91st PA from 4 May to 30 July 1864

4 May to 30 July 1864

[for the unedited version, see letter, Lentz, 9 August 1864]

Report of Maj. John D. Lentz, Ninety-first Pennsylvania Infantry.
In the Trenches, near Petersburg, Va., August 9, 1864.

CAPTAIN: In compliance with directions of Special Orders, No. 209, headquarters Army of the Potomac, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this command in the several operations of the campaign from the crossing of the Rapidan, May 4, to the assault on the enemy's works in front of Petersburg, July 30, 1864:


The regiment, with First Brigade, First Division, Brig. Gen. R. B. Ayres commanding, took up the line of march 8.30 a. m. May 4, crossed the Rapidan at Germanna Ford, moved in the direction of the plank road toward Mine Run, halted 1.30 p.m., established a picket line. 12 m. 5th, formed line with brigade; advanced on the enemy; were repulsed. On the 6th the regiment moved to the left of the plank road toward the front; relieved a division of reserves. Left the works 1 a. m. 7th for the rear, and halted within the lines; relieved the Fifteenth Artillery 8 a.m.; moved 11 p.m. on the plank road, passing the cavalry at Todd's Corner, making a forced march all night, reaching Laurel Hill. Charged the enemy at 10 a.m. 8th; the brigade was repulsed, leaving this command holding its position. A new line was formed under the command of Colonel Hofmann, Fifty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, Second Brigade, Fourth Division. This regiment, joining in the second charge, reached the burnt house, and held the ground; ordered to retire about 200 yards and build breast-works; bivouacked for the night. Remained quiet during the 9th; in the afternoon sent pickets to the front, holding the burnt house. Sharp firing on the line during the night and occasional cannonading during the day following. Nothing of interest occurred until 12th; a charge was made about 8 a.m., and, owing to some confusing in the Ninth Massachusetts Volunteers, was unsuccessful. Received orders to fall back by an aide from General Ayres.


At 3 p.m. 12th took up the line, and marching slowly through rain and mud halted; formed line to support Sixth Corps; bivouacked for the night. Moved at daylight 13th, build breast-works; 10 p. m. moved again, reaching Spotsylvania at daylight 14th. 8 a. m. the One p.556 hundred and fortieth New York and this regiment, under the command of Colonel Otis, One hundred and fortieth New York, started on a reconnaissance to the front. Discovered a battery of the enemy near the Myers or Galt house. A sharp fire ensued, lasting about one-half an hour, when a charge was made driving them from their position, taking the hill and house. One hour after was relieved by a brigade of the Sixth Corps, who held the place but a few hours. The enemy driving them from the hill reoccupied it, whereupon this regiment with the brigade again charged, drove the enemy back the second time, taking the house. A short time after recovering the place a brigade of the Sixth Corps (Colonel Penrose commanding) appeared, but found the enemy had been already driven back, and the hill again in our possession. Relieved the second time and retired to the rear. The command needing rest was permitted to bivouac for the night. 6 a. m. 15th moved again; rainy and muddy. 17th found us opposite Spotsylvania Court-House; worked all night throwing up breast-works. Heavy firing during the 18th.

On the 19th, after maneuvering for some time, halted in the woods on the left of the rifle-pits; remained near this place until 21st.


At 10 a. m. 21st prepared for a long march; moved at 1 p. m. taking the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad, passing Guiney's Station, crossed the Mattapony, halted at Edge Hill Seminary; resumed the march toward Hanover Junction, skirmishing with rear of the enemy. Forded the North Anna, and at 2.30 p.m. formed line of battle. About 6 p. m. the enemy attempted to effect a surprise by a sudden attack, causing some wavering, and as our line was in advance we were directed to fall back on the line established by Sweitzer's brigade. The fighting continued for one hour. Built breast-works during the night, the enemy making several attempts to cut through the lines, but failed. At 4.30 p. m. 24th moved again and rested near the Gordonsville railroad; time occupied in strengthening the position, establishing picket-line, and occasional skirmishing. 4.30 a. m. 25th moved to the left; met the enemy; threw up breast-works in the woods; established a picket-line; bivouacked for the night. 8 p. m. 26th the brigade moved quietly and recrossed the North Anna.


Crossed the Pamunkey 28th, and bivouacked for the night. 29th, resumed the march; moved about 2 miles; skirmishing until near sundown; threw up breast-works; bivouacked for the night. 9.30 [a. m.] 30th advanced toward Bottom's Bridge. 2 p. m. threw up breast-works; the enemy commenced shelling; "changed front to the rear" in "double-quick". Second line of breast-works formed; bivouacked for the night. 7 a. m. 31st relieved by Ninth Corps; retired to the left; remained during the day and bivouacked for the night.

