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[177]

A desperate dash. [from the Richmond (Va.) dispatch, January 2, 1894.]


Capture and Reoccupation of the Howlett House in 1864.

The gallant achievement of Colonel Morrison1 and Captain Hudgin and their commands without any orders.


On the 16th day of June, 1864, when Grant's flank movement across the James river threatened Petersburg, and it was found necessary to send forces to defend that city, which was in imminent peril from an attack on the east, Confederate troops were withdrawn from General Butler's front, on the Bermuda Hundreds line, and hurried across the Appomattox to foil the Federal forces. The exigencies of the occasion were so urgent and unexpected, that no troops could be mustered immediately to replace those sent from the north of the Appomattox river to defend Petersburg, and for a short time the entire line of defence—reaching from Howlett's house, on the James river, to the Appomattox—was left exposed and defenceless. To fill this gap and reoccupy the deserted works, as above described, Pickett's Division, in General R. H. Anderson's Corps, was hastened to the south side of James river, and advanced down the turnpike towards Chester station and Petersburg, with orders to push back the enemy when found, so as to occupy and hold the line in Butler's front, if possible, without bringing on an engagement.

When Corse's Brigade, of Pickett's Division, had reached a point on the pike between Chester station and Bermuda Hundreds, and nearly opposite to the Howlett House, on James river, a halt was made, and an order given for a skirmish line to be thrown out on the east of the pike, and to advance almost at right angles with it towards the river. The Fifteenth Virginia Regiment, commanded by Colonel E. M. Morrison, was detailed for that service, but his regiment being a small one, at that time depleted from long and active service, Company F, of the Thirtieth Virginia Infantry, commanded by Captain

1 ‘R. H.,’ in the dispatch of Jan. 14, 1894, whilst admitting that the account is ‘full and accurate in the main,’ claims that ‘Captain J. D. Waid of the Hanover Grays commanded the skirmish line “ on that occasion,” and not Colonel Morrison who was absent and did not take command until the following morning.’—Ed.

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