Numbers 85. Report of Colonel Charles A. Gilchrist, Fiftieth U. S. Colored Infantry, of operations April 3-9.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTIETH U. S. COLORED INFANTRY,
Blakely, Ala., April 13, 1865
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my command in the siege of Blakely and the assault of the 9th instant:
On the 3rd of April I moved with my command from the rear to the front in obedience to orders, and took my position as then and there directed, sending out at once two companies, C and D, as skirmishers, covering my front and relieving two companies of the Forty-eighth Regiment U. S. Colored Infantry. I found that a parallel had been commenced, but no approaches had been constructed. Under cover of the night I advanced with a working party detailed from each company sufficient to work all the spades, shovels, and picks at my disposal, and commenced work on a new parallel 230 yards in advance. Soon after arranging my men as I desired my adjutant brought me the verbal order of Colonel Scofield to return to the first parallel, stating that the order to advance had been countermanded. I then commenced working on a sap, approaching from a ravine about seventy yards in the rear, to the first parallel, and before daylight had a safe passage way for my men, which was used during the siege by the whole brigade and portions of other commands. I also completed the trench already commenced that night and during the next day. As soon as it was dark on the evening of the 4th instant I again advanced my working parties to nearly the same position they had occupied the night previous, and worked vigorously all night. On the morning of the 5th the work of this second parallel was so far progressed that the men were protected sufficiently to work in the daytime, and as soon as practicable I moved four companies out and occupied it, working by reliefs under charge of Lieutenant-Colonel Tuttle and Major Barnes, who relieved each other. On the 6th and 7th the work was pushed forward, a sap dug connecting the right of the first and second parallels, the other companies brought forward, and on the 8th nearly all the men had safely burrowed themselves in the ground and were well protected against shells. Previous to this time my officers and men were exposed to a constant fire from the enemy's sharpshooters, skirmishers, and batteries and his gun-boats to our right.
Sunday, April 9, I had two companies engaged during the day constructing an approach from my second parallel, which was at that time 612 yards distant from the nearest battery of the enemy, which was the first on his left. The approaches had formerly been constructed during the night, but owing to our coming upon some torpedoes, and the fire of the enemy's skirmishers being slack, I decided to work during the day. Two companies were on the skirmish line, a part of each being held as reserve. Lieutenant Jarvis, of Company D, had charge of the advanced line, and it appears had received orders from Lieutenant Colonel M. H. Tuttle, Fiftieth U. S. Colored Infantry, and brigade officer of the day, to advance his skirmishers in the same line with those of the Forty-seventh U. S. Colored Infantry. The skirmishers advanced about 4 p.m. and it seems moved up at that particular time on account of an advance being made by troops farther on the left. The line advanced as if to make a charge instead of a line of sharpshooters,