Sheridan's Report on the Battle of Cedar Creek
The following is General Philip H. Sheridan's correspondence with Ulysses S. Grant, commander of all Union forces, following the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864. He makes mention of his famous ride but primarily revels in the destruction of General Early's Confederate force.
CEDAR CREEK, October 19, 1864 - 10 p. m.
(Received 3 p. m. 20th.)
I have the honor to report that my army at Cedar Creek was attacked this morning before daylight and my left was turned and driven in confusion; in fact, most of the line was driven in confusion, with the loss of twenty pieces or artillery. I hastened from Winchester, where I was on my return from Washington, and joined the army between Middletown and Newtown, having been driven back about four miles. I here took the affair in hand and quickly united the corps, formed a compact line of battle just in time to repulse an attack of the enemy's, which was handsomely done at about 1 p. m. At 3 p. m., after some changes of the cavalry from the left to the right flank, I attacked with great vigor, driving and routing the enemy, capturing, according to last reports, forty-three pieces of artillery and very many prisoners. I do not yet know the number of my casualties or the losses of the enemy. Wagon trains, ambulances, and caissons in large numbers, are in our possession. They also burned some of their trains. General Ramseur is a prisoner in our hands, severely, and perhaps mortally, wounded. I have to regret the loss of General Bidwell, killed, and Generals Wright, Grover, and Ricketts wounded - Wright slightly wounded. Affairs at times looked badly, but by the gallantry of our brave officers and men disaster has been converted into a splendid victory. Darkness again intervened to shut off greater results. I now occupy Strasburg. As soon as obtained I will send you further particulars.
P. H. SHERIDAN,
CEDAR CREEK, October 20, 1864 - 11.30 a. m.
(Received 12 m. 21st.)
We have again been favored by a great victory - a victory won from disaster by the gallantry of our officers and men. The attack on the enemy was made about 3 p. m. by a left half-wheel of the whole line, with a division of cavalry turning each flank of the enemy, the whole line advancing. The enemy, after a stubborn resistance, broke and fled, and were pushed with vigor. The artillery captured will probably be over fifty pieces - this, of course, includes what was captured from our troops in the early morning. At least 1,600 prisoners have been brought in; also wagons and ambulances in large numbers. This morning the cavalry made a dash at Fisher's Hill and carried it, the enemy having fled during the night, leaving only a small rear guard. I have to regret the loss of many valuable officers killed and wounded; among them Colonel Joseph Thoburn, commanding division of Crook's command, killed; Colonel C. R. Lowell, commanding brigade, wounded; Colonel R. S. Mackenzie, commanding brigade, wounded severely; would not leave the field. I cannot yet give exact details. Many of our men captured by the enemy in the morning have made their escape and are coming in. Ramseur, commanding division in Early's army, died this morning.
P. H. SHERIDAN,
CEDAR CREEK, October 21, 1864 - 4 p. m.
(Received 6 p. m. 23d.)
I pursued the routed forces of the enemy nearly to Mount Jackson, which point he reached during the night of the 19th and 20th without an organized regiment of his army. From the accounts of our prisoners who have escaped and citizens the rout was complete. About 2,000 of the enemy broke an made their way down through the mountains on the left. For then miles on the line of retreat the road and country was covered with small-arms, thrown away by the flying rebels, and other debris. Forty-eight pieces of captured artillery are now at my headquarters. I think that not less than 300 wagons and ambulances were either captured or destroyed. The accident of the morning turned to out advantage as much as though the whole movement had been planned. The only regret I have is the capture, in the early morning, of from 800 to 1,000 of our men. General, I want Getty, of the Sixth Corps, and the brave boys, Merritt and Custer, promoted by brevet. When I attacked the enemy Merritt and Custer, under the direction of Torbert, fiercely attacked the enemy's flanks, and when he broke closed in after dark and secured the artillery, trains, &c. My loss in killed and wounded will be between 3,000 and 4,000. I am now sending to the War Department ten battle-falls. The loss of artillery in the morning was 7 from Crook, 11 from Emory, 6 from Wright. From all that I can learn I think that Early's re-enforcements could not be less than 12,000 men.
P. H. SHERIDAN,