Tarheels During the Civil War

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Private's View of Cedar Creek

This is from acting adjutant Samuel P. Collier of the 2nd North Carolina State Troops, of Cox' Brigade. Collier was away on regimental business and missed the battle of Cedar Creek, but his views of the condition of the valley army, and his disgust at the "stampede" of Cedar Creek, were universally held. (This is from the Collier Papers, North Carolina State Archives).

Camp near New Market
Oct 22nd 1864

My Dear Parents

I arrived here safely yesterday and found every thing in perfect confusion. Our Regt numbered about 60 men but they are coming in hourly from the mountains whither they took refuge when the stampede occurred at Middletown. I will give you the particulars of it or as far as I have heard. It seems that the morning after I left or rather the same evening they started forward and by marching all night succeeded in getting completely on the enemys flank at Cedar Creek. The flanking party consisted of Ramseurs, Gordons, and Pegrams while Whartons and Kershaws were to attack in front. At daylight the attack was made simultaneous upon the enemys camp, who were sound asleep, they immediately ran, leaving every thing just as they were standing, wagons, artillery, sutlers and medical stores and Quarter Masters goods. We immediately charged them, they ran but were soon rallied but only to run again. We drove them as far down as Middletown when we halted. The enemy were reinforced by the 6th Corps which had been stationed at Winchester. They now had Three Corps and greatly outnumbered us but we would have easily repulsed them had the men been at their post but they were off plundering the enemys camps. They charged our line and succeeded in breaking through Gordons line (who occupied the left) who immediately broke and ran in every direction. We captured 18 pieces of artillery but lost it all and 12 more in the stampede. Lost also a good many ambulances and wagons. Maj Genl Ramseur was wounded (mortally I am afraid) and captured Gen Battle was also wounded. Cousin Bryan Cobb was struck on the head but did not enter the skull. He will be home I expect before this reaches you. I do not know who was to blame in the affair. This army will certainly have to undergo at least two months of the most rigid discipline before they will fight and this army will certainly have to change commanders before it can be done for Genl Early is no disciplinarian. He is one of the best military men of the present time. Take Genl Lee out and I don’t think he has his equal.
That movement was the most excellent planned affair that was ever known and I am sure we would have been successful but for the men plundering. I must soon close. Best love to all. Write soon.
Affectionate Son
Sam. P. Collier
I am acting adjutant of the Regt. Adjutant Dillingham being either killed or captured or he may be in the mountains and will come in.
Sam P.C.

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