Today in History:

65 Series I Volume XXIX-I Serial 48 - Bristoe, Mine Run Part I


Numbers 12. Report of Captain George B. Chapman, Virginia Artillery.


August 31, 1863.

SIR: My battery - consisting of two 3-inch rifled guns, one 12-pounder howitzer, and one 24-pounder howitzer - was placed in position at 9 a. m., August 25, on an eminence commanding the approach of the enemy. We immediately opened on their columns, firing slowly and deliberately. Their artillery soon returned our fire with rapidity and accuracy. In a short time on of my rifled guns was dismounted, the enemy's shot having twice struck the axle-body of the gun carriage. The piece was immediately sent to the rear for repairs.

We maintained our position with the remaining pieces until the wheel of one was struck and canister had lodged in the bore of the other. An incrustation of rust, caused by repeated firing, collected on the interior of the bore and reduced the windage to such a degree that we were unable to drive the canister home. I moved these pieces to the rear for repairs and ordered the remaining piece to maintain its position. This piece was ordered to the rear during my absence from the field without my knowledge or consent.

The pieces having been repaired, we ascended to our former position. When we had almost gained the summit of the hill I espied what I supposed to be four artillery horses. Believing them to be the horses I had ordered to remain, I directed one of the officers to move his gun to a better position. He soon returned and reported that it was one of the enemy's pieces. I immediately executed a left-about with the pieces, occupied the first knoll in our front, and ordered the guns to unlimber and prepare for firing. Fortunately, however, the pieces whose limber was supplied with canister became choked and we were compelled to move it to the rear.

The above mistake, under the circumstances, was exceedingly natural, for it was supposed that our left flank was giving way, and the reports that met us as we ascended the hill were of rather a gloomy nature. The enemy's shells bursting so close to the horses, we mistook for the flash of a gun. We have great reasons to be thankful that our gun became unfitted for firing at this particular time, for had we opened on what we supposed to be the enemy's gun we might have damaged our own cause and demoralized our men.

The pieces having been repaired, we again ascended the hill and maintained our position until the enemy retreated. We pursued, with one rifled gun, and shelled the ravines and gorges whenever an opportunity afforded.

We have the proud satisfaction of knowing that no piece was ordered to the rear unless disabled or for want of ammunition. The battery was frequently struck, but no permanent injuries inflicted.

We lost 1 man killed and 5 wounded; 3 horses killed and 8 wounded.

It may not be amiss to call the attention of the commanding officer to the caliber and quality of the guns composing the batteries of the enemy. My battery should be supplied with guns of a similar quality if it be expected to contend successfully with the enemy's artillery.

The members of the battery deserve some praise for the manner in which they maintained their posts and performed their duties. I will