No. 148. Report of Captain John M. Deane, Twenty-ninth Massachusetts Infantry, of operations March 25.1
HDQRS. TWENTY-NINTH MASSACHUSETTS VETERAN VOLS.,
Near Petersburg, Va., March 27, 1865.
CAPTAIN: In compliance with circular received, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this command in the action of March 25, 1865:
The alarm was first given by the trench guard, just as the enemy were entering Fort Stedman. Before our men had time to man the works the enemy entered our camp at the north front. They fired no shots, but used the butts of their muskets. The three companies on that front were captured and the enemy then advanced to the west front, where they were met by Companies B, C, E, and H, and a desperate encounter ensued, in which most of our men were taken prisoners. The regiment now rallied at that part of the line between Batteries 11 and 12, and repulsed the enemy as they advanced, and drove them from our camp. As our prisoners were being taken to the rear they found the pickets in our immediate front still occupying their pits. Four officers pickets in our immediate front still occupying their pits. Four officers and many of our men who at one time were prisoners broke from their guards and escaped. Soon after daylight the enemy swept around our rear from Fort Stedman, when the regiment retired to Fort Haskell, where it remained during the remainder of the engagement.
There were many instances of individual gallantry. Lieutenant Nathaniel Burgess, Company E, fought gallantly at the west front, refused to surrender, and fell mortally wounded. Lieutenant H. C. Joslyn, Company G, was captured on the picket-line, broke from his guard and rejoined his regiment, passing through a column of the enemy marching along the works; he afterward fought with distinguished gallantry at Fort Haskell, aiding in the working of a piece of artillery. Color-Sergt. Conrad Homan was ordered to surrender with his colors, but refused so to do, and escaped. Private T. M. O’Brien, Company B, while being taken to the rear with other prisoners, at a given signal tripped one of the guards, threw him into a ditch, and, with Captain Pizer and several men, made his escape. First Sergt. C. F. Harlow, Company C, refused to surrender when summoned to by three of the enemy, and was killed. Private W. Klinkler, Company E, placed himself at the entrance of a bomb-proof, refused all demands for a surrender, and fell fighting gallantly. Private Preserved Westgate, Company F, fought the enemy with a club until mortally wounded. Color-Corpl. Nelson Cook, Company G, fell fighting with distinguished gallantry. Private George E. Snow, Company G, a sentinel, fell fighting at his post. Private Edward Carney, Company G, was seized by the throat and ordered to surrender; he replied, “I don’t see it;” received several severe blows upon the back with a musket and a slight gunshot wound in the head; he freed himself from the enemy and escaped. Private Charles L. Nightingale, Company H, a sentinel, remained at his post and shot one of the enemy who demanded his surrender. Sergt. William H. Howe, Company K, and Private Levi B. Gaylord, Company A, fought with distinguished gallantry at Fort Haskell, aiding in the working of a piece of artillery mounted en barbette after all but two of the batterymen belonging to the piece had been killed or wounded.
The following are the casualties in this command during the day: 9 enlisted men killed, 2 officers and 4 enlisted men wounded, 3 officers and 47 enlisted men missing.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN M. DEANE,
Captain, Commanding Regiment.
Captain T. W. CLARKE,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Third Brigadier, First Div., 9th 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 338-339 ↩