3.30 p. m., during which time the skirmish line was developing, and the First Brigade attempted to force the enemy’s line, when I received orders from Brigadier-General Hawley to retire. I then retired to a line about 300 yards in front of the old rebel earth-works, and thence by order of General Hawley, moved with the brigade to the intrenchments from which I marched, arriving at sunset. While at a halt in the woods the fire of the enemy, which reached me, was at times considerable, but fortunately only two of my men were struck at all, and they so little injured as not to have been reported in the list of casualties.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers.

Lieutenant E. LEWIS MOORE,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


  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 724-726

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