War of the Rebellion: Serial 087 Page 0504 OPERATIONS IN. SE. VA. AND N.C. Chapter LIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

During the night intrenchments were thrown up, and during the early part of the 19th the troops were engaged in strengthening their works. In the morning it was discovered that the enemy's skirmish line had been withdrawn several hundred yards to rear of the one occupied on the previous night, leaving a few dead in our hands and quite a number of small-arms. The dead were buried and the arms sent to the rear. In our front there was quietness during the early part of the day. At about 2 o'clock in the afternoon the brigade moved by the right flank for a distance of about 200 yards, occupying part of the ground vacated by the Second Brigade, the party of the line we vacated Division. The men again engaged in repairing the works, a heavy rain during the day having made additional labor necessary. At about 4 o'clock a brisk musketry fire was opened on our right on the line, perhaps a half or three quarters of a mile distant and in front of another or part of another division of the corps. A short time before this fire was opened it was reported to Colonel Lyle by the picket officer that the enemy was forming a line of battle in our immediate front. The fire continued on the right and seemed to grow in volume. The regiments were in the breast-works, and very soon thereafter the whole line opened a heavy musketry fire, repelling the enemy in every attempt to approach our lines. This fire was continued almost without intermission until rifle-balls and shells began to come from our rear, and very soon thereafter a backward movement was made in the direction of our second line of battle. In passing through the woods in the direction named, the fire from our own batteries was very hot, and I believe some were killed and not a few wounded. The enemy also suffered from this fire. Before reaching the clear ground a rebel column was met that had interposed through a break in the line in the division on our right, while our division in our part of the line was repelling the attack from the front, and came along in our rear between our retiring force and the second line of works, and this being effected through the thick wood and with great daring, was accomplished unperceived by us and before measures could be taken to resist or avoid it; hence we lost in prisoners largely, in both officers and men.

The following field officers were captured and taken to Petersburg by the enemy: Colonel G. G. Prey, One hundred and fourth New York Volunteers: Colonel C. W. Tilden, Sixteenth Maine Volunteers; Lieutenant Colonel J. R. Strang, One hundred and fourth New York Volunteers, reported to be wounded; Lieutenant Colonel William A. Leech, Ninetieth Pennsylvania Volunteers; Major Jacob M. Davis, same regiment. Others were taken but made their escape before they could be taken to the enemy's rear. Thirty-three line officers were taken and 721 enlisted men.

I would not omit to mention that Colonel Tilden, of the Sixteenth Maine, a most worthy and esteemed officer, being deeply impressed with a vivid recollection of a former imprisonment in Richmond, after having been taken to Petersburg and on his way under guard from that city to the Libby Prison, made a most daring and successful escape, and rejoined his regiment the third night after his capture. Considering the perils through which he passed in making his escape, it cannot be otherwise regarded than remarkably providential. He was accompanied by Lieutenant E. F. Davis, of the same regiment. I would also state that the brigade staff has suffered severely by the following members of it having been captured: Captain Byron Porter, assistant adjutant-general,