Cedar Creek After Action Report, Commander, 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Sixth Corps (OR, 43, 174-176)



Report of Lieut. Col. Egbert Olcott, One hundred and twenty-first New York Infantry7 commanding Second Brigade, of operations October 19.



October 23, 1864


Capt. S. W. Russell

Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., First Division, Sixth Corps:


CAPTAIN: I have the honor to forward the accompanying report of the part taken by this brigade in the engagement of the-19th instant. I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant.Colonel 121st New York State Vols., Comdg. Brigade.


Report of the part taken by the Second Brigade, First Division, Sixth Corps, in the engagement of October 19, 1864.


The brigade, commanded by Col. Joseph E. :Hamblin, Sixty-fifth New York State Volunteers, was under arms at daylight. As the firing on the left increased, the brigade was placed in line facing to the rear, to the left of the First Brigade, on what is called the Hite road. This road is parallel to and about 400 yards in rear of the camp the brigade had occupied. The line was formed in the following order from the right: Second Connecticut Heavy Artillery, One hundred and twenty-first New York State Volunteers, Sixty-fifth New York Volunteers, and Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers. There was an interval of 200 or 300 yards between the brigade and the troops on the left. These troops were supposed at the time to be a part of the Second Division; but a staff officer at corps headquarters says that there was a brigade of the Nineteenth Corps between the First and Second Divisions, and General Dwight, of the Nineteenth Corps, thinks a portion of the Eighth Corps occupied that position. The brigade had been in line but a short time on the said road, when it was ordered to move to the rear by the right of battalions. The movement, however, had hardly commenced, the Second Connecticut not having moved at all, when the line was reformed in the road, but this time without the One hundred and twenty-first New York, which regiment was placed behind a slight crest about 100 yards from the road and at an angle of 40 degrees with it, the right of tile regiment being refused. During this movement the troops on the left had retreated or been withdrawn. The brigade was attacked in this position. The attack, however, made no impression upon the line. The evenly were forced to halt and a heavy fire was kept up between the lines for nearly thirty minutes. It was during this time that Lieutenant-Colonel Higinbotham, Sixty-fifth New York Volunteers, and Captain Hosford, Second Connecticut, were killed, and Captain Roome, assistant adjutant-general, Colonel Hamblin and Lieutenant Byrnes, Sixty-fifth New York; Colonel Mackenzie, Captain Fenn, Lieutenant Sanford, and Lieutenant Gregory, Second Connecticut; Captain Douw, Captain Burrell, and Lieutenant Johnson, One hundred and twenty-first New York, and Lieutenant Simpson and Lieutenant Russell, battalion Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, were wounded.


The troops on the right, being hard pressed, were ordered to retire, and this brigade was ordered to conform to their movements, to fall back slowly and take up a position on a crest a few hundred yards to the rear. But, in the meantime, the enemy had discovered and taken advantage of the gap on the left, and had succeeded in placing himself directly on the left flank of the brigade and not 200 yards from it. The brigade was, therefore, obliged to move rapidly to the rear. As soon, however, as it had been extricated from this position, a new line was formed, about 1,500 yards from the first and at nearly right angles to it. Here the brigade remained some time, the command falling upon Colonel Mackenzie, Colonel Hamblin being obliged to go to the rear on account of his wound.


The order to retreat still farther being given, the Second Connecticut and One hundred and twenty-first New York were deployed as skirmishers, with instructions to retire slowly, from crest to crest, holding the enemy in check if he advanced, the Sixty-fifth New York and Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers marching with the division. The brigade retired in this manner more than a mile, when it was faced about and advanced nearly the same distance and formed in two lines in a wood to the right of the Third Division in the following order from the left: first line, Sixty-fifth New York, Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and eight companies Second Connecticut; second line, One hundred and twenty-first New York, two companies Second Connecticut, and First Brigade. The brigade remained in this position two or three hours. Colonel Mackenzie, though wounded, assumed command of the first line; Lieutenant-CoIonel Olcott, One hundred and twenty-first New York, was directed by General Wheaton to take command of the second, including the First Brigade. The order to advance was given between 3 and 4 o'clock. The first line moved gallantly to the edge of the wood, then meeting a galling fire, it hesitated, but, inspired by the noble bravery and example of Colonel Mackenzie, it pressed forward to a crest some 150 yards in front. It appearing unable to advance farther, and in some danger of being forced back, Lieutenant-Colonel Olcott, agreeably to instructions from General Wheaton, charged with the second line. The two lines joined in the charge, and drove the enemy from a commanding crest 400 or 500 yards in advance. In this charge Colonel Mackenzie, while in front of his men, divas again wounded and taken off the field. The command then fell to Lieutenant-Colonel Olcott. The brigade was forced to halt upon the crest on account of the Third Division breaking, leaving nothing on its left flank. While the Third Division was being reformed behind a stone wall some 300 yards to the rear the brigade was exposed to a most severe artillery and infantry fire, but firmly held the position (which appeared to be the key to the whole line) for full half an hour, and until, in fact, the troops on the left could again be prepared to charge. General Wheaton, in the meantime, directed that as soon as the left advanced the line should

press forward. No sooner, therefore, did the Third Division show any sign of a movement than the brigade was ordered forward. It obeyed without a moment's hesitation. From the fact that the brigade was some 300 or 400 yards in advance of the Third Division, on the left, and on al count of the slowness of the Nineteenth (corps, on the right, it led the charge. The enemy broke in confusion before this advance, and wer followed so vigorously that they failed to reform or to offer any serious resistance. At sundown, the enemy having been driven across Cedar Creek, the brigade was ordered to the camp it left in the morning.


In this engagement Lieutenant Tucker, One hundred and talent first New York, was killed; and Colonel Mackenzie, Captain Burglar Lieutenant Smith, and Lieutenant Snowden, Second Connecticut;. Major Galpin and Acting Lieutenant Howland, One hundred and twenty-first New York, and Lieutenant Burns, battalion Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, were wounded.


Too much praise cannot be given to the officers of this command for their self-sacrificing bravery. Captain Roome, assistant adjutant-general, who was wounded early in the action, and Lieutenant Cleveland, acting assistant inspector-general, for their efficiency, deserve special mention.


Out of forty seven officers who went into action twenty were killed or wounded. Out of thirteen mounted officers, eleven had their horses shot. ~:


A company of the Second Connecticut, on picket at Mine Bank Ford, were surrounded and taken prisoners in the morning. No fault has been found with the officer commanding the company.


I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. OLCOTT, Lieutenant Colonel 121st New York State Vole., Comdg. Brigade.


Statement of Casualties.
Command Killed Wounded Missing Total Aggregrate
Officers Men Officers Men Officers Men Officers Men
Second Brigade    
65th New York State Volunteers
2d Connecticut Volunteer Artillery
121st New York Volunteers
95th and battalion 96th Pennsylvania Volunteers