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October 19 1864


In October of 1864 the Federal Army of the Shenandoah, having soundly defeated the Confederate Army of the Valley at Winchester (September 19) and again at Fisher’s Hill (September 22), chased the Confederate forces out of the Shenandoah Valley and either burned or appropriated all food reserves and live-stock between Staunton and Strasburg. Thinking he had thus finally denied the Valley to the Confederacy – both as food source and as an invasion route to the North – Major General Philip Sheridan left his army camped along Cedar Creek at Middletown and went to Washington for consultations.

On the morning of October 19, Lieutenant General Jubal Early, with about 17,000 hungry and poorly equipped soldiers, launched a desperate surprise attack on the sleeping Federal army of at least 30,000. Attacking from east, instead of the south, he drove the Federals from their camps, past Belle Grove plantation and through Middletown. At midway he halted his forces at the northern edge of Middletown to consolidate his victory and regroup. Hearing the sound of battle, Sheridan made a hard ride from Winchester (later celebrated in poetry and song), found his army along a ridge north of Middletown, rallied his men and counterattacked, sweeping the Confederates from the field.

The Federal victory ended Jubal Early’s career, lifted the pall of war-weariness from the North, helped assure the re-election of President Abraham Lincoln and freed Sheridan and his army to participate in the final siege of Richmond. In addition, it claimed the lives of two of the brightest stars of their respective causes – Stephen Dodson Ramseur of North Carolina and Charles Russell Lowell of Massachusetts – while sparing those of two future U.S. Presidents (Rutheford B. Hayes and William McKinley) and future legend George Armstrong Custer. 


Every October since 1990, on the weekend closest to the anniversary of the October 19 battle, the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation sponsors one of the premiere living history events in the country. The fine October weather in the Shenandoah Valley, the spectacular colors of the fall leaves and the rare opportunity to re-enact a battle on the actual site have made this event a favourite among reenactors and spectators alike. While thousands of reenactors take to the pristine fields to re-create the events of that dramatic 1864 day, extensive living history displays and programs bring to life the realities of America’s agonizing Civil War.

Proceeds from the event made a major contribution to the purchaseof the land, and continue to fund the renovation of the Heater House, the interpretation of the battlefield with trails and signs (to make it accessible to the public at all time) as well as preparations for the purchase of more battlefield land.

For a schedule of events for this year’s re-enactment, to order advance spectator tickets or to register as a reenactor, write the Foundation or visit the internet webpage:


Box 229 – Middletown, VA 22645

Fax 540-869-1438 



Chartered as a non-profit, tax-exempt foundation in 1988, the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation (CCBF) made his first land purchase of 158 acres to prevent the development of an industrial park on the ground surrounding the Heater House. In 1996 the Foundation retired this debt, and then purchased a large commercial building which now houses the Visitor Center, museum, book shop, and administrative offices. In 2000 CCBF paid off his debt on the Visitor Center and adjoining 15 acres. The debt on recently purchased 135 acre earthworks property has been reduced from $ 1,205,000 to $ 325,000.

308 acres of the Cedar Creek battlefield are held by the Foundation, however the Cedar Creek Hearthworks are still at Risk!

Please help save the trenches by donating to the land acquisition fund.

Make your tax-deductible contributions payable to:


Box 229 – Middletown, VA 22645

Fax 540-869-1438

·        “Never since the world was created was such a crushing defeat turned into a such a splendid victory as at Cedar Kreek.” – Capt. S.E.Howard 8th Vermont Infantry.

·        “This is glory enough for one day” – Confederate General Jubal Early after routing the Federal at Cedar Creek October 19, 1864

·        “Disaster has been converted into a splendid victory” – Major General Philip Sheridan after routing the Confederates at Cedar Creek

·        “When the 15 hours of carnage had cheased, and the sun had gone down, spreading the gloom of a chilly October night over the wide extended field, there remained a scene more horrid than usual. The dead and dying of the two armies were commingled. Many of the wounded had dragged themselves to the streams in search of the first want of a wounded man-water… Cries of agony from the suffering victims were heard in all directions, and the moans of wounded animals added much to the horros of the night.”  - Col.Joseph Warren Keifer, USA