AUGUST 7-NOVEMBER 28, 1864.--The Shenandoah Valley Campaign.
Report of Colonel William W. Henry, Tenth Vermont Infantry, of operations October 19.*
CAMP TENTH VERMONT VOLUNTEER INFANTRY,
Near Middletown, Va., October 20, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this regiment in the battle fought at this place on yesterday, the 19th instant:
The regiment went into action with 17 officers and 280 men in line of battle. About 6 a. m. a very heavy attack was made on the left of the general line. Soon after daylight the Sixth Corps was formed in line of battle at right angles to our original position, and facing toward what had been the left flank. The enemy had at this time broken the left, and the fugitives, with wagons, &c., were constantly passing our line. About 7.30 o'clock the enemy opened a very severe fire of artillery and musketry from a commanding crest, which they had gained in front of the line we had newly taken up. Their fire, well directed, swept the ground we occupied, while they attempted to cross the valley in our front. Under the severe fire from the front, increased by a partially enfilading fire from a hill on the right, our line fell back to a low ridge about 400 yards in rear of that at first occupied. The rebels advanced their line of battle to the crest we had left. When our line fell back, three pieces of Captain McKnight's battery (M, Fifth United States) had been left, and the rebels advanced to these guns. Seeing this, a charge was ordered, and the regiment, with the colors in advance, charged up to the guns and recovered them. Sergt. William Mahoney, of Company E, color-bearer of the regiment, was the first to reach the guns, planting the colors upon one of them. The rebels gave way in confusion and fled across the valley and over the ridge beyond. The recaptured guns were drawn off, it being necessary to draw two of them some distance by hand. The rebels, having rallied, poured in a heavy fire from the front and right, a heavy column advancing up the valley from that direction. The troops on the left falling back beyond our line, we were soon exposed to a fire from that flank also. The loss at this point was very severe, and the line fell back to the second ridge. Here a stand was made, and the rebels were again driven from the crest in front, which they attempted to carry. But pursuing their advantage on the left, they soon flanked us in such force as to compel a retreat of the whole line. Although broken and somewhat scattered in places, the line fell back slowly, the men constantly turning and firing. In this way we retired about a mile, the enemy having all the time a cross fire of musketry upon us, as well as a sharp fire from several guns commanding the whole plain. Captain L. D. Thompson, commanding Company D, was killed while thus retreating, and the loss was very heavy. Reaching a cross-road, the line was halted and reformed about 9 a. m. The enemy forebore to press us further on this point, but as they advanced on our left our line was withdrawn some distance farther. At this time General Sheridan arrived on the field. The line was immediately reformed. Breast-works of rails and logs were thrown up, in which we lay until about 3.30 p. m., when a general advance was ordered. The regiment, with the general line of the division, moved
*The report printed in VOL. XLIII, Part I, p. 244, was evidently prepared for the signature of Colonel William W. Henry, but was signed by Lieutenant Colonel Charles G. Chandler.