Official Records of the Rebellion

Official Records of the Rebellion: Volume Eleven, Chapter 23, Part 1: Peninsular Campaign: Reports

The Document

Main Report - Complaint about press - Report on a reconnaissance

No. 4. [p.287]

Reports of Brig. Gen. John H. Martindale, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade, of operations April 4—7.


April 15, 1862.

Agreeably to the Regulations of the Army and in compliance with the notice sent from division headquarters. I have respectfully to report [288] that my brigade broke camp at Howard’s Mill at about 7 o’clock a. m. on the 5th of April, 1862, and marched toward Yorktown in the following order: 1st, Twenty-second Massachusetts; 2d, Captain Allen’s Fifth Massachusetts Battery; 3d, Second Maine; 4th, Eighteenth Massachusetts; 5th, Twenty-fifth New York; 6th, Thirteenth New York. The head of my column was brought to a halt at Cockletown in consequence of the occupation of the road by Morell’s brigade and a train of transportation wagons and ambulances, and remained thus obstructed and wholly unable to proceed until after 10 o’clock a. m. The accompanying reports of regimental commanders disclose the true state of the narrow and swampy road or defile through which we marched.

On the road the sound of artillery was heard in advance, and I hastened to close up and form my column as soon as I reached an open space of ground, where it could be done without delaying the march along the road. When the leading regiment (the Twenty-second Massachusetts) was formed, it was advanced in close column of companies to the position occupied by the commanding general of division, to whom I reported for instructions. At that time he was on the right of the Yorktown road, not far from its junction with the Warwick road. The four regiments of Morell’s brigade were extended—two on the right of the Yorktown road and two to the left on the Warwick road. These two last regiments I was ordered by the commanding general of division to relieve, to throw forward skirmishers to discover whether the enemy was in force on the left, and to prevent the left from being turned. At a subsequent hour I was directed by a written order to extend protection to Professor Lowe, with his balloon and wagons, still farther to my left and rear, and was apprised again that it was necessary to prevent my left, from being turned. I was further requested by the commanding general to dispense with artillery if possible.

Agreeably to these instructions the Twenty-second Massachusetts and the Second Maine Regiments were immediately marched to the left of the Warwick road, and at a distance of about 800 yards crossed the road, relieved the two regiments of Morell’s brigade, and were brought in view of the enemy’s line of intrenched works, which extended in a curved line toward Warwick. This occurred as early as a quarter past 12 o’clock m. The intervening river was concealed from us by the depression of the ground and a low marsh. Skirmishers from the Twenty- second Massachusetts were sent forward to reconnoiter, and at once a heavy fire from the enemy’s batteries was opened on us at a range of about 1,600 yards.

The Twenty-second Massachusetts and Second Maine, which were closed in column and in the line of fire, were ordered to move by the flank to the Warwick road, where they would be partially sheltered by the woods. While in this position Major Tilton, of the Twenty-second Massachusetts, informed me that a battery outside of the intrenchments had opened on his skirmishers within half a mile of their position. Shortly before I had seen two regiments marching out of the intrenchments and passing behind woods which were interposed between them and my right, and concealed them from view. Under these circumstances I communicated the facts to the commanding general of division, and requested the support of artillery.

In the mean time my remaining regiments had arrived. . The artillery (Martin’s battery and three pieces, I think, of Griffin’s) reached the ground. Two sections of Martin’s were planted on the ground where I had just reconnoitered the enemy’s works and where the firing had opened on us; the remaining pieces were sent along the Warwick road [289] through the woods still farther to the left until an opening was reached from which the enemy was visible and assailable. The Second Maine, under Colonel Roberts, advanced to protect the left of the artillery thus sent forward, and the Twenty-second Massachusetts was placed so as effectually to cover the space intervening between the two positions occupied by our batteries; the Eighteenth Massachusetts and Twenty fifth New York were deployed in line of battle parallel to the Warwick road, and skirmishers sent forward to penetrate the woods and reconnoiter the ground in our front. By this arrangement a line was covered by the skirmishers of my brigade extending from the peach orchard on the left of the Yorktown road and skirting the Warwick River to the vacant redoubt and from thence covering the front of the Twenty- second Massachusetts and Second Maine to the left of our batteries.

At about this time the Thirteenth New York advanced a reconnoitering party still farther to the left, and reported to me the condition of the ground in that direction. I was called upon by Professor Lowe for a force to cover his balloon and transports, and dispatched the Thirteenth New York for that purpose, which advanced, and likewise threw out skirmishers.

While in this position I was visited by the commanding general of the corps and of this division, to the latter of whom I explained the arrangements above described, which received his approval.

At this time Colonel Gove, commanding Twenty-second Massachusetts, sent a request to advance his reconnaissance still farther, which was acceded to with the sanction of the commanding general of division then on the ground. This reconnaissance, more than any other event of the afternoon, developed the intrepidity and discipline of my brigade. It was executed in a manner at once cool, discreet, and fearless; and although nine men were wounded, one wound being fatal, it is due to the care and control wielded by the commander that the loss of the regiment was not serious. In this movement Captain Wardwell, of the Twenty-second Massachusetts, deserves particular mention. The result of that reconnaissance in affording accurate knowledge of the line of the enemy’s intrenchments appears in the report of Colonel Gove, to whom I think the commendation of the commanding general is clue.

All of my regiments behaved well. The discipline to which they have been subjected and its high utility were obvious at all times. Most of them had never before been under fire. If in the future they shall fulfill the expectations created by their steadiness on the 5th instant the commanding general may rest on them in any emergency.

The post of danger and caution combined was taken by the Twenty-fifth New York, Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson commanding. His report discloses that it was maintaining with a cautious daring which gives assurance that his care for that regiment has not been misapplied. I believe that every man in my brigade on that day performed the duty and filled the place assigned to him.

Very respectfully, &c.,


Brigadier- General, Commanding.

P. S.—Although not attached to my brigade, Martin’s battery (Third Massachusetts) co-operated with it. After being posted by Captain Griffin, the steady courage of that battery and the quiet but determined [290] and unflinching intrepidity of Captain Martin attracted general attention and admiration from my command.

Respectfully, &c.,


Brigadier- General.


Assistant Adjutant- General.

Main Report - Complaint about press - Report on a reconnaissance

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How to cite this article

Official Records of the Rebellion: Volume Eleven, Chapter 23, Part 1: Peninsular Campaign: Reports, pp.287-290

web page Rickard, J (25 July 2006),

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