Sunday, October 12, 2014

150-Years-Ago -- THE BATTLE OF CEDAR CREEK, VA

[Text excerpted from Confederate States Rangers: Company K, 10th Louisiana Infantry (CreateSpace.com, 2014)]

Lt. Gen. J.B. Gordon
General [John B.] Gordon and Captain Jedediah Hotchkiss, [Gen. Jubal] Early’s topographical engineer, scouted the Federal army’s position and found the left flank was exposed. Gordon proposed a battle plan to Early, who adopted it. The plan called for Gordon to take his own division, and those of Pegram and Ramsuer across the Shenandoah, go around Massanutten Mountain, cross the river again and come up on the Federals from the east. Gordon would be in command of that wing of the army until reunited with Early. Kershaw’s division would go straight at the Federals to the left of Gordon, and Wharton’s infantry and Rosser’s cavalry would be the left flank. Early accompanied Kershaw and when the two wings of the army reunited in front of the enemy, he would command the whole army again. The Federals were encamped along Cedar Creek and unaware of the coming attack. Sheridan was absent at a conference in Washington. The 8th  Corps was on the Federal left and the first target, then the 19th Corps, 6th  Corps and Merritt’'s and Custer’s cavalry camps on the right flank at the furthest point from the attack. Averell had been relieved by Sheridan for failing to pursue Early after Third Winchester.
       Gordon  began moving his command the night of October 18 and was in position to commence the attack by 5 o’clock on the morning of the October 19. A thick fog gave them cover and the attack was a complete surprise on the Federal encampment. The firing started when Federal pickets detected Gordon’s advancing battle line and opened fire. Rosser’s men began exchanging fire with Federal pickets and Kershaw hit Thoburn’s division of the 8th  Corps. Gordon said later of the attack, “His [Evans’] splendid division, with Ramseur's farther to the right and Pegram's in support, rushed upon the unprepared and unsuspecting Federals, great numbers of whom were still asleep in their tents. Even those who had been aroused by Payne's sudden irruption in the rear, and had sprung to the defence of the breastworks, were thrown into the wildest confusion and terror by Kershaw's simultaneous assault in front.”
Click map for larger view.
       At sunrise, Wharton’s division engaged the 19th Corps on the Confederate left and the onslaught was quickly rolling up the Federal left. Evan’s was commanding Gordon’s division on the left of Gordon’s formation, and Ramseur on the right with Pegram in reserve. First engulfing the extreme left of Thoburn, they then slammed into Hayes’ division of the 8th  Corps, which was a mile behind Thoburn. As Gordon explained, “Two entire corps, the Eighth and Nineteenth, constituting more than two thirds of Sheridan's army, broke and fled, leaving the ground covered with arms, accoutrements, knapsacks, and the dead bodies of their comrades. Across the open fields they swarmed in utter disorganization, heedless of their officers' commands — heedless of all things save getting to the rear. There was nothing else for them to do; for Sheridan's magnificent cavalry was in full retreat before Rosser's bold troopers, who were in position to sweep down upon the other Union flank and rear.”
The 6th  Corps had time to get into line and put up a stronger defense. Gordon ordered Pegram to come up to help with the assault on the 6th  Corps, then notified Early of his situation on his front. Gordon’s division – Evans’s, Peck’s and Terry’s brigades – finished off Hayes’ brigade while Ramseur and Pegram ran into a division of the 6th  Corps on the pike and met strong resistance. Ramseur and Pegram called for help and Early moved Wharton to the right and told him to go in where Ramseur and Pegram directed. The 6th  Corps managed to hold off the Confederates for two hours. It then fell back in some disorder to the west of Middletown.
       It was then about noon and Gordon ordered his three divisions to move on the 6th  Corps and was assembling 39 artillery pieces under Colonel Thomas Carter, who told him he wouldn’t even need the infantry, when he had his artillery in position. "With enfilade fire from my batteries I will destroy that corps in twenty minutes," Carter said. Early shocked Gordon when he called off the final assault he planned. It was Early’s belief that the ranks of the Confederates were now weakened by the men who had stayed behind to plunder the Federal camps. Early felt the Confederate attack had played itself out and decided to hold on to what he had taken and get his scattered men back in the battle line.
       Gordon believed Early’s decision a mistake and noted in his memoir, “My heart went into my boots. Visions of the fatal halt on the first day at Gettysburg, and of the whole day's hesitation to permit an assault on Grant's exposed flank on the 6th of May in the Wilderness, rose before me. And so it came to pass that the fatal halting, the hesitation, the spasmodic firing, and the isolated movements in the face of the sullen, slow, and orderly retreat of this superb Federal corps, lost us the great opportunity, and converted the brilliant victory of the morning into disastrous defeat in the evening.” Early later claimed he had given orders to Gordon to attack, but no evidence of that order has been found. Gordon firmly believed it was Early’s order, and not the men plundering the camps, that caused the halt.

