No. 161. Report of Major Theodore Miller, First Pennsylvania Light Artillery, Inspector of Artillery, of operations March 25.1
HEADQUARTERS ARTILLERY BRIGADE, NINTH CORPS,
March 25, 1865.
GENERAL: It being reported this morning, at about 4.30, that the enemy had attacked and captured Fort Stedman, I rode out toward
that point, in accordance with instructions received from you, to ascertain the state of affairs and report the facts to you. Riding rapidly toward the artillery camps near Meade’s Station, I found the sections and caissons of Woerner’s Third New Jersey, McClellan’s Battery G, First New York, and Rogers’ Nineteenth New York Battery, all harnessed and ready for any service. It was about 5 o’clock at this time, and not full daylight. The musketry had become quite sharp and seemed to be close to Forts Haskell, Stedman, and Battery No. 9. I directed the above named guns to take position on the hill commanding the road leading to Stedman, and not succeeding in gaining satisfactory information of the exact whereabouts of the enemy, but seeing a party of about fifty or sixty infantry (as I supposed, of our troops) coming out of our bomb-proof on the other side of the ravine leading to Fort McGilvery, advancing rather disorderly toward the spot where I had placed the guns, I at once rode in that direction, intending to order them back and hold the ground, but at arriving there I found them to be rebels, and myself and the orderly were at once made prisoners; the horses and my private property were seized, and a guard ordered to conduct us to the rear. It was full daylight by this time, and the firing, both of infantry and artillery, had increased. I saw a large force of rebels crossing rapidly our breast-works and form in line of battle near Battery No. 10. After a short examination by the provost-marshal and commanding officer, the guard was ordered to take me into their old lines, but the batteries from Haskell and Battery No. 9 were sweeping the field between the two lines so effectually that I had but little trouble in persuading my guards not to venture across it until their fire should somewhat slacken, and to go under shelter in a bomb-proof; here I remained for some three of four hours. The engagement was now of the severest kind; the artillery from Battery No. 9, Fort Friend, on the hill in front of Stedman, and Fort Haskell, and opened furiously, and their fire was most accurate and destructive. Rebel officers came and reported the effect to be terrible, and stated that their lines could not be held at any point. The enemy had used, in the meantime, some of our guns and mortars left in Stedman and Battery No. 10.
The wounded were brought in in great numbers; I noticed among them a large proportion of officers. The number of stragglers and skulkers was astonishingly large, and I saw several instances where the authority of the officers who urged them on was set at defiance.
At about 8’clock the confusion increased and became general; all order seemed to be at an end; the musketry sounded closer and closer; and officers ordered, threatened, and begged their men to fall back to their old lines in vain, for their only way lay across the field so effectually commanded by our artillery, and of those few who did venture to go many were killed and wounded. I had before this succeeded in persuading my captors to remain and assist me to escape, and seeing our troops charging triumphantly into the fort, I started with my guards in a keen run toward our lines, calling on all the rebels around and near me to fall in and follow me, and I am happy to report that I succeeded in bringing about 250 or 300 of the enemy in this manner into our lines.
I had observed throughout the whole of the engagement the lack of all true and proper spirit on the part of the rank and file of the enemy; they seemed to have no confidence, and evidently felt that the affair would prove disastrous to them in the end.
I beg leave to add that Private James Holbrook, Company D, Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, who was my orderly, behaved in the most praiseworthy manner, and I respectfully recommend him to your favorable notice.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major First Pennsylvania Light Artillery, Inspector of Artillery, Ninth Corps.
Bvt. Brigadier General JOHN C. TIDBALL,
Chief of Artillery, Ninth 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), pp. 358-360 ↩