Page images
PDF
EPUB

crossed the Chickahominy at Long Bridge in the afternoon of the 13th; went into camp on the night of the 13th at Charles City CrossRoads.* I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

C. C. SUYDAM,

Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding. Capt. CHARLES H. MILLER,

A. A. G., First Brig., Second Div., Cavalry Corps.

No. 215.

Report of Lieut. Col. John Hammond, Fifth New York Cavalry, of

operations May 17.

HEADQUARTERS FIFTH NEW YORK CAVALRY,

Near Smith's Mill, on the Ny, May 17, 1864-evening. GENERAL: I have the honor to report that in obedience to orders from general headquarters I reconnoitered as follows:

Toward Guiney's Station I, myself, led two battalions of the Thirteenth Pennsylvania to within a mile of the station, driving the enemy, when, becoming convinced that the force in front was about a brigade of cavalry and too strong for me, I withdrew. Major White, of the Fifth New York Cavalry, with two battalions of that regiment, crossed the Ny at Smith's Mill and pushed the enemy (cavalry and a section of artillery) to the south bank of the Po, where they were strongly intrenched, losing a captain and 10 or 15 men, and then withdrew. The cavalry brought me by LieutenantColonel Chamberlain I did not deem it prudent to use, as it is composed of fragments of so many different regiments. Lieutenant French has just reported with his horse battery. I am, very respectfully,

J. HAMMOND, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Brigade. Brigadier-General WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

No. 216.

[ocr errors]

:

Report of Lieut. Col. George A. Purington, Second Ohio Cavalry. HDQRS. SECOND OHIO VETERAN VOLUNTEER CAVALRY,

Light-House Point, Va., July 24, 1864. SIR : In obedience to Special Orders, No. 13, dated headquarters First Brigade, Third Division, Cavalry Corps, July 24, 1864, calling for detailed account of operations of this regiment since the commencement of the present campaign or since May 4, 1864, I have the honor to submit the following:

May 3, I reported with my command to General A. E. Burnside, commanding Ninth Army Corps, at Warrenton Junction, Va.

* For continuation of report, see Vol. XL, Part I.

May 4, at 2 a. m., I received orders to take the advance of the Ninth Army Corps and cross the Rappahannock River on pontoon bridge at or near Ingalls' Station. I arrived at this point at 5 a. m., and then received orders to take charge of a large drove of cattle and drive them to the Rapidan, where we arrived at 9 a. m. May 5, and immediately crossed at Germanna Ford.

May 6, at about 1 a. m., I was ordered to take up position on right of line, with a chain of pickets extending from right of Third Division, Ninth Army Corps, to Rapidan River and parallel with the plank road.

May 7, I retained this position till Saturday, when I was ordered by Major-General Meade to report to Lieutenant-Colonel Hammond, Fifth New York Cavalry. I was by him withdrawn and ordered to take position near the Sixth Army Corps hospital on the plank road near Wilderness Tavern, with orders to report to Major-General Sedgwick any movement of the enemy on the right of his line. 3 p. m. the enemy opened a battery on the Twenty-second New York Cavalry, which was on our right, causing them to stampede, and by their breaking through one battalion of my regiment caused a momentary confusion therein. We were then ordered to the rear of the Sixth Corps. That afternoon we received orders to report to Major-General Burnside, which we effected by 12 midnight May 8, and were then assigned to the rear of the Ninth Army Corps in its flank movement on Spotsylvania Court-House. At daylight we discovered the enemy advancing a line of skirmishers to feel our position. I immediately dismounted the First and Second Battalions, with orders to hold the line of rifle-pits recently vacated by the Ninth Corps. These we held until 6 a. m., when I deemed it advisable to fall back, which we did in good order, closely followed by the enemy. Loss this day, 1 lieutenant wounded ; 1 man killed.

May 9, made a reconnaissance to the Rapidan in direction of United States Ford. Sane night stood picket on plank road, 2 miles west of Chancellorsville.

May 10, sent one battalion, under command of Major Seward, to Belle Plain, as escort to Lieutenant-Colonel Goodrich, bearer of dispatches from General Grant to War Department.

May 11, reported to Brigadier-General Ferrero by order of MajorGeneral Meade. By him ordered to report to Lieutenant-Colonel Hammond, Fifth New York Cavalry, and went into camp on old Fredericksburg pike road, 2 miles east of Chancellorsville. Here we drew 5 pounds of forage and removed our saddles for the first time in six days, during which period we had marched from the Rappahannock to Chancellorsville, doing duty both by day and night, and had been under the command of nine different officers, viz, Colonel Crooks, Twenty-second New York Cavalry, Colonel Thomas, Colonel Davis, General Ferrero, General Willcox, Lieutenant-Colonel Hammond, Colonel Morrison, and Major-Generals Burnside and Sedgwick.

May 11 to 15, on picket at Piney Branch Church. About noon May 15 a rebel cavalry brigade, under command of Colonel Rosser, suddenly attacked us in two columns, driving in the pickets and causing us to fall back on the ford, which we held for some time, and until it was plain they outnumbered us 3 to 1, and were moving columns to our right and left with the intention of flanking our position. Major Nettleton, being in command of the regiment during my absence in Fredericksburg, then fell back slowly, fighting all the way, by forming alternate lines wherever the ground would admit it. On reaching Alrich's he found that infantry had come to his support, when, by order of General Ferrero, he again advanced toward Piney Creek Church, coming upon the enemy's rear several times. At i p. m. he re-established his picket at Piney Creek Church. Our loss in this affair was 4 men wounded and 18 horses killed and wounded. We remained here on picket till May 19, when heavy firing on the right and rear of our army was heard, and we were ordered to make a demonstration against the enemy's flank. We moved out on the Old Tavern road and met the enemy, some 3 miles west of Chancellorsville, hotly engaged with our heavy artillery, who were guarding our train. Immediately formed dismounted line and advanced upon their left flank and rear. After considerable firing, in which we lost only 1 man wounded, the enemy fell back, we not pursuing. It was ascertained that this was part of General Ewell's corps.

[graphic]

May 20, on picket at Piney Creek Church.

May 21, during the night a patrol from Company E was ambushed on the United States Ford road and 4 men killed or captured.

May 22, broke camp and marched to Guiney's Station, on Fredericksburg and Richmond Railroad.

May 23, marched to Bowling Green. Marched to Milford, where we remained till Friday, May 27, when we marched to Newtown, where we captured a rebel commissary train of nine wagons loaded with corn, flour, bacon, beans, &c., also 2 prisoners.

May 28, received orders to report to Brigadier-General Wilson, Third Division, Cavalry Corps. Leaving Newtown at 4 a. m. May 29 marched to join General Wilson, and reported to him on Pamunkey River near Hanovertown and near by him and assigned to First Brigade, Third Division, Cavalry Corps.

May 30, went into camp on south bank of Pamunkey River.

May 31, received orders to march. At about 9 a. m. met the enemy at cross-roads near Hanover Court-House, drove in their pickets, and was ordered to make a reconnaissance on the Richmond road. Had not proceeded far before we met the enemy in strong force ; dismounted, deployed the regiment and formed on the left of the road in the woods, charged through, and drove the enemy over an open field beyond, they stubbornly contesting the ground and slowly falling back along the railroad on Hanover Court-House. This position the enemy retained until sundown, at which time a charge was ordered, to feel their strength or dislodge them. This regiment was formed in an open field on both sides of the road, the First Battalion, under Major Seward, supporting one battalion of the Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, deployed as skirmishers on the right. The Third Battalion, Second Ohio Cavalry, supported by the Second Battalion, commanded by Major Nettleton, was deployed on the left of the road. We moved forward, under a heavy fire of shot and shell, until within 600 yards of the top of the hill, where the enemy were posted behind breast-works of rails, and at this period a general charge was ordered, and the skirmish line, being re-enforced by the reserve, dashed forward with a shout and a yell, carrying everything before them. As we gained the crest of the hill our ammunition failed, and in some parts of the line the enemy were actually driven from their position with stones and clubs. Our loss was 25 killed and wounded. This battle, for the number engaged, and taking into consideration the nature of the ground

[ocr errors]

over which it was fought, as it was composed of creeks and swamps, through which the men had to wade waist deep, and the superiority of the enemy's force (at least 3 to 1), was the severest I ever witnessed, and only evinces what Yankee cavalry soldiers can accomplish when determined to win.

