• Fredericksburg Battlefield: Sunken Road, Stone Wall and Innis House sunrise

    Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania

    National Military Park Virginia

Battle of Cedar Mountain

The text below is from a park brochure on the Battle of Cedar Mountain (August 9, 1862). It contains a summary of the battle, directions to the battlefield from the Fredericksburg area and a driving tour route.

A new threat to the Confederacy lurked in Northern Virginia in the summer of 1862. Two previous threat had already been successfully opposed by the Southerners. Confederate forces under Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson had thwarted Federal designs in the Shenandoah Valley earlier in the year. [Read Jackson's Official Report]The emergence of General Robert E. Lee insured the safety of Richmond by driving Union troops away from the Confederate capital in the Seven Days battles. A desperate Lincoln Administration next turned to the bombastic Major General John Pope. Pope forged an army out of the several Union commands embarrassed by Jackson in the Valley and christened his new fighting force the Army of Virginia. [Read Pope's lengthy Official Report on the entire 2nd Manassas Campaign including Cedar Mountain]

Vexed by Pope's move on Culpeper Court House and that officer's alarming proclamations against Southern civilians, Robert E. Lee quickly dispatched Jackson to Gordonsville with the grave order: "I want Pope to be suppressed."

Outnumbered by Pope's forces, Jackson looked for an opportunity to strike. Pope unwittingly divided his army along the Rapidan River. Jackson then advanced hoping to isolate a portion of Pope's army near Culpeper. Although he had been reinforced by Major General A.P. Hill's large "Light Division," Jackson plans almost immediately went awry, and he could make little headway. Hampered by poor roads and problematic orders, Jackson vented his frustrations on A.P. Hill, sparking the most celebrated feud in the history of Lee's lieutenants. [Read Hill's Official Report]

Pressing forward on August 9, 1862, Jackson's troops tramped on the main road to Culpeper in brutally hot weather. The exhausted Confederates encountered Union cavalry blocking the road near Cedar Run. Confederate Brigadier General Jubal A. Early hastily formed a line of infantry and artillery perpendicular to the road with the right of the Southern line anchored on the shoulder of Cedar (or Slaughter's) Mountain. Confederate artillery firing from the mountain as well as from a small wooded knoll known afterward as the Cedars, and from a gate where the Crittenden House lane met the main road, dueled with Union artillery posted on the Mitchell Station Road. One Confederate thought the gunnery was "the prettiest artillery duel ever witnessed during the war." During the spectacular but inconclusive shelling both Stonewall Jackson and division commander Brigadier General Charles S. Winder tried their hand as gunners. Confederates soon carried Winder off the battlefield mortally wounded when a Northern shell tore away his side.

The battle entered its most furious phase shortly after 5 p.m. when the Federal commander on the field. Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, launched two attacks against the Confederate line. Union infantry waded through a cornfield heading for the Southern guns at the Cedars, while a second group of Northerners advanced toward the guns planted by the Gate.

Although outnumbered by Jackson's troops, Brigadier general Samuel W. Crawford's Unionists struck Jackson's loosely-knit line near the Gate. Crawford shattered Jackson's left after a desperate hand-to-hand combat that one veteran remembered as "unsurpassed for ferocity by any other engagement during the war." The Federals in the cornfield under Brigadier General Christopher C. Augur billowed out of the corn near the guns by the Cedars.

The Confederate guns at the Gate, and the Cedars retreated while much of their infantry support fled from the Union onslaught. Jackson rode into the center of the storm waving his word with the scabbard still tightly rusted to it. Defying fire from three sides, Jackson brandished his "sword" and a battle flag, and banked on his name to rally the troops. One witness wrote later, "the escape of Jackson from death was miraculous. He was in the thickest of the combat, at very long range." The famed leader arrested the panic and restored order. A.P. Hill's timely arrival established a stronger line and sent the Federals reeling back across the fields. A small battalion of the 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry galloped into the teeth of the Confederate counterattack to buy time for the retreating Federals. As darkness fell, Jackson embarked on a concerted attack that swept Banks from the field.

Jackson's 22,000 Confederates came dangerously close to defeat at the hands of the Banks' inferior but aggressive force of about 12,000 Federals. Cedar Mountain was the only battle in which Stonewall Jackson attempted to draw his sword and lead his troops by example. Swayed by his personal involvement, Jackson later asserted that Cedar Mountain was "the most successful of his exploits."

Two days after the battle Jackson withdrew to meet Robert E. Lee, and begin the campaign leading to the battle of Second Manassas and the demise of John Pope. Once joined with Lee, Stonewall Jackson never again directed a campaign as an independent commander.

