Lt. General U. S. Grant;
Commander, All Federal Armies;
Brig. Gen. M. Burbank
Commander, New England Brigade;
Major D. Erickson
U.S. Corps of Topographical Engineers
I beg your kind indulgence to make my Chief Engineer's Report about the subject event. We arrived in Blackstone, Mass. in the early afternoon of June 10, by canal boat (Blackstone River Canal) from Providence, R.I. From there to the Daniel's Farmstead we went by coach. We found Captain Germain and Maryanne Germain just putting the finishing touches on their camp. Within the hour, the Engineering Field Office was up and operating. The day was cool and cloudy but the predicted rain held off through the afternoon and evening. The Federal Camp was set up at the extreme South end of the Farmstead, and there were many indications that the Confederate force controlled the Northern end and the woods around that area. We were notified that Gen. Grant would not be in attendance because of other more pressing engagements, and we would represent his Staff.
Mrs. Mathews and I enjoyed a very nice meal in Woonsocket and returned to camp. Captain Germain and I enjoyed a very long and many subjected conversation. That night I enjoyed a comfortable stay in an Inn on the outskirts of Blackstone City.
Saturday morning dawned wet and rainy. We arrived back in camp about 8:00 A.M. and went immediately to work to establish a rough sketch map for the Brigade Commander's use. He had asked for such on previous occasions in order to plan his operations for Saturday and Sunday, and the Lt. General's Staff work is usually shared with the area Commander, as a courtesy, when requested, or when in the necessity determined by the Chief Staff Engineer, such material is needed or required. The sketch map was finished well before noon and sent on to Brigadier Burbank, in a very temporary, unfinished, and uncolored format in order to get the drawing to him before finishing the smooth drawing. After the completion of the rough sketch for Gen. Burbank. I finished the smooth sketch for my portfolio, and then drew some other features which may be useful in the future (house, barn, and supply sheds).
The farmstead lies directly along a farm-road which extends out to the North, through and amid a forest of second growth timber, most of which is of the hardwood varieties of woodland. The farmstead is aligned North and South along the right hand side of the road. From the southern end of the cleared property to the farmhouse and barn it is approximately 250 yards, From the farmhouse to the northern end of the cleared property is about 175 yards. The property narrows in the middle to about 50 to 75 yards in width, and then swells somewhat in the shape of a peanut, to about 150 yards at both ends. A double stone wall runs from the house and barn area, slightly skewed southward, to the forest edge.
At the first call to arms, on Saturday afternnon, for a possible Confederate attack, the artillery had been placed at an approx. halfway position between the Federal Camp and the double stone wall. The Federal Infantry Force took up their first position there and sent out skirmishishers to determine the enemies strength. The double stone wall was used by Confederate skirmishers to get close to the Federal artillery. I was not asked to narrate the battle due to a lack of transportation to the Spectator Line, and the threat of rain. My description of the battle must therefore rely upon eye witnesses. The Brigade Commander did not discuss with me his plans before the skirmish, and therefore I did not have the chance to draw up the normal campaign plan for his consideration.
The battle was a very good one as reported to me by Captain Germain who was close by the rear of the Fed. army making battle sketches. In my sight line the Confederate Skirmishers tried a flank attack around the left flank of the Federal position. This was met with A Federal defense as the left flank of the Federal line hurried to make a strong defense. This placed the Confederate Skirmishers on open ground, and they formulated and carried out a charge on the Federal defense line. This resulted in a hand-to-hand skirmish and the defeat of the Confederate attacking flank force. The remainder of the battle must rely on others, who enjoyed a more comprehensive visual sighting.
After the battle there were several spectators who strolled our way and I had a very nice lengthy discussion with a civilian engineer who had previous military experience. We offered a small display of period weapons and period instrumentation, as well of cloth and paper maps, and letters and drawings outlining previous suggestions for fortification and campaigns..
In the evening, we again moved to the Inn for our evening meal (very enjoyable) and then early to bed, as the previous day and night had been exhausting and short on sleep. We awoke on Sunday to rain, and the roads were literally soaked. I was very fearful of what nature had done with the Federal Camp and the town of Unity. We got to camp at between 7:00 and 8:00 A.M. We found the camp being folded away and the Brigade Commander already gone. Apparently the heavy rain all night had flooded out most of the encampment, and the rain was threatened to continue very heavy all day, so the event was cancelled early.
The Germain's were kind enough to delay their departure while they helped me to take down the Field Office, and The Provost Marshall was very kind to send three of his men to assist us. We were packed and on our way within 45 minutes of our arrival in the site. My most enthusiastic thanks for the loan of the Provost's men at this time. They were very active and eager to please and my thanks to each one of them. It would have been a long and wet job without their assistance.
Ian McKay, Brig. General of Engineers
Chief of Staff (acting);
Lt. Gen. U. S. Grant's Personal and Military Staffs