In mid September, the Friends of Cedar Mountain (FCMB) board was honored to host an interesting visitor: Dr. Gary Strobel, a renowned microbiologist and naturalist who makes beautiful pens and other items such as small magnifying glasses from the wood of witness trees. Dr. Strobel and his wife Soozie spent a few days in Virginia exploring a number of area battlefields in hopes of identifying trees that may have witnessed the clash of armies during the Civil War. Continue reading “Searching for witness trees at Cedar Mountain”
Join Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield (FCMB) historians for guided walking tours of the battlefield on the second Saturday of the month at 10:00 am. Remaining 2021 tours will be held in October (10/9) and November (11/13). Learn about the August 9, 1862 encounter in which Confederate troops led by General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson prevailed over Federal troops led by General Nathaniel Banks at a cost of 3800 men killed or wounded. Continue reading “Guided battlefield tours”
In May 2020 Friends of Cedar Mountain received an American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) grant to study the Civil War Rapidan Front and 1863-64 Winter Encampment in Culpeper County. Research has been underway since fall 2020. Historian John Salmon, a member of the team supporting the grant research, recently provided the following update:
To date, I have compiled a roughly 80-page single spaced history of the county the 1863-1864 Federal Winter Encampment, and the Rapidan Front. Most recently I have explored extensive primary source material relevant to local history and the camp. There is no question that the camp and the front are of national significance for their association with the Army of the Potomac and the reorganization of that force during the Winter Encampment to create the army that won the war for the United States.
The research and analysis of the Winter Encampment landscape, and its many contributing features (encampment sites, signal stations, viewsheds, pickets and patrols, ford defenses and remnant structures) continue to be surveyed. Fieldwork has identified the extensive network of ford crossings and confirmed advanced picket locations. Work continues this summer to identify related supporting structures and historic roads.
The goal is to complete this project by the end of this calendar year. The process requires reviews by federal agencies including the American Battlefield Protection Program.
Below is a map of one portion of the study area along the front, depicting the viewshed relationship of advanced pickets and their proximity to defensive positions monitoring the historic ford crossings.
The key at the top right of the map includes:
-The Rapidan River marked as a red line; green circles on the river mark the historic fords.
-Red circles at the top of the map represent brigade positions (4000 men)
-Other colored circles represent pickets. Purple; company position, 100 men. Blue; 25-50 men. Yellow; 11-25 men. Green; 10 or fewer men.
We look forward to sharing more information related to the grant research effort as the study progresses.
On Tuesday June 2nd, two adults and 10 children visited Cedar Mountain Battlefield for a prearranged tour of the grounds. The determined group traveled 2 ½ hours by car from Roanoke, VA. to reach their destination. Battlefield guides Brad Forbush and Vic Middlekauff greeted them at the meeting house when they arrived at 9 a.m. Continue reading “Young visitors enjoy tour of Cedar Mountain”
About two-dozen volunteers donated time and muscle Saturday to tidy up Cedar Mountain battlefield just south of Culpeper, where nearly 3,700 Civil War soldiers lost their lives on August 9, 1862.
The nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield participates in the annual event, started in 1996 by the American Battlefield Trust, which owns the historic land.
Each year thousands of history enthusiasts, families, Boy and Girl Scouts and many others join together to lend a hand in an effort to help maintain parkland across the nation preserved by ABT.
“Park Day is a time for anyone to visit America’s incredible parks for a hands-on opportunity to help preserve the unique beauty and history that each has to offer,” said Friends of Cedar Mountain President Diane Logan on Wednesday.
In Culpeper, Logan said, Park Day brings together returning Friends and first-time volunteers, an occasion she and other leaders enjoy as they connect names with faces.
“It’s exciting to witness the enthusiasm each visitor brings to the day with their varied interests,” Logan said. “Many come to preserve the history of the site while others have embraced the beauty as a place to bring family and friends for hikes, walk with their dogs, go on picnics and take photographs.”
At Saturday’s event, a group of seven employees of Culpeper’s Ardent Mills participated in the clean-up event, something Logan said the milling company encourages.
“They did a variety of things—trimming shrubbery, clearing sites for upcoming living history events, raking and cleaning around monuments,” Logan said.
