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Adjutant and Inspector General Reports

1864 Report

Appendix F

HEADQUARTERS SMITH'S DIVISION,
Camp before One-gun Battery, April 17, 1862.

Capt. C C. Suydam,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Fourth Army Corps.

SIR: I have the honor to report that in pursuance of instructions I yesterday proceeded to reconnoiter the fort known as "the one-gun battery" and the works in its vicinity. I posted one battery (Capt. Mott's) on the right of the road leading from Yorktown to Lee's Mill, sending a regiment to the right through some pines, with instructions to open fire if they saw working parties, and another regiment to the left with the same instructions, holding the remaining three regiments of the Second Brigade (Brig. Gen. Brooks) in reserve, the First Brigade (Brig. Gen. Hancock) holding the road to Lee's Mill from the Four Corners with two batteries in the vicinity of Mrs. Curtis' house, the Third Brigade (Brig. Gen. Davidson)with one battery at the Four Corners.

On the infantry opening fire the enemy replied with shell, on which I directed Capt. Mott to open fire with his battery, which he at once did, getting the range (about 1,100 yards) with great accuracy. The enemy replied with shrapnel and shell, which burst all around, one shell against the wheel of one of the guns, killing 3 men and wounding more. After about an hour's brisk firing their works were silenced, one gun in the embrasure of the upper work having been replaced by a wooden gun.

About 3 o'clock I got eighteen guns in position about 500 yards from the works, and, having given Brig. Gen. Brooks instructions to support the artillery on either flank with his brigade, I moved the First Brigade, under Brig. Gen. Hancock, up in support, ordering the Third Brigade (Brig. Gen. Davidson) to occupy the position vacated by Brig. Gen. Hancock at Mrs. Curtis' house. I opened fire, and for some time the enemy replied with rapidity. At length their fire slackened. I ordered four companies of the 3d Vermont to cross the creek and feel the enemy. On arriving at the crest of the parapet of the outer work they were met by the enemy in force, who had lain secreted, and were forced to retire, having had, however, possession of the work for a few minutes.

Later in the day, under fire of the artillery, I made another reconnaissance with the 4th Vermont on the right, the Fifth and Sixth on the left, but found it impracticable to push farther than up to the dam, a position I now hold. During the night we had thrown up strong breastworks-- one on the right for four guns, within 300 yards, and one on the left, with eight embrasures, and one in the center, for four guns, each within 500 yards' range.

I regret that these operations could not be carried on without loss. I have not as yet been able to ascertain the exact amount, but believe that from 100 to 150 will cover the whole loss in killed, missing, and wounded. Among the latter, I regret to say, is Lieut. Merrill, of the Engineers, an officer who throughout the operation rendered me the most valuable assistance, and whose services I have to request may be replaced.

I have to thank every officer and soldier under my command. Their gallantry under fire was only equaled by their steadiness and ready obedience of orders.

When the detailed reports from the Brig. Gen.s and officers commanding independent corps come in I doubtless shall have several instances of services performed by individuals to bring to your notice.

I have the honor to be, sir,
Your most obedient servant,
WM. F. SMITH. Brig. Gen.,
Commanding Division.

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