Cedar Creek Report, Commander, 1st Brigade, 3d Cavalry Division, Army of the Shenandoah (OR, 43, 532-535)


Camp Russell, Va., December 10,1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to make the following report of operations of my brigade since October 19, 1864:

Battle of October 19, 1864.—About 4 a. m. on the 19th of October my command was saddled up, in consequence of heavy picket-firing and skirmishing along the line of the army. The firing soon became gem oral, and about an hour after daylight I received orders to move with my brigade to a point which would be shown me by a staff officer. I moved immediately and formed line of battle at a place pointed out, which was in rear of the infantry and about a mile from the Valley pike. At this time a large number of stragglers were moving to the rear, and I sent out a squadron from my command to assist my provost guard in rallying the fugitives, and partially succeeded in arresting their progress. I remained in this position until the infantry had fallen back to within about 100 yards of my line, when I moved, in obedience to au order from General Custer, to the extreme left of the army, and formed line with my right resting On the Valley pike, placing my command as much under cover of woods and knolls as possible. While here my brigade was subjected to a heavy fire of artillery, and several horses and men were put hors de combat in the Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry by the explosion of a shell at the head of one of its squadrons. A regiment of some other division was deployed as skirmishers in front of my brigade. My command was not engaged while in this position. General Sheridan having arrived upon the field shortly after we had taken position here, and the infantry having been rallied, my brigade was transferred to the extreme right of the army, the Sec. and Brigade of the division having been left to (picket) hold the right of the line. At the time we moved to the left of the army the Third New Jersey Cavalry, of my brigade, was also left to picket Fawcett's Gap and the Back road, connecting with the Second Brigade. In looking for a position for my command, I came in sight of about two regiments of cavalry, apparently feeding in au open field about 1,200 yards distant. The battery (B and L, Second U. S. Artillery) was placed in position on a hill overlooking the enemy, and I formed two region meets, Second Ohio and Second New York Cavalry, and charged the enemy, who mounted their horses and fled. I then, after a slight skirmish, halted and formed my command in line of battle, the Fifth New York being on the left, Second New York and Second Ohio in the center, and Eighteenth Pennsylvania on the right and connecting with the left of Second Brigade. My command was held in this position for nearby two hours, with skirmishers thrown out. No firing of consequence occurred at this time, although the enemy in force were in my front. At the end of two hours I received an' order from General Custer to withdraw my connmand and move farther to the left. This I did, moving with the First Connecticut Cavalry in front. Coming in sight of the enemy's skirmishers, I directed the First Connecticut Cavalry to charge them, which they did, and drove them in upon their main body. The remainder of the command coming up, I formed the Second Ohio and Second New York to charge with the First Connecticut, the Second Ohio to take the rights the Second New York the left, both regiments to try and flank the enemy, while the First Connecticut charged in front. This movement was entirely successful, and the enemy were driven beyond Cedar Creek across Cupped Ford. While this was being done the Fifth New York and Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry moved with the battery (B and L, Second U. S. Artillery) the former in advance and the latter in rear, at a gallop to Cedar Creek. Arriving there the Fifth New York Cavalry crossed and charged with the First Vermont Cavalry, of the Second Brigade, capturing, in connection with the First Vermont, the following-mentioned property: 45 pieces of artillery, 28 caissons, l battery wagon, 34 army wagons, 12spring wagons and ambulances, 163 sets artillery harness, 150 sets wagon harness, 196 horses, 134 mules. The Fifth New York Cavalry, of my brigade, received receipts for one-half of the above-mentioned property.

As soon as the enemy were driven across Cupp's Ford I withdrew the Second New York and Second Ohio and moved to the support of Fifth New York and Eighteenth Pennsylvania. I found the Eighteenth Pennsylvania and the battery in position near Cedar Creek, but was unable to overtake the Fifth New York, and it being dark, I halted my command, and with the Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry and the battery, which joined my command, I returned to the camp of the day before. The Fifth New York did not join until the next morning, having been guarding captured property all night. In this engagement my command lost 2 men killed and 15 men wounded.

On the 20th of October the brigade went on a reconnaissance to Fisher's Hill, on the Back road, and not finding the enemy, returned to camp near Middletown. From this date to the 8th of November the brigade performed picket duty on the line of Cedar Creek, with occasional scouting. On the morning of the 8th of November, before daylight, I received orders to move with my brigade to a point on the Valley pike, between Winchester and Newtown, to prevent an attack on either of these places by Rosser, who was reported to be moving in that direction. I moved as directed, and encamped about twos miles south of Kernstown. Remained here until the 9th, when an order was received to move to Mount Zion Church, and picket from Fawcett's Gap to the Middle road, taking the road to Newtown for my line. Reached Mount Zion Church about dark, relieved the Second New York Cavalry which lead been left at Mount Zion Church to picket while the brigade was absent. The next day I moved the brigade to its present camp near Kernstown, after establishing my picket-line, which extended from Fawcett's Gap to the Middle road.

