Official report of Colonel J. P. Simmes's operations from June 2d, 1864, to December, 1864.
headquarters Simmes's brigade, December, 1864.Major,—I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this brigade since I have been commanding. On the night of the 2d of June, General Bryan turned over the command of the brigade to myself, while occupying a position on the line at Cold Harbor. Immediately after he left I received orders to destroy the works which we occupied and withdraw before daylight, the line having been changed previously and works thrown up in rear of us by General Law's brigade. Accordingly, at the time specified, the brigade was withdrawn and moved in rear of General Law's position for the purpose of allowing the men to rest, they being very much fatigued by the arduous labors of several days previous to that time. About the time that the men had stacked arms preparatory to rest, an attack was made upon General Law's line. He sent a courier to me asking that I would move up to his assistance, as his works had not been well supplied with ammunition. The brigade was put under arms immediately, and moved up to General Law's line through a heavy fire of musketry. The men moved up in gallant style, and very soon the enemy were forced to retire. The brigade lost several men and officers killed and wounded, amongst whom was Lieutenant McClendon, acting Aid de-Camp, while nobly discharging his duty. On the 4th we were ordered to take position on the line again, to the right of the position occupied by General Law, which position  was occupied by the brigade for several days. Here our line was in such close proximity to the enemy's works that a constant fire was kept up during the day between us and the enemy, resulting in loss to us, and to be supposed in greater loss to them, as we finally almost silenced their sharpshooters entirely. During the night of the 12th the enemy abandoned their works in our front, and on the morning of the 14th we moved from there to Frazier's Farm, at which place we remained until the 16th, when we moved in the direction of Petersburg, reaching there on the 18th. Very soon after our arrival we were ordered upon line, and before the troops could be arranged upon the line the enemy made an attack, which was very easily repulsed. The brigade occupied this line until the 23d. The enemy had thrown up works within sixty yards of ours, and when we were placed there the works were incomplete, and we were compelled to complete them under the incessant fire of musketry and artillery, and on some parts of the line the works were begun without any protection whatever. The number of casualties occurring in the brigade at this place will give some idea of the difficulties which had to be contended against. There were fifteen killed and thirty-one wounded, most of which proved fatal. When relieved from this line the brigade was held in reserve about three-fourths of a mile in rear of the line. Here we remained until the 23d July, during which time nothing occurred worthy of special notice, except an occasional march down the Weldon railroad in quest of the enemy, but failing to find him, we returned to our same place of bivouac each time. On the morning of the 23d received orders to move, and set out for the north side of the James; on the 26th took position upon the New Market road and fortified. The enemy, ascertaining that a force was at that point, crossed over a heavy force and made disposition of their forces in order to attack, and did attack the troops on our left, when the General Commanding thought it prudent to withdraw, and accordingly orders were given to fall back to Russell's Mill on the Darbytown road prolongation of the line at New Market Heights. The enemy advanced, but the Major-General disposed of the troops in such a manner as to extend the line to such an extent, and make them believe that we had so great a force, as to deter him from an attack, and thus he delayed the enemy until reinforcements came to our aid. At this place the enemy advanced their skirmishers, and I was ordered to send out two regiments to drive them back. Colonel McGlashan was sent out with the Tenth and Fiftieth Georgia Regiments, with which he attacked their line and succeeded in capturing the greater  part of the enemy's skirmish line which he had so advanced, and for the skilful manner in which he managed to accomplish this he deserves credit. On the 29th the enemy withdrew from our front, and recrossed the river to the south side, and went into camp near Chester Station, on the Telegraph Road. Here General Bryan returned and resumed command about the 3d of August, and remained with the brigade until the morning of the 21st, when he again left, during which time we moved from Chester Station to the Valley—nothing of importance having occurred during the time. When I took command again on the 21st, the brigade was near Winchester, and with orders to move. The division was moved in the direction of Charlestown, with this brigade in front. After moving some six or eight miles, we encountered the cavalry of the enemy. The Major-General ordered me to send forward two regiments to attack, which was done, driving the enemy a short distance, when it was found necessary to reinforce with another regiment. I suppose we met about one brigade of the enemy's cavalry, driving them about six miles, when they fell back upon a division of their cavalry, strongly posted and with artillery. Here I halted the brigade, thinking it not prudent to advance further, when the Major-General brought up the remainder of the division, and ordered an advance. By this time the enemy had retreated hastily in the direction of Charlestown. In this affair we lost a few men wounded, and one or two killed. After this, we moved on to Charlestown, the enemy falling back to Harpers Ferry. We remained at Charlestown a few days. The skirmish line was engaged slightly near Charlestown on the 30th. On the 31st the brigade, with others of the division, moved back in the direction of Winchester. On September 3d we left Winchester and moved towards Berryville, arriving near Berryville a little before sunset in the evening. The enemy being immediately in our front, line of battle was formed by order of the Major-General, in conjunction with the other brigades of the division, and an attack made upon their lines. Our men moved forward with great spirit and gallantry. The enemy only held their position long enough to fire one round, then fled precipitately. By this time night interposed, and we slept upon the field, and next morning found that their line, which had crossed the road, now ran parallel to it, and they had made use of the time allowed by night to fortify. We remained in line confronting them next day and night, and were then ordered to withdraw, and return to Winchester.  