Cedar Creek After Action Report, Commander, 1st Brigade, 3d Division, 6th Corps (OR, 43, 233-4)


Near Middletown, Va., November 8, l864.

CAPTAIN: In compliance with orders from headquarters Third Division, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this brigade on the 19th ultimo:

Before daylight I was awakened by firing on the right of our picket line, which, being quite sharp, I turned out and was about ordering the brigade under arms, when it ceased entirely, and I again turned in. In about half an hour firing again commenced to our extreme left, and apparently in our rear, which, increasing, I ordered the brigade under arms. A few minutes later Lieutenant Tracy, from division staff, came with orders to get under arms and pack up, which was accordingly done. The brigade was then ordered to move to the pike, and started by the right flank; had proceeded about half way when Lieutenant Tracy brought orders to move back to the old position, facing Rest. I soon received an order, through Lieutenant Tracy, to form line on the crest of a hill facing south. The brigade moved to the position by the felt flank, filing to the left in two lines, and I found McKnight's battery on our left with nothing connecting on our right. The men were ordered to lie down, and troops, artillery, and wagons went pouring through our lines. It being quite foggy, it was difficult to tell when our troops were through and the enemy commencing to come. As soon as satisfied on that point the brigade commenced firing, and the crest in front was soon cleared and kept clear. Just at this time I found the right was giving way under a heavy enfilading fire from the crest where the Second Brigade had been camped. I ordered up support from the second line, but the fire was so heavy that the men could not be held there. Finding the men giving way, the fire having increased in out front, I held them as long as possible to give Captain McKnight time to get away his battery. Seeing Captain McKnight commencing to limber up, and not able to hold the men any longer, I gave the order to fall back to the next crest, which was done in good order, the men lying down until the enemy appeared on the crest we had just left. when the brigade commenced firing and soon drove the enemy off; when the brigade was again moved forward and brought off three guns that had been abandoned. Sergt. William Mahoney, color bearer of the Tenth Vermont Volunteers, was the first man to reach the guns, and mounted one of them, waving his colors for his comrades to join him. I regret to announce that this brave soldier was afterward killed. The brigade again fell back, and, the enemy appearing on our left dank, continued to retreat until reaching a piece of woods, when the brigade was again formed on a crest under an order from General Wright, the general complimenting Sergt. Edward

Heller, color bearer of the One hundred and fifty-first, for his bravery which compliment was most richly deserved. The brigade remained in this position until ordered to move back slowly, which was done to a road, when, according to order, through Captain Wood, it was formed in second line, together with number of scattered troops This position was held some time, when I again had orders to tall back, which I-did, until arriving on a hill between two pieces of woods, when an order came to halt and form. After being here a short time an order came by Captain Wood, of division staff; to move to tire rear by right of regiments and to incline to the right toward the pike. We proceeded in this manner until ordered to halt and form in line, faced to the front, after which Lieutenant Tracy brought orders to move forward and form on the right of the Second Brigade. I found the Second Brigade formed in a piece of woodls, and formed in one line on their right, the men throwing rails and logs up in front for protection'. The brigade lay here under a fire of shell until about 4 p. m., when Captain Smith came with an order to move forward, connecting on the left with the Second Brigade. The brigade moved through the woods, when it received a very heavy fire on the right flank, under which it was broken, but soon reformed in its old position, and again moved forward to a stone fence, the enemy being behind another stone wall in front with a clear field intervening. There was a stone wall running from the right flank of the brigade to the wall behind which the enemy lay. Some of my men lay scattered along this last-named wall. The First Division lay to the right and in advance, nearly parallel with the enemy. Everything appeared to be at a dead lock, with heavy firing of artillery and musketry. At this stage Colonel Keifer, commanding division, came to me and inquired what men those were lying along the wall running from our line to the enemy's, and ordered me to send them forward to flank the enemy and drive them from their position. The execution of the order was entrusted to Capt. H. W. Day, inspector of the brigade, who proceeded along the wall, and getting on the enemy's flank dislodged them, when the brigade was moved rapidly forward, in connection with Second Brigade, and did not stop until we arrived in the works of' the Nineteenth Corps, when, in accordance with orders from Colonel Keifer, the brigade went to its position of the morning, got its breakfast, and encamped, satisfied that it had done a good day's work before breakfast.

I take great pleasure in stating that in the last charge, Corpl. Daniel P. Reigle captured a battle-flag from a color bearer of the enemy.

Among our casualties I have to regret the loss of the brave and gallant Augustus Phillips, adjutant of the One hundred and eighty-fourth New York Volunteers, who, though he had been in the brigade but a short time, had proved himself to be a gallant soldier and a gentleman, and died as a soldier should die, bravely doing his whole duty.

The loss of the brigade was: Officers—killed, 4; wounded, 15. ~Enlisted men—killed, 14; wounded, 190. Total, 243.


Colonel, Commanding.

Capt. O. V. TBACY,

Acting Assistant Adjutant General.