No. 126. Report of Lieutenant Colonel George B. Damon, Tenth Vermont Infantry, First Brigade, Third Division, of operations March 25.1
HEADQUARTERS TENTH VERMONT VOLUNTEERS,
April 1, 1865.
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that at about 2 p.m. on the 25th of March ultimo, by direction of Brigadier-General Seymour, commanding the division, I proceeded to the picket-line of the division in front of Forts Fisher and Welch, and relieved temporarily the division officer of the day, and assumed command of the picket-line for the purpose of making an attack upon the pickets of the enemy. Our picket-
line was composed of about 160 men of the Fourteenth New Jersey on the right and 230 of the Tenth Vermont on the left, the whole line being nearly one mile in length, with open ground on the right half, while the left portion of the line was immediately in rear of a narrow belt of woods. The picket-line of the enemy was strongly intrenched behind earth-works and at an average distance of 300 yards. The One hundred and twenty-second and One hundred and tenth Regiments of Ohio Volunteers were also placed under my command as a supporting column, and were formed 100 yards in rear of the right center of the picket-line. At 3 o’clock the order for advance was given, when the whole line moved forward at a double-quick, the two Ohio regiments above-named moving at the same time. At several points the position of the enemy was reached, but they delivered so severe a musketry fire from their breast-works, their forts, a few hundred yards in rear, opening on us at the same time with artillery, that we were finally compelled to retire, which we did in good order, to the original line. Preparations were then made for a second charge. The right portion of the picket-line was strengthened by the One hundred and twenty-second and One hundred and tenth Ohio Regiments and the Sixty-seventh Pennsylvania Sixth Maryland, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery, and One hundred and twenty-sixth Ohio Regiments were formed in rear as a supporting column, the whole under the immediate direction of Brevet Brigadier-General Keifer. On this charge I took command of the left portion of the picket-line, composed of 230 men of my own regiment (the Tenth Vermont). At about 4 p.m., at a given signal, the whole line, together with the supporting column, advanced and carried the intrenched works of the enemy, capturing nearly the entire picket force on our front, and held their intrenched line.
On this second charge my regiments captured 160 prisoners, among whom were several officers. The casualties in the Tenth Vermont were 2 enlisted men killed and 4 wounded. I have no information as to the casualties which occurred in the other regiments engaged in the attack.
At about sunset on the came afternoon, by direction of General Seymour, I proceeded to the extreme left of the picket-line of the division with a section of the Third New York Independent Battery, under charge of Lieutenant George P. Fitzgerald, and 150 men of the Fifth Vermont, under command of Major Cole, of that regiment, for the purpose of dislodging a body of the enemy’s sharpshooters, who were in and about a house situated on the rebel picket-line and a little to the left of the rifle-pits captured by us, from which position they were enabled to annoy our men by an enfilading fire. This section of artillery was placed in position on an open piece of ground at about 600 yards from the house above-named, and opened fire with both solid shot and shell, ridding the house and driving everything from it. Immediately on the left of this house, however, in the woods, was a heavy force of the enemy, then severely engaged with the Second Corps. A brigade of the Second Corps was in line of battle on the open ground where this section of artillery was posted, the commanding officer of which declined to move his troops to occupy the house, upon my application, stating that if they moved they would probably be attacked by a superior force from the left flank and be compelled to fall back. Under these circumstances I deemed it imprudent, without further advice, to attempt to take and hold the position with the small force under my command. Major Cole and Lieutenant Fitzgerald were therefore directed to report back to their commands.
Although subjected to both musketry fire and artillery, which opened from the enemy’s main line, Lieutenant Fitzgerald behaved most gallantly, and worked his guns in the most admirable manner.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEORGE B. DAMON,
Lieutenant-Colonel Tenth Vermont Volunteers.
Bvt. Major A. J. SMITH,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Sixth Army 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), pages 307-309 ↩