Report of Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, U. S. Army, commanding Ninth Army Corps.
MAY 4-JUNE 12, 1864--Campaign from the Rapidan to the James River, Va.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXVI/1 [S# 67]
PROVIDENCE, R. I.,
November 26, 1864.
Bvt. Maj. Gen. SETH WILLIAMS,
Asst. Adjt. Gen, Army of the Potomac.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Ninth Army Corps from May 4 to July 30, 1864:
The corps acted as a separate army, under my immediate command, reporting direct to the headquarters of Lieutenant-General Grant until the 25th [24th] of May, when it was assigned to the Army of the Potomac. I have thought it best, however, to make the entire report to the headquarters Army of the Potomac. Previous to the 4th of May the corps was stationed at different points along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, having relieved the troops of the Army of the Potomac at these points. A complete roster of the corps, with the dates of the joining and mustering out of the regiments, is hereto annexed.
From May 4 to May 7, inclusive. The crossing of the Rapidan and the battle of the Wilderness.
In accordance with directions from the lieutenant-general commanding, the following dispositions of the troops of the corps were made: On the morning of the 4th the First Division, under Briga-dier-General Stevenson, started for Germanna Ford, on the Rapidan River. Crossed on the morning of the 5th and went into camp, where they remained during that day and night. The Second and Third Divisions, under command of Generals Potter and Willcox; the Provisional Brigade, under Colonel Marshall, and the Reserve Artillery, under Captain Edwards, were directed to hold themselves in readiness to move at a moment's notice. The Fourth Division, Brig. Gen. Edward Ferrero, with the different cavalry regiments which occupied positions farthest to the rear, broke camp and commenced their movements on the 4th. The artillery attached to the several divisions accompanied the divisions. On the morning of the 5th the Third Division (General Willcox) moved from Rappahannock Station, crossed Germanna Ford, moved out some 2 miles to the front, and relieved General Ricketts' division, which was at that time on the right of the Sixth Corps. The Second Division (General Potter) moved the same morning from Bealeton Station, crossed Germanna Ford in the afternoon, and bivouacked in the neighborhood of Spotswood Tavern. The Fourth Division (General Ferrero) followed, and reached Mountain Run about 6 p.m. on the afternoon of the 5th, where they bivouacked until the following morning. The Provisional Brigade (Colonel Marshall) and the cavalry regiments moved on the morning of the 5th, crossing Germanna Ford that afternoon, taking positions between the First and Second Divisions.
On the evening of the 5th Maj. Gen. John G. Parke, who had been absent sick, joined the corps and remained with me as chief of staff, or in immediate command when occasion required, always rendering efficient and gallant service.
On the morning of the 6th the First, Second, and Third Divisions of the corps got under way, the head of the Second Division starting at 1 a.m., the Third Division following. The First Division was directed to report to Major-General Hancock, commanding the Second Corps, The Provisional Brigade and cavalry were so disposed as to relieve these three divisions. The Fourth Division started from Mountain Run at 4 o'clock on the morning of the 6th, crossed the Germanna Ford, and at 7 a.m. received orders from the lieutenant-general commanding to report to Major-General Sedgwick, commanding Sixth Corps, for instructions. From that time until July this division was at no time under my immediate control, it having become necessary to make it a guard for the general train of the army, receiving its orders directly from the headquarters of the lieutenant-general or from the headquarters Army of the Potomac. With the remaining two divisions, the Second and Third, I moved out on the Parker's Store road, between the positions then held by Generals Warren and Hancock, and after crossing the Wilderness Run at about daylight, General Potter was directed to make his dispositions with a view to pressing his force forward so as to seize, if possible, the point known as Parker's Store, on the plank road leading from Orange to Fredericksburg, Colonel Griffin's brigade leading and Colonel Bliss' disposed so as to protect the left flank. These movements were executed most creditably under a brisk artillery and infantry fire of the enemy. General Willcox's division was so disposed on the right and left of the road as to support the movement of General Potter, who had already pushed his advanced line across the open ground beyond the run and gained the edge of timber on the opposite side of the field. Just as preparations were being made to charge the enemy and drive them from the woods which intervened between this point and Parker's Store, an order was received from the lieutenant-general commanding to move all the available force of the corps to the left, with a view to attacking the enemy on the right of General Hancock. After consultation with Lieutenant-Colonel Comstock, who brought the order, it was thought best to move General Potter's command by the left flank through the woods until it reached a proper position for attack, and to leave General Willcox for the present to cover the Parker's Store road. The obstacles in the way of General Potter's movement were much more formidable than was at first supposed; a