The brigade, on going into action, consisted of the First Battalion Fifteenth U. S. Infantry, comprising 16 officers and 304 enlisted men for duty, Major King commanding; the First Battalion Sixteenth U. S. Infantry, and Company B, Second Battalion, same regiment, attached, comprising 15 officers and 293 enlisted men, Major Slemmer commanding; Battery H, Fifth U. S. Artillery, comprising 3 officers and 120 enlisted men for duty, Captain Guenther commanding; the First Battalion Eighteenth U. S. Infantry, and Companies A and D, Third Battalion same regiment, attached, comprising 16 officers and 272 enlisted men, Major Caldwell commanding; the Second Battalion Eighteenth U. S. Infantry, and Companies B, C, E, and F, Third Battalion same regiment, attached, comprising 16 officers and 298 enlisted men, Major Townsend commanding; six companies, A, B, C, D, E, and F, First Battalion Nineteenth U. S. Infantry, comprising 10 officers and 198 enlisted men, Major Carpenter commanding; making a total of 77 officers and 1,485 enlisted men, not including the staff officers and the commanding officers of the brigade, 4 in number, and 1 acting sergeant-major [Commissary-Sergeant Gill, Third Battalion].
The balance of the brigade, including the sick, were left behind to guard the brigade and battalion quartermasters, in repelling the attacks of the enemy's cavalry, saving thereby the entire trains of the brigade. The musicians were under the orders of the various surgeons.
The brigade, thus constituted and in the order enumerated, went first into action under your eye and general supervision at about 9.30 a.m. December 31, 1862, forming line in the dense cedar forest to the right of the turnpike and railroad, with design of succoring the right wing of the army, under Major-General McCook. After being placed partially, in quick time, in position and line, the rebel enemy attacked briskly the two battalions [Fifteenth and Sixteenth] on the right of the battery. On observing that the battery and the three battalions to the left were separated from, and not in view of, these two battalions, I sent my acting assistant adjutant-general, Lieutenant Sutherland, with orders to Major King to take the command on the right, while I proceeded toward the center and left of the brigade to bring them into this contest, which was shortly terminated by the Fifteenth and Sixteenth being forced to retire with considerable loss; not, however, without having checked the advance of the enemy, who soon succeeded in possessing the flank by their long extended line, and having at first been deceived by the enemy, who advanced dressed in American uniform, and without firing till within a short distance, supported by a heavy line behind. [See official report of Capt. J. Fulmer, commanding First Battalion Fifteenth Infantry.]
A regiment, believed to be the Sixth Ohio Volunteers, withstood the fire of the enemy along with these two battalions.
On arriving on the left of the brigade, I found that the battery had fortunately received your orders to retire by the same narrow cut in the cedar forest by which the brigade first entered. The three battalions of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth were directed to accompany this movement just in time to save the battery from capture, and under fire of the advancing enemy.
In this first conflict in the cedar forest, Captain Bell, of the Fifteenth, was killed, and Captain York and Lieutenant Occleston, Fifteenth, severely wounded, and also about 8 enlisted men were killed and 42 wounded.
After emerging from the cedar forest, the battalions of the brigade drew up in their proper positions to the right and left of the battery,