      The Confederates had gained a great victory that morning by routing two-thirds of the Federal army, capturing 24 artillery pieces and 1,300 prisoners. But that great victory began disappearing before their eyes as the Confederates continued to hold the line and wait for the enemy to retreat that afternoon. Gordon became increasingly concerned about the massing of the Federals in his front. He repeatedly expressed his concern to Early, who kept replying the enemy troops were just the rear guard and the Federals would soon be retreating. As the blue tide became more threatening, Early sent more artillery to Gordon. The Georgian’s division ended up on the left of the line. Evans’ brigade on the left, was temporarily under the command of Colonel John H. Lowe of the 31st Georgia. Peck’s Louisianians were in the center, and Terry’s Virginians on the right. Gordon said there was a troubling gap in the line between his division’s right, and the rest of army. Gordon made a quick ride back to Early to ask for reinforcements for his left and to fill the gap. Early gave him the same assurances – the Federals would retreat. Gordon returned, he found Federals pouring through the gap and Evans almost surrounded. It was too late. “One minute more and I should have had a Yankee carbine at my head, inviting my surrender,” Gordon wrote.  
       Sheridan, who had returned from his trip to Washington, dramatically rallied his shattered army and at 4 o’clock launched a massive and devastating counterattack attack. The two sides were about a mile apart at the beginning of the counterattack. The Confederate artillery and infantry held the blue tide back for about an hour with a slow fighting retreat. Custer, on the Federal right, at first went off after some of Rosser’s cavalry and for a while the Confederate left overlapped the Yankee infantry. The Georgia brigade on the left was able to enfilade the Federals doing some damage. Custer however, seeing the Confederate line already wavering, brought the bulk of his division back to the Federal right and gained the rear of the Gordon/Evans position. The bluecoat cavalry captured a bridge over Cedar Creek that the Confederates line of retreat. This threw some of the Southerners into a panic and the Confederate left began dissolving. Much the same thing was happening on the Confederate right. Merritt’s cavalry outpaced the infantry and took some enfilading fire as they passed the Confederate line and pushed Wharton’s division back. Ramseur, the center right, was holding on with much grit. Just 27-years-old, recently celebrating the birth of a daughter, who he had not yet seen, Ramseur was wearing a flower in his lapel and riding up and down his line to keep his men in place. But two of his horses were shot and he was mounting a third when a bullet pierced both of his lungs. He was carried to the rear as his division also fell apart. Ramseur was captured and died in enemy hands the next day. The Confederates retreated back to New Market.




Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fighters for Texas Independence and Southern Independence

Members of the 1st Texas Infantry in Winter Quarters in
Virginia, circa 1861-62. (Library of Congress)
October 2, 1835 marks the beginning of the War for Texas Independence with the skirmishing and capture of Mexican soldiers by Texas settlers at Gonzales, Texas. The war lasted less than seven very eventful months until the Texan victory at the Battle of San Jacinto April 21, 1836  gained Texas Independence. The Republic of Texas lasted for 10 years when the people voted to join the United States in 1845. It is just one example of a successful secession by people exercising their God given right of people to govern themselves under a government of their own choosing. That is a right very well recognized and spelled out by the great secession document, the Declaration of Independence.