dense and almost impenetrable undergrowth caused considerable confusion, irregularity, and delay, but finally General Potter succeeded in getting his command into an open field which was comparatively near the proposed point of attack, where he formed his brigades and moved them forward through a thick growth of timber in the direction of the enemy. It was impossible to see anything of their position, in fact but little could be seen of the movement of our own troops after they entered the woods. In a short time our men came in contact with the enemy, who were well intrenched on the opposite side of a swampy ravine, soon after which their line was charged and a portion of it carried, but our men were not able to hold the advance ground gained. Two more gallant charges were made by this division, which resulted in considerable advantage of position to us, yet the enemy's line was not carried. General Willcox, of the Third Division, had made his dispositions for the support of the first movement of General Potter on Parker's Store, and afterward held the Parker's Store road, under a heavy artillery fire of the enemy, until about 2 p.m., when the last of his division was withdrawn from that position to support General Potter in his attack. One of General Willcox's brigades (Hartranft's) had already moved forward on the right of General Potter and attacked with considerable success, having broken the enemy's line, though they were not able to hold their advance position, but maintained their ground in front of the enemy until General Willcox supported it by Christ's brigade. A short time after these movements orders were given for the Third Division, General Willcox, supported by General Potter, to assault at 6 o'clock, it being understood that General Hancock would attack at the same hour, but before that hour arrived the enemy opened upon General Hancock, thus rendering it important that our attack should be made earlier. General Willcox formed his lines quickly, and at 5.30 p.m. commenced the assault, forcing the enemy, who had come out of his intrenchments, back into them and breaking his line on the left. This part of their line was held for some time, but we were finally forced to give it up by the overpowering force of the enemy. We were enabled, however, to hold our ground immediately in front of their intrenchments, neither falling back nor advancing. At about dusk General Willcox opened communication with the right of the Second Corps.
For the operations of the First Division on this day, I beg to refer you to the report of Major-General Hancock, under whose command it fought. From personal knowledge of the Second and Third Divisions, and from information received of the movements of the First Division, I am glad to bear testimony to the efficiency and gallantry of these brave men.
The losses in the First Division were 92 killed, 349 wounded, and 82 missing; total, 523. In the Second Division, 74 killed, 389 wounded, 41 missing; total, 504. The Third Division, 469 killed and wounded, and 12 missing; total, 481.
Soon after dark our line was regulated and intrenched, and before morning the enemy withdrew from our front, skirmishers were pushed out, and a few prisoners picked up, but no considerable force was encountered. In this engagement we lost some of our most valuable officers and men. Nothing of importance occurred on the 7th. Soon after noon of that day the Second Division was withdrawn and concentrated near the Wilderness Tavern, in readiness to support the Sixth Corps.
From May 7 to May 20, 1864. The march to Spotsylvania Court-House and the operations in front of that place.
During the afternoon of the 7th directions were received to make arrangements to move the corps to the neighborhood of Chancellors-ville, acting as rear guard to that portion of the army moving in that direction. The First Division was directed to report to me again, and I ordered it to move from the position it then occupied up the Orange and Fredericksburg plank road to its intersection with the Wilderness Tavern and Chancellorsville road, and there await the arrival of the other divisions of the corps, taking care not to interfere with the Sixth Corps, which was to pass that point on its way to Chancellorsville. The movement of the First Division was to commence as soon as the rear of the Fifth Corps, which was to move down the Brock road, passed the point occupied by this division, thus leaving the road to Chancellorsville open without interfering with the Fifth Corps. Soon after dark the Second Division was moved on to the high ground in rear of the Wilderness Tavern. The Third Division, which had been left in position on the line, and the Provisional Brigade were withdrawn during the night, and concentrated in rear of the Second Division, the Third Division constituting the rearguard of the corps. The rear of the Sixth Corps did not pass the Wilderness Tavern until nearly daybreak of the 8th. General Willcox deployed Christ's brigade and held the enemy's cavalry in check until all the wounded in the hospitals that we had transportation for were removed. The entire corps moved toward and through Chancellorsville as soon as the road was cleared by the Sixth Corps and its trains. The Third Division bivouacked that night near Perry's house, some 2 miles from Chancellorsville, and the remainder of the corps bivouacked between Perry's house and Chancellorsville. Our Artillery Reserve was ordered to join the Artillery Reserve of the Army of the Potomac, where it remained until it was ordered to the rear, May 16.
