War of the Rebellion: Serial 095 Page 0322 N. AND SE. VA., N. C., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.

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Numbers 136. Report of Bvt. Major General Orlando B. Willcox, U. S. Army, commanding First Division, of operations March 25.


April 2, 1865.

COLONEL: At 4.15 o'clock on the morning of the 25th ultimo the enemy attacked the entrenchments held by the Third Brigade of this division. The brigade picket officer, Captain Burch, Third Maryland, reports that he visited the picket-line at 4 o'clock of that a.m. and saw that the men were on the alert. After visiting the line he returned to his headquarters in front of Fort Stedman and Battery Numbers 11. He states that in a few minutes after his return a man of the lookout gave notice that the enemy were approaching. At the same time the men on the post fired their pieces. One column moved toward the right of Battery Numbers 10, a second column moved toward a point between Fort Stedman and Battery Numbers 11, a third column moved direct toward Stedman. These columns were preceded by a strong storming party, which broke through the pickets, clubbing their muskets, and made opening in the abatis. The trench guards made sufficient resistance to arouse the garrisons of the inclosed works in the immediate neighborhood, but the column which struck to the right of Battery Numbers 10 quickly succeeded in breaking through and effecting an entrance into that battery, which is entirely open in the rear. This success gave them a great advantage over Fort Stedman, as the ground just in rear of Battery Numbers 10 is on a level with the parapet of the fort. The fort had also a comparatively small line of infantry parapet; particularly was this the case in front, which was cut up with embrasures for artillery. The garrison of the fort consisted of a detachment of the Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, under Major Randall, and made quite a spirited resistance, but were finally overpowered and most of them captured.

The commanding officer of the brigade, Bvt. Brigadier General N. B. McLaughlen, had reached Battery Numbers 11, from his headquarters before this and gave some directions about the disposition of the troops on the left flank. The guns, and even the mortars, in both Stedman and Battery Numbers 11, were used against the enemy. Detachments of the First Connecticut Heavy Artillery, at the mortars, behaved very handsomely. General McLaughlen was captured near the gorge of the fort, but whether after the enemy had got in, or while they were attacking, is unknown. Captain Swords, ordnance officer on my staff, and division staff officer of the day, also reached Fort Stedman from these headquarters, before it was fully in the enemy's possession, and was captured at the fort.

The right column, with the aid of troops from Stedman, now succeeded in gaining Battery Numbers 11. Their left column turned down the works to their left toward Battery Numbers 9, taking the Fifty-seventh Massachusetts in the trenches in flank and rear, capturing a part of them. The remainder retired to the rear, reassembled, and afterward did good work as skirmishers, with General Hartranft's troops. The Second Michigan fought the enemy on this flank from their bomb-proofs and traverses in the most spirited manner, until they were drawn in by order of their brigade commander, Bvt. Colonel Ralph Ely, to Battery Numbers 9, which, though small, is an inclosed work.

In pursuance with my orders Colonel Ely deployed, perpendicular to and to the rear of his entrenchments, a portion of the First Michigan