Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
Cedar Creek Battle Anniversary Reenactment
Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation
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October 15-16, 2005
On the field,
Octo. 18, 1864
The bulk of the Regt was firmly and comfortably ensconced on the knoll to the North of the Heater House for the duration, and we had a very fine camp. There was a forward picket of the 43NY boys to our front, down by the creek, and under our favorite old tree on the right of our front. We had arrived in pieces via the cars over the several days since, and were welcomed by the best valley weather that could be imagined for the season. It was truly the warmest and driest it has been in many days for the most of us.
We established our camps according to the plans and layout of QM Lt. Bonardi, but ran a little short of frontage, which gave the 6th company the opportunity to claim the quarry sink hole on our right flank as home. This was indeed to their advantage as the breezes continued to be strong winds throughout the days involved in this missive. Down in the hole, they indeed would have risked flooding in bad weather, but gained protection from the nagging winds in this wonderful weather.
Our battalion line from left to right consisted of the 1st Co, Capt Grehl, 2d Co, Lt. Hooks, 3d Co, Capt. Pepe, 4th Co, Capt. Meussig, 5th Co, Capt. Herzog, and 6th Co, Capt. Gane. Our morning report was for 120 for duty. I must remind you that we are the boys of the 15th NJ here, and were supported by the 56Pa, 8CV, 63Pa, 78Pa, 3NJ, 2NJ, 43NY, 14NJ, 28Ma, and the Jaeger Boys.
Saturday morning dawned, reveille was sounded across the camps, the companies fell in and called their roles, and the orderlies reported directly to the Sgt. Maj. and HQ. The reports were ciphered by your truly, and inked by our tireless clerk, Pvt. Brown. Directed to Brigade HQ, the report was received and the battalion was detailed for HQ guard.
Our morning formation was held, and honors to the colors were paid for the 15th NJ. This is always a solemn and rewarding formation, and Capt. Grehl was the escort company. The formation was dismissed, and soon the Guard Mount parade was held, under the auspices of Adjt. Perlotto, OOG Jones, and OOD Hayes. The guard was provided to Brigade HQ, at the service of Gen. Daniels, who was a total gentleman in the process, making each sentry as comfortable as he would his own sons.
Later in the morning the battalion was called to formation, and a short honor for Capt. Grehl was held, since we think he will soon be resigning his commission and reenlisting as a private soldier. He means more to us than any man that has lead us thus far.
We went to drill, and the school of the battalion was worked, reworked, and improved. We drilled double columns, deployments, and all the rest of Article V. I could actually sense that the boys were enjoying the drill, since the Major had them stack rifles first, and come at the lesson as compatriots. The results were first rate.
In the afternoon, we were called to fall in to line of battle, and marched off to the left of the line. We formed column of companies, and advanced on that part of the field. We came into line, and deployed the odd companies forward as skirmishers, with the evens in reserve. The boys on the skirmish line were immediately engaged, and held their own nicely. The orders were to hold with skirmishers until another battalion came up on our right to support. They were slow to come, and when they did, they came on the left. Our skirmishers paid the toll in the delay, and were called to assemble on the battalion, and we went to the advance with the battalion on our left. We pushed very hard, and the rebels gave ground. We advanced on a line of rebel guns at the next crest, and they were well supported, and it is this ground where I was hit in the lower leg. I went down, and hoped for the contest to end there. But our boys pushed through, and advanced some half mile past my place, and kept the fight for Fishers Hill our victory. While lying on the field, the ambulance boys came to me and asked if I would need to be removed to the Hospital, but I declined, hoping to rejoin my regiment, and, the corpsman said, well there is whiskey at the hospital, and I declined once more, as most of you know my opinion of that medicine. Laying there, the rebel gunners threatened to kill several of the blue boys lying to their front, but I told them that I had been left behind to guard the prisoners. Turns out that the rebel supports on the guns were acquaintances of mine, and it all turned friendly instead of deadly at that juncture. The rest of the battalion had rolled over hill and dale, and were now returning victorious, so I was helped back to camp by my own friends, and got myself steeled up for more duty.
QM Bonardi was right on the ball, having visited the local farms in the few past early mornings, and had requisitioned several items from the smoke houses and chicken coops of the natives. I was assured that he had left receipts. We dined at the battalion HQ that night in fine beefsteak, fried potatoes, onions, and a small portion of acceptable wine. Compliments to the Quartermaster ! The evening was spent for the most part, discussing the details of the battalion drill, improvements to the movements, and improvements to the teamwork that makes our brigade.
We passed a very pleasant night in the camps, unencumbered by seasonal cold or wet weather. Morning brought some early actions that spun around us, as the rebels and our pickets got into an early exchange that drew out a few battalions which operated in the dark to no advantage. There were some insane situations that transpired, but most were speared and returned to camp before reveille. The morning came just as usual, the bugles were blown, reveille beat in a myriad verses, rolls called, and reports rendered. The reports were delivered to brigade, and while there, I witnessed the cavalry presenting Genl Daniels some trophies, but the response from Genl Hiem was that it was simply wrong.
The morning orders from brigade included the cancellation of a drill competition that had been planned for over a year. The 3d battalion considered this a double default, and accept graciously the prize, the gnome, once more. We were prepared to defend it, and were sorry to lose the chance to see all the battalions go for the brass ring.
We were pleased to get some relief once more in the form of the Major drilling the battalion without arms, our equivalent of an undress parade.
The mid morning brought a Brigade Dress Parade which was very fine, full of military custom and a fine view for all to behold. It was executed without flaw, and a compliment to all the veterans and officers of the USV. We passed in review at the close of the parade, and it was a spectacle that I wish you all could witness here if you possibly could.
We mounted the guards once more for Genl Daniels, and at some point in the forenoon, they were turned off, and returned to the battalion. We got some cold dinners, as the orders were to be ready to move, and soon, move we did.
We were marched off to the south, put in line of battle on the right flank of the Union line, and told to resist any attack. Soon a rebel battalion was observed approaching us on our right flank, and they blew past our battalion vollies, came into line, and advanced as if invincible. A field howitzer was advanced to secure our right flank, and that was ignored, and overran. We went to ground for safety sake, and were cut off from the action of the rebel attack, and the Federal counterattack. We were pleased with the decisions of our Major, but irritated by the actions of the rebel fantasizers. This was mentioned to be retribution for the morning tactical prizes taken by several rebel soldiers. We held firm, and waited. We soon were back into the action, marching to our front on the right of the line, against the Wild Bill Cody show of Indians, Cowgirls, and all assorted costumes. We ignored those obstacles to history, and marched by the left flank, and shadowed the Rebel retiring lines, to keep them boxed. We did this for several miles, almost to the Creek, and then gave it up, as the Rebel lines evaporated there in confusion.
The most of the boys were frustrated at the action, but we held together as an effective fighting force, followed commands, and ultimately cleared our weapons in the face of the enemy. And then we begged them to engage us, which after a time they understood our hand motions. They obliged us eventually, and gunned down the entire battalion. It was actually the most fulfilling interaction with the enemy the entire weekend.
This one went "south" on us, but was still a memorable weekend with the battalion and the friends that share a common vision of the causes that bring us together. There are forces and commanders that will provide the answers. Not any one that you are acquainted with was hurt seriously, so we will all live to make another fight for the Union. We seem to be gaining on the Rebels, and we hope and pray that our efforts will bring us all home with honor soon.
Your humble servant,
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.