Today the Civil War Trust is scheduled to announce a $1.3 million fund-raising campaign to preserve two parcels of land near the official boundaries of the Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, about 80 miles west of Washington. One is a 12-acre piece of private property where the 8th Vermont Volunteers Monument honors a desperate encounter during the Battle of Cedar Creek on Oct. 19, 1864, and the other is a 64-acre parcel where Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan rallied his troops to counterattack the Confederates.
The battle is famous for its morning victory for the Confederates under Lt. Gen. Jubal Early and the afternoon victory for the Union which retook the same land.
The parcels are at opposite ends of the battlefield and are not now protected. As is often the case with national battlefields, the boundaries do not include the entire site of a battle.
The public does not now have access to the Vermont monument because it is on private property. Permission has to be gained from the owner through the National Park Service office in Middletown. The monument marks the site where the Union brigade fought heroically to hold off the Confederate advance so the Northern line would have time to reform. The 8th Vermont lost 110 of its 164 men. Preservation of this land has been a long-standing goal of former Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords (I).
The irregularly shaped parcel at the north end of the battlefield is known as Rienzi’s Knoll, named for Sheridan’s horse. Sheridan’s frantic ride from Winchester to the scene of the battle was immortalized by Thomas Buchanan Read in his poem, “Sheridan’s Ride.”