In pursuance of which, after a careful personal examination of the ground by the colonel commanding, the following report was made:
HDQRS. SECOND BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, TWENTIETH ARMY CORPS,
Near Savannah, Ga., December 20, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report for the information of the general commanding:
This brigade (Second) has three regiments in line, the Twenty-second Wisconsin being detached and upon duty at Gibbon's plantation, on the Savannah River. The right of our line rests upon the Savannah and Augusta dirt road, connecting with the left of the First Brigade of this division (Colonel Smith), the left connecting with the right of the First Brigade, First Division, of this corps (Colonel Selfridge), with a front of 740 yards. The general direction of our line of battle is a little east of north, and is very well fortified. Our front is covered by a picket-line of 2 commissioned officers and 170 men, connecting on right and left as indicated above, and is 400 yards in advance of the line of battle, the intermediate ground being covered with pine. The ground is dry, with no serious obstacles to an advance in line of battles. In front of the entire length of our picket-line is an open space, probably 800 yards in width on our right and gradually widening toward the left. The enemy's line of battle (fortified) is just in the edge of the woods upon the opposite side of the open space just referred to, and continues (toward the left) along the edge of the woods, about half our brigade front. From this point toward the left their line is plainly visible in this open space. In front of the right of our picket-line there is an almost impenetrable slashing of timber 100 yards in width, and extends toward the left nearly half the front of our brigade. Between this slashing and the rebel skirmish line, there is a basin of water from 75 to 100 yards in width, the depth of which has not been ascertained, This basin of water widens and evidently deepens toward the has been used for the purposes of irrigation.
On the 19th instant I made a careful personal examination of the ground. The same has been done by other officers of my staff and command. The ground to within a short distance of the enemy's picket-line has, I think, been very thoroughly explored. I have reason to believe that between the rebel skirmish line and their line of battle there is a ditch or canal, extending from the bridge on the main road toward the river. In my judgment an advance in our front for the purpose of assaulting the enemy's works would be extremely difficult and its success doubtful.
This report was very fully confirmed by facts transpiring with the evacuation, excepting perhaps the distance between the picket-line of this brigade and the enemy's line of battle. December 19, upon application of the colonel commanding permission was granted to build a new line of works 500 yards in advance of the old and the line laid out. From this new line our musketry, together with the artillery assigned to that part of the line, would have greatly controlled, if not rendered quite untenable, the enemy's lines in our front. December 20, work on new line commenced by details from the regiments, and energetically prosecuted through the day and night. December 21, early in the morning it having been discovered on the left that during the night the advanced under direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Crane, Eighty-fifth Indiana, division officer of the day. Finding the works in our front empty the brigade was immediately moved forward, being the first to occupy the enemy's works in front of our division. Their artillery along the whole line in our front was abandoned and left standing in the embrasure. After halting in the works two hours the brigade was moved forward and went into its present position one mile northwest from the city, the brigade being in the center of the division. The picket-line of the brigade occupies the line of rebel works spoken of above, and consists of one commissioned officer and eighty-five men. December 25, the Twenty-second Wisconsin was relieved from duty on the river and rejoined the brigade.
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