No. 10. Report of Major George Ager, First Connecticut Heavy Artillery, of operations March 25.1
HEADQUARTERS SIEGE BATTERIES,
Before Petersburg, Va., March 27, 1865.
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to transmit the following as the part taken by the batteries under my command in the action of March 25, 1865:
About 4 a. m. the garrison of Battery Numbers 10, consisting of about sixty men of Company K, Captain John M. Twiss commanding, were alarmed by the sentinel on guard, that the enemy were assaulting our lines. Before the mortars could be brought into action the enemy had captured the picket-line, and were advancing over the parapet. Small-arms were brought into use, and for a short time the enemy were held in check by a hand-to-hand conflict. Owing to the darkness the entire garrison of this advanced battery was captured. Captain Twiss having been wounded, went to the rear, where a portion of his company was stationed, formed them, and continued the action from bomb-proof. By this time the enemy had flanked him on the right and left, and receiving no support he conducted his men to Battery Numbers 4, where he reported to me. Lieutenant Odell, commanding one section of this battery, was killed at the commencement of the assault. At daylight I was informed that Fort Stedman, including Battery Numbers 10, was in possession of the enemy, and that they were massing troops there. I immediately ordered Batteries Numbers 4, 5, 8, and 9 to concentrate their fire on the fort and vicinity. This was done with good effect until our troops prepared to charge and retake the line.
Battery Numbers 12, on the left of Stedman, opened fire at the first alarm, and continued until the enemy had formed a line of battle in their rear, when the mortars were turned and several shells thrown among the troops there forming. But finding themselves the particular object of the enemy’s fire, and it being impossible to serve the pieces any longer, Lieutenant Lewis, commanding, led his men by the left to Fort Haskell, where this company with small-arms assisted in repulsing the assaults on this fort, at the same time directing their mortar fire on the battery previously occupied. Having been informed that a charge was to be made by the infantry retake the line, I ordered Lieutenant Casey, who had reported to me with the remainder of K Company, to follow up, and, if successful, to take possession of Battery Numbers 10 and prepare for immediate action. This was done with promptness. He and his small detachment, arriving at the works with the charging column, found the implements destroyed and carried off, making it impossible to use the mortars.
The following is a last of casualties and ammunition expended at the several batteries:
In conclusion I take great pleasure in saying that the conduct of both officers and men is deserving of the highest praise, and for promptness and energy could not be excelled. Especially I may mention Captain Twiss, commanding Company K, at battery Numbers 10; also Lieutenant Casey. Through the energetic efforts of these officers the enemy were kept in check long enough to enable the works on their right and left to prepare for action and repulse the assaults.
Lieutenant Lewis, commanding Company L, at battery Numbers 12 and Haskell, Lieutenants Bingham and Couch, of the same company, are deserving of much credit for the manner on which these batteries were served. Lieutenant Bangs, Company E, at Battery Numbers 5, deserves to be mentioned, for through the fire of three separate batteries was directed on his work, it was entirely ignored, and his concentrated fire of four 8-inch mortars and two 30-pounder guns was directed on Fort Stedman, and with terrible effect. At his battery one of the enemy’s shells penetrated and burst inside the magazine, and through there were four barrels of powder in it at the time, strange to say it failed to ignite, and no injury was done.
Major First Connecticut Artillery, Commanding.
Lieutenant C. W. FILER,
First Connecticut Arty., Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS SIEGE ARTILLERY,
Broadway Landing, Va., March 29, 1865.
Respectfully forwarded to artillery headquarters, Army of the Potomac.
I proceeded to the spot when notified of the attack, and was personally cognizant of the accuracy of most of Major Ager’s report. The only thing which should be added is, that he himself exhibited great judgment and skill in commanding his batteries and that his exertions contributed much to the successful result of the affair. By his concentric fire the enemy were severely cut up and demoralized both while trying to form and when on their retreat.
HENRY L. ABBOT,
Brevet Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding.
ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
June 1, 1865.
This report, received after the active operations of the recent campaign commenced, is respectfully forwarded to be placed amongst the other reports of the action of the 25th of March, when the enemy attacked and for a short space held Fort Stedman. The reports of the siege batteries were not made to Major-General Parke, commanding the lines at that point.
HENRY J. HUNT,
Brevet Major-General, Commanding.
- The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLVI, Part 1 (Serial Number 95), pages 174-176 ↩