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Battle of Cedar Run or Cedar Mountain, VA
in the American Civil War

Union Battle Summary

Cedar Mountain, Va., Aug. 9, 1862. Parts of the 2nd and 3rd Army Corps. Jackson crossed the Rapidan at Barnett's ford on Thursday, Aug. 7, and advanced in heavy force toward Culpepper Court House. At that time the Union forces under Pope occupied the turnpike between Culpepper and Sperryville, ready to concentrate at either place when the enemy's plans became apparent. Brig.-Gen. Bayard, with part of the cavalry of the 3rd corps (McDowell's), was in advance near the Rapidan at the time the Confederates crossed that river. He fell back slowly, harassing the advance all he could and taking some prisoners. On Friday the 1st and 2nd corps, commanded by Sigel and Banks, respectively, and part of the 3rd corps were massed at Culpepper, and Crawford's brigade of the 2nd was sent to the support of Bayard. Te next day Crawford reported to Pope that the enemy had advanced to Cedar mountain and occupied its slopes. Banks was ordered to move out with his command and occupy the position then held by Crawford. There has been some dispute as to whether Pope's intention was to bring on an engagement, but there is no doubt that Banks obeyed the order, as he understood it. He moved out on the road running to Robertson's ford on the Rapidan, and arrived at the little creek known as Cedar run, about a mile and a half from the mountain, between 1 and 2 p.m., one brigade of Williams' division having reached the field about noon. This brigade (Gordon's) remained on the north side of the run, all the rest of the troops crossing the stream and taking up a position on the plateau on the south side. On the right of the road was Crawford, forming the right of the line; next to him was Geary's, Prince's and Greene's brigades of Augur's division, in the order named. Bayard's cavalry was on the extreme right and the artillery was stationed at advantageous points on the plateau in front of the infantry. The total number of Union troops engaged, including the reinforcements from the 3rd corps, which arrived on the field late in the action, has been variously stated, but was probably between 17,000 and 18,000. Jackson's army consisted of his own division, commanded now by Gen. Winder, and the divisions of A.P. Hill and Ewell, numbering in the neighborhood of 25,000 men. In the formation of his line Campbell's brigade confronted Crawford, Taliaferro was in front of Geary, Early in front of Prince, and Hays and Trimble in front of and extending beyond the Union left under Greene. Hill's division, consisting of the brigades of Tomas, Acher, Stafford, Pender, Field and Branch, and the famous "Stonewall" Brigade, commanded by Col. Ronald, were held in reserve.

About noon an artillery duel was commenced and it continued without intermission until 3 p.m. The Confederate line advanced, but they moved very cautiously. Bayard was gradually forced back and about 4 o'clock a lively fire was begun on the skirmish lines. At 4:50 Banks wrote a message to Pope, saying: "One regiment of rebel infantry advancing now deployed as skirmishers. I have ordered a regiment on the right, Williams' division, to meet them, and one from the left; Augur to advance on the left and in front." Ten minutes later he added, "They are now approaching each other." This movement was somewhat unexpected by the Confederates and caught them at a temporary disadvantage. Geary and Prince moved forward rapidly, delivering an effective fire as they marched along. The front line of Early's and Taliaferro's brigades broke, and the Federals, sweeping round in the wide gap between those commands and the enemy's right, reached the rear line, which also retired in confusion. A few minutes later Crawford struck Campbell and Taliaferro's left, and for the time it looked as though victory for the Union arms was certain. But just at this juncture Ronald's brigade reached the field. His men, fresh and hungry for the fray, fell upon the exhausted troops of Crawford, but were at first met with such a withering fire that they were forced back. Hill's division also entered the contest, the broken lines of Campbell's and Taliaferro's brigades were reformed, and a steady advance forced the Federals back across the run. Meantime Ricketts' division of McDowell's corps had arrived and formed on Crawford's right. The appearance of reinforcements checked the Confederate advance. Jackson undertook to drive them from their position by artillery, but the Union batteries replied with such vigor that he gave it up. The 2nd and 5th Maine batteries especially did effective work, continuing their fire until a late hour. Both armies rested on their arms during the night, but at daylight the Confederates fell back about 2 miles and took a position higher up the mountain. The Federal pickets advanced and occupied the ground, but the battle was not renewed. The Union loss in this engagement was 314 killed, 1,445 wounded and 622 missing. The Confederates lost 241 killed, 1,120 wounded and 4 missing. (Also called Cedar Run and Slaughter's Mountain.)

Source: The Union Army, Volume 5, Cyclopedia of Battles A - Helena , 1908


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