Cedar Creek Report, Commander, 3d Brigade, 2d Division, 19th Corps (OR, 43, 341-3)
HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., SECOND DIV., 19TH ARMY CORPS,
Near Cedar Creek, Va., October 24, 1864.
SIR: In obedience to orders, I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of this brigade in the action of the 19th instant:
This command was ordered to be ready to move at 5.30 a. m. to take part in a reconnaissance on our immediate front, and in obedience to such order the brigade line was formed at 5.20 a. m. in light marching order, camps unbroken. At this time, and for some time previous, distant and heavy skirmishing was heard on the right of the army lines, but as the position of the firing remained unchanged it did not occasion serious alarm. Occasional shots were also fired from the picket-lines of the Second Division on the left of the pike. At 5 25 a. m. about thirty shots were fired in rapid succession on the picket-lines of General Crook's command, whereupon the brigade, then under command of Col. Dan. Macauley, Eleventh Indiana Volunteers, was ordered to occupy the works in its front, and an aide was dispatched to inform General Grover of the attack. After a few moments of quiet the attack was resumed with great fury upon the left of the army lines, the firing consisting principally of heavy volleys of musketry, but intermingled with some discharges of artillery. In about ten minutes the firing ceased, and it was then generally believed that the attack bad been repulsed. Shortly after the cessation of firing information was received through our retreating men that our left flank had been turned, and that the enemy was in possession of the ground which had been held by General Crook's command. Although it was now daylight, a dense fog obscured the view and hid the movements, of the enemy. The following dispositions were then made of the command to receive the expected attack: The One-hundred and seventy-sixth New York. and the three left companies of the One hundred and fifty-sixth New York were placed in line facing the southeast, and on a line at right angles with the brigade line and joining its left; the left of the One hundred and seventy-sixth New York reached nearly to and supported Battery D, First Rhode Island Artillery.
There dispositions had scarcely been made, and orders given to the men to reserve their fire until the enemy was near enough to make the fire effective, when we began to receive a heavy fire of musketry from the advancing, but still hidden, enemy. The fire came from our front, our
right, and our left, with a heavy, but random, fire of artillery from the heights formerly occupied by General Crook's command. The enemy's lines were not developed until they were within 150 yards of our lines, and then were but dimly visible through the fog. At this time they opened a furious and destructive fire upon us, still advancing, which was vigorously and effectively returned checking to some extent their advance. The enemy's lines, as now developed, were nearly at right angles with the main brigade line, and facing the One hundred and seventy-sixth New York and the three companies of the One hundred and fifty-sixth New York, which had changed front. The left of their lines extended very nearly to Cedar Creek, while their right extended as far as the eye could reach through the fog and smoke. In a very
few moments they were on us in force, their left swinging to the right, while their right poured heavy volleys in our rear. A desperate hand-to-hand fight ensued on the left of the brigade line, The enemy had planted their colors on our works and were fighting desperately across them meeting with a stubborn resistance, while they swarmed like bees round the battery on our left and rear. The enemy rushed upon, seized, and attempted to capture the colors of the One hundred and fifty-sixth and One hundred and seventy-sixth New York, but in both instances
they were saved by stripping them from their staffs while the enemy had them in partial possession. We were crushed by the weight of numbers, and compelled to hastily fall back by the only road left to us, viz, by the right along the line of works, which was effected with
considerable loss, many being shot down or captured in the pits. At or shortly before this time Col. Dan. Macauley was shot down and seriously wounded while gallantly cheering on his men, and the command of the brigade devolved upon me. The regiments were all rallied
on their respective colors in a short time, and at the earliest practicable moment the command was reported to General Grover, and was ordered by him to take position on the right of the Sixth Corps, still slowly falling back. About 10 a. m. I was ordered to halt my command and await further orders, by command of General Emory. In this position we remained (on a hill commanding an extensive view) for some time, when, perceiving that the army was forming for an attack, and seeing that its flank on my front was protected by the advance of the cavalry and horse artillery, and fearing that my exact position might have been forgotten or overlooked, I took the responsibility of collecting all stragglers and organizing them with my command, and marching rapidly with them by the right flank to where the troops were forming. I there
reported in person to General Emory, who approved my action and ordered me to take a position on the right flank of the Nineteenth Corps, supporting a section of the Seventeenth Indiana Battery. In a short time we were ordered to support the First Brigade of this division, and moved to assault the enemy, which was rapidly and success fully performed.
During the attack and subsequent pursuit we changed front many times in accordance with orders from staff officers, moving through a difficult and wooded country, exposed frequently to a severe fire in front and flanks, and by the time the sun went down the brigade occupied its old camp-ground with the enemy routed and flying in disorder beyond Fisher's Hill, pursued by our cavalry.
The aggregate losses of the regiments of the brigade in killed, wounded, and missing are as follows: Thirty-eighth Massachusetts Volunteers, 54; One hundred and twenty-eighth New York Volunteers 95; One hundred and fifty-sixth New York Volunteers, 92; One hundred and seventy-sixth New York Volunteers, 53; One hundred and seventy-fifth New York Volunteers, 3; total, 297 men.
The casualties will show how obstinately the ground was held. The very heavy detail of 5 officers and 175 men was on picket in front of the division, and many of these were captured by the rapid advance of the enemy on the other side of Cedar Creek. The One hundred and seventy-fifth New York Volunteers, Capt. Charles McCarthey commanding, was detached from the brigade guarding the ammunition train and held the enemy in check until the train was removed to a place of safety under a heavy fire.
I desire before closing to bear testimony to the gallantry and good conduct of each and every member of the brigade staff, viz: Capt. Charles W. Kennedy, One hundred and fifty-sixth New York, acting assistant adjutant-general; Capt. T. P. Rundlet, Thirty- eighth Massachusetts Volunteers, provost-marshal; Lieut. H. E. Macomber, Thirty-eighth Massachusetts Volunteers, acting aide-de-camp; Lieut. Eugene Franklin, One hundred and seventy-sixth New York, acting aide-de-camp.
The following-named officers also distinguished themselves by their coolness and efficiency: Maj. Charles F. Allen, commanding Thirty-eighth Massachusetts Volunteers; Capt. James J. Hoyt, One hundred and fifty-sixth Now York Volunteers; Capt. Alfred Cooley, One hundred and fifty-sixth New York Volunteers; Capt. Ethan G. Locke, One hundred and seventy-sixth New York Volunteers; Capt. Charles R. Anderson, One hundred and twenty-eighth New York Volunteers; Lieut. Charles B. Western, One hundred and fifty-sixth New York Volunteers.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant- Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Capt. E. A. FISKE,
Acting Assistant Adjutant- General.