Sunday, October 9th
— 1864 Valley Campaign —
Sunday, October 9th
During the evening of October 8, 1864, Gen. Lunsford L. Lomax reached this position with two brigades of Confederate cavalry commanded by Gen. Bradley T. Johnson and Col. William L. "Mudwall" Jackson. Gen. Wesley Merritt, in command of the Union Gen. Philip Sheridan's 1st Cavalry Division (three brigades) lay in camp some three miles north near the base of Round Hill. Merritt's troopers had, for the past week, been engaged in burning barns, mills, haystacks and driving livestock seized from the local population. During the several preceding days, they had been cautiously pursued and harassed by Lomax as they carried out Union Gen. U.S. Grant's directive to "clean out" the Valley.
At approximately 7 a.m., Merritt sent forward his three brigades. Simultaneously, Gen. George A. Custer, USA, commanded an attack against Gen. Thomas A. Rosser's, CSA, cavalry division which was in position south of Toms Brook on the Back Road, three miles due west of here. Merritt's plan of attack placed Col. Charles Russell Lowell's Reserve Brigade on the Valley Pike (modern Route 11) and Col. James Kidd's 1st Brigade to the extreme west, cooperating with Custer's advance. Col. Thomas Devin's 2nd Brigade was centered on the high ground between the Valley Pike and the Back Road.
As the Federals pressed the Confederate skirmishers toward this vicinity, Lomax unleashed a ferocious charge that drove Lowell's Reserve Brigade back in some confusion, yet caused the advancing Confederates to expose their left flank. Realizing the opportunity, Devin immediately ordered two regiments, the 1st N.Y. Dragoons and the 5th U.S. Cavalry, to charge the Confederate left as Lowell's Reserve Brigade regrouped and advanced again. Lomax, now pressed from the front and left, was forced to make a hasty but orderly withdrawal. The Confederates set up a defensive position astride the Valley Pike immediately north of Woodstock. There they were overwhelmed by a Federal Charge and fled in disorder to Mount Jackson. In the running fight that ensued (later nicknamed "The Woodstock Races"), Merritt's troopers, glorious in their victory, succeeded in capturing five of Lomax's six guns, more than 50 prisoners and wagons, many horses and much other equipage.