Battle of Cedar Mountain

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Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia

Battle of Cedar Mountain

Other Names: Slaughter’s Mountain, Cedar Run

Location: Culpeper County, Virginia 

Campaign: Northern Virginia Campaign (June-September 1862)

Date(s): August 9, 1862

Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks [US]; Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson [CS]

Forces Engaged: 24,898 total (US 8,030; CS 16,868)

Estimated Casualties: 2,707 total (US 1,400; CS 1,307)

Result(s): Confederate victory

Description: Maj. Gen. John Pope was placed in command of the newly constituted Army of Virginia on June 26. Gen. Robert E. Lee responded to Pope’s dispositions by dispatching Maj. Gen. T.J. Jackson with 14,000 men to Gordonsville in July. Jackson was later reinforced by A.P. Hill’s division. In early August, Pope marched his forces south into Culpeper County with the objective of capturing the rail junction at Gordonsville. On August 9, Jackson and Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks’s corps tangled at Cedar Mountain with the Federals gaining an early advantage. A Confederate counterattack led by A.P. Hill repulsed the Federals and won the day. Confederate general William Winder was killed. This battle shifted fighting in Virginia from the Peninsula to Northern Virginia, giving Lee the initiative. 

Battle of Cedar Mountain Map
Battle of Cedar Mountain Map.gif
Civil War Cedar Mountain Map

Battle of Cedar Mountain Map
Battle of Cedar Mountain Map.jpg
Civil War Cedar Mountain Battlefield Map

Introduction: The Battle of Cedar Mountain, also known as Slaughter's Mountain or Cedar Run, took place on August 9, 1862, in Culpeper County, Virginia, as part of the American Civil War. Union forces under Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks attacked Confederate forces under Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson near Cedar Mountain as the Confederates marched on Culpeper Court House to forestall a Union advance into central Virginia. After nearly being driven from the field in the early part of the battle, a Confederate counterattack broke the Union lines resulting in a Confederate victory. The battle was the first combat of the Northern Virginia Campaign.

Northern Virginia Campaign
Northern Virginia Campaign.gif
(L) Union General John Pope and (R) Confederate General Robert E. Lee

(Photograph) John Pope (L) and Robert E. Lee (R), opposing commanding generals of the Northern Virginia Campaign.

Setting the Stage: On June 26, Maj. Gen. John Pope was placed in command of the newly constituted Union Army of Virginia. Pope deployed his army in an arc across Northern Virginia. Its right flank, under Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel, was positioned at Sperryville on the Blue Ridge Mountains, its center, under Maj. Gen Nathaniel P. Banks, was located at Little Washington and its left flank under Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell was at Falmouth on the Rappahannock River. Part of Banks's corps, Brig. Gen. Samuel W. Crawford's brigade and Brig. Gen John P. Hatch's cavalry, were stationed 20 miles (32 km) beyond the Union line, at Culpeper Court House.
 
General Robert E. Lee responded to Pope's dispositions by dispatching Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson with 14,000 men to Gordonsville on July 13. Jackson was later reinforced with another 10,000 men by Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill's division on July 27. On August 6, Pope marched his forces south into Culpeper County with the objective of capturing the rail junction at Gordonsville, in an attempt to draw Confederate attention away from Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's withdrawal from the Virginia Peninsula.

Cedar Mountain and Stonewall Jackson
Cedar Mountain Battle Historical Marker.jpg
Cedar Mountain Battle Historical Marker

Battle of Cedar Mountain History
Battle of Cedar Mountain History.jpg
Civil War Cedar Mountain Battlefield Marker

In response to this threat, Jackson chose to go on the offensive, attacking Pope's vanguard under Banks, before the entire Army of Virginia could be brought to bear on his position at Gordonsville. After defeating Banks, he then hoped to move on Culpeper Court House, 26 miles (42 km) north of Gordonsville and the focal point of the Union arc about Northern Virginia, to keep Pope's army from uniting. This would allow Jackson to fight and hopefully defeat each of the Union Corps separately, as he had done during the Valley Campaign. Accordingly, Jackson set out on August 7 for Culpeper. The cavalry under Brig. Gen. Beverly Robertson was sent ahead to dispatch the Federal cavalry guarding the fords of the Rapidan River and occupying Madison Court House, threatening the Confederates left flank as they marched northward. This task was easily accomplished by Robertson on August 8.
 
