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Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek.1

by Jubal A. Early, Lieutenant-General, C. S. A.
The object of my presence in the lower valley during the two months after our return from Washington2 was to keep up a threatening attitude toward Maryland and Pennsylvania, and prevent the use of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, as well as to keep as large a force as possible from Grant's army to defend the Federal capital. Had Sheridan, by a prompt movement, thrown his whole force on the line of my communications, I would have been compelled to attempt to cut my way through, as there was no escape for me to the right or left, and my force was too weak to cross the Potomac while he was in my rear. If I had moved up the valley at all, I could not have stopped short of New Market, for between that place and the country in which I was there was no forage for my horses; and this would have enabled the enemy to resume the use of the railroad and canal, and return all the troops from Grant's army to him. Being compelled to occupy the position where I was, and being aware of its danger as well as apprised of the fact that very great odds were opposed to me, my only resource was to use my forces so as to display them at different points with great rapidity, and thereby keep up the impression that they were much larger than they really were. The events of the last month had satisfied me that the commander opposed to me was without enterprise, and possessed an excessive caution which amounted to timidity.

Having been informed that a force was at work on the railroad at Martinsburg, I moved on the afternoon of the 17th of September, with Rodes's and Gordon's divisions and Braxton's artillery, to Bunker Hill, and on the morning of the 18th, with Gordon's division and a part of the artillery, to Martinsburg, preceded by a part of Lomax's cavalry. Averell's division of cavalry was driven from the town across the Opequon in the direction [523] of Charlestown, and we then returned to Bunker Hill. Gordon was left at Bunker Hill, with orders to move to Stephenson's Depot by sunrise next morning, and Rodes's division moved to the latter place that night, to which I also returned. At Martinsburg, where the enemy had a telegraph office, I learned that Grant was with Sheridan that day, and I expected an early move.

At light on the morning of the 19th our cavalry pickets at the crossing of the Opequon on the Berryville road were driven in, and Ramseur's troops, which were in line across the Berryville road about one and one-half miles out from Winchester, on an elevated plateau between Abraham's Creek and Red Bud Run, were soon skirmishing with the enemy. Nelson's artillery was on Ramseur's line, and Lomax's cavalry occupied the right and Fitz Lee the left. I sent orders for Breckinridge and Rodes to move up as rapidly as possible. Gordon's division arrived first, at a little after 10 A. M., and was placed on Ramseur's left, and Rodes was then placed on Gordon's right, both under cover of woods. While this movement was being executed, we discovered very heavy columns of the enemy, which had been massed under cover between the Red Bud and the Berryville road, moving to attack Ramseur on his left flank, while another force pressed him in front. Rodes and Gordon were ordered forward and attacked with great vigor, while Nelson's artillery on the right and Braxton's on the left opened a destructive fire. But Evans's brigade of Gordon's division, which was on the extreme left of our infantry, received a check from a column of the enemy, and was forced back through the woods from behind which it had advanced, the enemy following to the very rear of the woods, and to within musket range of seven pieces of Braxton's artillery which were without support. This caused a pause in our advance, and the position was most critical, for it was apparent that unless this force were driven back the day was lost. Braxton's guns, in which now was our only hope, resolutely stood their ground, and under the personal superintendence of Lieutenant-Colonel C. M. Braxton and Colonel T. H. Carter, then my chief-of-artillery, opened with canister on the enemy. This fire was so rapid and well-directed that the enemy staggered, halted, and commenced falling back, leaving a battle-flag on the ground, whose bearer was cut down by a canister shot. Just then Battle's brigade of Rodes's division, which had arrived and been formed in line for the purpose of advancing to the support of the rest of the division, moved forward and swept through the woods, driving the enemy before it, while Evans's brigade was rallied and brought back to the charge. Our advance, which had been suspended for a moment, was resumed, and the enemy's attacking columns were thrown into great confusion and driven from the field. Lomax and Lee had aided, while Ramseur had received the enemy's shock and recovered. This affair had occurred about 11 A. M., and a splendid victory had been gained. But on our side Major-General Rodes had been killed, in the very moment of triumph, while conducting the attack of his division with great gallantry and skill, and this was a heavy blow to me. Brigadier-General A. C. Godwin of Ramseur's division had been killed, and Brigadier-General Zebulon York of Gordon's division had lost an arm.

When the order was sent for the troops to move from Stephenson's Depot, General Breckinridge had moved to the front, with Wharton's division and King's artillery, to meet a cavalry force which had driven our pickets from the Opequon on the Charlestown road, and that division had become heavily engaged with the enemy, and had sustained and repulsed several determined charges of his cavalry, while its own flanks were in great danger from the enemy's main force on the right, and a column of his cavalry moving up the Martinsburg road on the left.

