War of the Rebellion: Serial 087 Page 0386 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LIV.

Search Civil War Official Records


LIEUTENANT: In compliance with circular from headquarters Second Corps, dated October 29, 1864, I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of my command during the 27th day of October, A. D. 1864:

The march from Fort Dushane, where the night previous we bivouacked, was without particular interest. Acting as flankers, to us the march particularly severe, the woods and bushes being so dense as at times to be almost impenetrable. Arriving at the Petersburg and Boydton plank road, I massed by direction of General Pierce in rear of the brigade. After resting about an hour the brigade moved into the open field on our right and formed line of battle, moving diagonally across the field, the left of the Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers resting upon the Boydton road. The One hundred and forty-first was formed in line of battle in rear of the Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers with the left also resting upon the road. While here the enemy's shell fell about us with great accuracy of range, one of which I barely escaped by the sudden plunge of my horse, the shell passing a few inches from my body. There were other narrow escapes of a similar character. While lying in line of battle the enemy unexpectedly and swiftly attacked the right of our position, striking our line in flank and rear. Hearing the musketry, I instantly changed front by filing my command to the right and then moved forward in line of battle toward the woods and in the direction of the enemy's attack. I executed the movement without having received any orders to do so. I had two reasons for doing it: First, my regiment was farthest from the point of attack. The nature of the attack was such as to demand instant action. Brigadier-General Pierce, commanding the brigade, was not near, he being away to the right near the point of attack, and I was satisfied could not get orders to me in time to do any good. Second, supposing that the line lying in the field would change front by a similar movement which I had executed, I hastened thus to throw my regiment from the left to the right of the line. It seems to me that this was the only movement that could be made in time to offer any resistance to the swiftly advancing line on the enemy. I was surprised that instead the line commenced changing front forward, a long and somewhat intricate movement, and hazardous under fire. I had expected to unite with the right of the line as it moved to the right; instead, I found my command isolated and the line to the left in confusion and rapidly falling back. The enemy were emerging from the woods in heavy masses and firing rapidly. I ordered my men to fire. The regiment was excited and difficult to control. Everything was falling back. I succeeded in holding two or three of my companies just at the point of the woods, though under a murderous fire, until they exchanged fifteen or twenty rounds with the enemy. I think by this fire the enemy's left was checked, and that it proved a valuable aid to the balance of the regiments near the battery. Brigadier-General Pierce, commanding brigade, was present and saw the position and the efforts of myself and officers to check the enemy. If I erred in leaving my position in line it was an error of the judgment in the absence of instructions. After we were driven from this point I rallied my men behind a rail fence only a few rods in rear and engaged the enemy, pouring into his ranks a rapid and well-directed fire. As the enemy gave way I advanced into the woods, perhaps forty rods, where I remained until the line fell back