820 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. [Cum,. LIV.
After half an hour of terrible suspense, by starting the yell among a
few, we succeeded in getting them in motion. The entire brigade took
up the shout and went over the rebel works. When we reached the
palisades the rebels fell back to the woods on the side of Signal
Hill. We again assaulted and drove them out. I immediately
formed for defense, and sent a courier to Brigadier-General Paine
for re-enforcements, which arrived in about twenty minutes to a
half hour. In this assault we had no supports. Lieut. Samuel S.
Simmons, Thirty-sixth U. S. Colored Troops, acting aide-de-camp
on my staff, abandoned me shamefully at the ravine, and went to
Deep Bottom without my knowledge. I respectfully recommend that
he be dismissed for cowardice.* His true name is De Forest, and
he has been once before dismissed the service. This I have lately
learned from officers to whom he has confessed it. All the other offi-
cers and men of the brigade, except Captain Strong, brigade commis.
sary, whom I shall mention in a separate report, displayed the greatest
courage. A few may be enumerated for particular acts : Lieut. Col. G.
W. Shurtleff, Fifth U. S. Colored Troops, though repeatedly wounded,
still strove to lead his regiment; First Lieut. Edwin C. Gaskill, Thirty-
sixth U. S. Colored Troops, rushed in front of his regiment, and, waving
his sword, called on the men to follow. At this moment he was shot
through the arm, within twenty yards of the enemy's works; First
Lieut. Richard F. Andrews, Thirty-sixth U. S. Colored Troops, had been
two months sick with fever and was excused from duty. He volun-
teered, being scarcely able to walk. He rode to the thicket, dismounted,
and charged to the swamp, where ho was shot through the leg; First
Lieut. James B. Backup, Thirty-sixth U. S. Colored Troops, excused
from duty for lameness, one leg being partially shrunk so that he could
walk but short distances, volunteered, hobbled in as far as the swamp,
and was shot through the breast; Lieutenant Bancroft, Thirty-eighth
U. S. Colored Troops, was shot in the hip at the swamp. He crawled
forward on his hands and knees, waving his sword and calling on the
men to follow.
When the brigade were making their final charge, a rebel officer
leaped upon the parapet, waved his sword and shouted, "Hurrah, my
brave men." Private James Gardiner,t Company I, Thirty-sixth U. S.
Colored Troops, rushed in advance of the brigade, shot him, and then
ran the bayonet through his body to the muzzle. Sergt. Maj. Richard
Adkins, Thirty-sixth U. S. Colored Troops, distinguished himself by
his gallantry in urging on the men. Many sergeants of the Thirty-
sixth distinguished themselves in urging on the men, but I have not
their names. The brigade numbered about 1,300 effective men when it
made the assault. We lost here 13 commissioned officers and 434
enlisted men, at the lowest estimate. Went in with thirty-two line
officers and lost 11. At Laurel Hill the loss of the Fifth U. S. Colored
Troops increased the figures to 16 officers and 537 enlisted men. Another
staff officer, my inspector-general, wounded next day, makes a loss of
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. G. DRAPER,
Colonel Thirty-sixth U. S. Colored Troops.
Maj. Gen. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER,
Commanding Army of the James.
* Lieutenant Simmons was dismissed the service for absence without leave, by
Special Orders, No. 75, War Department, Adjutant-General's Office, February 15,
t Awarded a Medal of Honor.