Battle of Cedar Creek

The Battle of Cedar Creek, or Battle of Belle Grove, fought October 19, 1864, was the culminating battle of the Valley Campaigns of 1864 during the American Civil War. Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early launched a surprise attack against the encamped army of Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan, across Cedar Creek, northeast of Strasburg, Virginia. During the morning fighting, seven Union infantry divisions were forced to fall back and lost numerous prisoners and cannons. Early failed to continue his attack north of Middletown, and Sheridan, dramatically riding to the battlefield from Winchester, was able to rally his troops to hold a new defensive line. A Union counterattack that afternoon routed Early's army.

At the conclusion of this battle, the final Confederate invasion of the North was effectively ended. The Confederacy was never again able to threaten Washington, D.C. through the Shenandoah Valley, nor protect one of its key economic bases in Virginia. The stunning Union victory aided the reelection of Abraham Lincoln and won Sheridan lasting fame.

Battle of Cedar Creek
(Battle of Belle Grove)
Part of the American Civil War
Battle of Cedar Creek by Kurz & Allison

Battle of Cedar Creek, by Kurz & Allison (1890)
DateOctober 19, 1864
Location
39°01′15″N 78°18′14″W / 39.0208°N 78.3038°WCoordinates: 39°01′15″N 78°18′14″W / 39.0208°N 78.3038°W
Result Union victory[1]
Belligerents
 United States (Union)  Confederate States (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
Philip Sheridan Jubal Early
Units involved
Army of the Shenandoah
Army of West Virginia[2]
Army of the Valley[3]
Strength
  • 31,610 (engaged)[4]
  • 21,102 (engaged)[5]
  • Casualties and losses
    5,665
    (644 killed;
     3,430 wounded;
     1,591 captured/missing)
    [6][7]
    2,910
    (320 killed;
     1,540 wounded;
     1,050 captured/missing)
    [7]

    Background

    Grant's strategy in 1864

    At the beginning of 1864, Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to lieutenant general and given command of all Union armies. He chose to make his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac, although Maj. Gen. George G. Meade remained the actual commander of that army. He left Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman in command of most of the western armies. Grant understood the concept of total war and believed, along with Sherman and President Lincoln, that only the utter defeat of Confederate forces and their economic base would bring an end to the war. Therefore, scorched earth tactics would be required in some important theaters. He devised a coordinated strategy that would strike at the heart of the Confederacy from multiple directions: Grant, Meade, and Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler against Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia near Richmond; Sherman to invade Georgia and capture Atlanta and Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks to capture Mobile.[8]

    Shenandoah Valley

    Shenandoah Valley May-July 1864
    Shenandoah Valley operations, May–July 1864

    The final coordinated offensive was to be conducted by Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel through the Shenandoah Valley. During the Civil War, the Valley was one of the most important geographic features of Virginia. The watershed of the Shenandoah River passed between the Blue Ridge Mountains on the east and the Allegheny Mountains to the west, extending 165 miles (270 km) southwest from the Potomac River at Shepherdstown and Harpers Ferry, at an average width of 25 miles (40 km). By the conventions of local residents, the "upper Valley" referred to the southwestern end, which had a generally higher elevation than the lower Valley to the northeast. Moving "up the Valley" meant traveling southwest, for instance. Between the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River, Massanutten Mountain soared 2,900 feet (900 m) and separated the Valley into two halves for about 50 miles (80 km), from Strasburg to Harrisonburg. During the 19th century, there was but a single road that crossed over the mountain, from New Market to Luray.[9]

    The Valley offered two strategic advantages to the Confederates. First, a Northern army invading Virginia could be subjected to Confederate flanking attacks pouring through the many wind gaps across the Blue Ridge. Second, the Valley offered a protected corridor that allowed Confederate armies to head north into Pennsylvania unimpeded, and a hard-surfaced road, the Valley Pike (current U.S. Route 11), allowed relatively swift movement—this was the route taken by Lee to invade the North in the Gettysburg Campaign of 1863. In contrast, the orientation of the Valley offered little advantage to a Northern army headed toward Richmond. But denying the Valley to the Confederacy would be a significant blow. It was an agriculturally rich area—the 2.5 million bushels of wheat produced in 1860, for example, accounted for about 19% of the crop in the entire state and the Valley was also rich in livestock—that was used to provision Virginia's armies and the Confederate capital of Richmond. Mark Grimsley, writing in The Hard Hand of War, argues that by 1864 Lee was receiving most of his supplies from the Deep South, so that the agricultural importance of the Valley has been overstated. The Union wanted to control it to close the invasion route to the North and to deny the use of its supplies to guerrillas operating in the area. If the Federals could capture Staunton in the upper Valley, they would threaten the vital Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, which ran from Richmond to the Mississippi River.[10]

