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Adjutant and Inspector General Reports

1865 Report

TROOPS IN THE FIELD.

The regiments and batteries in service from this State, with the exception of the Second Battery, which had been stationed during the year at Port Hudson, have participated in the active campaigns which brought the war to its close,--the Vermont Brigade, the Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Seventeenth Regiments, the Third Battery, and the Cavalry in the Valley of the Shenandoah and before Petersburg, and the Seventh Regiment at Mobile,--and the officers and men have maintained their well-earned reputation for steadiness, gallantry, and endurance. They are entitled to the gratitude of the State for the manner in which they have contributed to her honor and her history.

The SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH, FIFTH, SIXTH and ELEVENTH Regiments have constituted, as heretofore, the Second Brigade of the Second Division of the Sixth Army Corps, but have been better known as the "Vermont Brigade." The Brigade has continued, during the year, under the command of Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Grant, who was breveted Major General, to date from October 19, 1864, for gallant and meritorious services in the campaign before Richmond and in the Shenandoah Valley. At the date of my last annual report, the Brigade was engaged, with the Sixth Corps, in the active campaign, under Sheridan, then in progress in the Valley of the Shenandoah.

On the first of October, 1864, the Brigade was encamped near Harrisonburg, having participated, in the month of September, in the engagements at Opequan on the 13th, at Winchester on the 19th, at Fisher's HIll on the 21st and 22d, and at Mount Jackson at at New Market on the 24th. No detailed report of the part taken by the Brigade in either of these engagements, except that at Winchester, on the 19th, has been received. Col. Warner's report of the action at Winchester was published in my last annual report. on the fifth of October the Brigade moved to New MArket, on the sixth to Woodstock, on the seventh to Strasburg, on the tenth to near Front Royal, on the thirteenth to Milltown, and on the fourteenth to Middletown.

On the nineteenth of October, the army lay upon the easterly side of Cedar Creek, the line extending four or five miles in a northerly direction, with the Eighth Corps upon the left, the Nineteenth Corps in the centre, and the Sixth Corps upon the right,--the Vermont Brigade holding the extreme right of the line, with the exception of a single brigade. Just before day-break, the enemy, in great force, under EArly, made a sudden and unexpected attack upon the left, completely flanking and routing the Eighth Corps, and driving back in great disorder the left of the Ninth Corps, capturing many guns and prisoners. THe Sixth Corps was immediately moved to the left, the Second Division moving by the left flank and forming on the extreme left of the army, near Middletown, the line being nearly at right angles to its former direction. In this formation there was but one brigade to the left of the Vermont Brigade. Before the troops could be placed in proper position, Major Walker's battalion of the Eleventh Regiment, and the Fifth and Sixth Regiments, all under command of Major Johnson, of the Second Regiment, were thrown forward and deployed as skirmishers, and drove the rebel skirmishers from a skirt of woods between the Union lines and he pike leading from Cedar Creek to Middletown. The Brigade then advanced with the Division, and the corps became engaged in desperate conflict, checking, f or a time, the impetuous advance of the enemy. About this time the troops upon the right gave way, the flank and rear were threatened, and, pursuant to orders, the Division fell back a short distance and took position on a crest commanding a part of the town and the ravine between the line and the pike. In this formation the Brigade held the center of the division; the First Brigade, under Co. Warner of the Eleventh Regiment, holding the right, and the Third Brigade, under Gen. Bidwell, holding the left.

The enemy advanced in heavy force, drove in the skirmishers, and attacked the line of battle, but met with a severe repulse. This attack fell mainly upon the Vermont Brigade. As soon as the enemy fell back, another skirmish line was thrown forward from the Brigade, to follow closely, the main force being still held upon the crest. At this time Gen. Ricketts, who commanded the Sixth Corps, was severely wounded, and Gen. Getty, who commanded the Second Division, assumed the command of the Corps; Gen. Grant took command of the Division, and Lieut.-Col. Tracy, of the Second Regiment, who was the ranking officer of the Vermont Brigade, then present,--Col. Foster, of the Fourth Regiment, being in command of the pickets on the right, as corps officer of the day,--took command of the Brigade.

