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Report of Colonel J. R. Hagood, First S. C. Volunteers, of campaign of 1864.

headquarters First South Carolina infantry, 20th December, 1864.
Captain A. C. Sorrel, Acting Adjutant-General.
Captain,—I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this regiment since the 6th of May last:

On the morning of that day we confronted the enemy at the Wilderness. After getting into position, I was instructed by General Jenkins, commanding brigade, to support, if necessary, the regiment of General Kershaw's brigade immediately on my front, then hotly engaged with the enemy, and shortly afterwards, receiving a message from the officer commanding the regiment, stating that his ammunition was nearly exhausted, and requesting me to relieve him, I moved forward and occupied his position, his men retiring on my arrival. The woods were very dense, shutting out all view, excepting a short distance in front of my line. The timid firing of the enemy led me to suspect that he was not in heavy force, and to ascertain the truth of my suspicions, I threw forward two (2) companies as skirmishers, with orders to press the enemy back if practicable. This they accomplished without much difficulty, driving him until their flanks were threatened, when I ordered a halt. In this movement I was not supported on either side. I immediately dispatched a message to General Jenkins, informing him of the state of affairs, and requesting supports. These never arrived, but in the meantime a movement was put in execution on the right, which rendered them unnecessary. The enemy was driven off by an attack in flank.

Later in the day, after considerable delay in unnecessary manoeuvring, we arrived in front of the new position the enemy had taken up after his morning's discomfiture, and prepared to attack him. I was ordered to be governed by Colonel Coward's regiment (the battalion of direction.) The movement began; I holding fast to Colonel Coward, who, instead of advancing directly to the point, obliqued considerably to the left, in conformity with the direction taken by the troops on his left. We were met by a heavy volley from the enemy, which, for a moment, staggered our line, causing some confusion. We, however, quickly recovered, and continued [435] the advance. I here discovered that the regiment which should have moved on my right was not there. In the density of the forest, I concluded it had temporarily gotten lost, and I gave no more thought to it. Under a destructive fire I attained the enemy's works, and drove him from them. He retired to a second line, keeping up a terrific fusilade, assisted by several pieces of artillery. The regiment alluded to a few lines back, was still missing, my men and ammunition almost exhausted—I deemed it inexpedient to attempt anything further. I abandoned this position only when the troops on my left gave way, (there were none on my right during any part of the advance), and the enemy threatened to cut me off. No further attack was made during the day. I carried into action twenty-six officers and two hundred and thirty-five men; lost two (2) officers killed and three (3) wounded, eight (8) men killed and seventy-nine (79) wounded.

Slight skirmishing lasted during the 7th and 8th ultimos. On the night of the latter day we took up the line of march for Spotsylvania Courthouse, which we reached early on the following morning after an exhaustive night march. Everything was gotten in readiness to attack the enemy, who had arrived here at the same time with us. We advanced, but failed to find him in the direction originally taken, when we changed front and pursued a course at right angles with the last. We shortly began skirmishing, which was kept up until night put a stop to it. On the next day we moved a short distance to the left, and erected a line of temporary works of fallen trees. On the morning of the 10th the enemy assaulted our position, but was repulsed after a sharp contest of an hour and a half. My skirmish line, slightly reinforced, held its position throughout the fight. More or less skirmishing occurred during the following day. On the 12th the enemy made a more determined attack, which was met with great gallantry by our men, and repulsed after several hours of hard fighting. The density of the woods, the smoke and other causes prevented me from ascertaining the moment of the enemy's withdrawal. I, therefore, advanced my skirmishers, assisted on my left by Captain Lyle, commanding Fifth South Carolina, and succeeded in capturing seventeen or eighteen of the enemy. A few days later the enemy abandoned our front, when we were transferred to the right extremity of the army. Nothing worthy of report occurred here until the night of the 17th of May, when we evacuated our lines and moved in the direction of Hanover Junction. I began the action of Spotsylvania Courthouse with twenty-one officers and [436] one hundred and forty-eight men; lost one (I) officer killed and three (3) wounded, two (2) men killed and sixteen (16) wounded.

We remained at Hanover Junction from the 18th ultimo until about the 25th. During this time we were engaged in several sharp skirmishes, resulting in the loss to my regiment of one (I) officer wounded and one (I) man killed. We next moved to the ‘lines of the Chickahominy,’ where, after considerable manoeuvring, we finally became established in the vicinity of Cold Harbor. On the 3d of June we had a sharp skirmish with the enemy with loss of one man.

We abandoned these lines on the 12th and marched to the neighborhood of Frazier's Farm. On the 14th, we crossed to the south side, and on the 15th engaged the enemy at Bermuda Hundreds, driving him from a position he occupied on Walthall Creek. On the 18th of June we arrived at Petersburg, and were put in trenches on the Baxter Road. From this time until the 21st July, we were constantly on duty and under fire. My loss from the enemy's sharpshooters amounted to two (2) officers killed and one (1) wounded, and four (4) men killed and ten (10) wounded.

