Today in History:

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


deployed across the turnpike at the Half-Way House in the following order: General Weitzel on the right of the turnpike, General Brooks on the left, while Turner's division was brought up from the extreme right and thrown upon the left of General Brooks.

A narrow strip of open country extended from about 300 yards on the left of the turnpike down to James River. To the left of this open country were woods, with thick undergrowth, on our front. The woods were of the same character extending nearly a mile to the right. The skirmishers were pushed forward, supported by the line of battle, until they reached some points of the outer edge of the woods just referred to. From this edge of the woods the enemy's line of defenses could be seen for over a mile, having a strong profile, with a ditch on the outside. Numerous embrasures for artillery were also filled. It the front of General Weitzel our skirmishers had not been pushed to the opening, and therefore no reconnaissance on his front could be made. The approaches to the works on General Brooks' front required an advance over open ground of from 300 to 700 yards, all of which could be swept by the fire of the enemy's artillery.

On the turnpike the defenses were about 1,000 yards in our front, with embrasures for two guns. A reconnaissance by General Brooks and myself on his front induced me to express the opinion to the general commanding, the department that if the line was held in force by the enemy, it could not be carried by assault, and that I hold not attempt it unless I received orders to do so. Shortly after this news was received that General Gillmore had turned the enemy's works and held their extreme right. I was then ordered to remain in my position that night. The right of General Weitzel's line was thrown back on Proctor's Creek, and the troops bivouacked in that position during the night. Just before dark Colonel Cole, commanding Second U. S. Colored Cavalry, with about 150 men, reported to me and was ordered to picket from the right of my infantry picket to the James River.

At daylight on the 14th instant skirmishers were order forward, and the left of General Turner soon occupied the enemy's works in their front. On General Weitzel's front, and on the right of General Brooks, the enemy's skirmishers held their ground with the most determined pertinacity, and were only driven back some time after the left of General Brooks occupied the works on their front. As we gained the edge of the clearing in front of General Weitzel, we found the enemy still holding and interior line of work, with a bastion salient on an eminence, completely commanding our position, the flanks falling back on the enemy's left to the James River and Drewry's Bluff, and on their right in a northwesterly direction, extending beyond any point that we could see. The prong or arm of the works which General Gillmore had turned ran into his second line at the bastion salient before mentioned. A heavy fire of artillery was opened on our lines from this salient, which was soon, however, checked by General Weitzel's sharpshooters, who had advanced under cover of stumps and huts to points form which they commanded the embrasures of the work. Shortly after my new line was established, General Gillmore moved to connect with my left. The day was spent in reconnaissances, and an assault, ordered for the next morning by the general commanding the department, was abandoned for the want of disposable troops to form the column.