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6th New Jersey Infantry - Battle Report

Item DOC-5664
August 9, 1864 Lieutenant Colonel Stephen R. Gilkyson
Price: $650.00


Original Civil War document (7 folio pages) written in period ink and war dated:

Headquarters, 6th New Jersey Volunteers
Before Petersburg, VA

August 9th 1864


Pursuant to Special Orders No. 209 HQA of NJ, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the 6th Regiment New Jersey Volunteers. In the recent marches and battles from the crossing of the Rapidan to the assault of the 30th.

The regiment was placed in position on the afternoon of May 5th as the 3rd in line. When the line was formed, three companies of my command were deployed as flankers. And before they could be assembled, the regiments on the right and left closed up to me without making any allowance in room for that position of any command above mentioned.

After throwing up temporary breastworks, the line was ordered to move forward by the right of companies to the front and I was directed by the colonel commanding the brigade to crowd in three companies above referred to consequently when they were brought with line. I lapped the regiment on my right, 5th New Jersey Volunteers. Some 30 feet which combined with the crowding on my left, 7th New Jersey Volunteers caused considerable confusion among my men.

While endeavoring to get my command in proper order, the 5th New Jersey Volunteers moved suddenly to the right flank and was lost to our view owing to the dense growth of underbrush. This was not perceived by me until I was informed we had connected with a regiment of the 6th Corps, 2nd Division.

Almost simultaneously with this announcement, the regiment with which I had connected, about faced and broke through my ranks perfectly panic stricken and apparently without any cause whatever. For at that time there was nothing more than skirmishing in front. On turning to my left, I observed it also breaking in great confusion. It was impossible longer to restrain my own men. After seeing the right and the left of the line broken and they were not rallied again, until they reach the breastwork where we spent the night.

On the morning of the 6th, we moved forward again but did not meet the enemy until we had advanced ¾ of a mile when we suddenly received several heavy volleys in quick succession, wounding myself and another commissioned officer, Lieutenant Joseph C. Sae, and killing and wounding about 30 enlisted men.

The command then involved a Captain L. M. Morris who with 1st Lieutenant C. F. Moore are deserving of great credit for gallant conduct on the occasion. Captain Morris informed me that after he assumed command, the line advanced forward about ¼ of a mile further. But had not occupied its new position long before the enemy was discovered on our left flank and in our rear in heavy force. Our front was charged and the enemy kept in check for half or ¾ of an hour when we were overpowered and appearance indicating that the enemy were penetrating still further to our rear. The men could not be induced to stand longer through fear of being entirely cut off and captured. After exhausting every means to force them to stand but without success. They were directed to reform at the breastworks where we took an active part in repulsing the charge made by Longstreet’s Corps.

Commissioned officers wounded 3
Enlisted men killed 7
Enlisted men wounded 28
Missing 1

The regiment arrived near Spotsylvania without further incident of interest in the morning of May 10th. On the afternoon of the same day an advance was ordered and the 6th New Jersey Volunteers assigned the duty of skirmishing for the brigade with instructions to lie down and let the line of battle pass over it as soon as it had developed the enemy’s position.

The skirmishers had advanced and as directed behaved well. On the 12th of may it participated in the charge of the 2nd Corps and the capture of the enemy’s works, guns, etc. After expending all our ammunition and such as could be gathered from the boxes of the killed and wounded, the regiment was relieved by a portion of the 6th Corps and ordered a short distance to the rear to procure ammunition. While this engaged Brigadier General Neil, commanding 2nd Division, 6th Corps, ordered to deploy across the opening of the right of the White House and stop all stragglers attempting to go to the rear. We remained here until nearly sunset when we were relieved and ordered to join our brigade.

During the early part of the engagement, Captain L. M. Morris was wounded and turned the regiment over to Captain Joseph Hays who retained the command until the morning of the 15th when by orders from General Mott, he was relieved and Captain J. M. K. Lee given the command in his stead and the regiment moved in the rear of the 9th Corps.

During the forenoon, we were again marched to the front and placed in a very singular position. Owing to an angle in the works, our backs were directly to the enemy, my men were being constantly wounded from the rear without an opportunity of returning the fire. The 26th Pennsylvania Volunteers and two of the Excelsior Regiments were thrown into confusion by this fire from the rear and broke over and through the 6th Regiment in disorder, carrying the greater portion of it with them. Through this is a report was circulated that the 6th New Jersey Volunteers ran and left their colors, which was as false as a slanderous tongue could make it.

On the 19th we evacuated the line.

Commissioned officers wounded 6
Enlisted men wounded 25
Missing 1

This command marched with the Corps via Guinea Station, Bowling Green and Milford, across the Mattaponi to the North Anna River, was the 2nd regiment to cross the river at 7 o’clock on the morning of the 24th of May and took an active part in the operations on that river.

Enlisted men wounded 1
Total 1

Cross the Pamunkey River on the 28th took part in the operations on Totopotomoy Creek May 30th and at Cold Harbor June 3rd but did not become actively engaged.

Enlisted men wounded 2
Total 2

June 12th Marched from the line at Cold Harbor

June 13th crossed Long Bridge over Chickahominy arriving near Charles City Court House at sunset.

June 14th crossed James River at Wilcox Landing. June 15th the regiment was detailed as advance guard of the division. When it arrived at City Point Cross Roads, we were placed on picket near Prince Georges Court House, just before dark, was relieved by a regiment of the 2nd Division, 2nd Corps when we marched to regain our brigade and arrived before Petersburg at 3 a.m. of the 16th.

Participated in the attack of the 16th and 18th on which my men behaved most excellently. June 21st marched to the left of our line, went into position and built breastworks.

June 22nd advanced our line and took position by direction of a brigade staff officer at nearly right angles with our position of the night before. We were ordered to stake arms, then advance to a certain position (of the night before) and throw up breastworks. While thus engaged a heavy musketry fire opened some distance to my left increasing in volume as it grew nearer. I ordered my men to fall in and take arms, but before many of them reached their stakes, we received a volley directly in our rear.

This drew the men into great disorder and before they could recover themselves, the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery and other regiments of the brigade came rushing up the line in confusion causing a panic in my own and other regiments on my right.

All efforts to change my front in order to meet the enemy were unavailing and I was obliged to fall back to our original position.

Only 26 and 27 participated in the movements across the Appomattox and James Rivers. Only 29th relieved a portion of the 18th Corps in the entrenchments near the Appomattox and occupied this position during the assault of the 30th from information obtained since I resumed command of the regiment. I feel that Captain L. M. Morris, I. M. K. Lee and joseph R. West, 1st Lieutenants C. F. Moore, J. P. Note, F. Young and 2nd Lieutenant H. Bodine deserve a special mention during the entire campaign. I deem it due to Sergeant John Wiley and Assistant Surgeon B. Hendry and Chaplain S. T. Moore, that their names should occupy a prominent place in the history of the part taken by my command in the campaign.

It is evident that they have each labored in all ministering to the wants of the sick and wounded doing all in their power to alleviate their sufferings.

Mr. Moore my worthy Chaplain has proven himself amply fitted for the position he occupies not only by his indefatigable exertions at the hospitals but by his attention to the wants of the men both spiritually and temporally while in camp.


Commissioned officers wounded 1
Enlisted men killed 6
Enlisted men wounded 35
Missing 5
Total 47

I am very respectfully
Your obedient servant,

S. R. Gilkyson
Senior Colonel
6th Regiment New Jersey Volunteers

To: J. M. Rushing
A.A.A. General 3rd Brigade
3rd Division, 2nd Corps