And of course possibly the greatest example of successful secession was the War for American Independence, 1775-1783. Another, less known example, was the West Florida Republic, which was formed in what is now Southeast Louisiana when the people of the Spanish colony of West Florida seceded from the Kingdom of Spain 1810 to form their own independent nation. The West Florida Republic lasted only three months before the United States took it over peacefully, claiming it was rightfully part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The national flag of the West Florida Republic was the Bonnie Blue Flag, a banner that made a deep impression on the people of the South. The Bonnie Blue Flag was one of the banners that represented the Texans battling for their independence, and was incorporated into the Texas state flag and its nickname, "Lone Star State."

So, when the people of the Southern states exercised their God-given right to govern themselves under a government of their own choosing in 1861, they had those successful examples of secession in mind and every reason to believe that their quest for freedom and independence would be successful too. Many leaders of the War for Southern Independence were the sons of veterans of the War for American Independence, including President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, and General Joseph E. Johnston.

Here are some veterans of the War for Texas Independence who became Confederates (more will be added to this list as they are found), arranged by highest Confederate rank:

General Albert Sidney Johnston was the most prominent Confederate that was also a veteran of the War for Texas Independence. He was born in 1803 in Kentucky, was the grandson of a veteran of the War for American Independence, and an 1826 graduate of West Point. He was  the most prominent Confederate general who was also a veteran of the War for Texas Independence. Johnston served with the Sixth U.S. Infantry in the Black Hawk War. He came to Texas in 1836 and joined the Texas Army as a private, and a month later was made major and aide-de-camp for General Sam Houston. He later became a colonel and adjutant general of the army, senior brigadier general and then, in 1838, Secretary of War of the Republic of Texas. Johnston became colonel of the First Texas Rifles in the Mexican War, and in 1849 rejoined the U.S. Army, served as colonel of the Second U.S. Cavalry, and led the Utah Expedition. In the War for Southern Independence, he was made a full general in the Confederate Army and command the Confederate forces at the Battle of Shiloh, where he was killed in action on April 6, 1862.

Brig. Gen. Thomas "Tom" Green: He was born in 1814 in Virginia, moved to Tennessee with his family and graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1834. He came to Texas in December 1835 to join the Texas Revolution, and enlisted in Captain Isaac Moreland's Company of the First Infantry Regiment. He helped fire the "Twin Sisters" cannons at the Battle of San Jacinto April 21, 1836. After the battle, he was promoted to lieutenant and then major and aide-de-camp of General Thomas J. Rusk. Green returned to Tennessee after the war but returned to Texas in 1837, where he became active in the politics and government of the new republic. He also continued his military service helping defend Texas from Mexican raiders, and commanded a company of Texas Rangers in the First Texas Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. During the war for Southern Independence, he commanded the 5th Texas Cavalry in the New Mexico Campaign, the Battle of Galveston, and the Bayou Tech Campaign. He was promoted to brigadier general May 20, 1863 and led the First Cavalry Brigade at the Battle of Bayou Bourbeau, and the Confederate cavalry in the Battle of Mansfield. He was killed in action four days later, April 12, 1864, at the Battle of Blair's Landing, Louisiana.

Brig. Gen. William Polk Hardeman: He was born in 1816 in Williamson County, Tennessee and attended the University of Nashville. In 1835, Hardeman and his family moved to Matagorda County, Texas on the Gulf Coast. He joined the Texas Revolutionary Army early and participated in the Battle of Gonzalez. He went to the relief of the Alamo but it fell before he arrived. He also missed the Battle of San Jacinto. After Texas became a republic, Hardeman served in the Texas Rangers and fought Comanches at the Battle of Wallace's Creek Feb. 22, 1839 and at the Battle of Plum Creek August 18, 1840. During the Mexican War, Hardeman served in Gen. Zachary Taylor's army. He took part in exploration and scouting for the army. In 1861, Hardeman was a delegate at the Texas Secession Convention and voted for secession. He raised a group that became Co. A, 4th Texas Cavalry, Sibley's Texas Cavalry Brigade. Hardeman fought in the New Mexico Campaign and then in the Great Texas Overland Expedition in Louisiana in the fall of 1863. After leading his men at the Battle of Yellow Bayou Louisiana, May 18, 1864, he was promoted to brigadier general. Following the war, Hardeman temporarily went into exile in Mexico. He returned to Texas in 1866 and, after Reconstruction, served in various positions in Texas state government. Hardeman  died in 1898 and is buried in the state cemetery in Austin. [Added Oct. 6, 2014}