After much difficulty and some hard fighting General Breckinridge succeeded in extricating his force and moving up the Martinsburg road to join me, but he did not reach the field until about 2 o'clock. Late in the afternoon two divisions of the enemy's cavalry drove in. the small force which had been watching it on the Martinsburg road, and Crook's corps, which had not been engaged, advanced at the same time on that flank, on the north side of the Red Bud, and before this overwhelming force Patton's brigade of infantry and Payne's brigade of cavalry, under Fitz Lee, were forced back. A considerable force of the enemy's cavalry then swept along the Martinsburg road to the very skirts of Winchester, thus getting in the rear of our left flank. Wharton's two other brigades were moved in double-quick time to the left and rear, and twice repulsed the cavalry. But Crook advanced against our left, and again the enemy's cavalry succeeded in getting around our left, so that nothing was left for us but to retire through Winchester; and Ramseur's division, which maintained its organization, was moved on the east of the town to the south side of it, and put in position, forming the basis for a new line, while the other troops moved back through the town. Wickham's brigade, with some pieces of horse artillery on Fort Hill, covered this movement and checked the pursuit of the enemy's cavalry. When the new line was formed the enemy's advance was checked until night-fall, and we then retired to Newtown without serious molestation. Lomax had held the enemy's cavalry on the Front Royal road in check, and a feeble attempt at pursuit was repulsed by Ramseur near Kernstown.

A skillful and energetic commander of the enemy's forces would have crushed Ramseur before any assistance could have reached him, and thus insured the destruction of my whole force; and, later in the day, when the battle had turned against us, with the immense superiority in cavalry which Sheridan had, and the advantage of the open country, would have destroyed my whole force and captured everything I had. As it was, considering the immense disparity in numbers and equipment, the enemy had very little to boast of. I had lost a few pieces of artillery and some very valuable officers and men, but the main part of my [524] force and all my trains had been saved, and the enemy's loss in killed and wounded was far greater than mine. When I look back to this battle, I can but attribute my escape from utter annihilation to the incapacity of my opponent.3

At light on the morning of the 20th my troops moved to Fisher's Hill without molestation, and the cavalry of Fitz Lee (who was severely wounded at Winchester), now under Wickham, was sent up to Millford Pass to hold Luray valley. In the afternoon Sheridan's forces appeared on the banks of Cedar Creek, about four miles from Fisher's Hill, and the 21st, and the greater part of the 22d, were consumed by him in reconnoitering and gradually moving his forces to my front under cover of breastworks. After some skirmishing he attained a strong position immediately in my front and fortified it, and I began to think he was satisfied with the advantage he had gained and would not probably press it further; but on the afternoon of the 22d I discovered that another attack was contemplated, and orders were given for my troops to retire, after dark, as I knew my force was not strong enough to resist a determined assault. Just before sunset, however, Crook's corps, which had moved to our left on the side of Little North Mountain, and, under cover of the woods, had forced back Lomax's dismounted cavalry, advanced against Ramseur's left. Ramseur made an attempt to meet this movement by throwing his brigades successively into line to the left, and Wharton's division was sent for from the right, but it did not arrive. Pegram's brigades were also thrown into line in the same manner as Ramseur's, but the movement produced some disorder in both divisions, and as soon as it was observed by the enemy he advanced along his whole line, and the mischief could not be remedied. After a very brief contest my whole force retired in considerable confusion, but the men and officers of the artillery behaved with great coolness, fighting to the very last, and I had to ride to some of the officers and order them to withdraw their guns before they would move. In some cases they had held out so long, and the roads leading from their positions into the pike were so rugged,--that eleven guns fell into the hands of the enemy. Vigorous pursuit was not made, and my force fell back through Woodstock to a place called the Narrow Passage, all the trains being carried off in safety.4

We moved up the valley during the succeeding days, followed by the enemy,Wickham,with his own and Payne's brigades, having detained the enemy at Millford Pass until we had passed New Market in safety. On the 25th, between Port Republic and Brown's Gap, Fitz Lee's and Lomax's cavalry joined us, and on the 26th Kershaw's division with Cutshaw's battalion of artillery came up, after having crossed through Swift Run Gap, and encountered and repulsed, below Port Republic, a body of the enemy's cavalry. There was likewise heavy skirmishing on my front on the 26th with the enemy's cavalry, which made two efforts to advance toward Brown's Gap, both of which were repulsed after brisk fighting in which artillery was used.

