No. 70. Report of Brigadier General Byron R. Pierce, U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade.1
HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., THIRD DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS,
Near Burke’s Station, Va., April 15, 1865.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the operations from March 28 to April 10, 1865:
At 7 a. m. the 29th ultimo in compliance with instructions, moved from camp near Humphreys Station with the following regiments in
my command: Fifth Michigan Infantry (Colonel John Pulford), strength present, 354; First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery (Major Nathaniel Shatswell), strength present, 424; One hundred and forty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers (Lieutenant Colonel William Hobson), strength present, 378; Ninety-third New York Volunteers (Lieutenant Colonel Haviland Gifford), strength present, 281; One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers (Major James Miller), strength present, 630; Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers (Colonel George Zinn), strength present, 489. Following the Second Division, moved down the Vaughan road, crossed Hatcher’s Run, and advanced about one mile and half, where I went into position in line on the north side of the road, connecting with the Second Division. Threw up a line of works. At 2 p. m. the Ninety-third New York (Lieutenant Colonel Gifford) and Seventeenth Maine (Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson) were ordered to the front to discover the whereabouts of the enemy. Advancing about three-quarters of a mile, we came upon a line of works held by a few of the enemy’s pickets. Deployed a part of the Ninety-third New York Volunteers as skirmishers and charged the works, driving in the pickets, and occupying the works. At 4 p. m. the line of battle advanced and occupied the line just taken. 30th, at 7 a.m. line of battle advanced through a dense thicket, crossing the Dabney Mill road, driving in a few of the enemy’s pickets, and occupied another line of works about three-quarters of a mile in advance of the previous one. The skirmish line was advanced about half a mile, finding the enemy in force. The line of battle was advanced a short distance, and threw up a line of works. My position at this time was on the left of the J. Crow house.
At 1.30 a.m. of the 31st, in compliance with orders, moved to the left about three-fourths of a mile and relieved a brigade of the First Division, connecting with General Smyth on right and General McAllister on left, near Boydton plank road. At 1 p. m. received orders from General Mott to charge the enemy’s line in my front with two regiments. I ordered Colonel Pulford, Fifth Michigan Infantry, with his regiment and the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, temporarily commanded by Captain Davis, to advance. Owing to a bend in the run and works of the enemy, my advancing line was enfiladed by the battery in front of the Crow house and the one on the Boydton plank road. I formed them, however, parallel with the enemy’s line on the left of the battery in front of the Crow house. The assault was made with vigor at 2.30 p. m., and, I think, would have been a success and the works carped but for the dense slashing, which made it impossible for the men to reach the works. The casualties in this charge were: Fifth Michigan Infantry, 1 commissioned officer and 4 enlisted men wounded; First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, 1 enlisted man killed and 10 enlisted men wounded; One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1 enlisted man wounded on picket. At 5 p. m. the brigade moved to the left about 250 yards, crossing the Boydton plank road.
On the morning of April 1 the brigade moved back to the position it occupied on the evening of the 31st ultimo, where it remained during the day. At 9 a. m. of April 2 I received orders to advance two regiments and occupy the works on left of fort in front of Crow house. Ordered Colonel Pulford, Fifth Michigan, with his regiment and the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, to advance at once. They were soon in possession of the enemy’s works, and occupied the forts on the Boydton plank road. The balance of the brigade immediately moved forward
and occupied the enemy’s works and, in compliance with orders from General Mott, moved across Hatcher’s Run and up the plank road within a short distance of Petersburg, where I formed on the left of the Sixth Corps, which had formed from their main works across to the canal and Appomattox River. Formed line parallel with canal and Appomattox River at 1.15 p. m. The enemy placed a battery ion the opposite bank of the river in my front and commenced shelling the lines of the Sixth Corps. I at once ordered forward the sharpshooters and drove the battery away. At 4 p. m. moved to the right; formed line of battle facing Petersburg, right resting about 200 yards to right of house formerly occupied by General Mahone as headquarters; threw up a line of works and remained during the night. The casualties this day were 1 enlisted man killed and 7 enlisted men wounded.
April 3, the enemy having evacuated Petersburg we took up the line of march at 8.30 a. m., marching on the River road toward Burke’s Station. Many prisoners were picked up during this day’s march. Bivouacked at 10 p. m., after marching about twenty miles. April 4, my brigade was employed most of the day in repairing the roads; marched about five miles. April 5, took up the line of march at 5 a. m., crossed the Richmond and Danville Railroad near Jetersville, and bivouacked on the left of the Fifth Corps.
