OCT. 19TH, 1864

Cedar Creek, Va., Oct. 19, 1864. 6th and 19th Army Corps
and Army of West Virginia. On the evening of the 18th the
Confederate forces under Early occupied a position at Fisher's
hill, a short distance south of Strasburg. The Union army was
encamped about 5 miles north, on the north bank of Cedar
creek, in the vicinity of Middletown. The Army of West
Virginia, commanded by Gen. George Crook, lay west of the pike
running from Middletown to Strasburg, probably a mile and a
half north of the former, Thoburn's division (the 1st)
occupying the extreme left. Along the pike and extending west
from it lay the 19th corps, Gen. William H. Emory commanding,
and still further up the creek was the 6th corps, under
command of Mail-Gen. Horatio G Wright, who, in the absence of
Gen. Sheridan, was the ranking officer Still farther to the
right and up the creek was Torbert's cavalry in three
divisions, commanded by Gens. Merritt, Powell and Custer,

The Federals had destroyed all the supplies between Cedar
creek and Staunton, making it necessary for Early to transport
all his rations, feed, etc., from the latter place by wagons-a
somewhat difficult task- and for several days the Confederates
had been expected to either attack or fall back for supplies.
Reconnaissances on the 18th showed no enemy in the immediate
front, and it was generally believed that they had retreated
up the valley. To make sure, however, Wright issued orders
that evening for two brigades to make another reconnaissance
the next morning. One of these was to move up the Strasburg
pike and the other was to take the Back road, some 3 miles
west and nearly parallel to the pike. Both were to move at
dawn and to go forward until the enemy was found and strongly
felt, in order to learn his intentions.

>From the signal station at the end of Three-top mountain,
which overlooked all of Sheridan's camps, Capt. Hotchkiss had
on the 17th made a map of the Federal position, and it was
from this map that Early planned his attack. At midnight, on
the 18th, Kershaw and Wharton marched from Fisher's hill to
Strasburg, where they separated, Wharton continuing on up the
pike to Hupp's hill, while Kershaw turned to the west along a
by-road leading to Bowman's mill. Gordon, Pegram and Ramseur
had marched several hours before, moving along the base of
Three-top mountain to the North Fork of the Shenandoah at
Bowman's ford, where they crossed and gained position on the
Union left. Rosser's command was moved by the Back road to
attack the cavalry.

At the first blush of dawn on the 19th the Federals were
aroused from their slumbers by the roar of artillery and the
rattle of musketry. The attack was commenced by Kershaw and
fell upon Thoburn's division. Before the men had time to
form, the Confederates, fired by the prospects of victory,
were among them. The division was swept from its position,
many of the men and 7 guns being captured. These were
immediately turned upon the retreating troops. The corps
commanders Wright, Emory and Crook, exerted themselves to form
a line, with Hayes, and Kitching's divisions as a base, west
of the pike for the defence of the road. Pursuant to the
order of the evening before Molineux's brigade was in line,
ready to start upon its reconnaissance. This brigade was
ordered by Emory to cross the pike and take position on a
wooded ridge, in order to support Crook, while Wright ordered
two more brigades to the same locality. Had this movement
been carried out it would no doubt have checked the advance of
the enemy in the beginning of the engagement. But before the
line could be formed Gordon and Ramseur suddenly debouched
from the woods west of the pike and struck the divisions of
Hayes and Kitching on the flank. These divisions were without
intrenchments of any kind and the men, already demoralized by
the retreat of Thoburn's division, could not withstand the
sudden and unexpected assault. The line broke, thus exposing
the 19th corps to an enfilading fire for its entire length.
Under the circumstances Wright issued the order for the 6th
and 19th corps to fall back. A dense fog prevailed and some
confusion resulted in the execution of the movement, but the
batteries of the 6th corps finally took a position on the
ridge near the cemetery west of Middletown, where they did
such effective work that the enemy was compelled to halt and
strengthen his lines. About the same time Ramseur and Pegram
sent word to Early that they must have reinforcements on the
Union left or they would be unable to break through.
Wharton's division, the men of which were busy in plundering
the evacuated camp of the 19th corps, was rallied and sent to
their assistance. Wharton was met by a destructive fire from
the infantry of Getty's division, now commanded by Brig.-Gen.
L. A. Grant, before which the whole line recoiled, and while
the confusion existed Grant charged and drove Wharton back
down the hill. The charge was met by a discharge of
artillery, all the enemy's guns being concentrated on the
division, which was compelled to fall back. It was in this
charge that Brig.-Gen. Bidwell fell mortally wounded.

