War of the Rebellion: Serial 087 Page 0798 OPERATIONS IN SE.VA. AND N.C. Chapter LIV.

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Report of operations of First Division, Eighteenth Army Corps, on 29th and 30th of September, 1864:

In pursuance to verbal orders received from Major-General Ord, commanding corps, this division moved from its late camp, on the line between the Appomattox and James River, at 9 p.m. on the night of 28th of September, and marched, without noise, in the direction of Aiken's Landing, on the James River. At 3 a.m. on the 29th, in obedience to written orders received at that hour, the division, with Brigadier-General Burnham's (Second) brigade leading, crossed the James River near Aiken's on a pontoon bridge, and taking the road to the left moved in the direction of the enemy's works at Chaffin's farm. Previous to breaking camp on the night of the 28th, two regiments of infantry, forming a part of Brigadier-General Burnham's brigade, had, under orders to that effect, exchanged the arms heretofore in use for the Spencer repeating rifle. These two regiments (viz, Tenth New Hampshire, commanded by Colonel M. T. Donohoe, and the One hundred and eighteenth New York, by Lieutenant-Colonel Nichols) were at once, on reaching the north bank of the river, thrown out as skirmishers and flankers, the whole line being under command of the senior officers above named. The remainder of the command, having been disposed in column by division, at once moved forward on the road running parallel to the course of the river, and at a few moments after daybreak encountered the enemy's pickets, which were driven in on the run. After pushing them back on their reserves, we continued to drive them at a brisk trot through dense woods for a distance of two or three miles, with few casualties on our side, when we emerged into open ground. Just before debouching from the woods, Brigadier-General Burnham reported to me a strong line of earth-works in his front, mounting heavy guns, which I at once directed him to carry by assault. My First Brigade, commanded by Colonel A. F. Stevens, Thirteenth New Hampshire Volunteers, was on my left, and my Third Brigade, commanded by Colonel S. H. Roberts, One hundred and thirty-ninth New York Volunteers, on the right of the road, each in column by division, and within easy supporting distance. These I immediately pushed forward to the support of General Burnham, whose two remaining regiments moved directly up the road. The enemy now opened furiously from a powerful battery situated at the crest of the hill in my front and from other guns mounted in smaller redoubts situated at various points along the line of works which extended on the enemy's right to the river. The column here left the road, and, inclining to the left, moved directly across a heavy plowed field toward the principal work. The distance was about 1,400 yards, and while traversing this space my command, with the exception of my skirmishers, not having as yet discharged a musket, was exposed to a plunging fire of artillery and musketry, galling in the extreme, and caused them to become somewhat broken. The column, however, pushed gallantly forward until it reached the base of the hill upon which the battery was situated, when it came to a halt, from sheer exhaustion. The enemy were now moving up from their left considerable re-enforcements, and, fearing that the assault would fail by reason of the delay, I sent Captain Kent, acting assistant adjutant-general of the division, to move the column at once to the assault. It was owing to his efforts, and, he reports, to the assistance of Colonel Donohoe, that, a few moments later, the head of the column gallantly mounted the parapet of Battery Harrison, drove the enemy from his guns, and planted the "Stars and Stripes" on one of its massive traverses. Our captures included included 16 pieces of artillery of various calibers