I beg to refer to the excellent report of Brigadier-General Ferrero for an understanding of the movements of the Fourth Division, and of the Second Ohio, Fifth New York, and Third New Jersey Cavalry during this and succeeding epochs, as none of them were under my immediate control until into July.
On the morning of the 9th, at 4 o'clock, General Willcox was directed to move his division to Gayle's house, on the Ny River, near Spotsylvania Court-House, where the road from the Court-House to Fredericksburg crosses that river. Directions were also given to place a portion of the Provisional Brigade, Col. E.G. Marshall, on the road to Fredericksburg, at the intersection of that road with the Spotsylvania Court-House road, beyond the position occupied by the general wagon train of the army. The remainder of the Provisional Brigade was posted at Alsop's house, on the road to Gayle's. General Willcox found the enemy's pickets about a mile north of Gayle's he use, and quickly drove them across the river, seizing the bridge, over which he crossed Christ's brigade with two batteries of artillery, which were posted on the crest, about a quarter of a mile from the river. The First Division. General Stevenson, had been ordered to follow from Chancellorsville in support of General Willcox. The demonstrations of the enemy upon Christ's brigade rendered it necessary for General Willcox to cross his other brigade in support, he having encountered a considerable force of dismounted cavalry and a brigade of Longstreet's corps. Several attempts were made by this force to drive our people back, which were repulsed. The enemy finally retired, leaving some of their wounded and some 50 prisoners in our hands. At about midday the First Division arrived, and a portion was thrown across the river, one brigade being retained as a guard to the fords near that position. The losses of the Third Division in this gallant affair were 167 killed and wounded, and 21 missing.
On the afternoon of the 9th General Potter's division was moved to the neighborhood of Alsop's, and the next day (the 10th) it was moved to Gayle's to support a reconnaissance which we were directed to make on Spotsylvania Court-House. Lieutenant-Colonel Porter, of General Grant's staff, brought the order, and remained with us during the reconnaissance. During the forenoon we met with a severe misfortune in the loss of the gallant General Stevenson, who was killed by one of the enemy's sharpshooters. This officer commenced his services in the war with me in the expedition to North Carolina, and on all occasions proved himself a brave and efficient soldier. The reconnaissance was pushed that afternoon and evening under a pretty heavy fire close up to the enemy's lines, one portion of General Potter's division being within a quarter of a mile of Spotsylvania Court-House. The line was regulated and intrenched before morning. On the afternoon of the 10th the Provisional Brigade was moved up and concentrated near Gayle's house. On the 11th the entire corps was ordered to withdraw to the north side of the Ny and take a new position, with the left crossing the main road near the Harris house, the line extending across the Ny, the right connecting with General Hancock, if possible, for which purpose a road was to be cut through the intervening woods and a bridge built across the stream. The recrossing was effected, and whilst the line was being formed in the new position, the command was ordered to recross the Ny and reoccupy the position we had just left, which work was performed without any serious opposition by General Potter's division, a portion of Colonel Marshall's brigade being in the advance, as it had been left to picket the river and fords after we had crossed. In the midst of this movement, Major-General Crittenden arrived and took command of the First Division. That night orders were received for a general attack upon the enemy's lines early on the morning of the 12th. Lieutenant-Colonels Comstock and Babcock came to the corps headquarters to remain during the attack. The position of the enemy's lines, and the nature of the ground are so well known by the major-general commanding that it is unnecessary to enter into a detailed description of them. It will be sufficient to say that the enemy's intrenchments were in the form of a V, the right face of which was to be assaulted by the Ninth Corps. The order was at first understood as directing the assault to be made immediately upon the Spotsylvania Court-House, but upon consultation with the staff officers from the headquarters of the lieutenant-general commanding, it was decided to assault farther to the right at points nearer to the salient