Jackson's march on Culpeper Court House was hindered by the severe heat wave over Virginia at the beginning of August, as well as by his characteristic secrecy about his plan, which caused confusion among his divisional commanders as to the exact route of advance. As such, the head of his column had only progressed 8 miles (13 km) by the evening of August 8. The Federal Cavalry, though easily dispatched by Robertson, quickly returned to Pope and alerted him of the Confederate advance. In response, Pope ordered Sigel to Culpeper Court House to reinforce Banks, and Banks was ordered to maintain a defensive line on a ridge above Cedar Run, 7 miles (11 km) south of Culpeper Court House.

Battle:
 
Confederate Position
 
On the morning of August 9, Jackson's army crossed to the Rapidan River into Culpeper County, led by Maj. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's division, followed by Brig. Gen. Charles S. Winder's division, with Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill's division in the rear. Just before noon, Brig. Gen. Jubal Early's brigade, the vanguard of Ewell's division, came upon Federal cavalry and artillery occupying the ridge above Cedar Run, just to the north-west of Cedar Mountain. Early brought up his guns and an artillery duel began between the opposing forces as Early's infantry formed a line on the eastern side of the Culpeper-Orange Turnpike (present day U.S. Route 15) on the high ground on the opposite bank of Cedar Run.[9] As the rest of Ewell's division arrived they formed on Early's right, anchored against the northern slope of the mountain and deployed there six guns on its ridge. Winder's division formed to Early's left, on the west side of the Turnpike, with Brig. Gen. William Taliaferro's brigade closest to Early, and Col. Thomas S. Garnett's on the far Confederate left in a wheat field at the edge of a woods. Winder's artillery filled a gap on the road between the two division, the Stonewall Brigade, led by Col. Charles R. Ronald, was brought up in support behind the guns. A.P Hill's division, still marching up the Turnpike, was ordered to stand in reserve on the Confederate left.
 
Union Position
 
The Federals formed a line on a ridge above Cedar Run, with Brig. Gen. Samuel W. Crawford's brigade on forming the Union right in a field across from Garnett and Brig. Gen. Christopher C. Auger's division on the Union left to the east of the Turnpike. Brig. Gen. John W. Geary's brigade was anchored on the Turnpike opposing Taliaferro, while Brig. Gen Henry Prince's brigade formed the far left opposite Ewell. Brig. Gen. George S. Greene's understrength brigade (only two regiments) was kept in reserve in the rear.

Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia
Civil War Battle of Cedar Mountain.jpg
Civil War Battle of Cedar Mountain Memorial

Union Attack
 
A little before 5:00 p.m. as the artillery fight began to wane, Confederate Brig. Gen. Charles S. Winder fell mortally wounded. He had been ill that day and was taken onto the field in an ambulance wagon. While attempting to direct his troops, he was struck by a shell fragment. Winder's left arm and side were torn to pieces, and he died a few hours later. As a result, command of the division devolved on William Taliaferro, who was completely ignorant of Jackson's battle plan. Dispositions on his part of the field were still incomplete; Garnett's brigade was isolated from the main Confederate line, with its flank dangerously exposed to the woods. The Stonewall Brigade was to have come up to support them, but remained a half mile distant behind the artillery. Before leadership could properly be restored to the division the Union attack began. Geary and Prince were sent against the Confederate right. The Federal advance was swift and threatened to break the Confederate line, prompting Early to come galloping to the front from Cedar Mountain where he was directing troop dispositions. Early's stabilizing presence and the raking fire of the Confederate guns halted the Union advance on the Confederate right. On the left Crawford attacked Winder's division, sending one brigade directly at the Confederate line and another brigade through the woods on a flanking movement. The Federals came from the woods directly into the flank of the 1st Virginia Infantry, who under the pressure from attack on two fronts broke for the rear. The Federals pushed on, not waiting to reform their lines, rolling through the outflanked 42nd Virginia until they found themselves in Taliaferro's and the artillery's rear. The Stonewall Brigade came up and was swept aside by Crawford's troops before it had a chance to react. Jackson ordered the batteries withdrawn before they were captured, but Taliaferro and Early's left were hit hard by the Union advance and threatened to break.

