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OR XLII P1 #327: Report of Colonel Harrison S. Fairchild, 89th NY, commanding 3/2/XVIII/AotJ, October 27, 1864

No. 327. Report of Colonel Harrison S. Fairchild, Eighty-ninth New York Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, of operations October 27.1

In the Field, Va., October 29, 1864.

CAPTAIN: In pursuance to circular from headquarters Second Division, Eighteenth Army Corps, dated the 29th instant, I have the honor to report that this brigade, under my command, composed of Eighty-ninth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel W. M. Lewis commanding; Nineteenth Wisconsin Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel R. M. Strong commanding; One hundred and forty-eighth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel J. B. Murray commanding, left Cox’s farm on the morning of the 27th instant and marched to the Williamsburg road, encountering the enemy near Fair Oaks, when I formed a line of battle and advanced upon their works. This brigade charged across an open field and got near the works, but was repulsed. We found the enemy too strong, and received an enfilading and direct fire of musketry and from six pieces of artillery. Having no support I was forced to retire. I held my position until I brought in all the wounded except those who had advanced near the works. It was impossible to get to them on account of the concentrated fire of sharpshooters.

Lieutenant Colonel W. M. Lewis, commanding Eighty-ninth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel R. M. Strong, commanding Nineteenth Wisconsin, were both wounded-Colonel Strong supposed to be a prisoner. Captain E. D. Gage, commanding One hundred and forty-eighth New York Volunteers in the action, was taken from the field mortally wounded-since died.

I take pleasure in reporting the gallantry of both officers and men could do under such heavy fire, we, numbering about 700 men, coping with four times our number behind strong breast-works. I also make mention of my staff, Captain Otto Puhlmann, acting assistant adjutant-general, Captain Paul L. Higgins, acting assistant inspector-general,

Captain C. N. Cadwallader, acting provost-marshal, and Lieutenant Francis Burkhardt, acting aide-de-camp, all rendering me efficient service in the field. Captains Puhlmann and Higgins, although slightly wounded, did not leave the field. Lieutenant Francis Burkhardt, although having his papers for discharge in his pocket previous to this movement, was with me during the march and battle.

I wish particularly to mention the color bearer, Sergeant Smith, Eighty-ninth New York Volunteers. This servant, supposing he could not get to the rear, selected a place to bury his colors in case the enemy advanced and he taken prisoner. He succeeded in crawling out, dragging his colors after him, and restored them to the regiment. This is the third time in action he has brought the colors from the field after nearly all the color guard had been killed. If any man in the service has earned a medal it is this man. He made the assertion on the field that they could kill him or take him prisoner, but they could not have the colors.

I inclose herewith reports of regimental commanders, with lists of casualties attached.

I am, captain, yours, very respectfully,

Colonel, Commanding Third Brigade.

Captain W. H. ABEL,
Asst. Adjt. General, Second Division, Eighteenth 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 812-813
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