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May -- October 1864

   In the spring of 1864, the fertile Shenendoah Valley once again became a battleground.  As part of General Ultsses S. Grant's grand strategy to grind down the Confederacy with relentless multifront offensives, he was determined to take control of this vital region away from his hard-pressed foe.  Mastery of the Shenandoah Valley was critical to Grant's plans not only because the Valley was a rich breadbasket for the South.  But it also provided Confederaqte General Robert E. Lee's Army with an invasion route into the States of Pennsylvania and Maryland.  Also, the Valley lay on the flank of a Union advance on Richmond.  An advance into the Shenandoah would force Lee to further stretch his already thinned out forces to defend it.

   The first Union attempt, led by the bumbling General Fran Sigel, was turned back by Confederate General John Breckenridge's patchwork Rebel Army at New Market on Mat 15, 1864.  Breckenridge's departure to reinforce Lee, however, left the Valley open to Union depredations.  On May 19,  David Hunter ordered the burning of farms and other property.  The new, scorched-earth tactica compelled Lee to send in Jubal Early's Corps to chase the Yankees out.

Confederate 10 Pound Parrot Cannon
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   General Early defeated General Huntern at Lynchburg on June 18, 1864, then invaded Maryland.  He defeated General Lew Wallace at Monocacy and advanced on Washington, turning back before the guns of Fort Stevens.

Confederate Infantry Advancing
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   Shaken, on August 1, the Federals put Grant's personal choice, General Philip H. Sheridan, in command of the Army of Shenandoah, with the orders "drive Early out of the Vally."  In September and October, Sheridan and Early clashed at Winchester, Fishers Hill and Lastly Ceder Creek on October 19, 1864.

General William Tecunsch Sherman
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   The Battle of Ceder Creek on October 19, 1864, placed the Valley in Federal Control.