Battle of Cedar Mountain Map
Battle of Cedar Mountain Map.jpg
Civil War Cedar Mountain Battlefield Map

Battle of Cedar Mountain Map
Cedar Mountain Historical Battlefield Map.jpg
Cedar Mountain Historical Battlefield Map

Confederate Counterattack
 
At this dire point, Gen. Jackson rode to that part of the field to rally the men and came upon his old brigade finally being brought up to reinforce the line. Intending to inspire the troops there, he attempted to brandish his sword; however, due to the infrequency with which he drew it, it had rusted in its scabbard and he was unable to dislodge it. Undaunted, he unbuckled the sword from his belt and waved it, scabbard and all, over his head. He then grabbed a battle flag from a retreating standard bearer and yelled at his men to rally around him. The Stonewall Brigade, heartened by their commander, launched into the Union troops and drove them back. By this point, Banks's men were becoming tired and disorganized, with their ammunition nearly gone. Without any support, his men had been unable to follow up on their initial success. In their zeal, the Stonewall Brigade pursued the Federals as they fell back, but soon found themselves beyond the Confederate line and without support. The Federals reformed and attacked, driving the 4th and 27th Virginia back. But the actions of the Stonewall Brigade gave the Confederate line time to reform and A.P Hill's troops to come up and fill the gaps from Winder's broken regiments. Jackson ordered Hill and Ewell to advance. He encountered Brig. Gen. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch (a career politician) making a lengthy speech to his troops, and urged him to press forward. The Union right immediately collapsed. Ewell, having difficulty silencing his guns, was delayed, but the Union left began to waver at the sight of Crawford's retreat and were finally broken by a charge down Cedar Mountain by Brig. Gen. Isaac R. Trimble's brigade.

Cedar Mountain & Hand-to-Hand Fighting
Civil War Battle of Cedar Mountain.jpg
Civil War Battle of Cedar Mountain

Confederate Pursuit
 
Despite bringing up Greene's reserve brigade in support, by 7 p.m. the Union line was in full retreat. In a last-ditch effort to help cover his infantry's retreat, Banks sent two squadrons of cavalry at the Confederate line. They were met with a devastating volley from the Confederate infantry posted behind a fence on the road, allowing only 71 of 174 to escape. The Confederate infantry and Brig. Gen William E. Jones's 7th Virginia Cavalry hotly pursued the retreating Federals, nearly capturing Banks and Pope, who were at their headquarters a mile behind the Federal line. After a mile-and-a-half of pursuit, Jackson grew weary as darkness set in, as he was unsure of the location of the rest of Pope's army. Finally, several Union infantrymen captured by the 7th Virginia informed the Confederates that Pope was bringing Sigel forward to reinforce Banks. Accordingly, Jackson called off the pursuit and by around 10 p.m the fighting had ceased. By this point, Brig. Gen. James Ricketts's division of McDowell's corps was arriving, which effectively covered Banks's retreat.
 
Aftermath: Losses were high in the battle: Union casualties of 2,353 (314 killed, 1,445 wounded, 594 missing), Confederate 1,338 (231 killed, 1,107 wounded).* Crawford's brigade had lost over 50% of its total strength, including most of its officers. Prince's and Geary's brigades suffered 30–40% casualty rates. Both generals were wounded, and Prince was also captured. Confederate Brig. Gen. Charles S. Winder was mortally wounded by a shell.
 
*Hearn, Chester. The Civil War: Virginia. London: Salamander Books, 2005. ISBN 1-84065-558-5. (National Park Service, however, places the Union casualty figures much lower.)
 
For two days, Jackson maintained his position south of Cedar Run on the western slope of the mountain, waiting for a Federal attack that did not come. Finally, receiving news that all of Pope's army had arrived at Culpeper Court House, on August 12, Jackson fell back on Gordonsville to a more defensive position behind the Rapidan River.
 
Weather and poor communication with his divisional commanders had robbed Jackson of the initiative in the fight. Still expecting to face the same cautious opponent from the Valley, he was taken by surprise and very nearly driven from the field. Excellent commanding by the Confederates at the crucial moment of the battle and the fortuitous arrival of Hill staved off defeat, eventually allowing their numerical superiority to drive the Federals from the field. For his part, Banks, having been soundly defeated by Jackson in the Valley, was anxious to make up for previous losses. Rather than fighting a defensive battle from a strong position because he was outnumbered 2 to 1, giving time for the rest of Pope's army to arrive, he decided to take the initiative and attack Jackson before he could fully form his lines. The bold move very nearly paid off, but in the end he was again defeated by his old foe.
 
With Jackson on the loose, wreaking havoc against Union forces, General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck became apprehensive and called off Pope's advance on Gordonsville, thereby giving Lee the initiative in the Northern Virginia Campaign. The battle effectively shifted fighting in Virginia from the Virginia Peninsula into northern Virginia.

