War of the Rebellion: Serial 095 Page 0998 N. AND SE. VA., N.C., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

rear guard of the enemy was soon overtaken and attacked; it was vigorously pressed for about one mile, to and across Sailor's Creek. The enemy being cut off from retreat by cavalry, under command of Major-General Custer, were forced to give battle, and for that purpose formed his line behind Sailor's Creek. The divisions of General Pickett, Kershaw, Custis Lee, and also the Marine Brigade, commanded by Commodore Tucker, the whole under the command of Lieutenant General R. S. Ewell, are known to have participated in the battle. Artillery was brought within range of the enemy and opened a destructive fire upon him. The First Brigade, Third Division, and the First Division, Sixth Army Corps, were soon upon the ground and formed for an attack. Although staff officers were sent to withdraw the part of this brigade that had been sent in pursuit of the enemy upon the other road, only a portion arrived in time to participate in the final engagement, in consequence of the refusal of officers in the Second Army Corps, which had then come up on our right, to allow them to be withdrawn from their front. An attack was ordered to be made by Major General H. G. Wright commanding corps, with the troops already upon the ground. A concentrated artillery fire was directed upon the enemy's center, under cover of which the troops advanced through and across the swamp, and at once charged up the steep hills upon which the enemy was posted. A severe conflict ensued as the lines of the opposing forces came together. A number of men were bayoneted on both sides. The enemy had a heavy column massed in the rear of his center, with which he charged upon our troops. Owing to the fact that our troops could only be fought in one line, the enemy succeeded in breaking through the center and gaining a momentary success. The troops on the right and left continued the advance until the enemy's column in the center was enveloped and cut to pieces and captured. The enemy was soon routed at all points, and many general officers and many thousands of prisoners threw down their arms and surrendered. The rebel Marine Brigade fought with most extraordinary courage, but was finally cut off and captured. Commodore Tucker, Commander Hunter, Captain Semmes, and about twenty-five naval officers, with the brigade, surrendered to me.

It is impossible to give the number of prisoners captured by troops of this brigade. Two battle-flags were taken from the enemy during the conflict. Corpl. John Keough, Sixty-seventh Pennsylvania, and Corpl. Trustrim Connell, One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania, each captured a battle-flag.

Much gallantry and many acts of distinguished bravery were noticed during the attack. Unusual credit is due the troops for the vigorous manner in which they attacked the enemy, considering the long and tiresome march made on the same day. Lieutenant Colonel J. C. Hill, commanding Sixth Maryland,was captured by the enemy, but soon after persuaded his captors, including a number of officers and men, to surrender to him and come within our lines.

During the entire day's operations, Colonel M. R. McClennan, One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania; Bvt. Colonel O. H. Binkley, One hundred and tenth Ohio; Lieutenant Cols. C. M. Cornym, One hundred and twenty-second Ohio, and James W. Snyder, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery regimental commanders, showed great skill, judgment, and bravery. Major William G. Williams, One hundred and twenty-sixth Ohio, commanding Sixty-seventh Pennsylvania was particularly gallant.

Major William Wood, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery while leading his battalion in a charge, received a dangerous wound from a canister shot in the face.