War of the Rebellion: Serial 026 Page 0136 NORTH CAROLINA AND S.E. VIRGINIA. Chapter XXX.

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No. 2. Report of Brigadier General Michael Corcoran, U. S. Army.


MAJOR: I have the honor to report that, in compliance with orders received from Major General John J. Peck, at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday the 29th ultimo I proceeded to take command of the troops designated for the expedition to attack the rebel force under General Roger A. Pryor.

Arriving at the point previously arranged for the rendezvous of our troops at 12 o'clock I found most of the regiments already on the ground or had passed them on their march thereto.

At 1 a.m. on Friday, the 30th, everything being in readiness I commenced the march in the order according to the annexed supplement. I continued the march until, arriving near the Nansemond County Poor House, I ordered a half for abut ten minutes, after which we proceeded on toward the Deserted House.

About 1 mile, from the latter place our advance guard, at 3.20 a.m., met the enemy's pickets posted in strong force on the road and in the woods. They were promptly charged, some being killed and others taken prisoners. The charge was continued by two companies of Colonel Spear's cavalry up to the enemy's front, who were drawn up in line of battle. I pushed forward Captain Follett's battery of the Fourth U. S. Artillery, supported by the Thirteenth Regiment Indiana Volunteers,and two companies of Captain Davis' (Seventh Massachusetts) battery, supported by the One hundred and thirtieth New York Volunteers. They gained an open space in front of the enemy, whose camp-fires were burning. The other regiments of the command, which were in line of battle along the south side of the road, were ordered to lie down when the artillery firing commenced.

Captain Follett's battery first opened at 3.40 a.m. on the north side of the road, and the enemy immediately replied with twelve pieces, some of which were of a longer caliber than our own. Captain Davis took position on the south side of the road, and our own guns and the enemy's kept up an incessant and every rapid fire until 6 a.m.

At about 5.15 a.m. I gave orders for the infantry to advance. This order, twice repeated, was not promptly executed, through cause which I reported verbally to the major-general yesterday. On learning this I immediately ordered an advance a third time and went in person to the One hundred and sixty-seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Militia and sent orders to the regiments in the rear to advance in succession in the order of battle previously assigned. I found the One hundred and sixty-seventh without a single field officer. The colonel, I afterward learned with regret, was seriously, if not mortally wounded, and the lieutenant-colonel and major had their horses killed under them and were temporarily hurt. I asked if there was any officer present two would take command of the regiment. The adjutant promptly responded and used all exertions to get the men forward, but did not succeed. They became a confused mass, mixed up with other regiments, and filled up the entire road, leaving it impassable and creating a temporary confusion among some other regiments in the rear. The lieutenant-colonel came up to me about this time and requested permission to take his regiment to the rear in order to restore confidence and have them reformed. I became convinced this must be done, and