Battle of

Drewry's Bluff

May 16, 1864

Robert E. Lee Jefferson Davis

On May 14, the brigade started for Drewry's Bluff. First the men secured a line of breastworks near Rice's Station between the Richmond-Petersburg Railroad and the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike. At 7:00 P. M. the following day, the Virginians moved eastward, closer to Drewry's Bluff. There the troops halted in a small forest on the left of the Stage Road. While in the forest, sixty rounds of ammunition were distributed to the troops. Every man in the regiment knew what this meant tomorrow they would fight.
At daybreak on May 16,TERRY Terry's brigade silently moved north on the Stage Road. The troops crossed Kingsland's Creek and formed line of battle in a mist-shrouded valley. Once again the 24th Virginia was on the right flank of the brigade. Across an open field and behind breastworks was the enemy. Quietly, yet impatiently, the Virginians waited.
About 7:00 A. M., the line formed.ARCHIBALD Gen. Archibald Gracie's Alabama brigade, which was in front of Terry's regiments, suddenly pulled out. Terry's men slowly followed. Skirmish fire quickly erupted and without hesitating Gracie's brigade lunged forward. In desperate fighting, Gracie could not carry the enemy line. Moments later, an officer from the Alabamian's staff galloped up to the 24th Virginia and shouted: ' Hurry up, boys, they are tearing us all to pieces!"
As Gracie's men were retreating back through Terry's brigade, "Old Buck" ordered the 24th and 11th Virginia to move forward. Under Lt. Col. Maury, the 24th Virginia raced to the rescue of the Alabamians. (This was one of Lt. Col. Maury's rare appearances with the regiment. After the battle of Seven Pines, he was unexplainably absent from the regiment much of the time.) Without a single man lagging or falling from ranks, the men from the Virginia highlands stormed the Union position, while the other regiments of Terry's brigade conducted a flank attack on the Union line.
In less than fifteen minutes of fighting, the regiment lost more than one half of its members. Savage hand-to-hand combat ensued as the Virginians groped in the fog and smoke trying to find the heart of the Union resistance. After about an hour's fighting, Terry's men had administered a severe beating on Charles A. Heckman's Federal brigade. The entire Union force was now Terry's.
Once again the 24th Virginia had suffered the highest casualty rate in the brigade: 28 killed and 108 wounded. All of the Floyd Riflemen were either killed or wounded and Maj. Joseph Hambrick, much the ablest soldier in the regiment, was mortally wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Maury was also wounded. As always, the Virginians had paid an extremely high price for their success.
BUTLER When the battle ended, Terry's brigade collected prisoners and any booty which the Federals left behind. The men constructed some additional earthworks and advanced a skirmish line in case Butler tried to retake the fort. For the next three days, picket duty occupied the time of Terry's brigade.
After bottling up Butler south of the James River,LEE Gen. Lee ordered Terry's men to head for Spotsylvania, where the Army of Northern Virginia was in a desperate struggle with Grant's Union forces. On May 19, Terry's brigade started for Richmond. The following day, each regiment of the brigade paraded through the streets of Richmond with a Union flag captured at Drewry's Bluff. That evening, part of Terry's brigade headed for Milford Station. However, the men from the Virginia highlands remained in Richmond until the following day, at which time they headed for Hanover Junction. The 24th Virginia arrived at Hanover Junction on the 22nd and there rejoined the other units of the brigade.



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