History Under Siege - 2009 Most Endangered Battlefields
The Battle of Cedar Creek
In the autumn of 1864, Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan inflicted a series of punishing blows on his adversaries in the Shenandoah Valley, a region known as “the breadbasket of the Confederacy.” By mid-October, it seemed the end was near for his opponent, Lt. Gen. Jubal Early. But the Confederate army was not ready to give up and launched an audacious attack on isolated portions of Sheridan’s force.
After a daring night march, Early’s Confederates burst out of the foggy dawn near Cedar Creek and routed Sheridan’s troops. Sheridan, however, arrived from his headquarters in Winchester just in time to rally his troops and launch a devastating counterattack. Not only did Sheridan’s destructive assault win the battle, but it also shattered any hope of further Confederate offensives in the Valley.
Limestone mining operations across portions of the Cedar Creek Battlefield have long been one of the most dramatic and visible threats facing any Civil War battlefield. Heavy machinery and slag piles are already visible from many battlefield locations, including Belle Grove Plantation. Despite vehement public opposition and the local planning department’s recommendation, in May 2008 the Frederick County Board of Supervisors rezoned 394 acres for extractive manufacturing, greatly increasing the size of the mine and threatening to destroy significant sections of the northern part of the battlefield. The Cedar Creek and Belle Grove Coalition — made up of local, regional, state and national preservation groups — continues to pursue all available means to reverse this decision before mining can expand in earnest. Cedar Creek is also one of approximately 15 battlefields across Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia threatened by a proposed network of high-voltage electric transmission lines. These controversial power lines would have a negative impact on hundreds of acres of land across the region under conservation easement.
CWSAC has classified Cedar Creek as a Priority I, Class A battlefield — its highest designation.