HDQRS. DETACH. SIXTEENTH NEW YORK HEAVY ARTY.,
Before Richmond, Va., October 12, 1864.
SIR: In accordance with instructions I beg leave to submit the following report of the part taken by the detachment of the Sixteenth New York Heavy Artillery, under my command, attached to Second Brigade (Col. J. C. Abbott, Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers, commanding), First Division, Tenth Army Corps, since leaving camp near Petersburg, embracing the period from September 28 to October 12:
The detachment formed in brigade column at 3 o'clock on the afternoon of September 28 in heavy marching order, and moved about 4 p.m. We arrived at Deep Bottom about 1.30 a.m. September 29. Here we bivouacked until 4 a.m., when we left our knapsacks, &c., and, in light order, fell into column. About 6 a.m. the skirmishers in the advance became engaged, and shortly after our brigade was ordered into line of battle. We formed and advanced through a light piece of woods and entered a thicket which bordered a ravine. We were ordered into the ravine and then halted, exposed to a raking fire of shell and case-shot from a battery of the enemy on our right, who had excellent range. By covering close we sheltered ourselves so that our loss was slight, only two being wounded. We were soon ordered to advance and support the skirmishers of our brigade, who were pressing the enemy in their intrenchments in front. We halted in the underbrush on the edge of the open field, across which we were to charge on the rebel line. A flank movement of the troops on our left had the effect of driving the enemy out of his breast-works, and, at the same time, our brigade skirmishers entered the battery on the right. These works carried, after a short pause, we joined in the column and marched to Laurel Hill, when, after lying in reserve for a few hours during the action on the left, took up our line of march by the Darbytown road toward Richmond. We went within three miles of the city, meeting with no resistance, and, after thoroughly reconnoitering the ground, returned about three miles to a line of works that the enemy had evacuated, where we went into camp about 7 p.m.
At noon on the 1st of October we fell in with the division, and after a short march joined General Kautz's cavalry division, and again marched toward Richmond. We arrived within three miles of the city, when we formed in line of battle, our left resting on the Darbytown road, and advanced, supporting the skirmish line, through a piece of woods toward the enemy's works. After emerging from the woods and gaining the open ground, we were at once opened on by the enemy's batteries from our front, and an enfilading fire from either flank. We advanced until ordered to halt on the edge of a deep gully, in the thicket bordering which we covered ourselves as well as possible. This was within about two miles and a quarter from the city. The enemy evidently had every foot of ground measured for ranges of their guns, for their fire came accurate and heavy. We remained there until near 5 p.m., when we were ordered to retire, which we did, with but two men wounded, both by fragments of shell. The escape of our men was miraculous as we were exposed to the fire of the enemy, and in their full view for nearly half a mile of our march. The men on the works around the city were plainly seen and the ringing of the alarm bells could be heard distinctly. We arrived in camp about 7.30 p.m., the rain having continued all day and still falling. On the morning of the 7th instant, at 7 o'clock, we were ordered to pack knapsacks and be in readiness to move in half an hour. We did so, and moved with the brigade about a quarter of a mile to the right. About 8.30 a.m. moved to the left and rear of our first position, and filed down the New Market road, and marching forward parallel with it about 500 yards halted and prepared for action. About 10 a.m. the skirmishers were driven in, and we were attacked by the enemy directly in our front. We waited their advance, and within fifty yards opened fire upon them, which checked their advance somewhat, but they returned our fire with great vigor. We held our line perfectly intact, and although they advanced to within thirty yards of us we repulsed them. After an action of about thirty minutes they retired by the right flank, still under our fire. They lost heavily in our front, both in killed and wounded. A captain and two lieutenants were among their dead left on the field. We also took some prisoners who were wounded in our front and several came in, from whom we ascertained that the troops we fought directly were South Carolinians. Our loss in the action was 51 men and 4 officers wounded; 11 men killed, and I missing; total loss, 67. The men did well and are entitled to great praise for their coolness and steadiness under the severe fire of the enemy. Every officer and man seemed to realize the importance of the position and that the line must be held at all hazard, and they acted accordingly. After the action we buried our dead and at once commenced throwing up temporary breast-works of logs and branches filled in with earth dug up by the cups, places, and bayonets of the men. In the afternoon we supported part of the Second Division as they advanced in front in pursuit of the enemy some mile and a half, but no further fighting took place and we returned to camp about 10 p.m. on the field we had held in the morning.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
FREDK. W. PRINCE,
Major, Comdg. Detach. Sixteenth New York Heavy Artillery.
Lieut. E. Lewis MOORE,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.