Thence I moved for Waynesboro' and Rockfish Gap, where the enemy was engaged in destroying the railroad bridge and tunnel, and Wickham drove the enemy's working parties from Waynesboro‘. On the 1st of October I moved my whole force across the country to Mount Sidney on the valley pike.5 On the 5th Rosser's brigade arrived, but it did not exceed six hundred mounted men for duty when it joined me. Kershaw's division numbered 2700 muskets for duty, and he had brought with him Cutshaw's battalion of artillery. These reenforcements [525]

Lieutenant-General John B. Gordon, C. S. A. From a photograph.

about made up my losses at Winchester and Fisher's Hill, and I determined to attack the enemy in his position at Harrisonburg, and for that purpose made a reconnoissance on the 5th, but on the morning of the 6th it was discovered that he had retired during the night down the valley.6

When it was discovered that the enemy was retiring, I moved forward at once and arrived at New Market with my infantry on the 7th. Rosser pushed forward on the back and middle roads in pursuit of the enemy's cavalry, which was engaged in burning houses, mills, barns, and stacks of wheat and hay, and had several skirmishes with it, while Lomax also moved forward on the valley pike and the roads east of it. I halted at New Market with the infantry, but Rosser and Lomax moved down the valley in pursuit, and skirmished successfully with the enemy's cavalry on the 8th; but on the 9th they encountered his whole cavalry force at Tom's Brook, in rear of Fisher's Hill, and both of their commands were driven back in considerable confusion, with a loss of some pieces of artillery; nine were reported to me as the number lost, but Grant claims eleven.

Having heard that Sheridan was preparing to send part of his troops to Grant, I moved down [526] the valley again on the 12th. On the morning of the 13th we reached Fisher's Hill, and there remained until the 16th. The enemy was found posted on the north bank of Cedar Creek, in a very strong position and in strong force. I was now compelled to move back for want of provisions and forage, or attack the enemy in his position with the hope of driving him from it, and I determined to attack. General Gordon and Captain Jed. Hotchkiss, my topographical engineer, were sent to the signal station on the end of Massanutten Mountain, which had been reestablished, for the purpose of examining the enemy's position from that point, and General John Pegram was ordered to go as near as he could to Cedar Creek on the enemy's right flank and see whether it was practicable to surprise him on that flank. Captain Hotchkiss returned to my headquarters after dark and reported the result of his and General Gordon's examination, and he gave me a sketch of the enemy's position and camps. He informed me that the enemy's left flank, which rested near Cedar Creek, a short distance above its mouth, was lightly picketed, and that there was but a small cavalry picket on the north fork of the Shenandoah, below the mouth of the creek, and he stated that, from information he had received, he thought it was practicable to move a column of infantry between the base of the mountain and the river to a ford below the mouth of the creek. He also informed me that the main body of the enemy's cavalry was on his right flank on the back road to Winchester. The sketch made by Captain Hotchkiss, which proved to be correct, designated the roads in the enemy's rear, and the house of a Mr. Cooley as a favorable point for forming an attacking column, after it crossed the river, in order to move against the enemy and strike him on the valley pike in rear of his works. The next morning General Gordon confirmed the report of Captain Hotchkiss, expressing confidence that the attack could be successfully made on the enemy's left and rear, and General Pegram reported that a movement on the enemy's right flank would be attended with great difficulty, as the banks of Cedar Creek on that flank were high and precipitous and were well guarded. General Gordon and Captain Hotchkiss were then to sent to examine and ascertain the practicability of the route at the base of the mountain, and reported it to be practicable for infantry but not for artillery, and a temporary bridge was constructed, under Captain Hotchkiss's superintendence, at the first crossing of the river on our right. The plan of attack on which I determined was to send the three divisions of the Second Corps, to wit, Gordon's, Ramseur's, and Pegram's, under General Gordon, over the route which has been specified to the enemy's rear; to make the attack at 5 o'clock in the morning — which would be a little before daybreak; to move myself, with Kershaw's and Wharton's divisions, and all the artillery, along the pike through Strasburg, and attack the enemy on the front and left flank as soon as Gordon should become engaged, and for Rosser to move with his own and Wickham's brigade on the back road across Cedar Creek and attack the enemy's cavalry simultaneously with Gordon's attack, while Lomax should move by Front Royal, cross the river, and come to the valley pike, so as to strike the enemy wherever he might be, of which he was to judge by the sound of the firing. The artillery was ordered to concentrate where the pike passed through the lines at Fisher's Hill, and, at the hour appointed for the attack, to move at a gallop to Hupp's Hill — the movement of the artillery being thus delayed for fear of attracting the attention of the enemy by the rumbling of the wheels over the macadamized roads. Swords and canteens were directed to be left in camp, so that there would be as little noise as possible.

