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Doc. 150.-the charge of company H, First Massachusetts regiment: near Yorktown, Va., April 26, 1862.

Five companies of Massachusetts troops participated in a splendid little action which took place this morning. One company made a brilliant charge on a rebel redoubt, drove the rebels away, killed quite a number, and hemmed in fourteen who were taken prisoners. The redoubt is situated in front of a piece of woods, and faces an open cornfield to the right of the Yorktown road. It was determined last evening to reduce the work and ascertain what fortifications were behind, beyond the woods.

Early this morning three companies of the First Massachusetts regiment, under Lieut.-Col. Welles, and two companies of the Eleventh, under Major Tripp, left camp and arrived on the ground just about daylight. Company A, Captain Wild, was deployed as skirmishers to the left across the field to prevent a flank movement of the enemy. Company I, Captain Rand, was held in reserve towards the right near a small ravine, while Company H, under Capt. Carruth, advanced at double-quick across the field and charged upon the work. Led by Lieut.-Colonel Welles, they dashed ahead in the most gallant manner.

As soon as they were seen crossing the open field, a distance of four or five hundred yards from the redoubt, the rebels opened a spirited fire from behind the parapet. In face of this fire the gallant little band of sixty advanced at double-quick, with bayonets fixed. Their comrades were falling on the field around them; but not a man on our side fired a gun until those who charged the redoubt had arrived within a few yards of the ditch in front. Then they discharged a volley and the rebels retreated. Although much exhausted by the run across the cornfield, our men jumped into the ditch and climbed over the parapet. pet. Thus the work was successfully taken in a few minutes.

Lieut. Chandler and Lieut.-Col. Welles were among the first to reach the fort. Company H lost three men killed and thirteen wounded. No other casualties occurred on our side. Most of the killed and wounded fell within twenty yards of the ditch, which was six or seven feet deep and eight feet wide in front of the redoubt. Company A still held their position as skirmishers to the left, and subsequently company I was ordered to advance to support those in front.

In the mean time company A, Eleventh Massachusetts, Capt. Humphrey, came forward to the right at double-quick and kept the rebels back, while company G, Capt. Allen, which had been placed to support a section of our artillery, also advanced, and with picks and shovels commenced destroying the redoubt. Our artillery did not fire a single shot. Presently the rebels opened with their artillery from their fortifications to the left. Our brave Massachusetts boys fired away into the woods, while some of their comrades were shovelling the earth from the parapet of the rebel fort into the ditch below. A little to the right of his work there was an opening through the woods and a clearing behind, where another rebel redoubt was situated.

From this the rebels poured forth a continuous fire, but the skirmishers from the Eleventh regiment filed off to the right and left, covered by the woods, and thus escaped the effect of their fire. When the attack was made on our left the rebels were driven in confusion in every direction. Fourteen of them got on a small strip of ground behind which was a stream which they could not cross. Hence they were taken prisoners. One of them rushed out with a white haversack on his musket and begged our men not to shoot. Firing in that direction ceased for a moment. He said there were thirteen others who wanted to surrender. Soon they appeared, and were taken prisoners.

Fourteen rebels were captured altogether--one sergeant, one corporal, and a dozen privates. They all belonged to company E, Nineteenth Virginia regiment. They were a company of sharpshooters who were on duty in the fort. They said they were completely taken by surprise, and when we opened the attack there was great confusion among them; but they were soon [526]


supported by other troops on the right and left. Our soldiers acted in the most gallant manner, and were highly complimented by the Brigadier-General, who was on the ground. The object of the movement having been most successfully accomplished, our men retired from the field in perfect order.

When they were retiring the rebels commenced a brisk cannonade from the forts to the left, which were not more than seven or eight hundred yards distant. It was beautiful to see how splendidly our skirmishers retired in the midst of this heavy fire from the enemy's artillery. Shells were bursting all around them, scattering dirt over many of them; but the regiment had been so well drilled in skirmishing that this company came in cautiously, without losing a single man. No one thought of running. On the contrary, all seemed reluctant to leave the field of action.

Company H, First Massachusetts, which took the principal part in this splendid little action, was one of the three companies which bore the brunt of the battle at Blackburn's Ford, Bull Run, on the eighteenth of July. On that occasion, as on this, Lieut.-Col. Welles commanded. On that occasion, as on this, the company lost nearly one third its number killed and wounded. Several who were wounded in the first affair, when they dashed down to the stream in front of a fortification, were also wounded this morning when they charged on the rebel redoubt.

Private Grantman, who was wounded twice in the arm at Blackburn's Ford, received three wounds in the left leg, near the groin, this morning. He is now doing well. Private Kingsbury, who was also slightly wounded on the first occasion, was wounded mortally this morning. The rebel prisoners say that several of their killed and wounded comrades lay near the stream where they themselves were captured. The following is a complete list of our killed and wounded:

killed--company H, First Massachusetts.--Private George A. Noyes, Private Wm. D. Smith, Walter B. Andrews.

wounded--company H.--Wm. Grantman, Allen A. Kingsbury, mortally, George L. Stoddard, George H. Campbell, Wm. H. Montague, Thomas [527] Chilleck, Horace A. Lamos, George H. Stone, Wm. H. Lane, Oliver C. Cooper, Wm. T. Wright, Jos. W. Spooner, Wm. P. Halgreen.

Company A.--Thomas Archer, slightly in the face.

Company I.--Stephen Wright, seriously in the head, George G. S. Norris, slightly in the face.

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