|Report on the actions of
The 15th Mass. at Robertson's Tavern and Brandy Station:
HDQRS. 15th REGIMENT MASSACHUSETTS VOLS.
NEAR BRANDY STATION, VA., December 3, 1863.
Excerpted from "The War of Rebellion", the official Army records of the American Civil War.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report:
The Fifteenth Massachusetts Regiment, Lieut. Col. George C. Joslin commanding, left camp November 26, 1863, with the other regiments composing the First Brigade, Second Division, Second Corps, and proceeded Germanna Ford, on the Rapidan River. Crossed on the pontoon bridge a little before sunset, moved out a distance of about 2 miles, and bivouacked for the night. Moved at sunrise on the 28th, and, after a rapid march, halted near Robertson's Tavern, where a portion of the Second Brigade was already skirmishing with the enemy. This command was immediately ordered to deploy as skirmishers and join on the right of the Second Brigade, along a fence and woods.
After remaining very quietly in this position for some two or three hours, Colonel Smith, of the Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, in charge of the line, ordered the right of our line to swing forward into the woods to ascertain the locality of a certain road, the left advancing not more than 20 yards. In so doing the right and center of our line became engaged with the skirmishers of the enemy, who almost immediately moved up a line of battle and this regiment was forced to fall back to its original position, and finally to a position about 100 yards in the rear, on the crest of a hill, which position we held with the help of the Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and drove the enemy back from the edge of the woods.
During this engagement Lieutenant Colonel Joslin was, in all probability, captured by the enemy. Captain Ellingwood severely, and Adjutant Newbury mortally wounded and has since died. The enlisted men wounded and missing were 13.
At this time the command of the regiment fell upon me, and I was directed by Colonel Smith to move the regiment to the right and rear, having been relieved from the front by the One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers.
About sunset I was directed by an aide of General Webb to again deploy the regiment and join on the right of the Eighty-second New York Volunteers, the line to swing forward to open the road by which General French, of the Third Corps, was expected to arrive, our line of skirmishers to be supported by the Nineteenth Maine Volunteers in line of battle. After advancing some 75 yards, a few shots were fired by the enemy, with no effect upon us.
We continued to advance, with one company as flankers, until the right of the line was nearly at a right angle with the First Minnesota Volunteers, who were on the extreme left of the brigade. At this time it had become so dark that it was impossible to tell friend from foe, and, fearing a collision with our friends, decided to swing back the right in a position covering the aid road, where we remained until half past 9 p.m., when we were relieved by the Nineteenth Maine Volunteers. The command bivouacked in the second line of battle for the night.
At an early hour on the 29th instant, a line of battle, consisting of the Second Division, was formed near Robertson's Tavern (the Fifteenth Massachusetts being on the right of the First Brigade), and advanced through the woods in a westerly direction a distance of 1¼ miles, and remained quietly in line until the morning of the 30th, when the corps moved, via Robertson's Tavern, near New Verdierville.
At this point, by the direction of Brigadier-General Webb, this command was deployed as skirmishers and moved in an oblique direction from the plank road, a distance of 600 paces, to guard against a surprise by the enemy. Were relieved by the One hundred and fifty-second New York Volunteers about 8 p.m., and bivouacked near the road.
December 1, were turned out at 2 a.m., and marched soon after to a position in front of the fortifications of the enemy, where we remained all day expecting orders to charge the works. Were withdrawn from the front with the rest of the brigade at about 8 o'clock and bivouacked in rear of that position.
About 12 o'clock on December 2, the First Brigade was ordered into a position the fifteenth in the second line on the fight of the First Minnesota Volunteers. At 7 p.m. was directed by Colonel Baxter to relieve the One hundred and fifty-second New York Volunteers at the front, and at 8.30 o'clock to report with my command to his headquarters, to move to the rear.
We marched to Ely's Ford, on the Rapidan, and crossed on the pontoon bridge at 9 a.m. on the 3d instant.; halted at 11 a.m. and made coffee, and moved again at 1 p.m.; arrived at our old camp near Brandy Station about 8 p.m.
The conduct of both officers and men during the entire movement was unexceptionable, and all did so well it is difficult to particularize, but I cannot refrain from mentioning Asst. Surg. T. O. Cornish for his efforts in assisting the wounded from the field during the hottest of the engagements, regardless of his own personal danger, and of Adjt. Dwight Newbury, who showed determined bravery, and who was mortally wounded while conveying an order from the fight to the left of the line.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHARLES H. EAGER,
Captain, Comdg. Fifteenth Massachusetts Volunteers