No. 129. Report of Colonel Thomas W. Hyde, First Maine Veteran Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.1
HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, SECOND DIVISION, SIXTH CORPS,
April 15, 1865.
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of my brigade upon the 2nd of April and during the subsequent movements of the division:
At midnight preceding the 2nd instant my command moved from camp; filed out to the right of Fort Welch, where had been piled the knapsacks and canteens, and took position just in rear of the picket-line of the Third Division on the right of the Second Brigade. My column of attack was formed in four lines, each line nearly equal in numbers. The first line was composed of the Forty-ninth and Seventy-seventh New York Battalions; the second of the First Maine Veteran Volunteers; the third of the Sixty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers and the fourth of the Forty-third New York Battalion and the One hundred and twenty-second New York Volunteers. Axmen were stationed in
the first line to cut away the abatis of the enemy. Regimental commanders had been carefully instructed as to the direction to be taken, and as to the location in their front of the passageway through the enemy’s works and obstructions by which their pickets passed out and in. While the brigade was being put in position the pickets of the Third Division opened fire, which was replied to with vigor by the enemy, occasioning the loss of several brave officers and men. About 4 a.m. the signal was fired and the first line ordered forward. After they had advanced 100 yards the second advanced, the third in like manner, and the fourth after the third had got 250 yards in advance. The first line got nearly to the picket-pits of the enemy before their movement was discovered; swept over them easily, followed by the second and third. At the edge of the swamp, just in front of the enemy’s abatis, they halted a moment to form again, and again swept on through the openings in the abatis and over the works. Some confusion occurred on account of the intense darkness, but the colors of the different regiments and those directly about them, guided by the fire of the enemy, went straight on to their destination. Several regiments of the brigade claim their colors as first on the works, but the darkness must leave that honor forever undecided.
After crossing the works the men pushed rapidly to the front, the colors ahead, and I succeeded in getting some 200 of the brigade in line at a point near the South Side Railroad and a mile from the works. By this time a line had been formed on a small road parallel to the works and the brigade was got together in the center of the division, having the Second Brigade upon the left and the First Brigade upon the right. An advance was ordered by Major-General Getty and the command swung to the left and front toward Hatcher’s Run, capturing many prisoners and driving all of the enemy in that vicinity not taken into the hands of other troops of ours advancing from that direction. The brigade with the rest of the division, was then moved back to attack the inner lines of Petersburg and formed upon the left of the division. I formed the three left regiments in echelon, as orders had been given me to protect the left against a line of battle and a battery upon the Cox road, and sent out a company of the First Maine Veteran Volunteers, to dislodge the battery that was already enfilading the line. This was quickly done, and the advance was hastened under a heavy artillery and scattering musketry fire. The enemy’s batteries and force were driven from crest to crest till they finally halted with some determination upon a commanding position where were located General Lee’s headquarters. Orders were given to move to the left and front and take the battery. At this time my three left regiments were wholly extended as skirmishers to the left and rear to protect that flank, and were along the South Side Railroad and the bank of the Appomattox. The rest of the command moved through a difficult swamp, under a heavy fire of canister, and those first over, without much regard to formation, were rushed upon the battery, which was taken by detachments from nearly every regiment in the division. The command was then moved forward till its left rested upon the Appomattox, and the enemy’s artillery across the river was driven away by my skirmishers. The command from these exhaustion did not advance beyond this point. They had now been in motion some eighteen hours, and had taken guns,m colors, and a great many prisoners; it would be impossible to estimate them.
The brigade marched with the division in the subsequent pursuit of Lee’s army till his surrender at Clover Hill and till the return of the
Army of the Potomac to this place (Burke’s Station). Three times they were maneuvered to fight, but did not have opportunity. They were double-quicked for over a mile to get in at Sailor’s Creek and were put in position as the last shots were firing.
For names of those killed and wounded and those recommended for promotion for special service, see subjoined reports.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOMAS W. HYDE,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Colonel CHARLES MUNDEE,
- 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. 975-977 ↩