No. 14. Reports of Bvt. Major Franklin Harwood, U. S. Army, commanding Battalion U. S. Engineers.1
HEADQUARTERS U. S. ENGINEER TROOPS,
Near Burkeville, Va., April 19, 1865.
CAPTAIN: In compliance with paragraph 9, Special Orders, No. 94, Army of the Potomac, I have the honor to report that from the 29th of March to the 9th of April the Battalion of U. S. Engineer Troops have been employed as follows:
On the 29th of March broke camp near Petersburg and marched to Gravelly Run.
On the 30th, 31st, and 1st of April was employed corduroying roads between the Vaughan and Quaker roads. From the 2nd to the 9th of April marched with and repaired the roads for headquarters Army of the Potomac train.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Capt. of Engineers and Bvt. Maj., U. S. Army, Comdg. Battln.
Captain CHANNING CLAPP,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Engineer Brigade, Army of the Potomac.
U. S. ENGINEER BATTALION,
Camp near Burke’s Station, Va., April 20, 1865.
COLONEL: In compliance with instructions, I have the honor to submit the following report of my service with the different corps of the army during the campaign commencing the 29th of March:
On the 30th I was directed by you to ascertain and report the position of the Fifth Corps after their repulse by the enemy in the morning. I found them reformed in rear of a small tributary of Hatcher’s Run, covering the Boydton plank road, with their left flank thrown to the rear and resting on the breast-work of the proceeding night, their right in advance of the Second Corps line, but protected by the thick abatis in front of the line. Again, when the corps advanced in the afternoon I was sent to ascertain and report their position. I found them massed near the White Oak road and preparing to occupy it as soon as a reconnaissance through the dense timber should develop the position of the corps. When I left hem regiments were being thrown out on the right flank in echelon, and General Warren was endeavoring to find and make a connection with the Second Corps.
On the 2nd of April I was sent to communicate with the Cavalry Corps, to find where General Sheridan needed pontoons. I found him at Fort’s Station, on the South Side Railroad, and about to march on Southeland’s Station, on the same road, where he desired the bridge train to be sent.
On the 6th of April, while with headquarters near Jetersville, I was ordered to report for temporary duty with the Sixth Corps. Between 6 and 7 a. m. the corps took up the line of march across the country in a northeasterly direction toward Amelia Court-House, at which point the enemy were reported as making a stand. I was employed in looking for roads, nd while so doing the order was countermanded. The corps retraced its steps in order, if possible, to cut off the enemy, now reported to be retreating by way of Deatonsville. I was employed in looking for roads, nd while so doing the order was countermanded. The corps retraced its steps in order, if possible, to cut off the enemy, now reported to be retreating by way of Doeatonsville. I was sent to assist Colonel Michler in finding the best road to Pride’s Church, by marching on which the corps would cut the enemy’s line of retreat to the west of Deatonsville, on which the Second Corps was already marching. The road was found in time to put the corps upon it as soon as it came up, and the leading division, the Third, was pushed to the utmost to get up in time to cut off the enemy’s retreat. Shortly after crossing Flat Creek the Second Corps was heard engaged near Deatonville and the cavalry near Price’s Church. At the time that the Third Division, Sixth Corps, reached the position of the cavalry, which was on the road from Deatonsivlle to Burke’s Station, the cavalry was held in check by the infantry guard of the enemy’s train, which was moving off on parallel road, or nearly so, about a quarter of a mile distant. At the same time a portion of the cavalry was intercepting their retreat on the road on which they were moving at a point nearer the South Side Railroad. I reconnoitered the enemy’s position, which was a good
