10th Vermont Infantry
Extracts from the Official Records
HEADQUARTERS TENTH VERMONT VOLUNTEERS,
Near Middletown, Va., November 2, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report, in compliance with orders, the part taken by the regiment under my command in the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864.
Soon after daylight, the enemy having flanked the left of the general line and forced the troops occupying it from their positions, the brigade was formed at a right angle with its original line in two lines of battle, facing south, and holding the ridge north of the valley of Meadow Run, a small creek running parallel with the pike from Middletown. This regiment, numbering 16 officers and 253 muskets, was assigned a position, being the second in the front line of battle, lying near the present brigade headquarters. At this time men, wagons, artillery, &c., were passing to the rear through our lines in much confusion. The enemy appeared at about 7.30, opening a very severe fire of artillery and musketry from the commanding crest he had gained in our front, causing us considerable loss while the troops were yet lying down unable to return the fire to advantage. This fire, well directed, swept the ground we occupied, while the enemy threw forward his skirmishers into the valley. The severe fire from the front, now increased by a partially enfilading fire from a hill on the right and a little in our front, caused our line to give way gradually from the right. Falling back to a slight ridge about 200 yards a new alignment was made, while the rebels advanced their line of battle to the crest we had left. At so short range our fire was very effective. The rebel colors in our front were seen to fall and their line soon fell back to gain the protection of the ridge. Three guns of Captain McKnight's battery (M, Fifth United States) had been abandoned on the ground we had left. A charge was now ordered to regain them, and the regiment, aided by a portion of the line on our left, gallantly charged up to the guns; Sergt. William Mahoney, color bearer, being the first to reach them, planting the colors upon one of the recaptured pieces. The portion of the line thus advanced was too small to enable it to follow up its success, and it was immediately exposed to a very severe fire from the front and right flank, while a large column of the enemy advanced up the ravine against our right. A dense fog rendered it difficult to distinguish friends from foes and caused much confusion and uncertainty. The position was held, however, for about fifteen minutes, until the rebels gained our left flank, when I withdrew my regiment to the point from which we had advanced, where the line was again reformed. The guns we had recovered were also withdrawn and placed in the new line, and the enemy, advancing on to the ridge in our front, were again compelled to fall back by our fire, aided by canister from the battery; but, pursuing their advantage on the left, they soon flanked us in such force as to compel a retreat. Although broken and somewhat scattered by the severe flank fire, our line fell back slowly, the men constantly turning and firing. In this way we retired about half a mile, under a cross-fire of musketry, as well as a sharp fire from several pieces of artillery posted on the commanding ridge near the pike. Reaching a cross-road, the line was halted and reformed at about 9 a.m. The enemy did not press us farther, though keeping up an artillery fire, but as they continued to advance on our left we were soon after withdrawn about one mile farther. Our loss in this part of the day was very severe. Capt. L. D. Thompson, commanding Company D, was killed. Adjt. W. Lyman was severely wounded while gallantly aiding in encouraging the men and keeping line in order when falling back under a severe flank fire. At about noon the general line was established across the pike between Newtown and Middletown and slight breast works were thrown up of rails. A general advance was ordered at about 3.30 p.m. My regiment being on the right of the brigade moved with the division. Leaving the woods, as we pushed forward into the open field, the right of the line, uncovered by the troops on that flank not being equally advanced, was exposed to a concentrated fire, which for a few moments checked our forward movement. Some of the troops, gaining the shelter of a slight ridge, maintained their advanced position and kept up a sharp fire on the enemy. The troops were soon reformed, and, advancing with the general line, drove the rebels from a strong position behind a stone wall, pushing them back about half a mile. Here they took up a very strong position, on a high ridge behind a stone wall, and made a stout resistance for about half an hour, but, overpowered by our fire, their line showed signs of wavering, and a general advance being ordered the men sprang forward impetuously and drove them from their last position in confusion. No further resistance was made to our advance, and soon after dark we reached and took possession of our old camps.
I have to mention with regret the loss in the last charge of Sergt. William Mahoney, color bearer of the regiment, who has borne the colors through every action the regiment has been engaged in with remarkable gallantry.
It is impossible to particularize officers or men where all behaved so gallantly. Capt. H. H. Dewey, Company A, commanded the regiment in the latter part of the day, leading it in the last gallant charge and the severe combat preceding.
The loss was very heavy, being equal to one-half of all the officers present and one-third of the whole number present in the regiment. The numbers are as follows: Killed--commissioned officers, 1; enlisted men, 15. Wounded---commissioned officers, 7; enlisted men, 58. Missing--enlisted men, 4. Total, 85.
A nominal list of casualties has been already forwarded.
I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHARLES G. CHANDLER,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Tenth Vermont Volunteers.
Capt. CHARLES H. LEONARD,
Asst. Adjt. Gen. First Brig., Third Div., Sixth Army Corps.
Source: Official Records, Series I, volume XLIII/1, pages 244-6. Report No. 59.