Cedar Creek After Action Report, Commander, 2d Division, 8th Corps (OR, 43, 403-4)



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

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that on the morning of the 19th instant the division under my command had about 2,381 men for duty; of that number 287 were on picket, one large regiment of the Second Brigade (Ninety-first Ohio), numbering 378, was absent guarding cattle below Middletown, and one regiment, Ninth West Virginia Volunteer Infantry, was camped near breast-works which they were throwing up about three-quarters of a mile southeast of my camp, leaving in camp only about 1,445 men. My division was camped as a reserve about a mile north from the line of breast-works, which overlooks the mouth of Cedar Creek, and which were occupied by the First Division (Colonel Thoburn). At early daylight we were notified by Lieutenant Ballard, acting assistant adjutant-general, of Colonel Thoburn's staff, that the enemy were already driving the First Division from their position. My command was immediately ordered under arms lend soon after formed in line of battle, under the direction of Brevet Major-General Crook, Major-General Wright also being present. My right rested at a point about forty yards north of the woods on the left of the Valley pike, east of army headquarters, and my line extended northwardly, toward 'a brigade under command of Colonel Hitching, which was forming near my left. The line was formed and the men ordered to lie down. There was a heavy fog which concealed objects a little distance off, but firing in our front and both on our right and left flanks told plainly enough that the rebels were rapidly advancing. At this time an order was received from Major-General Wright to move by the right flank and close up on the Nineteenth Corps, whose left was about 100 yards from my right. While this order was being communicated to the brigade and regimental commanders, the brigade on my left was observed to be broken or falling back, and a large number of fugitives, either from the First Division (Colonel Thoburn), or from the brigade of the Nineteenth Corps, in the woods on our right, came pouring past and through the right of my line; at the same time the rebel fire opened on us in front and on both flanks. The line began to fall back, many supposing, as is said, that the order was to that effect. Every effort was made by all the officers, whom I had an opportunity to notice, to prevent confusion and a retreat. In every regiment a considerable number of men continued to contest the advance of the enemy with determination, and succeeded in delaying them until time enough was given to get off all trains and property from our own camp and from the camps immediately on our right and at army headquarters. The main body of the division fell back, until they reached a ridge where a part of the Sixth Corps had begun to form. I directed my command to form on the left of this line and succeeded in firmly establishing a considerable part of them as directed. Afterward a part of tile Sixth Corps, under General Getty, formed on our left, thus forming a line facing up the valley about a mile and a half north of Middletown, with the left resting near the Valley pike. We remained here under orders until about 3 p. m., when an officer of the Sixth Corps informed me that their lines, both on my right and left, were about to advance, and that a general advance of the whole line had been ordered. I told him that I had received no orders to advance, but that in the absence of orders I should advance with the rest of the line. About five minutes afterward, and before any order to advance had been given, I received orders from Brevet Major-General Crook to move my command to the left of the Valley pike and to join the First Division' which was there formed. The order was obeyed, and the division remained in the position taken until ordered forward on the left of the Valley pike, when we rapidly marched as far as Cedar Creek, from which point, at about dusk, we were ordered into camp, and occupied the sable ground we had left in the morning.

The loss in the division is as follows: First Brigade—killed, 23; wounded, 102; total, 125. Second Brigade—killed, 3; wounded 52; missing, 31; total, 86. Total—killed, 26; wounded, 154; missing, 31. Aggregate, 211.

Among the killed was Lieut. Col. James R. Hall, Thirteenth West Virginia Volunteers, who had not yet recovered from wounds received in a previous battle, and might well have been excused from returning to duty for many weeks; but with a noble heroism and devotion to duty characteristic of the man he would not be absent when a battle was in prospect. He was hit by two balls, either of which would have killed him, early in the action, in the extreme front, where the danger was greatest. No braver or truer man fell on that day.

Inclosed find copies of brigade commanders' reports.

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


Colonel, Commanding.


Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.