Reports of Colonel Frederick F. Wead, Ninety-eighth New York Infantry, commanding First Brigade, of operations May 12-16.
HDQRS. NINETY-EIGHTH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS, Near Port Walthall, Va., May 19, 1864.
SIR: In compliance with the direction of the brigadier-general commanding the Second Division, Eighteenth Corps, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my regiment while under his command, as well as those of the Ninth New Jersey, Eighth Maine, and Twenty-first Connecticut, temporarily under my command on the 16th instant:
On the 10th my regiment (the fourth of the First Brigade, First Division) was directed to report to General Wistar, by whose order it was placed in position near Proctor' Creek, on a road leading to the right from the Richmond turnpike, which position it occupied until the next day, when I was directed to report to General Heckman, with whose brigade it crossed Kingsland Creek, and, being ordered again to General Wistar, was employed until the evening of the 14th in supporting the batteries in position near the Half-Way House, when it was again ordered to General Heckman, by whom it was posted on the right of his brigade, in a slight ravine about 1,000 yards from the main redoubt of the enemy on the right of the Richmond turnpike. This position it occupied, amid occasional shelling and continual outpost-firing, until the evening of the 15th, when it was moved on the same line 200 yards to the left. Heckman's brigade moved at the same time to the right, and the place vacated occupied by the Eighth Maine and the Twenty-first Connecticut, making the disposition of regiments from right to left. First, Heckman's brigade; second, Ninety-eighth New York Volunteers; Third, Eighth Maine; fourth Twenty-first Connecticut Volunteers. The line thus formed was concave in contour, its right salient toward the enemy. Along all of it (except the position in front of General Heckman's two right regiments) a rude breast-work of logs was hastily thrown up. The outposts were deployed from 20 to 100 yards in front. At dark on the night of the 15th the out-post-firing, which had during the previous twenty-four hours been continual, ceased entirely; but, at the direction on General Heckman, the utmost vigilance was maintained during the night, only a portion of the troops being allowed to sleep. On the morning of the 16th, at daybreak, heavy picket-firing began along the whole line, accompanied by a vigorous shell and case fire from both redoubts. The outposts held their position until, dislodged by the enemy in force, who, advancing in the fog and darkness, assaulted the line in front, but was promptly met and repulsed by a well-directed fire. Under cover of this demonstration, the enemy hurled furiously against the right of Heckman's brigade a heavy column, which the outposts report to have crossed during the night from the fort on the north side of the James. The right regiments engaged in front were unable to resist its onset, and the enemy passed without effort or resistance until in rear of and opposite to the fourth regiment (the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts), which, facing by the rear rank, charged him in flank, checking his advance, but disorganizing
9 R R-VOL XXXVI, PT II