Report of Lieutenant Peter Morton, Eighth New York Battery, of operations on south side of the James River, Va., June 9, 1864.
HDQRS. RIGHT SECTION, 8TH INDEPENDENT N. Y. BATY.,
In the Field, near Point of Rocks, Va., June 10, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the late expedition to Petersburg:
On the 8th day of June, 1864, I received orders to have my command in readiness to march at night. A little before 12 o'clock we left camp, formed with the brigade on the ground in front of General Kautz's headquarters. Moved on and across the pontoon bridge across the Appomattox River at Point of Rocks. Marched a short distance and bivouacked until daylight. Moved forward in rear of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry. Arrived before Petersburg at the first line of intrenchments about 11 a. m. I was then ordered into position to open fire on a force of rebels posted within their works. I fired about 100 rounds of shell and spherical case-shot at a range of 600 yards, and with great accuracy and good execution. The rebels fled from the works, and I lengthened my fuse and increased my elevation. In this engagement one of my gun carriages was disabled; the iron axle bands and understraps were broken. I lashed and locked the wheels over the gun to keep them from dripping off. I was ordered forward to follow the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry. When about three-quarters of a mile from the city, in a road with banks on each side, the enemy opened and fired on me with a battery of six guns, two guns firing canister, and four guns firing spherical case-shot and shell. Meanwhile four companies of cavalry formed for a charge with drawn sabers, but had not gone fifty yards when they wheeled and came back and passed me on a full run, taking off my cannoneers and left me entirely exposed. At that time two of my gun horses were shot dead, and whilst trying to take them out one more was shot, and the ballance tangled up, and the enemy charging on me within 300 yards, and in order to save my men I ordered the gun to be spiked and abandoned, which was done promptly. All this time I was exposed to a heavy fire from a battery and some musketry, but notwithstanding my men stood fast until ordered off the field. I did not leave a man, although under a heavy fire for an hour and a half in both encounters. My disabled piece, which was a short ways in rear, being unable to get it along with the wheels locked, I was obliged to unlock them. I had proceeded but a short ways with it when both wheels drooped off, and I was under the necessity to order the piece slung under the limber, which was soon accomplished and the gun was brought off, abandoning the broken stock and trail. We then proceeded on our way back toward camp. Halted at sundown about two miles from the pontoon bridge and fled my horses. At 8.30 p. m. started again; crossed the bridge and arrived in camp at little past 11 p. m. The entire loss is one 3 inch rifled gun and limber complete, 20 rounds of ammunition, 1 gun carriage complete, seven horses, and 4 sets of double artillery harness complete.
I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
First Lieutenant, Commanding Right Section, 8th Independent N. Y. Baty.
Captain M. J. ASCH,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Kautz's Cavalry Division.