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Templeton Reenactment : AAR

Templeton Reenactment : AAR

Peake’s Crossing, Hanover, Virginia (aka Templeton) May 27, 1862 Dear Sir, I have the honor to report on the actions of the 22nd Massachusetts, Company D, during the recent engagement near Hanover Court House, Virginia. After a lengthy march, the company arrived in camp over the course of Friday night and Saturday morning, there being much straggling along the muddy roads from Gaines Mill. By morning our company reported 16 rifles prepared for duty. Together with two civilian representatives from the United States Sanitary Commission Boston Branch (attached) our numbers on the field on Saturday were 18 in aggregate. Our company, I am pleased to report, was designated 1st Company and held that position during the duration of the encampment. After a brief dress parade on Saturday morning, the other companies of the battalion were deployed on patrol towards Hanover Court House to determine the position of the enemy. Company D, owing to the presence of a large number of new recruits, was held in camp for purposes of drill. And drill we did for nearly the entire morning, training the recruits on a great many maneuvers. Particular attention was given to loading and firing. I must say that the first volley (for several of our company, the first round they had fired in the ranks) was as crisp as any I have heard, much to my satisfaction and a testament to the quality of our fine recruits. I would here commend our newest privates, James O’Donnell, John Spears, Dan Blakie and Matthew Patten (the latter, while not new to the company, has recently been promoted from the ranks of the musicians). At approximately 2 p.m. on Saturday, the battalion was deployed in the direction of Hanover Court House, the aim being to occupy and hold a position at Peake’s Crossing. We encountered a strong force of Confederates who checked our advance. Being 1st Company, we were deployed first and went into line to the right of a field gun, our right flank anchored on a sturdy stone wall. Here we fired for some time against rebel skirmishers in coordination with the gun. At length, additional companies were deployed in our support, and we advanced towards a barn, driving the rebels before us. To our great satisfaction, the majority of the left wing of our battalion, having navigated a treacherous path through a dense swamp, managed to gain the rear of the Confederate position and the engagement was soon ended. We had a number of wounded, but most were able to field in the action of the following day. Our company was much comforted by the efforts of the ladies of the Sanitary Commission over the course of the encampment. Fortifying meals were in generous supply and for that we are most indebted to them. Sunday morning saw our numbers reduced to 14 soldiers fit for duty, although the number of Sanitary Commission workers increased to 4, maintaining an aggregate of 18 present. Much of the morning was devoted to skirmish drill. At approximately 1 p.m. on Sunday, the entire Corps being ordered to retire from Peake’s Crossing, our battalion was given the position of rear guard. Determined to hold off any rebel pursuit, our battalion formed a line of battle with our company deployed in advance as skirmishers. I would commend the company for their fine deployment, done with as much coolness as on the drill field, though the rebel cavalry was already in our front. Ordered to advance and hold the line, I moved our skirmishers ever closer to the enemy. We were repeatedly charged by cavalry and forced to rally by fours. Our battalion was calamitously flanked by Confederate infantry and I was notified by the General that our position, lately our front, was now the rear guard of a general retreat. I was ordered to hold the line. Desperate casualties prevented me from following these orders as most of my company was killed or captured, being enveloped by the enemy on three sides. Casualties were equally heavy throughout the battalion. After a lengthy march back to Gaines Mill, what remained of our company was cheered to return to our canvas camp. Private Joseph Fraine, ever ready to lift the spirits of the men, conducted a good humored ritual to initiate our new recruits, now “fresh fish” no longer. I would like to commend the efforts of First Sergeant Bradford Kendall who diligently saw to the needs of the company during this deployment, particularly while I was, due to ill health, a guest of the field hospital. The company is in good hands under Sgt. Kendall. Your humble and obedient servant, Capt. Patrick Browne 22nd Massachusetts, Company D ---

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