War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0292 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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No. 5. Report of Colonel Charles W. Roberts,

Second Maine Infantry, of operations April 4-13.


Camp before Yorktown, Va., Sunday, April 13, 1862.

GENERAL: In compliance with circular received this morning I submit the following report:

Agreeably to orders, early on Friday morning, April 4, I left New Market Bridge, Va., preceded by the Twenty-second Massachusetts Regiment, Colonel Gove, en route for Yorktown. After a pleasant and easy march, lunching at Big Bethel, where were were joined by General Morell's brigade, we arrived about 5 o'clock p.m. at or near Cockletown, so called. Here we bivouacked for the night. At an early hour the following morning we were again on the move. The day being unpropitious, and the roads extremely muddy, the advance was very fatiguing to the men. However, the command being "Forward, march," we arrived about noon before Yorktown, when by the order of General Martindale, together with the Twenty-second Massachusetts, I moved my command to the extreme left, taking a position in close column of companies in rear of the Twenty-second Massachusetts in a corn field directly in front of a rebel intrenchment, the remaining regiments composing the brigade keeping in the rear as a reserve, Generals Morell's and Butterfield's brigades being on the extreme right of the division. Several winged messages of death, however, whizzing about and around us, soon notified the wary general in command that our position was not an available one for infantry alone. He immediately deployed us to the left, under cover of the woods, and from thence by the right of companies I moved my command through the woods located on the left of a road running in a westerly direction toward the rebel batteries. I advanced in this position, my skirmishers in front, until I reached the Third Massachusetts Battery, commanded by Captain Martin, which battery I was ordered to support on the left, Colonel Gove, of the Twenty-second Massachusetts, occupying a similar position on the right. Between the hours of 1 and 3.30 p.m. the artillery practice was exceedingly severe on both sides, the rebels making excellent range shorts, and at times very much disturbing my skirmishers, a few shots occasionally depositing themselves near my main force.

No casualties occurred in my command, but the battery bravely commanded by Captain Martin lost two men and two or three horses, while several of the skirmishers from Colonel Gove's regiment were seriously wounded. About 4 o'clock the firing on both sides, with now and then an occasional shot, ceased. I remained in this position, my picket in front, until the morning following, when I war relieved.

Monday evening, the 7th instant, just at dark, my command was ordered to perform picket duty in front, the outpost being located in a peach orchard nearly a mile from the line of our encampment in a northerly direction and facing the enemy. The weather being exceedingly cold and rainy, and my command remaining over thirty hours on this duty, they suffered extremely; but no casualties occurred excepting that George C. Martin, a private of Company H, was wounded through the leg by a rifle-ball from the enemy's outpost. The wound, however, proved not dangerous.

Just before being relieved on Tuesday night Captain Foss, in command of the picket, notified me that the enemy were advancing in force