previous next


Sheridan now marched forward with little opposition. Early fell back before him to Brown's Gap, while the Federals pushed on to Staunton and Waynesboroa. Kershaw's infantry and Rosser's cavalry were sent to Early's aid, and in a short time he was ready for fight again. The Confederate cavalry was so active that Sheridan found it difficult to protect his supply trains, and considered it impracticable to cross the mountains and move on Charlottesville, as Grant desired. He therefore retired down the Valley, plundering or burning everything in his pathway that he deemed might be of service to the Confederates. He supposed the campaign over, and advised that a large part of his force be taken elsewhere. Early followed as he retired, and though the Confederate cavalry was badly beaten on October 9th, Early continued to advance to Fisher's Hill, while Sheridan halted at Cedar Creek, and prepared to send some of his troops to Grant. Early now planned and executed one of the most daring exploits of the war. With a force of about 12,000 men he determined to attack the immensely superior and victorious forces of the enemy, relying on the very boldness and unexpectedness of the movement for success. Early properly disposed his troops, and at daybreak on October 19th Sheridan's camp was attacked. The Federals were taken completely by surprise, and in a short time two of Sheridan's corps were overwhelmed and dispersed, and their camps and artillery captured, and the third one was forced from the field. The force of Early's attack had now spent itself, his cavalry had not been able to drive the masses of Federal cavalry on the flanks, the country in front was open, and the Confederates halted for some hours. Meantime the Federals recovered from their surprise; their broken ranks were reformed upon the Sixth corps, which had preserved its organization; General Sheridan, who had been absent, came hurriedly up from Winchester, and exerted all his influence to allay the panic and reform his troops. When this was done, perceiving Early's small force and exposed situation, he attacked him in the afternoon, pierced his line, and soon had the Confederates in full retreat for Cedar Creek. Pressing them with his cavalry, he converted the retreat into a rout. The trains and artillery were jammed in the road, and fell into the hands of the Federals, and only the 1,500 prisoners he had taken was Early able to get off. Sheridan recaptured all the artillery he had lost, and a great deal more. The brilliant victory, which at mid-day had been Early's, was at nightfall Sheridan's. This was one of the most remarkable days in history, and the interest in it and discussion about it will grow with

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Sheridan (15)
Jubal A. Early (12)
Frederick Grant (4)
Rosser (2)
Kershaw (2)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
October 19th (2)
October 9th (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: