Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
New Market Battlefield Event Report
May 17-18, 2003
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New Market Battlefield
New Market, Virginia
After a long march up the valley in a cloudy, rainy, fog, we arrived near here at a little place, where our USV third battalion went into camp in a field on a knoll. We are just off to the west of the Valley Pike, the major thoroughfare in this region. It is impossible to see the tops of the mountains to our right and left, as they were shrouded in rain clouds.
We of the 54th Penn. were six companies, including three from the Mifflin Guard. There were a good many others of the USV hard by, and also over the ridge, two battalions of Vincent's brigade. It was late in the evening once everyone was up, and the Major called an officers meeting to discuss the orders for the morrow. That done, it was a good night just to get some rest.
On the morning, reveille was a sunrise, and the army duties commenced. Breakfast was got up, and the morning reports were forward to the adjutant, then to brigade headquarters. The morning was consumed by the instructional parade for mounting the guard, and posting the police guard. The three reliefs were rotated, and then called in. We formed for company drills, followed by battalion drill, moving from column to line, and back again. The drills were dismissed, and the boys got some dinner.
After a time, the battalion was formed and a dress parade was conducted, while the staff and field officers went to headquarters. They soon returned, took command of the battalions, and we marched to the south by the right flank, stopped along a bluff overlooking the north branch, and rested for a spell. The rains began steady, and did not stop. We were soaked through, even our blanket rolls.
We were ordered back into line, and continued to the south, where, coming over a little crest, there appeared a large field to our front, a pristine farm there, and columns of approaching rebels beyond. We were deployed in a long line across the field, and ordered forward. Flags to the front, off we went in a fine parade. Then the orders came to double quick, and our line of battle swept across that field men yelling, and closing the distance on the rebel forces. We came to a split rail fence, and went up and over it. Then we were in the barnyard of the farm, half our forces went to the right of the large barn, and our half went left. That brought into a small orchard, surrounded by fence, and a tight place indeed. The rebels came into line on the opposite side ot the south fence, and open a heavy series of vollies upon us. We replied, but were heavily outnumbered, and so were compelled to extract ourselves from that slaughter pen. This was not done easily, as we retired by company to the rear in succession from the left, leaving first company there to cover us the longest, and they paid dearly.
The Major was in the corner of the orchard, hurrying all the boys past, out of the orchard, and into line beyond to make our stand. The rebels were swarming through and around the orchard, and we needed to move fast. during that commotion, the Major went missing, and it was determined that he was captured while trying to get every last one of his men out of the orchard.
The senior captain took over the battalion, and offered quite a fight, but we were yet still forced to fight and retire, fight and retire. Our losses were nearly half. The rebel push met resistance along the whole front, and slowed to regroup itself. The rebel cavalry came charging upon our left flank, and we formed a square in the knick of time, so they veered off. We could see them off in the distance, contemplating another charge once we were back in line of battle, but they did not come. The captain now ordered us to extend our line in one rank, and fill the gaps between the other battalions, then we ordered a bayonet charge, and forward we went, slamming right into and over a company of rebels who thought not to retreat. They were all captured, but only briefly, as the main rebel body advanced, and forced us to retire once more. This time, our forces were so cut up that an organized resistance was no longer possible, and the command called for our withdrawal back down the valley.
We all limped back to our camp, and got under some canvas, but there was no chance for getting dry. The evening dress parade was cancelled, and the boys just got some supper together over fires of wet wood. The evening was quiet in camp, as most were huddled in their tents, and the cold wet night was passed in that fashion.
In the morinng, the sound of revielle came, and the army awoke to a sloppy sea of mud. Most just started packing it up, and heading farther away from this place. By mid morning, the most of the forces here were gone, and the battle of Mud Market was over. We marched back the same way we came, stopped in Mt. Jackson for some rations, and were on the march once more. There is little we can do about the weather, and it is all in three years, yet there is some amount of misery in being so poorly disposed. The losses of this battle are deeply felt, and some criticism has been heard of our leaders in getting us into such a bind. The rebels are still strong in the valley, and they are fighting for their homes. It seems that we are fighting for show, and not making a very good one at that. It might be supposed that a replacement for Sigel may happen now that he has failed us and the country once more.
Please send me some stamps in your next, as I cannot readily get them here. You can take the funds from my account as you see fit. The boys you know that are here are in good spirits, and not so down as you might think. They all are looking for the next chance at the enemy, hoping to prevail in our efforts to preserve this Union.
Your humble servant,
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.