Battle of Cedar Mountain Monument
Civil War Historical Marker.jpg
Civil War Historical Marker

(Right) Battle of Cedar Mountain historical marker. Generals Pope and Jackson. "Stonewall" Jackson is said to have first drawn his sword at this battle. Confederate victory.
 
Confederate Army Order of Battle

Left Wing, Army of Northern Virginia

MG Thomas J. Jackson

Division

Brigade

Regiments and Others

Ewell’s Division
     MG Richard S. Ewell

Early’s Brigade


   BG Jubal A. Early

  • 13th Virginia Infantry
  • 25th Virginia Infantry
  • 31st Virginia Infantry
  • 52nd Virginia Infantry
  • 58th Virginia Infantry
  • 12th Georgia

Hay’s Brigade


   Col Henry Forno

  • 5th Louisiana
  • 6th Louisiana
  • 7th Louisiana
  • 8th Louisiana
  • 14th Louisiana

Trimble’s Brigade


   BG Isaac R. Trimble

  • 15th Alabama
  • 21st Georgia
  • 21st North Carolina

Artillery


   A.R. Courtney

  • D’Aquin’s (La.) Battery
  • Brown’s (Md.) Battery
  • Dement’s (Md.) Battery
  • Latimer’s (Va.) Battery
  • Bedford (Va.) Artillery

Light Division
   MG A.P. Hill

Branch’s Brigade


   BG Lawrence O'Bryan Branch

  • 7th North Carolina
  • 18th North Carolina
  • 28th North Carolina
  • 33rd North Carolina
  • 37th North Carolina

Archer’s Brigade


   BG James J. Archer

  • 19th Georgia
  • 1st Tennessee
  • 7th Tennessee
  • 14th Tennessee
  • 5th Alabama Battalion

Thomas’s Brigade


   BG Edward L. Thomas

  • 14th Georgia
  • 35th Georgia
  • 45th Georgia
  • 49th Georgia

Gregg’s Brigade


   BG Maxcy Gregg

  • 1st South Carolina
  • 1st South Carolina (Orr’s) Rifles
  • 12th South Carolina
  • 13th South Carolina
  • 14th South Carolina

Starke’s Brigade


   BG William E. Starke

  • 1st Louisiana
  • 2nd Louisiana
  • 9th Louisiana
  • 10th Louisiana
  • 15th Louisiana

Field’s Brigade


   BG Charles W. Field

  • 40th Virginia Infantry
  • 47th Virginia Infantry
  • 55th Virginia Infantry
  • 22nd Virginia Infantry Battalion

Pender’s Brigade


   BG William D. Pender

  • 16th North Carolina
  • 22nd North Carolina
  • 34th North Carolina
  • 38th North Carolina

Artillery


   R. Lindsay Walker

  • Latham’s (N.C.) Battery
  • Pee Dee (S.C.) Artillery
  • Fredericksburg (Va.) Artillery
  • Letcher (Va.) Artillery
  • Middlesex (Va.) Artillery
  • Purcell (Va.) Artillery

Jackson’s Division
     BG Charles S. Winder (mw)
     BG William B. Taliaferro

Stonewall Brigade


   Col Charles A. Ronald

  • 2nd Virginia Infantry
  • 4th Virginia Infantry
  • 5th Virginia Infantry
  • 27th Virginia Infantry
  • 33rd Virginia Infantry

Second Brigade


   Col T.S. Garnett

  • 21st Virginia Infantry
  • 42nd Virginia Infantry
  • 48th Virginia Infantry
  • 1st Virginia (Irish) Battalion

Third Brigade


   Col Alexander G. Taliaferro

  • 47th Alabama
  • 48th Alabama
  • 10th Virginia Infantry
  • 23rd Virginia Infantry
  • 37th Virginia Infantry

Fourth Brigade


   BG Alexander R. Lawton

  • 13th Georgia
  • 26th Georgia
  • 31st Georgia
  • 38th Georgia
  • 60th Georgia
  • 61st Georgia

Artillery


   Maj R. Snowden Andrews (w)

  • Alleghany (Va.) Artillery
  • Hampden (Va.) Artillery
  • Rockbridge (Va.) Artillery

Cavalry

Brigades

Regiments and batteries

Robertson's Brigade


   BG Beverly H. Robertson

  • 6th Virginia Cavalry
  • 7th Virginia Cavalry
  • 12th Virginia Cavalry
  • 17th Virginia Cavalry Battalion
  • 2nd Virginia Cavalry (detachment)
  • 4th Virginia Cavalry (detachment)
  • Chew’s Battery

