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Battle of Cedar Creek

A painting richly colored with red and yellow depicts soldiers rallying to the U.S. flag in the midst of battle.
"The Battle of Cedar Creek" painting by Julian Scott, 1872

Courtesy of the Vermont State Curator’s Office

“There burst upon our view the appalling spectacle of a panic-stricken army— hundreds of slightly wounded men, throngs of others… utterly demoralized, …all pressing to the rear in hopeless confusion, telling only too plainly that a disaster had occered at the front.”

U.S. Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan

“The concentration was stopped; the blow was not delivered… We halted, we hesitated, we dallied.”

Confederate Maj. Gen. John Gordon

The Federal victory at Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864 ended Confederate resistance in the Shenandoah Valley. Coming just three weeks before the presidential election, news of the victory boosted morale in the Northern states and helped carry Abraham Lincoln to a landslide reelection.

A Victory Turned From Disaster

On October 19, 1864 Maj. Gen. Jubal Early’s Confederates launched a predawn attack at Cedar Creek. They drove Federal soldiers out of their camps around Belle Grove Plantation and through Middletown in disarray. US Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan, however, rallied his troops and turned the Confederate victory into a total defeat. Read more » 

On the night of October 18, 1864, tents sheltering part of General Philip Sheridan’s 32,000 strong Union Army of the Shenandoah blanketed the fields of Belle Grove. Read more »

Two Confederate divisions crossed the North Fork of the Shenandoah and marched along the road, passing Long Meadow. Read more »

After fording Cedar Creek, approximately 3,000 Confederates marched with a rising fog obscuring their movements. Read more »

After a silent all-night march along the base of the Massanutten, the Confederates forded the creek and river and, aided by a dense fog, stormed this hill, catching many of the Union soldiers unaware, some still sleeping in their tents. Read more »

The 128th New York Regiment bore the brunt of the Confederate attack against their position. In the fog and smoke they could see little-- only the flash of rifles and sounds of battle told them where the enemy was. Read more »

In a desperate attempt to stem the onward rush of Confederates, Col. Stephen Thomas was ordered to sacrifice his 1,000 soldiers from Vermont, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. The fight that followed was a “vortex of hell,” one veteran later claimed. Read more »

Belle Grove was Union headquarters, and thus was surrounded by hundreds of supply wagons, ambulances, and tents. As the Confederate advance neared the plantation manor house there was a scramble to evacuate them to safety. Read more »

The Middletown Cemetery, on a knoll west of the village, was the only point where Union officers believed they could establish a strong position and attempt to slow the Confederate advance. Read more »

General John Gordon and his commanding officer, General Jubal Early, met to assess the situation. Gordon urged continuing the pursuit. Early believed that the battle had been won. Read more »

General Philip Sheridan arrived on the battlefield following his famous and dramatic ride from his headquarters in Winchester. Read more »

Sheridan’s reformed battle lines stretched for almost two miles from east to west. Their counterattack took them back over the fields that they had earlier fled. Read more »

Order of Battle

The order of battle shows the hierarchy of army units in the field at the Battle of Cedar Creek.

Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan

Sixth Corps

Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright, Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts

1st Division

Brig. Gen. Frank Wheaton

1st Brigade

Col. William H. Penrose
4th New Jersey
10th New Jersey
15th New Jersey

2nd Brigade

Col. Joseph E. Hamblin
2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery
65th New York
121st New York
95th Pennsylvania
96th Pennsylvania

2nd Division

Brig. Gen. George W. Getty

1st Brigade

Col. James M. Warner
62nd New York
93rd Pennsylvania
98th Pennsylvania
102nd Pennsylvania
139th Pennsylvania

2nd Brigade

Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Grant
2nd Vermont
3rd Vermont
4th Vermont
5th Vermont
6th Vermont
11th Vermont

3rd Brigade

Brig. Gen. Daniel D. Bidwell
1st Maine
43rd New York
49th New York
77th New York
122nd New York
61st Pennsylvania

3rd Division

Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts

1st Brigade

Col. William Emerson
14th New Jersey
106th New York
151st New York
184th New York
87th Pennsylvania
10th Vermont

2d Brigade

Col. Joseph W. Keifer
6th Maryland
9th New York Heavy Artillery
110th Ohio
122nd Ohio
126th Ohio
67th Pennsylvania
138th Pennsylvania

Artillery Brigade, Sixth Corps

Col. Charles Thompkins
Battery E, 5th Maine Artillery
1st Battery NY Light Artillery
Batteries C & G, 1st RI Art'y
Battery M, 5th U.S. Artillery

Eighth Corps

Brig. Gen. George Crook

1st Division

Col. Joseph Thoburn

1st Brigade

Lt. Col. Thomas F. Wildes
34th Massachusetts
5th New York Heavy Artillery
116th Ohio
123rd Ohio