A little after 8 o'clock the fog lifted and the movement
of troops could be directed with more intelligence. In the
early part of the engagement the general movement of the Union
forces had been toward the left, to confront the enemy in his
attack on that portion of the line. In falling back they had
maintained a position en echelon, each corps being farther
north than the one on its left, and the charge of the 6th
corps was well to the Confederate right. To make matters
worse for the Confederates the attack of Rosser on the Union
cavalry had not been so successful as that of the infantry on
the left. Here the order of the previous evening redounded to
the advantage of the Federal arms. The 1st and 3rd divisions
were both stirring before daylight, preparing to send men on
the reconnaissance, and when Custer's pickets were driven in
the men were promptly ordered into the saddle to repulse the
attack that they felt sure was coming. Forming the cavalry on
the right of the infantry Torbert sent his trains to the rear,
and when Rosser advanced far enough for the cavalry batteries
to open on his line he was greeted by a fire that drove him to
the shelter of the woods near by, where he remained until the
tide of battle was turned in favor of the Union side. In the
meantime Powell's division was holding Lomax's cavalry in
check at Front Royal, so that the cavalry attack might be
characterized as a failure. After the fog lifted Wright
ordered all the cavalry to the left. Leaving three regiments
to hold Rosser in check, Torbert promptly made the transfer.
The 1st brigade, 2nd division, under Col. Moore, which had
been stationed at Burton's ford as a picket, was cut off by
Gordon, but rejoined the main body at Middletown, having made
a detour around the Confederate right. Seeing the Federals
massing their strength in this quarter, Early crowded his
troops farther to the eastward to prevent his right wing from
becoming enveloped.

When the fight commenced Gen. Sheridan was at Winchester,
where he had paused on his return from Washington. Reports of
the cannonading reached him early in the morning, but not
attaching much importance to it he remained at Winchester
until two hours later, when it became certain that a battle
was in progress. Mounting his horse he started for the scene.
On the way he met and turned back many of his men who were
straggling to the rear. Inspired by the example of their
intrepid commander they hurried back to the front and took
their places in line with a determination to do or die. Under
Sheridan's orders the line of battle was formed on the
prolongation of Getty's line and a temporary breastwork of
logs, rails, etc., hastily constructed. Early advanced and
attacked, the assault falling principally on the 19th corps,
which bravely withstood the shock and after some severe
fighting the Confederates were driven back. At 4 p. m.
Sheridan ordered a general advance. Early's promised victory
became a defeat and the defeat became a rout. Custer's
gallant charge with his division of cavalry was closely
followed by a combined movement of all the Federal forces and
the enemy was forced back across Cedar creek. The
difficulties in crossing added to the confusion and all
efforts to rally the men were vain. Custer's division and
Devin's brigade of Merritt's pursued the routed mass to
Fisher's hill, a distance of over 3 miles, the road all the
way being covered with abandoned artillery, wagons, caissons
and ambulances. The Federal loss was 644 killed, 3,430
wounded and 1,591 missing. Most of the missing men belonged
to Thoburn's division and were captured in the first attack.
Early stated his casualties as being "about 1,860 killed and
wounded, and something over 1,000 prisoners." The 24 cannon
lost by the Union troops in the morning were all recaptured
together with 24 pieces that had belonged to the enemy.
Scores of wagons were piled up and burned by the Federal
cavalry and 56 ambulances fell into Sheridan's hands. This
battle broke the Confederate hold upon the Shenandoah Valley.
Although Early remained for some time in that part of the
state he did not again assume the aggressive until Sheridan
withdrew to Kernstown. (See Cedar Creek, Va., Nov 12, 1864)

NOV. 12TH,1864

Cedar Creek, Va., Nov. 12, 1864. Sheridan Cavalry Corps.
After the battle of Cedar creek on Oct. 19, the Confederate
forces under Early retreated to New Market, where they
remained inactive for about three weeks. On Nov. 9, Sheridan
withdrew to Kernstown and the next day Early advanced down the
pike, crossed Cedar creek and took up a position at
Middletown. On the 12th Sheridan ordered Powell's division of
cavalry to move out on the Winchester and Front Royal pike,
while Custer moved via the Middle and Back roads and Merritt
on the Valley pike to learn the enemy's intentions. At
Nineveh Powell met and routed Lomax's division of cavalry,
capturing their 2 pieces of artillery 3 wagons, 50 horses, 2
battle flags and 161 prisoners. The Confederates here lost 20
killed and 35 wounded, Powell's loss being 2 killed and 15

Custer struck Rosser's cavalry about 4 miles north of
Cedar creek and drove him back to the other side with severe
losses, several being killed and wounded and 16 captured.
Merritt engaged a body of Confederate infantry about dark and
skirmished with them until 10 p. m., when he returned to camp.
Meantime detachments of infantry were sent out to the support
of the cavalry, as it looked like an engagement was imminent
the next day, but when morning came it was found that Early
had retreated during the night and taken up his old quarters
at New Market.

Source: The Union Army, vol. 5