War of the Rebellion: Serial 095 Page 1122 N. AND SE. VA., N. C., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XVIII.

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Numbers 201. Report of Brigadier General Thomas C. Devin, U. S. Army, commanding First Division.


April -, 1865.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this division from March 29 to April 9, 1865, inclusive:

The division-consisting of First Brigade, Colonel Peter Stagg, First Michigan Cavalry, commanding; Second Brigade, Colonel Charles L. Fitzhugh, Sixth New York Cavalry, commanding, and Reserve Brigade, Brigadier General Alfred Gibbs, commanding-marched from camp in front of Petersburg on the morning of March 29, encamping the same night near Dinwiddie Court-House.

On the morning of March 30 the division advanced to feel the enemy's position, and was disposed as follows: The Second Brigade was massed two miles in front of the Court-House, at the intersection of the Brooks road with that to Five Forks, one regiment of this brigade in advance to the Boydton plank road; the First Brigade massed at Boisseau's house, with a regiment advanced across Gravelly Run toward the White Oak road; two regiments of the Reserve Brigade were advanced upon the direct road to the Five Forks, while the two remaining regiments were thrown out upon the right flank to communicate with the advance of the First Brigade. The whole line formed nearly a semicircle, radiating from the position occupied by Second Brigade. During the day demonstrations were made upon different points of the front, and it was ascertained that the enemy in force occupied the White Oak road and the Five Forks. About 3 p.m. Major Morris, with 150 men of Fifth and Sixth U. S. Cavalry, had pushed the enemy to within three-fourths of a mile of the Five Forks, when he was suddenly surrounded by overwhelming numbers and was forced to cut his way out, losing three officers and a number of men. The First U. S. Cavalry and two regiments of the Second Brigade were at once ordered to his support, and another attempt made to carry the position; but the enemy advancing a strong line of infantry, the command was ordered to retire and encamp a short distance in rear. The position at Five Forks was difficult of approach for cavalry, the front being covered by a swamp and heavy woods.

On the morning of March 31 the First Brigade was advanced, as on the previous day, and the enemy in force were found occupying the White Oak road. The Reserve Brigade was massed at the intersection of the Brooks road, and the Second Brigade was dismounted and advanced toward the Five Forks. It was now ascertained from prisoners captured that the Forks were occupied by Pickett's division of infantry and at least a division of cavalry, and Colonel Fitzhugh was ordered to hold his position and communicate on his left with Dadvies' brigade, of Second Division. At this time the Second Brigade occupied the apex of a triangle, the left of which was held by Davies' brigade and the right by Stagg's brigade, of First Division. One mile in front of the Second Brigade and across Chamberlain's Swamp were the Five Forks, the direct road to which was held by the Second Brigade. It will thus be seen that Colonel Fitzhugh's position was far in advance of the other lines, necessarily retired by the conformation of the ground. About 2 p.m. heavy firing was heard upon the left of Second Brigade, and immediately after I received a pressing request for support from Colonel Janeway, of Davies' brigade. I at once ordered a regiment of First