3rd Brigade

Col. Thomas M. Harris
54th Pennsylvania
10th West Virginia
11th West Virginia
15th West Virginia

2nd Division

Col. Rutherford B. Hayes

1st Brigade

Col. Hiram F. Duval
23rd Ohio
36th Ohio
5th West Virginia
13th West Virginia

2nd Brigade

Lt. Col. Benjamin F. Coates
31th Ohio
91st Ohio
9th West Virginia
14th West Virginia

Artillery Brigade, Eighth Corps

Capt. Henry A. DuPont
Battery L, 1st Ohio Artillery
Battery D, 1st Penn. Artillery
Battery B, 5th U.S. Artillery

Provisional Division

Col. J. Howard Kitching
6th New York Heavy Artillery

Nineteenth Corps

Maj. Gen. William H. Emory

1st Division

Brig. Gen. William Dwight

1st Brigade

Col. Edwin P. Davis
29th Maine
30th Massachusetts
90th New York
114th New York
116th New York
153rd New York

2d Brigade 

Brig. Gen. James W. McMillan, Col. Stephen Thomas
12th Connecticut
160th New York
47th Pennsylvania
8th Vermont

Division Artillery 

5th Battery New York Artillery

2d Division

Brig. Gen. Cuvier Grover
5th Battery New York Artillery

1st Brigade

Brig. Gen. Henry W. Birge
9th Connecticut
12th Maine
14th Maine
26th Massachusetts
14th New Hampshire
75th New York

2nd Brigade

Col. Edward L. Molineux
13th Connecticut
3rd Massachusetts Cav. (d'mtd)
11th Indiana
22nd Iowa
131st New York
159th New York

3rd Brigade

Col. Daniel Macauley
38th Massachusetts
128th New York
156th New York
175th New York
176th New York

4th Brigade

Col. David Shunk
8th Indiana
18th Indiana
24th Iowa
28th Iowa

Division Artillery

Maj. Albert W. Bradbury
1st Battery, ME Light Artillery
Battery D, 1st RI Light Artillery
17th Battery, IN Light Artillery

Cavalry Corps

Maj. Gen. Alfred T. A. Torbert
Escort: 1st Rhode Island Cavalry

1st Division

Brig. Gen. Wesley Merritt

1st Brigade

Col. James H. Kidd
1st Michigan Cavalry
5th Michigan Cavalry
6th Michigan Cavalry
7th Michigan Cavalry
25th New York Cavalry

2nd Brigade

Brig. Gen. Thomas C. Devin
4th New York Cavalry (Headquarters Guard)
6th New York Cavalry
1st New York Dragoons
17th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Reserve Brigade

Col. Charles R. Lowell, Jr.
2nd Massachusetts Cavalry
6th Pennsylvania Cavalry (Army Headquarters)
1st U.S. Cavalry
2nd U.S. Cavalry
5th U.S. Cavalry

Division Artillery

Batteries K & L, 1st US

2d Division 

Col. William H. Powell

1st Brigade

Col. Alpheus S. Moore
14th Pennsylvania Cavalry
22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry
8th Ohio Cavalry

2nd Brigade

Col. Henry Capehart
1st New York Cavalry
1st West Virginia Cavalry
2nd West Virginia Cavalry
3rd West Virginia Cavalry

Division Artillery

Battery L, 5th U.S. Artillery

3rd Division

Brig. Gen. George A. Custer

1st Brigade

Col. Alexander Pennington, Jr.
1st Connecticut Cavalry
3rd New Jersey Cavalry
2nd New York Cavalry
5th New York Cavalry
2nd Ohio Cavalry
18th Pennsylvania Cavalry

2nd Brigade

Col. William Wells
3rd Indiana Cavalry
1st New Hampshire Cavalry
8th New York Cavalry
22nd New York Cavalry
1st Vermont Cavalry

Horse Artillery

Batteries B & L, 2nd U.S. Artillery
Batteries C, F, & K, 3rd U.S. Artillery

Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early 

Ramseur's Division

Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Ramseur

Battle's Brigade

Brig. Gen. Cullen A. Battle
3nd Alabama
5th Alabama
6th Alabama
12th Alabama
61st Alabama

Grimes' Brigade

Brig. Gen. Bryan Grimes
2nd North Carolina Battalion
32nd North Carolina
43nd North Carolina
45th North Carolina
53rd North Carolina

Cook's Brigade

Brig. Gen. Philip Cook
4th Georgia
12th Georgia
21st Georgia
44th Georgia

Cox's Brigade

Brig. Gen. William R. Cox
1st North Carolina
2nd North Carolina
3rd North Carolina
4th North Carolina
14th North Carolina
30th North Carolina 

Kershaw's Division

Maj. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw

Conner's Brigade

Maj. James N. Goggin
2nd South Carolina
3nd South Carolina
3rd South Carolina Batt'n
7th South Carolina
8th South Carolina
15th South Carolina
20th South Carolina

