No. 272. Report of Brigadier General James H. Lane, C. S. Army.1
APPOMATTOX COURT-HOUSE, April 10, 1865.
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that on the night of the 1st of April four regiments of my brigade, with intervals between the men varying from six to ten paces, were stretched along the works between Battery Gregg and Hatcher’s Run in the following order from right to left: Twenty-eighth, Thirty-seventh, Eighteenth, Thirty-third [North Carolina Infantry], the right of the Twenty-eighth resting near the brown house in front of General MacRae’s winter quarters, and the left of the Thirty-third on the branch near Mrs. Banks.’
The enemy commenced shelling my line from several batteries about 9 o’clock that night; the picket-lines in my front opened fire at a quarter to 2 the following morning. The skirmishers from McGowan’s brigade, who covered the works held by my command, were driven in at a quarter to 5 o’clock. My line was pierced by the enemy in strong force at the ravine in front of the right of the Thirty-seventh, near General McGowan’s headquarters. The Twenty-eighth, enfiladed on the left by this force and on the right by the force that had previously broken the troops to our right, was forced to fall back to the plank road. The enemy on its left took possession of this road, and forced it to fall still farther back to the Cox road, where it skirmished with the enemy and supported a battery of artillery, by order of Brigadier-General Pendleton. The other regiments fought the enemy between McGowan’s winter quarters and those occupied by my brigade, and were driven back. They then made a stand in the winter quarters of the right regiment of my command, but were again broken, a part retreating along the works to the left and the remainder going to the rear. These flats, under Colonel Cowan, made a stand on the hill to the right of Mrs. Banks’, but were forced back to the plank road, along which they skirmished for some time, and then fell back to the Corx road, where they supported a battery of artillery, by order of Lieutenant-General Longstreet. That portion of my command which retreated along the works to the left made two more unsuccessful attempts to resist the enemy, the last stand being made in the Church road leading to the Jones house. It then fell back to Battery Gregg and the battery to its left, but under Major Wooten and assisted by a part of Thomas’ brigade it soon after charged the enemy, by order of Major-General Wilcox, and cleared the works as far as the branch on which the left of the Thirty-third rested the night previous. Here we were rejoined by Colonel Cowan, and we deployed as skirmishers to the left of the Church road and perpendicular to the works, but did not hold this position long, as we were attacked by a strong line of skirmishers, supported by two strong lines of battle. A part of us retreated to Battery Gregg, and the rest to the new line of works near the dam. Battery Gregg was subsequently attacked by an immense force, and fell after the most gallant and desperate defense. Our men bayoneted many of the enemy as they mounted the parapet. After the fall of this battery the rest of my command along the new line was attacked in front and flank, and driven back to the old line of works running northwest from Battery 45, where it remained until the evacuation of Petersburg. We were here rejoined by the Twenty-eighth, under Captain Linebarger.
On the afternoon of the 3rd we crossed the Appomattox at Goode’s Bridge, bivouacked at Amelia Court-House on the 4th, and on the 5th
formed line of battle between Amelia Court-House and Jetersville, where our sharpshooters, under Major Wooten, became engaged. Next day, while resting in Farmville, we were ordered back to a fortified hill to support our cavalry, which was hard pressed, but before reaching the hill the order was countermanded. We moved rapidly through Farmville, and sustained some loss from the artillery fire while crossing the river near that place. That afternoon we formed line of battle, facing to the rear, between one and two miles from Farmville, and my sharpshooters were attacked by the enemy. During the night we resumed our march, and on the 9th, while forming line of battle, we were ordered back and directed to stack our arms, as the Army of Northern Virginia had been surrendered.
My officers and men behaved well throughout this trying campaign, and superiority of numbers alone enabled the enemy to drive us from the works near Petersburg. Colonel Cowan, though indisposed, was constantly with his command and displayed his usual gallantry, while Major Wooten nobly sustained his enviable reputation as on officer.
We have to mourn the loss of Captains Nicholson, Fain, McCauley, and Long, and other gallant officers.
Captain E. J. Hale, jr., assistant adjutant-general, and First Lieutenant E. B. Meade, aide-de-camp, were constantly at their posts, displaying great bravery, and giving additional evidence of their efficiency as staff officers.
I am unable to give our exact loss at Petersburg. I surrendered at this point 56 officers and 484 men, many of the latter being detailed non-arms bearing men, who were sent back to be surrendered with their brigade.
The Seventh [North Carolina], the other regiment of my command, is absent in North Carolina on detached service.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES H. LANE,
Major JOSEPH A. ENGELHARD,
- 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. 1285-1286 ↩