Battle of Cedar Creek

Battle of Cedar Creek (HM1HCZ)

Location: Middletown, VA 22645 Frederick County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 2.093', W 78° 15.427'

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Union Left Flank

— 1864 Valley Campaign —

(Preface): The fertile Shenandoah Valley was the "Breadbasket of the Confederacy" as well as an avenue of invasion. Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early's march north and his raid on Washington, D.C., in June-July 1864 alerted Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to the threat that Early posed while he held the Valley. In August, Grant sent Gen. Philip H. Sheridan and his Army of the Shenandoah to defeat Early. In serveral battles between September 19 and October 19 - Third Winchester, Fisher's Hill, Tom's Brook, and Cedar Creek - Sheridan accomplished his mission and then laid waste to much of the Valley in "The Burning."

After Confederate defeats at Third Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Tom's Brook, and after the Burning of the Valley, Gen. Philip H. Sheridan believed that Gen. Jubal A. Early's army no longer posed a significant threat. Following a daring night march, however, the Confederates attacked the Federal camps north of Cedar Creek in the predawn fog and darkness on October 19. Achieving complete surprise, Early's men drove Sheridan's north past Middletown. The Federals formed a defensive line, Sheridan rode south from Winchester to rally his force, and late in the afternoon counterattacked to drive the Confederates from the field.

(Main Text): On and around this farm on the morning of October 19, 1864, Union Gen. Wesley Merritt's First Cavalry Division occupied the Federal left flank. The army had fled in disarray after the Confederate surprise attack at dawn to high ground just north of Middletown. Union officers organized a defensive line at about 10 a.m., with cavalry divisions anchoring each end of the line.

You are standing directly behind the position that Col. Charles Russell Lowell Jr.'s Reserve Cavalry Brigade occupied at the center of the Union far left. Col. James H. Kidd's brigade was on the distant ridge visible through the clearing to the left of the barn, and Col. Thomas C. Devin's brigade was to Lowell's right. About 4 p.m., the Federals counter-attacked. Merritt's cavalry charged the infantry divisions of Gen. John Pegram and Gabriel C. Wharton and the brigade of Gen. William T. Wofford on the Confederate right flank. After repeated attempts, the Confederates gave way. Lowell, seriously wounded that morning, remained in the field and was mortally wounded. He died the next morning. By nightfall, the Union victory was complete, and Early's army was shattered.

(Sidebar): The Larrick-Nixon House, called Thorndale, is an L-shaped frame dwelling. John Larrick [II] probably constructed the older, 1 1/2-story rear section about 1790. His grandson, Archibald B. Larrick, likely added the Greek Revival-style, 2-story front section about 1855. The bank barn (ca. 1870) incorporates hand-hewn fire-damaged beams from an earlier structure on the stone foundation of an earlier barn.
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Year Placed2014
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 at 1:09am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 737413 N 4324228
Decimal Degrees39.03488333, -78.25711667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 2.093', W 78° 15.427'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 2' 5.58" N, 78° 15' 25.62" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 132 Larrick Ln, Middletown VA 22645, US
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