Today in History:

46 Series I Volume XXXVI-II Serial 68 - Wilderness-Cold Harbor Part II


Campbell, of events which occurred prior to my assuming command of the forces at Ware Bottom Church:

From Colonel Osborn's report:

I was ordered by General Terry to proceed forward with the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers and Thirty-ninth Volunteers on the road on the right of our column to Bottom Church to form on the right and hold it until relieved by a column of cavalry. I at once threw forward the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers as skirmishers, the Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers supporting. At or near Bottom Church we ment the enemy's pickets or skirmishers and drove them back beyond Dr. Howlett's house and there took our position until relieved by Colonel Howell, about 3 p. m., the most of my regiment remaining on picket. During the night following the rest of the regiment remained at the forks of the road leading to Richmond and Petersburg. During the night and day following the enemy's pickets or skirmishers often made their appearance. Shots were exchanged during our stay at the front. No casualties occurred in my command.

From Colonel Campbell's report:

I deployed the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers according to orders and pushed forward rapidly to the church, driving from three a company of rebel cavalry. As near as I discovered some of them were wounded by our fire, but none fell into our hands. Immediate laugh on reaching the church General Foster, chief of General Gillmore's staff, rode up and ordered me to move my lie of skirmishers forward at once. I pushed them forward accordingly until the right rested at Dr. Howlett's house, on the bank of the James River; there I halted, having driven the enemy into the woods beyond Dr. Howlett's. About 10 a. m. my line was relieved by the First U. S. Colored Cavalry. Just at this was accomplished however it was discovered to be a mistake, the cavalry having orders to proceed on up the road toward the Richmond turnpike. Colonel Osborn corrected this and relieved the cavalry with a part of the Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers, and ordered me to take position in line of battle at the church. This position I held until Colonel Howell came on the ground, about 12 m., and assumed command. By his order I moved a little to the left and formed in line of battle of the church and in support of Battery M. First U. S. Artillery. The main body of the regiment remained in this position until I received orders to return to camp. About dark on the evening of the 10th General Foster ordered me to send a detachment up the James River to destroy some torpedoes planted on the river by the rebels. I sent two companies, under command of Captain Hughes, of Company C, and for details refer you to his report accompanying this.

On the morning of the 10th, having ascertained from colored people that the enemy were coming down upon me in considerable force I made additional arrangements to give them a warm and effectual reception; got my pieces in position, threw up breast-works and rifle-pits, and had all the roads approaching me well commanded. I had all my forces in line and well in hand. A stimulus to renewed and unusual efforts for preparations was given by a dispatch received from General Terry to the effect:"You left is seriously threatened; hold it firmly, or you peril our safety." I would have held it firmly. About this time I opened communication with Colonel Voris. I believed the general saw afterward the means I had adopted to hold that place. I beg lease here to mention that on the morning of the 10th Captain Langdon, of the U. S. Artillery, reported to me in person, and I desire to speak in the highest terms of the skill, energy, promptness, and the valuable assistance which he, his officers, and the men of his command, afforded me.

Captain Warren, with his battery, and other officers with batteries, whose tribute is due to them. I do not recollect the hour, but some time during the forenoon, a dispatch from General Terry, to the effect:

The rebels a strong in my front. Cannot you attack them in flank and rear?

Do it at once of you can.