Gordon moved at the appointed time, and after he had started General Pegram reported to me that he had discovered from the signal station on the mountain what he supposed to be an intrenchment thrown up across the road over which Gordon would have to advance after crossing the river the second time, and that the signal operators had informed him that it had been thrown up since Gordon and Hotchkiss made their examination; and he suggested the propriety of attacking the enemy's left flank at the same time Gordon made his attack, as he would probably have more difficulty than had been anticipated. I adopted this suggestion, and at 1 o'clock on the morning of the 19th Kershaw and Wharton went forward, the former moving at Strasburg to the right on the road to Bowman's Mill, while Wharton moved along the pike to Hupp's Hill, with instructions not to display his forces, but to avoid the enemy's notice until the attack began, when he was to move forward, support the artillery when it came up, and send a force to get possession of the bridge on the pike over the creek. I accompanied Kershaw's division, and we got in sight of the enemy's fires at half-past 3 o'clock. The moon was now shining and we could see the camps. The division was halted under cover to await the arrival of the proper time, and I pointed out to Kershaw and the commander of his leading brigade the enemy's position and described the nature of the ground, and directed them how the attack was to be made and followed up. Kershaw was directed cross his division over the creek as quietly as possible, and to form it into column of brigades as he did so, and advance in that manner against the enemy's left breastwork, extending to the right or left as might be necessary. At half-past 4 he was ordered forward, and a very short time after he started the firing from Rosser on our left and the picket firing at the ford at which Gordon was crossing were heard. Kershaw crossed the creek without molestation and formed his division as directed, and precisely at 5 o'clock his leading brigade, with little opposition, swept over the enemy's left work, capturing seven guns, which were at once turned on the enemy. As soon as this attack was made, I rode as rapidly as possible to the position on Hupp's Hill, to which Wharton and the artillery had been ordered. I found the artillery just arriving, and a very heavy fire of musketry was now heard in the enemy's rear from Gordon's column. Wharton [527] had advanced his skirmishers to the creek, capturing some prisoners, but the enemy still held the works on our left of the pike, commanding that road and the bridge, and opened on us with his artillery. Our artillery was immediately brought into action and opened on the enemy, but he soon evacuated his works, and our men from the other columns rushed into them. Just then the sun rose, and Wharton's division and the artillery were immediately ordered forward. I rode in advance of them across the creek, and met General Gordon on the opposite hill. Kershaw's division had swept along the enemy's works on the right of the pike, which were occupied by Crook's corps, and he and Gordon had united at the pike, and their divisions had pushed across it in pursuit of the enemy. The rear division of Gordon's column (Pegram's) was crossing the river at the time Kershaw's attack was made, and General Gordon moved rapidly to Cooley's house, formed his troops and advanced against the enemy with his own division on the left, under Brigadier-General C. A. Evans, and Ramseur's on the right, with Pegram's in the rear supporting them. There had been a delay of an hour at the river before crossing it, either from a miscalculation of time in the dark, or because the cavalry which was to precede his column had not gotten up, and the delay thus caused, for which no blame is to be attached to General Gordon, enabled the enemy partially to form his lines after the alarm produced by Kershaw's attack, and Gordon's attack, which was after light, was therefore met with greater obstinacy by the enemy than it would otherwise have encountered, and the fighting had been severe. Gordon, however, pushed his attack with great energy, and the Nineteenth and Crook's corps were in complete rout, and their camps, with a number of pieces of artillery and a considerable quantity of small-arms, abandoned. The Sixth Corps, which was on the enemy's right, and some distance from the point attacked, had had time to get under arms and take position so as to arrest our progress. General Gordon briefly informed me of the condition of things, and stated that Pegram's division, which had not been previously engaged, had been ordered in. He then rode to take command of his division, and I rode forward on the pike to ascertain the position of the enemy, in order to continue the attack. There was now a heavy fog, and that, with the smoke from the artillery and small-arms, so obscured objects that the enemy's position could not be seen; but I soon came to Generals Ramseur and Pegram, who informed me that Pegram's division had encountered a division of the Sixth Corps on the left of the valley pike, and, after a sharp engagement, had driven it back on the main body of that corps, which was in their front in a strong position. They further informed me that their divisions were in line confronting the Sixth Corps, but that there was a vacancy in the line on their right which ought to be filled. I ordered Wharton's division forward at once, and directed Generals Ramseur and Pegram to put it where it was required.

