Wright, commanding the army (temporarily, Major-General Sheridan being temporarily absent), to move my whole cavalry force on the left of the army; this I was opposed to, but proceeded to obey the order; but on my own responsibility I left three regiments to picket the right, and to this fact thousands of our stragglers are indebted for their safety, for these brave men held their position against great odds for five hours. The First and Third divisions (Brigadier-Generals Merritt and Custer) were ordered to the left of the army. The First division (Brigadier-General Merritt) was put in position across the pike, just north of Middletown. The Third division (Brigadier-General Custer) was formed on the left of the First division. The First brigade, Second division (Colonel Moore), was formed on the left of the Third division. The horse batteries “B” and “L,” Second Artillery, U. S. A. (Lieutenant Taylor commanding), was left on the right fighting on the infantry line, where it did admirable service, and was the last artillery to leave the front. Too much praise cannot be given to the officers and men of this battery, for their coolness and gallantry on this occasion. When the infantry was forced back, and the battery was obliged to retire, it joined its brigade (Second, First division) on the right of the pike, where it immediately went into action. As soon as the cavalry was in position on the left of the army, they attacked the enemy. Colonel Lowell, commanding Reserve brigade, First division, dismounted a part of his little band, and they advanced to a strong position behind a stone wall, from which the enemy's infantry failed to drive them after repeated attempts. The cavalry fought infantry and artillery only on the left of the army. About twelve o'clock, M., the cavalry was moved to the left about three hundred yards, thus bringing it on the left of the pike. Thus matters stood with cavalry until three o'clock P. M., holding on to their ground with more than their usual dogged persistence, displaying gallantry which has never been surpassed, while most of the infantry was reforming several miles on their right and rear. During this time the Second brigade, Second division (Colonel Powell commanding division), fell back slowly (by order) on the Front Royal and Winchester pike, to Stony point, and then to a point near Newtown, followed by the rebel General Lomax's division of cavalry, where they remained during the greater part of the day; Colonel Powell thus prevented the enemy's cavalry from getting on the pike to attack our trains and rear. About two P. M., Major-General Sheridan arrived upon the ground, and directed me to send one division of cavalry on the right of the army. I immediately ordered the Third division (Brigadier-General Custer) to that position, where he arrived just in the nick of time, for the enemy had just succeeded in crossing — infantry and cavalry — over Cedar creek on the right of the army. But the gallant Custer was equal to the emergency. He immediately charged the cavalry and drove them about a mile in the most beautiful manner behind their infantry support, from which they did not show themselves in force again during the day. On the left the battle was going well for us; in fact it could not be otherwise, with the cool and invincible Merritt on the ground, supported by such soldiers as Devin and Lowell. At this time the First brigade, Second division, was temporarily under the orders of Brigadier-General Merritt, who was constantly annoying and attacking the enemy whenever an opportunity presented itself, although his men were completely within range of the enemy's sharpshooters, his shot and shell, and many a horse and rider was made to bite the dust. They held their ground like men of steel-officers and men seemed to know and feel that the safety of the army in no small degree depended upon their holding their position, and they can never receive too much credit for the manner in which they did their duty. About four o'clock P. M., Colonel Moore, commanding First brigade, Second division, was ordered to join his division at Newtown, and Colonel Powell, commanding the division, directed to shove out a strong force to hold the Front Royal and Winchester pike. About four o'clock, in a charge, the gallant but lamented Lowell received a severe wound in the arm and side, but still kept his saddle. About 4:15 a general advance of the army was made, and 'twas truly grand to see the manner in which the cavalry did their part. In this general advance, Colonel Lowell, Second Massachusetts cavalry, commanding Reserve brigade, First division, while charging at the head of his brigade, received a second wound, which proved to be mortal; thus the service lost one of the most gallant and accomplished soldiers. He was the beau ideal of a cavalry officer, and his memory will never die in the command. In the general advance Brigadier-General Custer, commanding Third division, left three regiments to attend to the cavalry in his front, and started with the balance of his division to take part in the advance against the enemy's infantry. Thus the cavalry advanced on both flanks, side by side with the infantry, charging the enemy's lines with an impetuosity which they could not stand. The rebel army was soon routed and driven across Cedar creek in confusion. The cavalry sweeping on both flanks crossed Cedar Creek about the same time, charged and broke the last line the enemy attempted to form (it was now after dark), and put out at full speed at their artillery and trains. They continued the pursuit to the foot of Fisher's Hill, about four miles from Cedar creek, and captured the following property and prisoners, viz.:--Forty-five pieces of artillery,
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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