    Sigel and Hunter

    Sigel, in command of the Department of West Virginia, had orders from Grant to move "up the Valley" with 10,000 men to destroy the railroad center at Lynchburg. Sigel's force was quickly intercepted by 4,000 Confederate troops under Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge, and defeated at the Battle of New Market on May 15. He retreated to Strasburg and was replaced by Maj. Gen. David Hunter. Hunter resumed the Union offensive and defeated Brig. Gen. William E. "Grumble" Jones, who was killed in the Battle of Piedmont on June 6. Hunter occupied Staunton and joined with Brig. Gen. George Crook. His force of 20,000 men, ordered by Grant to live off the land, began a campaign of destruction.[11]

    Early's campaign

    Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose Army of Northern Virginia was being maneuvered by Grant into a siege around Richmond and Petersburg, was also concerned about Hunter's advances in the Valley. He sent his Second Corps, now designated the Army of the Valley, under Jubal Early to sweep Union forces from the Valley and, if possible, to menace Washington, D.C., hoping to compel Grant to dilute his forces around Petersburg. Early was operating in the shadow of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, whose 1862 Valley Campaign against superior forces was fabled in Confederate history.[12]

    Early got off to a good start. He drove down the Valley without opposition, bypassed Harpers Ferry, crossed the Potomac River, and advanced into Maryland. Grant dispatched a corps under Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright and other troops under Crook to reinforce Washington and pursue Early. Early defeated a smaller force under Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace in the Battle of Monocacy on July 9, but this battle delayed his progress enough to allow time for the reinforcement of the defenses of Washington. Early attempted some tentative attacks against Fort Stevens (July 11–12) on the northern outskirts of Washington, but then withdrew to Virginia. A number of small battles ensued as the Union pursued, including the defeat of Crook at the Second Battle of Kernstown on July 24.[13]

    Sheridan's campaign

    Shenandoah Valley August-October 1864
    Shenandoah Valley operations, August 1864 – March 1865

    Grant decided that Early's threat had to be eliminated, particularly in the wake of a cavalry raid that burned Chambersburg. He saw that Washington had to be heavily defended as long as Early was still on the loose. One problem was that Early's moves cut through four federal departments. Grant considered unity of command to be essential and recommended George Meade for the position, but Lincoln vetoed that because Radicals had launched a major political attack on Meade. Grant's next choice was a man aggressive enough to defeat Early: Philip Sheridan, the cavalry commander of the Army of the Potomac. Sheridan took command of all forces in West Virginia, western Maryland and the Middle Military Division responsible for operations around the Shenandoah Valley. His field army was called the Army of the Shenandoah. Sheridan initially started slowly, primarily because the impending presidential election of 1864 demanded a cautious approach, avoiding any disaster that might lead to the defeat of Abraham Lincoln.[14]

    After a month of maneuvering with a few small battles between Sheridan and Early, the Confederates became complacent about the threat. Robert E. Lee ordered Maj. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw's division to return to Richmond on September 16. Sheridan reacted immediately and struck Early with his entire force near Winchester, on September 19. The Battle of Opequon (the Third Battle of Winchester) was the largest of the campaign and Early sustained ruinous casualties. His army retreated to the south, taking up defensive positions on a long ridge called Fisher's Hill. Although this position was theoretically nearly impregnable, Early lacked the manpower to hold the entire line in strength. Sheridan hit Early in a flanking attack on September 22, again routing the Confederates, who retreated to Waynesboro.[15]

