The battle of Cedar Creek was a milestone in the Shenandoah Valley campaign but we simply call it Cedar Creek.
While the battle did not take place in Prince William County, it is one our annual re-enactment events, and its place in the Civil War history of Virginia has become as prominent and familiar as that of New Market, Spotsylvania or Chancellorsville.
During the Civil War Sesquicentennial, we are participating in every major commemorative event held in the state.
The Battle of Cedar Creek re-enactments are even more important since it was discovered that several of our ancestors participated in theShenandoah Valley campaign.
It is written that the Battle of Cedar Creek, which stretched over two days in the autumn of 1864, was one of the most remarkable battles of the Civil War both in it's brutality and tactical strategies reminiscent of Jackson at Chancellorsville.
Although it ended with a victory for the Union Army, the battle of Cedar Creek started with a surprise attack. Albeit a "thin grey line", General Jubal Early's forces attacked before daylight, in an October mountain mist, after crossing the Shenandoah River. Ever heard a real rebel yell?
Union troops, asleep at the time, were totally unprepared for the attack.
After reading many accounts of the battle of Cedar Creek, this poem by William Henry Harrison Polhamus, a veteran of the Second Ohio Cavalry, best expresses the events of October 18-19, 1864 at Cedar Creek. It is only a poem but the mental picture left by the words leave nothing to the imagination and carry the reader directly to that fall morning in the Valley.
Confronting each other like tigers at bay.
But give blow for blow to the ones that attack.
Shot and shell, grape and shrapnel are filling the air,
Our left, and left-center, are fast losing ground ;
The sight was appalling to those who remained
The rebels elated at what they have done.
But break on the reefs they submerge.
But here in conclusion permit me to say.
Several of our ancestors participated in the Shenandoah Valley campaign wearing Union Blue.
Today, their 4th great-grandson, a son of Virginia, is wearing Confederate Gray during this re-enactment.
Be sure to visit the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation Facebook page.