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Operations before Petersburg, May 6-11, 1864.

Report of General Johnson Hagood.

headquarters Hagood's South Carolina brigade, near Drewry's Bluff, Virginia, May 13, 1864.
Captain Foote, A. A. G.:
Captain,—have the honor to report the operations of my brigade in front of Petersburg.

On the 6th instant the Twenty-first regiment and three companies of the Twenty-fifth under Major Glover, the whole under Colonel Graham, of the Twenty-first, arrived at Port Walthal Junction, upon which the enemy were then advancing, and in a very short time were engaged. Colonel Graham formed his line east of the railroad, at a [120] distance of some three hundred yards and parallel to it. His position was well chosen in a sunken road, with his left resting upon a ravine and his right upon a wood. He succeeded in repulsing a considerably larger force than his own, accompanied by two pieces of artillery. From information received from prisoners the enemy were supposed to have been Hickman's brigade. Our troops, both officers and men, must have behaved with distinguished gallantry, and I beg leave respectfully to refer for particulars to the reports of Colonel Graham, enclosed.

At dark on that night I arrived at Petersburg with the balance of the Twenty-fifth regiment, and marched immediately from the cars to reinforce Colonel Graham. The Twenty-seventh arrived a little later and followed, the whole arriving at Port Walthal Junction before day. I found Brigadier-General Johnson also at that point with some eight hundred muskets. He informed me that hearing the firing of Graham's action he had marched from the direction of Drewry's Bluff to reinforce him, arriving after the repulse of the enemy. The General ranking me, I reported to him for orders.

When day broke it was discovered that the enemy had in the night retired from our front. I was ordered to take my three regiments and advance to feel for him. At 10 A. M. I moved and found his line of pickets about a mile and a half on our left front. The morning was spent in manoeuvering and skirmishing, and finally the pressing of the enemy indicated an advance. I fell back under orders to the railroad, my left resting on the crossing of the turnpike and railroad; General Johnson's men on my right upon the railroad, and the Twenty-first regiment in reserve in rear of my centre and upon the turnpike.

The enemy appeared at 2 P. M., in two lines of battle with skirmishers well thrown out, and warmly engaged us. His line was oblique to mine and tending to overlap my left. After some half hour's fighting his second line was moved under cover of an intervening wood by right and appeared within musket range, approaching square upon my left, the left of this force being upon the prolongation of my left. The Twenty-First regiment had been ordered up into line upon my left in the beginning of the fight, and I was now compelled under a cross fire from two brigades to change my front. This necessitated great exposure of officers in effecting, but was happily done. The lives of some of the best and bravest of my command, of all grades, paying for its accomplishment. Soon after my new line was taken, I ordered an advance and the flanking brigade was driven back, not again reappearing [121] in that direction. My men now regained the railroad; their right, however, resting where their left had been in the morning. The enemy now massed heavily in my front and again advanced, but my men, sheltered by the railroad embankment, drove them back with but little loss to ourselves, and very heavy to them. Between four and five o'clock, the engagement ceased, except the firing of sharpshooters on either side, and before dark the enemy withdrew from the field.

I had an aggregate of 1,500 men engaged—the enemy at least two brigades. Our loss was 177—the enemy's estimated 1,000, and newspaper correspondents from the army of the enemy state that General Brooks with five brigades and one battery of artillery was in our front that day. In the action I was assisted at different times by two pieces of artillery, sent to me at my request from the right, but they did me but little good, getting twice out of ammunition, after very few discharges, and going a half mile to the rear to replenish. In the close of the action, they were not on the field. The Eleventh regiment and Seventh battalion arrived upon the battle field after nightfall, having been delayed upon the cars in coming from South Carolina.

At 12 o'clock that night our whole force at the Junction was withdrawn by General Johnson to the line of Swift Creek.

On the 9th I was ordered to take a part of my brigade and make a reconnoissance in front of this line. I took the Twenty-first, the Eleventh, and a detachment of the Twenty-fifth under Captain Carson. The object was accomplished, but from the broken and wooded nature of the ground, I became more heavily engaged than I desired with the heavy force in my front, and my loss was severe.