of the enemy's works, with a view to establishing and keeping up, if possible, a connection with the Second Corps. At 4 a.m. General Potter's division advanced, supported by the First Division, General Crittenden, with General Willcox's (Third) division in reserve. Colonel Marshall's brigade held the line of intrenchments, the artillery being under the immediate direction of Lieutenant Benjamin, chief of artillery. The fire of the enemy was drawn about 4.30, and at 5 a.m. the engagement had become very severe. Two lines of detached rifle-pits had been carried, and an assault was ordered upon the main line by the First and Second Divisions. The latter division succeeded in carrying a portion of the line, and capturing a battery of two guns, with a large number of prisoners. We had at this time no connection with the Second Corps, and in consequence our right was seriously pressed and driven out of that portion of the enemy's line just captured, losing a few prisoners. Urgent orders were received from the lieutenant-general commanding to establish connection with the Second Corps at all hazards. General Crittenden's and General Potter's divisions were ordered forward to repeated attacks, which resulted in severe loss, but did not succeed in driving the enemy from his main line. A part of General Willcox's command had had some severe skirmishing with the enemy, while the remainder of his division was held in reserve. He was finally ordered to attack with his whole force immediately on the left of General Crittenden. A considerable delay occurred here in arranging the troops for the attack, and in so posting the artillery as to render it efficient and at the same time protect it from the charges of the enemy in case of a repulse to General Willcox. The dispositions of the artillery were made by Lieut. S. N. Benjamin, the chief of artillery, and General Willcox ordered his troops to the attack. He had before this reported that he thought an attack would be made by the enemy with a view to turning his left, which was now the extreme left of the army engaged; the Provisional Brigade, Colonel Marshall, being in the trenches immediately in front of the Court-House. The necessity for all attack, with a view to attracting the attention of the enemy from other parts of the line, if nothing more, caused a reiteration of the order to General Willcox to advance as soon as possible with his whole force, which order was executed under a most terrific fire and counter-charges of the enemy. Some of our artillery was disabled by the loss of cannoneers, and our infantry line was somewhat disorganized. At one time the enemy was within 10 paces of one of our batteries, but the guns were remanned and worked by some infantry soldiers supporting the battery, thus checking the advance of the enemy, who were finally repulsed with severe loss, other batteries having concentrated their fire upon them as they retreated. The dense woods through which a portion of our troops had charged was the scene of a most fearful conflict. Our men held the advance ground gained in the face of heavy forces of the enemy in front and on their flanks, and for a long time the contest was very doubtful. After the exhaustion of ammunition, the line was withdrawn to the edge of the woods and intrenched. Our artillery during the entire engagement did most excellent service, but we had the misfortune to lose the services of our chief of artillery, Lieut. S. N. Benjamin, who was severely wounded in the neck in the hottest of the fight, but he remained on the field discharging his duties until the critical moment had passed. The divisions of Generals Crittenden and Potter pressed closely up to the enemy's line under a most galling fire, and finally General Potter succeeded in establishing a connection with General Hancock. Heavy artillery firing and skirmishing was kept up along the whole line until late in the day. The Provisional Brigade, composed of heavy artillery and dismounted cavalry, which remained in the old intrenchments in front of the Court-House, effectually prevented any movement of the enemy upon the bridge or fords to our left. During this engagement, and for some days previous, the Seventeenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and a squadron of the Second Ohio, performed valuable service, scouting and picketing the country on our left. Before morning of the l3th the new line was well intrenched. Of the Provisional Brigade we have no report, Colonel Marshall being a prisoner.
The officers and men of the command behaved most gallantly in the action. Sharp skirmishing and considerable artillery firing was kept up along the line on the 13th, 14th, and 15th.
