No. 97. Report of Bvt. Major General Samuel W. Crawford, U. S. Army, commanding Third Division.1
HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
April 20, 1865.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command on the 1st of April:
Early in the morning, while still in camp near the White Oak road, it was announced to me by the major-general commanding the corps that he was about to move with his entire command toward Dinwiddie
Court-House, to operate in connection with the cavalry, then in the neighborhood of a place called Five Forks. My division was the last to retire. General Baxter’s (Second) brigade was formed in line of battle in the center, General Coulter’s (Third) brigade on the left, and Colonel Kellogg’s (First) brigade on the right in column by regiments. We marched in retreat in a southwest direction until we approached a road leading south to Boisseau’s Cross-Roads. General Coulter had been ordered to go toward the White Oak road and then to strike the road leading to Boisseau’s Cross-Roads, and to follow the other two brigades. The enemy did not follow us from his entrenchments upon the withdrawal of the skirmish lines, as was anticipated. Upon arriving at Boisseau’s Cross-Roads the command was massed for a short time, when by an order received from Major-General Warren the division took the lead on a road leading directly to Five Forks. Near E. L. Boisseau’s we were turned to the north on a road leading to the White Oak road past Gravelly Run Church. Upon arriving at Gravelly Run Church the division was formed with two brigades, namely: Second Brigade (General Baxter’s) on the right, the First Brigade (Colonel Kellogg’s) on the left, each in two lines, supported by General Coulter’s (Third) brigade, in the rear of the center. Here we remained until the Second Division had arrived and adopted a similar formation on my left, and until the First Division had passed to my right and to the rear. We were in a short distance, less than half a mile, of the White Oak road. When the troops were in hand, the following order was sent to me, accompanied by a diagram, of which the following is a copy:
The following is the movement now about to be executed:
The line will move forward as formed till it reached the White Oak road, when it will swing round to the left perpendicular to the White Oak road. General Merritt’s and General Custer’s cavalry will charge the enemy’s line as soon as the infantry get engaged, the cavalry on the left of the infantry, except Mackenzie’s brigade, which is moving up the White Oak road from the right.
G. K. WARREN,
In obedience to this order the command moved at once. We crossed Gravelly Run, crossed the White Oak road, and changed direction to the left and advanced directly to the west. We encountered the enemy’s skirmishers shortly after moving, driving them steadily back. Our way led through bogs, tangled woods, and thickets of pine, interspersed with open spaces here and there. The connection between the Second Division and my line could not be maintained. I received orders from both General Sheridan and General Warren to press rapidly forward. I urged on the entire command. General Coulter’s brigade, from being
in support in my rear, was brought to fill up the gap on the left between me and the Second Division. I pressed immediately on and found myself in the enemy’s rear on the Ford road, which I crossed. Here I captured seven ambulances and several wagons of Wallace’s brigade, which I sent at once to the rear, and many prisoners. No exact number can be reported, as they were sent to the rear as fast as taken. Just at this point the enemy opened upon my center and left flank a very heavy fire. Major-General Warren, arriving on the field at that moment, directed me to advance immediately down the Ford road, and General Coulter’s brigade was selected for that purpose. Two regiments, commanded by Major Funk, were placed on what was then the left of the road, and the rest of the brigade were on the right, supported by the other two brigades in echelon. I advanced at once and captured a battery of four guns, the commanding officer of which was killed at that point, and also the battle-flag of the Thirty-second Virginia Infantry, which was captured by Sergt. Hiram A. Delavie,* Company I, Eleventh Pennsylvania Volunteers. We then changed direction, and advanced again in a southwest direction, the enemy flying before us, though keeping up a desultory firing. The men advanced through the woods with the utmost enthusiasm until we came in rear of the works on the enemy’s right flank, where a few shots were received. The command pressed steadily onward until after dark, when it was halted at a point on the White Oak road and subsequently marched back along that road to the neighborhood of the Gravelly Run road, from which we had started, where we passed the night.
I have greatly to regret the loss of many valuable officers, among whom are the following: Lieutenant Colonel A. B. Farnham, division inspector, while carrying an order from me to the left of the line, was, I fear, mortally wounded. Major H. H. Fish, commanding Ninety-fourth New York Volunteers, had received, the day before, a severe scalp wound which would have entitled him under any circumstances to remain at the rear. He rejoined his regiment, however, and was killed while bravely leading them into action. To Major Funk, commanding One hundred and twenty-first and One hundred and forty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, great credit is due for the manner in which he led on his command and for the capture of the enemy’s guns on the Ford road. To Major Laycock, commanding a consolidated regiment of the Fifty-sixth and Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania, great commendation is due for the skill and admirable management of his men. To Colonel Tarbell, commanding Ninety-first New York Volunteers, a comparatively new regiment, also great commendation is due for the admirable manner in which this large command was handled.
The officers of my staff were constantly and actively engaged throughout the action, and their conduct was all I could wish. One of them, Lieutenant Wright, One hundred and fourth New York Volunteers, acting aide-de-camp, had his horse killed under him.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. W. CRAWFORD,
Brevet Major-General, Commanding Division.
Colonel FRED. T. LOCKE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Fifth Army Corps.
* Awarded a Medal of Honor.
- 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. 879-881 ↩