Report Brig. Gen. Henry Prince, U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade.
Washington, November 10, 1862.
Sir: A prisoner of war, detained util recently, I have not had an opportunity before to report the part taken by my brigade in the battle of Cedar Mountain, Culpeper, Va., August 9, 1862. I respectfully request permission to do so now.
My command was the Second Brigade of the Second Division, Second Army Corps, Army of Virginia, consisting of the following five battalions, of equal strength, viz: A battalion of the Eighth and Twelfth U. S. Infantry, the One hundred and eleventh Pennsylvania, Third Maryland, One hundred and ninth Pennsylvania, and One hundred and second New York Regiments of Volunteers; also the Fourth Maine Battery of artillery and a company of cavalry.
We marched from Culpeper Court-House before noon of the date referred to in the division column, following the First Brigade and taking the main road southward. The booming of artillery in front indicated that the march proposed was not a long one, an impression which was the more pleasing to the troops, as it was the warmest day of the season. Six miles from Culpeper a strip of woodland, stretching across the road and reaching to some distance from it on either side, furnished a shade, in which the troops rested and obtained water. During the halt for these purposes they were informed that the brigade was about to leave the road for the purpose of meeting the enemy, and every one was expected to keep his place. After passing through the wood and filing to the left we followed down a small run three-fourths of a mile, crossed it, and halted in its hollow to wait for orders.
At this time the cannonade became continuous, and both sides were placing more batteries. In a few minutes I received from division headquarters the following orders nearly simultaneously: To detach the battalion of the Eighth and Twelfth Infantry, with instructions to report to division headquarters to relieve with the Fourth Maine Battery the battery on the hill near by; to form the remainder of the brigade with two lines, and place it on the left of Geary’s brigade, already in line. These orders being promptly complied with the lines were then rectified, so as to take advantage of the slight inequality of the smooth ground, on which for several hours they faced the cannonade which ensued with but few casualties, three persons in each line being wounded slightly, among whom was Colonel Stainrook; also two horses were killed. The firing was close. The escape of the lines from great loss was often a very narrow one.
At the time of the partial suspension of the cannonade, seeing Geary’s brigade advancing, I began a cautious advance of my first line ( One hundred and eleventh Pennsylvania and Third Maryland ), and soon after receiving the order from division headquarters to “Move forward,” we straightened up and marched in line at the ordinary pace directly for the enemy. In advancing we passed over a small ridge, a ditch, fences, a road lying parallel to our position, and then a field of very high corn, beyond which the ground was open and ascending. While descending the slope of the ridge the line received the fire of the enemy without any disconcertion. Discovering the road, the battalion commanders were notified that it would be the rallying place if any break should occur. Continuing to advance amidst the whistle of a storm of bullets, the alignment was of course interrupted in crossing the fences. These were more in the way of the left than the right, in consequence of which the Third Maryland was not quite dressed up to the One hundred and eleventh Pennsylvania, but sufficiently so for open ground. In the corn field, though, but few men could see each other, and this was the cause of the One hundred and eleventh lapping over the Third Maryland. On the whole, the advance was as good as it would have been over the same ground on drill.
The line, having reached the outer edge of the corn field, was halted to co-opearate in the plan of battle which had been communicated to me. The fire of the enemy at the time of halting converged from full thirty degrees to our left, where it was nearest to us along the front. While crossing the corn field the order was communicated to me from division headquarters to move forward my whole force. I now brought up the second line (One hundred and ninth Pennsylvania and One hundred and second New York), and placed it in echelon of about 100 paces to the left and rear of the first. In accomplishing this I saved much time by passing though the battery, masking it for a moment only, as the ground descended rapidly from the guns. The obstacles in the way deranged the alignment as before, but with due attention it was perfectly restored.
Before the fire of this line was delivered great care was taken to explain the angle in which it must confine its aim, so as to avoid the Third Maryland. It then fired a single volley at the word. In reloading some files lost the direction, and came to an aim toward the forbidden point. I caused the firing to cease before a second discharge and the proper front to be indicated again. The Third Maryland hearing the volley in its rear supposed itself fired into, and retired in consequence in disorder, passing the right of the second line. Colonel De Witt reported this in person while it was occurring, and I directed him to rally his regiment in the rear. The One hundred and eleventh Pennsylvania, finding itself alone in advance, followed the movement of the Third Maryland. Both regiments rallied in the road previously designated — rallied under fire — in which position they proved of important service, as will be seen immediately.