Ardent Mills employee Brandi Warfield and her husband, Justin Warfield said they try to help out during Park Day every year.
“I think the last time we helped out at Brandy Station battlefield,” Brandi Warfield said. “It’s a nice way to spend a Saturday.”
Mike Williams and his grandson, DJ, worked on Saturday weed-whacking and raking around signage and the Cedar Mountain’s iconic replica cannons. The Fredericksburg resident said he discovered the battlefield years ago on a drive from Culpeper to Orange, even before any land had been saved. He said he values history and the lessons it can teach.
“Mike said DJ first visited Cedar Mountain as an infant,” Logan said. “Now he’s 10 years old and Mike told him, ‘This battlefield looks exactly the same as it did when you came here as a baby, and it will look the same when you are grown. That is the beauty of preserving historic land.’”
Coming all the way from Silver Spring, Md., James Owens said he enjoys participating in living history events at Cedar Mountain regularly and is a member of the Friends group.
“It’s very satisfying to come out and do my part toward returning the park to its wartime appearance,” Owens said. He used a chainsaw to cut back undergrowth that was starting to intrude on one of the park’s walking paths.
Jennifer Michaels, a nurse at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, worked with her husband and daughter Saturday to clear away leaves and foliage from a small family cemetery on the battlefield.
A new member of the Friends of Cedar Mountain, Michaels “is especially interested in cemeteries and in becoming a civilian living historian,” Logan said.
At Cedar Mountain Culpeper’s native son, Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill, sealed the Confederate victory when his division re-formed Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s crumbled line, leading the charge that turned the tide of the battle.
“For Hill and other Culpeper men engaged, this was a personal battle to liberate their homes, friends and family from Union occupation,” The Friends of Cedar Mountain website states.
Join us for Park Day on Saturday, April 10, from 9:00 am – noon!
This spring cleaning of the battlefield will take place RAIN OR SHINE!
You’ll be a part of an annual event, sponsored by the American Battlefield Trust (ABT), that supports historic preservation through community involvement in restoration and maintenance projects.
Park Day projects at Cedar Mountain Battlefield include trail maintenance, cleaning up the cannons and battlefield signage, cleaning the trails and cemeteries of winter debris, litter removal along the battlefield frontage on General Winder Road, weeding and raking around the meeting house, and more.
All projects will be outdoors. For everyone’s safety, we ask that participants please have masks and that participants not in the same household unit please maintain 6 feet of social distance.
We recommend that volunteers bring their own gloves and garden tools.
In appreciation of volunteers’ efforts, there will be a hotdog bbq at noon and ABT water bottles for participants to take home.
Please let us know you’re coming by sending an rsvp to email@example.com – this will help us develop a “plan of attack” for the day!
Arriving a few minutes before 9 am will allow projects to get started promptly.
Looking forward to seeing you on the 10th!
Join Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield (FCMB) historians for a guided walking tour of the battlefield on Saturday, March 27 at 10:00 am. Learn about the August 9, 1862 encounter in which Confederate troops led by General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson prevailed over Federal troops led by General Nathaniel Banks at a cost of 3800 men killed or wounded. Continue reading “Guided Battlefield Tour”
Families are welcome to a special outdoor program on Saturday, March 20 focused on the giants of our forest – massive oak trees that make their leafy neighbors look tiny!
We’ll learn about ways in which a tree’s age can be calculated, and measure several battlefield trees to estimate their age. We’ll talk about what these trees may have been witness to on the battlefield and what was happening in Culpeper County as the trees grew.
Participation numbers are limited and pre-registration is required so that social distancing can be maintained. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your family’s spot (and tree!).
Program date and time: March 20, 10:00 – 11:30 am.
Program meets at 9465 General Winder Road, Rapidan.
This program will be rescheduled to a later date in the event of inclement weather.
Introduction to the Union Reports of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion for the Battle of Cedar Mountain.
To further the mission of educating the public about the Battle of Cedar Mountain and to facilitate research of the August 9, 1862 battle, Friends of Cedar Mountain presents here a compilation of the Official Union Reports of the engagement as found in “The War Of The Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XII, Part II (Serial No. 16).”