In a very short time, and while I was endeavoring to discover the enemy's line through the obscurity, Wharton's division came back in some confusion, and General Wharton informed me that, in advancing to the position pointed out to him by Generals Ramseur and Pegram, his division had been driven back by the Sixth Corps, which, he said, was advancing. He pointed out the direction from which he said the enemy was advancing, and some pieces of artillery which had come up were brought into action. The fog soon rose sufficiently for us to see the enemy's position on a ridge to the west of Middletown, and it was discovered to be a strong one. After driving back Wharton's division, he had not advanced, but opened on us with artillery, and orders were given for concentrating all our guns on him. In the meantime a force of cavalry was advancing along the pike and through the fields to the right of Middletown, thus placing our right and rear in great danger, and Wharton was ordered to form his division at once and take position to hold the enemy's cavalry in check. Wofford's brigade of Kershaw's division, which had become separated from the other brigades, was ordered up for the same purpose. Discovering that the Sixth Corps could not be attacked with advantage on its left flank, because the approach in that direction was through an open flat and across a boggy stream with deep banks, I directed Captain Powell, serving on General Gordon's staff, who rode up to me while the artillery was being placed in position, to tell the general to advance against the enemy's right flank and attack it in conjunction with Kershaw, while a heavy fire of artillery was opened from our right; but as Captain Powell said he did not know where General Gordon was, and expressed some doubt about finding him, immediately after he started I sent Lieutenant Page, of my own staff, with orders for both Generals Gordon and Kershaw to make the attack. In a short time Colonel Carter concentrated eighteen or twenty guns on the enemy, and he was soon in retreat. Ramseur and Pegram advanced at once to the position from which the enemy was driven, and just then his cavalry commenced pressing heavily on the right, and Pegram's division was ordered to move to the north of Middletown and take position across the pike against the cavalry. Lieutenant Page had returned and informed me that he delivered my order to General Kershaw, but the latter informed him that his division was not in a condition to make the attack, as it was very much scattered, and there was a cavalry force threatening him in front. Lieutenant Page also stated that he had seen Gordon's division in Kershaw's rear reforming, and that it was also much scattered, and that he had not delivered the order to General Gordon, because he saw that neither his division nor Kershaw's was in a condition to execute it. As soon as Pegram moved Kershaw was ordered from the left to supply his place. I then rode to Middletown to make provision against the enemy's cavalry, and discovered a large body of it seriously threatening that flank, which was very much exposed. Wharton's division and Wofford's brigade were put in position [528] on Pegram's right, and several charges of the enemy's cavalry were repulsed. I had no cavalry on that flank except Payne's very small brigade, which had accompanied Gordon and made some captures of prisoners and wagons. Lomax had not arrived, but I received a message from him informing me that he had crossed the river after some delay from a cavalry force guarding it, and I sent a message to him requiring him to move to Middletown as quickly as possible, but, as I subsequently ascertained, he did not receive that message. Rosser had attacked the enemy promptly at the appointed time, but he had not been able to surprise him, as he was found on the alert on that flank, doubtless owing to the attempt at a surprise on the night of the 16th. There was now one division of cavalry threatening my right flank, and two were on the left, near the back road, held in check by Rosser. The force of the latter was too weak to make any impression on the enemy's cavalry, and all he could do was to watch it. As I passed across Cedar Creek after the enemy was driven from it, I had discovered a number of men in the enemy's camps plundering, and one of Wharton's battalions was ordered to clear the camps and drive the men to their commands. It was reported to me subsequently that a great number were at the same work, and I sent all my staff-officers who could be spared to stop it if possible, and orders were sent to the division commanders to send for their men.

