previous next


Captain Platt, of the Second New-Hampshire, was killed. He was the only officer killed of the Second, Tenth, Twelfth and Thirteenth New Hampshire regiments.

Lieutenant Wheeler, of General Heckman's staff, was killed.

The fog was so dense during the early part of the fight that officers and men, on both sides, stumbled into each other's lines, and very many amusing scenes occurred. At one time General Weitzel and his orderly got among the rebels, and the latter was captured. He called to Weitzel to save him, which was done by placing a pistol at the rebel's head and ordering him to yield his musket to the orderly, by whom lie was marched off. Tables of this kind were constantly turned. General Butler was out in the thick tempest of rifle-shells. One shot passed between him and Colonel Kensett, one of his aids. General Martindale's sword was struck by a shrapnel shot and indented greatly.

While the fighting was going on toward Richmond, an attempt was made on the part of the enemy to attack in rear, by coming up from Petersburg. General Ames, of the Tenth corps, who commands in that direction, gallantly kept them at bay until the order was given to retire.

Tenth Army corps, near City Point, Va., Friday Evening, May 20, 1864.
There has been to-day a fierce and sanguinary battle on the spot which I mentioned in my last — the front of the Third division of this corps, under General Ames.

Our line passes irregularly from the Appomattox on the left to the James on the right. The approachable spot was at a single point of the line, in a space of about eight hundred yards in width and the same in depth.

The rebels had come up in front of the clearing, having followed us down from Fort Darling, and had posted their first guns in the yard of the Howlett House. This house is behind a fall in the ground, and at several points along the same line they have posted light batteries. The clearing is wholly our own work, and is faulty only in not having been done to a greater extent. One strip of woods which threatened us with sharpshooters on Thursday is, happily, now down; but those next the Howlett House remain, and are now beyond our power to remove.

On Wednesday night our pickets dug a rifle-pit in front of the rebel position, and about eight hundred yards from our line, extending a quarter of a mile into the woods on our right, which yet stand. It was evident that this pit is invaluable to its possessors, and accordingly the rebels drove us out of it this morning, and the struggle of to-day has been an attempt to regain it, which is so far unsuccessful, although we have retaken the right of it, which is in the woods.

Last night there was an alarm between eleven and twelve, and another between two and three, caused by picket firing. Both times there was skirmishing and charging, but our troops held their pit. The moon shone, setting just after the second alarm, and our old enemy, the fog, was so thick that a man could not be distinguished at fifteen paces, even in a camp where fires had been burning all night. What mischief the rebels might prepare under its cover, no one knew; but it was thought they would try to plant batteries in the woods on the right of the Howlett House, on the ground where is now our section of the rifle-pit, and further alarm was looked for later in the night, but none came.

At nine, or thereabout, the muskets began a lively crackle, and the guns opened from the rebel position. Hurrying to the scene, I found the enemy had advanced and been repulsed, yet had the rifle-pit in their possession. The whole of the Ninth Maine, with portions of the Fourth New Hampshire, Fifty-fifth Pennsylvania, and Ninety-seventh New York, were occupying the rifle-pit, the regiment first named being nearly in the centre. The rebels charged upon them with their peculiar short-lived enthusiasm and their yell, and were met firmly, and the position might have been held without difficulty, had not the Ninth Maine broken and fled to the woods, thus permitting the rebels to enter the pit and flank the remaining regiments, compelling them to retire. Two Lieutenants of the Ninth Maine, who retired their men without orders, were brought this afternoon before General Ames, and by him sent to General Butler, who summarily dismissed one of them from the service. Both deserve severe punishment, for this unfortunate affair has cost hundreds of lives to-day, and threatens us with severe battles as the price of holding our position. The rebels in the pit, and the woods which yet stand next the Howlett House, are the twin sources of apprehension.

Our men once out of the pit and in retreat, the impetuous rebels pursued, recklessly charging into full view in the clearing. Then our guns, angry but silent while they shelled away at us yesterday, opened with spherical case, and they tumbled back to their newly-acquired pit.

Now came a momentary lull, and then the Third Regular battery, in the left redoubt, the Fourth New Jersey adjoining it on the right, both facing the pit, and the First Connecticut in the elevated redoubt further to the right, pointing diagonally and partly across it, opened fire, roaring without a moment's stop from half-past 10 to half-past 11, using at first mostly spherical case. The practice was mainly excellent, under the personal direction of General Ames, most of the shell bursting over the pit. The rebel guns returned the fire, but their shots counted hardly more than a fifth of ours, and only an insignificant number were struck, while our own fire was not in the least retarded. Meanwhile the Thirteenth Indiana, Colonel Dobbs, made a gallant and, as it seemed, imprudent charge upon the pit or the right, but was repulsed when within about a hundred yards of

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
City Point (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Adelbert Ames (4)
Weitzel (2)
Benjamin F. Butler (2)
J. Wheeler (1)
Platt (1)
Martindale (1)
Kensett (1)
Heckman (1)
George W. Dobbs (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 20th, 1864 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: