War of the Rebellion: Serial 068 Page 0300 Chapter XLVIII. OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C.

Search Civil War Official Records

its buildings on the plain, and otherwise. The road first tending toward the Appomattox then turned to the left, apparently going toward Petersburg, which could be plainly seen from the higher ground. I went as far on the plain as was at all safe, even having four regiments of my command and a section of artillery down there, while the woody region down the railroad had not been reconnoitered. As we first went down upon the plain, a short from an unseen field piece passed far over our heads. I had only sent a company of the Sixth Connecticut, under Captain Nichols, to move down that road, skirmishing on the high ground. Constantly informing the chief of staff, General Foster, of all that took place, and everything that my vigilant skirmishers told me, he ordered me to send the Third New Hampshire, under Lieutenant-Colonel Plimpton, along the railroad in the woods, with his right touching that road. I also sent one more company of the Sixth Connecticut to strengthen Captain Nicholas, and begged General Foster to supervise the movement along the railroad, as I could not take care of that and my four regiments, and their skirmishers on the plain. The orders were to "simulate an attack." The skirmishers on the plain changed their direction to the left, to conform to the changed course of the road, and, being strengthened, nearly enough connected with those of Lieutenant-Colonel Plimpton and Captain Nichols. those officers advanced to within 200 or 300 yards of a strong earth-work on the left of the railroad, the light artillery in which annoyed my forces on the plain, throwing at times far over them at our squads of cavalry, and again throwing canister at our skirmishers there. I was ordered to make no unnecessary exposure of my men, but to crowd the enemy whenever there was opportunity. Lieutenant-Colonel Plimpton and Captain Nichols were protected by the nature of the ground and the woods. From the right of my line, as well as from their position the rebel works were plainly visible. To assault it from the plain was impracticable; the ground was bad and the open approach exposed to the fire of one if not both of the works on its left, between it and the Appomattox, but retired considerably toward the city. Apparently, the practicable approach was on the easterly or southerly side of the railroad, where Lieutenant-Colonel Plimpton was. Before assaulting there i should have withdrawn my forces from the plain, leaving, say, perhaps one regiment to guard my right flank against approaches from that road,detained one regiment to guard my right flank against approaches from that road, detained one regiment as reserve between Jordan's and the works, and assaulted with the remaining three. Nothing remained but for me to receive orders for an execute such a movement. I was as near as there was any use in going without assaulting, and the works on the railroad seemed to me by all means the one to be carried first. It was manned; forces beyond it and nearer Petersburg could be seen, two or three pieces of artillery had fired from it, and had we succeeded in taking it there would still have been three creeks and 2 miles' travels between us and any important point in Petersburg. Brisk firing was heard during the forenoon on our left, caused, as I suppose, by General Hinks' column. Holding my ground, I waited for orders. What information I could [get] was promptly communicated to my commanding officer. About 1 o'clock, I think, I received orders to withdrawn. I called in the scattered cavalry, ordered the Seventh Connecticut skirmishers to come together in the road, and to act as a rear guard, and directed Lieutenant-Colonel Plimpton and Captain Nicholas too hold fast until I could get up from the plain into