July 21st we were transferred back to the north side to the neighborhood of Deep Bottom. We occupied a line, the left extremity of which rested on New Market Heights. On the 14th of August, the enemy attacked our position in heavy force, breaking the skirmish line of the regiment on my left, and penetrating to a point in the rear of my skirmishers. My left company was thus cut off and, with the exception of one man, captured.

After shelling our position heavily for an hour, he withdrew, and shifted his forces towards our left. We executed a corresponding movement. On the following day, brisk skirmishing ensued, but my regiment was not regularly engaged. My losses in the aggregate amounted to three (3) men wounded, and one (1) officer and, eighteen (18) men missing.

On the 23d August we returned to Petersburg, and were engaged until the 20th September in throwing up field-works in its vicinity. On that day the enemy attacked Battery Harrison, near Chaffin's Bluff, and carried it by storm. We were immediately ordered to that point, and arrived on the 29th. On the morning of the 30th, preparations were made to regain the fort which lasted until midday, when the attack began. We were then a thousand (1,000) yards from the point to be carried. Immediately the regiment on my left began to double-quick, which soon increased to a run, thus exhausting [437] the men and wasting their energies at a time when both should have been economized for the struggle on the parapet. I was opposed to this; but believing it to be an order, acquiesced. The enemy shortly opened fire on us, which increased in effect every moment, and soon began to tell fearfully on the ranks. At this critical moment, the brigade which preceded us gave way, and rushing through our line caused irremediable confusion. Added to this, the village of soldiers' huts, which lay in our track, offered the temptation to skulk, which many failed to resist, and which was impossible, in the confusion, to prevent. With those of my men who still adhered to their colors, I continued to advance until I attained a point within sixty (60) yards of the fort. Here, owing to the little support which was accorded to me by the remainder of the brigade, I ordered my regiment to halt, and began firing, to divert my men. I awaited here ten or fifteen minutes for reinforcements, but their failure to come up, and the fearful destructiveness of the enemy's fire, impressed me with the necessity of falling back, which I accordingly did. I rallied my men at the earliest practicable moment, and reported to the Brigadier-General commanding, who instructed me to return to my position of the morning. A short time afterwards, I was ordered to advance again on the enemy, bearing to the left, so as to strike his works on the right of Colonel Walker's regiment, which was reported as having gained them. I executed this order, but discovered no enemy this side of the fort; the flank-work having been manned by only a line of skirmishers who were driven from it by Law's brigade before the arrival of Walker.

After dark we were withdrawn to our old position. My losses in this engagement amounted to three officers and ten men killed, nine officers and sixty-two men wounded.

Two days later, we threw up a line of works in advance of our old position. In doing this I had one (1) man killed and two (2) wounded.

At sunrise on the morning of the 7th of October, we attacked the enemy on the Darbytown Road, and drove him from two lines of works. My regiment and Colonel Bowen's were advanced to storm the redoubt on the enemy's extreme right, occupied by his dismounted cavalry, which was carried in fine style. General Field then directed me to change front to the right, and attack in flank with the two (2) regiments (Second and First) a redoubt further to the right which was defying the efforts of Anderson's entire brigade. I executed this order, the men charging with great spirit and driving [438] from the work a body of the enemy. Anderson's brigade then came up, and we awaited further orders. I was now ordered by the Brigadier-General commanding, to move on the enemy's artillery, posted on the further edge of the field, and which was still resisting. We reached it after double-quicking for three-fourths (3/4) of a mile, shot down the horses and secured the cannon. After a long delay, which has never been explained to me, we followed the enemy nearly to the New Market Road, where he had retired after his reyerses of the morning and fortified. His reinforcements had arrived, and his position surrounded by a dense undergrowth, impassable to a line of battle, was thus rendered almost impregnable. We attacked it, and after a hard fight were repulsed. A short time afterwards we were withdrawn, abandoning all the ground we had gained in the morning. My losses amounted to two killed and seventeen wounded.

On the 27th November, the enemy attacked us on the Williamsburg Road, but were easily driven back. I had no casualties. In the skirmish preceding the attack, my skirmishers, under Captain Southern, captured thirty (30) or forty (40) of the enemy.

December 9th, we moved down the Darbytown Road to the enemy's position, and after considerable manoeuvring, for what purpose and with what effect, I have been unable to learn, withdrew in the night and returned to camp. I had one man wounded.

I have had altogether in the field since the opening of the campaign five hundred and seventy-two men and officers. My losses in the aggregate amount to thirty-seven killed and two hundred and seven wounded, and nineteen captured or missing. Among the former I have to deplore many of my bravest men and officers. Captains Grimes and Kirke, and Ensign E. W. Bellinger, all conspicuous for their gallantry under trying circumstances, fell in the assault on Battery Harrison, nobly discharging their duty.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,


Jas. R. Hagood, Colonel Commanding.
[Note.—At this length of time it is impossible to refer accurately by date, to events related in the foregoing report.—J. R. H.]

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