No. 55. Report of Major William D. Ferguson, One hundred and eighty-fourth New York Infantry, of operations October 19.
HDQRS. DETACHMENT 184TH REGT. NEW YORK VOLS.,
Camp near Middletown, Va., October 31, 1864.
CAPTAIN: In obedience to orders from headquarters First Brigade, Third Division, Sixth Army Corps, calling for a synopsis of the operations of my detachment in the action of October 19, 1864, I would respectfully forward the following report:
The detachment broke camp and formed in line of battle with the brigade shortly after daylight on the morning of the 19th instant. In about half an hour we marched by the left flank and formed line of battle perpendicular to the rear of our camp, and immediately opposite. A general engagement commenced with our line, I should think at about 7 a.m., which was very severe for about one hour, alternately advancing and retreating short distances, at which time the enemy appearing on our flanks in superior numbers, we commenced steadily falling back under a destructive fire. In this first part of the action my detachment lost considerably in killed and wounded. We continued falling back to a road running parallel with our line of battle and at right angles with the turnpike leading from Winchester to Strasburg, where we reformed, facing the enemy. Finding the Sixth Corps without support, we were ordered to march from the right of battalions to the rear, in which order we continued the retreat about two miles farther to the center of a piece of woods southwest of Newtown, where we again formed in battle order, and formed for our protection a temporary breast-work of rails and logs, where we lay some three or four hours waiting for the enemy to attack. The enemy advanced to within musket-range of us and threw up breast-works similar to that of ours and kept this line until we were ordered to advance and charge about 4 p.m. The enemy resisted stubbornly and the fighting was very severe for some time, when they broke in disorder and retreated to a stone fence where they undertook to rally, but the impetuosity of our men was such that their resistance was feeble and a general retreat of the enemy commenced, closely followed by our men. The action from this time was only one of enthusiasm on the part of our men and despair and disorder on the part of the enemy, which we followed to Cedar Creek, and encamped on the same ground from which we had been driven in the morning. General Sheridan's promise to whip hell out of them was verified, and my detachment rested in fine spirits.
We lost in the action 1 officer killed and 44 enlisted men killed and wounded.
I cannot speak too highly of the coolness and bravery displayed by the officers of my detachment or of the courage and determination of the men.
This being as far as my knowledge extends of the history of this detachment in the action of the 19th of October, I would respectfully submit it to you.
WM. D. FERGUSON,
Major 184th New York Volunteers, Commanding Detachment.
Asst. Adjt. General, First Brigadier, Third Div., Sixth Army Corps.
16 R R-VOL XLIII, PT I