Report of Lieut. Col. Daniel Densmore, Sixty-eighth U.S. Colored Infantry, of operations April 1-9.
HEADQUARTERS SIXTY-EIGHTH U.S. COLORED INFANTRY,
Near Blakely, Ala., April 12, 1865.
Sir: I have the honor to report that on the evening of the 1st instant this regiment, then commanded by Col. J. Blackburn Jones, camped with the brigade about two miles from the left of the enemy's works around Blakely, Ala. This regiment occupied the right in the encampment. About 6 o'clock on the following morning heavy skirmishing began with the enemy. The brigade being formed in line this regiment still occupied the right. Companies F, H, and K, commanded, respectively, by Captains Norwood and Root and Lieutenant Rogers, were thrown out as skirmishers, whereupon the line advanced. The enemy, being pressed, retired into his works. The regiment was then placed in the shelter of a neighboring ravine, and the skirmishers closed in closely upon the enemy's rifle pits and occupied the extreme right of the line of investment, reaching from the swampy ground bordering upon the Blakely River, thence up a steep bluff some seventy feet in height and out upon the tableland, in all about 300 yards. The enemy's works in front of this line consisted of slashing, both on the bluff side and on the plateau above and extending to their main earth-works about 1,000 yards distant. Midway in this slashing the enemy had a well-constructed line of rifle-pits in which his skirmishers were safely posted. Close about the main works was an abatis. The firing by the skirmishers was very accurate and heavy during the 2d, the enemy evidently having excellent sharpshooters posted. Notwithstanding their efforts, the companies of skirmishers, under the supervision of Col. J. B. Jones, were posted and firmly held their position within close range of the enemy's pits. At 11 o'clock of that day First Lieut. E. R. R. Talbot, of Company E, received a severe wound in the left side of the face, from the effects of which he died on the 5th instant. The other casualties of the day were eight enlisted men wounded. Throughout the 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th the skirmish line thus established was continued in operation, being, however, from time to time advanced in places. On the night of the 5th a line of rifle-pits for our skirmishers was opened under direction of Colonel Jones and on the following night enlarged. On the night of the 7th these rifle-pits were opened out so as to connect, and on the following morning the regiment was moved into trench thus made. Up to this time the line had suffered much annoyance from the enemy's gun boats, the Nashville and Huntsville, causing several injuries by concussion, the most severe case of which is that of Lieut. George W. Buswell, Company K, on the 7th; but on the afternoon of the 8th the gunboats were driven away by the 30-pounder or Drew battery. Skirmishing continued on the 9th until 4:10 p.m. by this regiment, at which time the skirmishes were thrown forward to occupy the rifle-pits just being deserted by the enemy by reason of some movement of our troops some distant toward the left. The skirmishers had just reached the pits when the regiment was ordered to charge. Passing rapidly beyond the rifle-pits the men of the Seventy-sixth (also charging) and Sixty-eighth Regiments became mingled amid the slashing, and to avoid the severe fire of the enemy's artillery as well as to take advantage of the open pathway along the crest of the bluff side. A few of the skirmishers pushed forward on the upper land, and occupying a somewhat covered place poured a steady fire into the enemy's embrasures, keeping the men from the guns and at the same time preventing any rally by the enemy upon our men on the bluff side, who had then reached a point within a few yards of the left of the enemy's parapet, and who, reduced to a few, and those greatly exhausted by their exertions in traversing the bluff side covered with slashing, were unable to proceed farther without a supporting force. No such force appearing, after some time spent in waiting, and the enemy's gun-boats having got in range, they were ordered to fall back, and reached our line just in season to join in the general charge ordered at 5:30 p.m., by which in less than ten minutes the enemy's works were carried. In this charge Lieut. Charles Manhardt, Company I, was killed; Capt. George Geiger, Company C, received a wound from which he died in the night, and Col. J. B. Jones, Capt. O. H. Holcomb, Company B, Capt. F. W. Norwood, Company F, and Lieut. Clark Gleason, Company B, were severely wounded, and Capt. W. A. Poillon, Company E, Lieutenant Rogers, Company K, and Lieutenant Taisey, Company G, were slightly wounded. There were also 7 enlisted men killed and 54 wounded in the charge. Total commissioned officers killed and died of wounds from the morning of the 2d until the occupation of the enemy's works, 3; total wounded, 7; total enlisted men killed, 9; total enlisted men wounded, 81; total aggregate, 100.
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Regiment.
Lieut. G. D. CRANDAL,
Aide-de-Camp and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.