19-20 September 1864
No. 38. Report of Colonel James M. Warner, First Vermont Heavy Artillery, commanding Second Brigade, of operations September 19-20.
HDQRS. SECOND BRIGADE, SECOND DIVISION, SIXTH CORPS,
September 21, 1864.
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the military operations of this brigade on the 19th and 20th instant, inclusive:
The brigade broke camp about 2 a.m. of the 19th, crossing the Opequon, on the Berryville and Winchester pike, about 6 a.m., and went into position under heavy shelling, the left connecting with Wheaton's brigade and the right with the Third Division. The brigade was formed in one line in rear of a dense thicket, the right extending to the Berryville and Winchester road. I immediately ordered the Sixth Regiment, Captain M. M. Davis commanding, to be deployed to the front, and it soon engaged the enemy's skirmishers. While awaiting the arrival of other troops a few casualties occurred from random shells. About 12 m. a general advance was ordered, the brigade to conform to the movements of the regiment on the right of the pike. The troops moved out in splendid style; halted an instant after emerging from the woods in order to rectify the alignment before charging over the crest beyond. In front was a long stretch of cleared, undulating country, the enemy holding position to command the gorges through which we must advance. The line advanced at a double-quick over the crest, in face of a galling musketry fire, driving the enemy back in great confusion. In their eagerness to follow up the first success the line was somewhat broken, a portion filing into a ravine which was completely enfiladed by the enemy's fire. Here the loss was for a few moments very heavy, principally in the Fifth and Eleventh Regiments. About 1 p.m., in consequence of the giving way of the troops on the right, the brigade, which had become considerably scattered by the fire from the battery and rifle-pits in front, was compelled to fall back to a position about half a mile in advance of the one from which the line originally started. Meantime the Sixth Regiment advanced to the front line, where they remained throughout the day doing excellent service. About 3 p.m. the entire line again advanced, the First Brigade being the directing one. This movement was brilliant in the extreme. The brigade did not waver for an instant, but advanced steadily until they reached a large brick house, about a mile from the town. Here we encountered the hottest fire of the day, being exposed to a withering musketry fire in front and to the fire from a battery which nearly enfiladed the line. A little beyond this point the success of the right was announced and received with cheers. The brigade advanced to the town without opposition, and encamped about dusk on Abraham's Creek. On the following day the army marched to Strasburg and encamped about a mile north of the town.
Were I to mention all the officers who distinguished themselves on this occasion I should accompany this report with a roster of the commissioned officers of the brigade. I cannot omit to mention, however, the commanding officers of regiments, Major E. E. Johnson, Second Vermont; Major A. F. Walker, Eleventh Vermont; Major H. W. Floyd, commanding Third and Fourth; Captain A. Brown, jr., Fifth, and Captain M. W. Davis, Sixth Regiment, all of whom did their duty nobly. Lieutenant-Colonel Tracy, Second Vermont, who superintended a portion of the line, is entitled to great credit for being on the field on this occasion, as he was suffering from a severe disability. I have already called the attention of the general commanding to the distinguished gallantry of Captain A. H. Newt and Lieutenant H. C. Baxter, who were serving upon my staff.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. M. WARNER,
Colonel Eleventh Vermont Volunteers, Commanding.
Major CHARLES MUNDEE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Division, Sixth Corps.
Source: Official Records, Volume XLIII, Chapter LV. The Shenandoah Valley Campaign, pp. 207-211.