Numbers 58. Report of Major Hiram B. Crosby, Twenty-first Connecticut Infantry, of operations May 25-26.
HDQRS. TWENTY-FIRST Regiment, CONNECTICUT VOLS., June 6, 1864.
GENERAL: On the 25th of May, Colonel A. H. Dutton, commanding the brigade, having received orders from Major General William F. Smith to reconnoiter the left of the enemy's position, near our line of entrenchments at Bermuda Hundred, designated this regiment for that purpose. The regiment passed outside our lines and crossed the deep and almost impossible ravine that runs along the left of our works until it meets the Appomattox. On the farther side of the ravine the left wing was posted in reserve, and the remaining companies were advanced to the front. Our skirmishers swept along the west bank of the ravine, and thence farther into the interior, coming well on to the enemy's right flank. But night coming on, Colonel Dutton recalled the skirmishers, and the regiment returned to camp, with orders to be ready to continue the reconnaissance early the next morning.
On the day following, the 26th, Colonel Dutton again crossed the ravine with the brigade, consisting of the Twenty-first Connecticut, Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania, One hundred and eighty-eighth Pennsylvania, and Ninety-second New York, with orders to push the reconnaissance until stopped by the enemy. General Devens' brigade also moved out on our extreme left along the Port Walthall road, to co-operate with Colonel Dutton, who took up the line of march in the direction of Port Walthall. After an advance of about 2 miles through heavy woods, our skirmish line came upon the rebels, strongly intrenched and almost hidden from view by the thick underbrush. Lien of battle was formed at once, but as our skirmishers were becoming engaged, Colonel Dutton, who was them, as usual, on the skirmish line, was mortally wounded. The command then devolved upon Lieutenant-Colonel Burpee, Twenty-first Connecticut-as General Devens had not succeeded in uniting with our brigade. Colonel Burpee shortly afterward received orders from the major-general commanding to retire, as the enemy were then massing opposite the center of our intrenched line.
Colonel Dutton died from the effect of his wound on the 5th of June. He graduated at West Point in 1861, Kilkpatrick, Custer, O'Rorke, Benjamin, and Farquhar being among his classmates. Bold and chivalrous, with a nice sense of honor, a judgment quick and decisive, an unwavering zeal in his chose profession, he was in every respect a thorough soldier. As an engineer, his talents were of the highest order, and at the time of his death he had attained the rank of captain of engineers in the regular army. By his companions in arms he will never be forgotten, and to them his last resting place will be as a shrine commemorating the friendships which the rude shock of war nor lapse of time can blight or destroy.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HIRAM B. CROSBY,
Brigadier General H. J. MORSE,
Adjutant-General of Connecticut.
10 R R-VOL XXXVI, PT II