Cedar Creek Report, Commander, Second Division, 19th Corps (OR, 43, 322-5)
HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Cedar Creek, Va., October 28,1864.
SIR: Brevet Major-General Grover, commanding division, being temporarily absent on account of wounds received during the action of the 19th instant, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operation s of this command on that day and the 20th and 21st instant:
Tuesday evening, October 18, orders were issued by General Grover to the First Brigade under my command, Second Brigade, Colonel Molineux, and Third Brigade, Colonel Macauley, to be in readiness to move at 5.30 the next morning, for the purpose of making a reconnaissance toward Strasburg. the Fourth Brigade, Colonel Shunk, being directed to move forward and occupy as soon as vacated the line then held by the First and Third. In compliance with these orders the whole command was under, arms in light marching order, and the First Maine Battery hitched up at 5 a. m., 19th instant, the relative position of the brigades being as follows: Four regiments of the Second Brigade, the First Brigade, and four regiments of the Third Brigade formed the first line from right to left as named, the right connecting with the First Division of this corps, the left reaching nearly to the pike. The remaining regiments of the Second Brigade and the Fourth Brigade formed the second line, the One hundred and seventy-fifth New York being detached from Third Brigade as guard to ammunition train, a picket-line of 350 men from Second and Third Brigades covered the front connecting with the picket-line of the First Division on the right and that of the Eighth Corps on the left. The First Maine Battery occupied commanding ground on the right of Third Brigade and in front of the fourth. The whole position was very strong against attack from the front, and had been strengthened by earth-works thrown up along the front of the first line, the general direction of which was parallel to Cedar Creek, but was entirely commanded by the high ground on the left of the pike, occupied by the Eighth Corps, and was indefensible against an attack from that direction. About 5.15 a. m. and before any of the troops had moved out on the projected reconnaissance, musketry firing was heard, apparently on the left of the picket-line of the Eighth Corps, and soon after on our own picket-line in front. By direction of General Grover, the following disposition of the forces under his command was promptly made: The first line occupied the works in their immediate front, sending out sharpshooters and skirmishers to the banks of the creek; the One hundred and seventy-sixth New York and part of the One hundred and fifty-sixth New York, on the left of the Third Brigade, were thrown back nearly at a right angle with the brigade line, and the Fourth Brigade moved to the left, connecting with and forming on the prolongation of this-line; the Twenty-second Iowa and Third Massachusetts [Cavalry (dismounted)], from the Second Brigade, were moved to the left as support to the battery. While these movements were being made, the firing in the direction of the Eighth Corps became very heavy and incessant, and our pickets in front were gradually driven back to the creek. As day dawned the enemy appeared in Strong force on the high ground on the left of our position, from which he had forced back the Eighth Corps and, rapidly advanced, his lines extending from the creek to our left and rear as far as could be seen through the smoke and prevailing fog. The troops on the left thus attacked in front and Rank, made a stubborn resistance, and on the line of the Third Brigade a hand-to-hand conflict ensued, during which the colors of the One hundred, and seventy-sixth and One hundred and fifty-sixth New York Regiments were seized by the enemy, but in both instances were torn from the flag-staffs and saved. At the same time a battery opened on our lines from the left and another from the high ground in front and on the opposite side of the creek. Pressed by an overwhelming force, and having already lost very heavily, our line was forced back, retiring in good order, but leaving some prisoners in the hands of the enemy. Colonel Macauley, commanding the brigade, was severely wounded early in the engagement, and Major Hart, of General Grover's staff, soon after received a wound from which he died the next morning. Lieutenant-Colonel Neafie, One hundred and fifty-sixth New York, took command of the Third Brigade. The enemy now made a desperate effort to secure the guns of the First Maine Battery, four of which were in their original position, and well and rapidly served, Lieutenant Haley commanding, the other section, under Lieutenant Morton, having been sent to the left. Lieutenant Haley was wounded, and -Lieutenant Snow succeeded in getting all but two caissons off the grounds, but was finally obliged to abandon one gun and three caissons, the horses being shot. Lieutenant Morton was killed and one gun of his section captured, but all were subsequently retaken. In the meantime the First Brigade and that part of the Second Brigade not engaged were holding their respective positions, but losing from infantry and artillery fire from front, flank. and rear. By order of General Grover they now fell back, the First Brigade along the line of works, forming a new line on the crest of the hill