No. 149. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Julius M. Tucker, Fifty-seventh Massachusetts Infantry, of operations March 25.1
CAMP OF FIFTY-SEVENTH MASSACHUSETTS VOL. INFTY,
Before Petersburg, Va., March 27, 1865.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command in the engagement with the enemy on the 25th:
At the sound of unusually heavy musketry the command formed line of battle near its camp about 4 a.m. Escaped pickets reported the enemy in heavy force in possession of the line of works in our front, and Companies G and K were deployed forward as skirmishers, the regiment advancing to the attack, the enemy advancing simultaneously and in the darkness effecting the capture of a portion of right wing of skirmish line. Information having been received of the lodgment made by the enemy in Fort Stedman, the skirmishers were withdrawn, and the regiment moved to the rear of the fort, with intention of attempting its recapture by assault, but the appearance of the enemy on both flanks forced a retirement, which was conducted in good order. The enemy’s advance was checked by the regiment in four positions successively taken up while in line of retreat, but from all of which it was compelled to retire by repeated demonstrations on its flanks. The crest overlooking the plain now presented the best possible defensive position, and the battery at its summit, the possession of which was evidently the enemy’s object, and which would have given him an incalculable advantage, was entirely without support. The regiment accordingly took up position in its rear; subsequently was deployed as skirmishers to cover advance of portion of Third Division, Ninth Army Corps, and moved forward, the enemy’s skirmishers precipitately withdrawing. Successive charges were made to recover the camp of the regiment, the third of which was rewarded by most complete success, the enemy fleeing in helpless disorganization or surrendering as prisoners of war.
The numerical and nominal casualty lists have already been forwarded you, but the irreparable loss to the regiment and the service in the death of Captain James Doherty, acting field officer, and under whose immediate supervision the operations of the regiment were mainly conducted, deserves more particular mention in this report. By most conspicuous bravery invariably displayed, by the complete subordination of his every regard for his personal safety in action to his efforts to secure victory, by his remarkable executive ability and tactical skill, he had long since achieved a reputation as a most reliable, brilliant, and invaluable officer, and in consideration of the pre-eminent
First. Lieutenant Albert M. Murdock, killed with the colors of the regiment in his hand, which he had grasped to lead a charge, deserves especial mention for gallantry.
To every officer of the command present in the action I know that honorable mention for distinguished services is due; but as they as a unit co-operated in the execution of the movements resulting so successfully, so to them collectively do I confess my obligations.
The following enlisted men were observed as conducting themselves bravely and performing specific acts of gallantry, enumerated below, viz:
Sergt. Major Charles H. Pinkham-captured battle-flag of Fifty-seventh North Carolina (rebel); saved colors of his regiment from capture, seizing them from a tent after the enemy’s had entered the regimental camp.
First Sergt. George Adams, Company G-conspicuous bravery on skirmish line, receiving his fifteenth wound, continuing with regiment after being wounded.
First Sergt. Charles S. Chase, Company H, acting color-sergeant-general good conduct.
Sergt. John O’Donnell, Company A-rallying and encouraging his men; has participated in every engagement with his company and regiment since its entry into service.
Sergt. William F. Oakes, Company K (missing in action, and acting lieutenant)-gallantry while in command of portion of skirmish line; carried Captain Doherty to rear; resisted attempt of enemy to kill him (Doherty) after being taken prisoner.
First Sergt. William Magner, Company B-general bravery.
Sergt. R. Wesley Williams, Company I (wounded)-general bravery.
Corpl. Frederick S. Cheney, Company C (killed), color corporal-general bravery.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. M. TUCKER,
Lieutenant Colonel Fifty-seventh Massachusetts Vol. Infty., Commanding Regiment.
Captain THOMAS 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 339-340 ↩