Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation

Middletown, Virginia
October 19-20, 2002

Middletown, Virginia
October 20th, 1864

Dear Friends,

I write once more to let you know that we are well worn, but successful in the late events befalling our army here in the Valley. We started concentrating here on Friday evening, with all the troops coming up, and finding their respective camps quite readily, since the corps have been here for some time. We got ourselves to the USV 3d Battalion and into the company street of the 14th NJ, Co.A., commanded by Lt. Aaron Hooks. We had a good bunch of boys already in camp there, including the 63 Pa., the 3d NJ, and of course the old boys of the 8CV. We formed a company of 22 rifles, and set to the normal cooking of rations, and anticipation of the events to come. Us boys from the 8th Conn. drew the attention of the Major, and were able to deliver a brevet major commission from Gov. Buckingham, and a symbolic brass Connecticut button to the Major for his display of leadership and integrity in the late battle of Sept. 17th. The camp was quiet, and comfortable, under clear and cold skies. The valley was sublime, with all the autumn colors, and the vistas from the camp were pristine. The sounds of the rails moving our supplies up and down the valley pierced the night. All was well.

The morning brought the obligatory roll call, and then the morning dress parade. This was followed by a battalion drill, in which the entire assembled USV worked on change of battalion fronts forward to the left, and right. This is a good thing, since it is needed regularly in our operations. The rest of the morning was consumed with our battalion drill in which we worked on the skirmish drill by battalion, as we have drawn that duty for the guard on the morrow. The night was passed quite cold, with the frost on the brogasn, but otherwise not so cold as to lose a lot of sleep. Morning came, we got up our coffee and breakfast, and the roll was called.

We were soon after the meridian, formed into line, and were positioned to the right of the camps. The rebels first appeared in the area off to the left of the army, and thrust forward, first in a few battalions, and then in long brigade lines, and swept that end of the camps of our men. Our boys there ran to the rear, and then formed in lines to meet the surprise, but were quickly swept from the positions in haste, and all were routed to the north towards the town of Middletown. Our skirmish line was assembled, and used as a rear guard battalion, covering the retreat of the rest of the lines, and then we too were near overrun. We retreated until we were approached by our Gen. Heim, and told to face the enemy, and push them back, as we had superior numbers, and it could easily be done. That was all that the boys had to hear. Our battalion, the 14th NJ, were deployed as skirmishers in a long line in front of the battalions. and were instrumental in pushing the rebels back. We covered the advance of our forces, and as the Union lines once more advanced, we indeed, did sweep through the rebels, who seemed to have run out of steam, and in the course of the next hours, we succeeded in regaining our camps, our guns, and took many a prisoner.

We were allowed back to our old streets from the morning, and got up some rations as the sun set in the west. The weather was getting cloudy, but warm, and the prospect of another frosty night seemed to wane. The night was warmer than the last, and a full nights sleep was provided to the rank and file, at least until around four in the morning when Lt. Hooks came around and tapped everyone up and into line. In the cold and dark, a few cups of coffee were made before forming and marching off to the south under orders of silence.We marched off towards the right of the army, and deployed in a long line of skirmishers behind the crest of a hill, and with the cavalry on our right. We were to observe and report. Our skirmishers were like ghosts in the dark, the blue forms barely visible in the predawn. We observed a rebel column off to our right, waiting for first light. To our front a main body of rebels were heard forming into line as well. The attack started as the rebels pushed skirmishers forward, and engaged our pickets. We were working with them, as the rebel battalion off to our right determined to push pasts our skirmish flank. They came in force, and our pickets had to retreat, and to refuse the skirmish line, unveiling the front of the cavalry stationed there. The rebels pushed harder there, in concert with the rebel push on the left of the lines, and we had to retreat and rally on the other side of the creek. We came into line, facing the enemy, and were shifted to the left and rear several times in confusion. The rebel battalion pushed forward over the creek, and tried to flank us right, which we gave them the ground to do. Once they had advanced so far towards our camps, and came into line facing us, another Union battalion appeared from the camps, and flanked their left. They stood to it, and did not withdraw. However, yet another battalion came up on their rear, and they were surrounded. That was the end of the game for them, and they were all captured. But, immediately, we were turned around to address more rebels approaching our rear, and we went at it with powder and lead at short range. Now, the same sort of thing played out again. There came a Union battalion from off to the left, and came up to the rebel rear, and our supporting battalions were in line directly behind ours. The rebels fought to a finish, being surrounded, with no hope of escape. Our battalion was ordered to take a knee, only to show the rebels that there was another battalion at the ready right behind us. That was the end of the dawn battle. We had taken many a prisoner that the confederates could not afford to lose.

