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OR XLVI P1 #85: Report of Captain George R. Abbott, 1st ME SS Bn, Mar 29-Apr 9, 1865

No. 85. Report of Captain George R. Abbott, First Maine Sharpshooters.1

Near Petersburg, Va., April 24, 1865.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by my command in the late campaign from the 29th of March to the 9th of April:

At 6 a. m. 29th ultimo broke camp and took up the line of march, following the Thirty-second Massachusetts Regiment. At about 11 a. m. was detached with my command from the brigade to hold possession of a cross-road, with orders to remain until relieved by General Crawford. The brigade returning I again took my position in the column and proceeded on. At 5 p. m. the enemy were found in our front by the First Brigade, and we moved up rapidly to their support. The enemy being repulsed and driven back we were not called into action. In the evening advanced about a mile to the Boydton plank road, and during the night threw up a line of breast-works about 800 yards from the enemy. The morning of the 30th, it being very stormy, no advance was made. At 1 p. m., the enemy’s line of skirmishers being driven back on our right, our line was immediately advanced, and occupied the rebel skirmish line, my command holding the right of the brigade and connecting with the Second Corps. At 4 p. m. the enemy drove

in our skirmish line on my left and attacked the main line, but were easily repulsed and driven back. During the skirmish had one man slightly wounded in neck. On the morning of the 31st moved to the left down the Boydton plank road, and took position in the rear as support to Second and Third Divisions. They having been apparently routed, and coming back in confusion, we immediately advanced and formed line of battle in the edge of the woods. During the advance and after forming line of battle stragglers from the Second and Third Divisions continued to pass through my line, part of whom were stopped by my officers and men and formed into line in my rear. In a few minutes the enemy attacked us, but were repulsed. I immediately threw out three of my largest companies, with a detail from the remaining companies as skirmishers; they immediately attacked the enemy and soon succeeded in forcing them back. At 4 p. m. advanced to the front about a mile and a half, from whence we proceeded to the left about two miles in direction of Dinwiddie Court-House, for the purpose of opening communication with General Sheridan. Finding the enemy in our front, and it being dark, we halted and threw up a breast-work. We remained here until about midnight, when we marched back tot near our former position, where we arrived at 3 a. m. the morning of the 1st. At 6 a. m. we again marched to the left and opened communication with General Sheridan at about 10 a. m.; we then halted and rested until 2 p. m., when we again took up the line of march to the front. At 3 p. m. the troops were massed for the purpose of flanking the enemy, my command being the second regiment on the right of the second line; we immediately advanced and without difficulty drove the enemy before us. After we had advanced about half a mile I found that I was on the extreme right of the first line (the line having oblique to the right.) When near the Five Forks, in crossing a swamp in a dense thicket, my three right companies got separated from the command, and, obliquing to the right, encountered a portion of Rosser’s cavalry, whom they charged and routed; finding that they were separated from the rest of the command they moved to the left and joined me. I immediately afterward moved to the left to a road, where, after countermarching, threw up a breast-work. At dark sent out two companies, under command of Captain C. F. Sawyer (whose report I inclose, marked a), to take possession of a bridge over the creek. At 1 p. m. the 2nd we joined the brigade and took up the line of march. At 3 p. m. crossed the South Side Railroad and marched about seven miles beyond, and bivouacked for the night at 7 p. m. Morning of the 3rd marched at 7 a. m., and bivouacked at 7 p. m. Morning of the 4th marched at 6.30 a. m., taking the Amelia Court-House road; formed line of battle at Jetersville at 7 p. m., on the Richmond and Danville Railroad. During the night threw up a line of works. Remained there until 6 a. m. the 6th instant, when we advanced about one mile and a half in line of battle. Finding that the enemy had moved we took the road and marched until 8.30 p. m., when we bivouacked for the night. Morning of the 7th marched at 7 a. m.; crossed the Lynchburg and — Railroad at about noon; bivouacked at Prince Edward Court-House at 9 p. m. Morning of the 8th marched at 7 a. m., taking the Lynchburg road; marched until midnight, when we bivouacked.

At 5 a. m. the 9th instant marched and proceeded to the front, passing on the road cavalry bringing to the rear captured flags and guns; formed line of battle and advanced, the enemy shelling us. When we had driven them back to within a mile of their trains a flag of truce appeared from their lines. We were halted and it was reported that

the enemy had surrendered. We advanced immediately to Appomattox Court-House and stacked arms and rested. At 5 p. m., the enemy having surrendered, we went into camp.

I would here mention the gallant conduct of First Lieutenant John Butler, Company C, who was placed in temporary command of Company A in the action of March 31, in leading the line of skirmishers in their attack on the enemy. I would also mention the following-named enlisted men: Corpl. Charles A. Hadley, Company C, volunteered to go on the skirmish line March 31, and, getting within a few rods of the enemy, succeeded in killing three of the enemy before he was wounded himself. Private Leavitt Larkin, Company C, also volunteered to go on the skirmish line March 31, and, getting in rear of the enemy’s line of skirmishers, succeeded in killing one man, wounding another, and took the third man prisoner. The prisoner was armed with a Sharps rifle, which is now carried by Private Larkin. I would respectfully ask that he may be allowed to retain it. Private Henry Giles, Company A, during the advance on April 1, in crossing a swamp, lost his company, and was taken prisoner by a rebel cavalryman, who disarmed him; watching his chance he sprung under the horse’s neck and seized the cavalryman, dragging him from his horse, at the same time receiving a severe blow on the head and arm. He then disarmed him, sprung onto the horse, the rebel cavalry after him, and came in toward our lines, where he was again taken prisoner by our troops as a rebel. As they were taking him along the lines I saw him and released him.

Casualties: Killed, 4; wounded, 29; missing, 5; total, 38. Of the 5 missing, 4 have been recaptured and are now with regiment.

Respectfully submitted.

Captain, Commanding Regiment.

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


  1. 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. 862-864
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