Brig. Gen. Walter Paye Lane: He was born in County Cork, Ireland in 1817 and immigrated to Ohio with his family in 1821. Lane answered the call for volunteers for the War for Texas Independence in 1836, joining Captain Henry Karnes Company of Cavalry. He was wounded in a skirmish on April 20, and then participated in the Battle of San Jacinto the next day, April 21, 1836. He received a battlefield promotion to second lieutenant for his gallantry. Following the war, Lane served as a privateer for the Texas Navy on the Thomas Toby, and also served in the Captain Jack Hayes Company of Texas Rangers. During the Mexican War, Lane served in the First Texas Regiment of Mounted Riflemen and rose to the rank of major. After that war, he became a gold prospector in California and Arizona. With the outbreak of war in 1861, Lane became lieutenant colonel of the 3rd Texas Cavalry and fought at the battles of Oak Hill, Mo., Pea Ridge, Ark., and Corinth, Miss. He then raised and became colonel of the 1st Texas Partisan Rangers and was seriously wounded at the Battle of Mansfield, April 8, 1864. After his recovery, he was given command of a brigade and was promoted to brigadier general March 18, 1865. Following the war, Lane returned to his mercantile business in Marshall, Texas and died in 1892.

Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch: He was born in 1811 in Rutherford County, Tennessee and was one of the closest neighbors of the frontier legend, and congressman, David Crockett. In 1835, he went to Texas with his younger brother Henry, and waited in Nacogdoches for Crockett and his hunting party. His brother went  back to Tennessee before Crockett arrived, and Ben got sick and couldn't accompany the group to the Alamo. He was suffering  from measles and didn't recover until after the fall of the Alamo. McCulloch then joined Captain Isaac Moreland's Company with General Sam Houston and fougtht at the  Battle of San Jacinto. He  received a battlefield commission to first lieutenant, but returned to Tennessee. He returned three months later as part of a 30 man company led by Robert Crockett, the son of David. He then began a storied career as a Texas Ranger, served in the Congress of the Republic of Texas, the Texas State Legislature and was a major in the Mexican War. He went to the California Gold Rush in 1849 and was a U.S. Marshal in the Buchanan administration. In the  War for Southern Independence,  McCulloch led 1,000 men who forced surrender of the U.S. Army in San Antonio and elsewhere in Texas. McCulloch  was appointed a brigadier general by President  Jefferson Davis in May 11, 1861. McCulloch was killed in action at the Battle of Elk Horn Tavern, Arkansas on March 7, 1862, [Added Oct. 9, 2014]

Brig. Gen. Jerome Bonaparte Robertson: He was born in Kentucky in 1815 and graduated from Transylvania University in 1835. He volunteered to fight for Texas Independence with a Kentucky group but was delayed in New Orleans until September, 1836 when the fighting was already over. Robertson, however, served as a captain in the Texas Army until 1837. He settled in Washington-on-the-Brazos, where he opened his medical practice in December 1837. The doctor continued to serve in military campaigns against Indians and Mexicans, and served his community in such offices as coroner, postmaster and mayor. In the War for Southern Independence, Robertson began as captain of Company I, 5th Texas Infantry, Hood's Texas Brigade. He was elevated to lieutenant colonel, colonel and then brigadier general. Robertson became commander of Hood's Texas Brigade and led it longer than any other man. He fought at Eltham's Landing, Gaines' Mill, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chickamauga. Robertson disagreed with General James Longstreet over how he was running the corps, and was removed from his command after a court-martial in 1864 and sent back to Texas. There, Robertson finished the war in command of state reserve forces. His son, Felix Huston Robertson, was also a Confederate brigadier general. Robertson continued to practice medicine and in 1874 became the Texas superintendent of immigration. He died in 1890. [Added Oct. 6, 2014]

