Report of Col. Augustus Moor, Twenty-eighth Ohio Infantry, commanding First Brigade, First Infantry Division, of operations May 14-17.
MAY 15, 1864.--Engagement at New Market, Va.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXVII/1 [S# 70]
HDQRS. 1ST BRIG., 1ST INFTY. DIV., DEPT. OF W. VA.,
Camp near Cedar Creek, Va., May 21, 1864.
Capt. WILLIAM M. BOONE,
SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith the following report of the part the forces under my command took in the campaign up the Valley:
In compliance with orders from Brigadier-General Sullivan, in the forenoon of the 14th instant, and instructions from Major-General Stahel to take command of three regiments of infantry, 1,000 cavalry, and six pieces of artillery, and march to Mount Jackson to ascertain and feel the position and strength of the rebels under Im-boden, reported to be on Rude's Hill, I left camp near Woodstock at 11 a.m. with the First Virginia and Thirty-fourth Massachusetts Regiments of Infantry, and two sections of Battery B, Maryland Artillery. Colonel Wynkoop soon after coming up with 300 cavalry and one section of horse artillery, I ordered the colonel to move forward to Mount Jackson, informing him that Major Quinn, First New York, with 600 cavalry, was already in his front, to take a good position and to reconnoiter until the infantry arrived. At Edenburg I added the One hundred and twenty-third Ohio Regiment to my command. At 3 o'clock p.m. Colonel Wynkoop reported heavy firing in his front; at the same time occasional cannon shots could be heard. I ordered Colonel Wynkoop forward to the support of Major Quinn, who was up with the rebels, the infantry and artillery moving close up with the cavalry, Major Quinn driving the enemy's skirmishers steadily. Colonel Wynkoop's command relieved a portion of the forces under Major Quinn as directed, our skirmishers occupying a part of the town of New Market, and the infantry column being now up I selected a position and ordered the artillery to open. Imboden soon answered furiously with his battery. This engagement discovered to me the location of the rebel forces. After dark I turned my line of battle more to the front through Imboden's evacuated camp near the Shenandoah River, across to Smith's Creek, on my left. The command was ordered to rest in perfect order of battle without fires. At about 8 p.m. a line of rebels approached across an open field on my right front with the evident purpose to turn the position I had occupied before sunset. I instructed Major Stephens, commanding First West Virginia Regiment, to allow the rebels to come near enough and give them a volley, which order was well executed. About two hours later my whole front was attacked and for a few minutes the firing became general. The rebels, however, had to retreat in confusion, losing 5 killed and many more wounded. No further annoyance occurred that night.
At 3 o'clock in the morning the word "attention" was passed along the lines. Scouts and patrols sent forward, who soon reported that Imboden had retreated about midnight. I sent a cavalry force forward on both roads to reconnoiter and ascertain the direction the rebels had taken. The officer in command of one party returned a little after 7 o'clock, and reported that he met the rebels four miles south of New Market advancing again, Breckinridge having joined Imboden, which report was corroborated by the citizens and by pickets stationed on the hill-tops, and not long after by their long lines deploying about two miles to my right and front. A heavy column of rebels moving directly for my position, then about one mile distant, I ordered Lieutenant Gerry, Battery B, Maryland Artillery, to open on them. A few well-directed shots checked the advance of that column. Major-General Stahel, having now arrived with his cavalry, assumed the command. After some maneuvering, Major-General Sigel arrived also. I was now ordered to fall back some 800 yards to the rear of my first position, and to form the One hundred and twenty-third Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry and Eighteenth Connecticut on the right of a battery. The Eighteenth Connecticut was hardly in line when the rebels heralded their advance by their peculiar yell, and advanced in two strong lines, by far overlapping our own. Our skirmishers were driven in, and after a short but resolute struggle this line was forced to the rear, which created some confusion in the Eighteenth Connecticut Regiment, owing to knee-deep mud, fences, out-houses, and stables close to their rear, and the insufficient number of officers to control the movements. I was ordered to bring up the two other regiments of my brigade to the support of a battery on the left in the rear, forming a third line. After some inquiry where these regiments could be found I learned that five companies of the Twenty-eighth and the One hundred and sixteenth Regiments Ohio Volunteer Infantry, under the command of Colonel Washburn, were in charge of the train, and did not leave Woodstock until 8 a.m. They had been halted at Mount Jackson, six miles in our rear. I sent my staff officers to order them up double-quick. They reported to me about 4 o'clock. Colonel Washburn stating that he had ordered bayonets to be fixed to clear his way on the pike up to the battle-field through disgraceful fleeing masses of cavalry and straggling infantry. Directed by Brigadier-General Sullivan, I formed these troops on the right and left of a battery on the pike, covering the retreat of the line of the Second Brigade. The battle being now gradually broken off, the withdrawn troops were ordered to march to Mount Jackson and take position on the banks across the bridge. Colonel Washburn, with five companies of the One hundred and sixteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, one section of artillery, and some cavalry, brought up the rear in good order with little molestation from the enemy. At 9 o'clock I received orders to move my brigade to Eden-burg. The brigade was marched to a point three miles north of Edenburg, marching until 4 o'clock next morning. The manner in which this chaotic mass of wagons, horsemen, artillery, and stragglers moved on (sometimes two or three wagons abreast), was exceedingly fatiguing to the infantry, especially to those regiments that marched out with me on the 14th, they having been continually on their legs for two days and nights without a cup of coffee or even meat rations, numbers of them barefooted.
At 11 a.m. on the 16th I was ordered to march with my brigade to the rear. Arrived and encamped at 9 p.m. on the heights south of Cedar Creek.
On the 17th I was ordered to move with my brigade to the north side of the creek.
With few exceptions, both officers and men strove to do their duty, and bore up well against the many hardships and the inclemency of the weather during these days of active operations.
Inclosed please find list of casualties First Brigade, First Infantry Division, Department of West Virginia, during the engagements up the Valley.
Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
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