After he was driven from his second position the enemy had taken a new position about two miles north of Middletown, and, as soon as I had regulated matters on the right so as to prevent his cavalry from getting in rear of that flank, I rode to the left for the purpose of ordering an advance. I found Ramseur and Kershaw in line with Pegram, but Gordon had not come up. In a short time, however, I found him coming up from the rear, and I ordered him to take position on Kershaw's left and advance for the purpose of driving the enemy from his new position-Ker-shaw and Ramseur being ordered to advance at the same time. As the enemy's cavalry on our left was very strong, and had the benefit of an open country to the rear of that flank, a repulse at this time would have been disastrous, and I therefore directed General Gordon, if he found the enemy's line too strong to attack with success, not to make the assault. The advance was made for some distance, when Gordon's skirmishers came back reporting a line of battle in front behind breastworks, and General Gordon did not make the attack. It was now apparent that it would not do to press my troops further. They had been up all night and were much jaded. In passing over rough ground to attack the enemy in the early morning their own ranks had been much disordered and the men scattered, and it had required time to re-form them. Their ranks, more-over, were much thinned by the absence of the men engaged in plundering the enemy's camps. The delay which had unavoidably occurred had enabled the enemy to rally a portion of his routed troops, and his immense force of cavalry, which remained intact, was threatening both of our flanks in an open country, which of itself rendered an advance extremely hazardous. I determined, therefore, to try and hold what had been gained, and orders were given for carrying off the captured and abandoned artillery, small-arms, and wagons. A number of bold attempts were made during the subsequent part of the day by the enemy's cavalry to break our line on the right, but they were invariably repulsed. Late in the afternoon the enemy's infantry advanced against Ramseur's, Kershaw's, and Gordon's lines, and the attack on Ramseur's and Kershaw's fronts was handsomely repulsed in my view, and I hoped that the day was finally ours, but a portion of the enemy had penetrated an interval which was between Evans's brigade, on the extreme left, and the rest of the line, when that brigade gave way and Gordon's other brigades soon followed. General Gordon made every possible effort to rally his men and lead them back against the enemy, but without avail. The information of this affair, with exaggerations, passed rapidly along Kershaw's and Ramseur's lines, and their men, under the apprehension of being flanked, commenced falling back in disorder, though no enemy was pressing them, and this gave me the first intimation of Gordon's condition. At the same time the enemy's cavalry, observing the disorder in our ranks, made another charge on our right, but was again repulsed. Every effort was made to stop and rally Kershaw's and Ramseur's men, but the mass of them resisted all appeals and continued to go to the rear without waiting for any effort to retrieve the partial disorder. Ramseur, however, succeeded in retaining with him two or three hundred men of his division, and Major Goggin, of Kershaw's staff, who was in command of Conner's brigade, about the same number from that brigade; and these men, aided by several pieces of artillery, held the enemy's whole force on our left in check for one hour and a half, until Ramseur was shot down mortally wounded and the ammunition of those pieces of artillery was exhausted. While the latter were being replaced by other guns the force that had remained with Ramseur and Goggin gave way also. Pegram's and Wharton's divisions and Wofford's brigade had remained steadfast on the right, and resisted all efforts of the enemy's cavalry, but no portion of this force could be moved to the left without leaving the pike open to the cavalry, which would have destroyed all hope at once. Every effort to rally the men in the rear having failed, I had now nothing left for me but to order these troops to retire also. When they began to move the disorder soon extended to them, but General Pegram succeeded in bringing back a portion of his command across Cedar Creek in an organized condition, holding the enemy in check; but this small force soon dissolved. A part of Evans's brigade had been rallied in the rear, and held a ford above the bridge for a short time, but it followed the example of the rest. I tried to rally the men immediately after crossing Cedar Creek and at Hupp's Hill, but without success. Could five hundred men have been rallied at either [529] of these places, who would have stood by me, I am satisfied that all my artillery and wagons and the greater part of the captured artillery could have been saved, as the enemy's pursuit was very feeble. As it was, a bridge broke down on a very narrow part of the road between Strasburg and Fisher's Hill, just above Strasburg, where there was no other passway, thereby blocking up all the artillery, ordnance, and medical wagons and ambulances which had not passed that point; and, as there was no force to defend them, they were lost, a very small body of the enemy's cavalry capturing them.

The greater part of the infantry was halted at Fisher's Hill, and Rosser, whose command had retired in good order on the back road, was ordered to that point with his cavalry. The infantry moved back toward New Market at three o'clock next morning, and Rosser was left at Fisher's Hill to cover the retreat of the troops, and hold that position until they were beyond pursuit. He remained at Fisher's Hill until after ten o'clock on the 20th, and the enemy did not advance to that place while he was there. He then fell back without molestation to his former position, and established his line on Stony Creek, across from Columbia Furnace to Edinburg, seven miles below Mount Jackson. My other troops were halted at New Market, about seven miles from Mount Jackson, and there was an entirely open country between the two places, they being very nearly in sight of each other.7

Lomax had moved on the day of the battle, on the Front Royal road toward Winchester, under the impression that the enemy was being forced back toward that place, and he did not reach me. When he ascertained the reverse which had taken place in the latter part of the day, he retired up the Luray Valley to his former position at Millford, without molestation.

My loss in the battle of Cedar Creek was twenty-three pieces of artillery, some ordnance and medical wagons and ambulances, which had been carried to the front for the use of the troops on the field; about 1860 in killed and wounded, and something over 1000 prisoners.8 Major-General Ramseur fell into the hands of the enemy mortally wounded, and in him not only my command,

Lieutenant-General Jubal A. Early, C. S. A. From a photograph.

but the country sustained a heavy loss. He was a most gallant and energetic officer whom no disaster appalled, but his courage and energy seemed to gain new strength in the midst of confusion and disorder. He fell at his post fighting like a lion at bay, and his native State has reason to be proud of his memory. Brigadier-General C. A. Battle was wounded at the beginning of the fight, and other valuable officers were lost. Fifteen hundred prisoners were captured from the enemy and brought off, and his loss in killed and wounded in this action was very heavy.

