previous next

[89] Crossing Cedar creek sufficiently below the Federal pickets to avoid observation, he cautiously proceeded in the direction of the Federal encampments without accident or discovery. A favorable point for the accomplishment of his plans was gained just before daybreak on the 19th. The camp was reached, and in the midst of quiet sleep and peaceful dreams the war-cry and the ringing peals of musketry arose to wake the slumbering warriors and call them affrighted to their arms. The drums and bugles loudly summoned the soldier to his colors; but, alas! there was no ear for those familiar sounds! The crack of the rifle and the shouts of battle were upon the breeze, and no other sounds were heeded by the flying multitude.

Gordon's surprise had been complete, and when the dawn appeared long lines of fugitives were seen rushing madly towards Winchester. Such a rout had not been seen since the famous battle of Bull Run.

The Federals left artillery, baggage, small arms, camp equipage, clothing, knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, in fact everything, in their panic. The whole camp was filled with valuable booty, which in the end proved a dangerous temptation to the Confederates-many of whom, instead of following up their brilliant success, left their ranks for plunder.

If an apology for such conduct were ever admissible, it was so on this occasion—the troops having been so long unaccustomed to the commonest comfort while making long and fatiguing marches and battling against large odds, and being now broken down, ragged and hungry, they would have been superhuman had they resisted the tempting stores that lay scattered on every hand. Our censure of this conduct must be mingled with compassion, when we remember that instances arise when the demand of nature is irresistible.

The Federals finding that they were not pursued when they reached the neighborhood of Middletown, their spirits began to revive, and the habit of discipline and order assumed its sway, and the shapeless mass of the morning regained the appearance of an army.

Sheridan, having been absent, met his fugitive army a little below Newtown. Order having been restored, he reformed his troops, and, facing them about, returned to the scene of their late disaster. The Confederates being unprepared for an attack, were quickly defeated and forced to retire to Fisher's Hill; from there to New Market, where Early maintained a bold front for several weeks. By this return of fortune Sheridan not only recovered all that had been lost in the morning, but acquired considerable captures from the Confederates.

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)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Fishers Hill (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
Philip Sheridan (2)
George W. Gordon (1)
Charlottesville Early (1)
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.
19th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: