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Virginia Civil War Battles - Page 12

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General Sheridan's wagons in the Shenandoah Valley, VirginiaSheridan's Valley Campaign (August-October 1864) - Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant's finally lost patience with Confederate and knew that Washington D.C. remained vulnerable. He found a new commander aggressive enough to defeat Early: Major General Philip Sheridan, the cavalry commander of the Army of the Potomac, who was given command of all forces in the area, calling them the Army of the Shenandoah. Sheridan initially started slowly, primarily because the impending presidential election of 1864 demanded a cautious approach, avoiding any disaster that might lead to the defeat of President Abraham Lincoln.

Guard Hill (August 16, 1864) - Also called the Battle of Front Royal and the Battle of Cedarville, this engagement occurred in Warren County. Confederate General Joseph Kershaw’s infantry division and General Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry, under overall command of Lieutenant General Richard Anderson (Army of Northern Virginia, I Corps) were sent from Petersburg to reinforce Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early's army in the Shenandoah Valley. At Front Royal on the August 16th, Union cavalry of Brigadier General Wesley Merritt’s division surprised the Confederate columns in mid-stream of the Shenandoah River, capturing about 300. The Confederates rallied and advanced, gradually driving the two Union brigades back to Cedarville. After dark, Merritt withdrew to Ninevah. The total estimated casualties in the inconclusive battle were 550.

Berryville (
September 3-4, 1864) - Taking place in Clarke County, Major General Philip Sheridan’s divisions marched south from Halltown, reaching Berryville on September 3rd. Happening upon elements of Union Brigadier General George Crook’s corps going into camp, Confederate General Joseph Kershaw’s infantry division attacked with limited results. During the night, Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early brought up his entire army but by daylight found General Sheridan’s position too strongly entrenched to assault. General Early withdrew after dark behind Opequon Creek. The inconclusive battle resulted in an estimated total casualties of 500.


Opequon (September 19, 1864) - Also called the Third Battle of Winchester, this engagement occurring in Frederick County, was the largest and most desperately contested battle in the Shenandoah Valley. Joseph Kershaw’s infantry division left Winchester to rejoin General Robert E. Lee's army at Petersburg, Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early renewed his raids on the B&O Railroad at Martinsburg, badly dispersing his four remaining infantry divisions. On September 19th, Union Major General Philip Sheridan advanced toward Winchester along the Berryville Pike with the VI and XIX Corps, crossing Opequon Creek. The Union advance was delayed long enough for Early to concentrate his forces to meet the main assault, which continued for several hours. Casualties were very heavy. The Confederate line was gradually driven back toward the town. In the mid-afternoon, Union Brigadier General George Crook’s VIII Corps and the cavalry turned the Confederate left flank. Early ordered a general retreat. Confederate Generals Robert Rodes and Archibald Godwin were killed, and Generals Fitzhugh Lee, William Terry, Edward Johnson, and John Wharton were wounded. Union General David A. Russell was killed, and Generals John B. McIntosh, Emery Upton, and and George Chapman wounded. Because of its size, intensity, and result, many historians consider this the most important conflict of the Shenandoah Valley. The Union victory resulted in estimated casualties of 5,020 Union and 3,610 Confederate.


Confedere prisoners at Fisherr's Hill, 1864Fisher's Hill (September 21-22, 1864) - This two day engagement took place in Shenandoah County. Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s army, bloodied by its defeat at Battle of Opequon on September 19th, took up a strong defensive position at Fisher’s Hill, south of Strasburg. On September 21st, the Union army advanced, driving back the skirmishers and capturing important high ground. On the 22nd, Union Brigadier General George Crook’s Corps moved along North Mountain to outflank Early and attacked about 4 pm. The Confederate cavalry offered little resistance, and the startled infantry were unable to face the attacking force. The Confederate defense collapsed from west to east as Major General Sheridan’s other corps joined in the assault. Early retreated to Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, opening the Valley to a Union “scorched earth” invasion. Mills and barns from Staunton to Strasburg were burned in what became known as the “Burning” or “Red October.” The Union victory resulted in estimated casualties of 528 Union and 1,235 Confederate.


Tom's Brook (October 9, 1864) - Also called the Battle of Woodstock Races, this engagement occurred in Shenandoah County. After his victory at Fisher’s Hill, Major General Philip Sheridan pursued Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s army army army up the Shenandoah Valley to near Staunton. On October 6th, Sheridan began withdrawing, as his cavalry burned everything that could be deemed of military significance, including barns and mills. Reinforced by Confederate General Joseph Kershaw’s division, General Early followed. Confederate Major General Thomas Rosser arrived from Petersburg to take command of General Fitz Lee’s cavalry division and harassed the retreating Federals. On October 9th, Union Brigadier General Alfred Torbert’s troopers turned on their pursuers, routing the divisions of Generals Thomas Rosser and Lundsford Lomax at Tom’s Brook. With this victory, the Union cavalry attained overwhelming superiority in the Shenandoah Valley. Estimated casualties included 57 Union and 350 Confederate.




Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864) - Also called the Battle of Belle Grove, this large engagement took place in Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren Counties. At dawn, on October 19, 1864, the Confederate Army of the Valley under Lieutenant General Jubal Early surprised the Federal army at Cedar Creek and routed the VIII and XIX Army Corps. Commander Major General Philip Sheridan arrived from Winchester to rally his troops, and, in the afternoon, launched a crushing counterattack, which recovered the battlefield. Sheridan’s victory at Cedar Creek broke the back of the Confederate army in the Shenandoah Valley. President Abraham Lincoln rode the momentum of Sheridan’s victories in the Valley and General William T. Sherman's successes in Georgia to re-election. The Union victory resulted in estimated casualties of 5,665 Union and 2,920 Confederate.

Philip SheridanSheridan's Expedition to Petersburg (March, 1865) - After the Battle of Cedar Creek ended large-scale combat in the Shenandoah Valley, both Union Major General Philip Sheridan and Confederate General Jubal Early remained in the Valley, although each saw their commands reduced as their remaining troops were called east to Petersburg.


Waynesboro (March 2, 1865) - This engagement took place in Augusta County. On February 27th, Major General Philip Sheridan with two cavalry divisions rode from Winchester up the Shenandoah Valley to Staunton. Turning east, the Federals encountered the last remnant of Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s army at Waynesboro on March 2nd. After a brief stand-off, a Federal attack rolled up Early’s right flank and scattered his small force. More than 1,500 Confederates surrendered. General Early and a few of his staff evaded capture. Union General Sheridan crossed the Blue Ridge to Charlottesville and then raided south, destroying the James River Canal locks near Goochland Court House. He joined forces with the Army of the Potomac near Petersburg on March 26th for the opening of the Appomattox Campaign. The Union victory resulted in a total estimated casualties of 1,800.


Appomattox Campaign (March-April 1865) - The Appomattox Campaign was a series of battles fought March 29-April 9, 1865, in Virginia that culminated in the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and the effective end of the Civil War.


Lewis' Farm (March 29, 1865) - Also known as the Battles of Quaker Road, Military Road, and Gravelly Road, this engagement occurred in Dinwiddie County. On March 29th, in the opening moves of Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant's spring offensive, General Philip Sheridan marched with the army’s cavalry followed by the V Corps toward Dinwiddie Court House to turn the right flank of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Petersburg defenses. The Union V Corps under Major General G.K. Warren crossed Rowanty Creek, moved up the Quaker Road toward the Boydton Plank Road intersection, and encountered Major General Bushrod Johnson's Confederate brigades. A sharp firefight forced the Confederates back to their entrenchments on the White Oak Road. The Union victory resulted in estimated casualties of 380 Union and 370 Confederate.


White Oak Road (March 31, 1865) - Known by several other names including the Battles of Hatcher’s Run, Gravelly Run, Boydton Plank Road, and White Oak Ridge, this engagement occurred in Dinwiddie County. On March 30th, Confederate General Robert E.Lee shifted reinforcements to meet the Federal movement to turn his right flank, placing Major General W.H. Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry divisions at Five Forks and transferring General George Pickett’s division from the Bermuda Hundred front to the extreme right. Union Major General G.K. Warren pushed the V Corps forward and entrenched a line to cover the Boydton Plank Road from its intersection with Dabney Mill Road south to Gravelly Run. Union Major General Romeyn B. Ayres' division advanced northwest toward White Oak Road. On March 31st, in combination with Major General Philip Sheridan’s thrust via Dinwiddie Court House, General Warren directed his corps against the Confederate entrenchments along White Oak Road, hoping to cut Lee’s communications with Pickett at Five Forks. The Union advance was stalled by a crushing counterattack directed by Major General Bushrod Johnson, but Warren’s position stabilized and his soldiers closed on the road by day’s end. This fighting set up the Confederate defeat at Five Forks on April 1st. The engagement resulted in estimated casualties of 1,870 Union and 800 Confederate.

Dinwiddie Court House (March 31, 1865) - Also taking place in Dinwiddie County, Major General Philip Sheridan undertook a flank march to turn Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Petersburg defenses on March 29th. A steady downpour turned the roads to mud, slowing the advance. On March 31st, Confederate Major General W.H. Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry and General George Pickett’s infantry division met the Union vanguard north and northwest of Dinwiddie Court House and drove it back, temporarily stalling Sheridan’s movement. With
Union infantry approaching from the east, Pickett withdrew before daybreak to entrench at the vital road junction at Five Forks. Lee ordered Pickett to hold this intersection at all hazard. The Confederate victory resulted in a total estimated 821 casualties.


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