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 In the expedition on the south side of James River, in the battle of Swift Creek or Arrowfield Church, May 9-10, General Heckman's ‘Star Brigade,’ including several Massachusetts regiments, had an extremely arduous experience. ‘All the hardships incident to four days and nights under a drenching rain, without shelter of any kind, so close to the enemy's lines that but once could fires be built, and some part of the regiment on picket or skirmishing all the time, were borne without murmurs or complaint.’1 Outflanked and surrounded, finally, they fired until their ammunition was gone, then charged in vain, then retreated in perfect order. At one time they repulsed a charge of the enemy, during which the 25th Mass. Infantry and the 25th South Carolina found themselves face to face. The 25th Mass. lost 14 killed (including Lieut. C. E. Upton),2 the 23d and 27th also losing, while the 40th was present but not seriously engaged. At Ashland (May 11) the 1st Mass. Cavalry, being detached with others to make a sudden attack upon Ashland Station, lost 6 killed, including Lieut. E. P. Hopkins of Williamstown. At Drewry's Bluff (May 12-16) the ‘Star Brigade,’ with the 4th Cavalry (1 battalion), again met the enemy, with much heavier losses than at Swift Creek, the losses falling on the 23d, 24th, 25th, 27th and 40th Mass. Infantry. On the first day a portion of the enemy's line of defence was carried with small loss; on the 16th Butler was forced back to his entrenchments, the Confederates entrenching strongly in front, thus leaving him ‘bottled up,’ in Grant's celebrated phrase, and requiring but a small force of the enemy to keep him there.3 ‘Warren's and Hancock's fight at North Anna’ (May 23-27, 1864), wrote Gen. M. V. MacMahon, ‘had been fierce but ineffective, resulting only in slaughter, of which, as usual, a sadly disproportioned share was ours.’4 This loss was, however, distributed so widely over many regiments as not to fall very heavily on any one,—these regiments being the 9th, 11th, 12th, 19th, 20th, 22d, 32d, 35th, 36th, 39th, 56th, 57th, 58th and 59th Infantry; the 1st Heavy Artillery and the 9th Battery. Among these the
1 Official War Records, 68, p. 158. (Report of Col. Orson Moulton, lieutenant-colonel commanding 25th Mass.) In this battle Colonel Pickett was brigade commander, General Heckman having been taken prisoner. For other reports of the Massachusetts officers, see Official War Records, 68, pp. 155-160.
3 Grant's report as lieutenant-general, dated July 22, 1865. See the text in Century War Book, IV, 147. General Beauregard's statement of the affair, from the Confederate side, was printed in the North American Review for March, 1887 (Cxliv, p. 244), and (condensed) in the Century War Book, IV, 195; and the Union side was given by Gen. W. F. Smith, in Century War Book, IV, 206. See also Army and Navy Journal, I, 659.
4 Century War Book, IV, 214.
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