Editor’s Note: This report was submitted late and placed in the Appendix of the War Records. Consequently it does not have a sequence number. I have placed it here, in its proper order. —Brad Forbush.
Report of Brig. Gen. George H. Gordon, U. S. Army, commanding Third Brigade, First Division, Second Corps, Army of Virginia.
Headquarters Third Brigade,
Camp near Culpeper, Aug. 11, 1862.
Sir: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by my brigade in the recent battle of Saturday, Aug. 9th, at Cedar Mountain, with the enemy under Gen. (Stonewall) Jackson:
At 9 a. m. on the morning of the 9th, after a hurried march of the day before, which was prolonged until 12 o’clock at night, I received orders to remove my brigade from the town of Culpeper, where we were in bivouac, rapidly to the front, as General Crawford, commanding First Brigade, First Division, had been attacked and required assistance. My command was put in motion at once, and reached the position of General Crawford about 12 a. m. I was directed by General Roberts, of General Pope’s staff, to take position on the extreme right, which I occupied with three regiments of infantry and two batteries.
Until 4 p. m. only a few discharges from the enemy’s guns announced his presence. At this hour a severe cannonading began, extending from the left of our line across the road upon which our center rested. Our batteries, served with great vigor, responded manfully, and with such success that the whole of our left, consisting of General Augur’s division, advanced considerably from its first position, notwithstanding the enemy occupied a height which gave him the advantages of a plunging fire. Until 5.30 p. m. this artillery practice continued with unabated severity. At this hour I heard quite a rapid musketry firing in my front, behind a range of timber, distant about one third of a mile from my position. I received an order to move at once with my brigade and support General Crawford, who was engaging the enemy’s left. I moved rapidly from my well chosen and exceedingly strong position, gaining the scene of action as briefly as a double-quick movement could carry me. I led into action the Second Massachusetts Regiment, Col. G. L. Andrews; the Third Wisconsin, Colonel Ruger, and the Twenty seventh Indiana, Colonel Colgrove. I should state that five companies of the Third Wisconsin Regiment, previously deployed as skirmishers in this same timber, had been ordered by General Williams to join General Crawford’s command, which, after engaging the enemy with much gallantry, had been compelled to retire. I arrived in the timber as Colonel Ruger was rallying his men, and added them to my command.
The enemy were posted in the edge of the woods, on the opposite side of a newly-mown wheat field, which here was about 300 yards wide. As I approached the opening, the enemy from his concealed position, received me with a rapid and destructive fire; but my infantry, particularly the Second Massachusetts and Third Wisconsin, coolly took their assigned places, and replied with commendable coolness. For at least thirty minutes this terrible fire continued. Companies were without officers; and men were falling in every direction from the fire of an enemy which largely outnumbered my brigade. Still there was no general falling back. Some disgraceful instances of cowardice there were, but these only served to show in bolder relief the majesty of the courageous bearing of others. The enemy having gained my right and rear, which by their superior numbers he was enabled to do without check from me, poured in a destructive fire in this new direction. The fire from the front had not been diminished. It was too evident the spot that had witnessed the destruction of one brigade would be in a few moments the grave of mine. I had resisted the suggestion of a staff officer of the commander of the first division to withdraw when the contest seemed almost hopeless, but now my duty had been performed. As the reports will show, I had lost more than 30 in every 100 of my command. I therefore reluctantly withdrew; assembled my diminished numbers between the timber and my first position, and fell back to the right of the line, which I had held since the morning. This position I occupied until relieved at a late hour of the night by troops from General McDowel’s division. He had not driven the enemy farther than that. If he had anything of which to boast, it was not in the numerous dead, which fell before the rifles of the First and Third Brigades of the First Division. With my shattered brigade I occupied the front of the center of our “line of battle” until near daylight.
In conclusion, I ought, as I thus do, to mention the names of Colonel Andrews, Second Massachusetts, Colonel Ruger, of the Third Wisconsin, and Colonel Colgrove, of the Twenty-seventh Indiana, as deserving praise for gallant conduct. I by no means limit my commendation to the names mentioned. I would, if I could, add those names of many commissioned and non-commissioned officers and privates of my command.
The dead, the honored dead, speak for themselves; they gave up their lives for their country’s sake. The survivors yet live for their country, and the wounded in their suffering may be cheered by the consciousness that all this, and more, they can bear for the cause of American Freedom.
Among the killed are Lieutenant-Colonel Crane, Third Wisconsin, and Captains Cary, Williams, Abbott, and Goodwin, and Lieutenant Perkins of the Second Massachusetts. These are some of the names to be remembered as heroes.
I carried into action less than 1,500 men. I lost in about thirty minutes about 466 killed, wounded, and missing.
I refer especially to the reports of colonels of regiments as appended.
My staff, Capt. H. B. Scott, assistant adjutant-general, Capt. Charles F. Wheaton, and Lieut. Robert Shaw, aides-de-camp, rendered especial service in my movements. I owe them many thanks for their labors and coolness under this terrific fire.
GEORGE H. GORDON,
Brig. Gen., Comdg. 3d Brig., 1st Div., 2d Army Corps, Army of Va.