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MAY 4-JUNE 2, 1864.--Operations on the south side of the James River, Va.
No. 53.--Report of Lieut. Col. Martin B. Smith, Eighth Connecticut Infantry, of operations May 7-16.

[ar68_136 con't]

Near Petersburg, Va., May 18, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of my regiment in the recent engagements with the enemy from the 6th to the 16th instant:

The regiment left camp at daybreak on the morning of the 7th, was ordered to the front as skirmishers, driving the enemy from a strong position in the woods and then advanced in line of battle and <ar68_137> engaged the enemy, who were strongly posted behind the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad embankment, until ordered to fall back for want of ammunition. We returned to camp that night, the loss being 4 killed, 61 wounded, and 7 missing; among the wounded were 4 commissioned officers. The regiment again left camp on the morning of the 9th. During the day the two flank companies were engaged as skirmishers. The regiment during the morning was held as reserve for the brigade on their advance toward Petersburg. About noon the regiment was ordered into a position on the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad by General Brooks; this position we held until night-fall, in the mean time having destroyed a portion of the railroad. At 6 p.m. we were ordered to form in line of battle on the right of the brigade line; this position we held until the afternoon of the 10th, when we were withdrawn to a position under cover of the woods, which we held until the withdrawal of the pickets, our loss being 1 killed and 2 wounded, all enlisted men. We returned to the camp on the afternoon of the 10th.

On the morning of the 12th, in accordance with orders received, we advanced with the brigade up the Richmond and Petersburg turnpike. The regiment was constantly to the front from this date until the evening of the 16th, a large portion of the time acting in connection with the One hundred and eighteenth New York Volunteers as a reserve for the skirmishers. Advancing slowly toward the outer works around Fort Darling, on the morning of the 14th, in connection with One hundred and eighteenth New York Volunteers, we charged and captured the enemy's outer line of intrenchments, and were ordered into position along the line of works, our right resting on the turnpike. This position we held until the morning of the 16th, when the enemy charged on our forces to our right and drove them, leaving our flank entirely exposed. Finding our right flank thus exposed, I ordered three companies to protect the flank, but it was found impossible to hold that position, therefore they fell back under cover of the woods. We held our position on the works for some time, with considerable loss, until flanked both right and left, when we fell back in as good order as possible, under the circumstances, the fog and smoke being so dense that it was impossible for officers or men to distinguish each other. We then took a position between the Tenth New Hampshire Volunteers and One hundred and eighteenth New York Volunteers. We remained in this position until the One hundred and eighteenth New York Volunteers fell back, when we took our position on the right of the Tenth New Hampshire Volunteers, where we remained until nearly noon, when we were ordered to fall back. Not to expose my men more than possible, I ordered them to fall back 2 or 3 at a time. On the afternoon of the 16th we moved together with the brigade forward to near the enemy's works, where we remained until evening, when ordered to fall back to camp. Our loss from May 12 to 16 was 7 killed, 30 wounded, and 28 missing; this number includes 1 commissioned officer killed and 1 wounded.

Too much praise cannot be given to both officers and men for the faithful performance of every duty.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieut. Col., Comdg. Eighth Connecticut Vols.

Brig. Gen. H. J. MORSE,

Adjutant-General, State of Connecticut.