On Oct. 25, 1864, Daniel Boyd wrote his father Robert Boyd from camp in New Market, Virginia. In this letter he goes into great detail about what he refers to as “a big fight near Strasburg.” What he refers to is known today as the Battle of Cedar Creek. This was one of the largest reversals of the war. Jubal Early‘s Corps attacked just after daybreak with Kershaw’s Division attacking at 7:15 am.
Daniel’s regiment the 7th South Carolina was a part of James Conner‘s Brigade. Conner had lost a leg at the Battle of Hupp’s Hill a week earlier and the brigade was under the command of Maj. James Monroe Goggin, a staff officer of General Joseph Kershaw‘s until receiving this appointment.
Early’s Corps caught the federals under Phillip Sheridan completely by surprise and routed them completely. Daniel details it this way:
We captured all their pickets and then marched in to their camps and fired in to their tents wher they was sleeping. We kild a great meney of them a sleep. We drove them out of their breast works. They went flying all over the country leaving everything in camp. We drove them six or seven miles. It was a charge all the time. We captured 38 peaces of artillery from 1500 to too thousand prisoners and blankets and tents enough to souply the army and eneything that you can call for.
Unfortunately, the hungry army paused to resupply and eat from the captured Union goods and allowed Sheridan to regroup and counter attack at 4:00 pm. Daniel describes the result:
Every thing went rite til after twelve oclock. We had the completely routed but to our mis fortune they got reinforcements and made a charge on Gordon’s division and broke their lines. They was on the left. They run of and left Kershaw’s division to fight it out. We fought them til they got in our rear and then we had to do som of our best running and the Yankees after us. Their was no such thing as rallying our men. They went swarming like bees. They drove us back over the same ground that we drove them in a bout as big a hury as we went. They got all their artillery back and nearly all of ours and a good meney wagons.
In a postscript Daniel gives some brief details of the Battle of Hupps Hill in which Brig. Gen. James Conner lost a leg.
The Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal for History 2012.
To learn more click on the “Diamond Hill” link at the top. To buy the book you may go to any major online retailer such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or you may buy it directly from McFarland Publishers. “The Boys of Diamond Hill” is also available for the Kindle.