Early on a foggy morning on 19 October 1864, Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early launched a devastating attack against Major General Sheridan’s seven Union divisions, which were encamped at Cedar Creek, near Middletown. Sheridan was absent and Major General Horatio Wright was acting commander. Three Confederate Cavalry divisions proceeded from Strasburg at the foot of Massanutten Mountain to face Cedar Creek on its eastern flank. Meanwhile Confederate General Wharton’s division advanced, stopping at a crossing near the Union 19th Corps. Confederate General Joseph Kershaw positioned himself near Colonel Thorburn’s division, still sleeping at this early hour. The heavy fog obscured the Confederate approach and once the assault started stunned Union soldiers spilled from their tents half-dressed, and shot blindly at the Confederates from point blank range, with several divisions, including Brigadier General John Kitching’s, destroyed. By 7.30, several Union divisions had begun to muster a counterattack.
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