War of the Rebellion: Serial 068 Page 0243 Chapter XLVIII. SOUTH SIDE OF THE JAMES.

Search Civil War Official Records

the left, covering the turnpike bridge and extending well out on either side. A detachment from this brigade and a section of artillery occupied Brander's Bridge, on our extreme left; McKethan's, Fifty-first North Carolina Regiment, covered the railroad bridge, and Johnson's brigade was posted on the right, covering Level Ford and adjacent grounds. Some eighteenth pieces of artillery, consisting of Hankins', Payne's, Owen's, and Martin's batteries, were distributed along our lines, mainly at the fords and bridges. From the Forty-fourth Tennessee Regiment, Johnson's brigade, 22 men and 3 sergeants, under Lieutenant F. M. Kelso, were detached to man the heavy artillery in Fort Clifton, where Captain S. T. Martin commanded. At 9 a. m. on May 9 a small boat appeared in the Appomattox below Fort Clifton, which was fired on and driven off. At about 11 a. m. five gun-boats advanced and engaged the battery at Fort Clifton. The firing was continued from the fort until after 2 p. m., when four gun-boats retired and the fifth one was found to be crippled. A party was organized to board the boat, but the enemy set fire to it, abandoned and burned it.

For their services and gallant conduct at Fort Clifton in the fight with the gun-boats on May 9 the officers and men have received the special commendation of the general commanding the department. By 12 m. the enemy were in strong force on the north side of Swift Creek and slight skirmishing was commenced with artillery and infantry. About 11 a. m. I received a note from Major-General Pickett informing me that re-enforcements were on their way from Weldon, and advising me not to bring on a general engagement, if possible to avoid it. At 2 p. m. I received the following dispatch from Major-General Pickett:

HEADQUARTERS,

Petersburg, May 9, 1864-1 p. m.

Brigadier General B. R. JOHNSON,

Commanding, &c.:

GENERAL: The major-general commanding directs that you move forward at once and see what the enemy are doing. Further instructions will be sent in course of half an hour. I inclose a copy of dispatch just received from General Bragg.

I am, general, yours, &c.,

C. PICKETT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

I immediately ordered General Hagood to move forward by the turnpike and take the eminence beyond the creek, believing from the dispatch of General Bragg that it was my duty to press upon the enemy with nearly my whole force. I now dispatched to Major-General Pickett that I had received the order to advance and had given to order to commence the movements. The skirmishers of Hagood's brigade had not engaged the enemy when I received the following communication:

HEADQUARTERS,

Petersburg, May 9, 1864.

Brigadier General B. R. JOHNSON,

Commanding, &c.,

GENERAL: The major-general commanding directs me to say to you that you had better hold the line of Swift Creek till re-enforcements arrive and we can then make the advance. Try and find out whether the present demonstration is a feint or a real movement.

I am, general, with much respect, your obedient servant,

C. PICKETT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.