Numbers 36. Report of Captain John. A. Reynolds, First New York Light Artillery.
HDQRS. BATTERY L, FIRST NEW YORK [ARTILLERY],
Near White Oak Church, Va., May 9, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my battery in the late engagement:
On the morning of April 29, at daylight, I took position with my battery, in accordance with orders received from Colonel Wainwright, chief of artillery, First Corps, on the line of hills commanding the river and near Pollock's Mill. As soon as the mist rose from the river, our infantry was discovered engaged with the enemy, who was in rifle-pits, and endeavoring to prevent the laying of the bridge. Soon after, when the crossing was effected by boats, and the charge made upon the rifle-pits by the Sixth Wisconsin and the Twenty-fourth Michigan, I directed a few shots, by order of Colonel Wainwright, at the retreating rebels. I expended 12 rounds at this time.
About noon of the 30th ultimo, several shots from a battery of 20-pounder Parrotts were thrown near our position, but the efforts of the enemy failed, nearly all of the projectiles falling short. No injury was sustained and no reply made.
At 3 a. m. on the 1st instant, I was directed to move my battery across the river and report to Brigadier-General Wadsworth, which I obeyed, taking position on the plain just above the bridge and behind earthworks, which had been thrown up during the night.
At about 9 a. m. on the 2nd instant, when the First Division was about to retire across the river, a severe fire was opened upon us by a battery of the enemy in our front and near the foot of the heights. They had a perfect range of my battery. Eight of my men were severely wounded, 1 of whom died; 2 others received slight wounds. Ten horses were killed or disabled and 2 slightly wounded. Three limbers were injured by the fire; on one an axle broken, on another, part of the lid to chest blown off, and, on the third, one wheel knocked to pieces. The harness was also considerably cut up. The precise effect of our fire could not be observed on account of the trees along the Bowling Green road obstructing the view from thence to the enemy's position. We saw one limber or caisson explode, and the pickets, who could better observe, state that we disabled one of their pieces. The firing was kept up for about an hour and a half before we succeeded in silencing the enemy, and was continued slowly for another half hour, during which time the other troops were safely withdrawn across the bridge. I next withdrew my battery, piece by piece, keeping up the firing until the last gun was removed. We expended 303 rounds in this action. The distance between the batteries was computed at about 2,000 yards. Our shell, as far as I could judge, worked very well, though many of the paper fuses are imperfect. The combination case-shot worked admirably with this exception-in ramming them many caught on the end of the reamer, which had to be worked or turned to disengage them, thus deranging the setting. I have since had the reamers reamed out more, thus obviating this difficulty.
The officers and men were cool and collected. Lieutenants Reynolds and Breck were especially so, watching carefully the effect of the fire from their sections, and giving directions accordingly, inspiring their men with coolness by their example. Sergt. Amos Gibbs is also deserving of especial mention. Though wounded in the shoulder by a shell,