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OR XLII P1 #295: Report of Colonel James Shaw, Jr., 7th USCT, September 28-30, 1864

No. 295. Report of Colonel James Shaw, jr., Seventh U. S. Colored Troops, of operations September 28-30.1

In the Field, near Chaffin’s Farm, Va., October 9, 1864.

CAPTAIN: In compliance with orders from the brigadier-general commanding, I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by this regiment in the action of the 29th and 30th ultimo:

On the afternoon of the 28th the regiment broke camp near Petersburg and marched to Deep Bottom, arriving at 3.30 a.m. on the 29th instant. At 6 a.m. marched down the road in front of works and formed in column of regiments in mass in the woods to the left. Crossed from thence to the New Market road, and halted at noon near the line of works now held by our forces. At about 2 p.m. we continued our march down the New Market road and was ordered to form to the left of the road in column by regiments in mass. I had passed down the regiment directing this formation and had reached the center on my return, when I found them moving to the right, and, hurrying to that flank, found we had filed to the left on the Varina road and that the enemy had opened heavily on our column with artillery. I was then directed by the general commanding to form in “right into line” on the right of the road and in a direction oblique to it, a slight descent in the ground partially covering the line, then to charge and take an earth-work some three-quarters of a mile in our front. Before the line was formed this order was countermarched, and I was directed to send out four companies as skirmishers for the same purpose. Companies C, D, G, and K were designated for this purpose, Captain Julius A. Weiss, the senior captain, in command. Deploying these companies, Captain Weiss proceeded steadily to the front, under a heavy fire of artillery, and, as he approached the works, charged into the very trenches, but was unable to get farther. Not a man faltered, but all who did not fall reached the work, charged boldly, and did all in their power to take it. They are all missing. By direction of the general commanding I then sent forward Company F, Captain Pratt, to get as near as possible and keep the enemy off the parapets, that if possible some of the first detachment might be able to escape after dark. About 5.30 p.m. a body of the enemy charged the left flank of the Eighth U. S. Colored Troops,

who were on our left, and four companies of the Seventh went to their support. The Eight being out of ammunition we relieved them and after dark withdrew our whole line and returned to the ground occupied at noon.

During the engagement we lost the four companies almost entire, with the addition of some 30 men from the rest of the battalions, 9 [10] officers wounded and missing, viz: Captain Julius A. Weiss, wounded and missing; Captain Thomas McCarty, missing; Captain William H. Smith, wounded; Lieutenant George R. Sherman, missing; Lieutenant D. S. Mack, missing; Lieutenant J. H. Prime, wounded; Lieutenant Sylvester Eler, wounded and missing; Lieutenant Joseph Ferguson, wounded and missing; Lieutenant Robert M. Spinney, missing; Lieutenant C. G. Teeple, wounded slightly.

On the morning of the 30th we moved to the left, inside of the works formerly occupied by the enemy, and at 1.30 p.m. again to the left to the support of the Eighteenth Corps, taking a position between a battery on our right and extending to the left, opposite the house. This part of the line, though exposed to a heavy fire, was not directly attacked by the enemy. They made two charges in heavy column on the works to our left and were sent flying back with terrible loss.

My thanks are due to the officers and men of the command for that cool, calm courage, so essential to success, that they exhibited on all occasions.

We mourn the loss of those who have left us; better officers are seldom found.

Total loss: Officers wounded and missing, 10; enlisted men killed, 20; enlisted men missing, 129; enlisted men wounded, 76; total, 235.

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

Colonel, Commanding.

Captain M. BAILEY,
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 772-773
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