Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
137th Anniversary Cedar Creek Reenactment
Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation
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Oct. 19-22, 2001
upon Cedar Creek
October 23, 1864
I use this opportunity to take pen in hand, and post you some lines of news from these parts. I am sure that by now, all the papers have written about the near disaster here, and the great Union exertion that turned it all into a final victory for us in the Valley. I commence to give you the details of the story from our part.
Two squads of our boys began arriving in the Middletown area on Friday last about the end of the afternoon. In threes and fours, we made our way from the Valley Pike to the Union brigade headquarters here to the north of the Belle Grove plantation where Sheridan and the army maintain their headquarters. Upon finding our command, we were directed to the 3d battalion, USV, under Capt. Buffington of the 63d PVI. We were combined with the fine boys of the 14 NJ into the 2d company. We were accompanied also in the battalion by the 43 NY, the 148 NY, the 63 PVI, the 28th Mass, and a company of messes, totalling 6 companies. We were all designated companies of the 43d New York, the "Albany Rifles".
We went into camp on a high hill overlooking all about us. The fall foliage and beauty of the valley welcomed all of us here. The weather was quite warm and pleasent during the day, but quite cold at night.
The evening was passed with some rest around the fires, while several platoons were taken out on picket for the night. Our boys were not included, so we sat, talked, and got used to the surroundings before retiring at tattoo for the evening. The night was cold, clear, and quite brisk, the feet suffering the most. There was a golden sliver moon, but it set rather early, and the stars were out, with several shooting stars to behold.
The morning revielle came about 7, it being darker in the morning here, and we all rose, had the rooll, and got up some coffee and breakfast. Morning reports were forwarded to battalion, and we were soon formed in battalion, then brigade dress parade. Those customs done, the two regiments were pitted against each other in our annual firing competition. Col. Laimo commanded the 2d Reg, and Col. Waffler commanded the 1st. Best of three battalion vollies was judged, (but not by our boys) to be a tie, so a fire by rank of each regiment was to be the decision. This was also conducted, and determined to be a draw, so the entire competition was declared a draw. No one was that happy about it, but all were confident that the soldiers had exhibited great skill. We returned to camp shortly, got up our midday meals, and were ordered to fall in at 2.30 in the afternoon.
This we did punctually, and our battalion was brigaded with the Mifflins under Col. Washburn. We marched off towards the south and Fisher's Hill in column of companies. Near the crest of a hill, we were ordered left into line, and then to the right flank. We advanced in this manner, when the artillery on both opposing hills opened over our heads, we once again went company into line, then forward into line, on the extreme left of the Union line. In this manner, we advanced against the rebels, who fought to turn our flank, but could not, and falling back from our pressures, exposed their batteries posted on their right. The Mifflins wheeled right to flank the right of the rebel line, giving our battalion on their left free path to the guns. The 43d NY swept through and around the guns, the artillerymen there fleeing or surrendering to us. Capt. Buffington immediately ordered the Sgt.Maj. to inventory the captured guns and equipment. The haul included 3 guns, caissions, horses, and ammunition. The list was put on a return for Capt. Levine, for his presentation to USV HQ, and he was reminded to request a receipt.
We marched back to our hilltop camp, and took some rest, then got up some early rations, and started to rest for our orders were for the whole 43 NY to go out on picket at 3:00 in the morning. The first company went out before dark to establish the best locations, and survey the field. The rest of the boys got down, and got some sleep. The night once more was cold, and the feet complaining the most about the situation. There were several blanketed soldiers huddled around the fire for warmth when the Sgt.Maj. called out the 2d company. We were not sleeping soundly, so got up straight away, and fell into line. The battalion marched off to the south, down the hills, where near the bottom of the swale, was the post of the grand guards. They had a small fire, and around it were the reliefs trying to warm themselves, get some coffee, and stay sharp. We were marched well past that base, and down to the edge of a creek. Along the stream, every several hundred yards, the Capt. posted eaach company in a long line of picket posts on our side of the stream. From each of these posts, the CApt. ordered each company to put their first platoon out as sentinels about 150 yards beyond the stream, and up the hill towards the enemy lines. The seconde platoon was to be held in reserve, at the picket post, and sentinels rotated every hour. The parole was Henry, and the countersign was Winchester. Sgt. Rosberg posted his sentinels first, and immediately detected the enemy who challenged his deployment with a few rounds. We were under orders not to fire, or bring on an engagement, only to probe, and report on enemy strength, postion, and intentions. In order to comply, Sgt. Rosberg pulled his line back about 20 rods from the original line to avoid tempting the rebels. I tramped back and forth to see who was on our flanks, where the holes were, and where the Capt. was. The line was long, but in the air on both ends, as we were not strong enough to protect the whole front of anchor our line.