The loss of the brigade in this battle was four killed and twenty-six wounded. We remained at Winchester until the 16th September, and then marched in the direction of Culpeper Courthouse. On the 19th, the General having received information that a raiding party was in the vicinity, and that they were going towards Stevensburg, ordered me with this brigade to a certain point on that road to intercept them. The brigade was put in motion immediately, and moved at double-quick for nearly two miles, but upon arriving within about five hundred yards, the enemy were opposite to us in the road, having proceeded so far as to render it impossible to cut them off. Finding that this was the only opportunity we would have of inflicting damage upon them, I gave orders to fire. We killed and wounded several of them. Our loss was nothing. We recaptured from this party quite a number of horses and mules, which they had captured from a Government lot near Rapid Ann Station. On the 20th we left Culpeper, marching in the direction of Gordonsville, which place we reached on the 25th; camped there one night, and then again we moved in the direction of the Valley, passing through Swift Run Gap, thence up by the foot of the mountains in the direction of Port Republic. On the——of September we came in sight of Port Republic, at which place the enemy's cavalry was distinctly visible, driving ours before them across the river and through the town. By an order from the Major-General I placed my brigade in the edge of a wood, near by the road leading from the town, in such a manner as not to be observed by the enemy, and awaited their advance in that direction, our cavalry having already retired. As he had anticipated, it was not long before they came dashing down the road moving by the flank, but by the untimely firing of some shots from the command we failed to inflict such loss upon them as otherwise would have been done. The enemy escaped with slight loss and the loss of the brigade was nothing. From this time until the 14th October the brigade was marching from point to point, camping at different places for a short space of time. When, on the 14th, General Connor's brigade was engaged at Huff's Hill this brigade was held as reserve for his support, but that brigade having accomplished the work assigned to it so handsomely that it was not thought necessary to bring it into action, therefore the brigade was not engaged, but lost in wounded some eight or ten men. On the evening of the 18th I received orders to move out in the direction of Strasburg at 12 o'clock that night, preparatory to an attack that was to be made on the enemy's works next morning. In compliance with  the order the brigade moved out at the time specified and to the point designated, each man having been supplied with sixty rounds of ammunition. Soon after our arrival at the place designated by the Major-General on the turnpike, the other brigades of the division came up, and we marched in the direction of Strasburg by the turnpike road in front of the division. Having passed through Strasburg, we left the turnpike and moved upon a little road turning to the right, which was followed until we came in sight of the enemy's campfires. Here a halt was ordered until near five o'clock, when I was ordered to move down this road until the brigade had crossed over, and then turn down the creek and form line of battle parallel to the creek, and to advance immediately to the front until a certain clump of woods was passed, and then to change direction to the left in such manner as to cause the line to confront that of the enemy; to drive the enemy's pickets in without firing upon them; and not to fire until the enemy's line was reached; all of which was strictly complied with, the gallant men moving forward steadily and firmly, receiving the shots from the enemy's picket line without replying, but continuing to move forward with unbroken front, through the volleys of musketry and cannon which they were now exposed to, until they reached the enemy's works. The enemy made a stubborn resistance. Some of them were shot down while firing upon our men at a distance of a few feet. The works were of a formidable character, with a strong abattis covering most of the front and in a favorable position for defence. After capturing the works and sweeping through the camp (which was just inside the works), there being no troops either on our right or left, I thought it prudent to fall back to the captured works and await the arrival of other troops. Here the brigade captured a large number of prisoners, seven pieces of cannon which were mounted on the works, beside some other pieces which were parked in rear, the whole of the camp equipage which was upon that part of their line. While waiting for the other troops to come up, the captured artillery was turned upon the enemy; very soon the brigades of Generals Connor and Humphreys came up on the right and left, and again we advanced, encountering a second line of works, but driving them like chaff before the wind, and again came in contact with their third line, but here did not meet with as much resistance as upon the other lines; we continued to drive the enemy until about eleven o'clock, when a halt was ordered. Our position was changed by moving to the fight, and rested until about five o'clock in the afternoon, when  an attack was made upon the troops to our left. They broke and fled in confusion, forcing upon us the necessity of falling back. The line was formed about one-fourth of a mile in rear of the one which had been abandoned, which was held until it was found that the troops on the left of my brigade had abandoned the field. I placed a regiment on my left, formed perpendicularly to the rear, to protect the flank. The enemy soon attacked it with such force as it was not able to withstand. I then determined to throw back the entire brigade so as to protect the flank of the line, and while carrying into execution this purpose, I observed the troops on my right moving by the right flank, which rendered it necessary I should move likewise. By this time the enemy had gotten completely in our rear, and were pressing from the front and flank; and in moving out amongst the confused masses of troops from other commands, our organizations also became confused, and it was impossible to reform the command in proper order. We moved back that night to Fisher's Hill, and next morning in the direction of New Market, which place we reached the same evening. In this battle the brigade had about five hundred and twenty arms-bearing men. Of four regimental commanders, three were wounded, two have since died of the wounds—Colonels Ball and Holt. Colonel McGlashan was wounded through both thighs. The loss of the brigade was heavy in officers and men—about two hundred killed and wounded-complete lists of which have been sent in prior to this time. I take pleasure in bearing testimony to the gallantry, and acknowledging my indebtedness to Captain C. C. Kibbee, Assistant Acting Adjutant-General, for his efficient services throughout the entire time which I have had the honor to command the brigade. After remaining a few days at New Market, we marched to—— and came by railway to Richmond. I am, your obedient servant,