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OR XLII P1 #311: Report of Lieutenant Joseph P. Sanger, Btty D 1st US Arty, August 15-20, 1864

No. 311. Report of Lieutenant Joseph P. Sanger, Battery D, First U. S. Artillery, of operations August 15-20.1

August 21, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following as a report of the part taken by Light Battery D, First Artillery, in the several recent engagements of the Tenth Army Corps, since the morning of August 15. Its previous participation in the operations of the expeditionary force sent over the James River, August 13, is explained by the accompanying report of Lieutenant R. Tully, First Artillery, respectfully inclosed:*

The battery having been assigned to the First Division, commanded by Brigadier-General Terry, moved at 9.30 o’clock on the morning of the 15th from Strawberry Plains, marching in rear of General Foster’s brigade up the New Market road. The route, after leaving this road, lay in a direction nearly at right angles to it, and, crossing the Central road, extended as far as Fussell’s Mill, on Four-Mile Run. At this point a portion of the Tenth Corps engaged the enemy. The battery being well in rear remained intact during the day, but toward evening, by your direction, was ordered into position near Hughes’ house, between Hawley’s brigade, of First Division, and Craig’s brigade, of Second Division.+ Fire was opened upon the enemy’s line at a distance


*See p. 787.

+Craig’s brigade belonged to the Third Division, Second Army Corps.


of about 800 yards. Eighty-two rounds of Hotchkiss percussion shell and case-shot were used with good effect. A few scattering musket shots from the enemy did no harm to the battery. At dark the battery was retired a few yards, and remained there until 11.30 p.m., when it was withdrawn and parked until 3.30 a.m. the following morning, August 16, near the first house occupied by Major-General Birney (as headquarters), with orders to be hitched up at daylight. August 16, Lieutenant R. Tully, with his section, reported to Colonel Hawley, Seventh Connecticut Volunteers, taking, by your direction, a position 200 yards in advance of the ground occupied on the previous evening. At 7 a.m. the other two sections were moved up, and the whole battery was posted as follows: Right section, Lieutenant Tully commanding, about 200 yards in front of Hawley’s brigade and 600 from the enemy; left section, Lieutenant J. A. Seaver, Third Rhode Island Artillery, commanding, on its right and retired about 100 yards; center section, self in charge, 800 yards to the left of this position on a small knoll in front of Tenth Corps headquarters. The engagement was opened by the guns of Lieutenant Tully, which were fired at one of the enemy’s batteries, distant 2,600 yards. The effect of the shots could not be observed, and as no fire was returned he directed his guns upon that part of the enemy’s line in his immediate front. The left section was soon similarly engaged, and the center section, with two light 12-pounders of Lieutenant Doane’s (Fourth New Jersey) battery, returned the fire of two of the enemy’s pieces, about 800 yards in front, silencing them upon every occasion. The fire of Battery D was enfilading, as the guns were posted nearly on the prolongation of one of the faces of the enemy’s parapet. Hotchkiss shell, case-shot, and canister were used-1,726 rounds were fired, of which 596 were case-shot, 1,130 shell, and 30 canister. The guns were advanced by hand from time to time, until those on the right, under Lieutenants Tully and Seaver, were within 400 yards of the enemy, whose sharpshooters occasionally wounded men and horses. The battery was in action until 3.30 p.m., when it was withdrawn and parked near the bivouac of the previous evening. During the engagement three batteries of the Second Corps were placed on the left of Lieutenant Tully.

On the afternoon of the 18th the battery was again engaged near the same locality, the enemy attempting to recover the rifle-pits captured from them on the 16th instant. The guns were in position to the left of Hughes’ house, about 800 yards in rear of Foster’s and Hawley’s brigades. A dense woods intervening entirely obscured a view of the enemy, still some of our shot took effect. The enemy was quickly repulsed by the gallantry of our infantry, and the firing of the battery ordered to cease. Ninety-eight rounds of shell and case-shot were fired at 2 1/4 degrees elevation. The battery was then placed in position in a corn-field, about 450 yards to the right, and fired twelve rounds of percussion shell at an elevation of 8 1/2 degrees, for the purpose of designating our position to the cavalry on our right. The battery was withdrawn at 8 o’clock, and parked as on the day before. Here we remained until 11 o’clock that night, when the battery marched with the First Division to the rear of the right of our line. The following day was passed quietly, and on the night of August 20 the battery returned to the right bank of the James River, having participated in a campaign of one week.

I cannot close my report without directing the attention of the chief of artillery to the courage and address of the officers and men of the battery, their ready willingness to endure hardship, and their steady

coolness under fire. To my mind they have established a reputation for good conduct in the discharge of arduous and dangerous duties, which has awakened in me so strong a feeling of confidence that I cannot but be proud of my command. I returned with the loss of 4 men and 8 horses.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

First Lieutenant, First Artillery, Commanding Light Battery D.

Lieutenant Colonel F. McGILVERY,
Chief of Artillery, Tenth Army Corps.


  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 789-791
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