HDQRS. EIGHTH REGIMENT U.S. COLORED TROOPS,
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report to the commanding general of the part taken by my regiment in the late movements against Richmond:
I received orders on the 28th of September to hold my command in readiness to move at 3 p.m. About 5 o'clock it, with the balance of the brigade, started, crossing the James River at Aiken's Landing, and halted at 3.30 a.m. on the 29th at Deep Bottom. At daybreak we were again on the move, and, with the remainder of the brigade, formed in the woods to the right, experiencing a slight shelling. Shortly after we again started, and moved along the New Market road to its junction with the Mill road. Here we were formed in line of battle in front of the enemy's strong position at Laurel Hill. I was ordered to advance four companies, under Captain Cooper, to charge in a deployed line on the fort in my immediate front. They advanced to within less than 200 yards of the works under a terrific fire of grape and canister. Captain Cooper seeing it would be useless to attempt a charge with his small force halted and opened on the enemy's gunners. I was then directed to take four more companies and charge the fort. On arriving on the line of the first four companies I halted to reconnoiter the position of the enemy and the probable success of an attack. I soon became convinced that I could arrive at no other result with my eight small companies (in all not numbering 250 men) than to have them slaughtered and still make no impression on the enemy's position. I sent word to this effect to the commanding general, but told him I would go ahead if he ordered it. He sent me word to remain where I was and hold the line. I kept up a skirmish all the afternoon with the enemy, when at sundown he moved with a heavy force against my left flank, turning it and getting to my left and rear. I immediately ordered a company from the right of my line and double-quicked them to the left, driving the enemy back to their forts. Soon after I was relieved by the Seventh U.S. Colored Troops and my regiment returned to the Mill road and thence to the line of works we now occupy. My losses during this day's fighting were 4 officers wounded, 7 enlisted men killed, and 42 enlisted men wounded.
On the morning of the 30th my regiment, with the balance of the brigade, moved to the left, and I was ordered to throw up a line of intrenchments in front of it. While busily engaged at this orders came to be ready to move, and I was soon afterward ordered to move into the trenches on the right of the Forty-fifth U.S. Colored Troops. It was at this time the enemy charged on General Paine's command. My regiment moved into line on the double-quick, but took no active part in the engagement. During this movement I lost 14 enlisted men wounded. Since then my regiment has been doing duty in the trenches.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. E. WAGNER,
Capt. M. Bailey,
Last updated: February 26, 2015