No. 176. Reports of Bvt. Brigadier General J. William Hofmann, Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, of operations October 27-28 and December 7-12.
HDQRS. THIRD Brigadier, THIRD DIV., FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
Before Petersburg, October 31, 1864.
MAJOR: I have the honor to report the following as the part taken by this brigade in the operations of the corps on the 27th and 28th instant:
The brigade under my command left camp at 4 a. m. on the 27th instant. It consisted of the Fifty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, 200 muskets, commanded by Major Jack; One hundred and twenty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, 58 muskets, commanded by Captain Barlow; One hundred and forty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, 159 muskets, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Warren; Seventy-sixth New York Volunteers, 133 muskets, commanded by Colonel Livingston; Ninety-fifth New York Volunteers, 213 muskets, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Harney, and the headquarters guard and pioneers, 43 muskets; total, 1,013 muskets. The brigade joined the division on the Vaughan road near battery, and moved with it to Fort Cummings, then to Hatcher's Run, which was crossed at Armstrong's Mill. The line of battle was then formed, facing southwest, the right of the line resting on the creek. the One hundred and forty-seventh New York Volunteers was detailed to act as flankers. The instructions were to follow the Brigade of General Bragg, then in our front, to move parallel with and our right resting on the creek. Aftger moving a short distance it was found necessary to change the direction of the line of march form southwest to northwest. The route was through a very dense wood . It was with great difficulty that even an approximation to an alignment could be preserved. Permission was obtained from the general commanding the division to move by the right flank along the bank of the creek. After moving in this manner for about one mils, serious doubts arose whether or no General Bragg's brigade was still in our front, as it was impossible to see far ahead. The head of the column was then covered by a line of skirmishers. After moving a short distance the brigade was halted and again formed in line of battle and a line of skirmishers thrown forward. Advancing in this manner for about 200 yards a heavy line of skirmishers of the enemy was met. They opened fire upon us, but were driven across the creek. the action was hort, with light loss to us. An aide from General Bragg arrived with directions to retire to where his brigade was then in line; this was about 500 yards in our rear. We had passed his brigade whilst we were marching by the flank. Before the order to retire could be executed it was countermanded. Subsequently the order was renewed and the brigade moved back. It was, however, in the course of an hour, again moved forward to the nine of had formerly occupied and threw up a light line of works.
At 2 a. m. on the 28th the brigade was, by order of the general commanding the division, withdrawn and moved across the creek, and the line of battle formed facing nearly southwest, near the Armstrong house. At 10 a. m. the brigade moved to Fort cummings, and then to camp. When the direction of the line of march was changed the line