June 1, 11 a. m., moved to the left, driving the enemy about 2 miles; halted on the Mechanicsville pike; moved across the road; formed in the works of Cutler's division. 1.30 a. m. 2d recrossed the road; built breast-works again. An interval being made in this line by withdrawing the Ninth Corps and Bartlett's brigade without page 557 notice, this regiment was moved suddenly to the rear; the balance of the brigade not leaving in time, the enemy appeared and captured those that remained. Moved to the rear double-quick and reformed, the enemy keeping up a heavy fire; remained until daylight 3d. Men under arms at daylight 4th and 5th. 10 p.m. 5th moved again, reaching near Allen's Mill, Cold Harbor; a slow and tedious march; skirmishing with the enemy, forcing him at each conflict to retire; encamped and brigade reorganized; General Ayres, commanding division, Col. E. M. Gregory the brigade, designated First Brigade, Second Division.

[Official Records series 1 volume 36 part 1 pages 555-7]


At 4.30 a.m. [June 13] struck tents and moved in the direction of the Chickahominy; crossed on pontoons at daylight. 13th; resumed the march in an easterly direction; halted and threw up works. Marched at 7.30 p.m. southeasterly, reaching a field near Charles City Court-House, and pitched tents; received orders, with One hundred and fifty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to leave the brigade; transferred to Second Brigade, First Division, by order from Fifth Corps headquarters. June 15, joined Second Brigade, First Division, near Charles City Court-House. Left 4 a.m. 16th (with brigade); crossed the James River at 9 a.m.; reached an old rebel camp three miles south of Petersburg about 12 p.m.; bivouacked for the night. 11 a.m. 18th formed line of battle with Thirty-second Massachusetts, Twenty-first Pennsylvania Cavalry (dismounted), and One hundred and fifty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, all placed under the command of Col. E. M. Gregory, Ninety-first Regiment Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers; advanced upon the enemy, drove him across the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad; remained on the north bank of the railroad a short time; advanced again, driving him into his intrenchments about a quarter of a mile from the railroad, and threw up breast-works. Was attacked about 11 p.m.; drove him back. Kept up the fire during the night; relieved by a portion of Crawford's division. 4.30 a.m. [19th] retired on the railroad and bivouacked. Left the railroad 9.30 p.m. 20th, moved southeast of the railroad half a mile, and bivouacked for the night. Left again 10 a.m. 21st, moved toward the left of the line, halted 12 m. on the Chieves farm; the left wing of the regiment sent out as skirmishers on the right of the Jerusalem plank road, the balance of the regiment, with the Sixty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, following about 3 p.m., and took position to support the skirmish line. Advanced about half a mile, driving the enemy's picket-line before us and establishing the line; threw up breast-works and remained until about 4 a.m. 23d; were relieved by the First Brigade; ordered to the left of the plank road in position on the ground where a portion of the Second Corps had been driven the night previous. Remained until 9 a.m.. was relieved by the Fourth New York Heavy Artillery, and returned to camp half a mile east of Chieves' house. Struck tents at 6 p.m. on the 24th and moved to the left of the line about two miles south of Chieves' house, near the Jerusalem plank road, to support the Sixth Corps. Threw up breast-works; remained until 6 p.m. 25th; were relieved by the Corcoran Legion and returned to camp, where we remained, sending details for working parties from the 6th to the 20th of July. 3 a.m. 21st relieved the Twenty-first Pennsylvania Cavalry (dismounted) on the front (on the left of the Jerusalem turnpike); found the works and camp in a filthy condition; devoted all spare time in cleaning up and reconstructing the works, leaving a detail at old camp for guard. p.462 26th, commenced a new line of breast-works to the right of the road. 8 a.m. 27th discontinued working and moved 8 p.m. 28th to relieve First Brigade, Second Division, about one mile to the right, reaching the works at 10 p.m. The front line being occupied by the One hundred and fifty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers and Twenty-first Pennsylvania Cavalry (dismounted), this command, with Twenty-second Massachusetts Volunteers, bivouacked in the rear for the night. On the 29th formed a new line and built bomb-proofs. 1 a.m. 30th packed headquarters wagons; left old camp with the guard and joined the command at the front. Action commenced at 4.20 a.m. 30th, by destroying the enemy's fort in front of the Ninth Corps, followed by heavy firing along the line until 10.30, the regiment taking no part in the action.

The casualties from May 4 to July 30 are as follows: Commissioned officers--wounded, 6. Enlisted men--killed, 44; wounded, 128; missing, 2; total, 174. Aggregate, 180.

I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN D. LENTZ, Major, Commanding.
[To] Capt. J. D. McFARLAND, Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Offical Reports series 1 volume 40 part 1 pages 461-462]

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