Shenandoah Campaign

Particulars Of The Late Battle

Cedar Creek : A Remembrance

Baltimore, Saturday Morning, October 22, 1864

October 10, 1999

The following special dispatch of the New York World gives a graphic account of the great battle fought on Wednesday last in the Shenandoah Valley:

[Special Dispatch to the New York World.]

Full Account of the Battle -- Our Forces at First Surprised -- Subsequent Victory -- Splendid Conduct of the Soldiers -- What has been Gained by the Victory.

Headquarters Army of the Shenandoah, October 19 -- via Washington, Oct. 20. -- Another sanguinary battle -- the fortunes of which were in the beginning, apparently adverse, but the results of which are quite as encouraging as those of any which has preceded it in the Valley -- has consumed the entire day, from dawn to nightfall. I can furnish you to-night with only a hasty narrative of the engagement.

On every morning of the present week but this the troops had been in readiness at daybreak for an attack by the enemy, which the information furnished by our scouts led us to expect. The precaution, which proved to be unnecessary before, was, for some reason omitted this morning, apprehensions of an attack having died away. The army was posted as follows, along the north bank of Cedar run:

The army of Western Virginia on the left of the Winchester and Strasburg pike, its extreme left resting on the Shenandoah; the Nineteenth Corps on the centre, on the right of the pike; the Sixth Corps on the right. In the absence of General Sheridan, who was just returning from Washington from a visit, and who slept in Winchester last night, General Wright commanded the army, General Ricketts being in command of the Sixth Corps.

A dense mist enveloping all the country around favored the enemy's designs. On the previous night General Early, who proved to be in command of the rebel forces, had massed three divisions of infantry -- Pegram's, Gordon's and Ramseur's -- at a concealed point threatening our extreme left. The two remaining divisions, Wharton's and Kershaw's, were moved from Fisher's Hill along the pike, threatening our centre.

Shortly before daylight this morning, while the army of the Shenandoah, dreamless of danger, was soundly sleeping, a feint picket assault was made on our right.

A rapid and continuous discharge of sentinel muskets extended from thence along our whole front toward the left, when suddenly, with scarcely a moment's warning, the rebel infantry, massed there the night before, advanced against General Crook's position in solid columns, pouring in a fierce fire on flank and front. Only a portion of our troops manned the breastworks when the assault commenced. It was so energetic and deadly as to break the lines at once. The men of both divisions were swept from their breastworks into which the enemy came flooding like a sea, swarming on, yelling, firing. Driving all before them, they entered the encampments in the rear of the works where soldiers, scarcely awakened, were actually rising from their blankets. To save the artillery at the breastworks became a desperate object when the assault was first discovered, but the nature of the ground rendered this next to impossible. Battery B, Sixth Pennsylvania, six guns was captured entire. By superhuman efforts all but one gun of the Fifth regular battery were saved, leaving seven guns in the hands of the enemy.

In the meanwhile the latter had still advanced, completely tearing the left flank of the army, and were nearing the pike on the heights above. The whole army was by this time aroused, wagons, ambulances and artillery were making for the rear.

The Nineteenth corps, which had stood firm during the assault on Crook, now found itself confronted by the Second division of the enemy, which had moved up the pike and attacked it fiercely in front and flank with musketry and artillery. Col. McCauley's brigade, of the Second division on the left, swung out of its position in the front to receive the flank fire of the foe. The assault increased in fierceness. The whole division reformed itself to meet the shock. The rebels advancing, mounted the breastworks in its front and with withering volleys forced it back in retreat.

The entire Nineteenth corps, abandoning all its works, now fought retreating and partially broken. The scenery of the field at this juncture was fairly appalling. The left of the army completely turned, half the Army of Western Virginia flying in dismay through the fog. Its camps, and the greater part of its camp material, in possession of the enemy, the remnant, together with part of the provisional division and Col. Kitching, which had been camped in the rear, fighting still for the possession of the pike.

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