We remained in line of battle and slept on our arms that night and at daybreak June 1 skirmishers were thrown out and found the enemy about a mile on the Ashland road. The Fifth New York Cavalry dismounted and drove them about 9 miles to Ashland Station, where we arrived about 12 m. I was ordered to form my regiment in open column, dismount, and tear up the railroad track, but had hardly time to dismount two companies before heavy firing was heard in our rear. I was then ordered to send two squadrons down the road toward Hanover Court-House to clear it." Squadron D, under command of Lieutenant Cowdery, advanced, but had hardly entered the timber before he met the enemy and received a terrible volley, which checked and caused him to fall back. Being sup; ported by troops from other regiments they again advanced and Cleared the woods. Iimmediately formed the whole of my regiment in line, the right resting on the right of the road and the left extending round to the road known as the Telegraph road. We had hardly established this line and erected some temporary barricades when the enemy with a yell came charging on us. The men fought nobly, but with a line so extended, which was necessary to prevent being flanked, we could not long maintain our position, but had to fall back slowly, disputing every inch of the ground till we came to the buildings near the railroad, which I ordered the men to occupy. At this stage of the fight our artillery opened, and the enemy's fire slacking we again advanced and occupied the timber. This we held until Í received orders to take 200 men and escort the artillery off the field. After seeing the artillery well under way I took Squadron F and formed a line on the edge of the town for the purpose of protecting our dismounted men, where I remained until the enemy entered on the opposite side, when we were driven off by their shell and infantry fire. We then fell back with the rest of the troops to Price's house, near Hanover Court-House, where we arrived at midnight, tired and worn out, having had nothing to eat in twenty-four hours. Our loss this day was 45 men; and here allow me to call your attention to the necessity of having some organized system of ordnance sergeants or men detailed, whose duty it shall be to keep cavalry commands well supplied with ammunition during engagements. Men armed with the breech-loading weapon will necessarily fire a greater number of rounds than those armed with a muzzle-loading piece, and it is utterly impossible for a cavalry man to carry more than from 60 to 80 rounds upon his person, and when dismounted and away from his horse this supply can be easily exhausted in a few hours' firing. In this case my regiment expended its ammunition in the battle of May 31. At daylight details were sent to train, but no ammunition of that caliber (No. .54) could be obtained. Captain Weeks, in command of detail, with great promptness immediately started for our own train, some 9 miles distant, to obtain a supply, making trip back to Hanover Court-House, thence to Ashland, 27 miles, each man loaded with 85 pounds ammunition, in less than one half day, and even then hardly arrived in time, as three boxes were captured by the enemy before we could issue it to the men. And I feel warranted in saying that had this ammunition not arrived, and with our already too small force weakened by the withdrawal of my regiment, the consummate bravery of the brigade could not have prevented serious disaster.

June 2, we marched at dark, and arrived at Old Tavern June 3, at 3 a. m., where we halted till daylight, when we marched to Haw's Shop, where we remained all day supporting the cavalry batteries.

June 4, in the morning we relieved the Second New York Cavalry on picket, but hardly had our line established when a regiment of the enemy's cavalry charged that portion of our line held by Company A, commanded by Capt. A. N. Bernard, but were handsomely repulsed. One man captured. Here we remained till June 6, when we were relieved by the Sixth Ohio Cavalry.

June 6, marched to camp on Ruffin's farm, near Old Salem Church, where we remained till June 11, when we went on reconnaissance toward Shady Grove Church, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Brinton, Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and his regiment met the enemy's pickets and drove them about 4 miles, when we encountered their infantry behind breast-works. Fell back and went into old camp, where we remained till June 12, when we were ordered to bring up the rear of the army, then crossing the Chickahominy.* All of which is respectfully submitted.

GEO. A. PURINGTON, Lieut. Col. Second Ohio Vet. Vol. Cav., Comdg. Regt. Capt. CHARLES H. MILLER,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

[ocr errors]

No. 217.

Report of Col. George H. Chapman, Third Indiana Cavalry, com

manding Second Brigade.

ܕ•

[ocr errors]

HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., THIRD DIV., CAVALRY CORPS,

July 12, 1864. CAPTAIN : I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this brigade from May 3 to July 1, 1864 :

At midnight on the night of the 3d of May, in compliance with orders, the brigade broke camp at Stevensburg, and crossing to the plank road, moved to Germanna Ford, on the Rapidan River. Arriving there I made dispositions of my command to force a crossing should the enemy offer opposition, and at early dawn my brigade moved rapidly across the river, meeting with no resistance, and massed on the plank road, 2 or 3 miles from the river. After a short halt, proceeded up the plank road to Old Wilderness Tavern, and from thence to Parker's Store by a country road, where we bivouacked and threw out strong pickets on all approaches. During the march nothing was seen of the enemy save a small mounted force, which retreated rapidly before our advance. Marched early on the morning of the 5th with division, this brigade in advance, to Craig's Church, on the Catharpin road, which point was reached about 11a. m. I sent a battalion of the First Vermont Cavalry forward on the Catharpin road, with instructions to picket and patrol the road well toward

* For continuation of report, see Vol. XL, Part I.

a

*

« PreviousContinue »