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OR XLII P1 #285: Report of Colonel Francis A. Osborn, 24th MA, October 13, 1864

No. 285. Report of Colonel Francis A. Osborn, Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry, of operations October 13.1

Near Richmond, Va., October 13, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the movements of the regiment under my command during the action of to-day:

The regiment moved out of camp with the rest of the brigade at 4 a.m. and marched to Gerhart’s house, near and north of the Darbytown pike. At this point it entered the woods in line of battle, marching parallel to the pike, having the Second Brigade on its left and the Eleventh Maine Volunteers on its right. A strong skirmish line was pushed forward, under command of First Lieutenant John T. Wilson, which pressed back the enemy’s skirmishers, driving them out of their rifle-pits and across a slashing to the woods beyond. My skirmishers immediately occupied the woods on the edge of the slashing and were ordered to hold that position. This they did during the day, with the aid of to hold that position. This they did during the day, with the aid of re-enforcements, although the fire of the enemy was very much heavier than their own. The enemy several times appeared as if about to advance, but were checked by the heavy and well-directed fire of my men. They seemed to occupy a strong line of earth-works, partially masked with bushes, and were in strong force in my front. At about 3 p.m. they charged partly across the slashing, and for a moment pushed back the left of my line about twenty yards, the line on their left flank having previously fallen back. They were speedily repulsed, however, and retired to their former position. At 3.30 p.m. I was ordered to withdraw my regiment to the open field near the Darbytown pike, where I formed in line with the other troops of the division. Shortly afterward the skirmishers were brought in by the colonel commanding, and the troops returned to camp. The companies composing the skirmish line were I, C, K, F, and part of B. They are deserving of high

praise for their coolness and steadiness, exposed as they were to a musketry fire much heavier than their own at short range, together with an enfilading artillery fire, and having at times their left flank entirely exposed. Although I sent them re-enforcements twice at no time did they call for them or intimate any doubt of their ability to hold their position. Company I bore the bent of the affair, having been seven hours on the line, and having sustained one-half of the entire loss.

The following officers and men deserve honorable mention for gallant conduct: First Lieutenant John T. Wilson, who had command of the skirmish line, and conducted it with great coolness and ability. In this he only maintained the character he has displayed during his whole connection with this regiment for the last three years; First Lieutenant F. H. Shepard, who was sent with re-enforcements to the line in the afternoon; First Sergt. Frank B. DePeyster, Company C; Sergt. John E. Turner, Company I; Sergt. John Ryans, Company K; Corpl. John W. Nelson, Company C; Private Edward Parsons, Company C; Private Nelson H. DeLane, Company I.

I append a list of casualties.*

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers.

Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, 3rd Brigadier, 1st Div., 10th Army Corps.


*Nominal list (here omitted) shows 5 enlisted men killed, 1 commissioned officer and 16 enlisted men wounded, and 5 enlisted men missing.



  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 756-757
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