Having access to the reports written in the days following the engagement will enhance the battlefield visitors’ experience, as you can now stand where (for example) Union General Samuel W. Crawford’s 3 regiments broke through the Confederate Left and destroyed the Confederate brigade of Thomas Garnett. The battlefield has changed little since 1862, and walking the ground gives visitors a clear understanding of the terrain.
The following aggregate of the 26 Union reports are listed in the same order as they appear in the Official Records cited above.
Suggested Reading Order.
To assist with an understanding of the flow of the battle, the following suggestions are offered as to reading order. (Please note that all the individual reports cover the battle from beginning to end so there will be overlap in the narratives.)
Start with the high command, No. 1., Major-General John Pope’s report, to get his perspective of the action. Though he could hear the cannonading at Culpeper, General Pope writes that he was not expecting a battle, and General Banks sent reports to him that no attack was expected, so Pope remained in Culpeper until the increased noise of the battle suggested to him otherwise. There is no report from Major-General Banks, commanding Union forces on the battlefield. The two Union divisions in the fight were commanded by Generals Augur and Williams.
General Christopher C. Augur commanded the Union left and center. Read his report, No. 11, next. His two brigades were led by General John White Geary (center) and General Henry Prince (left). General Prince was captured during the fight and sent to prison in Richmond. He wrote his report in November after his prisoner exchange. Colonel Henry J. Stainrook’s report, 109th Pennsylvania Infantry, from Prince’s brigade, was found in Volume 51, (Supplemental Reports) and posted here un-numbered. I have not found any other reports from this brigade as yet. Because there are more reports connected with Geary’s command, it might be easier to read Prince, No. 19, & Stainrook, un-numbered, first, and then dive into the several reports from Geary’s Brigade, Numbers 12 through 17. This includes Captain Joseph Knap’s artillery report of the Union batteries that replied to the Confederate artillery that opened the engagement. Captain Clermont L. Best’s report was recently located and posted here; (from Vol. 51, Supplemental Reports). Captain Best is General Banks Chief of Artillery for the corps, and his report nicely complements Knap’s report. These reports provide battle details at the regimental level. Pay attention to the references to the 8th and 12th Battalion of U.S. Regulars that skirmished with Confederate artillery at the opening of the ground moves, because for all their impressive performance they did not have their report reproduced in this volume. Among their number Private John L. Younker was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery.
The story of the Union right is the story of the climax of the battle of Cedar Mountain for the Federals. General Alpheus S. Williams commanded the right division which included two brigades; General Samuel W. Crawford’s and General George H. Gordon’s. Read Williams’ report first for an overview, No. 7, then read Crawfords’s report, No. 8. Crawford’s comments barely conceal his seething anger at the destruction of the regiments in his unsupported brigade. The compilation of Union casualties, Report No. 2, given in table format, speaks volumes to this. Gordon’s Brigade, which was supposed to support Crawford’s attack, also took heavy casualties, but not half as much as Crawford’s men. General Gordon’s report was filed late, so it was placed in an Appendix. I have placed it in proper sequence here but it is un-numbered. Also un-numbered is the report of Col. Thomas Ruger, found in Vol. 51, (Supplemental reports). Six companies of Col. Ruger’s 3rd Wisconsin Volunteers were ordered to accompany Crawford’s brigade when it attacked, but a few minutes delay for various reasons, made a great deal of difference in what the 3rd Wisconsin would experience. Ruger’s report is followed by the other two colonel’s from Gordon’s brigade; Col. George Andrews of the 2nd Massachusetts, No. 9, and Col. Silas Colgrove of the 27th Indiana, No. 10.
A climactic cavalry charge by the 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry ended the action for General Banks’ 2nd Army Corps. Major Richard I. Falls left a brief account of the dramatic charge, in report No 4. Since we are with the cavalry, report No. 3, Col. Samuel H. Allen, gives an account of the Union Cavalry skirmish line that was dispersed at the very commencement of the battle.
