Cedar Creek Report, Commander, 24th Iowa, 4th Brigade, 2d Division, 19th Corps (OR, 43, 352-4)
HDQRS. TWENTY-FOURTH IOWA INFANTRY VOLUNTEERS,
Camp Russell, Va., November 19,1864.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Twenty-fourth Regiment Iowa Infantry Volunteers in the battle of Cedar Creek, Va., on the 19th of October, 1864:
The regiment belonged to the Fourth Brigade, Second Division, Nineteenth Army Corps, Brevet Major-General Emory commanding corps, Brigadier-General Grover commanding division, and Colonel Shunk, Eighth Indiana Veteran Volunteers, commanding brigade. The brigade occupied the left of the second line, which was about 200 paces in rear of the line of works occupied. by the first line. The left of the brigade rested about 200 yards to the right of the pike leading from Winchester to Staunton. The works in our front were occupied by the Third Brigade, Second Division, Nineteenth Army Corps, with Battery D, First Rhode Island Artillery, Rear the pike on the left. The regiment occupied the right center of the brigade, with the Twenty-eighth Iowa on the left. The Eighth Corps, under command of Major-General Crook, was posted on the left of the pike and about 300 paces to the front. The Sixth Corps was on the right of the Nineteenth, with its right thrown back toward Middletown about one mile. Our teams parked about one mile in the rear. The enemy was in. camp at Fisher's Hill some four miles to the front. In this position we all retired to our "virtuous couches" on the evening of the l8th, not even suspecting our danger or the Yankee trick that Early was going to play on us next morning. Soon after retiring to bed, Colonel Wilds, then in command of the regiment, received orders to have the men under arms at precisely 5 o'clock next morning, as the first line was to make a reconnaissance to the front and the Fourth Brigade was to move up to the works as soon as vacated. In obedience to this order, at 5 o'clock the regiment was all in line of battle
and ready to move to the works. Having reason to believe the reconnaissance would not last more than one or two hours, as the order was not to bring on an engagement, everything except arms and accouterments were left in tents. At 5.10 o'clock firing commenced on the
picket-line of the Eighth Corps. Supposing it to be only a reconnaissance by the enemy it created but little alarm. In a few minutes heavy firing commenced on the left and front of the Eighth Corps.
It was not yet daylight, and a dense fog, which had settled to the ground, rendered it almost impossible to distinguish objects at any distance. Soon after the firing commenced on the left the brigade was ordered to move by the left flank until the left of the Twenty-fourth Iowa rested on the pike. Colonel Wilds ordered me to ride to the left of the regiment and lead it to the place indicated, but before reaching the pike I was ordered to halt and take position, as we were already receiving the enemy's fire. The regiment was halted, and the right thrown forward so as to form a line across the crest of the hill at an angle of 45 degrees with the pike, the right of the brigade, Eighteenth Indiana Veteran Volunteers, supporting the battery on the left of the first line. The fog was so dense that it was impossible to tell what was in front of us, and as the Eighth Corps was failing back at the time our fire was reserved until the enemy had pressed his columns close up to and charged the battery on the right, one piece of which was captured. We held the position, however, until Colonel Shunk, discovering that the enemy had thrown a column across the pike on our left, ordered the brigade to fall back about 500 yards and take position parallel to and facing the pike. This was done in good order, and the position taken and held until it became necessary, in the opinion of General Grover, to fall back in order to prevent being cut off entirely. Up to this time the regiment had lost 6 men killed and about 40 wounded. The order was given to fall back as rapidly as possible in the direction of the camp of the Sixth Corps. The enemy came in heavy force on our left and captured 4 officers and about 40 men. The brigade fell back about one mile and formed between the First Brigade, General Birge, and the Sixth Corps, which was on the left. Previous to this time Colonel Wilds had been wounded and carried from the field. I had also received a bruise on my hip from a piece of shell, and a wound from a musket ball in the left arm, near the elbow, which sickened me so that I could not ride for near an hour, and the regiment was commanded by Capt. L. Clark during my absence.
Soon after I returned to the regiment, which was then in the position above mentioned, the enemy made a flank movement to the left of the Sixth Corps, rendering it necessary for it to fall back, and we were ordered to retire by the right of regiments to the rear. We moved in this manner nearly three miles, halted, took position, procured ammunition, and prepared to renew the battle. After we had rested about half an hour, Major-General Sheridan came on the field, having been absent since the morning of the 18th. He ordered, the Eighth Corps to take position on the left of the pike between Middletown and Newtown, the Sixth Corps the center, and the Nineteenth Corps the right. Sent two divisions of cavalry to the right and one to the left. The Fourth Brigade was formed on the extreme left of the Nineteenth Corps, connecting with the right of the Sixth Corps. In this position the troops were ordered to rest and throw up some temporary works. About 12 o'clock I was ordered to move the Twenty-fourth Iowa to the extreme right of the Nineteenth Corps and protect the flank. I immediately moved to the place indicated, took position, and threw out a skirmish line. In this position I remained until 3 p. m., when I received orders to call in my skirmishers and take my place in the line as it was going to advance. My skirmishers had just reported when the advance was sounded. In order to get my position in the line I had to double- quick about one mile, and during the greater part of this distance we had to pass through the fire of the enemy's guns, which overshot our advancing columns, the shells exploding in the rear. About 3.30 o'clock I got my place in the line, which steadily advanced, driving the enemy from every position taken until we reached the camp we left in the morning. Here we halted and made some coffee (those of us who were fortunate enough to have any), the first we had tasted since the evening of the 18th. We found one wounded officer there, who had hidden among the rocks during the day, and quite a number of our wounded men. Everything was taken from our camp, leaving the men and most of the officers without haversacks, blankets, or shelter-tents. At 8 p. m. the regiment moved forward with the brigade to a point near Strasburg to protect the parties that were sent out to collect the property abandoned by the enemy in his hasty retreat. There we bivouacked for the night without fires, the men suffering severely for want of blankets and proper clothing to protect them from the excessive cold. On the following morning (20th) the remainder of the Second Division came up, and we went into camp about one mile from Strasburg.
It would appear invidious to mention individual cases of gallantry during the day, when all, both men and officers, did their whole duty. I cannot close, however, without referring to the bravery of our lamented Colonel Wilds, who was wounded soon after daylight, and died November 18. In him we lost a noble, brave, and efficient officer. Captain Knott and Lieutenant Kurtz were wounded and captured, but both were retaken in the evening. Captain Smith and Lieutenant Davis were captured in the morning about daylight.
The loss of the regiment was: Killed-enlisted men, 7. Wounded- officers, 6; enlisted men, 39. Captured-officers, 2; enlisted men, 39. Total casualties, 93, a list of which is hereto annexed.
I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant- Colonel Twenty-fourth Iowa Infantry Volunteers.
Col. N. B. BAKER,
Adjutant- General State of Iowa.