Report of Capt. R. C. Shriber, Aide-de-Camp, U.S. Army, of the Battle at Kernstown

WINCHESTER, March 26, 1862.

        GENERAL: I beg most respectfully to report to you that after having received on Sunday last, the 23d of March, at 9 a.m., an order to report for duty as aide-de camp on your staff, I left headquarters for Kernstown, to assist Colonels Kimball, Tyler, and Sullivan in their efforts, as commanders of brigades, fighting the enemy under General Jackson, and to insure a unity of action of their three respective commands. I reported at 9.30 a.m. to Colonel Kimball, acting brigadier and senior officer on the field, who was stationed upon a hill about half a mile west of Kemstown, which latter place is perpendicularly intersected by the turnpike leading to Strasburg. There I informed myself as to the events which had transpired previous to my arrival on the field, and understood that the enemy, who had been repulsed in endeavoring to drive in our pickets the day before, had opened with his artillery at about 8 a.m. upon our forces again, and that since that time we were engaged in responding to his battery of four guns, which he then had in play, and endeavoring to repel his small but harassing attacks of cavalry upon our chain of sentinels. Reconnoitering the ground surrounding me, I found that between the hill upon which I stood with Colonel Kimball and the hill opposite us, upon which the enemys battery was posted, about half a mile distant, a ravine was lying, running from east to west, which is entirely free of wood. When about half a mile to the east a forest connected both hills, through the center of which passes a mud road, and which is bounded on its extreme right by another mud road leading to Cedar Creek. The country to the left (west) of the turnpike is flat, and comparatively little wooded. We placed in position a six-gun battery, commanded by Captain Jenks, First Virginia Artillery, to oppose the enemys four guns, which latter was soon re-enforced by a whole battery; whereupon Captain Clarks regular battery was put in prolongation of the former named. Both batteries were fought by Colonel Daum, chief of artillery, in person. Our fire from the two batteries became too hot for the enemy, and they brought a third battery in the direction of their right wing in such position upon our two batteries as to enfilade them, but continued their fire. In the mean time the infantry regiments were moving up to the support of our batteries, and formed into line of battle about 1,000 yards to the rear of our batteries, when at once the enemys heavier battery moved to the front, and threw in rapid succession a number of well-aimed shells into our batteries and the cavalry and infantry stationed upon the interior slope of the battery hill, and the necessity to storm and take their guns became evident. In conjunction with Colonels Kimball and Tyler the following infantry regiments were drawn up in mass parallel with each other; the right, resting upon the mud road passing through the forest, was held by the Seventh Ohio, the Sixty-seventh and Fifth following, and the Thirteenth Indiana, Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania, and Twenty-ninth Ohio a little to the rear, thus leaving the One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania, Fourteenth Indiana, and three companies of the Eighth Ohio in reserve. During the time these arrangements were made a messenger was sent to you, general, to have your approval as to this flank movement, and I personally apprised all the commanders in the rear and flanks of our intentions, so as to keep them on the alert. Colonel Daum was enjoined to keep his artillery in lively fire, so as not to divert the attention of the enemy from him, and when the order came to move on everything was ready to respond. General Tyler moved his column by the right flank as far as the Cedar Creek road, rested his right upon the same, and the left upon the before-mentioned mud road, pushing forward upon both roads some cavalry; changed direction to the left right in front, and moved silently but steadily upon the enemys left, through the woods for about half a mile, when, coming upon a more sparsely wooded ground, he made a half-wheel to the left and came to face of the extreme flank of the enemy, who received him, posted behind a stone wall at about 200 yards distance with a terrific volley from rifled arms; but still on went the regiments without a return tire, and then threw themselves, with immense cheering and an unearthly yell, upon the enemy, who, receiving at 15 yards our first fire, fell back across the field, thus unmasking two 6-pounder iron guns, which hurled, on being clear in front, death and destruction into our ranks with their canister. But still onward we went, taking one gun and two caissons, and making there a short stand. Again the enemy unmasked two brass pieces, which at last drove us by their vigorous fire back, but I caused the captured gun to be tipped over, so that the enemy, in regaining it, could not drag it away. The Fifth Ohio and Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania threw themselves once more with fixed bayonets forward, the former losing four times in a few minutes their standard-bearer. Captain Whitcom at last took the colors up again, and cheering on his men, fell also. So Colonel Murray, gallantly leading on his Eighty-fourth. In fact, that ground was strewn with dead and wounded. General Tyler lost there his aide, Lieutenant Williamson, Twenty-ninth Ohio. I hurried back to bring up the One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania and Fourteenth Indiana by a right-oblique movement through the woods, and the enemy, receiving all the combined shock and fire, retired, and left us in possession of our dearly-bought gun and caissons. United we pressed forward again, the enemys two brass pieces and musketry pouring in their fire into our ranks. Three companies of the Eighth Ohio re-en-forcing us, we gained one brass piece and its caissons, and compelled the enemy to fall back. This was at 7 p.m. I moved to the right flank and caused the cavalry to go forward on the now fast-retreating enemy, when I met with 6 of Ashbys cavalry, who shot down my orderly and killed his horse, one of the bullets piercing my cap. I was forced to use my sword to kill one of them. The cavalry captured 230 prisoners and met only with little resistance from the enemys cavalry. At 8 p.m. the musketry ceased. A few more of the cannon shots from their extreme left battery were fired, so as to withdraw our attention from the retreating foe, and all was over. Our men remained on the field of battle picking up the wounded, and slept upon their arms, to awake for the pursuit of the enemy on the morning of the 24th, who fell rapidly back beyond Newtown, when at 9 oclock of the morning of that day Major-General Banks took command, and I reported back to you. General, I have the honor to be ever ready to serve in this glorious body of soldiers under your able leading. 

        Most respectfully, your obedient, humble servant,

        R. C. SHRIBER,
        Aide-de. Camp and Acting Inspector-General

        Brig. Gen. JAMES SHIELDS,
        Commanding Second Division, Fifth Corps d'Armee.

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