This was the case of. a glorious victory given up by my own troops after they had won it, and it is to be accounted for on the ground of the partial demoralization caused by the plunder of the enemy's camps, and from the fact that the men undertook to judge for themselves when it was proper to retire.

Had my cavalry been sufficient to contend with [530] that of the enemy, the rout in the morning would have been complete; as it was, I had only about 1200 cavalry on the field under Rosser; Lomax's force, which numbered less than 1700, did not get up. My infantry and artillery were about the same strength as at Winchester. The reports of the ordnance officers showed in the hands of my troops about 8800 muskets, in round numbers as follows: in Kershaw's division, 2700; Ramseur's, 2100; Gordon's, 1700; Pegram's, 1200, and Wharton's, 1100. Making a moderate allowance for the men left to guard the camps and the signal station on the mountain, as well as for a few sick and wounded, I went into this battle with about 8500 muskets and a little over forty pieces of artillery.

Sheridan was absent in the morning at the beginning of the fight, and returned in the afternoon before the change in the fortunes of the day. Nevertheless, I saw no reason to change the estimate I had formed of him.9

It may be asked, why with my small force I made the attack. I can only say we had been fighting large odds during the whole war, and I knew there was no chance of lessening them. It was of the utmost consequence that Sheridan should be prevented from sending troops to Grant, and General Lee, in a letter received a day or two before, had expressed an earnest desire that a victory should be gained in the valley if possible, and it could not be gained without fighting for it. I did hope to gain one by surprising the enemy in his camp, and then thought and still think I would have had it, if my directions had been strictly complied with, and my troops had awaited my orders to retire.10

1 condensed from General Early's Memoir of the last year of the War for Independence in the Confederate States of America (Lynchburg: published by Charles W. Button for the Virginia Memorial association, 1867); here printed by permission of the author.--editors.

2 The chief events of these two months, as described by General Early in his “Memoir,” to which readers are referred for much that is here necessarily omitted or summarized, were his defeat of Crook and Averell with heavy loss at Kernstown, July 24th; his cavalry expedition under McCausland into Pennsylvania and burning of Chambersburg in retaliation for Hunter's burning of houses in the valley; Averell's surprise and defeat of McCausland's and Bradley Johnson's cavalry at Moorefield, August 7th; Sheridan's arrival in command with large reenforcements, August 7th, which necessitated Early's withdrawal to Fisher's Hill, when Sheridan advanced; Sheridan's withdrawal in turn to Halltown, near Harper's Ferry when General Early received at Strasburg reenforcements of Kershaw's division of infantry and Fitz Lee's of cavalry; finally, General Early's stay of a month, from August 17th to September 17th, in the lower valley, at and near Winchester, keeping the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the canal obstructed, and threatening Maryland and Pennsylvania.--editors

3 The battle of Winchester, or of the Opequon, as General Sheridan calls it, was fought September 19th. The strength of Early's infantry August 31st, exclusive of Kershaw (who was not engaged at Winchester), as shown by the abstract from monthly returns, was as follows: Present for duty, 1076 officers and 9570 men,--aggregate present for duty, 10,646. Fitz Lee's (cavalry) strength on July 10th was 115 officers and 1591 men; but it had probably been decreased by over two months of hard service, and General Early's Memoir gives its number of mounted men on September 19th as “about 1200,” and also the mounted men of Lomax as “about 1700.” To the artillery are ascribed on September 10th, in the best available returns, 39 officers and 818 men. Taking the official figures for the infantry, General Early's figures for the cavalry, and the indicated returns for the artillery, the total “present for duty” with his army would be about 13,288 enlisted men of all three arms, with, in round numbers, about 1200 officers. But for the infantry only do we find the “War records” statistics vouching.

General Early, in a note to the editors, dated November 9th, 1888, says, regarding the returns of 9570 men, August 31st, that between that time and September 19th “there had been considerable loss in several engagements, which, with the men who had broken down and given out, and with the men required to guard the trains, etc., reduced my available force to 8500 muskets.”

The “field return of troops in the field” of Sheridan's command for September 10th is as follows: Present for duty, 43,284 enlisted men, 2225 officers. In signing and forwarding this field return, General Sheridan wrote: “The inclosed return does not include the cavalry under Averell, about 2500, or the troops of the Departments of Washington, Susquehanna, or Middle.” Sheridan's return includes 204 officers and 4611 men, ascribed to the “Military District, Harper's Ferry,” who were not in the battle at Winchester.

