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MAY 4-JUNE 12, 1864--Campaign from the Rapidan to the James River, Va.
No. 258. --Report of Brig. Gen. Hiram Burnham, U.S. Army, commanding Second Brigade, of operations June 1-10.


Near Cold Harbor, Va., June 10, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command from the 1st instant up to this date:

On the morning of June 1 the brigade left bivouac near New Castle and marched in the direction of Cold Harbor, near which place the enemy were encountered at about 4 p.m. Here two regiments of my command, the One hundred and eighteenth New York Volunteers and Eighth Connecticut Volunteers, were drawn up in line as a support for the Third Brigade, Colonel Henry commanding, while the other two regiments were placed on the right of the brigade, the Thirteenth New Hampshire in the first line with the Tenth New Hampshire for its support: General Martindale's division connected with my right. Just before dark an advance was ordered. My brigade, in connection with the forces on its left, moved forward through the woods and up to the open field in front of the enemy. After a short halt here by order of General Brooks, I moved my command forward to support our forces which had already gained the woods in front and were hotly engaged with the enemy. In executing this movement the Thirteenth New Hampshire, Col. A. F. Stevens, having no force on its right, encountered a heavy fire from the enemy and suffered quite severely, but behaved gallantly and moved up to an advanced position, which it held until dark, when, as it was somewhat detached from the remainder of the brigade, and in a position which did not conform to the formation of our lines, I withdrew it and placed it in the second line. The Tenth New Hampshire, which had supported the movement of the Thirteenth, was also placed in the second line. My other two regiments, One hundred and eighteenth New York and Eighth Connecticut, advanced until they filled a space between the Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania and the troops on its left, when they were halted and pickets thrown out in their front. During the night these two regiments intrenched themselves in pursuance of orders. Shortly after dark the Tenth New Hampshire Volunteers, Lieut. Col. John Coughlin, was moved into a position in the open field on the right of Colonel Henry's brigade. At about 2 o'clock on the morning of the 2d instant I changed the position of this regiment by throwing its right forward considerably and ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Coughlin to throw up a rifle-pit to protect his men, which he succeeded in doing before daylight. At the same time I placed the Thirteenth New Hampshire in the edge of the woods in rear of the Tenth New Hampshire for the double purpose of supporting that regiment and protecting our right as much as possible. At daylight, by order of General Brooks, I moved the Eighth Connecticut and One hundred and eighteenth New York to the right so that they connected with the Tenth New Hampshire and relieved a portion of Colonel Henry's brigade with them, placing them in the front line. My command remained in this position until the morning of the 3d, strengthening the rifle-pits and keeping up a desultory firing at the enemy. <ar67_1009>

On the 3d instant the enemy was attacked at about 5 a.m. The Tenth New Hampshire Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Coughlin, were deployed as skirmishers to cover the advance of the assaulting column, and when the attack was made they succeeded, after a gallant fight, in capturing and holding a portion of the enemy's first line of rifle-pits. This regiment remained in front during the day, holding its position with tenacity and suffering considerably. The remaining three regiments of the brigade were held in reserve in the position which they occupied in the morning until about noon, when, by order of General Brooks, I moved to the left and took up a position immediately on the right of the Sixth Corps. Here I massed my command in column by divisions, forming an assaulting column for the purpose of storming the enemy's works in front. The Twenty-first Connecticut Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Burpee, reported to me for this purpose and was assigned a place in the column. Subsequently, however, the order for an assault upon the enemy's works was countermanded, and my command was moved into a sheltered position farther to the right, where it remained until dark. At 9 p.m., by order of General Brooks, I withdrew the Tenth New Hampshire Volunteers from the position it had held during the day, and with two of my regiments relieved a part of Colonel Henry's brigade on the second line of pits. At 3 a.m. on the morning of the 4th, with my other two regiments, the Thirteenth New Hampshire and One hundred and eighteenth New York, I relieved that portion of Colonel Henry's brigade which held the front line of rifle-pits, and at about the same time the Eighth Connecticut Volunteers relieved the Second New Hampshire (a regiment of General Martindale's division), also in the first line; and during the 4th these three regiments held the front line, strengthening the rifle-pits, and constantly skirmishing with the enemy. On the evening of the 4th my command was relieved by General Marston. From that time to the present I have alternated with the other brigades of the division in holding the front line every third day. Some unimportant skirmishing has occurred meanwhile, but nothing to which I need call attention in this report.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding.


Assistant Adjutant-General.