Adjutant and Inspector General Reports
XIX. REPORT OF COL. WILLIAM W. HENRY, TENTH REGIMENT VERMONT VOLUNTEERS.
Camp 10th Vermont Vol. Infantry,
Near Middletown, Va., Oct. 20, 1864.
Peter T. Washburn,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
Sir--I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this regiment in the battle fought at this place on yesterday the 19th inst:
The regiment went into action with 17 officers and 280 men in line of battle.
About 6 a. m., a very heavy attack was made on the left of the general line. Soon after daylight the 6th corps was formed in line of battle at right angles to our original position, and facing towards what had been the left flank. The enemy had at this time broken the left, and the fugitives, with wagons, &c., were constantly passing our line. About half-past seven o'clock the enemy opened a very severe fire of artillery and musketry from a commanding crest, which they had gained in front of the line we had newly taken up. Their fire, well directed, swept the ground we occupied, while the y attempted to cross the valley in our front. Under the sever fire from the front, increased by a partially enfilading fire from a hill on the right, our line fell back to a low ridge about 400 yards in rear of that at first occupied. The rebels advanced their line of battle to the crest we had left. When our line fell back, three pieces of Capt. McKnight's battery (M, 5th U. S.) had been left, and the rebels advanced to these guns. Seeing this, a charge was ordered, and the regiment, with the colors in advance, charged up to the guns and recovered them. Sergt. Wm. Mahoney, of Co. E, color bearer of the regiment, was the first to reach the guns, planting the colors upon one of them. The rebels gave way in confusion, and fled across the valley and over the ridge beyond. The recaptured guns were drawn off, it being necessary to draw two of them some distance by hand.
The rebels, having rallied, poured in a heavy fire from the front and right, a heavy column advancing up the valley from that direction. the troops on the left falling back beyond our line, we were soon exposed to a fire from that flank also. The loss at this point was very severe, and the line fell back to the second ridge. Here a stand was made, and the rebels were again driven from the crest in front, which they attempted to carry. but pursuing their advantage on the left, they soon flanked us in such force as to compel a retreat on the whole line. Although broken and somewhat scattered in places, the line fell back slowly, the men constantly turning and firing. In this way we retired about a mile, the enemy having all the time a cross fire of musketry upon us, as well as a sharp fire from several guns commanding the whole plain. Capt. L. D. Thompson, commanding Company D, was killed while thus retreating, and the loss was very heavy.
Reaching a cross road, the line was halted, and reformed about 9 a.m. The enemy forebore to press us further on this point, but as they advance don our left, our line was withdrawn some distance further.
At this time, Gen. Sheridan arrived on the field. The line was immediately reformed. Breastworks of rails and logs were thrown up, in which we lay until about 3.30 p. m., when a general advance was ordered. The regiment, with the general line of the division, moved forward through woods into an open field, where the advance was checked for a few minutes, until the remainder of the line coming up, we again pushed on and drove the rebels from a strong position behind a stone wall, forcing them back about half a mile. Here they took up a very strong position on a continuous ridge, along the crest of which ran a stone wall, and made a determined stand. the fire was incessant and very heavy for about half an hour, but the enemy finally gave way before our fire. A general charge was ordered, and the troops advancing on the run, the rebels gave way in complete disorder. The cavalry took up the pursuit, and little resistance was attempted after this time. In this last charge Sergt. Mahoney, color-bearer, was shot dead while gallantly advancing with the colors at the front of the regiment.
We advanced over the battle-ground of the morning, and soon after dark took possession of our old camps.
It is impossible to particularize any officers or men, where all so fully performed their duty and behaved no nobly.
Adjutant Lyman was wounded while falling ack from the first position, while encouraging the men by voice and example, and most gallantly performing the duties of his position.
Capt. Dewey, Co. A, command the regiment during the last charge, and led it through that severe engagement in a manner calling for high commendation.
A list of the casualties in the regiment is enclosed. The loss is very great, being, as will be seen, about one-third of the total number engaged.
I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Wm. H. HENRY
Col. Commanding 10th, Regt. Vt. Vol. Inf.