Numbers 146. Reports of Bvt. Brigadier General Frederick Winthrop, Fifth New York Veteran Infantry, commanding First Brigade, of operations August 18-21, October 8, and December 7-12.
HDQRS. FIRST BRIGADE, SECOND DIVISION, FIFTH CORPS,
August 22, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to furnish the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the operations on the Weldon railroad, commencing on the 18th of august and ending on the 21st:
At daylight on the morning of the 18th of August the brigade-composed of the Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Fourteenth, and Seventeenth Regiments U. S. Infantry and the Fifth, One hundred and fortieth, and One hundred and fort-sixth Regiments New York State Volunteers, under the command of Brigadier-General Hayes-broke camp and moved off in a southwesterly direction toward the Weldon railroad, and moved off in a southwesterly direction toward the Weldon railroad, striking that road at the Yellow House, six miles from Petersburg, striking that road at the Yellow House, six miles from Petersburg, about 10 a. m. Up to this time the troops had met with very little opposition, excepting from a small force of the enemy's cavalry, which had been readily dispersed and driven back. On arriving opposite to the Black house the brigade deployed in two lines of battle across the railroad, with the Twelfth Infantry and portion of the One hundred and fortieth New York Volunteers thrown out as skirmishers. In this disposition we advanced slowly and steadily up the railroad for about three-fourths of a mile, under a heavy artillery fire, and most of the way through a dense undergrowth of pine and oaks, until the front line arrived within about thirty yards of the farther edge of the front line arrived within about thirty yards of the farther edge of the woods, beyond which, in Davis' corn-field, our skirmishers were actively engaged with those of the enemy. They had already driven the enemy's skirmishers beyond the Davis house, and had compelled one of their batteries to retire front, and presently advanced out of the woods in front of the Davis house in two strong lines of battle, sweeping our skirmishers before them and striking our line in front and flank with such violence that, after considerable resistance, they were forced to retire to the rear edge of the woods, carrying with them the greater portion of their wounded. Here a new line was established and breast-works thrown up. In this position the command remained during the afternoon and night of the 18th.
On the morning of the 19th our dead and wounded were recovered. On the afternoon of the 19th the enemy attacked our lines in force, breaking through the troops of the division on our right, and rapidly enveloping the Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Fourteenth, and Seventeenth Infantry, which were posted in the front line of works on the right of the railroad. The enemy striking our rear so suddenly, many of the regiments, and especially the Twelfth and Fourteenth Infantry, were regiments, and especially the Twelfth and Fourteenth Infantry, were forced to fight their way through, losing by this means heavily in prisoners. I regret to say that Brigadier-General Hayes, U. S. Volunteers, and Lieutenant Brady, Fourteenth Infantry, his acting assistant adjutant-general, were captured at this time, while endeavoring to reach the position held by the Twelfth and Fourteenth Infantry. The remainder of the brigade, having received orders, fell back and formed, about 700 yards to the rear, under shelter of the artillery. The command of the brigade now devolved upon me. So soon as the troops were reformed, I received orders from Brigadier-General Ayres, commanding