On the 16th a reconnaissance by the First and Second Divisions was ordered, which resulted in developing quite a large force of the enemy in our front. No change of importance occurred on the 17th.
On the morning of the 18th a general attack was made on the enemy's line, and after two or three charges by the divisions of Generals Crittenden and Potter, which resulted in considerable loss, it was concluded that it could not be carried by assault. Some ground, however, was gained which commanded parts of their line. This attack was well supported by the artillery, particularly by the batteries of General Willcox's division. That evening orders were received to move the corps before daybreak to the left of the new position which was to be occupied by the Sixth Corps. Signs of withdrawal by the enemy were discovered during the night, and our movement was accomplished without difficulty. The corps was marched on the south side of the Ny by the Beverly house, and took position on the left of the Sixth Corps, our extreme left resting near the Quesenberry house, within a mile of the Po River. Before dark our new line was well intrenched, On the 20th reconnaissances were sent out in the direction of Stanard's and Smith's Mills and the Po.
Our losses from the battle of the 12th till this movement was made were about 1,500 killed, wounded, and missing.
Soon after the battle of the 12th, the Provisional Brigade, under Colonel Marshall, was attached to the First Division, constituting the Third Brigade of that division.
The losses of the second epoch were as follows: First Division, 94 killed, 488 wounded, 21 missing; Second Division, 175 killed, 762 wounded, 256 missing; Third Division, 935 killed and wounded, and 313 missing.
From May 20 to May 27. The march to the North Anna River and the operations at that place.
On the 21st directions were given to take up a new position, not materially different from our old one, and to hold it in connection with the Sixth Corps, until the movements of the Second and Fifth Corps uncovered the road in our rear, when we were to move down the road to Stanard's Mill, on the Po River, and effect a crossing there, if it could be done without too great opposition, and continue our march down the Telegraph road. The Sixth Corps was to follow us in this movement. Colonel Curtin's brigade, of General Potter's division, was started at once to seize the ford, and hold it, if possible, until the troops had passed. The enemy's pickets were encountered about a mile from the ford, and were quickly driven across the river, after which dispositions were made by General Potter to attempt to carry the ford by assault, it having been ascertained that the enemy were strongly intrenched on the opposite side of the river. The remainder of the command was put in motion upon the road to the ford. Just before sundown the enemy made an attack upon the Sixth Corps, General Wright, who was to bring up the rear, and on going back to his headquarters to ascertain if he needed assistance, it was determined to bring back General Willcox's division to his support, where it remained until after night-fall, when it followed the remainder of the command. Under the orders conducting this movement, it was not deemed advisable to attempt carrying the ford by assault, as it would have resulted in a very great loss even if it should be successful, so that the second route marked out in the instructions for the movement was taken. General Potter was instructed to retain one brigade to watch the ford until the entire Ninth and Sixth Corps had passed, when it was to bring up the rear of the column. He was to take the advance with his other brigade and to proceed to Downer's Bridge, on the Ta River, by way of Smith's Mill, on the Ny, and Guiney's Station. The First and Third Divisions were halted near general headquarters at Guiney's Station soon after sunrise on the 22d. After a rest of some two hours the corps was moved to the neighborhood of Bethel Church, and held in readiness to support the movements of the Fifth and Second Corps, as occasion required, but we were not called upon. On the morning of the 23d we started under orders for Jericho Bridge by a route over plantation roads, between the routes taken by the Second and Fifth Corps. Before reaching our destination, directions were given to move the corps to Ox Ford, on the North Anna River, and relieve Mott's brigade, of the Second Corps, by one of our divisions. General Willcox relieved General Mott just before sundown, and the other two divisions bivouacked just in rear of the positions occupied by the Third Division. That night General Willcox arranged his line and intrenched it. On the following morning, the 24th, orders were received to carry the ford and cross the corps on to the south side of the river. General Willcox was directed to make his dispositions for the attack, which he did. Skirmishers were thrown forward to the river, and we succeeded in getting possession of an island near the ford. Our movements demonstrated the fact that the enemy were in strong force on the opposite bank of the river, and well intrenched. The belief at that time was that the enemy had formed their lines very much as they were formed at the river Ny, in the shape of a V, with its salient immediately opposite the ford, which rendered the passage of it almost, if not quite, impossible; certainly not without very severe loss. This conclusion as to the enemy's position was afterward found to be correct. General Hancock had crossed the river with his corps below this point, and General Potter had been ordered to report to him with his division.