Lt. Col. Kindallis "King" Bryan: He was among the first volunteers for the Texas Revolution, joining the Brazos Rifles at age 17 in September, 1835 to help defend Gonzales after the first skirmish of the war. A native of Louisiana, he settled with his family in 1834 in Liberty, Texas. He also served in the Siege of Bexar and volunteered to relieve the Alamo in 1836, but it  fell before the relief force could get there. After the war he served in the Army of the Republic of Texas, became a sheriff of Liberty County and a state representative for his district. In the War for Southern Independence he had a distinguished military record with the 5th Texas Infantry of Hood's Texas Brigade, fighting at Eltham's Landing, Gaine's Mill, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness. He was wounded three times and disabled, but after the war  represented his district at the Texas State Constitutional Convention of 1866. He died later that same year.

Maj. Josephus S. Irvine
(Findagrave.com)
Major Josephus Somerville Irvine: Born in 1819 in Tennessee, he moved to Texas in 1830 with his family. He joined the Texas Revolution in 1835 and took part in the Siege of Bexar in Captain Henry W. Augustine's Company. In 1836, he joined Captain Benjamin Franklin Bryant's Company of Colonel Sidney Sherman's Second Texas Cavalry. With them, he fought in the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, He then service a three month enlistment, beginning July 4, 1836, in Captain William Scurlock's Company. After the war he served as tax assessor and collector in Newton County, Texas. In the War for Southern Independence, Irvine raised a company or which he was captain. It became Company C, of Major James Liken's Battalion. When Liken's resigned to raise a cavalry battalion, the battalion was reorganized as the 11th Battalion (Spaight's) Texas Volunteers with Lt. Col. Ashley W. Spaight commanding and Irvine as major. Major Irvine commanded the battalion at the first Battle of Sabine Pass in September, 1862. He also took part in the battalion's campaign in Louisiana in the summer and fall of 1863, including the Battle of Stirling's Plantation on September 29, 1863, where his son James Patton Irvine was killed. Irivine, suffering with malaria, resigned his commission in December, 1864. He died in 1876 in Newton County.

Sergeant William Physick Zuber: He was born July 6, 1820 in Twiggs County, Georgia. Zuber moved with his family to Texas in 1830 when it was still a province of Mexico. He joined the Texas Army in the Fourth Company, Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers and served from March 1, 1836 to July 1, 1836. During the Battle of San Jacinto, much to his disgust, the 15-year-old was assigned to the rear guard to protect the army supply wagons. After the War for Texas Independence was won, he served in campaigns against the Indians and in 1842, the Somervell expedition, a punitive campaign against Mexico for three raids into Texas. During the War for Southern Independence, Zuber served in Company H, 21st Texas Cavalry (First Texas Lancers) and fought in Arkansas, Missouri and Louisiana. Zuber became ill with pneumonia in December, 1864 and went home on sick furlough and was there when the war ended. He was a farmer and teacher who wrote about the Texas Revolution, his memoirs and his family genealogy. When he died in 1913, he was the last survivor of the Texas Army  at the Battle of San  Jacinto. [Added Oct. 9, 2014]

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

150-years-ago -- THIRD BATTLE OF WINCHESTER, VA


Sheridan's last charge at Third Winchester (Library of Congress)



[Excerpted from Confederate States Rangers of the 10th Louisiana Infantry by Michael Dan Jones (Createspace.com 2013)] 

