No. 211. Report of Colonel Samuel B. M. Young, Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry, commanding Second Brigade.1
HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., SECOND DIV., CAVALRY CORPS,
April 14, 1865.
MAJOR: In obedience to instructions from division headquarters, I have the honor to report that this command left camp near Petersburg, Va., on the morning of 29th of March, 1865, arriving at Dinwiddie Court-House, without opposition, and bivouacked for the night. It rained all night, and next day brigade remained in bivouac.
On the morning of the 31st First Brigade (General Davies) and Third Brigade (General Smith) were attacked by the enemy’s cavalry and Pickett’s division of infantry on Chamberlain’s Red. First Brigade was driven back by a superior force of the enemy beyond the road leading from Dinwiddie to Five Forks, obtaining possession of said road. At this juncture the Second Brigade, which had been supporting Third Brigade (General Smith), was ordered to attack the enemy (then driving General Davies) in the flank and rear. In order to carry out this order the command was moved across the country about one mile in direction of the firing indicating the point at which General Davies was pressed. The Fourth, Sixteenth, and Eighth Pennsylvania were dismounted, no enemy being in sight, and pushed forward in the direction of the heavy firing; soon they encountered Pickett’s division of infantry advancing in line of battle. A hot engagement immediately ensued, in which the
enemy were driven back and held in check until the ammunition was exhausted. A number of prisoners were captured and sent to the rear. The position was held until the brigade was ordered to retire; the enemy followed closely in line of battle. A new line was formed and they were checked and held until dark, when the command retired beyond the Boydton, plank road and bivouacked for the night.
April 1, the brigade not actively engaged, but watching the flank. April 2, brigade marched from White Oak road via Ford’s Depot, on South Side Railroad, and joined General Merritt’s command near Namozine road. April 3, drew rations and forage; marched to Namozine Creek. April 4, marched on the flanks of the infantry, and reported to General Sheridan at 2 a.m. on the 5th. At 3 a.m., same date, General Davies moved out and struck the enemy’s train on the Paineville road, destroying wagons, capturing artillery, flags, &c., and being heavily attacked this brigade was ordered out to his support. When his command was withdrawn this brigade was attacked by the enemy’s cavalry and one division of Anderson’s infantry, and lost heavily, the enemy obtaining possession of the field.
On the 6th the brigade, taking the advance, struck the enemy’s train near Deatonsville, but were quickly checked by Gordon’s corps. We were then withdrawn and participated in the battle at Sailor’s Creek. The brigade, being dismounted, was the first to strike and fire the enemy’s wagon train, and capturing two pieces of artillery which had been abandoned and thrown into the swamp by the enemy.
On the 7th the brigade, marching in rear, arrived at Farmville, and crossing the Appomattox, took the advance on the Buckingham Court-House road and struck the enemy’s train two miles from Farmville, but was driven back by Rosser’s division of cavalry and Gordon’s infantry. General Davies coming up at this juncture the enemy were checked by him on the right and by the reformation of the Second Brigade on the left. The loss of the Second Brigade was severe; General Gregg and two of his staff were captured; and here that noble officer, Major Mays, of the Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry, fell mortally wounded; Lieutenant Colonel J. K. Robinson, Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, also was wounded in the charge. At dark the brigade was relieved by General Smith, and, following the First Brigade, marched to Prospect Station, and encamped at 2 a.m. on the 8th. At 9 o’clock this brigade took the advance, and marched via Pamplin’s Station and formed junction with First and Third Division near Appomattox Station, and encamped for the night.
On the 9th was ordered out to the main Lynchburg road to support General Smith and General Mackenzie, who were being forced back by the enemy’s infantry. Smith was retiring by the right and Mackenzie by the left oblique, and the enemy, taking advantage, charged one regiment of cavalry through the interval, and came up on my rear, and that instant the Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry, who had been ordered to a new position, met and charged them in column, effectually routing them, killing the color-bearer and capturing the colors of Fourteenth Virginia Cavalry. At the same time the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, who had been dismounted, were double-quicked around by the rear and drove the enemy out of the woods. At the same time the enemy attacked my left flank, but were held in check by the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry until the infantry, who were close at hand, relieved my command. Not finding the division commander, I reported to General Davies, who was engaging the enemy on the road in the direction of Lynchburg, and was ordered to join him with my command. The brigade was massed on the left of the road and pushed forward at a trot, when orders were
received to halt and cease firing. General Davies sent flag of truce and a cessation of hostilities was agreed upon. The command lay in the order in which it was halted until the morning of the 10th, when it marched to Prospect Station; camped for the night. 11th, marched to Sandy Creek; 12th, to Burkeville; 13th, to Nottoway Court-House, where the brigade is now encamped.
I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of the officers and men of the command. I forbear mentioning the names of any officers lest I do injustice to others, as all conducted themselves in the most gallant manner. To the members of my staff am I specially indebted for valuable services.
For report of casualties sustained in campaign please see report furnished this date.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. B. M. YOUNG,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Major H. C. WEIR,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Division, Cavalry Corps.
Casualties in Second Brigade, Second Division, Cavalry Corps.
- 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. 1154-1156 ↩