A Severe Skirmish (December 9, 1864)

Brig. Gen. Nelson Miles commanded a division of the II Corps (Lilbrary of Congress).

Brig. Gen. Nelson Miles commanded a division of the II Corps (Lilbrary of Congress).

Theodore Lyman continues his account of the Army of the Potomac’s movement across Hatcher’s Run toward the Boydton Plank Road. Nelson Miles, only 24 and already wounded four times, had replaced the ailing Francis Barlow as commander of the 1st Division of the II Corps. Nelson will remain in the army following the war, retiring as general in chief in 1903.

Miles’s division of the 2d Corps was sent to aid the cavalry in forcing Hatcher’s Run. They marched out early and found several regiments holding the crossing; a severe skirmish followed; our poor men went into the icy water up to their armpits and drove off the Rebels, though not without some loss to us. I know the cavalry Lieutenant, whom I saw bringing in all those stragglers last night, was killed there. Then Miles built a bridge and sent over the cavalry, which went as far as within sight of the Boydton plank, where they found the enemy in their works. They captured a Rebel mail-carrier and from him learned that A. P. Hill was yesterday at Dinwiddie. General Meade had to read all the letters, of course, and said there was one poor lover who promised to marry his sweetheart when the war was over, but “how could he support her now, on $12 a month?” We sent out another body of infantry and our own “red-legs” and the engineers, to support Miles, who we thought would be attacked. They all spent the night midst a wretched snow, sleet and rain, and raw wind.

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 292-3. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

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