An eventful 6 months in Shenandoah Chronology: In 1864, the struggle to control the great valley of Virginia came to a head

this is how the confrontation played out, day by day

Cedar Creek

October 15, 1998|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Here is a chronology of events in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley campaign leading up to the Battle of Cedar Creek:

May 14: Union Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel, commander of the Department of West Virginia, moved south in the Shenandoah Valley with 6,500 men, facing cavalry opposition by Brig. Gen. John D. Imboden. Maj. Gen. John C. Breckenridge brought in about 5,000 Confederate troops to support Imboden, and a skirmish at Rude's Hill signaled Confederate resolve to defend the valley.

Battle of New Market

May 15: Battle of New Market, Va. Breckenridge gathered the Confederate forces, including 247 cadets from Virginia Military Institute, and met Sigel at New Market. Sigel retreated to Strasburg, Va., suffering 93 dead, 482 wounded and 256 missing from a force of about 5,500 men. Confederate losses were 42 killed, 522 wounded and 13 missing. Of the VMI cadets, 10 were killed and 47 wounded.

May 21: A new federal commander, Maj. Gen. David Hunter, took over the Department of West Virginia after Sigel's defeat at New Market, and on May 26 marched from Strasburg toward Staunton, Va., with a force of 16,000 men. He was opposed by Brig. Gen. William E. Jones with a force of about 8,500 men.

June 2: Hunter engaged Jones at Covington, Va., pushing him back to his position at the start of the campaign at Lynchburg, Va.

June 3: Brig. Gen. William W. Averell's cavalry set out from Bunger's Mills, W.Va., to aid Hunter.

June 4: Hunter's advance continued with fighting at Port Republic and Harrisonburg, Va., and Panther Gap, W.Va.

Battle of Piedmont

June 5: Jones, with about 5,600 men, met Hunter at Piedmont, Va. Southern troops were routed and Jones was killed. Hunter lost about 780 men, and the Confederates lost about 1,600, 1,000 of whom were captured. Hunter moved toward Staunton, destroying civilian property in the valley.

June 6: Hunter occupied Staunton.

June 7: Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan and two divisions of cavalry were ordered to join Hunter at Charlottesville, Va., and operate again the railroads.

June 8: Brig. Gen. George Crook and Averell joined Hunter for the drive against Lynchburg, bringing his force to 18,000.

June 9: Hunter moved toward Lexington, Va., and Lynchburg. Breckenridge again gathered his forces to oppose the advance.

Battle of Trevilian Station

June 11: Sheridan's effort to join Hunter was blocked at Trevilian Station by Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton and Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee. Hunter's men skirmished in Lexington, where they burned Virginia Military Institute. Gen. Robert E. Lee then detached Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early's corps from the siege at Petersburg, Va., to deal with Hunter.

June 12: Sheridan withdrew from Trevilian Station. He had about 8,000 men, and his losses in the fighting were 102 killed, 470 wounded and 435 missing. The Confederate force of about 5,000 men reported 612 casualties, but the report was not complete.

June 13: Early's corps moved toward the Shenandoah Valley.

June 16: Hunter moved toward the rail center at Lynchburg, which was defended by the Confederates under Breckenridge, but Early's corps was arriving rapidly. Skirmishes flared near Lynchburg.

4 June 17: Early joined Breckenridge at Lynchburg.

June 18: Hunter attacked Confederate forces at Lynchburg, then withdrew northward.

June 19: Early pursued Hunter's withdrawing troops. Hunter retreated into the Kanawha Valley, leaving the Shenandoah open for a Confederate advance.

June 20-23: Early's troops encountered Hunter's force in a series of skirmishes at Buford's Gap, Salem, Catawba Mountain, New Castle, Sweet Sulfur Springs and Cove Gap. Hunter continued his withdrawal into the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.

June 28: Early left Staunton for the Shenandoah Valley.

July 2: Early reached Winchester with little opposition. He

headed for the Potomac River, driving in federal pickets at Bolivar Heights near Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

July 3: Confederates moved into the Harpers Ferry area. A small Union force crossed the river at Shepherdstown, W.Va., and escaped into Maryland.

July 4: Early prepared to cross the Potomac near Harpers Ferry.

July 5: Early began crossing the Potomac at Shepherdstown after finding the federal position at Harpers Ferry too strong to take. Fighting broke out along the river at Keedysville, Point of Rocks and other places.

July 6: Early's troops captured Hagerstown. Early completed his crossing of the Potomac; Brig. Gen. John McCausland imposed a $20,000 ransom of Hagerstown in retribution for the damage caused by Hunter in the Shenandoah Valley.

July 7: Federal troops were hurried toward Washington; the 3rd Division of the 6th Corps arrived in Baltimore from Petersburg. Fighting was reported in Middletown, Brownsville and Catoctin Mountain.

July 8: Fighting spread to Antietam bridge, Frederick and Sandy Hook. Federal troops gathered at Frederick under Maj. Gen. Lewis Wallace.

Battle of Monocacy

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