one, the road being on a ridge. As soon as the Third Division, Sixth Corps, could be formed on the ground I selected it charged in concert with the cavalry on its right and, with little or no opposition, carried the road in a southwesterly direction, but was soon checked by the enemy’s making a stand on the east side of Little Sailor’s Creek. After a brisk skirmish they retreated across the creek nd took up a position on the opposite bank. Here the Sixth Corps had the advantage of position, being on the higher ground. Their line (the enemy’s) extended in a semicircular form, the convexity toward us, encircling the hillside upon which they had taken position, which was densely timbered, except one open space of about 100 yards width, across which their line was plainly visible, lying down. From our commanding position three or four batteries were brought to bear on this exposed position of their line, which was cut up terribly by our plunging fire of shell and case-shot. The leading division of the Sixth corps was formed for the charge at the border of the creek, crossed it in gallant style, but as they rose over the crest of a little hill were attacked in the center by the force of the enemy, said to be their Naval Brigade, which had been lying down in the open field. A regiment broke, and the center was thrown into temporary confusion, but soon rallied, the attacking party of the enemy falling back to their original position. After a little more fighting, not very severe, the enemy’s force, under the command of General Ewell, being cut off by our cavalry force in the rear and confronted by the sixth and Second Corps, surrendered. The Sixth Corps headquarters were established for the night at the crossing of the road to Burke’s Station with the road to Rice’s Station., being a t a point about five miles from the latter. It is to be observed that the pursuit during the day was greatly facilitated by the state of the roads, which were, a s a general rule, in excellent condition; this I attribute to the rolling nature of the country, which was well drained by abrupt ravines, the roads being generally on the ridges.
At an early hour on the morning of the 7th I was sent forward to show the leading division the road to Farmville. The morning’s march was greatly retarded by the trains of the other corps and the bad crossing at Sandy River. the Sixth Corps arrived at Farmville about 11 a. m., and was posted on the hill overlooking the town. I went down to the Appomattox and found the enemy had burned the railroad bridge as well as the plank road one, but the collyria nd calvary artillery were dressing by a good, or rather tolerable, ford a few hundred yards above the plank road. Soon after the cavalry and Second Corps became engaged with the enemy on the other side of the river, and, it appearing that the services of the Sixth Corps would be likely to be needed, I sent back to you for a bridge thin. In the meanwhile the corps headquarters were moved into the town; and being informed that the bridge train of the Army of the James was near at hand, I so informed General Wright, who so reported to General Grant, who directed it to be brought to the front. In the meanwhile Colonel Mundee, a pioneer officer of the Sixth Corps, reported that, in his opinion, the wreck of the plank-road bridge could soon be put in passable condition for infantry. The work was commenced by the pioneers, and about sunset the infantry began crossing at that point, and in the course of the evening he whole corps was camped on the other side. The bridge of the James, being in rear of the wagon trains, did not arrive until a late hour, but the bridge was thrown in sufficient time to admit of the march being again taken up in the morning.
On the morning of the 8th I conducted the leading division to the coal mine at the intersection of the Lynchburg road with the Maysville or Buckingham Court-House plank road. There the troops halted and were rationed. The march was soon resumed on the plank road to a point eight miles from Farmville, where the road forked-one branch leading northeasterly to Cumberland Court-House, the other westerly, via Curdsville, to Buckingham Court-House. I directed the troops on the road, which turned abruptly northward to Buckingham Court-House, and continued our westerly course to the New Store, where the mud road on which we had been traveling came into the Lynchburg road. The Sixth Corps headquarters for the night were established near the New Store. The line of march during the day was over a distance of seventeen had a half miles; good road, excepting the last four miles. A few insignificant bridges destroyed by the enemy were repaired by the pioneers without interrupting the march of the troops.
On the 9th the corps followed the Second Corps, on the Lynchburg road, a distance of ten or twelve miles; and in the afternoon, the Army of Northern Virginal having surrendered, I was by your order relieved from duty with the Sixth Corps, and since that time have not been placed on duty with any of the corps of the army.
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain of Engineers, Brevet Major, U. S. Army.
Bvt. Colonel J. C. DUANE,
Chief Engineer, Army of the Potomac.
- The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLVI, Part 1 (Serial Number 95), pp. 650-653 ↩