At 4.00 am on the morning ofn 19 October, 1864, Major General Sheridan was returning from a visit to Winchester, Virginia, when he heard the sound of battle in the direction of Cedar Creek. He had left his camp at Cedar Creek because he believed that, after a series of Union victories in the Shenandoah Valley, the Confederate army no longer posed a threat. He sped as quickly as he could to the field (romanticized as ‘Sheridan’s Ride’) where he found his own troops being defeated by Confederate forces. Rallying his beaten and retreating forces (“none behaved more gallantly or exhibited greater courage than those who returned from the rear determined to reoccupy their lost camp”), he ordered a counterattack at 4.00 pm, with Union cavalry and his seven divisions. When Early’s left flank began to crumble the Confederates panicked and Union forces were able to sweep the six Confederate divisions southwards and into full retreat. The Union soldiers recaptured their lost artillery, in addition to taking 24 Confederate canons. This battle was the second bloodiest in the Shenandoah Valley during the US Civil War and resulted in 5,700 Union casualties and 2,900 Confederate casualties.
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