The Confederate losses in the battle were about 4000; the Union losses about 5000. The Confederate losses were more than half in prisoners and missing; but the Union losses showed nearly 4400 killed and wounded and only about 600 missing.--editors.

4 Early's dispatch to Lee as to his losses at Fisher's Hill says: “The loss in the infantry and artillery was 30 killed, 210 wounded, and 995 missing,--total, 1235. I have been able to get no report of the loss in the cavalry, but it was slight.” Sheridan's loss was 52 killed, 457 wounded, and 19 captured or missing,--a total of 528. Making allowance for the slight cavalry loss of Early, his total losses in the two battles of Winchester and Fisher's Hill were about 5300, and those of Sheridan in the same two battles were 749 killed, 4440 wounded, and 357 captured or missing == 5546. In the two battles Sheridan captured twenty-one guns.--editors.

5 Grant says that, after the fight at Fisher's Hill, “Sheridan pursued him [Early] with great energy through Harrisonburg, Staunton, and the gaps of the Blue Ridge.” I did not leave the valley at all. Had Sheridan moved his infantry to Port Republic, I would have been compelled to retire through Brown's Gap, to get provisions and forage, and it would have been impossible for me to return to the valley until he evacuated the upper part of it.--J. A. E.

6 While Sheridan's forces were near Harrisonburg, and mine were watching them, three of our cavalry scouts, ill their uniforms and with arms, got around his lines near a little town called Dayton, and encountered Lieutenant [John R.] Meigs, a Federal engineer officer, with two soldiers. These parties came upon each other suddenly, and Lieutenant Meigs was ordered to surrender by one of our scouts, to which he replied by shooting and wounding the scout, who in his turn fired and killed the lieutenant. One of the men with Lieutenant Meigs was captured and the other escaped. For this act Sheridan ordered the town of Dayton to be burned, but for some reason that order was countermanded and another substituted for burning a large number of private houses in the neighborhood, which was executed, thus inflicting on non-combatants and women and children a most wanton and cruel punishment for a justifiable act of war.--J. A. E.

7 Grant says in his account of the battle of Cedar Creek: “The enemy was defeated with great slaughter, and the loss of the most of his artillery and trains, and the trophies he had captured in the morning. The wreck of his army escaped during the night, and fled in the direction of Staunton and Lynchburg. Pursuit was made to Mount Jackson.” Stanton, who seems to have thought it was his duty to improve on all Grant's statements, says: “The routed forces of the enemy were pursued to Mount Jackson, where he arrived without an organized regiment of his army. All of his artillery and thousands of prisoners fell into Sheridan's hands. These successes closed military operations in the Shenandoah Valley, and a rebel force appeared there no more during the war,” The recklessness of these statements, of both Grant and Stanton, will appear from the above narrative, as well as from my subsequent operations in the Shenandoah Valley. Would it be believed that this “wreck” of my army, which fled in such wild dismay before its pursuers, carried from the battle-field 1500 prisoners,--who were sent to Richmond ,--subsequently confronted Sheridan's whole force north of Cedar Creek, for two days, without his attacking it, and sent out expeditions which captured two important posts, with over 1000 prisoners and several pieces of artillery, in the limits of Sheridan's command? Yet such was the case. J. A. E.

8 Sheridan's loss in this battle was 644 killed, 3430 wounded, 1591 captured or missing,--aggregate, 5665. Early's was about 3000.--editors.

9 The retreat of the main body of his army had been arrested, and a new line formed behind breastworks of rails, before Sheridan arrived on the field; and he still had immense odds against me when he made the attack in the afternoon.--J. A. E.

10 A silly story was circulated and even published in the papers, that this battle was planned and conducted by one of my subordinates up to a certain point, when my arrival on the field stopped the pursuit and arrested the victory. No officer or soldier on that day received an order from me to halt, unless he was going to the rear. My orders were to press the enemy from the beginning and give him no time to form, and when I found that my troops had halted, I endeavored to advance again, but I discovered it would not do to press them further. Those who have known me from my youth, as well as those who came in contact with me during the war, know that I was not likely to permit any other to plan a battle for me, or assume my duties in any particular. Yet I was always willing to receive and adopt valuable suggestions from any of my officers.--J. A. E.

After the battle of Cedar Creek Early established his army at New Market. On the 9th of November Sheridan established his at Kernstown. Early in December Lee called back to Richmond his Second Corps, and Grant called to Petersburg the Sixth Corps. Early remained, moving back to Staunton, with Wharton's division and cavalry and artillery.--editors.

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