Wofford's Brigade

BG. William T. Wofford
3rd Georgia Battalion
16th Georgia
18th Georgia
24th Georgia
Cobb's (Georgia) Legion
Phillip's (Georgia) Legion

Humphrey's Brigade 

Col. Daniel N. Moody
13th Mississippi
17th Mississippi
18th Mississippi
21st Mississippi  

Bryan's Brigade

Col. James P. Simms
10th Georgia
50th Georgia
51st Georgia
53rd Georgia

Pegram's Division

Brig. Gen. John Pegram

Pegram's Brigade

Col. John S. Hoffman
13th Virginia
31st Virginia
49th Virginia
52nd Virginia
58th Virginia

Johnston's Brigade

BG. Robert D. Johnston
1st North Carolina Batt'l S.S.
5th North Carolina
12th North Carolina
20th North Carolina
23rd North Carolina

Godwin's Brigade

Lt. Col. William S. Davis
6th North Carolina
21st North Carolina
54th North Carolina
57th North Carolina 

Gordon's Division

Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon

Evans' Brigade

BG Clement A. Evans
13th Georgia
26th Georgia
31st Georgia
38th Georgia
60th Georgia
61st Georgia
12th Georgia Battalion

York's Brigade

Col. William R. Peck
1st Louisiana
2nd Louisiana
5th Louisiana
6th Louisiana
7th Louisiana
8th Louisiana
9th Louisiana
10th Louisiana
14th Louisiana
15th Louisiana  

Terry's Brigade 

Brig. Gen. William Terry
2nd Virginia
4th Virginia
5th Virginia
10th Virginia
21st Virginia
23rd Virginia
25th Virginia
27th Virginia
33nd Virginia
37th Virginia
42nd Virginia
44th Virginia
48th Virginia
50th Virginia

Wharton's Division 

BG. Gabriel C. Wharton 

Wharton's Brigade

Maj. Peter J. Otey
30th Virginia Batt'l S.S.
45th Virginia
50th Virginia
51st Virginia

Patton's Brigade

LC John C. McDonald
22nd Virginia
23rd Virginia Batt'l
26th Virginia Batt'l

Smith's Brigade

Col. Thomas Smith
36th Virginia
45th Virginia Batt'l
60th Virginia Thomas's Legion  

Lomax's Division

MG. Lunsford L. Lomax

Imboden's Brigade

Col. George H. Smith
18th Virginia Cav.
23rd Virginia Cav.
62nd Virginia Mounted Inf.

Johnson's Brigade

BG. Bradley T. Johnson
8th Virginia Cav.
21st Virginia Cav.
22nd Virginia Cav.
34th Virginia Batt'n Cav.
36th Virginia Batt'n Cav.

McCausland's Brigade

BG. John McCausland
14th Virginia Cav.
16th Virginia Cav.
17th Virginia Cav.
25th Virginia Cav.
37th Virginia Batt'n Cav

Jackson's Brigade

BD. Henry B. Davidson
2nd Maryland Cav.
19th Virginia Cav.
20th Virginia Cav.
46th Virginia Batt'n Cav.
47th Virginia Batt'n Cav.

Horse Artillery

Lurty's Battery(VA)
McClanahan's Battery (VA)

Rosser's Division 

MG. Thomas L. Rosser

Wickham's Brigade

Col. Thomas H. Owen
1st Virginia Cav.
2nd Virginia Cav.
3rd Virginia Cav.
4th Virginia Cav.

Payne's Brigade

Col. William H. Payne
5th Virginia Cav.
6th Virginia Cav.
15th Virginia Cav.

Rosser's "Laurel" Brigade

Col. Oliver R. Funsten
7th Virginia Cav.
11th Virginia Cav.
12th Virginia Cav.
35th Virginia Batt'n Cav.  

Stuart Horse Artillery

Maj. James Breathed
Johnston's Battery (VA)
Thomson's Battery (VA)
Shoemaker's Battery (VA) 

Artillery

Col. Thomas H. Carter

Braxton's Battalion

Maj Marcellus Moorman
Carpenter's Alleghany Batt. VA
Cooper's Stafford Batt. VA
Hardwicke's Lee Batt. VA

Cutshaw's Battalion

Maj. Wilfred Cutshaw
Fry's Orange Batt. VA
Garbers's Staunton Batt. VA
Jones Richmond "Howitzer"  Batt. VA

King's Battalion

Maj. William McLaughlin
Brian's Lewisburg Batt. VA
Chapman's Monroe Batt. VA
Lowry's Wise Batt. VA

Nelson's Battalion

LC William Nelson
Kirkpatrick's Amhurst Batt. VA
Milledge's Regular Batt. GA
Snead's Fluvanna Batt. VA

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      Part of a series of articles titled Civil War Comes to the Shenandoah Valley.

      Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park

      Last updated: July 26, 2022