No. 101. Reports of Lieutenant Colonel Edward Wright, Twenty-fourth Iowa Infantry, of operations September 19-22 and October 19.
HDQRS. TWENTY-FOURTH IOWA INFANTRY VOLUNTEERS,
Camp Russell, Va., November 19, 1864.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Twenty-fourth Regiment Iowa Infantry Volunteers in the battle of Opequon or Winchester, Va., September 19, 1864:
The regiment was commended by Lieutenant Colonel J. Q. Wilds, but circumstances beyond his control prevented him from making an official report prior to the battle of Cedar Creek, at which place he was severely wounded and had since died; for this reason I take the responsibility of making it myself. On the 18th of September orders were issued from army headquarters requiring all transportation to be sent to the rear, also all extra baggage, retaining only such articles as could not be dispensed with, these to be carried by the men and officers' horses. Thus stripped of everything that would encumber its movements, the Army of the Shenandoah retired to rest in camp near Berryville, Va., on the evening of the 18th, with orders to be in line of battle ready to move at 2 o'clock next morning. The Twenty-fourth Iowa belonged to the Fourth Brigade, Second Division, Detachment Nineteenth Army Corps. The brigade, consisting of the Eighth and Eighteenth Indiana Veteran Volunteers, and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-eighth Iowa, was commanded by Colonel D. Shunk, Eighth Indiana Veteran Volunteers; the division, by Brigadier General C. Grover; the corps, by Brevet Major-General Emory. At 3 o'clock the advance sounded, and the Nineteenth Corps moved out on the Winchester pike, halting about three miles west of Berryville for the Sixth Corps, commanded by Major-General Wright, to pass, as it was to have the advance.
The Army of West Virginia, under command of General Crook, moved by another road to the right. Shortly after sunrise, the Sixth Corps having passed, the Nineteenth Corps was put in motion. The Second Division, having the advance, arrived at Opequon Creek about 9 a. m., when heavy skirmishing and some cannonading was heard in the front near Winchester. Here we received orders to push forward rapidly, as the cavalry and Sixth Corps were already engaged. When we had reached a point about three miles from Winchester we turned to the right and moved in the direction of the Winchester and Martinsburg pike about one mile, and formed line of battle on the right of the Sixth Corps. The Second Division was formed in two lines; the First and Third Brigades formed the first line, and the Second and Fourth Brigades the second. The Twenty-fourth Iowa was on the left center, the Twenty-eighth Iowa on the left, Eighth Indiana on the right, Eighteenth Indiana on the right center, the Fourth Brigade being on the extreme right. Soon after the First Division, Nineteenth Corps, commanded by Brigadier-General Dwight, came up and formed in the rear as a reserve. In this position we remained until about 12 m., when the advance sounded and the whole line moved forward steadily. The front of the whole division was covered by a strip of woodland nearly a third of a mile wide. Beyond this woodland was an open field, about a quarter of a mile wide, beyond which was woodland again. When the second line emerged into the open field the first line was just entering the wood on