HEADQUARTERS THIRD NEW HAMPSHIRE VOLUNTEERS,
Laurel Hill, before Richmond, Va., October 13, 1864.
LIEUTENANT: In accordance with instructions received from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to make the following report of part taken by my command in recent operations north of the James:
On September 29 moved at 4 a.m. with Second Brigade, in First Division column, from Deep Bottom toward New Market road. Before the heights, was ordered by Col. J.C. Abbott, commanding brigade, to throw my regiment forward to join the Seventh Connecticut Volunteers, skirmishing, and command the skirmish line. Advanced about 200 yards across ravine and light woods, came to opening, from which I discovered the enemy's position to be in continual line of breast-works and rifle-pits at foot of the hills, and running with New Market road. Colonel Abbott instructed me to advance my line as rapidly as possible, reporting success to him, exercising my own discretion. When in full view of enemy and his works, 500 yards across the opening, I advanced a light line and drew from the enemy the disposition of his forces. Finding my line flanked on the left by works similar to those in my front, and discovering that he was reenforcing the flank, I ordered my men to lie down, the advantage of the rolling ground being such as to entirely protect them from his infantry while his artillery played over us into the ravine. I then dispatched a messenger to Colonel Abbott, informing him of disposition of my command, respectfully suggesting that a force be sent to relieve my left flank. Was informed that General Terry had sent a detachment of colored troops to that duty. As soon as those troops advanced, I pushed forward my first line of skirmishers, and finding but small force in my front ordered my whole command to charge. The enemy, discovering the success of the colored troops on my left, gave us their works without much struggle. Finding my way clear I determined to gain the position on the heights before the enemy should discover the actual strength of my force. He had already started with his guns. Leaving the Seventh Connecticut Volunteers, commanded by Captain Atwell, in charge of the work on the road, I advanced with Third New Hampshire, and took position on the heights, immediately pushing out a few skirmishers. They captured a Mr. Libby, owner of the farm we occupied, said to be of Libby Prison notoriety. This gentleman was in his loaded wagon started for Richmond. From him and the negroes of the place captured I learned that the enemy's battery consisted of eight guns. I judge from my own observations of the enemy that his force was about 600 infantry, 200 cavalry, and the battery. The cavalry at one time advanced as if to charge, but seeing the remainder of Colonel Abbott's command advancing, retired. My own force was less than 300. In this operation, so remarkably successful, I am much indebted to Captain Atwell and his command (Seventh Connecticut Volunteers) for the cheerful and gallant manner in which they obeyed my orders, as I am positive that had the enemy discovered my real force, or seen the least spirit other than determined bravery, they would not have given us the position. Occupying this position half an hour I received orders to rejoin the brigade.
Afternoon of same day marched with First Division on reconnaissance to within two miles of city of Richmond. Returned to our intrenched lines same evening.
During the day the officers and men of my command behaved in a manner creditable to themselves and to my perfect gratification.
I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES F. RANDLETT,
Major Third New Hampshire Volunteers, Comdg. Regiment.
Lieut. E. LEWIS MOORE,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., 2d Brig., 1st Div., 10th Army Corps.