I beg to refer the commanding general to General Hancock's report for an understanding of the movements of this division. It may not be amiss to say, however, that after crossing the division took position on the right of Mott's brigade, and, under a sharp fire, planted itself close up to the enemy's works, its right resting on the river. That night its position was intrenched.
On the 25th nothing of importance occurred in front of this division, but on the 26th it drove back the enemy's skirmishers and established a new line farther in advance. The Fifth and Sixth Corps had crossed the river above, and General Crawford's division, of the Fifth Corps, had come down on the south side to Quarles' Ford. Directions were received to cross one of our divisions at this ford, which was about a mile above Ox Ford, and move down the south bank of the river, if possible, with a view to carrying the enemy s position on the south side of Ox Ford, thus enabling the Third Division, General Willcox, to cross at that point. General Crittenden's division was ordered to this duty. The ford was a very difficult one, but the passage was made with great celerity and a gallant assault made as directed, General Ledlie's brigade leading the attack, but the enemy were found in too strong force to accomplish the desired result. The counter attacking column of the enemy was composed of two divisions of Hill's corps. Our men fell back with considerable loss a short distance to a position which enabled them to connect with General Crawford's division, which new line was well intrenched that night.
I am indebted to Major-General Hancock, of the Second Corps, for the loan of a portion of his engineer corps, who assisted in building the bridge across the river during the night. The First Division, General Crittenden, was then ordered to report to General Warren, commanding the Fifth Corps, for temporary duty. Nothing but the ordinary skirmishing and artillery firing occurred in front of the First and Third Divisions during the 25th and 26th.
Our losses during this epoch were as follows: First Division, 26 killed, 132 wounded, 88 missing; Second Division, 11 killed, 37 wounded, 1 missing; Third Division, 40 killed and wounded, 8 missing.
During these operations, as in the previous ones, the officers and men of this corps behaved with the utmost gallantry and efficiency.
On the night of the 24th an order was issued from the headquarters of the lieutenant-general commanding, incorporating this corps into the Army of the Potomac, and from this time forward I received my orders directly from the major-general commanding.
On the night of the 26th the divisions of Generals Crittenden and Potter were withdrawn to the north side of the river, and on the morning of the 27th the entire corps was concentrated near Mount Carmel Church.
From May 27 to June 12, 1864. The march across the Pamunkey, including the operations on the Totopotomoy and at Cold Harbor.
On the afternoon of the 27th, after the road was clear of the Fifth Corps, which preceded us, we started for the crossing of the Pamunkey River, at Hanovertown, the Second Division leading, reaching there about 10 p.m. on the night of the 28th. The rear division, General Willcox's, did not arrive until 1 o'clock the next morning. On the morning of the 29th the corps was moved out to a position between the Second and Fifth Corps, with the right near Haw's Shop, which line was intrenched. On the morning of the 30th the entire corps was moved across the Totopotomoy to take position between the Second and Fifth Corps, the right resting near the Whitlock house and the left near Shady Grove road, the line of pickets being well out. This position was gained after a very sharp skirmishing, particularly in front of the Second Division. On the 31st the entire line was advanced from one-fourth to three-fourths of a mile under a brisk fire of the enemy. Several detached lines of skirmish pits were carried, and our people took position close up to the enemy's main line.
On the 1st of June the left of the Third Division was extended to Shady Grove road, with General Crittenden's division immediately on the left, the right extending across the road and the left refused so that the main line was nearly parallel to the road. At the junction of the two divisions the pickets of the First Division were driven in, when the right of that division and the left of the Second fell back slightly, but this point being re-enforced by a portion of Hartranft's brigade, the line was soon re-established. During the night of the 1st the Second Corps, which was on our right, was withdrawn, when our right was refused so as to occupy the same line that was taken up by it on the 30th of May. On the afternoon of the 2d we were moved to a new position on the right of the Fifth Corps, with our left not far from Bethesda Church, the main line running part of the way parallel to the Mechanicsville road, then across it to a point near the Via house not far from the Totopotomoy. In moving to this position we were attacked by the enemy with considerable vigor, and suffered some loss in General Crittenden's division, which was bringing up the rear. The division held the enemy in check, however, until the other two divisions got into position and stopped his farther advance. Soon after dark a sharp attack was made on the First Brigade of the Third Division, which brigade lost some ground.
