No. 130. Report of Captain Augustus Merrill, Company B, First Maine Veteran Infantry.1
CAMP FIRST MAINE VETERAN VOLUNTEERS,
April 21, 1865.
SIR: I here present a statement of facts relating to the engagement near Petersburg, Va., on the 2nd instant.
After entering the enemy’s works on the morning of April 2, Lieutenant-Colonel Fletcher, commanding First Maine Veteran Volunteers, ordered me to advance with a few skirmishers to ascertain the enemy’s position and strength in our front. I took twenty men, deployed them as skirmishers, and advanced through the woods; came upon an old camp. Here I captured a lieutenant and three men belonging to Hill’s corps: learned from them that they would make but slight resistance “this side of Hatcher’s Run.” When our line advanced I pressed on, meeting no opposition, picking up their stragglers and sending them to the rear, until I reached Hatcher’s Run and found that they were across and in position on the opposite side. Supposing that the corps was following on in that direction, and not having very definite instructions, I determined to dislodge them if possible from their position. To my left was the bridge over which the telegraph road runs. This was defended by strong works on the other side. Near the bridge was an old wooden mill; so taking a small party of men who volunteered for the occasion, and who belonged to five or six different regiments of this corps, I moved along the run to the right thought he woods, my left flank on the run. The eagerness of the men induced me to keep on some distance, when we came to an old dam, which showed signs of a crossing having been made there that morning. We immediately moved across by the left flank, the enemy firing a few shots as we crossed. It being a precarious place one man fell into the run, and came near being drowned. He came out safe, however, minus his musket. This left me fifteen armed men. With these I advanced and captured their skirmish line, firing but a few shots. Guarding these closely I moved on and soon came upon a guard carrying Captain John Tifft, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery, to the rear, whom they had captured. We captured the guard and released the captain. We then had sixty-four prisoners, mostly Virginia sharpshooters, who told of various raids made by them on our picket-line during the winter, and acted as though they would like to overpower our small squad and make us go with them. I told them it was no use to resist, as we had a large force
in the rear, and their whole line would be taken. Two of men then reconnoitered the woods and came to the open field, where they found a line of battle behind their works facing the Second Corps. Their left then rested on Hatcher’s Run, we being directly behind them. I then took the prisoners and recrossed the run and carried them to the rear. Three of my men remaining to watch the movements of the enemy, they captured 5 more prisoners, making our total 69. I received a receipt for 64 from the sergeant of the provost-guard, Second Division. The three men that stopped behind saw the rebels move off to their right. They then entered the works, and met the Second Corps coming in. the whole squad rejoined their command in the p.m. in front of Petersburg.
Captain Company B, First Maine Veteran Volunteers.
- 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. 977-978 ↩