War of the Rebellion: Serial 068 Page 0299 Chapter XLVIII. ENGAGEMENT AT PETERSBURG.

Search Civil War Official Records

reported to Brigadier-General Foster, chief of staff, Tenth Corps. I inquired of him as to the roads, and he gave me a cavalry man who had, as orderly, almost daily gone (as the man said) to Major-General Butler's or the Point of Rocks. I received no further orders than those I have recounted. The head of my column appearing and having halted possibly five minutes, I started it and led it with my staff and the guides, and proceeded on the road toward Bermuda Hundred Landing some distance, and then turned to the right, following the telegraph line. The guides insisted that they were upon the right road, but it was almost impassable at certain points, compelling the men to go into mud and water 1 or 2 feet deep. I went ahead with one of the guides, reached open country near the Point of Rocks, and my guide and I being utterly ignorant of the proper course, I dispatched him to Major-General Butler for information. When he returned I gave the information to Colonel Spear, who with his regiment of cavalry, was also at a loss of or his road. The head of my column then appeared, and I found two of Major-General Butler's staff, who had met it. The column had opened wide gaps owing to the horrible condition of the road and some delay occurred in closing it up. The head crossed the Appomattox after 2 a. m. of the 9th, the rear crossed about 3. Going up the hill, and directing that the brigade should do the same, I found the Sixty-second Ohio and them reported to Major-General Gillmore in the house on the hill-side. Ascertaining my place in the column, and waiting for some cavalry and artillery forces to come up the hill, I started at the proper time. Marching perhaps half a mile, I saw a column of colored troops marching on a road converging toward ours. I told the leading officer my orders and he fell behind me. We moved as the column moved, until we diverged from the other forces and followed the general course of the City Point railroad toward Petersburg, Major-General Gillmore and staff and a detachment of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry led the way. Pickets or vedettes were encountered, but the infantry was not called for until we neared a house called A. Jordan's, I am told, just beyond which our road turning to the right crossed the railroad, descending to a broad plain diversified with woods, and with roads skirted by hedges, and crossed in various directions by ditches lined with bushes. At Jordan's a smart skirmishing fire started, a cavalryman was killed, and, to dislodge the enemy, I deployed a company of the Seventh Connecticut, quickly sending another to its left, and throwing my leading regiment, the Seventh New Hampshire, into line of battle and the remainder of the Seventh Connecticut behind it in column by company (it was organized as six companies only), closed en masse. The land in front was exceedingly rough for some distance. My skirmishers steadily drove the rebels, exchanging frequent shots. Crossing the railroad a portion of my column, turning to the right, went down into the plain, while the rest I left on the commanding ground near Jordan's, to take care of any force coming on the line of the railroad. The country was wholly new to me. I knew nothing whatever of the defenses of Petersburg, or of the forces there, except a report that they were very light, while it was considered a point vital to the daily existence of the rebellion, and within a few hours' reach of 100,000 rebels. I was ordered to push the rebel skirmishers who appeared on the plain. I did so as rapidly as possible, Captain Richmond, of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry, materially assisting me in dislodging them from a house and