Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
Battle of Cedar Creek
October 17-19, 2014
Cedar Creek Battlefield Fondation
October 19, 1864
I must take pen to paper and tell you all of the accounts for the 43rd New York Volunteers here in the Shenandoah Valley. What you might have seen in the papers will not do justice to the trials of our boys here. Let me tell you our story.
On the Friday last, our troops were concentrating at the environs of the Belle Grove Plantation. It was apparent that the Army of the Valley was happily situated there and getting into winter quarters, thinking that the Rebel threats were not able to annoy such a mass of power.
On the late Friday account, there were a full contingent of the 43rd New York in camp on the ridges adjacent to the Valley Pike, numbering eight companies. The atmosphere was clear, and the views of the valley and the ridges pristine. The weather was comfortable and sunny. The sea of canvas expanded to the extent to realize three Corps of the Army. Our little regiment was getting in to the leisure life of the camp, and drawing rations and sustenance in great quantities.
Come the next morning, the army daily orders were calling for morning reports well before dawn, at 6:30. Given that reveille was at 6:00 in the dark, it was not surprising that the orderlies had prepared drafts the night before and confirmed the numbers at roll. The battalion report was prepared by Sgt.Maj. and the Major in the dark. Our reported numbers were a total of 147 rank and file for duty.
Breakfast was prepared, and our first company was turned out directly for company drill. As soon as it was light, the boys were formed and drilled in the school of the company. It was apparent that the company was filled with hard veterans, and the drill was quick, easily done, and well performed. We drilled by the right, company into line, left flank, on the right by file into line, &c. Then we turned the drill to the left, and took it through the evolutions on that side of the fence. Lt. Yeomans was in his prime and made a great thing of the drill.
Once back in camp, we were ordered to be ready for a formation. The entire brigade was formed, and we were marched to the north for some distance. We crossed some creeks, and were drawn up in line facing the north. From that position, we were marched once again to the south, and faced into a column, marched to the east, and deployed, then shortly engaged with the enemy across a broad front. We were advanced and fired by battalion, and advanced some more. There was a left flank situation developing to our left, with skirmishers, cavalry, and all sorts of confederate wood ticks. We ignored that and continued to advance to a swale where Col. Buff had us go prone and disappear from view of the lines. There we sat until the time was ripe, and we rose, fired, and advanced at the double quick to pushed the right flank of the long Rebel lines in. We were successful, and they peeled to their left, and concentrated on the center of the line about a mile wide. Thus, we were able to push forward, and cause their flank to cave. Thus we held that position and finished the battle of Third Winchester in fine shape, holding our ground.
We returned to our camps, and spent the evening with friends and acquaintances. This camp was very much alive and well supplied for the duration. We ate well, feasted, drank, sang, and burned a great amount of wood. The evening was cool, and the night cold, but not beyond the comfort of a soldier.
Sunday morning reveille was also before dawn, and the morning reports went into headquarters once again prepared well in advance. The boys all turned out for roll, made some breakfast, and I for one was very pleased to find a coffee pot ready for the pouring. We were spared from detailed daily orders, and so spent the morning hours in fatigue, moving camp equipment from here to there, and securing our rations into our stomachs. The morning was pleasant, but quite windy, to the point of chilling the masses, and the breeze soon became a thorn in the side of the boys. There was nowhere to hide from the wind, and it permeated everyone.
The operations of the 43rd New York were first on everyones minds. At the point that a Rebel attack was detected, Col. Buffington had our battalion fall in and march to the ridge just to the south of our camp. There we stacked and stood in line on the very ground of the historic first position. We had descendants of the original cast in the line, and they recounted the words of their ancestors. We looked to the front, right, and left, and saw the same landmarks that they described, and imagined the scope of the experiences.
When the Rebel push started to come, we were retired in order from that location, marched by the flank to the north, to the crest in front of the cemetery, then to the right across the line of Union guns. There, on the left of the guns, and to the right of the Valley Pike, the 43NY came into line.
The 49th New York was to our left. We advanced in line by the right oblique. We smashed into the Rebel lines, and the 49th captured a flag and bagged a bunch of the rebels. We were right there pushing the counter attack along. We were hollering and shouting "New York" and "Excelsior" and other monikers as we fought forward.
And push them we did. Our ranks were not immune from the Rebel lead, and the casualties were mounting with every step forward. The fever and excitement of the advance and the grand success of the Union counter charge was making daemons out of the men in line. And that spirit carried the day. The Rebels were pushed and pushed and put out of our camps, and we stood at the end of the day where we awoke that morning.
Such is the account of the great victory here at Cedar Creek with the boys of the 43rd New York. The success came a some cost, and I am sure that the morning reports for tomorrow will not be able to be prepared in advance, nor show the same effective numbers. The heroes of this battle have ensured the success of the Army in the Valley, and surely have crushed the Rebel ability to threaten us her in the future. Wise men will say that this victory will surely move the seat of war from the Valley to the Gates of Richmond.
Your obedient servant and friend,
Kim Perlotto, Capt. Co.A, 43NY
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Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.