Union Army Order of Battle

Army of Virginia

Unattached units

Pope’s escort

1st Ohio Cavalry (detachment)

II Corps

Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks

Escort

1st Michigan Cavalry (detachment)

5th New York Cavalry (detachment)

1st West Virginia Cavalry (detachment)

Division

Brigade

Regiments and Others

First Division
     BG Alpheus S. Williams

1st Brigade


   BG Samuel W. Crawford

  • 5th Connecticut, Col George D. Chapman (wc)
  • 10th Maine, George L. Beal
  • 28th New York, Dudley Donnelly (mw)
  • 46th Pennsylvania, Col Joseph Knipe (w)

3rd Brigade


   BG George H. Gordon

  • 2nd Massachusetts, Col George L. Andrews
  • 3rd Wisconsin, Col Thomas H. Ruger
  • 27th Indiana, Col Silas Colgrove
  • Zouaves d’Afrique (Collis’s company)

Second Division
     BG Christopher C. Augur (w)
     BG Henry Prince
     BG George S. Greene

1st Brigade


   BG John W. Geary
Col Charles Candy

  • 5th Ohio, Col Samuel H. Dunning
  • 7th Ohio, Col William R. Creighton (w)
  • 29th Ohio
  • 66th Ohio

2nd Brigade


   BG Henry Prince
Col David P. DeWitt

  • 3rd Maryland
  • 102nd New York
  • 109th Pennsylvania
  • 111th Pennsylvania
  • 8th and 12th U.S. Infantry Battalion

3rd Brigade


   BG George S. Greene
   Col James A. Tait

  • 1st District of Columbia
  • 78th New York

Corps Artillery


   Cpt Clermont L. Best

  • 4th Battery, Maine Light Artillery
  • 6th Battery, Maine Light Artillery
  • Battery K, 1st New York Light Artillery
  • Battery L, 1st New York Light Artillery
  • Battery M, 1st New York Light Artillery
  • Battery L, 2nd New York Light Artillery
  • 10th Battery, New York Light Artillery
  • Battery E, Pennsylvania Light Artillery
  • Battery F, 4th U.S. Artillery

III Corps

MG Irvin McDowell

Division

Brigade

Regiments and Others

Second Division
     BG James B. Ricketts

1st Brigade


   Abram Duryee

  • 97th New York
  • 104th New York
  • 105th New York
  • 107th Pennsylvania

2nd Brigade


   BG Zealous B. Tower

  • 26th New York
  • 94th New York
  • 88th Pennsylvania
  • 90th Pennsylvania

3rd Brigade


   George L. Hartsuff

  • 12th Massachusetts
  • 13th Massachusetts
  • 83rd New York
  • 11th Pennsylvania

4th Brigade


   Col Samuel S. Carroll

  • 7th Indiana
  • 84th Pennsylvania
  • 110th Pennsylvania
  • 1st West Virginia

Cavalry Brigade


   BG George D. Bayard

  • 1st Maine Cavalry
  • 1st New Jersey Cavalry
  • 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry
  • 1st Rhode Island Cavalry

(Sources listed below.)

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Sources: National Park Service; Civil War Trust; Library of Congress; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; Hearn, Chester. The Civil War: Virginia. London: Salamander Books, 2005. ISBN 1-84065-558-5; Henderson, G. F. R. Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War. New York: Smithmark, 1995. ISBN 0-8317-3288-1. First published in 1903 by Longman, Greens, and Co.; McDonald, William N. A History of the Laurel Brigade. Edited by Bushrod C. Washington. Baltimore: K. S. McDonald, 1907. OCLC 3523435; McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. Oxford History of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-19-503863-0; Robertson, James I., Jr. Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend. New York: MacMillan Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-02-864685-1; Salmon, John S. The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2001. ISBN 0-8117-2868-4; Welcher, Frank J. The Union Army, 1861–1865 Organization and Operations. Vol. 1, The Eastern Theater. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. ISBN 0-253-36453-1; Wood, W. J. Civil War Generalship: The Art of Command. New York: Da Capo Press, 2000. ISBN 0-306-80973-7. First published 1977 by Greenwood Press; Banks, Raymond H. The King of Louisiana, 1862-1865, and Other Government Work: A Biography of Major General Nathaniel Prentice Banks. Las Vegas, NV: R. H. Banks, 2005. OCLC 63270945; Krick, Robert K. Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990. ISBN 0-8078-5355-0.

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