No. 288. Report of Brigadier General Robert S. Foster, U. S. Army, commanding Second Division, of operations September 28-October 4 and October 27-28.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND DIVISION, TENTH ARMY CORPS,
In the Field, Va., October 5, 1864.
LIEUTENANT:I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Second Division, Tenth Army Corps, from the 28th, of September to the 1st of October, 1864, inclusive:
On the 28th of September, pursuant to orders from the major-general commanding the corps, broke camp near Petersburg at promptly 3 p.m. and took up the line of march, following in rear of First Division, Tenth Army Corps. Owing to delays in the wagon train of that division my progress was show, and the head of my column only reached the pontoon bridge across the Appomattox at 8.35 p.m. and Deep Bottom at 1.30 a.m. on the 29th. On reaching Deep Bottom the Two hundred and third Pennsylvania Volunteers was detached from the Second brigade and ordered to garrison the roads at that place. The balance of my command bivouacked outside the works until 5.50 a.m., when it was moved forward and formed in column of battalions in mass, the head of column resting on the Kingsland road about 300 yards on the right of the Grover house, in support of General William Birney's division, of the Tenth Army Corps. At 8.30 a.m. the division moved forward to Signal Hill and took the advance up the New Market and Richmond road, the First Brigade leading the column. At 9.25 the head of column met the enemy's picket along the line of works at the junction of the Mill and New Market and Richmond roads. A portion of the One hundred and forty-second New York Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel A. M. Barney, were deployed as skirmishers, and followed by the whole brigade charged the works in our possession. After a short rest the column again moved forward through the woods, with but a few shots from the enemy's vedettes, to the open ground, when the head of the front and left and by their light 12-pounders in position at Laurel Hill Church. I attempted to form under cover of the wood in three lines of battle, but the formation of the ground threw them in echelon-the First Brigade in advance, the Second Brigade extending to the right, and Third to the right. This was done under a heavy fire of artillery, which did considerable execution. As soon as formed, I ordered an advance to dislodge the battery at Laurel Hill Church, which was promptly executed, the enemy retiring in such haste as to leave their killed on the field and the road strewn with artillery ammunition and implements. I formed my command along the New Market road, the right resting at Laurel Hill Church. At this place I found upon examination that my command had been reduced, by straggling and shirking, to about 1,400 men, although strong rear guards were detailed in front of each brigade. Many of these men fell out in the darkness between Petersburg and Deep Bottom and others fell out at the time of the formation to charge the battery, the thick undergrowth favoring their retiring. A large number of these men were sent forward with their commands in this charge by myself and staff, but I regret to say many orders the duty they should have performed. At 1.25 p.m. I received orders from Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson, assistant inspector-general Tenth Army Corps, to charge and attempt the capture of the enemy's works,