Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

Cedar Creek 1997 Event Report

Belle Grove Plantation
Middletown, Virginia
October 17-19, 1997
October 20th, 1864
Belle Grove
Middletown, Vir.

Dear Friends,

Please accept this short missive to let you know that I am still well. A more appropriate and less frantic letter will follow, but for now, I felt compelled to tell you of our latest experiences here in the Shennandoah. We were engaged here unexpectedly yesterday, but have been victorious.

We arrived on this plantation, south of Middletown, which is south of Winchester, on Friday evening. The ground is much like that of our hills, rolling up and down, pasture after woods, here and there a small brook, a fence line. The plantation was owned by the Hite family, but is now vacant. The house is a fine mansion of one floor, tall ceilings, and kitchens and cellars under it. The out buildings are plentiful, with barn, coop, well, woodshed, cellars, smithy, &c. The house is used for the headquarters of Gen. Sheridan and staff. The corps camps surround the house, and stretch off to the east, west, and south to Cedar Creek, making a fine defense from the rebels further up the valley. The Valley Pike, a formidable road, goes right through here, and brings us our supplies from Winchester.

It began to rain as soon as our tents were pitched, and continued steady but not hard. It forced us to cook our supper in the rain and dark, as we could not sustain a candle, and then forced us all to congregate in one tent for the evening, which was pleasurable, and comfortable. The general staff and the boys felt quite secure here in numbers against the dwindling Confederate forces in the area. Gen. Sheridan had left to go discuss his new "en masse" cavalry tactics, and the defensive strategy for the valley with Sec'y Stanton at Winchester. We are here in the company of the 56th Penn. Vols, under Capt. Dennis Lahey. They are a good bunch of boys, and were glad to make our acquaintance.

So it is now known that the Rebel forces lying about conducted themselves quietly to our left flank under darkness and attacked at dawn. Due to the fact that the various corps commanders had not set their pickets out far enough to give the alarm, we were swept up in a head long run from our tents and our camps. Once routed, we did form in line of battle and fight and withdraw, fight and withdraw, but the rout was on, and we were pushed with great loss to the north end of Middletown by noon.

It was at this time that a most heroic event occurred. Through the exhausted lines, Gen. Sheridan himself and staff, and cavalry escort galloped through the lines, rallying the boys. It was soon after that the officers realized the Rebel advance was stalling, and that the numbers were not as overwhelming as originally thought. At that point, with the cheers of the boys, the lines went forward, and rolled over the rebels, and everything else, regaining the ground given up in the morning.

By the time the battle ended at sunset, we were comfortably back in our own camps, in our own tents, and in possession of most of our own equipments thought lost earlier in the day. The rebels were pushed back up the valley, in much disarray, and will not be a threat or a surprise here again. As an anecdotal story, I had been getting my breakfast together when the attack came, and needless to sey, I simply put the plate on a cracker box, and ran to get my traps, and fell in. I fully expected that at least one hungary rebel would have paused for a brief repast at my expense, but I found my plate as I left it, salt pork, hard cracker, apple, all intact.

That evening, myself and the members of our mess were so bold as to go up to the mansion in search of something exciting to the palate of a soldier. When the HQ guard was on one end of the post, we quick stepped up to the back of the house, and went under to rear portico, and knocked on the large wood door that lead to the kitchen and the hearth. We were beckoned to enter, and thus we did. Inside, we stepped down three steps onto the dirt floor of a marvelous cellar kitchen, and a huge fireplace on the west side. Two women were busy preparing dinner, and the spread of victuals on the table was plentiful. I asked if there might be a hot supper for some hungary soldiers, and without a moment's thought, they beckoned us to their kettles. We were given a fine beef stew, soft corn bread, and pumpkin pie. We were so thankful that it seemed to us a sort of holiday. But not to overstay our welcome, we paid our compliments, and started to depart.

The women then suggested that we might like to see the house. Of course we were curious, and took the opportunity to tour the mansion proper. We were conducted to the front door, and into the first parlor, to the left of the entrance. The ceilings were fourteen feet high, the wood trimmings ornate, and the doorways all transomed. The library was to the right of the entrance, and there we could see a wounded Rebel general, said to be Ramseur, being tended to. We went down the left hall, and met the overseer in his office, and acrost the way, saw several gentle folk dining in the dining room. We went down the right hall, and were allowed to peek in to the master bedroom, and across from it the children's room. From there, we returned to the center of the house, and to the back in the center is the main sitting room. It is a large room, and is the envy of the house. It simply is singularly beautiful and attractive. From there, we bid our thanks, and exited through the back door. We returned to our camps, and built a small fire, and rested until we turned in for the night.

Your obedient servant,

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