The Battle of Cedar Creek: Self-Guided Tour

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Categories: History
Publisher: | Date published: 09/26/2005


On October 19, 1864, the last great battle of the Civil War in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley took place along Cedar Creek between the towns of Strasburg and Middletown. Beginning with a brilliant Confederate surprise attack on Major General Philip Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah but culminating in the Union rout of the forces commanded by Lieutenant General Jubal Early, it marked the end of Confederate power in the Valley, and its timing three weeks before the national elections unquestionably influenced the magnitude of President Lincoln's reelection. This work is intended to introduce the Battle of Cedar Creek to those not yet aware of its significance and to help those already interested to better understand the fierce struggle which raged over this quiet farmland. Although scarcely in a class with Antietam and Gettysburg or other greater Civil War clashes, this battle nevertheless continues to fascinate military analysts because its contained scope readily allows students to grasp important lessons in leadership, tactical planning, and the role of courage and military professionalism under fire. One noteworthy participant in the Battle of Cedar Creek was Brigadier-General George A. Custer, whose whose cavalry division played a major role in Early's ultimate defeat. Of particular interest are the 80 detailed after-action reports by both Union and Confederate officers included in this edition.