I append a statement of casualties in those actions:

Out of seven field officers taken into the action of the 7th, four were killed or wounded. The brave Lieutenant-Colonel Dargan, of the Twenty-first, fell at the head of his men in the crisis of the fight on that day. Colonel Graham was there wounded in two places while cheering on his men. Lieutenant-Colonel Pressley fell at the same place, with a dangerous wound, and refused assistance, ordering forward into line the men who came to take him off the field. Lieutenant-Colonel Blake, of the Twenty-seventh, was slightly wounded.. Captain Sellars, of the Twenty-fifth, was wounded and returned to the fight after his wound was dressed. My staff—Captain Molony, Lieutenant Martin, Lieutenant Mazyck, and Captain Stoney—were greatly exposed in the discharge of their duties, and behaved with [122] their usual gallantry. Captain Stoney was shot through the body, but still survives. Captain Carlos Tracy, of South Carolina, who was acting as volunteer aid upon my staff, behaved with much efficiency and gallantry.

Colonel Gaillard, Colonel Pressley, and Colonel Graham, commanding regiments, behaved with distinguished gallantry; and after the fall of the two latter, Major Glover and Lieutenant-Colonel Dargan did all .that could be done in supplying their places. After Colonel Dargan was killed Captain Wilds efficiently commanded his regiment till the close of the day.

The following men have been mentioned for meritorious conduct by their regimental commanders: First-Sergeant Pickens, Butler Watts, Company F; Sergeant J. P. Gibbon and Corporal J. Boozer, same company; Sergeant J. B. Abney, Company E; and Private Armilius Irving, Company A, of the Twenty-seventh Regiment; and Lieutenants Moffett and Duc, Sergeant W. V. Izlar, and Private J. T. Shewmake, of the Twenty-fifth. No report of the kind was received from the Twenty-first, in consequence of the fall of the field officers and the succession of Captain Wilds to its command late in the action. There were, however, many instances of devotion in its ranks, and the bearing and service of Lieutenant Chappel conspicuously attracted the attention of the brigade commander. Private Vincent Bellinger, a cripple from wounds received at Secessionville, and on light duty with the commissary, quit the train when he heard the action was going against us, and came upon the field. Picking up the rifle of a fallen man, he joined a company and fought well during the remainder of the day.


Johnson Hagood, Brigadier-General.

Report of Colonel R. F. Graham.

headquarters Twenty-First S. C. V., Port Walthal junction, May 7th, 1864.
Captain P. H Mallory, A. A. G.
Captain,—I have the honor to report that I arrived at Petersburg on yesterday, the 16th instant, with three companies of the Twenty-First S. C. V., and three companies of the Twenty-Fifth S. C. V., numbering about 300 men. That I was immediately ordered with this force to Port Walthal Junction by Major-General Pickett, [123] with instructions to defend the railroad at that point. I arrived at the Junction about 4:45 P. M., and there found three hundred men of the Twenty-First S. C. V., under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Dargan, who had arrived there from Drewy's Bluff about one hour previous.

I discovered soon after arriving that the enemy were in heavy force in front. I immediately chose my position, and formed my line of battle some 300 yards east of the railroad. I had hardly formed my line when I was attacked by a force estimated to be at least two brigades, with several pieces of artillery. They were driven back in confusion. They again formed for an attack, and attempted to turn my left flank. Perceiving this, I sent all my force that could be spared to this point. They were met with such a deadly fire, that they retreated in confusion from the field, leaving some of their dead and wounded on the field. I cannot fail to mention the gallant conduct of both officers and men. The right of the line was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Dargan, and the left by Major Glover, Twenty-Fifth S. C. V. I lost in this action thirty-three men, two killed and twenty-eight wounded of the Twenty-First S. C. V., and five wounded of the Twenty-Fifth S. C. V.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,


R F. Graham, Colonel Twenty-First S. C. V, Commanding.

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