Cedar Creek Report, Commander, 2d Brigade, 2d Division, 19th Corps (OR, 43, 333-5)


Near Cedar Creek, Va., October 23, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the move ments of my brigade during the action of the 19th instant:

Having received orders on the previous evening from the general commanding the division to have my brigade ready to move out of the works on a reconnaissance in light marching order at 5.30 a. m., I caused breakfast to be prepared for the men at an early hour, and at the appointed time we were in line awaiting orders. At about 5.40 a. in. I heard the sound of heavy musketry in the direction of the position of the Eighth Corps, and apprehending an attack immediately ordered my command into the rifle-pits, throwing out a few sharpshooters to give me early intimation should an attack be made on my front. Shortly afterward I received orders to detach two regiments to my left to support the battery which commanded the pike and ground about the main bridge, and accordingly I sent the Twenty-second Iowa and Third Massachusetts (dismounted) Cavalry, in the meantime directing that the other regiments pack their shelter-tents and other property, permitting a few men to do so at a time, the rest remaining in position. By this time a battery of the enemy directly in my front on the other side of the creek opened a fire of shell upon us, and the mist breaking from the valley discovered a line apparently prepared to attack us. It was not long before a fire of shell, enfilading our line from the left, with another directly in my rear, and a sharp musketry fire from the same direction (the position occupied by the Eighth Corps), showed me that the enemy bad outflanked us. I sheltered my men as much as possible in the rifle-pits, and awaited orders. In the meantime the troops on my left and the batteries passed me, together with the two regiments of this brigade which had been sent in support of the batteries, all apparently retiring toward the pike (the two regiments mentioned rejoined me subsequently). Finding that we were completely outflanked, that the retreat was general, and that my men were rapidly falling from a fire they could not return, and that a line of battle was being formed in the rear by the Sixth Corps, I moved out by the flank in good order, detaching the Eleventh Indiana, by order of Brevet Major-General Emory, to hold the hollow and stone wall. near the headquarters of the Second Division. With the remaining regiments, in compliance with the order of Brigadier-General Grover, I filed to the right and formed in line on the right of the Sixth Corps, then going into position, but immediately received orders to retire about 100 yards to support a battery. Hardly had I done so before the battery retired without firing. The position I then occupied was an exceedingly favorable one, on a hill directly in front of the white house, and one which supported the flank of the Sixth Corps, then actively engaged with the enemy. To support the battery would be retiring without doing anything to check the advance of the enemy, and would leave a gap between the Sixth Corps and part of the Nineteenth Corps then engaged on my right. General Grover therefore countermanded the former order, and directed me to hold the position. and if possible to keep it, at the same time cautioning me that the line of battle was about to fall back, and to cover the movement by my infantry fire as long as possible. The Eleventh Indiana and the Twenty-second Iowa here reported to me, but the enemy showing symptoms of outflanking us on our right and gaining possession of a dangerous belt of woods, I sent the One hundred and fifty-ninth New York and Eleventh Indiana and my sharpshooters to watch that point,

and they were soon engaged fighting on the right, and with the First Brigade, Second Division, and portions of the First Division. It was not long before our line of battle commenced moving back in good order followed by the enemy. Up to this time my men had been concealed and

were lying down, but our time had now come, and rising up we poured in upon them so rapid and close a fire that we soon had the gratification of seeing their line retire for shelter behind a hill. Another attempt was made by the enemy to advance, but was foiled by our, fire, when I

received orders to retire to a line abreast of the Sixth Corps, which was done in good order. In the subsequent positions (three) taken in retiring, the brigade behaved with great steadiness, and the skirmish line formed and held by the Eleventh Indiana more especially redounds to

the credit of that noble veteran regiment. About 11 o'clock orders were received to advance again, which was done, and a line formed, this brigade on the left of the Sixth Corps, in a heavy belt of timber, a breast-work of rails thrown up and skirmishers sent to the front. After a heavy shelling the enemy made an attack upon our front, the brunt of which, I believe fell upon this brigade. It was repelled very easily, but I have to regret, the loss at this point of the gallant and

patriotic soldier and gentleman, Capt. Duncan Richmond, One hundred and fifty-ninth New York, who fell mortally wounded while encouraging his men. After the repulse of the enemy a heavy artillery fire wasOpened upon us from the front, and soon after we were ordered to

advance, keeping tip the connection with the Sixth Corps, and gradually to swing around toward the left. The Thirteenth Connecticut was deployed as skirmishers in front, and we advanced in the following order from right to left: Third Massachusetts, One hundred and fifty

ninth New York, Eleventh Indiana, One hundred and thirty-first New York, Twenty-second Iowa. Upon passing the edge of the woods the able to advance, the line came up to the skirmishers, who were unable to advance, the infantry fire of the enemy being exceedingly heavy, and their shell practice admirably accurate. The Confederate infantry was advantageously posted behind a stone fence about 400 yards in advance. Behind them about the same distance, on the hill, under cover of a stonewall and rails, was a second line, supporting a battery. A heavy fire-was opened upon them, the line halting to deliver it, and.then a most gallant and brilliant charge was made, driving the enemy in scattered and broken squads from both positions. The regimental colors of this brigade were almost simultaneously planted on the hill, but to Corporal Bierbower, of the Eleventh Indiana, must be awarded the honor of first planting the colors there, almost instantly followed by those of the One hundred and thirty-first and One hundred and fifty-ninth New York and a regiment of the Sixth Corps (Fifth New

Jersey). I claim. and I believe with justice, that the brigade, with one regiment of the Sixth Corps, occupied this portion of the line some minutes before the left came up and had to charge up a most difficult hill of plowed ground under a terrific fire of musketry and artillery.

in this charge one regiment alone, One hundred and fifty-ninth New York Volunteers, captured 3 commissioned officers and 31 privates of the enemy. This position was held by us for some half hour under a heavy fire of shell and round shot most of my men being without cartridges; yet when again ordered to advance they did so with great animation and Spirit, supplying themselves with ammunition from dead bodies and prisoners. From this point the enemy made but feeble attempts to stand, and it was not long before we arrived at our old ground and went into camp.

The conduct of both officers and men during this trying day was most admirable and steady in retreating, patient under fire, and impetuous in the attack; and I trust their conduct will meet with the unqualified approval of the division and corps commanders. All did well; those of whom I have had the pleasure of making honorable mention in report of former actions won new honors. I cannot refrain from naming for personal and conspicuous gallantry Col. N. W. Day, One hundred and thirty-first New York; Lieut. Col. William Waltermire, One hundred and fifty-ninth New York; Lieut. Col. W. W. Darnall, Eleventh Indiana, and the other regimental commanders. Color-Sergeant Gray, One hundred and thirty-first New York, Color-Sergeants Coons and Hallenbeck, One hundred and fifty-ninth New York, and Color-Corporal Bierbower, Eleventh Indiana, have been especially named to me for conspicuous bravery.

It has been my exceeding good fortune to be supported in this action, as well as former ones, by a brave and efficient staff, and my thanks are due to the following members: Capt. G. W. Hussey, acting aide-de-camp; Lieut . B. F. Copeland, acting assistant adjutant-general; Lieut. H. D. Pope, acting provost-marsbal, and Lieut. David Wilson, acting


I herewith submit list of casualties.[Not included here]

I am, sir, your most obedient servant,


Colonel 159th Yew York Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.


Assistant Adjutant-General, Second, Div.,, 19th Army Corps.