April 6, advanced a short distance, when we came upon the enemy’s trains and rear. After crossing Flat Creek near Sulphur Springs, I received order from General Mott to place two regiments on the left of the First Brigade, which was then advancing in line; deploying the Ninety-third New York Volunteers (Lieutenant-Colonel Gifford) as skirmishers, I ordered the Seventeenth Maine (Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson) and the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers (Major Miller) to from line of battle on the left of the First Brigade, and at the same time supporting the advancing line with the balance of my brigade. Thaw two regiments in line, advancing with the First Brigade, drove the enemy rapidly before them until halted by a temporary line of works erected by the enemy; the halt was but a moment, when the whole line charged, the Seventeenth Maine capturing the battle-flag of the Twenty-first North Carolina Regiment and about 75 prisoners, with a large proportion of officers; the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania volunteers captured 16 commissioned officers and 199 enlisted men. Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson, Seventeenth Maine, was wounded a short time before the charge, and the command devolved upon Major Mattocks. At this time receiving orders from General De Trobriand, then commanding division (General Mott having been wounded), I formed my brigade in line, relieving the First Brigade, my right connecting with General Miles t the road, with orders to keep the connection; deploying skirmishers, I advanced at once charging every position the enemy took with success. About sunset the enemy made a determined stand behind some slight breast-works on the main road; owing to a bend in the road my brigade was brought parallel with it, and the regiments on the left of my line, being nearest to the enemy, charged them at once, capturing a number of prisoners and driving away the battery, which was then sweeping down the road. I at once ordered forward the regiment (Seventeenth Maine) which was keeping the connection with the First Division, forming the balance of the regiments on its left as it advanced; charged up the rod over the crest of a hill about 200 yards in advance, drove the enemy from their train, which had become huddled in the ravine beyond. Two of my regiments – the Fifty-seventh
Pennsylvania Volunteers and Seventeenth Maine – charged through the train and took a position on the hill beyond; the balance of the brigade I halted on the crest of the hill side of the train, which consisted of about 300 wagons. After remaining in this position about one hour received orders from General De Trobriand to halt for the night and place guards on such wagons as were not guarded by the First Division. I placed guards on fifty-six wagons and ambulances. The result of the capture by my brigade this day was, 1 piece of artillery, 5 stand of colors, and 1 signal flag, a large number of prisoners, and nearly the entire train of the enemy. The casualties this day were: 1 commissioned officer and 9 enlisted men killed; 6 commissioned officers and 60 enlisted men wounded and 32 enlisted men missing.
April 7, moved at 6 a. m., crossing the Appomattox at High Bridge; left one company of the Seventeenth Maine at the bridge to guard guns captured. Advancing about three miles from the bridge met the enemy in force; formed in line of battle, right connecting with General McAllister; skirmished with the enemy until after dark. Casualties this day, 1 commissioned officer killed and 11 enlisted men wounded.
April 8, at daylight found the enemy had gone; marched about fourteen miles in pursuit on road to Lynchburg. April 9, marched until about 12 m., when we were halted, owning to the conference with the generals commanding the two armies. At 4 p. m. received the gratifying intelligence that the Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered.
I cannot speak in too high terms on the conduct of my officers and men; all behaved with great gallantry and to my entire satisfaction. Where all did so well it is difficult to particularize acts of gallantry. I would make special mention, however, of Colonel John Pulford, commanding Fifth Michigan Infantry; Colonel George Zinn, commanding Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers; Lieutenant Colonel William Hobson, commanding Seventeenth Maine (wounded on morning of 6th); Lieutenant Colonel Haviland Gifford, commanding Ninety-third New York; Lieutenant Colonel Joseph H. Horton, commanidng One hundred and forty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers; Major Nathaniel Shatswell, commanding First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery; Major James Miller, commanding One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers; and Major Charles P. Mattocks, commanding Seventeenth Maine Volunteers – for the admirable manner in which they handled their regiments at all times.
My thanks are also due to Lieutenant Charles W. Forrester, acting assistant adjutant-general; Captain George A. Winans, acting aide-de-camp; Captain Frank. B. Stewart, brigade inspector; Captain George W. Verrill, acting aide-de-camp; Lieutenant Silas K. Pierce, aide-de-camp; and Lieutenant William H. Allen, acting commissary of subsistence – members of my staff – for the prompt manner in which my orders were delivered and for valuable assistance rendered me on the field.
Attached please find nominal list of casualties during the campaign; also report of prisoners of war, pieces of artillery, battle-flags, and materials of all kinds captured by my brigade.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. R. PIERCE,
Captain AUG. W. KEENE,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Second Army Corps.
B. R. PIERCE,
- 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. 784-788 ↩