Report of Col. Charles W. Drew, Seventy-sixth U. S. Colored Infantry, Commanding Third Brigade, of Operations April 1-9
HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., FIRST DIV., U. S. COLORED TROOPS,
Blakely, Ala., April 13, 1865.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command from the commencement of the siege to the occupation of Blakely by our troops:
On the night of April 1 my brigade was ordered to encamp in line of battle to the right of the Stockton road about two miles and a half from the enemy's works, which was done in the following order: The Sixty-eight Regiment on the right, the Seventy-sixth in the center, and the Forty-eighth on the left, the command occupying the advance and extreme right. The next morning about 7:30 our pickets becoming warmly engaged, I formed line as quickly as possible, when I received an order to advance in line of battle. I immediately ordered two companies from each regiment deployed forward as skirmishers, and commenced the advance, which was continued for two miles through a thickly wooded and broken country, my skirmishers fighting about half the way. Notwithstanding the numerous obstacles in the way, there was scarcely a break in the line the whole distance. The precision maintained by the line, as well as the bold and steady advance of the skirmishers under heavy fire, were sufficient, I think, to command the admiration of all. Arriving within half a mile of the works I received an order to halt, which order was at once communicated to the skirmish line. Our position was then immediately in rear of a ravine about half a mile from the works of the enemy, my right resting on the swamp and my left connecting with General Pile's brigade. By direction of the general commanding division I afterward moved my command into the ravine for protection from the enemy's artillery, but not, however, until two shells had exploded in the ranks of the Forty-eight Regiment, wounding fifteen men. From this time up to the 9th instant we were engaged running saps and parallels toward the enemy's skirmish line, in which attempt we were quite successful, although at times, from the severity of the fire constantly kept up, it was necessarily slow. During this time my command built a strong earth-work, Battery Wilson, in rear of the right of my skirmish line for the introduction of four 30-pounder Parrotts, intended to drive off the gun-boats which had been constantly shelling my skirmishers with disastrous results. On Saturday, at 2 p.m., everything being ready, the wood was cleared away in front and the battery opened on the Morgan with good effect. She as well as the Nashville, which lay under cover of the wood below, returned the fire for some time with considerate spirit, but were finally compelled to drop downstream to trouble us no more. The battery then turned its attention to the iron-clad Huntsville and soon placed it hors de combat. Sunday, the 9th instant, I ordered the Sixty-eight and Seventy-sixth Regiments (then in the trenches) to double their skirmish lines at 5 p.m. and drive the enemy from his rifle-pits, and if necessary to do it I should order out the regiments entire. Before the work was fairly commenced, however, I heard cheering on my left and saw the skirmishers of the First Brigade advancing. I immediately gave the command forward, and forward the entire command (except the Forty-eighth Regiment left in reserve) swept with a yell. In this advance my extreme right reached a point within 150 feet of the enemy's parapet, but so reduced in numbers and exhausted that I ordered them to fall back to a ravine where they would be safe from the fire of the enemy's gun-boats (which were getting upstream) until I could order up the Forty-eighth Regiment and charge the works with some hope of success. Before I could get up with the regiment they had fallen back to the abatis, and when the charge became general they, with the rest, went forward with a shout and did all that brave men could do. The result was soon accomplished and Blakely was ours. I cannot speak in terms of too much praise of the officers and men of my command. Each and every one did willingly all that was asked, working incessantly night and day a large portion of the time. The support and assistance rendered me by regimental commanders entitles them to my warmest gratitude. I could ask for none better. The casualties, as will be seen by regimental reports, herewith inclosed, amount to 5 officers killed and 11 wounded, and 23 enlisted men killed and 166 wounded. Total, 28 killed and 177 wounded. Aggregate, 205.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
CHAS. W. DREW,
Colonel Seventy-sixth U. S. Colored Infantry, Commanding.
Capt. S. B. Ferguson,
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.