During the night a general attack was ordered to take place on the morning of the 3d along the whole line of the army. Generals Willcox and Potter were ordered to attack, while General Crittenden was held in support. General Potter threw forward the brigade of Colonel Curtin, which drove in the skirmish line of the enemy, carried some detached rifle-pits and buildings, and established itself close up to the enemy's main line, from which position our artillery silenced their main battery and blew up two of their caissons. In the mean time General Potter had brought in General Griffin's brigade, which had been relieved from duty on the extreme right by General Wilson's cavalry, and placed it in position to assist Curtin in his attack. He was at this point instructed to suspend any further movements until General Willcox's division was ready to attack on his left. General Willcox attacked early in the morning, and captured from the enemy a line of pits that had been taken from one of our brigades the night before, Hartranft's brigade driving the enemy into their main line of works and establishing itself close up to them. Farther advance of the division was checked by a heavy enfilading fire of artillery, as well as by a severe fire from the enemy's advanced line. General Griffin's division, of the Fifth Corps, co-operated very efficiently in this attack. It was found necessary to place artillery in position, and protect it to a certain extent, with a view to silencing the artillery of the enemy, which it was hoped would be done by 1 o'clock. An order was therefore given for a simultaneous attack with the divisions of the corps at that hour. A messenger was sent to General Wilson, of the cavalry division, informing him of this movement, and suggesting that it would be well for him to move a portion of his command down from the opposite side of the Totopotomoy, crossing it above the Via house, and attacking the enemy in the rear. The arrangement for the attack being made, the order was given to advance, but just as the skirmishers were about to move, an order was issued from headquarters Army of the Potomac to suspend all further offensive operations, which order was at once communicated to the division commanders. Our losses at this place were very severe, including some of our best officers and men. The command never fought more bravely than on this occasion. The loss of the enemy was understood to be quite equal to our own. During the afternoon the enemy made an attack on the right of our line, but was repulsed, and in course of the night he withdrew from our front.
The next day, the 4th, the corps was moved to a position between the Eighteenth and Fifth Corps, near the Woody house, where it relieved Birney's division, of the Second Corps. That night and the next day the line was regulated and strengthened. On the night of the 5th the Fifth Corps was withdrawn, and General Potter, who was on our extreme right, was ordered to refuse his right and to hold the line passing over the hill, near Tucker's house, by skirmishers only. General Willcox, who was on the left of General Potter, connected with the Eighteenth Corps. Near the junction a strong fort was built, called Battery Fletcher. The First Division took up a line nearly at right angles with the main line, extending from near the Woody house in the direction of Allen's Mill. The enemy drove in the skirmishers in front of the Second Division on the afternoon of the 6th, which gave them possession of the high ground near Tucker's and Bosher's houses, at which points they planted artillery and opened a very heavy fire upon our lines without any serious damage to us. That night he withdrew from these positions, our skirmish line was re-established, and a working party placed on the hill near Tucker's to fortify it, which party was driven off with our skirmishers on the 7th, when a furious artillery fire was again opened upon our line, with but little damage. That night orders were given to General Potter to retake the hill. Dispositions were made, and as our troops advanced the enemy fell back, after which the position was strongly fortified.
On the 8th Major-General Crittenden, commanding First Division, was relieved at his own request, and the command devolved on Brigadier-General Ledlie. During the four succeeding days the ordinary artillery firing and sharpshooting was kept up, and preparations were made for the movement to the left, which commenced on the 12th.
During this epoch our losses were as follows: First Division, 67 killed, 341 wounded, 209 missing; Second Division, 109 killed, 573 wounded, 64 missing; Third Division, 262 killed and wounded, 1 missing.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. E. BURNSIDE,
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