On October 19, 1864, after a night march to Cedar Creek, Confederate General Jubal A. Early attacked Union troops occupying Belle Grove Plantation and drove them north from their camp. Many of the cold, barefoot Confederates, starving after Sheridan's 'Burning' of the Valley, fell out of ranks and ransacked the Union camp for food, shoes, coats and blankets. When Sheridan received word of the attack, he raced back to Belle Grove from Winchester on his horse Rienzi, rallied his troops and launched a counter-attack. Disorganized and exhausted after the morning's battle and raid, the Confederates were driven back by the Union cavalry. With this victory, Sheridan finally brought the Valley under Union control and helped win a second term for President Abraham Lincoln.

Visiting the Cedar Creek Battlefield

Your best bet to tour the Battle of Cedar Creek is to start at the National Park Service Visitor Contact Station. The staffed park office features exhibits, ranger programs and activities and a book shop. Here you can pick up a park brochure and map as well as the Official Battle of Cedar Creek Self Guided Auto Tour and an accompanying CD of a Battle of Cedar Creek podcast. The scenic 18-mile tour has 10 stops and includes an easy, 1/2-mile round trip walk along Union entrenchments at Stop 5 behind the New York Monument. In addition, in 2016, the Morning Attack Trails were added at the Vermont Monument located along the Valley Pike. A kiosk at the car park contains a trail map indicating stops along the trail. The Morning Attack Trails brochure is available online and in print at the park office and provides details of battle actions at the trail stops. The trails consist of mowed grass track that is hilly in places. Benches are provided for sitting and relaxing and enjoying the views. The 8th Vermont Monument Trail leads to the Vermont monument. From there, the trail splits in two with the Thomas Brigade Loop Trail on the right, and the Hayes-Ramseur Loop Trail to the left.

An app is also available from Civil War Trust that features driving tours of both the Confederate Attack and Union Counterattack. This excellent resource contains driving directions to all stops as well as readings, photographs and interactive media describing the battle actions. The combined tour covers 17.5 miles and is similar to the National Park Service tour. A Self-Guided Tour: The Battle of Cedar Creek by J.W.A. Whitehorne is available for purchase at Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation. The booklet provides a well-organized and thorough description of the battle including background history, maps, photos, chronology, order of battle, driving directions and detailed descriptions of the battle actions at each of the 12 stops.

All tours pass by Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, Belle Grove Plantation, and Hupps Hill Civil War Park. Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation offers information, tours and events and houses a book store, gift shop and reenactor clothing and supply store. Belle Grove Plantation served as Union headquarters during the Battle of Cedar Creek and offers a video, tours and events and a museum store. Hupps Hill Civil War Park is situated at the site of a mile-long natural fortification that was used by both sides during the Battle of Cedar Creek as a camp and observation area and features a walking trail along well-preserved earthworks.

The nearby Fishers Hill Battlefield Tour begins at a wayside about 8 miles south of Belle Grove and is well worth a visit if you are in the area. Opequon Battlefield is located about 20 miles north of Belle Grove (about 20 minutes via I-81) and is also well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Visit Civil War Trust and Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation for battle details and information about the preservation of this battlefield.

Pictured at the top: When the battle broke out, Union General Sheridan was staying in Winchester 15 miles north of Cedar Creek. On the morning of the battle, Sheridan heard the sound of distant artillery fire and began what would later become a famous ride back to his army, arriving late morning near this spot along Meadow Brook.

cedar creek belle grove plantation

Built in the late 1700's by Revolutionary War hero Isaac Hite and his wife, James Madison's sister Nelly, Belle Grove Plantation served as Union headquarters and as a hospital for both sides during the Battle of Cedar Creek.

cedar creek battlefield mt carmel cemetery

Taking cover behind the monuments, Union troops held the high ground at Mt. Carmel Cemetery and fended off Confederate infantry and artillery attacks.

cedar creek battlefield meadow brook

Union encampments were located near Meadow Brook.

cedar creek ramseurs morning attack trail barn

Opened in 2016, The Morning Attack Trails preserve and interpret Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early's morning attack on the Union camp at Cedar Creek.