Today in History:

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


HEADQUARTERS ELEVENTH MAINE VOLUNTEERS, In the Field, Bermuda Hundred, Va., May 24, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to make the following report of my command during the "four days' fighting," 13th to 16th instant:

Being on picket duty at the time of the advance, the 12th instant, the brigade moved without the Eleventh. That evening I was relieved from that duty, and spent the night in camp. At 6.30 a.m. of the 13th the following order reached me by hand of the orderly who was to conduct the regiments named to the front:

HEADQUARTERS TENTH ARMY CORPS, In the Field, May 13, 1864-5.50 a.m.

Colonel J. B. HOWELL,
Commanding Brigade:

The major-general commanding directs that you send the Eleventh Maine and Sixth Connecticut Volunteers to this point immediately. * * * They will bring an issue of coffee and bread for two day.


Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

In obedience to the foregoing order the regiment was put in march and took a direct route for the turnpike, then up that road to the Half-Way House, where I reported in person to Major General B. F. Butler, who ordered my command to rest in the road until further orders. The men had nearly finished their dinners when at 11.30 o'clock an aide came to conduct me to a position in the woods west of the house, ordering me to report to Brigadier-General Turner, whom I found there, and who ordered me into line of battle on the front line, with my right resting on the left of the One hundred and eighty-eighth New York State Volunteers. The skirmishers I found extended on my front and left flank, within 50 yards of my line of battle in each direction. The line of battle was formed, and men ordered to lie down at 12 m. Within an hour after the skirmishers, having advanced, were attacked by the enemy and driven in, passing from my front by my right flank. Fearing my front was left exposed I sent out a scout, who reported a line unoccupied by skirmishers, to fill which I detailed half of Company K, and sent Captain Hill to establish the line, which done I had him relieved by Lieutenant Brannan (who volunteered for that duty), and gave the lieutenant positive orders to have his men keep deployed and fill the gap, if any existed, in the skirmish line, and be sure to connect with the skirmishers on his right and left. In a short time the lieutenant sent me word that he had not men enough;that a company was needed to make the line secure. I then sent Company I, Captain Merrill, instructing Captain Merrill that he would be in command, and to act cautiously. Soon firing was heard in that direction, and by 4 p.m. a call was made for a stretcher, as Lieutenant Brannan had been shot and others wounded. Upon inquiry I ascertained my orders had been exceeded by Lieutenant Branna, who pressed forward too near the brick house occupied by the enemy's sharpshooters, which moved cost the life of that brave officer and 1 private, with several other wounded. The fire of skirmishers were kept up through the remainder of the day and evening.

At early dawn of the 14th I was informed the enemy had retired from his first line of defenses in my front (as also for the whole line probably), including the brick house, and that they were already occupied by Union troops. About 6 a.m. I received orders