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Adjutant and Inspector General Reports

1865 Report

Troops in the Field
(continued)

The EIGHTH REGIMENT, at the date of my last Annual Report, was attached to the Second Brigade, First Division, of the Nineteenth Army Corps, and their movements and operations were detailed, so far as shown by reports received, to September 19, 1864. On that day the regiment moved out of camp, with the army, and met the enemy at Opequan Creek,and the engagement soon became general and severe. Passing through a piece of woods, in line of battle, Co. F, Captain Smith, were thrown forward as skirmishers. Arriving at the opposite margin of the woods, a temporary halt was made and two companies --Co. D, Capt. Getchell, and Co. K, Capt. Ford--were sent to the right, to occupy a space beyond the right of the Brigade. The remainder of the regiment were sent to the front, with the Twelfth Connecticut, to relieve Molineux's Brigade, and take the position designated, in an open field, the enemy occupying the woods in front, from which they had a short time before driven the Second Division, within rifle range. Their fire of musketry and artillery was very heavy. The position was held for more than three hours, and until the Eighth Corps, under Major General Crook, were seen nearly a mile to the right, charging upon the enemy. Then Col. Thomas, without waiting for orders, moved forward with the Eighth and Twelfth Connecticut, at double quick, charging and driving the enemy from the woods. After passing through the woods the regiment halted, and was rejoined by Companies D, F, and K. The enemy were in force about four hundred yards to the left, behind a rail-fence, and the regiment wheeled to the left, firing deadly volleys upon them, and they soon took to flight. The residue of the brigade camp up, and the Eighth Regiment, with the One Hundred and Sixtieth New York, charged and drove the enemy from behind a stone wall. The pursuit continued until dark, when the regiment bivouacked, receiving the congratulations of Major General McMillan and of Col. Thomas for their gallant conduct. The loss during the day was eight killed and thirty wounded. Among the wounded was Lieut.-Col. Henry F. Dutton, who was wounded early in the action.

At four o'clock A. M., of the twentieth, the regiment moved forward rapidly, and at night bivouacked near Strasburg; on the twenty-first they moved upon the hill to the right of Fort Banks, on the right of Strasburg, and engaged the enemy; and on the morning of the twenty-second, at four o'clock, they moved into the woods and fortified, under the fire of the enemy, and, at about four o'clock P. M., commenced the charge, with the residue of the army, routing the enemy, and driving him from Fisher's Hill. THe pursuit was continued through the night, the regiment arriving at Woodstock before light in the morning. During the night the enemy were overtaken, and opened fire with artillery and musketry, which was soon silenced. The regiment arrived at Harrisonburg on the twenty-fifth, and encamped, having pursued the enemy each day, and being engaged in skirmishing with them nearly the whole of one day near New Market. The regiment moved up the valley to a point beyond Mount Crawford, and then returned to Harrisonburg.

On the sixth of October the regiment moved from Harrisonburg, and arrived at Cedar Creek on the tenth, where they encamped and fortified. On the morning of the nineteenth, firing being heard from the Eighth Corps, who held the extreme left of the army, the regiment, numbering 140 men and 16 officers, was at once formed in line of battle. The remainder of the effective strength of the regiment were on picket. The regiment moved with the rest of the brigade, to the left, and was placed in a piece of woods on the left of the pike, and on the left crest of a ravine, holding the left of the brigade, and facing toward the Eighth Corps. Skirmishers were thrown forward, and when taking position large numbers of the Eighth Corps were met, running panic-stricken to the rear. The skirmishers were soon driven back, and the enemy advanced in overwhelming force, but were checked by the fire of the brigade, until they had flanked the brigade on the right and left, and had pierced the centre through a deep ravine. The regiment, with the brigade, fell back and attempted to stop the enemy in the ravine at the margin of the woods, when they were again flanked, the color-bearer of the regiment was killed, and the enemy engaged hand to hand. Falling back to the pike, another attempt was made to check the enemy, but without success, and the brigade fell back from point to point, checking the enemy, until they joined the residue of the division, about a mile and a half from the right of the camp, where they halted under the fire of the enemy from the guns they had captured. Another retreat was then made, of about a mile and a half, when the whole army halted. At this point Lieut. Carpenter, with the pickets, rejoined the regiment.