Maj. Gen. Jubal Early  




The second phase of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign began after the Confederate victory at the Second Battle of Kernstown when Grant was convinced that Early was not leaving the Valley and he would have to commit a larger force and a better general than Hunter to get rid of him. The Valley was effectively back under control of the Confederate States of America. In addition,  raiding Confederates had demonstrated they could retaliate against Northern cities for the Northern atrocities committed against the Southern civilians in the Valley. Grant  met with Lincoln July 31 and he told the Northern president that he needed the services of 33-year-old Major General Philip H. Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley, who at the time was the commander of the cavalry in the Army of the Potomac. Grant got the go ahead for the changes he wanted and made the desired assignments.  When Hunter learned that his duties had been reduced to administrative, he quickly submitted his resignation and Grant accepted it. Sheridan was just as ruthless as Hunter, but a much better general. The four Federal military districts then in the Shenandoah area were consolidated into the Middle Military Department under Sheridan. “Little Phil” was to take orders from no other general than  Grant. Not only would he command Crook’s 8th  Corps, but also Wright’s 6th  Corps and the 19th Corps under Major General William Emory. He also would have the cream of the crop of  young, combat tested, cavalry commanders – brigadier generals James H. Wilson, Wesley Merritt, and George Armstrong Custer. Sheridan took command on August 6 at Monocacy Junction. His army numbered 37,000 men.
While the Federals were receiving reinforcements, so was Early. Lee sent the Valley Army one of his top commanders, Lieutenant General Richard H. Anderson, commander of the First Corps, and Major General Joseph Kershaw’s infantry division, Major General Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry division, and a battalion of artillery. This bolstered Early’s command to about 15,200. The Confederates also had the advantage of fighting on their home ground with the support of the people. Sheridan, by contrast, would earn the hatred of the people of the Valley. Colonel John S. Mosby’s 43rd Virginia Cavalry Battalion (Partisan Rangers) was wreaking havoc behind Federal lines. Mosby destroyed a large Federal wagon train destined for Sheridan on August 13. Now short of rations, and with Kershaw’s reinforcements on the way to Early, Sheridan withdrew to a more secure location further north. But the Federal cavalry division under Merritt turned the tables on the Confederates when he caught Kershaw’s division crossing the Shenandoah and attacked. He captured about 300 prisoners, but only momentarily delayed Kershaw. Sheridan had hoped that the Confederates would be drawn into a trap he was planning, but the wily old Early declined the invitation. Early withdrew into his entrenchments at Fisher’s Hill. He also received a new cavalry commander to take the place of the still ailing Ransom, Major General Lunsford Lomax. But the Confederate cavalry had been greatly reduced by the disaster at Moorefield and would be of limited use during the rest of the campaign. 
Early tried to make good use of his strengthened army. As indicated by Monier’s journal, there was a lot of maneuvering and skirmishing throughout August, but no major battles. Both sides were looking for an opportunity to strike. It was in the action on August 25 at Shepherdstown that the Louisiana Brigade suffered a serious loss. Colonel William Monaghan was killed in action. Unfortunately for Early and the Valley Army, heavy fighting at Petersburg August 26, made it imperative that Lee recall Anderson and Kershaw’s division back to the Army of Northern Virginia. But with all the Federal activity in the Valley, Kershaw wasn’t able to get back to General Lee for a couple of more weeks. Early was now hopelessly outnumbered and it wouldn’t take long for the aggressive Sheridan to make his move. Early’s army had been reduced to 8,500 effective infantry, 2,900 cavalrymen in both Fitzhugh Lee’s and Lomax’s divisions, three battalions of artillery – about 12,000 men of all arms.[1]
Third Battle of Winchester
Sheridan hoped to administer the coup de grĂ¢ce to the  Confederate Army of the Valley on September 19, 1864 at the Third Battle of Winchester, also called the Battle of Opequon Creek by the North. Early was not expecting an attack from the Yankees, having underestimated Sheridan, and had split his army, taking Gordon’s and Rode’s divisions with him to Martinsburg, with artillery and cavalry, 20-miles away, for a raid there. Ramseur’s division was solidly ensconced on a plateau outside Winchester with cavalry on each flank and artillery in support. Wharton’s infantry and McCausland’s cavalry, under Breckinridge,  were at Stephenson’s Depot six miles away. Sheridan had massed his army and found it the opportunity he had been waiting for – to destroy Early piecemeal. Wright’s 6th  Corps and Emory’s 19th Corps were to attack Ramseur, while Crook’s 8th  Corps would  flank him from the right. Merritt’s and Averell’s cavalry divisions would