War of the Rebellion: Serial 090 Page 0532 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LV.

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No. 159. Report of Colonel Alexander C. M. Pennington, Third New Jersey Cavalry, commanding First Brigade, of operations October 19-December 10.


Camp Russell, Va., December 10, 1864

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to make the following report of operations of my brigade since October 19, 1864:

Battle of October 19, 1864.- About 4 a.m. on the 19th of October my command was saddled up, in consequence of heavy picket-firing and skirmishing along the line of the army. The firing soon became general, and about an hour after daylight I received orders to move with my brigade to a point which would be shown me by a staff officer. I moved immediately and formed line of battle at a place pointed out, which was in rear of the infantry and about a mile from the Valley pike. At this time a large number of stragglers were moving to the rear, and I sent out a squadron from my command to assist my provost guard in rallying the fugitives, and partially succeeded in arresting their progress. I remained in this position until the infantry had fallen back to within about 100 yards of my line, when I moved, in obedience to an order from General Custer, to the extreme left of the army, and formed line with my right resting on the Valley pike, placing my command as much under cover of woods and knolls as possible. While here my brigade was subjected to a heavy fire of artillery, and several horses and men were put hors de combat in the Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry by the explosion of a shell at the head of one of its squadrons. A regiment of some other division was deployed as skirmishers in front of my brigade. My command was not engaged while in this position. General Sheridan having arrived upon the field shortly after we had taken position here, and the infantry having been rallied, my brigade was transferred to the extreme right of the army, the Second Brigade of the division having been left to (picket) hold the the right of the line. At the time we moved to the left of the army the Third New Jersey Cavalry, of my brigade, was also left to picket Fawcett's Gap and the Back road, connecting with the Second Brigade. In looking for a position for my command, I came in sight of about two regiments of cavalry, apparently in an open field about 1,200 yards distant. The battery (B and L, Second U. S. Artillery) was placed in position on a hill overlooking the enemy, and I formed two regiments, Second Ohio and Second New York Cavalry, and charged the enemy, who mounted their horses and fled. I then, after a slight skirmish, halted and formed my command in line of battle, the Fifth New York being on the left, Second New York and Second Ohio in the center, and Eighteenth Pennsylvania on the right and connecting with the left of Second Brigade. My command was held in this position for nearly two hours, with skirmishers thrown out. No firing of consequence occurred at this time, although the enemy in force were in my front. At the end of two hours I received an order from General Custer to withdraw my command and move farther to the left. This I did, moving with the First Connecticut Cavalry in front. Coming in sight of the enemy's skirmishers, I directed the First Connecticut Cavalry to charge them, which they did, and drove them in upon their main body. The remainder of the command coming up, I formed the Second Ohio and Second New York to charge with the First Connecticut, the Second Ohio to take the right, the Second New York the left, both