Battle of November 12.—The Second Ohio Cavalry was on picket at Mount Zion Church on the 12th of November, and with the First Connecticut Cavalry, which had been sent on a reconnaissance to Cedar Creek, was attacked and driven back to within a mile of camp. I moved out with the whole brigade and attacked the enemy. L succeeded in driving him easily until within a mile and a half of the creek, when they made a sharp resistance. I formed my brigade in line of battle, the regiments being in column, with strong line of skirmishers, and having the " charge" sounded, charged the enemy, driving them nearly to the creek, Then they again rallied. A sharp fight here ensued but the enemy were obliged to give way, and fled in confusion across Cedar Creek. After driving them a mile and a half beyond Lebanon Church, three miles beyond Cedar Creek, I withdrew my brigade to near Mount Zion Church,

and after forming it moved again to Cedar Creek, and then returned to camp. In this engagement I lost the following: Killed 1 officer and 1 man; wounded, 3 officers and 18 men; missing, 2 officers and 72 men.

On the 13th of November went on a reconnaissance with the division to Cedar Creek and returned at 4 p. m. Remained in camp performing picket duty and occasional scouting until the 21st of November, when the division moved on a reconnaissance to New Market; encamped at Woodstock on the night of the 21st.

Battle of November22.—Left Woodstock at 7 o'clock on the morning of the 22d and met the enemy's pickets near Edenbllrg, the Second Division being in advance; drove in their pickets steadily till we reached the North Fork of the Shenandoah, about a mile beyond Mount Jackson where we came in sight of the enemy's cavalry drawn up on Rude's Hill. The Second Division (General Powell) being formed to attack the enemy, I was ordered by General Custer to form my brigade in rear of the Second Division to support it in case of necessity. I had only formed two regiments when the enemy's cavalry moved off toward our right, and the enemy developed a strong line of infantry. I was then ordered to recross the stream with my brigade, and to move with three regiments to Mount Jackson, leaving the remaining two regiments, the Second New York and Eighteenth Pennsylvania, to cover the crossing of the Second Division and to bring up the rear. General Custer took charge of these two regiments, and I established a line at Mount Jackson with the Second Ohio, Fifth New York, and Third New Jersey. The Second Division passed through my line at Mount Jackson, and I shell took the rear with my brigade, which was soon joined by the Second New York. The Eighteenth Pennsylvania, which was on the rear guard with the Second New York, was not to be found till after the brigade was relieved from duty as the rear guard by the Second Brigade, having gone to the rear without orders and avoided the fight. I formed my command in line of battle, the Fifth New York on the extreme right, the Second Ohio in the center, and the Second New York on thee left; the Third New Jersey was held in reserve. The enemy followed up closely with cavalry and infantry. By falling back gradually their cavalry was drawn out beyond the support of their infantry, and my men drove them back gallantly in every instance upon their infantry. The Second New York, Second Ohio, Fifth New York, and Third New Jersey deserve great credit for their conspicuous gallantry in this engagement, and for the handsome manner in which they rallied under fire. My command was engaged with the enemy unto we reached Edenburg, when my brigade was relieved by the Second Brigade. Encamped that night at Woodstock, and on the Ad returned to our old camp near Kernstown. In this engagement my command lost 2 men killed, 2 officers and 21 men wounded, and 9 men missing. Here we remained till November 28, when the division marched to Moorefield to intercept General Rosser, who had been to New Creek on an expedition to cut the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Reached Moorefield on the 30th, sent a reconnaissance toward Peters. burg, and on its return left Moorefield and marched back to the army, which we reached on the 2d, and have remained in present camp since that date.

In all of these engagements the regiments of my command behaved gallantly, with the exception of the Eighteenth Pennsylvania' which set a very bad example to the brigade in the actions of November 12 and 22.

Capt. H.. N. Easton , commanding Second Ohio Cavalry; Maj. T. A. Boice, commanding Fifth New York Cavalry; Maj. M. B. Birdseye, commanding Second New York Cavalry; Capt. J. B. Rogers, commanding FirstConnecticut Cavalry, and Maj. William P. Robeson commanding Third New Jersey Cavalry, deserve especial mention for the zeal with which they performed their duties, and the skill with which they handled their regiments. Col. Walter C. Hull, of the Second York Cavalry, met his death almost instantly, while gallantly leading his regiment in a charge on the 12th of November. Capt. J. B. Rogers, commanding First Connecticut Cavalry, was shot in the foot in the same engagement, and was obliged to leave the field.

The officers of my staff rendered important service carrying orders, and all behaved with their usual coolness and gallantry.

I am sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel, Commanding Brigade.


Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Cavalry Division.