made to rally them, and with the help of artillery, the national advance was checked for a while; but Sheridan
soon pushed on, and the rebel left again gave way. Upon this the panic spread, when Early
gave a general order
to retreat, and the whole command fell back in the greatest confusion.
At this stage of the battle Custer
was ordered to charge with his entire division.
Simultaneously with his charge, a combined movement of the whole line drove the enemy to the creek, where, owing to the difficulties of crossing, the retreat became a rout.
The rebel officers found it impossible to rally their troops; the men would not listen to entreaties, threats, or appeals of any sort.
A terror of the national cavalry had seized them, and there was no holding them back.
The captured guns had already been carried across Cedar Creek
, and Early
had also succeeded in passing his own artillery; but Custer
now found a ford west of the road, and Devin
, with a brigade of Merritt
's cavalry, another to the east; each made the crossing just after dark, and dashing across the creek, they got among the wagons and artillery; then, passing through Early
's men to the southern side of Strasburg
, they tore up the bridge over the North Fork
, and thus succeeded in capturing the greatest part of the guns and a number of ordnance and medical wagons and ambulances.
The rebel soldiers were scattered on both sides of the road, and the rout was as thorough and disgraceful as ever happened to an army.
From Cedar Creek
to Fisher's Hill
the road was literally blocked with wagons, caissons, ambulances, and artillery.