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Operations in front of Petersburg June 24th, 1864.

Report of General Hagood.

headquarters Hagood's S. C. Brigade, Hoke's division, June 26th, 1864.
Capt. Otey, A. A. G.:
Captain,—I am required to make a full report of the operations of my command in front of Petersburg on the morning of the 24th inst.:

My Brigade occupied the left of our line of entrenchments, resting on the south bank of the Appomattox, the Twenty-seventh, Twenty-first and Eleventh Regiments filling the space from the river to the City Point road, and the Twenty-fifth and Seventh battalions extending along the lines south of the road. The enemy's entrenchments were at this point, parallel to ours, at a distance of about four hundred yards—an open field, with a rank growth of oats upon it, intervening. Each side had slight rifle-pits a short distance in advance of its first line of entrenchments. Our line of entrenchments was single. The enemy was entrenched in three lines close together, and the attack developed the fact that four and a half regiments, numbering some I,600 or 1,700 men, occupied their first line.

My division commander, Major General Hoke, about dawn on the 24th, informed me that a general engagement was contemplated that day, and gave me detailed instructions as to the part my brigade was to take in bringing it on. He had, the night before, given me direction [460] to be ready for movement at daylight. A heavy cannonade was to be opened from the north side of the river upon the enemy's position, and five minutes after it had ceased I was to charge the portion of the enemy's line between the river and the City Point road, with Twenty-seventh, Twenty-first and Eleventh regiments, and informed that I would be closely supported by Anderson's brigade.

When we had succeeded in driving them from their first line, Anderson was to occupy it till his support arrived, when he was to press on against their second and third lines, while, pivoting my three regiments, already spoken of, on their right, and bringing up the other two regiments of the brigade, I was to form my line along the City Point road, perpendicular to my first position. Then, taking the enemy's first line as a directrix, I was to clear Colquitt's front (on my right) as far as and including Hare's Hill, &c., &c.

While General Hoke was still explaining the plan of battle to me, Lieutenant Andrews reported to me from General Anderson, stating that the latter was in position, and had sent him to keep in communication with me. In consultation with General Hoke my plan of attack was settled and every preparation made.

The artillery opened precisely at 7 A. M. and ceased precisely at 7.30 A. M. At 7.20 A. M. I sent Lieut. Andrews to say to General Anderson that I would move in fifteen minutes. He left me with speed. A delay of seven minutes, however, occurred in my movements, and at precisely 7.42 A. M. I advanced. I am, so far, thus accurate as to time, because I did not see my supports, did not know their precise locality, and being governed in my instructions by time, noticed the watch closely.

My advance was made with four hundred picked men and officers as skirmishers, followed by the balance of the three regiments (about five hundred and fifty men) in a second deployed line at close supporting distance. Lieutenant-Colonel Nelson (Seventh battalion) was selected to command the skirmishers. I took the direction of the main line.

The attack was made. The enemy were driven from their riflepits, without resistance of moment. Their first line of entrenchments was gained, and a portion of it captured. Some thirty prisoners were here taken and sent to the rear, and the enemy's whole line was seriously shaken, his men in numbers running from the works. Discovering our small force and the attack not being followed up, his first line rallied and reinforcements were rapidly pushed up from his [461] rear, and we were compelled to fall back. This was done slowly and the enemy endeavoring to charge us, was driven back into his works. My men, under orders, laid down in the oats about half way between the two hostile entrenchments to await Anderson's advance and then go with him. Numbers of them, however, got back as far as our riflepits before spoken of, and were allowed to remain there with the same orders as the more advanced line. None of them came back to our entrenchments, except the few skulkers whom every attack develops, and in this instance I am pleased to say that they were very few.

How much time was occupied in these movements I am unable to say accurately, as I did not look at my watch again. When the vigor of my attack was broken, however, and my men had begun to fall back, the left of Benning's brigade, moving by a flank, reached the right of the entrenchments I had left in advancing, and there stopped. A discussion between Major-Generals Hoke and Field took place, and after some delay this brigade moved in and was ready to advance. General Anderson's report will explain the delay in his arrival. The report of Lieutenant-Colonel Dubose, commanding Benning's brigade, will show the time of his arrival and the then condition of affairs. Major-General Hoke was on the ground during the whole morning and can speak of his personal knowledge.

