No. 38. Report of Bvt. Brigadier General Clinton D. MacDougall, One hundred and eleventh New York Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.1
HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., FIRST DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS,
April 15, 1865.
COLONEL: In compliance with instructions, I have the honor to submit the following report of operations of this brigade in the campaign beginning the 29th of March and ending the 9th of April:
On March 29, at 6 a. m., the brigade, under command of Bvt. Brigadier General H. J. Madill, left camp and marched across Hatcher’s Run. The brigade took its place in line of battle formed by the First Division, sending the One hundred and twenty-sixth Regiment out as skirmishers, and constructed temporary breast-works. During the afternoon
March 30, the advance in line of battle was resumed. At about 11 o’clock the skirmish line of the One hundred and twenty-sixth Regiment was relieved by a detail from the One hundred and eleventh Regiment. At noon our skirmishers met those of the enemy and drove them across the Boydton plank road. The line of battle advanced beyond the road, halted in view of the enemy’s main works, constructed breast-works, and bivouacked for the night.
March 31, at 4 a. m. the brigade moved by the left flanks, following the Fourth Brigade, and took position in a line of breast-works, with the right on the Boydton plan road, which works were occupied the day before by the Fifth Corps. At 11 a. m. a detail of 100 men from the Seventh Regiment and Thirty-ninth Regiment were sent out as skirmishers. At noon the brigade advanced in line of battle, found the enemy posted on the crest of a hill, charged on him and drove him in great confusion from his position. The brigade charged with the greatest enthusiasm, driving the enemy rapidly back from point to point, capturing one battle-flag and many prisoners. At night breast-works were thrown up.
April 1, before daylight the brigade moved back to the same position occupied the previous day; before being ordered to charge threw forward the right wing almost in a right angle to the former line. At sundown the brigade marched back to the same position held the night before, and took part in the movement to the left. At 11 o’clock the One hundred and eleventh Regiment was ordered by Brevet Major General Miles to reconnoiter the enemy’s works and, if possible, to carry them by assault. After a careful examination, having fully developed the enemy’s position with a skirmish line, the Third Division, on the right of the brigade, co-operating, the result of an attack appearing doubtful, the regiment was withdrawn. The brigade continued the march toward the left until 4 a. m., then made a short rest.
April 2, at about 7 a. m. the brigade marched about three miles back in the same direction from which it came the night before, formed, at 8.30, in line of battle, and advanced toward the enemy’s works, throwing out the One hundred and eleventh Regiment as skirmishers. After a severe skirmish, in which the enemy used artillery very freely, they abandoned their works, and fell back before our skirmishers, and at 9.30 the battle-flag of the Third Brigade waved as the first flag over the rebel works. The march toward the South Side Railroad was then continued, driving the enemy’s rear guard across Hatcher’s Run, causing them to burn caissons and baggage in their flight. At about 12 o’clock the enemy was found, strongly entrenched, having six pieces of artillery in position; the brigade, in connection with the Second Brigade, taking position on the left, charged, but was repulsed with a very heavy loss, General Madill himself being severely wounded. Brevet Major-General Miles, commanding division, assigned me to the command of the brigade. A second charge was made with the same result as the first. In this charge I received myself a severe flesh wound in the right arm. I then received orders to withdraw the brigade. At about 4 p. m. a third charge was made, and this time, with the assistance of a well-directed fire from Captain Clark’s (First New Jersey) battery, the enemy was driven back, his works and the South Side Railroad held by us. The brigade advanced about one mile over the railroad and then went into camp for the night.
April 4, at 6 o’clock in the morning the brigade left the bivouac, advanced with the division about three miles, was then ordered back to repair the roads and to bring forward the supply train of the Second and Fifth Army Corps and the Cavalry corps. the brigade was at work until late in the night.
April 5, at 2 o’clock in the morning the brigade started and, after having succeeded in bringing up the different trains, marched twenty miles and reached the division, then in position near Jetersville, at 9 p. m.
April 6, the brigade took part in the several attacks made by the First Division on the enemy’s rear guard. The Seventh Regiment was sent in the morning for the protection of the artillery. About 2 p. m. the One hundred and eleventh Regiment was thrown out as skirmishers, covering the front of the division, and drove the enemy constantly before them, routing him frequently from strongly entrenched positions. At 5 o’clock the brigade charged, under a very heavy fire of artillery and musketry, on a battery which the enemy had in position on the other side of a small stream, well supported by cavalry and infantry, protecting a train of about 140 wagons, and two pieces of artillery in the valley below; drove the enemy back and captured the whole train and artillery; the First Brigade having at the same time captured the upper end and left flank of the same train, containing still a large number of wagons. The brigade then crossed the run and bivouacked for the night, being the first brigade of the division across.
April 7, the brigade advanced at 6 a. m., came at about 10 o’clock in view of High Bridge, where the enemy was strongly fortified. The Thirty-ninth and Fifty-second Regiments ere deployed as skirmishers along the bank of the river, and assisted the crossing of the Second Division. After a short resistance the enemy was driven back, and the brigade crossed the river and resumed the march toward Farmville. At 5 p. m. the enemy was found in a strong position; the brigade formed line of battle under a heavy artillery fire, moved then in different positions on the left flank of the enemy, and finely supported the charge of the First Brigade. At dark breast-works were thrown up and the brigade bivouacked in line of battle. The Fifty-second Regiment was sent out as pickets.
April 8, early in the morning it was discovered that the enemy had left the position. The brigade was ordered at 6.30 a. m. to advance, being the leading brigade of the division. The One hundred and twenty-fifth Regiment and One hundred and twenty-sixth Regiment and a part of the One hundred and eleventh Regiment were sent out as skirmishers. About two miles beyond New Store the brigade arrived at sunset, and rested for two hours, then resumed the march and advanced still three miles, from line of battle and rested during the night.
April 9, at 7 o’clock the brigade marched, continuing the advance until about 2 p. m., halted until about sundown, when (Major-General Meade having established his headquarters just opposite and within two rods of our right flank) it was announced from army headquarters that General Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. The Third Brigade, being in this position, were the first in the corps cheer after cheer rent the air. Major-General Meade along the lines and was greeted with the wildest enthusiasm.
Throughout the campaign officers and men have behaved with great gallantry. Although frequently very short of rations and much exhausted from the long and fatiguing marches, not a murmur was heard during the whole eleven days marching and fighting.
I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of my staff. Especial would I can attention to Captain H. Dodt, my acting assistant adjutant-general. His gallantry and energy in action are distinguished and much to be commended. He was of great service to me during the campaign by the faithful and cheerful manner in which he discharged his duties. I respectfully recommend that he be brevetted major.
Captain L. L. Rose, commissary of subsistence, being upon duty on the staff, was frequently under fire, and was of great assistance to me in selecting the line of march.
I inclose the reports of my regimental commanders.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. D. MacDOUGALL,
Brevet Brigadier-General, Commanding Brigade.
Lieutenant Colonel R. A. BROWN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
- 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. 733-736 ↩