Friday, October 19, 2007

Battle of Cedar Creek

Confederate General Jubal Early mounts a surprise attack against the forces of Union General Philip Sheridan. Sheridan rallies his troops, avoids disaster and nearly destroys Early’s army

In the summer of 1864 Early moved his army effortlessly in and around the Shenandoah Valley. General Grant found this to be a very distracting set of circumstances as it prevented him from focusing his full attention to General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg. Grant ordered Sheridan to the Shenandoah to take care of Early and his pesky presence.

Sheridan defeated Early’s army at Winchester, Fischer's Hill, and Tom's Brook. Sheridan's troops also made theirselves busy destroying the crop harvest in the area in order to deny food to Lee's army.

Sheridan was returning from a Military Conference in D.C. when on the morning of October 19th, Early launched his surprise attack. The Rebels drove the Yankees back several miles and it appeared they may have been defeated. Despite the urgings of his advisors to press on, Early slowed his attack by midday. Sheridan, returning from the conference in D.C. heard the battle from Winchester and began an impassioned ride to the front 12-miles away. As Sheridan neared the battle he met his retreating troops and rallied them to return to the battlefield and regroup for a counterattack.
Sheridan orchestrated his counterattack by 4 p.m., and it was devastating.
Sheridan lost 5,500 out of 31,000 troops. Early lost almost 3,000 of the 22,000 men in his command.
Sheridan succeeded in capturing almost all of Early’s artillery in the counterattack. It was the last major battle in the campaign, and Early was never able to mount a serious offensive again.

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