War of the Rebellion: Serial 068 Page 0223 Chapter XLVIII. SOUTH SIDE OF THE JAMES.

Search Civil War Official Records

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF RICHMOND, May 21, 1864.

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector Genera:

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of Brigadier-General Barton's conduct ont he 19th instant as the cause of my relieving him from command of his brigade under the act of Congress of February last:

On the evening of 9th I gave orders to Brigadier-Generals Barton and Gracie to move at daylight the next morning, with a strong line of skirmishers extending from the railroad to the James River, across the turnpike leading from Richmond to Petersburg, and to feel the enemy's position in our front. We were then in the works on the right and left of the turnpike south of Drewry's Bluff. Each brigadier was directed to take charge of his own line of skirmishers. Barton was to cover from the railroad to the turnpike and Gracie from the turnpike to the river. Just before daylight on the morning of the 10th I ascertained that the enemy was supposed to be in force of a brigade or two, with some artillery, at Winfree's house. At daylight I sent an order to the brigadiers above named to follow their skirmishers with their brigades about a mile in rear. When this order reached them the skirmishers had advanced about a mile or more, and the line was halted to bring up the brigades. During this halt I reached the line of skirmishers about half mile below Proctor's Creek. I had sent a guide to the right along the railroad. At the point I overtook the skirmish line he reported to me that more than half mile of the line next the railroad was not covered by skirmishers. I in person ordered General Barton to cover it. Some considerable time elapsed, and I inquired if the skirmishers had been extended to the railroad. General Barton replied that they had, when an officer present answered, "the companies are just starting." I turned and saw the companies not 80 yards from me. Considerable delay was occasioned by this. Finally the line was put in motion and moved to what is know as the Osborn road, leading from the Bermuda Hundred road and crossing the turnpike at right angles 400 yards in rear of Perdue's house. Here the line was halted and orders given to General Barton to form his brigade in line of battle, one regiment and a half on the left of the turnpike, one regiment detached and sent to the right of the Bermuda Hundred road west of the turnpike, and the rest of the brigade between the turnpike and the Bermuda Hundred road. (By reference to the map the disposition will be seen.) this line was established just in front of Perdue's house, along a small stream. General Barton was very slow in getting his men into position, and after awhile reported the line formed. I asked if the regiment sent to right of Bermuda Hundred road had reached its position, and he replied it had not reported. I then directed him to ascertain, and commence the advance by a certain signal, after reporting that all the regiments were in position. When the attack was about to be made I wa informed by one of General Gracie-s colonels that Gracie's line of skirmishers lapped for a quarter of a mile upon Barton's line of battle, and that Barton had no skirmishers on that part of the line. I sent General Barton to throw out his own skirmishers, and when informed that all was ready gave the signal for advance. Orders had before been given to keep closed to the left. As Gracie's left was on the river it was directed to stay there while we passed down the turnpike and Bermuda Hundred road. Very soon after the advance was ordered the