The enemy again rallied, drove in the skirmishers, and vigorously assaulted the lines, and were again repulsed with great loss. This attack fell heaviest upon the right of the Third Brigade and the left of the Vermont Brigade, although all parts of the line were under a heavy fire of artillery and musketry. About this time, however, the troops upon the right of Warner's Brigade had given way, and the enemy rushed through the woods and opened a galling fire upon the flank and rear of the brigade, which necessarily fell back, and the residue of the division was ordered to retire. HAving retired about half a mile, the division again halted and remained about half an hour. The enemy did not follow closely, but kept up an incessant fire of artillery. It being found that all the troops upon the right had fallen back, and the position being exposed, the Second Regiment, under Captain Wales, were deployed as skirmishers, and left to hold the line, with the THird Regiment in support, while the residue of the command fell back a short distance further and took up a new position,--the Vermont Brigade, as before, holding the center of the division, wit the Third Brigade upon the left,--the left of that brigade resting upon the pike just in rear of Middletown. The steady and gallant resistance of the Sixth Corps to the enemy's advance gave opportunity to reform the eighth and Nineteenth Corps, with the Eighth upon the left, the Sixth in the centre, and the Nineteenth upon the right, and preparations were made for a final stand. But to this time the tide of battle had been against us; the loss of men had been very heavy; trains and guns had been captured, and the retreat of many of the troops had been so disorderly as to assume almost the appearance of a total rout. The enemy attacked vigorously, the Eighth and Sixth Corps receiving the brunt of the attack. The Sixth Corps held its ground well, but the whole line was giving way, and the enemy continued to press them back towards Newtown.

At this crisis, Gen. Sheridan, who was at Winchester at the commencement of the battle, arrived upon the field. He rode rapidly down the pike and between the Third and Second Brigades, and halting in front of the Second, inquired what troops they were. "The Sixth Corps!" "The Vermont Brigade!" was shouted almost simultaneously from the ranks. "We are all right, " he exclaimed, and swinging his hat over his head, e rode rapidly to the right, amid the exultant shouts of the men. Upon his return Gen. Wright resumed command of the Sixth Corps, Gen. Getty took command of the Second Division, and Gen. Grant returned to the command of the Vermont Brigade.

For a time the lines were quiet; but the enemy having attacked upon the right, the Vermont Brigade was ordered from their position on the left to the point of attack. The enemy was repulsed, but another attack being expected, the Brigade remained a short time in support of the right of the Sixth and the left of Nineteenth Corps. The Brigade subsequently moved back to the left, and was held in reserve, until the army assumed the offensive, when they took their former position on the left, near the pike. An attack was ordered, and the Brigade moved forward, under a heavy fire, and gained an advanced position. The First and Third Brigades advanced at the same time, on the right and left respectively, and both fell back, under the heavy fire of the enemy. The Vermont Brigade took position behind a stone wall, refusing to retire, and opened a heavy fire upon the enemy in front, and held the position, far in advance of all the other troops. The enemy began to give way, and a movement upon the right being apparent, the Brigade sprang over the stone wall, advancing rapidly through an open ravine, and took position behind another stone wall, l from which the enemy had just been driven. The enemy made another stand, and the Brigade poured into their ranks a terrible fire of musketry. The Third Brigade, having reformed, took position upon the left of the Vermont Brigade. The enemy gave way, and another advance was ordered, and there was no halt, until the enemy had been driven across Cedar Creek, and the cavalry had taken up the pursuit; it was the last victorious charge of the day. THe distance from the point of attack to Cedar Creek was about three miles, most of the way through an open country. The enemy's lines were entirely broken and went back in great haste and confusion. They were rapidly followed, the men rushing forward upon the double quick, and those who could move the most rapidly being found at the front. As the brigade approached Cedar Creek, they were passed by two regiments of cavalry, one of which was the First Vermont, and the infantry then halted and reorganized. In this organization the Vermont Brigade was found in advance of all other troops, except the cavalry, which had just passed. The engagement and pursuit had continued from early morning until dark; and the Vermont Brigade, fatigued, but victorious, marched back and encamped upon the same ground they had left in the morning.

The casualties in the brigade, during this engagement, were reported as follows:__

Reg'tKilled.Wounded.Missing.Total.
Second331438
Third338142
Fourth620329
Fifth217322
Sixth5321148
Eleventh97429112
Aggregate2821251291

Subsequent reports received increased the number of killed to 33, and reduced the number of wounded to 210, and of missing to 41,--Total 284.

Among the killed was Second Lieut. Oscar R. Lee, of Company M, Eleventh Regiment. He enlisted from Waterford and was mustered into the United States' service as First Sergeant of his company, at its original organization, was commissioned as Second Lieutenant March 29, 1864, and was appointed and commission as Captain of his company three days previous to the battle in which he was killed, but did not live to be mustered upon his commission. He was a gallant and promising young officer.

