Cedar Creek Report, Commander, 43d/45th North Carolina, Grimes' Brigade, Rodes' Division (OR, 43, 608-9)
HDQRS. 43D AND 45TH NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS,
October 30, 1864.
LIEUTENANT: In obedience to orders from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part the two regiments under my command took in the battle of Cedar Creek on the 19th instant:
We had crossed the pike, when we came in closer range of the enemy. It is useless to mention what happened before, more than the fact.that the men went through a camp just as it was deserted with hats, boots, blankets, tents, and such things as tempt our soldiers, scattered over it, and after diligent inquiry I heard of but one man who even stooped to pick up a thing. He got a hat, and has charges preferred against him. Under orders, I deployed the Forty-fifth Regiment as skirmishers in front of the brigade after we had crossed the pike. It moved forward some 200 or 300 yards, when it was halted and ordered to lie down under a heavy artillery fire, several having been struck with shell; I was, ordered back to take command of the Forty-third Regiment, having left Captain Wharton in command of the Forty-fifth. The whole line then moved forward. Instead of striking the enemy's line squarely face to face, our brigade, being on the right, would have struck their line in an angling direction; but this would expose our right flank to too distressing a fire, as the left of the Sixth Corps was strongly posted on the pike on the woody eminence near which our right would have crossed. Colonel Cowand having been detached with the Thirty-second as skirmishers on the pike, the balance of his command (Fifty-third and Second Battalion) had no commander. When they (composing the right of our brigade) began to be much annoyed from the fire above mentioned, in obedience to orders, I assumed command of them, and they moved squarely to the right and gallantly ran the enemy from the woods, and for some time held their ground against great odds, firing both from flank and front and in close range.
I take pleasure in mentioning this splendid conduct of these troops because their brave commander was in another part of the field and had not the opportunity of observing them as I did. My own regiments moved straightforward with thereat of the army. As above mentioned, I did not have the pleasure of going with them; but their conduct was such as usually characterizes sons of our dear old State. The colors at one time were in twenty or thirty steps of the enemy. Here we lost Lieutenant Vines, Company E, Forty-third. I unhesitatingly pronounce him one of the most efficient officers of his grade in our service; no one was braver.
After the Sixth Corps had been repulsed nothing notable occurred till late in the evening, when the enemy made his final charge. Our brigade was ordered forward to meet him; so all moved off together, and after a few rounds the enemy retreated in confusion. Soon our own army began to fall back in confusion on the left and then to stampede. My command, with the brigade, fell back according to orders, to a first and then to a second line; but the stampede soon became so mixed no officer whose men had fallen back far, and particularly on the left of the pike, could find his men. My flag was for some time in rear of our army. I had to hurry up the color bearer for fear the colors would be captured, and the enemy reaching Strasburg first, my colors accompanied me, with many others, around the left of Fisher's Hill.
Until the stampede began the conduct of officers and men, with very few exceptions, was very commendable. Even then the color bearer, Sergeant Barnes, Company C, Forty-tbird, deported himself (I use the strongest term) as well as it was possible for man to do. My command acted well till the stampede began. With the co-operation of officers and men, should our army be disgraced with another stampede, under the direction of God, my command will not.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN R. WINSTON,
Lieut. A. W. GREEN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant- General.