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Adjutant and Inspector General Reports

1864 Report

Appendix F

HEADQUARTERS SMITH'S DIVISION,
Camp on Ruffin's Farm,
July 11, 1862.
Capt. SPARROW PURDY,
Asst. Adj. General,
Franklin's Corps

Sir:--I submit the following report of the fights and marches of the men under my command from June 27 till our arrival at this camp, July 3, 1862. On Thursday night, June 26, a heavy working party was detailed, supported by a part of the Second Brigade, under General Brooks, to construct an epaulement for a large portion of the Reserve Artillery on the Garnett Hill, in front of my lines at Golding's. The labor proceeded quietly through the night, and found us in the morning with our men sufficiently well covered to continue the work during the day. About 8 a.m. General Brooks and his command were relieved by the entire brigade of General Hancock, and six batteries of Reserve Artillery were brought up as far as Golding's Plain, preparatory to an advance. The enemy's columns were soon seen forming on the Nine-mile road and in rear of James Garnett's, and while making dispositions to receive them an order came to do nothing to bring on a general engagement. To obey this order, and defend as far as possible the works under way, General Hancock was ordered to fall back a few hundred yards into the woods on the left bank of the little creek behind him, keeping a strong picket force in the rifle pits, while Carlisle's and Ames' batteries, under Col. Getty, and five 30-pounder Parrott guns, under Major Kellogg, Connecticut Volunteers, were placed in position on the high mound on the right bank of the creek, so as to see in reverse our work, cover General Hancock's left flank, and have a general fire in the direction of Old Tavern.

Considerable maneuvering took place with the rebel infantry, but no advance was made. About 10.30 a.m. the enemy opened some three or four batteries from the crest of the hill near Garnett's on our artillery and the troops on the plain. This was briskly replied to by the artillery of our side, and after an hour the rebel fire slackened and ceased. Threatening demonstrations occurred during the day, but no attack until about 6.30 p.m., when artillery again opened a heavy fire on Ames' battery, the others having been withdrawn. The battery replied gallantly and soon silenced the fire of the enemy. While this was going on, all the heavy guns I could place in position were used in trying to drive back the columns of rebel forces pouring over Gaines' Hill to attack General Porter's left flank. The long range (2 miles) prevented great accuracy, but the rebels were finally forced to retire to the woods and take a covered road till they got below our view.

Soon after sunset a furious infantry attack was made on General Hancock, which was gallantly repulsed. Major Kellogg, of the First Connecticut Volunteers, having served his heavy guns until dark, formed his command and went into the fight with General Hancock without orders, showing the stuff of which himself and his men were composed. I respectfully refer to the reports of Generals Hancock and Brooks.

On the morning of the 28th, in order to protect our troops from the fire of the artillery from Gaines' Hill, then in the possession of the enemy, we were changing our lines, when batteries opened on us from the Garnett Hill, from the valley of the river above us, and from Gaines' Hill, the battery at the last place throwing missiles of about 60 pounds' weight. The movement was so far advanced that but little damage was done, and Capt. Mott's battery, the only one that could be brought to bear, opened, apparently with good effect. After the cannonading ceased the Seventh and Eighth Georgia Regiments attempted to carry the works just vacated by us, but were repulsed with great carnage by the Thirty-third New York and Forty-ninth Pennsylvania Regiments, on picket, and a section of Mott's battery, which threw shrapnel with great precision. Col. Lamar, Eighth Georgia, fell into our hands badly wounded, and Lieut.-Col. Towers, and 15 or 20 privates. The acknowledged loss of the two regiments was about 150.

At daylight on the morning of the 29th we moved by the Trent house, where we formed in line of battle, to cover the retreat of the rear of the wagon train and prevent the passage of the river at the bridges in our front. We then fell back slowly to the position indicated for the division in front of Savage Station, where, finding both our flanks unprotected and the enemy gathering in force in front, we fell back by order of General Franklin to the station, where we formed a junction with Sumner's corps and formed line of battle. After a couple of hours' delay here we started for the White Oak Swamp, but were recalled after marching a couple of miles to take part in the fight there. The First Brigade, General Hancock, was thrown into the woods on the right to hold the railroad, while the Second Brigade, General Brooks, was thrown into the woods on the left. The Third Brigade, Col. Taylor, was held in reserve. General Davidson had unfortunately been placed hers de combat by a sun-stroke while forming his line on the plain. General Brooks soon came up with the enemy and fought them until after dark, during which time he was wounded, but has constantly continued to do duty up to this day. The Forty-ninth New York, Col. Bidwell, and Twentieth New York, Col. Weiss, were thrown forward to re-enforce General Brooks, but had not time to reach him before the battle closed. About 10 o'clock p.m., after the arrangements were made for leaving the wounded, the division left for the White Oak Swamp, which we crossed about half an hour after daylight on the 30th ultimo. The division was formed here to cover the retreat of the trains. About noon a terrific cannonade was opened from the plateau opposite, and a new line was formed to get the infantry sheltered. Capt. Ayres, the gallant and efficient chief of artillery, finding his batteries unable to cope with artillery which could not be seen, they were withdrawn to be formed to prevent the passage of the enemy across the plain.

About 10 o'clock our tired soldiers were again called upon to commence a night march for Turkey Creek, which we reached about 5 o'clock a.m. on the 1st. After a couple of hours' rest the command was again turned out to form line of battle, where it remained until about 11 o'clock at night, when we drew out near the road, where we halted till after sunrise, waiting for artillery and other troops to pass. To General Davidson, overtasked as he had been, was assigned the delicate and responsible duty of holding the ground until the rest of the division had crossed the two narrow bridges over Turkey Creek, of retiring his own brigade, and then destroying the bridges. The duty was performed with perfect success. We then started for Harrison's Bar, and, to add to the already enormous fatigues of the men, a drenching storm came on, which soon made the roads excessively heavy. The division reached camp about noon on Wednesday, where the men remained all night in the mud, exposed to the severity of the weather.

On Thursday morning some shells falling into camp caused the division to be turned out again to move to our present position.

The cheerfulness with which the men and officers endured the fatigues and watchings and privations of this terrible march, always forming their lines with alacrity when threatened and always repulsing the enemy when attacked, is above all praise. Generals Hancock, Brooks, and Davidson deserve for their gallantry and untiring zeal the especial notice of the Government. To my staff, Capt. Mundee, acting division quartermaster; Capt. Currie, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. P. C. F. West, volunteer topographical engineer and aide-de-camp; Capt. Crane, ordnance officer; Lieut. Carey, aide-de-camp; Lieut. Scrymser, aide de-camp; Lieut. Edgerton, provost marshal, and Lieut. Berry, acting aide-de-camp, my thanks are due for their gallantry and efficiency during the toilsome week. For the losses I refer to the reports of the commanders.

Very respectfully,
WM. F. SMITH,
Brig. Gen., Commanding Division.

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