In this enterprise the now depleted ranks of the Fourteenth Regiment were called upon to take a prominent part. (Charles D. Page, History of the Fourteenth Regiment, Conn. Vol. Infantry.)
Last week we left our friends in the Fourteenth Connecticut after they, with lots of help from Federal artillery and other portions of Hancock’s Second Corps, had seized control of the vital Confederate supply route southwest of Petersburg, the Boydton Plank Road. In the vicinity of Burgess Mill on Hatcher’s Run, Confederate Gen. Henry Heth organized a strong counterattack of infantry and cavalry and sent them forward to attack the Second Corps from three sides simultaneously. The Wikipedia map below shows the scope of the battle during the afternoon of October 27th. The Fourteenth Connecticut was part of the Second Division, now commanded by Brig. Gen. Thomas Egan, because Maj. Gen. John Gibbon had been given a corps command.
The Second and Third Divisions of the Second Corps were almost cutoff from the rest of the army, but they didn’t panic as they had at Ream’s Station. They fought hard and held their positions along the road until nightfall, when Gen. Hancock ordered the corps to withdraw. Sgt. and Color-bearer John Hirst of Company D provides interesting details about the regiments role in the battle:
Just then (about 1:00 p.m.) a heavy rain storm came up and drenched us to the skin, compelling us to lay still until it was over. After the storm was over the artillery upon both sides opened fire and the battle commenced again. The rebels were not idle. but hard at work upon our right flank where they drove in our cavalry and were making for our battery, which their guns were trying to silence. We were moved at double-quick for a little way when we saw the Johnnies forming behind a house and barn pretty close to our battery. We charged them and drove them down the road to a mill near a bridge where we captured a few of them, the remainder of them crossing the bridge and going up a hill into some woods.
They came near fetching me upon their last charge, a rifle ball cut the strap of my knapsack clean off my shoulder and went through my rubber blanket. The knapsack, lurching over to one side. nearly threw me down. Some of the boys reached for me and the colors, but I was all right, and if they don’t get nearer than that I shall remain so.
We next took possession of one of their rifle-pits on the brow of a hill opposite to the Rebels, but with the creek (Hatcher’s Run) between us. If we could have brought a few more men into action when we first came up, we might have captured that rebel battery, but we had to stop before reaching it as we were exposed to a flank attack and we had to fight upon both flanks as well as at the front while the rest of the corps was coming up. The rebels wanted the plank road real bad and during the day charged it three times, but were each time repulsed by portions of our Second and Third Divisions. If the Johnnies could have got the road our whole brigade would have been captured, for there was no getting out with the enemy fighting us on every side.
After dark we began to get out, a few men at a time, silently falling back over the hill, where we were reformed preparatory to moving back to camp. We left behind us one man from each company on picket and also Dr. Dudley with our killed and wounded who were unable to walk. I think the rebels had us in a pretty tight place and a part of the Fifth and Ninth Corps had to come out and open a road in our rear. The roads were ankle deep in mud. but we kept up our return march until two o’clock in the morning when we rested until daylight, when the Fifth Corps left us and our brigade was put on duty as rear guard. We finally got back into our lines all right and last night we got into our old camp, where I am now writing.
Casualties to the regiment during this battle were: 1 officer and 3 enlisted men killed, 1 officer and 11 enlisted men wounded, and 14 enlisted men captured by the enemy.