The reading order of the remaining reports really doesn’t matter. Further interesting details can be gleaned from all of them. But in order of events, the troops of General James B. Ricketts’ Division arrived on the battlefield at night to shore up and hold the Union line where General Banks had been forced to retreat, reports 20 — 25. Rickett’s arrival, along with the darkness, halted the Confederate counter-attack. The report of Maj. Davis Tillson, No. 21, commanding Ricketts’ artillery, describes the late night artillery duel, including the brief exciting fight with Captain William J. Pegram’s battery that closed the action. Captain James Thompson’s artillery report adds more detail about this encounter. It was Thompson’s battery that silenced Pegram, inflicting serious damage upon the Confederate battery. This leaves a smattering of reports to fill in the blanks. There is a fascinating account of the signal men at Thoroughfare Mountain, No. 6 & 18; the several reports of brigade commanders under Ricketts (22-25); and Brig. General Robert Milroy’s rather frenetic report of his Independent Brigade’s exploits on the days following the battle, No. 5.
* * * * * * * * *
- No. 1. — Maj. General John Pope, U. S. Army, commanding Army of Virginia, with congratulatory orders.
- No. 2. — Return of Casualties in the Union forces.
- No. 3. — Col. Samuel H. Allen, First Maine Cavalry.
- No. 4. — Maj. Richard I. Falls, First Pennsylvania Cavalry.
- Un-numbered. — Capt. Clermont L. Best, Chief of Artillery, Second Corps, Army of Virginia.
- No. 5. — Brig. Gen. Robert H. Milroy, U. S. Army, commanding Independent Brigade, First Corps, of operations August 8—13.
- No. 6. — Lieut. William W. Rowley, Twenty-eighth New York Infantry, Acting Signal Officer, Second Corps.
- No. 7. — Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams, U. S. Army, commanding First Division, Second Corps.
- No. 8. — Brig. Gen. Samuel W. Crawford, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade.
- Un-numbered. — Brig. Gen. George H. Gordon, U. S. Army, commanding Third Brigade.
- Un-numbered. Col. Thomas H. Ruger, Third Wisconsin Infantry, Third Brigade.
- No. 9. — Col. George L. Andrews, Second Massachusetts Infantry, Third Brigade.
- No. 10. — Col. Silas Colgrove, Twenty-seventh Indiana Infantry.
- No. 11. — Brig. Gen. Christopher C. Augur, U. S. Army, commanding Second Division.
- No. 12. — Brig. Gen. John W. Geary, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade.
- No. 13. — Capt. Joseph M. Knap, Battery E, Pennsylvania Light Artillery.
- No. 14. — Col. John H. Patrick, Fifth Ohio Infantry.
- No. 15. — Col. William R. Creighton, Seventh Ohio Infantry.
- No. 16. — Capt. Wilbur F Stevens, Twenty-ninth Ohio Infantry.
- No. 17. — Col. Charles Candy, Sixty-sixth Ohio Infantry.
- No. 18. — Lieut. Col. Hector Tyndale, Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Infantry, of reconnaissance to Thoroughfare Mountain.
- No. 19. — Brig. Gen. Henry Prince, U.S. Army, commanding Second Brigade.
- Un-numbered. — Col. Henry J. Stainrook, One-hundred-ninth Pennsylvania Infantry.
- No. 20. — Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts, U.S. Army, commanding Second Division, Third Corps.
- No. 21. — Maj. Davis Tillson, Chief of Artillery, Second Division.
- Un-numbered. — Capt. James Thompson, Independent Battery, Light Pennsylvania Artillery.
- No. 22. — Brig. Gen. Abram Duryea, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade.
- No. 23. — Brig. Gen. Zealous B. Tower, U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade.
- No. 24. — Brig. Gen. George L. Hartsuff, U. S. Army, commanding Third Brigade.
- No. 25. — Samuel S. Carroll, Eighth Ohio Infantry, commanding Fourth Brigade.
Reports of Maj. Gen. John Pope, U. S. Army, commanding the Army of Virginia, with congratulatory orders.*
Headquarters Army of Virginia,
Near Cedar Creek, August 10, 1862 —5.45 a.m.
The enemy crossed the Rapidan day before yesterday, and yesterday advanced in heavy force against Culpeper. Their advance under Ewell had a very severe engagement yesterday with Banks’ corps, in which the loss was heavy on both sides without decisive results. Continue reading “No. 1. Maj. Gen. John Pope.”