DEEP BOTTOM RUN, VA.
Deep Bottom, Va., Aug. 13-20, 1864. 2nd and 1Oth Army Corps and Gregg's Cavalry Division. Early in August Gen. Grant received information from various sources that led him to believe Lee had sent three divisions of infantry and one of cavalry to reinforce Gen. Early in the Shenandoah valley, leaving, according to Gen. Butler's estimate, only 8,500 men to hold the entrenchment's north of the James. At noon on the 12th Grant ordered Maj.-Gen. W. S. Hancock to move with his own corps, the 2nd, the 10th corps, Maj.-Gen. D. B. Birney commanding, and Gregg's cavalry to the north side of the James at Deep Bottom and threaten Richmond. The movement was almost identical with that of the latter part of July (see preceding article), except Hancock was to embark his corps on steamers at City Point and move up the river to the lower pontoon bridge during the night of the 13th, Birney's corps crossed at the upper bridge and the cavalry at the lower. It was intended to have all the troops on the north side of the James and ready for an advance by daylight on the 14th but owing to delay in disembarking it was well toward noon when the advance was commenced.
The plan was for Birney to attack the enemy on the west side of Four-mile creek at daybreak, and if successful he was to move over the roads leading to Chaffin's bluff and Richmond. Mott's division, as soon as it was disembarked, was to move up the New Market Road, drive the enemy into his entrenchments on the west side of Bailey's creek, and farther if practicable. Barlow was to move to the right of Mott and attack the enemy's works near Fussell's mill, and Gregg's cavalry was to cover the right flank. If Barlow succeeded in carrying the lines in his front he was to move to the left and uncover Mott's front, after which the two divisions were to advance on the New Market Road and form a junction with Birney. The object of these combined movements was to turn the Confederate position and gain possession of Chaffin's bluff, which would be an important step toward opening the James River to the Federal gunboats. Barlow carried one line, held by dismounted cavalry, and about 4 P.M. assaulted the works near Fussell's mill, but the attack was made with only one brigade and was not a success. His advance was so threatening however, that the enemy weakened his right to strengthen the line near the mill, and Birney, taking advantage of this, carried a part of the line west of Four-mile creek, capturing 4 guns and a few prisoners. Gregg advanced up the Charles City Road and carried a line of rifle-pits, and at night a strong picket line was established along the entire front. During the night the troops were disposed for an attack on the next morning. Birney's command was massed in the rear of Barlow, with instructions to find and turn the Confederate left. The dense woods made a reconnaissance difficult, and the operations of the 15th were begun without knowing just how the enemy was located. Slight skirmishing occurred at several points during the day, but Birney did not come upon the Confederate line until nearly 7 P.M., and as the ground was not favorable for a night attack further operations were postponed until the next day. Early on the morning of the 16th Gregg moved out on the Charles City Road and drove the enemy before him across Deep creek, nearly to White's tavern. In a skirmish near Deep creek Confederate Gen. Chambliss was killed.
About 10 A.M. Terry's division of Birney's corps carried the works above Fussell's mill, capturing about 300 prisoners. Craig's brigade and the colored troops under Brig.-Gen. William Birney made an assault on the right and captured the entrenchment’s but were unable to hold them. In this action Col. Craig was killed. About 5 P.M. Gregg was driven from his position on the Charles City Road and forced back across Deep creek. When night closed the Federals held only the advanced rifle-pits of the enemy. During the night of the 16th a fleet of steamers came up from City Point to Deep Bottom to convey the impression that the Union forces were withdrawing, in the hope that the enemy would come out of his works and attack, but the ruse was not successful. Nothing was done on the 17th, but about 5 P.M. on the 18th the Confederates sallied out. of their works above Fussell's mill and attacked Birney. While the fight was going on Miles, now in command of Barlow's division. struck the enemy on the left flank, driving him in confusion and with considerable loss. The 19th was spent in looking for a weak point in the Confederate line, but none could be found. Grant's information, regarding the number of troops sent to Early, was erroneous, only Kershaw's division having left Richmond, and as soon as Hancock crossed the James, Mahone's division and Hampton's cavalry were sent over from Petersburg to reinforce the lines on the north side of the river. Finding the position there too strong to be carried, Grant ordered Hancock and Birney back to their original positions on the Petersburg lines, and immediately after dark on the 2Oth the troops were withdrawn, Birney covering the movement.
The Union loss in the operations about Deep Bottom was 328 killed, 1,802 wounded and 721 missing. The Confederate loss was not ascertained, but it was probably somewhat less, as they fought most of the time behind breastworks. Among their killed were Gens. Chambliss and Girardy, both of whom fell on the 16th.
Source: The Union Army, vol. 5