No. 323. Report of Brigadier General Charles A. Heckman, U. S. Army, commanding Second Division, of operations October 27-28.1
HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
In the Field, Va., October 29, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to report that pursuant to orders from corps headquarters, dated October 25, 1864, the Second and Third Brigades of my division were moved from the intrenched line at 6 a.m. on the morning of the 26th instant and massed in Cox’s field, in rear of corps headquarters. At this point Colonel A. G. Draper, commanding Second Brigade, Third Division, Eighteenth Army Corps, reported. At 5 a.m. on the 27th instant took up line of march, in rear of First Division, on the Kingsland road, marched to New Market road, thence by cross-roads to Darbytown, Charles City, and Williamsburg roads. Proceeding along the Williamsburg road, we soon came upon the enemy strongly posted behind their fortifications. At once ordered Colonel Ripley, commanding Second Brigade, Second Division, and Colonel Draper, commanding Second Brigade, Third Division, to form line of battle on
the left of the First Division, the Williamsburg road being the interval between the commands. Colonel H. S. Fairchild, commanding Third Brigade, Second Division, composed of the Nineteenth Wisconsin Volunteers, Eighty-ninth and One hundred and forty-eighth New York Volunteers, was then ordered into position in advance of the main line, with his right resting on the Williamsburg road, to act as a charging party, in conjunction with Colonel Cullen’s brigade, of the First Division. At 4 p.m. (27th instant) moved forward, charging the enemy’s line of works, but found them too strongly defended by artillery and infantry to be carried. To avoid a raking fire from the enemy, the charging party took shelter in a gully or ditch and held their position until ordered to retire. When the order to retire was given it was obeyed without confusion. The troops retired in good order to retire was given it was obeyed without confusion. The troops retired in good order, bringing off, with few exceptions, all the killed and wounded. Our loss was: Killed-officers, 3; enlisted men, 9. Wounded-officers, 7; enlisted men, 91. Missing-officers,6; enlisted men, 380. Of those reported missing large numbers have been and are coming in. Darkness coming on, accompanied with a most violent rain, formed a rear guard and moved during the night (27th) to the Charles City road and bivouacked. All transportation, wounded and stragglers (the latter in exceedingly large numbers), were brought up by daylight. My staff labored during the entire night in accomplishing the above object, and to them, for their untiring efforts in the discharge of their duties in delivering orders, and superintending their execution, I am deeply indebted.
Soon after sunrise on the morning of the 28th formed line of battle, my left resting on Charles City road, and immediately after received orders to take up the line of march toward camp, following the roads traveled the day previous. Reached Fort Burnham about 4 p.m., and, in compliance with instructions, my command reoccupied their previous positions in the intrenchments. And here, general, permit me to inform you that before leaving camp on the morning of the 27th, the First Division being in my front and the Third Division in my rear, I detailed skirmishers for my flanks only. In our march toward the enemy the necessity for using said flankers did not present itself; but on returning from the Williamsburg to the Charles City road said flankers were invaluable, in that they brought safely into camp our 1,000 stragglers, the most, if not all, of whom would have become an easy prey for the enemy’s forces but for the indefatigable energy and tact of said flankers.
The officers and men of my command displayed their usual coolness and bravery, particularly those of the assaulting column, among whom I take pleasure in mentioning Lieutenant Colonel W. M. McArthur, of the Eighth Maine, who commanded the skirmishers and charged at the head of the assaulting column, displaying great courage, gallantry, and ability, for which he has before been complimented and richly deserves again.
My inability to obtain reports from brigade commanders makes it impossible to make a more detailed report.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. A. HECKMAN,
Captain D. D. WHEELER,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Eighteenth Army Corps.
- 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 807-808 ↩