Gen. Sheridan, having joined the re-formed the army, an advance was ordered, and the enemy were routed and driven from the field. The Eighth regiment returned, in the advance, to the camp which the corps had left in the morning, and, after resting a short time, joined in the pursuit of the enemy to Strasburg, and bivouacked near Fort Banks, the men suffering severely from the extreme of col, many of them being without blankets, and all without tents or fires.

During this engagement Col. Thomas was in command of the brigade, and the regiment went into action under command of Major John B. Mead. He was wounded early in the engagement, and Capt. McFarland took command of the regiment. THe loss during the day was one officer (Lieut. Cooper) killed, and twelve officers wounded,--Capt. hall, of Co. E, and Lieut. Cheney, of Co. K, mortally,--and fourteen enlisted men killed and ninety-five wounded, or taken prisoners. Most of the loss occurred early in the morning, on the left of the pike, where thirteen of the sixteen officers were killed or wounded. Capts. McFarland and Franklin were specially mentioned for bravery and good conduct.

On the twenty-first of October they returned to their former camp near Cedar Creek, and remained until the tenth of November, when they marched to "Camp Russell," near Newtown, Va., where they remained until the twentieth of December, when they moved to Summit Point, arriving on the twenty-first.

On the twenty-first of January, 1865, Col. Stephen Thomas was mustered out of service, and Lieut.-Col. (afterwards Colonel) John B.Mead took command of the regiment. Col. Thomas was appointed Brigadier General, February 1, 1865.

The regiment remained at Summit Point through the winter, performing heavy guard and picket duty on the line of railroad from Charles Town to Winchester, building block houses, and other means of defence, for the protection of the road from depredations by guerrillas. On the twentieth of February a detachment of the regiment, while cutting wood, were attacked by guerrillas, and eleven men captured. They were soon paroled, however, and rejoined the regiment.

On the fourth of April, the regiment, with other troops, under command of Gen. Hancock, moved up the Shenandoah Valley, but proceeded no further than near Newtown, and on the eleventh returned to near Summit Point. On the twenty-first of April the regiment proceeded by railroad to Washington, D. C., and encamped near Fort Stevens, where they remained during the month of May, performing various duties. About eighty men of the regiment were detailed for duty in the Quartermaster's Department.

On the first of June orders were received for Dwight's Division, to which the regiment was attached, to proceed to Savannah, Geo., and the regiment, within a few days, was embarked upon steamers, at Alexandria. But, upon the application of the Governor of this State, who was then in Washington, the order, so far as it affected the Eight Regiment, was revoked, and the regiment was attached to the Vermont Brigade, in the Sixth Corps. The order to disembark was received only about two hours before the expedition was to sail.

As part of the Vermont Brigade, the regiment participated in the review of the Vermont troops by the Governor of this State, on the seventh of June, and also in the review of the Sixth Corps, by the PResident of the United States, on the eighth of June,--having previously participated in the review by the President of the United States, of the Nineteenth Corps, as a part of the Army of the Potomac, on the twenty-third of May.

The recruits for the regiment, whose terms of service would expire previous to October 1, 1865, were mustered out of service June 21, 1865, and the regiment was mustered out of service, entire, June 28,1685, and left Washington for Burlington, Vt., where they arrived on the second of July, and were paid off and discharged on the tenth of July.

Col. Mead, in his report, pays a high tribute to the character, conduct, and discipline of the officers and men of the regiment, which is believed to have been well deserved. His Report is published in Appendix C.

The following statement shows the condition and station of the regiment at the several dates specified:

(see Legend, below)

EIGHTH REGIMENT

ABCDEFGHI
1864
Oct. 31, Cedar Creek, Va.6794391911831xxxx
Nov. 30,Camp Russell," Va.6894681826312xx
Dec. 31,Summit Point, Va.67547015023302xx
1865
Jan. 31, Camp Babcock, Va.6745091205382xx
Feb.28, do6615021124412x
Mr'h 15,do781662110261xx
Apr. 30,Brightwood, D. C.847713106xx4321

The casualties in the regiment, during the year, have been as follows:--Mustered out of service, 745; transferred to Veteran Reserve Corps, 16; discharged, 32; deserted, 21; died, 86; Total, 90.

Legend:


A - Date
B - Station.
C - Aggregate
D - On Duty
E - Sick
F - Absent with Leave
G - Absent without Leave
H - In arrest or confinement
I - Prisons
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