War of the Rebellion: Serial 090 Page 0464 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LV.

Search Civil War Official Records

on the morning of the 10th in time to join in the advance of the new army of the Middle Military Division, under its new commander. On the morning of the 11th marched at daylight; took up a position beyond the Opequon Creek toward Winchester. A section of Ransom's battery was charged upon by the enemy. Captain James Mathers, with one battalion of the Sixth Michigan Cavalry, happening to be at hand, repulsed the charge and saved the battery, at the sacrifice, however, of his own life. He was instantly killed while urging his men forward. 12th, was ordered by General Custer to reconnoiter the enemy's position beyond Cedar Creek. Found him in strong force and no attack was made by the cavalry on the position. 13th, 14th, in camp. 15th, moved to Cedarville. On the 16th the First Cavalry Division was attacked in their camp near Front Royal Kershaw's division of infantry and Fitz Lee's division of cavalry. In the bloody repulse given the enemy only one battalion of this regiment participated, the other being several miles distant at the time guarding a ford. The Second Battalion, commanded by Captain H. H. Vinton (subsequently major and now lieutenant-colonel), constituting the skirmish line in front of the brigade, repulsed the first attack made by the enemy's cavalry, and afterward made two charges, capturing many prisoners. The time from the 16th to the 25th was consumed in a retrograde movement, finally bringing up at Shepherdstown. 25th, fought the battles of Kearneysville and Shepherdstown, where the Michigan Brigade, cut off from all support and surrounded by the enemy's infantry and cavalry, was rescued by the genius of its commander and the intrepidity of its men. Of the men of this regiment who came, of course, under my particular notice, not a man left the ranks or betrayed a sign of weakness of fear when the enemy were assailing us in front and on both flanks, with a river in rear, the fords of which were supposed to be in possession of the enemy. So unflinchingly did they face the danger that the enemy dared not charge our line, but suffered us slowly to retire to a ford, the existence of which was known to General Custer alone. That officer afterward said that if he had found the enemy at the ford as he apprehended, he had determined to break through their lines in the direction of Shepherdstown. From this perilous position we escaped without the loss of a man captured, and our wounded were all brought off.

From the 25th of August to the 18th of September the regiment was engaged in the fights at Leetown and Smithfield; made three reconnaissances, encountering the enemy each time and being under fire; acted once as escort for General Sheridan, and had one chase after Mosby's guerrillas, wounding an officer of his command, who was captured, and was with General Sheridan during all the marchings and counter-marchings which characterized the earlier part of the Shenandoah campaign.

On the 19th of September this regiment, at Seivers' Ford, on Opequon Creek, was dismounted and ordered by General Custer to dislodge the enemy from their position on the opposite bank and open the way for the brigade to cross. The enemy was strongly posted behind breast-works of rails in such a manner as to completely command the ford. For an eight of a mile before reaching the ford the country was open. Across this space the regiment charged, exposed to a galling fire. When reaching temporary shelter, a halt was made to reform the line. When the advance was again ordered the enemy fell back precipitately, a force having come up from another direction to threaten his flank.