We went back to camp, and finished our sleep, got some rations, and fell in almost midday for the brigade dress parade. That parade was a fine one, and it was followed by battalion drills. Major Buffington drilled the boys in the School of the Company, concentrating on the crisp, sharp, execution of the drill as a foundation for learning again the fundamentals of drill. We were dismissed, and returned to camp once more. We were occupied by camp police, and straightening out our equipment and accoutrements in anticipation of a march. While on a walk to the sinks, I happened to pass the picket line for the staff horses. Seeing the fine palomino that the 2d regiment adjutant rides, I thought that I would go on over, introduce myself to the horse, and tell him what a fine man that he works for. Well, upon approaching the horse, and then stroking his nose once or twice, he got a little defensive, and then out of the blue chomped down upon my arm with a vigor. It did make quite a bruise and told me only that he did not necessarily agree with my sentiments. Arriving at the sinks, coincidently, I did meet the adjutant, and when I told him of the attack, he was concerned, and let me know that the horse has not been behaving as is normal that day. I simply wonder if the stress of battle and the loss of friends and acquaintances also extends to the animals enlisted in the army, as well it does to the men.

Early in the afternoon, the battalions were once more called into line, and then formed into a column of brigades. We were the third in line. We stacked arms, and rested, in full anticipation of what normally follows. After a time, our line of guns from the artillery along the crest of the hill which we were behind opened a barrage of fire. The signal that the rebels were now approaching got everyone to their feet, and into line. We watched as the battalions in front of us advanced in line, and went down the swale past the Heater house, across the creek, and up the hill on the other side. The lines of battle pulsed forward and back in a pitched battle. We were then ordered in, and were able to join the general advance, but for a time. The rebels were firing upon us, and the ranks were thinning, when Lt. Hooks was shot through the arm. I told him to stay put, and took the company forward. We held the line with the battalion for a time, but then were about to get overrun. The Adjutant passed the orders to run for your lives, and between the fleet of foot, and the casualties on the field, the battalion melted way to the rear. I ran back to Lt. Hooks, and with the Adjutant, helped the Lt. towards the rear so he might not be swept up by the rebel penetration of the lines. We got him some distance to the rear, when the cavalry swept down from the guns, and filled the gaps of a moment. Then the retreating battalions coming across the creek were harassed into lines, and fought back bitterly, stemming the tide of the total rout. They were not strong enough to prevent the rebel advance, and the rebels pushed forward towards the center, and up the hill, as I saw them sweep through our guns, capturing the entire line. All was a loss, and the stream of men the the rear signaled their success. I for one did not stop until I was north of Middletown, and then just sat and waited for some acquaintances to pass by. I hailed out to them, and we were together once more. We took a quick count of those present, and without any delay, got on the march to the north, away from the battlefield and away from our loss at Kernstown.

We got to the baggage train, through our equipment upon them, and started to follow the rest of the retreat. That is all that I know of the battle, as we have not seen any of the command since then. I am writing here in hopes that we will sort this all out by the morrow, and know of our next steps in a day or so. It is reported that the rebel advance has been halted, and that the army will recover as it has in the past. It may just be the final action of the campaign season, as the cold weather and the poor roads may send us into winter quarters very shortly. I will write again soon, once I know how to tell you to address your letters. Most of the boys from home are yet unscathed, in spite of our exertions. Lt. Hooks is in the hands of the hospital, and it is reported that he may keep his arm. God save the Union, and all the brave men that are fighting and dying to preserve it.

Your humble servant,

E-Mail Us for More Information!
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.

Back to 2002 Archive

BACK to the 8CV Home Page.