The order for attack being countermanded, I kept out all day as many of my men as the rifle-pits would hold, withdrawing the rest by squad. At night all were withdrawn and the regiments reorganized. My loss was about a third of the force engaged, twenty-five being killed seventy-three wounded, and two hundred and eight missing. Among the missing are, I fear, many killed and wounded who fell nearest the enemy's entrenchments.

The gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Nelson is missing, it is hoped not killed. Captain Axson, Twenty-seventh regiment, was killed at the head of his company. Lieutenants Huguenin and Trim, of the Twenty-seventh; Lieutenants Chappell, Ford and Vauduford, Twenty-first, and Lieutenant Smith, Eleventh, were wounded. Captains Mulvaney and Buist were captured upon the enemy's works, the latter after receiving two wounds.1 Captain Rayson and Lieutenant Riley, Eleventh regiment; Lieutenant White, Twenty-seventh regiment, [462] and Lieutenant Clements, Twenty-first, are missing. I append a tabular list of casualties.

OfficersEnlisted Men.OfficersEnlisted Men.OfficersEnlisted Men.OfficersEnlisted Men.aggregate.
Seventh Battalion S. C. V.Captain Jones111
Eleventh Regiment S. C. V.Captain Mickler1412724338487
Twenty-sixth Regiment S. C. V.Captain Wilds3418149 67076
Twenty-fifth Regiment S. C. VColonel Simonton.
Twenty-seventh Regiment S. C. V.Captain Buist1722031106187143
Grand Total124765720215291306

Report of General Hoke.

headquarters Hoke's division, July 2d, 1864.
In obedience to orders from Department Headquarters, I respectfully report that a plan of an attack upon the enemy was settled upon on June 23d, 1864, to take place on the following morning; which plan is fully known to the Commanding General. On the night of the 23d General Hagood was made sufficiently familiar with the mode of attack to make the necessary arrangements. No other officer of my command was aware of the intended advance. This precaution was taken fearing that by some means the enemy might learn our intentions and prepare for us. In accordance with the plan my arrangements were made, which are fully and properly given in the enclosed report of Brigadier-General Hagood.

Dividing my forces on the left of the City Point road into two heavy skirmish lines, one to be supported by the other, the whole to be supported by Brigadier-General Anderson's brigade, of Field's division, I formed in line of battle in rear of the entrenchments then [463] occupied by Hagood's left, and under cover of the hill. As was directed, the artillery from the batteries on the north side of the river opened fire upon the entrenchments of the enemy as soon as the morning's mist had cleared away, and continued its fire with great accuracy, but no execution, for half an hour. After the lapse of five minutes the fire of these guns was directed upon the batteries of the enemy, drawing, in a great degree, their fire from the advancing infantry, which, as far as I could see, was the only service rendered by our guns. Indeed, I fear we were injured more than we gained by the use of our guns, as it notified the enemy of our intended attack. My intention was to attack immediately after our guns opened upon the enemy's batteries, but as General Anderson had not reported I delayed, and immediately one of his staff officers appeared, by whom General Anderson was informed that in fifteen minutes the advance would certainly take place, which would give him time to reach the entrenchments then occupied by General Hagood. At the appointed time the advance was ordered, and immediately the second line followed. The first line gallantly entered the entrenchments of the enemy and did their duty nobly, and, as was witnessed by General Lee himself, succeeded not only in breaking the enemy, but drove them from their works.

It was never expected that the entrenchments of the enemy could be held by these two lines of skirmishers, but that they should occupy them until the line of battle could reach them. As was before stated, the second line of skirmishers followed immediately the first, but was not allowed to go beyond the line of rifle-pits, as it was discovered that the supporting line of battle had not appeared, and had they gone on would have shared the fate of the first line. I then asked Major-General Field, who was upon the ground, to order Anderson forward, as a moment's delay would be fatal. He immediately sent the order, which had been previously sent, to General Anderson to go forward. (It is proper here for me to state that this was my third effort to get General Anderson forward after my first notice to him that ‘in fifteen minutes I would certainly move forward.’)

Some time after General Field's second order was sent to General Anderson he received a note from him stating that the entrenchments were still occupied by General Hagood's troops. In this he was greatly mistaken, as will be seen by General Hagood's report, and if necessary to prove this mistake, I can produce a statement from Colonel Dubose, commanding Benning's brigade (who by this time had moved up in line of battle on the right of General Anderson's position, [464] and after reaching the trenches moved by the left flank down them and occupied the position which Anderson was to have taken, and then in his front), that there were no troops in the trenches apart from some stragglers, of which I am sure no command is free. After some time, I suppose an hour, Major-General Field put two brigades in the trenches on the left of the City Point road, with a view to attack, and seemed anxious to do so, but I advised against it, as the enemy had had ample time to make all preparations for us, and which they had done, I felt assured he would sustain a very heavy loss and accomplish nothing. At this time orders were received from General Lee for me to report to him in company with Major-General Field, who abandoned the attack after hearing the position of affairs. My troops were not able to return until night, as they would have been exposed to a heavy fire of the enemy from their entrenchments, which were about four hundred yards in advance of those occupied by our men. A report of the casualties has been forwarded. I was much troubled at the loss of my men, who did their duty truly and well, without results which to me appeared certain, and surely ought to have been reaped. It is not my desire to place blame or responsibility upon others (I fear neither) in making the foregoing statements, but merely give facts to the best of my knowledge, after which the Commanding General may draw his own conclusions. I have unofficially heard that both I and my command were censured by the Commanding General. My regret is in attempting the attack without full command of all the forces who were to participate. Both the plan of battle and of attack were good, but failed in the execution. The enemy became extremely uneasy along his entire line when the attack was made, and had we been successful at that point our results would have been such as have not heretofore been equalled. No other portion of my command was engaged except the three regiments of Hagood's brigade on the left of the City Point road, whose action is given in detail in the enclosed report. The plan of battle was such that no part of my command could participate except those mentioned. General Hagood did everything in his power to give us success, and desired to push forward when in my judgment it appeared hazardous.

Very respectfully.


R. F. Hoke, Major-General. To Captain John M: Otey, A. A. G.


Copy of endorsement made by General Beauregard on Major-General Hoke's report of the action of his command on June 24th, 1864.

[Respectfully forwarded to General R. E. Lee for his information.]

It will be seen by the reports of Generals Hoke and Hagood that they are not responsible for the failure of the attack of the 24th ult., which would have been undoubtedly successful had the supports advanced in time. General Hoke is mistaken, if he refers to me, when he says: ‘I have learned unofficially that I and my command were censured by the Commanding General.’ I stated only that ‘the success would have been most brilliant if the skirmishers had been properly supported.’ His report and that of General Hagood prove the correctness of my assertion.

General Hoke says on the second page of his report, ‘after an elapse of five minutes, the fire of the guns—i.e., forty-four guns on the north side of the Appomattox—was directed upon the batteries of the enemy, drawing, in a great degree, their fire from the advancing infrantry, which, as far as I could see, was the only service rendered by our guns. Indeed, I fear we were injured more than we gained by the use of our guns, as it notified the enemy of our intended attack.’

The object of opening the fire of the batteries referred to, during half an hour preceding the infantry attack, was to demoralize the enemy's troops occupying the defensive lines which were to be attacked, and which were enfiladed and taken in reverse of those batteries. It was expected, also, that the heavy artillery fire would throw into confusion any supports the enemy might have concealed in the woods near his lines. The best proof of the entire success of this plan is the facility with which one unsupported line of skirmishers got possession of those lines with the loss of only twenty-five killed and seventy-two wounded. I am decidedly of the opinion that, regard being had to locality and the attending circumstances, no better results could have been attained by any other plan than the one adopted, and which failed only because not properly supported.


G. T. Beauregard, General. Headquarters Department N. C. and S. V., July 5, 1864. Official: Jno. A. Cooper, A. A. A. G.

1 A mistake.

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