Numbers 5. Report of Colonel Jacob M. Campbell, Fifty-fourth Pennsylvania Infantry, Second Brigade, of engagement at Piedmont.
HDQRS. FIFTY-FOURTH Regiment PENNSYLVANIA VOL. INFTY.,
Staunton, Va., June 8, 1864.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Fifty-fourth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers in the engagement at Piedmont, Va., on the 5th instant:
From the time my regiment arrived on the field, about 10 a.m., it was engaged, under your direction, in reconnoitering the position of the enemy until about 11 a.m., when we were drawn up in line of battle on the extreme left of the line, in the woods, and concealed from the view of the enemy. Shortly after gaining this position, and before any order to advance was received, it was discovered that to move forward-as our line was then formed-would expose our left flank to a strongly intrenched position of the enemy. I immediately dispatched a messenger to you informing you of the fact. After a personal inspection of the position by yourself, we were ordered to fall back a few hundred feet farther into the woods, keeping well out our line of skirmishers, and to await further orders. Nothing occurred while we remained in this position, other than the wounding of two of my men by the shells from the enemy's batteries, which continued to shell the woods all the time we occupied it. About 11.30 a.m. I received orders to fall back (leaving my line of skirmishers, Companies B and G, to watch the movements of the enemy in that direction), which we did, and remained in the rear of the battery on the elevated ground beyond the white house. While here I received orders to march to the front to assault the position of the enemy on our right, and to take my position on the left of the line. While advancing, however, this order was changed, placing the Thirty-fourth Massachusetts on my left. In this manner we advanced up to the brow of the hill, where my regiment lay down on the ground, discharging a volley into the enemy, and immediately charged into the woods on the right flank and rear of the enemy's intrenched position. Here for a short time a most desperate struggle took place, bayonets and clubbed guns were used on both sides, and many hand-to-hand encounters took place. So sudden and apparently so unexpected to the enemy was our movement on their flank that they were soon compelled to give way in great confusion, despite all the efforts of their officers to rally them. About 100 yards from the front of the woods was a fence running from the left of the line, and parallel with it, extending along the front of the regiment on my left. Along this fence to protect their flank the enemy had a strong force posted. This appeared to be the key to their position, and they held it most obstinately for some time, partially checking the advance of the regiment in front of them. It was here that Brigadier-General Jones commanded in person, and was killed while encouraging and rallying his troops. Seeing the importance of carrying this position as quickly as possible. I hastily detached three companies from the left of my regiment and threw them into line with the Thirty-fourth Massachusetts to aid them in dislodging the enemy-leaving Major E. D. Yutzy for the time in command of the right of my regiment. This was soon done, for upon the fall of their chief commander they gave way in utter confusion. Those who were not captured were driven through the