Numbers 237. Report of Brigadier General Charles Devens, U. S. Army, commanding Third Division.
HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, TWENTY-FOURTH ARMY CORPS, AND TROOPS TEMPORARILY ATTACHED,
Richmond, Va., April 3, 1865.
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that I was informed this morning at about 3.30 o'clock that the enemy were evacuating Richmond, by two deserters. This information I at once telegraphed to the headquarters of Major-General Witzel, ordered all of my command to get under arms at once and be ready to pursue the enemy, and further ordered the picket-line to be advanced as soon as it was light enough to see. As soon as time enough had elapsed for these deserters to reach headquarters, I received an order from there to get under arms at once, and afterward an order to advance by the New Market road at 6 a. m. with my cavalry on the Darbytown road. At about 5.15 a. m. Captain Bruce reported to me that he had occupied the entire rebel works in front of my division, taking possession of a large number of guns and tents. I telegraphed to headquarters that the rebel line in front of my division was occupied and no enemy in sight. I waited until 6 a. m., and then moved my entire division, my picket-line being used as skirmishers. On reaching the point where the Osborne road joins the New Market road a body of troops, understood to be part of the Thirty-sixth U. S. Colored Troops, from the Twenty-fifth Corps, interposed in the road between my skirmish line and my column, which was proceeding on the road, and there remained until my skirmish line was halted by a small party of our cavalry, where it was also halted, and my column passed. By direction of Major-General Witzel I occupied the town with one brigade and stationed the two others on the outside of the town.
The body of cavalry referred to as halting my skirmish line had passed through that line, after it had occupied the rebel works, and moved rapidly toward Richmond. One maned of Ninth Vermont Volunteers was killed by the explosion of a torpedo in crossing the rebel line of works.
One hundred or 200 prisoners (stragglers) were taken on the road by the skirmish line, and about fifty-guns, abandoned, taken possession of by them.
The hospitals at the entrance to the town were found filled with rebel sick and wounded, but the number I am not able to state.
Colonel Adams, with his cavalry, on arriving at the city, was directed to picket the roads leading to Richmond with his own regiment, Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry, and the other regiments of his command were ordered to assist the First Brigade, Third Division, in restoring order in the city, which, having been fired by the infamous vandalism of the retreating enemy, was in some confusion.
I inclose the report of Captain Bruce, staff officer of the picket-line, who directed its movements as skirmishers.
Captain Hart, ordnance officer of the Artillery Brigade annexed, was directed to take charge of collecting all the cannon taken, and Captain Brydon, ordnance officer of this division, was directed to take charge of and collect all scattered small-arms that could be found on the lines or within the city.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant Colonel EDWARD MOALE, A. A. G.,
24th Army Corps.