No. 89. Report of Brigadier General Henry W. Birge, U. S. Army, commanding Second Division, of operations October 19-21.
HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Cedar Creek, Va., October 28, 1864.
SIR: Brevet Major-General Grover, commanding division, being temporarily absent on account of wounds received during the action of the 19th instant I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this command on that day and the 20th and 21st instant:
Tuesday evening, October 18, orders were issued by General Grover to the First Brigade under my command, Second Brigade, Colonel Molineux, and Third Brigade, Colonel Macaley, to be in readiness to move at 5.30 the next morning, for the purpose of making a reconnaissance toward Strasburg, the Fourth Brigade, Colonel Shunk, being directed to move forward and occupy as soon as vacated the line then held by the First and Third. In compliance with these orders the whole command was under arms in light marching order, and the First Maine Battery hitched up at 5 a. m. 19th instant, the relative position of the brigades being as follows: Four regiments of the Second Brigade, the First Brigade, and four regiments of the Third Brigade formed the first line from right to left as named, the right connecting with the First Division of this corps, the left as named, the right connecting with the First Division of this corps, the left reaching nearly too the pike. The remaining regiments of the Second Brigade and the Fourth Brigade formed the second line, the One hundred and seventy-fifth New York being detached from Third Brigade as guard to ammunition train, a picket-line of 350 men from Second and Third Brigades covered the front, connecting with the picket-line of the First Division on the right and that of the Eighth Corps on the left. The First Maine Battery occupied commanding ground on the right of Third Brigade and in front of the Fourth . The whole position was very strong against attack from the front, and had been strengthened by earth-works thrown up along the front of the first line, the general direction of which was parallel to Cedar Creek, but was entirely commanded by the high ground on the left of the pike, occupied by the Eighth Corps, and was indefensible against an attack from that direction. About 5.15 a. m. and before any of the troops had moved out on the projected reconnaissance, musketry firing was heard, apparently on the left of the picket-line of the Eighth Corps, and soon after on our own picket-line in front. By direction of General Grover, the following disposition of the forces under his command was promptly made: The first line occupied the works in their immediately front, sending out sharpshooters and skirmishers to the banks of the creek; the One hundred and seventy-sixth New York and art of the One hundred and fifty-sixth New York, on the left of the Third Brigade, were thrown back nearly at a right angle with the brigade line, and the Fourth Brigade moved to the left, connecting with and forming on the prolongation of this line; the Twenty-second Iowa and Third Massachusetts [Cavalry (dismounted)], from the Second Brigade, were moved to the left as support to the battery. While these movements were being made, the firing in the direction of the Eighth Corps became very heavy and incessant, and our pickets in front were gradually driven back to the creek. As day dawned the enemy appeared in strong force on the high ground on the left of our position, from which he had forces back the Eighth Corps and rapidly advanced, his lines extending from the creek to our left and rear as far