Among the wounded were Capt. George H. Amidon, Fourth Regiment, and Lieut. Henry C. Baxter, Eleventh Regiment, of Gen. Grant's staff,--Lieut. Col. Amasa S. Tracy, Second Regiment, Captains William H. Hubbard, Third Regiment, Joseph P. Aikens, Fourth Regiment, Thomas Kavanagh, Fifth Regiment, Edwin R. Kinney and THomas B. Kennedy, Sixth Regiment, and Edward P. Lee, Eleventh Regiment, and Lieuts. Amasa W. Ferry, Second Regiment, Augustus W. Lyon, Third Regiment, and George O. French, Eleventh Regiment.

Capt. Wales was in command of the Second Regiment, while Lieut. Col. Tracy was in command of the brigade, and after he was wounded; Major Floyd was in command of the Third Regiment, and while Col. Foster was absent, of the Third and Fourth Regiments. Col. Foster, upon joining the brigade, took command of the left of the line. Major Johnson, of the Second Regiment, was in command of the Fifth Regiment, Cat. Kenney was in command of the Sixth, and after he was wounded, Capt. Sperry took command. Lieut. Col. Hunsdon was in command of the Eleventh Regiment, and Major Walker and Capt. Templeton commanded battalions.

The behavior of both officers and men, during the entire day, is reported as having been all that could be desired. The full report of Gen. L. A. Grant will be found in Appendix C.

On the twenty-first of October the brigade moved to Strasburg, where they remained until the ninth of November, when they moved to Newtown, and from thence, on the tenth, to Kearnstown, where they remained, doing picket duty, until the ninth of December, when they proceeded, with the Sixth Corps, by railroad, to Washington, and from thence, on the tenth, by water, to City Point, and then, by railroad, to Meade's Station, where they encamped one night, and then, on the thirteenth, they moved out upon the Squirrell Level road, and occupied the works previously held by the Fifth Corps. It being understood, that these were to be the winter quarters of the brigade, the men soon made themselves very comfortable, by building houses of boards split from pine logs. The Second Regiment held the right of the brigade, with the Eleventh upon their left, and then the Fifth, Sixth, Third and Fourth, the latter regiment holding the extreme left. The picket duty, while encamped here, was quite severe, owing to the proximity of the lines, and during the months of February and March one tenth of the entire command were required to remain in the trenches during the night. This, with the daily details of fatigue parties, to labor on the several large forts, which were constructed by the Corps, prevented much attention to drill.

A short time before day break on the twenty-fifth of March the troops were aroused by the attack of the enemy upon Fort Steadman. In expectation of an attack upon their immediate front, the brigade at once made ready to give them a suitable reception. They remained in the works, under arms, until one o'clock, P. M., when they moved to the left and front of Fort Fisher, where the brigade was formed as an assaulting column,--the Sixth Regiment being upon the left of the front line. The brigade, with other troops, charged, over an open field, upon the enemy's strongly entrenched picket line, capturing nearly his whole force. In this affair both officers and men behaved with the usual gallantry. The casualties were as follows:--

Reg'tKilled.Wounded.Total.
Second2810
Third033
Fourth022
Fifth178
Sixth011
Eleventh11213
Aggregate42337

Among the wounded was 1st Lieutenant William O. Dickinson, of the Eleventh Regiment.

At 5 o'clock P. M., the Sixth Regiment, which had remained, with the brigade, until that time upon the captured line, was moved to the right, in support of a section of the Third Vermont Battery, which was far advanced to the front. While making this movement the regiment was fully exposed to the enemy's batteries. The engagement continued until 8 o'clock P. M., when the brigade returned to their quarters. THe captured picket line was held by our troops. The small loss in the Sixth Regimen--but one man wounded-is attributed, by Col. Lincoln, to the promptness with which every movement was executed, and the long range of the artillery.

Before daybreak, on the morning of the 27th of March, an attack was made upon the picket line by a small column of the enemy, which was repulsed, after a sharp skirmish.

The casualties of the brigade, in this affair, were as follows:

Reg'tKilled.Wounded.Missing.Total.
Second0505
Third0101
Fourth0505
Fifth07411
Sixth0000
Eleventh051823
Aggregate0232245

Among the wounded was 2d Lieutenant Charles H. Carlton, of the Fourth Regiment.

left arrowCaptured Rebel Flags Troops in the Field (continued)right arrow