No. 255. Report of Colonel Samuel C. Armstrong, Eighth U. S. Colored Troops.1
HEADQUARTERS EIGHTH U. S. COLORED TROOPS,
Near Petersburg, Va., April 20, 1865.
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by the Eighth U. S. Colored Troops in the late campaign:
The regiment crossed the James River at Varina Landing March 29 , 1865; the following day marched to Hatcher’s Run, and there encamped before the defenses of Petersburg. On the 31st was ordered as a support to General Turner’s provisional division, Twenty-fourth Army Corps. The day after massed for an attack on the defenses of Petersburg. On the morning of the 2nd entered the outer line of works, which had been abandoned by the enemy, and marched at once to the interior and principal line protecting the city; massed for an attack on one of the main forts; sent forth Captains Newland and Camp with their companies as skirmishers, who advanced handsomely and close up to the enemy’s works, driving their skirmishers, this under a brisk fire of musketry and shells. The order for attack was countermanded. Early on the morning of the 3rd the regiment was deployed as skirmishers, with orders to press the enemy’s works and ascertain if they were still present and develop their strength. The line advanced just before daylight and found the enemy’s works abandoned; took possession of three pieces of artillery and several caissons and wagons left in the works. Captain Camp, Company I, was first to enter the line, immediately followed by Major Pell. The regiment was at once advanced on and into Petersburg, receiving a number of deserters and a most cheering and hearty welcome from the colored inhabitants of the city, whom their presence had made free. Same day (3rd) marched to Sutherland’s Station, on the Cox road. The day after was train guard. On the 5th, 6th, and 7th made severe marches. Reported to General Foster on the 8th, and made a long and most exhausting march of thirty-five miles. April 9, moved out of camp at 3 a. m., and shortly afterward were ordered to the support of Sheridan’s cavalry, which was retreating in disorder and attempting to break through our line. Formed line of battle; arrested the progress of the enemy. Captain Newland at once deployed his company as skirmish-
ers, and assisted in driving back the enemy’s skirmishers and line of battle. Soon after marched to another position on the left, where it remained to April 11. On that day marched for Petersburg, arriving at the defenses of the city April 17, 1865.
It is impossible to name any officers as having specially distinguished themselves, all were so zealous and efficient in the discharge of their duties.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
S. C. ARMSTRONG,
Colonel Eighth U. S. Colored Troops.
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
- 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. 1237-1238 ↩