Soon, the word was passed that a few of the 63d had probed forward and not returned. Vigilence was increased, and soon, the word came that Lt. Shrum had been captured, then the 63d's whole first platoon. We had just relieved our sentinels when the Capt. ordered all the sentinels brought in, and rally on the picket posts. This we did, and word was sent to headquarters. Orders were returned to have the battalion fall back, and redeploy the picket on the next crest back. In the process of moving the battalion, the rebels put a hard push to get around our right flank and into the camp. They were resisted, and we did retreat towards our camps, then were deployed in line just half way between the edge of camp and the afore mentioned crest. Our lines were again being probed and flanked as the rebels came closer and closer to camp in extended skirmish intervals. Finally, the 1st company was sent forward as skirmishers, and our 2d company was put into skirmish line to the left flank, extending intervals to meet the rebel threat. We remained in this configuration, only a stone's throw from the rebels until the sun came up. At that point, we were relieved by the 1st and 2d regiments USV, and retired to our bedrolls once more. sun came up. At that point, we were relieved by the 1st and 2d regiments USV, and retired to our bedrolls once more.
A few hours later, the regiments were formed in line in camp, and a full company of Confederates were seen approaching under escort and guard. They marched into camp, carrying the colors of two Union regiments. They were halted, and immediately boxed by the Federal troops. A short shouting match occurred, but in general a gentlemanly exchange was had, and the colors were returned to their rightful owners. The rebels were then escorted to Union headquarters, then paroled, escorted to the edge of camp, and were given over to the Confederate command and escorted back to their camps. We returned to our fires, got some coffee and breakfast, since sleeping now was harder to do.
In a short time, we were called into dress parade, which, curiously, did not occur, but the bulk of the forces were once more marched off to the south, our battalion excepting, and we once more returned to our streets.
We proceeded to rest some more after most of the night on the picket line. Shortly, we were informed by Capt. Buffington that we were to form up and march out at 2 on the clock in the afternoon. As the appointed time approached, it was getting unseasonably warm, but most did not complain after the damps and chills of the night before, particularly those who had found the bottom of the creek close up in the dark. We formed, and marched, first by the flank, then by column of companies, then forward into line. We stacked, and then gaggled off to a camp to the front, and made ourselves to home in the camp of the XIX Corps. There we were greeted with venison balls that all the boys relished. In no time, there we heard the approach of a rebel corps, the firing was coming directly through the camp. Such was the surprise, that we could do nothing but skedaddle, since we also unarmed. And so run we all did, some able to stop and fire at them to slow them down, but hte most just ran, and tried to impress the urgency and need for flight on the boys holding in a long skirmish line across our front, through which the XIX Corps ran at will.
Once back to our battalion line, we dressed, took arms, and tried to turn and face the rebels advance, but they were converging around the Heater House where we were from two directions, and the Capt. just got us out of the trap before the rebels caught us. We moved to the right, and linked up with the Mifflins once more, and tried to hold our ground. The firing was quite hot, and we were running low on ammunition. We wre obliged to give ground once more, and reformed our line just below hte crest where our guns were pounding away over our heads. As the rebels are so hot to get on ou rright flank, they were depleting their strength in the center once more. But our boys were now resupplied and reinvigorated, and were refusing both the left and right flanks. Capt. asked me what I saw to my front, and I replied, nothing. We waited until we could screen the rebels massed on our right flank away, and we advanced by the right of companies to the front, and went right up the middle. The rebels were trying to contest this, but we penetrated their line quickly, and all they could do is fire into our backs, while being engaged by our wings. This all came to a perfect end, when the cavalry came thundering down the hill and fell upon the rebels now in our rear, and perfectly silenced them, taking all of them prisoners. We advanced directly on the rebel center, against some stubborn, but failing resistance, until we were on the top of the hill from which we were originally sent off from the XIX Corps camp. We had regained all the lost ground, and checked the rebel advance, turning them instead to the skedaddle, and from the top of that hill we could see the general rout clogging the valley pike to the south with men, guns, horses, wagons, and the like.
All this now accomplished, we reformed our ranks, took account of the losses for the day, formed the battalion, paid compliments to the Mifflins, the Irish, and the USV. This done, the battalion marched back for camp, and our boys from the Eighth took our leave, and made for the wagon park, and the valley pike to the north.
Your obedient servant,
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.