Battle of Strasburg

After Action Report

(Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Vol. 43, pages 371-372)

Tenth West Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment,
3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division

10WVVIR

HEADQUARTERS FIRST INFANTRY DIVISION,
ARMY OF WEST VIRGINIA

Cedar Creek Va. October 28, 1864

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the reconnaissance made by the First and Third Brigades of this division on the 13th instant:

The enemy having advanced a battery to a position on the turnpike between Strasburg and Cedar Creek bridge, which commanded the camp of the First Division at good, range, and having thrown some shells into various parts of the camp, the First and Third Brigades were at once sent on a reconnaissance to develop his strength and purpose. Crossing the creek below the bridge, the command formed itself under a cover of a wood from the fire of enemy’s guns, and having marched by the flank under this cover for a quarter of a mile, to bring it in opposition to the enemy’s position, it was formed in line of battle, the Third Brigade on the right and the First on the left of the pike, and at once moved rapidly forward, Col. George D. Wells, Thirty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry, commanding the First, and Col. T. M. Harris, Tenth West Virginia Volunteer Infantry, commanding the Third Brigade. The Third Brigade had no sooner made its appearance in line at the top of the hill than it was seriously assailed by the enemy’s shells, aimed with such accuracy as to do its considerable damage at every discharge, and was hence moved by the right flank at a double-quick for 200 yards to gain the shelter of a wood. In the meantime the First Brigade was moved rapidly forward, through a wood at first and afterward through an open field, and took a position behind a stone wall, within a few hundred yards of the enemy’s position, having been exposed from the time it emerged from the wood in front of the enemy’s guns to great annoyance from the explosion of his shells, which were aimed with great accuracy. Simultaneously with this advance of the First Brigade, the Third was also moved forward and so maneuvered as to place it in connection with the First in a continuous line on the right of the road. The whole line had now become fiercely engaged with the enemy’s infantry, and it soon became apparent that he was there in such force as to enable him to turn our right, and that he had already initiated movements to this end. The command was ordered to retire, which was done in some disorder, as our line was rapidly pressed by the enemy in its retrograde movements. Owing to the fact that an aide-de-camp sent to convey the order to Colonel Wells to retire failed to reach him on account of his horse having been killed, the First Brigade was not withdrawn simultaneously with the Third, and consequently became exposed to an enfilading fire from the right as the enemy’s lines advanced and being thus finally compelled to withdraw without orders, was so hotly pressed from front and flank as to throw order it in some disorder. Its losses were thus rendered severe in killed, wounded and missing. The Thirty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry, having position on the right of the brigade, lost heavily.

The reconnaissance, though successful in regard to its object, was nevertheless expensive, as the accompanying list of casualties will show. Amongst the losses I announce with deep sorrow that of Col. George D. Wells, commanding First Brigade, who was mortally wounded and died the same evening. A more gallant, accomplished and unflinching soldier would be hard to find.

I am, captain, yours, very respectfully,

T. M. Harris
Colonel, Commanding

Capt. William McKinley
Acting Assistant, Adjutant-General, Army of West Virginia

List of Casualties
First Brigade
Officers Killed 1
Men Killed 15
Officers Wounded 2
Men Wounded 68
Officers Missing 3
Men Missing 70
Aggregate 159
Third Brigade
Officers Killed 0
Men Killed 6
Officers Wounded 0
Men Wounded 40
Officers Missing 0
Men Missing 4
Aggregate 50
Tenth West Virginia Infantry
Battle of Strasburg
1 Killed, 9 Wounded, 0 Missing – Total Casualties 10

10WVVIR

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Updated 28 March 2010