to the right and perpendicular to the original line, and holding it till turned by the enemy, when it fell back to the hill previously occupied by a brigade of First Division. Making a short stand here, it was again pressed back, and again made a stand in an open field, with the Fourth Brigade on its left; having, in the efforts made to check the advance of the enemy lost severely in killed and wounded and some prisoners. The Second Brigade moved out by the right flank and formed on the right of the Sixth Corps, taking advantage of every favorable position to halt and check the advancing enemy, which it did several times very gallantly. The Third Brigade withdrew more to the left, and being ordered to form on the right of division of the Sixth Corps operated with it till about 10 o'clock, and about 11 joined this command. From the position taken by the brigades, as above described, they gradually retired, conforming to the movements of the army, and making stands at three different points until, between 10 and 11 o'clock, an advance was ordered, and the division moved some distance to the front, forming on the right of the Sixth Corps in two lines, the First and Second Brigades in the first, and the Fourth and Third (which came up about this time) [in] the second line; the First Division of this corps on the right. A strong skirmish line was deployed to the front, which was driven in about noon, and the enemy in strong force attacked our lines, but was effectually repulsed. He continued, however, to annoy us with his artillery, but inflicting slight loss. Soon after the repulse another advance was Ordered, General Grover directing that the connection with the Sixth Corps should be maintained on the left, but the right pressed forward more rapidly, thus gradually swinging to the left. The troops advanced with the greatest impetuosity, under a severe, fire from the enemy's infantry on the crest of a hill in front
and an accurate and rapid fire from a battery on the bill beyond, drove him out and occupied the hill, where a halt was ordered. While holding this position, and shortly after gaining it, General Grover, who bad been wounded early in the day, was again wounded in the arm, compelling him to leave the field, and I then took command of the division. About 4.30 p. m. I received orders from Brevet Major-General Emory to advance, and the troops again moved forward with the same gallantry and impetuosity as in the previous charge, the enemy retreating in great confusion land our forces pursuing without a halt till the camp which had been left in the morning was reached. By direction of the brevet major-general commanding the pursuit terminated here, and the division went into camp, each brigade occupying its original ground. At 8 p. m., in compliance with orders from the brevet major-general commanding, the Fourth Brigade moved toward Strasburg and bivouacked for the night in rear of the First Division, occupying the town.
At 7 a. m. on the 20th the division marched to the heights overlooking Strasburg, and, by direction of General Emory, was placed in position, where it remained until 7 the next morning, 21st, when the whole division returned to its former camp on Cedar Creek.
I inclose reports of brigade commanders, to which reference is invited, for more minute details of the part taken by each in the battle of the 19th than the limits of this report permit.
A numerical list of the casualties in the division is appended. A nominal list has been forwarded.
Of the gallantry, steadiness, and good conduct of the troops of this division during the various and trying phases of the action of the 19th I cannot Speak in too high terms. Every brigade kept its organization during the day, and with few exceptions the behavior of officers and men was all that could be asked for. Of the Second Brigade, operating in Connection with mine and moving on the same line, I am able, from personal observation, to speak with the highest commendation. In the Fourth Brigade every, regimental commander was wounded. Of the desperate resistance to the advance of the enemy early in the day made by the Third Brigade I have already spoken. Its conduct during the advance in the afternoon was no less praiseworthy. I respectfully ask the attention of the brevet major-general commanding to the instances of individual heroism and meritorious conduct mentioned in the reports of brigade commanders.
To the members of General Grover's staff, who reported to me for duty after he was wounded, my thanks are due for their efficient aid and support. Their gallantry on the field was conspicuous. To Capt. E. A. Fiske, Thirtieth . Massachusetts Volunteers, and Captain Goddard, Twelfth Maine Volunteers, of my own staff, I am very greatly indebted for untiring attention to their duties, performed with ability and good judgment, and their bravery in action deserves special mention.
HENRY W. BIRGE
Brigadier- General of Volunteers, Commanding Second Division
Maj. DUNCAN S. WALKER,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Detachment Nineteenth Army Corps.
Numerical list of casualties in Second Division, Nineteenth Army Corps, in the engagement of October 19, 1864, at Cedar Creek, Va.
|Troops||Killed||Wounded||Missing||Total casualties||Effective strength next day|
|Field and staff||1||1||1||1||2||2|
|First Maine Battery||1||2||3||1||16||17||8||8||2||26||28||1||110||111|