HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE GULF,
Galveston, Tex., November 27, 1865.
GENERAL: I have the honor to present the following report of the part taken by the Sixth Corps in the battle of Cedar Creek on the 19th of October, 1864, premising that as all the records of the corps were continuance of the corps in June last, I am unable to refer to any of the sub-reports so as to transmit them herewith.
As I was the ranking officer of the forces, in the absence of Major-General Sheridan, when the battle began, it will be necessary to a clear narrative of the events of the day to commence on the evening of the 18th. About 9 o'clock of that evening I was called upon by Major-General Crook, commanding the Army of West Virginia, who reported that the reconnaissance of a brigade sent out by him that day to ascertain the position of thee enemy had returned to camp and reported that nothing was to be found in his old camp and that he had doubtless retreated up the Valley. It should be borne in mind that the destruction of al supplies by our forces between our position at Cedar Creek and Stauton had made it necessary for the enemy to supply his force from the latter place by wagons, and consequently we had been expecting for some days that he would either attack us or be compelled to fall back for the supplies, which it was believe he could not transport in sufficient quantity by his trains. This view of the matter, which is still believed to have been sound, lent the stamp of probability to the report of the reconnoitering party, but anxious to place the truth of the report beyond a doubt, I at once ordered two reconnaissances to start at the first dawn of the morning, one of a brigade on infantry to move out upon and follow the general direction of the pike leading up the valley, the other, also a brigade, to take the Back road some three miles to the westward and nearly parallel to the former, with instructions to move forward till the enemy was found and strongly felt, so as to clearly ascertain his intentions. The first party was to be drawn from the Nineteenth Corps, the other from the cavalry. At the first blush of dawn the camps wee assaulted by a considerable musketry fire upon our extreme left and a fire of a much slighter character upon our right. A moment's hesitation convinced me that the former was the real attack, and I at once proceeded to that point, the firing meanwhile growing heavier. Becoming assured that I was not mistaken as to which was the attack to be resisted in force, I sent back orders to Brevet Major-General Ricketts, commanding the Sixth Corps in my absence, to send me two divisions of his command at once, and taking the brigade of the Nineteenth Corps (before alluded [to] as ordered on the reconnaissance and which was just starting) I proceeded to place it and the troops of General Crook's second line in position on a ridge to the eastward of and nearly parallel to the pike, connecting them with the left of the Nineteenth Corps. As the two divisions of the Sixth Corps, ordered from the right of the line to the left, could reach that point within twenty minutes of the time that the line referred to was formed, and as the position taken up was a satisfactory one, there was, in my judgment, no occasion for apprehension as to the result, and I felt every confidence that the enemy would be promptly repulsed. In this anticipation, however, i was sadly disappointed. Influenced by a panic which often seizes the best troops, and some of these I had seen behave admirably under the hottest fire, the line broke before the enemy fairly came in sight, and under a slight scattering fire retreated in disorder down the pike. Seeing that no part of the original line could be held, as the enemy was already on the