The second line uniformly held its own. Bearing myself generally toward its left to look for any change in the position of the enemy until I discovered that daylight was fading I then went to the right, observing as I went the perfect order and enthusiasm of our troops, who were loading and firing deliberately amidst the unabated heat of the enemy’s fire. On approaching the right I perceived that the firing in the other brigades had ceased, which forcibly impressed upon me the necessity of learning immediately something of the day. No staff officer was left with me. I was the only mounted person present. I determined to go back to the ridge, where I might see the field or communicate with others. Explaining this to the nearest field officer, Major Gray, One hundred and ninth Pennsylvania, and saying to him that I would return in a moment and give some new orders, I directed my course to the point of the ridge where it was supposed the division headquarters were. While walking my horse in the dense corn, where the ground was heavy, my bridle was seized, and I perceived that I was in the midst of enemies before otherwise discovering any person to be there. The time was about 7.45 — about the time that the battery ceased firing. The fact is, the right of my advanced second line was already turned by troops that were noiselessly occupying the corn field, they being held in check by my first line, which had rallied in the road, and by the steadiness of the other, as exemplified in the evenness of its fire.
The subsequent fortunes of this brigade — which one might now anticipate, so completely do they follow from what has been related — is gathered as follows from the reports of commanders: The One hundred and ninth Pennsylvania (the right wing of the advance line), finding itself turned by the right, retired around the left of the field of battle to the woods first mentioned in this report, the One hundred and second New York (left wing, same line) conforming to and accompanying it. No troops were then in position to support the line where it stood. The battery had been withdrawn a short time before to where the Culpeper road issues from the wood above mentioned, as my first line had followed, covering it.
The conduct of the brigade, considering its advanced position and severe combat, was highly creditable to it. This will be fully appreciated by the table of casualties appended, showing a loss of 33 per cent. of the number for duty. The first battalion (Eighth and Twelfth U. S. Infantry) was detached throughout the day and was deployed as skirmishers in front of the division, where it rendered efficient and gallant service.
The battery (Fourth Maine) was in action four hours and a quarter, gallantly and efficiently served. I beg leave to mention the names of the commanders of the troops. The first battalion was commanded by Capt. Thomas G. Pitcher, U. S. Army; the second by Maj. W. M. Walker, One hundred and eleventh Pennsylvania Volunteers; the third by Col. D. P. De Witt, Third Maryland Volunteers; the fourth by Col. H. J. Stainbrook, One hundred and ninth Pennsylvania; the fifth by Maj. Joseph C. Lane, One hundred and second New York Volunteers. The battery was commanded by Capt. O’Neil W. Robinson, Fourth Maine Battery. These officers conducted their commands throughout the day, excepting Captain Pitcher, who was relieved near the close of the day, being disabled by wounds. His command developed upon Capt. T. M. Anderson, U. S. Army.
The third battalion took the impression that it received the fire of the fourth, but the care with which this was guarded against, and the fact of the third suffering least of any force in the brigade, satisfy me that it was not so.
Captain Robinson reports First Sergt. H. C. Haynes, of the Fourth Maine Battery, as commanding efficiently one of the guns.
Captain Anderson, in the report of the first battalion, distinguishes by name Captain Quimby, Lieutenants Noble, Perkins and Fisher and Sergeants Higgins, Lathrop, and O’Connor, of the Eighth, and Sergeants Liscum, Lawrence Canavan, and Byrne, of the Twelfth. I was attended by three of my staff, whose gallantry cannot be too highly commended. They rendered me valuable assistance, and are all of them borne on the list of most serious casualties.
Capt. Thomas H. Green, aide-de-camp and acting assistant adjutant-general and chief of staff, whose courage and bearing were of the highest stamp, was detached by me near the close of the day, and was undoubtedly killed while in the execution of his duty, though I am obliged to report him missing.
Capt. George F. Tennatt, aide-de-camp, fell from his horse mortally wounded by a Minie ball passing through the bridle hand and through the body while advancing toward the enemy in the execution of his duty. His deportment and his death were alike heroic.
Lieut. L. F. Haskell, Fifth Regiment Missouri Volunteers, aide-de-camp, was severely wounded by a Minie ball though the thigh .He remained on the field until it totally disabled him, near the close of the day.
I shall always be ready to render appropriate testimony respecting all who were engaged, but I cannot pretend in this report to do justice to individuals.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieut. Col. Louis H. Pelouze,