Cedar Creek After Action Report, Commander, 9th New York Heavy Artillery (2d Brigade, 3d Division, 6th Corps) (OR, 43, 256-7).
Report of Maj. James W. Snyder, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery, of operations October 19.
HEADQUARTERS NINTH NEW YORK ARTIL1EBY,
October 26, 1864.
Sir: I have the honor to report the following operations of the Ninth New York Artillery in the battle of Cedar Creek, Va., October 19, 1864:
Our regiment was aroused at daylight by musketry on the extreme left of our line and in front of the Eighth Corps. I immediately ordered the men under arms. Lieutenant Wiley, of' Colonel Keifer's staff, commanding Second Brigade, rode up and ordered the regiment into line. We formed line in front of our camp, stacked arms, struck tents, and slung knapsacks. The sick were sent to the rear, and, as the sailor would say, the "decks were cleared for action." We immediately moved off, by the right flank by file right, forming a line perpendicular to the first line, arid faced to the rear. At this time Colonel Keifer, commanding brigade, succeeded to the command of the Third Division, General Ricketts being wounded, and Colonel Ball took command of the brigade. I was then ordered to move the regiment by the left flank to the ground in front of our camp, and after halting a few minutes I was ordered to countermarch by the left flank, and moved out and formed a line parallel and Borne 100 yards to the right and rear of our first line. From this position we opened fire and held in check the rebels who were advancing upon the knoll near our camp. At this time we were on the right of the brigade, with no connection on our right, and after a few volleys we were ordered to fall back and take a position on a knoll some 20() yards to the rear of this line. Here we again opened fire upon the enemy, whose colors could be distinctly seen between us and our camp, as they advanced. At this point their fire was very severe, but we returned compliment for compliment in the shape of leaden bullets. The ground was literally covered with our killed and wounded, but we contested the ground inch by inch until an aide from the brigade commander ordered us to fall back below the crest of the hill, which we did in good order. At this moment General Wright, commanding the army in the absence of General Sheridan, rode up and ordered me to advance and hold the crest. The command " forward" was given. The men responded with a cheer, and advanced with enthusiasm, under a galling fire in front and upon our flanks. The balance of the brigade having fallen back, and there being no connection on our right, our flank was left exposed to a severe cross-fire from the rebel columns, which had got almost in our rear.
Captain Dudrow, on the brigade staff, rode up again and ordered me to fall back. I pointed him to General Wright, saying, " The general has ordered me to hold this crest, and I shall obey his orders." Our fire, in the meantime, being delivered with so much spirit, had checked the advance of the rebels, and gave the troops in our rear a chance to form a line. The line being formed we were ordered to fall back, and marching, by the rear rank at a left oblique we joined the First Division on our right. We then halted, faced to the front in a road or lane, and immediately moved by the left flank into a piece of woods about half a mile to the left. There we halted, faced to the front, and sent forward about about seventy men as skirmishers under command of Lieutenants Flynn and Parrish. 'gain, under orders, we fell back and marched by the right oblique nearly a mile, when our brigade joined the Second Division on our left. We then faced to the front and the whole line advanced, taking position about one mile and a quarter north of Middletown. There we threw together a breast-work of rails, which we occupied from 10.30 a. m. till 3.30 p. m., when the whole line was ordered to advance through a piece of woods, which we did in good order, the One hundred and twenty-second Ohio being on our left. When we were nearly through the wood and about to emerge into an open field on our right a heavy fire of musketry and shell was poured into us and caused our whole line to waver. At first a portion of our left fell back, but they were soon rallied, and pushed forward and drove the rebels about three-quarters of a mile, until they, taking position behind stone wall, disputed our advance for more than an hour. A portion of my command, having gained a stone wall running perpendicular to the wall behind which the enemy was posted, delivered an enfilading fire, which threw them into confusion and finally into a perfect rout. Their officers tried in vain to rally them, while my men, cheered with the prospect of victory, pressed on after the retreating foe, driving them down through the ravine on the north side of the pike, and halted of till our colors were planted first upon the parapet of the rifle-pits in front of the Nineteenth Corps.
Mention of individual bravery would seem superfluous, for both officers and men did their duty, with one exception, Lieut. Weston E. Allen, Company F, who, having claimed to have been wounded in the early part of the engagement, left his company and went to Winchester, here he was found two days after, not having reported to any surgeon or having any appearance of a wound upon his person.
Some 400 men, recruits, who were never under fire before—in fact ever had arms in their hands only from Harper's Ferry to this place— right splendidly and behaved like veterans.
It is due to the memory of Lieut. Orrin B. Carpenter, Company D, who was killed in the early part of the engagement, to say that although offering long from fever, and but just able to walk, and having been repeatedly urged for weeks before to go to hospital, invariably requested to remain with his company, and when the battle commenced was found in line with his men. He was shot through the heart by a rebel sharpshooter while doing his duty, and now fills a patriot's grave. Peace be to his ashes.
Lieutenant Oldswager, Company M, but just promoted from the ranks three days before, was killed by a cannon ball when we advanced upon the crest. He was a noble and brave officer, and never flinched from duty.
Captain Howard was instantly killed by a cannon ball, the last shot that was fired from the rebel guns as we made the last advance near the Middletown and Strasburg pike, and when victory had crowned our efforts He died as all brave soldiers die, with his face toward the enemy, and will long be remembered as one of America's bravest sons. The corrected list of killed and wounded is as follows: Killed—officers, 3; enlisted men, 40; total, 43. Wounded—officers, 5; enlisted men, 160; total, 165.
I have the honor, sir, to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. W. SNYDER,
Major, Commanding Ninth New York Artillery.
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General