attack Wharton. But getting to Ramseur would not be easy. He was behind Opequon Creek and was well dug in on the plateau east of Winchester and between Rose Bud Run and Abraham’s Creek. When Early got to Martinsburg on September 18, he found messages which indicated that Grant had recently been there meeting with Sheridan. He was sure that meant an attack was imminent and ordered Breckinridge, Wharton, McCausland, Gordon and Rodes all back to Winchester to fall in on Ramseur This would be the third battle fought by the Louisianians at Winchester. The first was in the 1862 when the Hays’ brigade made a dramatic charge that helped win the battle. The second was in the Gettysburg Campaign when Hays’ brigade stormed a key Yankee fort at Winchester, and Stafford’s brigade helped cut off the Federal retreat at  Stephenson’s Depot. The third battle there would be dramatically different.
The battle started at about 3 o’clock in the morning when Wilson’s cavalry division crossed the creek at the Berryville Road, which ran through a ravine and some woods which shielded them from Confederate observation. They met Ramseur’s skirmish line at the base of the plateau and quickly drove them back. Three divisions of the 6th  Corps then came up as the Confederate artillery opened up on them. Ricketts’ division formed on the right and Getty’s division on the left. Brigadier General David A. Russell’s division was in reserve. Up to that point everything went smoothly, but the Sixth Corps had also brought up its supply wagons which clogged the road for the 19th Corps, and which delayed the whole attack. Early arrived at 10 o’clock before the main Yankee attack had begun.  Gordon’s division then arrived and he put his men in line of battle in a thicket and on the edge of a long field. Rodes soon arrived and his division and filled the a gap between Gordon and Ramseur. Captain George P. Ring of the 6th Louisiana gave an eyewitness account of the Federal attack. Ring said the bluecoats came “in beautiful order with their bright gun barrels reflecting back in the rays of the sun in a way to make your eyes water.” The Confederates then advanced their line to meet the enemy in an open field battle. Both blue and gray lines kept advancing without opening fire until they were about 200 yards apart. Halting, the opposing forces then exchanged volley fire for 10 minutes. Ring said that “Southern pluck was too much for our Yankee friends.” When the Federals retreated, he added, “We of course raised a Louisiana yell.” Gordon’s entire division charged after them, with the Louisianians in advance of everyone. York, seeing his brigade badly exposed, drew back a hundred yards and repulsed two counterattacks. Ring said, “. . . I think and firmly believe that every man in Hays’ and Stafford’s brigades killed his man that day.” At Stephenson’s Depot, which was Early’s left, Wharton’s infantry and McCausland’s cavalry, were pressed back by Merritt’s and Averell’s cavalry. Breckinridge, however, managed a fighting retreat in good order. The Confederates had to fight off Federal cavalry attacks the whole way to the main body and did not reach it until 2 o’clock that afternoon. When they did reach Early, Colonel George S. Patton’s brigade of Wharton’s division was sent to the Confederate left to bolster Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry on that flank. But the Confederates were being overwhelmed by sheer numbers as the 19th and 8th  corps became engaged. The gray jackets were driven back into a V formation and were being engulfed by a double envelopment on the flanks, much as they had done to Crook’s corps at Second Kernstown. When the a gap was opened in the Federal brigade, Gordon’s and Rodes’ divisions drove through it and the Northerners were in danger of a collapse. General Rodes, however, was mortally wounded when struck behind the ear by a shell fragment and Russell’s division came up to plug the gap, but Russell himself was killed. The counterattack by the Federals sealed the breach, but at a high cost to them. Finally, a massive cavalry charge by Merritt and Averell succeeded in collapsing the Confederate left flank and the whole gray line collapsed as well. Colonel George S. Patton, the grandfather of the
Brig. Gen. Zebulon York
famous World War II general of the same name, was among the dead. York’s Louisianians stayed put and fired volley after volley at the lines of bluecoats overwhelming them, but gave many other Confederates time to get away safely. All of the Louisiana officers who were mounted were wounded, including York who took a bullet in the left wrist and his arm had to be amputated later, leaving him unfit for further field service. The 10th Louisiana finally retreated through Winchester and went into camp at Middletown.
The Confederates suffered 4,000 casualties in the battle, and the Federals 5,081. Half of the Confederate casualties were captives, while 80 percent of the Federal casualties were killed and wounded. The Louisiana brigade’s share of the casualties was 154. The 10th Louisiana had four men killed, 4 wounded, one wounded and captured and five captured for a total of 15. Colonel Waggaman was wounded in the shoulder. The Confederate States Rangers had no casualties in the battle.