Tarheels During the Civil War

Thursday, January 13, 2011

First North Carolina at Bartlett's Mill

Official Report of actions of First North Carolina Troops at Bartlett's Mill.

Report of Capt. Louis C. Latham, First North Carolina Infantry.
December 8, 1863.

Lieutenant: I have the honor to herewith forward to you my official report of the loss sustained by the First North Carolina Troops in the engagement of the 27th ultimo, near Bartlett's Mill.
After leaving the intrenchments occupied by the brigade on Thursday night, the regiment crossed at the mill and halted on the opposite bank to rest. From here the line of march was taken up and continued for about 2 miles, keeping the main road running east to Fredericksburg, when the head of the column was suddenly fired into by a party of the enemy's skirmishers deployed in the woods to our left. The line was immediately halted, fronted, and ordered to load. Companies A and B were thrown out as skirmishers and advanced into the woods. At this point quite a brisk fire was kept up, and occasionally a shot from the enemy's battery passed over the road.
The fire on the line of skirmishers considerably slackening, the direction of our line of battle was changed, the First Regiment, together with the rest of the brigade, being formed in another road, cutting that on which we were marching nearly at right angles, the First occupying the center.
From this position, at 2 p.m., the order was given to forward. The road was crossed in good order, and the line dashed up to a rail fence which bounded an uncultivated field of about 10 acres on the south side, behind which the enemy's skirmishers were concealed, driving them back upon the main line drawn up behind the fence on the north side. The regiment then charged across this field, routing the enemy in disorder from their position. We followed them into the woods about 150 yards, when, our left becoming detached from the right of the Third North Carolina (that regiment having moved by the left to connect with the Thirty-seventh Virginia), it was thought necessary to fall back upon the position originally occupied by the enemy. It was here that Lieutenant-Colonel Brown was wounded and quit the field.
The command devolving upon myself, and the enemy again advancing, I ordered a second charge, driving the enemy in disorder before us and inflicting heavy punishment upon his ranks. Had not our ammunition at this time unfortunately given out, the battery stationed in our front would have fallen into our hands. I sent at different times two messengers  to the rear (Lieutenant day and Sergeant-Major Allen) for a fresh supply of cartridges, both messengers returning with the reply that none could be obtained. I formed the line in rear of the south fence as a support to the cannon stationed in the road, and held the position until relieved by a portion of General Doles' brigade.
Night having set in, I had our wounded and those left by the enemy removed from the field.
From the aspect of the ground over which we fought, I am of the opinion that the enemy must have suffered severely, losing at least three to our one, though from the report of prisoners their number largely exceeded ours. 
I regret extremely that we were in a great degree deprived of the courage and skill of Brigadier-General Steuart, whose attention was occupied at a much more important point on our left.
I have no special mention to make of any particular officer or soldier. Where all acted so well, to single out any individual would be doing injustice to his comrades.
The casualties, of which a statement has been forwarded, amount to 5 killed and 50 wounded.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
L.C. Latham,
Captain, Commanding First North Carolina Troops.

Series I Vol. XXIX (Part I) Ch. XLI. Pgs. 864

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