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Adjutant and Inspector General Reports

1864 Report

Appendix F

April 17th, 1862.
Capt. Theodore Read,
Asst. Adj. General.

Having been ordered to take position yesterday, under direction of Capt. West, of Gen. Smith's Staff, I placed my Regiment in the woods to the left of a position taken by Capt. S. P. Mott's Battery. Six of my companies were deployed as skirmishers, or as supporters, -- the left of the line on the road leading from Lee's Mills to Yorktown, the right resting in the edge of the woods near Capt. Mott's Battery. The line of skirmishers was nearly a mile in length. The left of my line in the morning connected with a line of pickets, or skirmishers, of the 5th Vt. The line of the 5th Vermont was withdrawn during the day without notice to me, or to Major Seaver, commanding my line of skirmishers, thus leaving the extreme left exposed to a flank movement of the enemy. the four remaining companies were placed near the right of the line of skirmishers. Between two and three o'clock in the afternoon, I received verbal orders to send two of my companies across the creek and, if possible, to gain possession of the enemy's works on our right, with orders to make a signal with a white flag to signify that we were in possession of the works, thus warning our artillery to cease firing. Two companies, D and F, were ordered immediately to carry out this order. Companies E and K were ordered to support this movement, with instructions that re-enforcements would follow immediately, -- which information was given under instructions received. At a little before three o'clock, I ordered the advance of Companies D and F, Capt. Harrington, Co. D, commanding, with the support of Companies E and K. Capt. Bennett, senior officer, -- the whole under the command of Captain Harrington. The whole advanced steadily without firing, companies D and F somewhat deployed, companies E and K in close order, until nearly across the creek, (the enemy having from the first moment of advance opened a severe enfilading from our left,) when our men opened a telling fire, which drove the enemy from the rifle-pits in front. The enemy retired before our steady advance, leaving us in complete possession of the rifle-pits in our front, and of an earth-work say three hundred yards in the rear of them. The ammunition having become useless, our men were soon unable to reply to the enemy, advancing with two regiments on our left and one in our front. The enemy's fire was telling on our men fearfully, and no support or signs of re-enforcements making their appearance, though a full statement was sent in due season to Headquarters of the Brigade, (which unfortunately did not reach the General commanding the Brigade,) I reluctantly ordered a retreat, which was very reluctantly obeyed. We held the enemy's about forty minutes. The whole time from the order of advance to the order for retreat was nearly one hour. the loss to the four companies engaged, in killed, wounded and missing, including commanding officers is about seventy-five, -- of which twenty-two were killed outright. I had seven men of the other companies wounded during the day's operations.

Very respectfully submitted
Col. 3d Vt. Vols.

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