"Men seemed more like demons..."
Shrouded by the early morning fog of October 19, 1864, the Confederate Army of the Valley unleashed a savage surprise attack on the Federals camped along Cedar Creek. With the Union 8th Corps in full rout, Col. Stephen Thomas's brigade was ordered forward to stem the Rebel tidal wave. This was, for all intent and purposes, considered a suicide mission. In the brutal hand-to-hand fighting, the 8th Vermont lost 106 men out of 159 engaged. Only later in the battle would the military value of this great sacrifice become known.
By the time the sun rose, the battle seemed all but over—that is, of course, until Phil Sheridan arrived. Arriving from Winchester, the Federal commander rallied his troops and launched an attack of his own that broke the Rebel force, secured the Shenandoah Valley, and helped solidify President Lincoln’s reelection.
The Civil War Trust now has the opportunity to save two key portions of this historic Shenandoah Valley battlefield. These two parcels, totaling 77 acres, include the very ground where the 8th Vermont was sacrificed and where Phil Sheridan rallied his broken army.
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by Jonathan Noyalas
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