DIRECTIONS TO THE BATTLEFIELD

Follow the directions and the map carefully to tour the Cedar Mountain battlefield. The entire battlefield is privately owned; please respect the rights of the landowners. To reach the battlefield from Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville, proceed west on Rt. 3 to Culpeper. Take Rt. 15 south 5.5 miles. Turn right on Rt. 691 . As you turn onto Rt. 691 the wartime Major House appears just across Rt. 15 from you. The house and the grounds served as Jackson's rear headquarters and Confederate hospital during the battle. Proceed to Rt. 657 and turn right. At the time of the battle Rt. 657 was the main road to Culpeper. Late on the afternoon of August 9, 1862, Stonewall Jackson's army marched in the same direction you are heading. When Rt. 657 turn sharply to the right, pull off to the side of the road and stop.

Stop 1 - The Gate/Jackson on the Field. In 1862 the Culpeper road did not turn here but continued in a straight line. Part of the old road trace is still visible in the fields. Rt. 657 to the southeast served as the farm lane to the Crittenden House. a gate across the Crittenden lane became a landmark for Confederates.

Stand at the U.D.C. Monument, on the left of the road, so that the marker is on your left and the lane leading from your location to the Crittenden house runs away from you, on your right. You are facing toward the Union line.

Artillery posted here and across Rt. 15 dueled with Federals to the northeast. Charles S. Winder fell mortally wounded in this vicinity. Jackson rallied his panic-stricken men near this point after Union attacks shattered the Confederate line to your left-front. A new trail has recently been added to this tour stop. Follow the signs to walk this trail.

Proceed to the intersection of Rt. 657 and Rt. 15. Stop near the intersection.

Stop 2 - The Confederate line. The Southern line extended the length of the Crittenden lane, crossing Rt. 15 here and continuing up the shoulder of Cedar Mountain. (Note Rt. 15 supplanted the Old Culpeper Road. Rt. 15 did not exist at the time of the battle.) The Crittenden house stood near the present site of a farm silo to the right of the lane. Confederate artillery fired from the mountain and from a knoll to the left of the lane known as the Cedars. Christopher C. Augur's Union attack started from a point to your left and traversed a cornfield to strike the Confederate line near this point.

Turn left on Rt. 15 and proceed 0.3 mile. Turn left onto Rt. 642. Drive cautiously on this gravel road for 0.4 mile. Carefully pull over and stop on a rise just beyond a pond to your left.

Stop 3- Crawford's Attack. facing the pond (which is modern), Samuel W. Crawford's Union attack struck Jackson's line near the Gate 0.3 mile in front of you. When Crawford fell back to his original line, behind you, four companies of the 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry dashed across this area in one of the rare mounted cavalry charges of the war against infantry.

Retrace your steps to Rt. 15. Turn left and travel 0.6 mile. Turn right on Rt. 649. Proceed to the junction of Rt. 649 and Rt. 692. Pull off to the side of the road and stop.

Stop 4 - Mitchell Station Road. The Union line ran along the Mitchell Station Road, present-day Rt. 649. Union artillery along the road shelled the Confederates across the fields but took terrible fire from Confederates on Cedar Mountain. The old road to Culpeper (which you last saw at the Gate) continue northward as Rt. 692.

Continue down Rt. 649 another 0.2 mile to a rise in the road. Pull off to the side of the road and stop.

Stop 5 - Augur's Attack. The panorama to your right reveals much of the Confederate line. Augur's attack started from this area. Cedar Run cuts along the base of Cedar Mountain and crosses Rt. 649 another 0.7 mile beyond your location. This geographic feature lent its name to the battle in many of the soldiers' accounts.

Turn around and return to Stop #4. Turn right on Rt. 692 and travel 0.45 mile on the gravel road. Turn left into the parking lot of the Cedar Run Baptist Church and stop.

Stop 6 - Last Confederate Line. Confederates drove Nathaniel P. Banks' Union troops from the Mitchell Station Road (Rt. 649) past this church, which sits on its wartime foundation. After dark Jackson established a line on the ridge 0.35 mile beyond the church to the northeast. Confederate artillery under Captain Willie Pegram shelled the retreating Federals only to be hotly engaged by Northern artillerists, who made the ridge line exceptionally hazardous for the Confederates.

Continue on Rt. 692 a distance of 0.85 mile to Rt. 15. As you cross over the Confederate ridge, Pegram's guns were posted to your left. Turn right on Rt. 15. You are now heading north to Culpeper.

To return to Fredericksburg continue on Rt. 15 to Culpeper. Turn right on Rt. 3 and head east. Fredericksburg is about 35 miles away.

For information on Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, click here.

The battlefields of Brandy Station, Kelly's Ford, Mine Run and Rappahannock Station are also in this area. Written guides for these and other nearby battlefields are available in the visitor centers at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

Return to Civil War Battlefields in Virginia.

 
Map of Cedar Mountain Tour Route
Map of Cedar Mountain Tour Route

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