No. 217. Report of Major General George L. Hartsuff, U. S. Army, commanding Defenses of Bermuda Hundred.
PORT HURON, MICH.,
October -, 1865.
GENERAL: In accordance with your request, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command while under your command, from the 19th of March, 1865, to the time when you were relieved from the command of the Department of Virginia:
Having reported to you for assignment to duty, in accordance with instructions from Lieutenant-General Grant, I was, by your order, assigned to the command of the line of troops between the James and Appomattox Rivers called the "Bermuda Hundred front." I assumed the command March 19. It was the most important part of our line, since it was the only point which directly threatened the enemy's communication between Petersburg and Richmond, every other point being protected by either the James or the Appomattox Rivers. The command consisted principally of artillery and was, in round numbers, about 5,000 effective for duty (I am without any data and can give only approximations from memory) and was organized into a mobile division, to act as infantry, if necessary, and an immobile brigade of heavy artillery, the division being commanded by Bvt. Major General E. Ferrero and the brigade by Bvt. Brigadier General H. L. Abbott. This force was so small and the importance of the line it was to guard so great, that it required the most constant and careful watchfulness, and made duty very hard and onerous. It is the most trying duty a soldier is called to perform, and yet it was most faithfully attended to. When a part of the Army of the James moved across to operate with the Army of the Potomac General Weitzel, commanding the Twenty-fifth Corps, was, although a junior to me, left in charge of the line held by the Army of the James. Understanding the reason of this to be because of General Weitzel's intimate knowledge of the lines, the troops, and the country, while my knowledge of each was very limited, I very cheerfully acquiesced and obeyed General Weitzel's orders as willingly as though he were my senior.
A day or two before the evacuation of Petersburg I received a dispatch from General Grant that Mahone's division of the rebel army, which had been holding the line in my front, was at Burgess' Mills, in front of our left. I replied that the division was still in my front. Later I received another dispatch that there was strong reason to believe that some portion, at least, of that division had been detached. I then, in accordance with directions, through General Weitzel, made demonstrations to develop the enemy, and, failing in this, I gave to General Ferrero the instructions appended, marked A. My report through General Weitzel, marked B, gives the result. The loss, as afterward ascertained, was, I believe, eighty-four, including thirty-four prisoners, most of whom were soon recaptured.
The assaulting column in this movement, led by Major Campbell, of the Tenth New York Heavy Artillery, behaved splendidly, Major Campbell, who was wounded, being entitled to marked credit.
On the morning of the 3rd of April, I think, the rebel line in my front was evacuated. I immediately moved a force to the railroad and found there that Petersburg was evacuated. Advancing then rapidly up the railroad toward Richmond I learned, on arriving at Chester Station,