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OR XLII P1 #338: Reports of Lieutenant Colonel Ferris Jacobs, Jr., 3rd NY Cav, Sept 16-17 and Oct 7, 1864

No. 338. Reports of Lieutenant Colonel Ferris Jacobs, jr., Third New York Cavalry, of operations September 16-17 and October 7.1

In Field, Mount Sinai Church, Va., September 19, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that about daybreak on the morning of the 16th instant a force of the enemy’s cavalry, in pursuit

of the pickets of the Eleventh Pennsylvania, broke with loud yells into the field lying in front of my camp at Prince George Court-House. Saddling up, I communicated the fact to your headquarters, and moved to meet them. They retreated. Sending a squadron in advance, I met a small force of the enemy (dismounted) at the junction of the City Point and stage roads; dislodged and drove them to the open field beyond, where the enemy, in considerable force and posted behind a substantial earth-work, opened upon my skirmishers with both shell, grape, and canister. The enemy retreating shortly after, I moved by your order to Sycamore Church; came up the trail of the enemy, followed it to the Fourt Bridges on the Blackwater, where I overtook the rear guard of the enemy just beyond the streatm; drove them off, repaired the crossing, and pushed on after. Learned from contrabands that the main column of the enemy with the captured cattle were one and a half or two hours in advance of their rear guard. It was now dark, and the enemy’s rear guard constantly harassed and attempted to delay my advance. Arriving within one mile and a half of the Jerusalem plank road, and while passing through a cut in the road, flanked on either side by heavy timber and thick undergrowth, the enemy opened upon my advance quite sharply. Perceiving that they were dismounted and in considerable force, I dismounted one squadron and sent it forward to support the advance, then hotly engaged. Finding this force insufficient, I dismounted another squadron in time to meet a charge of the enemy. The charged twice, yelling, and were repulsed. The enemy’s fire was altogether wild and high. My regiment was well covered by the heavy timber, and advanced cautiously. My casualties were one man wounded (slightly). By order I then drew back a few hundred yards, and threw out my pickets for the night, barricading the road. In the morning advanced to an open field lying along the plank road; saw a few of the enemy disappearing and driving cattle in the direction of Stony Creek or Reams’. Learned here from contrabands and white people that the enemy during the fight of the night before were drawn up mounted and in heavy force in this field. They also said that at daybreak the enemy had brought seven of his dead from the woods and buried them near by; also that he carried off many wounded. About 6 a.m. 17th instant returned to Mount Sinai Church, where I relieved the Eleventh Pennsylvania, on picket at that place.

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

Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Third New York Cavalry.

Captain M. J. ASCH,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

In the Field, October 10, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that about daylight on the 7th instant the enemy in heavy force attacked my picket-line at Johnson’s house. Captains Richardson and Dern, in command of the picket-line, immediately in front of that portion of the works occupied by the First Brigade, held the enemy in check more than an hour, but after a stubborn resistance were compelled to retire, Captain Richardson’s portion of the line withdrawing in the direction of the right of the Tenth Army

Corps, and Captain Dern falling back and occupying, with his reserve of about thirty men, the work upon the extension of the right of the work held by the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry. Here Captain Dern continued for a short time to resist the enemy (then advancing in line of battle about 2,500 or 3,000 strong), but was shortly compelled to retire within the main line of works, which he did across an open field under a heavy fire and with slight loss. Reforming his line the enemy advanced in three lines of battle, moving directly through the ravine upon a redoubt held by a section of the Fourth Wisconsin Battery, supported by two reserve squadrons of the Third New York Cavalry in line, mounted. I was then ordered by the general to dismount these squadrons and post them in a ditch lying along the road and upon the left of the redoubt mentioned. After the enemy had reached the ravine, the section, in charge of a sergeant, limbered up and retired. When the first line of the enemy emerged from the ravine my line opened fire, when about 200 of the enemy ran forward, throwing down their guns, with loud cries of “Deserters!” The enemy being then within a few yards of my line, I withdrew it to the redoubt upon the road and again commenced firing, the rebels who had thrown down their arms having resumed them upon being fired upon by the line behind them. While in the redoubt I soon perceived that another column, which had driven the Second Brigade back into the sorghum, upon which my right and rear, were directing their fire into the redoubt, upon which I withdrew past division headquarters to the woods beyond, where I attempted to make a stand and failed. After a variety of vicissitudes I assembled my regiment in front of the line of works occupied by Terry’s division, and reported to the colonel commanding the brigade at the signal tower on the right of the line.

My casualties* (so far as known) in this engagement are as follows, viz: Lieutenant Gregory, Company H, wounded slightly; Lieutenant Stahler, Company C, wounded and missing; Lieutenant Leyden, missing, men killed, 3; wounded and missing, 2; missing, 30; horses missing, 49.

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

Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Third New York Cavalry.

Captain ALMAN,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, First Brigade, Kautz’s Cav. Div.


*But see revised statement, p. 145.



  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 829-831
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