    With Early damaged and pinned down, the Valley lay open to the Union. And because of Sherman's capture of Atlanta, Lincoln's re-election now seemed assured. Sheridan pulled back slowly down the Valley and conducted a scorched earth campaign that would foreshadow Sherman's March to the Sea in November. The goal was to deny the Confederacy the means of feeding its armies in Virginia, and Sheridan's army did so aggressively, burning crops, barns, mills, and factories. The operation, conducted primarily from September 26 to October 8, has been known to locals ever since as "the Burning" or "Red October". It encompassed the area of Harrisonburg, Port Republic, Staunton and Waynesboro. Early was reinforced by the return of Kershaw's division and the arrival of Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Rosser's cavalry division. As Sheridan began to withdraw down the Valley and Early began to pursue, Union cavalry defeated Rosser at Tom's Brook on October 9. The Union army encamped north of Cedar Creek, in parts of Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties.[16]

    Prelude to battle

    ScottBattleCedarCr400
    The First Vermont Brigade at the Battle of Cedar Creek, by Julian Scott (1870)

    Believing that Early could no longer muster attacks after more than a month of battling, Sheridan ordered the VI Corps under Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright to return to the Petersburg siege lines. However, Early's troops arrived at Hupp's Hill, just north of Strasburg, on October 13, deployed in battle formation, and began shelling Federal camps around Belle Grove plantation. Col. Joseph Thoburn's Union division moved forward to silence the guns and engaged in a sharp fight with Kershaw's division, resulting in 209 Union casualties, 182 Confederate. Sheridan recalled Wright's corps, which by this time had reached Ashby's Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He departed on October 16 for a conference in Washington with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, accompanied by his Cavalry Corps as far as Front Royal, intending that those two divisions would then raid the Virginia Central Railroad. However, Sheridan changed his plan when he was notified that Early was sending wig-wag signals implying that Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's corps might join him from Petersburg. This was disinformation on Early's part, hoping that it would induce the Federals to withdraw down the Valley, but instead Sheridan brought all of his forces back to the camps along Cedar Creek.[17]

    In a letter of October 12, 1864, Lee told Early, "You had better move against him and endeavor to crush him. ... I do not think Sheridan's infantry or cavalry numerically as large as you suppose." Early examined the Union position behind Cedar Creek and found an opening. Expecting an attack across the open valley floor to the west, the Union left relied on natural obstacles for cover. Furthermore, Sheridan expected each of his subordinate commands to provide for its own security, using pickets deployed well forward of their camps. General Crook's army was not accustomed to that practice and discounted Sheridan's guidance, leaving the Union left more vulnerable. Early's choice was either to retire from the area to replenish his dwindling supplies or to attack. He chose boldness and, using surprise to his advantage, planned an assault on superior forces—across the North Fork of the Shenandoah River and Cedar Creek to attack the Union left, rolling up the line and defeating each part in detail.[18]

    On October 18, the eve of battle, Sheridan was spending the night in Winchester, on his way back from the Washington conference. Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright was in temporary command of the Army of the Shenandoah.[19]

    Opposing forces

    Union

    James B. Ricketts - Brady-Handy
    Brig. Gen.
    James B. Ricketts
    William H. Emory - Brady-Handy
    Brig. Gen.
    William H. Emory
    George Crook - Brady-Handy
    Brig. Gen.
    George Crook

    Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah consisted of 31,610 men (effectives) and 90 artillery pieces,[4] organized as follows:[20]

    Confederate

    JubalEarly.jpeg
    Lt. Gen.
    Jubal Early
    John Pegram
    Brig. Gen.
    John Pegram
    Jbgordon
    Maj. Gen.
    John B. Gordon
    GCWhartonACW
    Brig. Gen.
    Gabriel C. Wharton
    TLRosser
    Maj. Gen.
    Thomas L. Rosser

    Early's Army of the Valley consisted of 21,102 men (effectives) and more than 40 artillery pieces,[5] organized as follows:[22]

    Battle

    Confederate attacks

    ATLAS OR BATTLE OF CEDAR CREEK
    Battle of Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864)
    Cedar Creek Confederate attacks
    Battle of Cedar Creek, Confederate attacks

    Early's men began to form into three columns on the evening of October 18. Gordon's column (the divisions of Ramseur, Pegram and Evans), with the farthest to march, departed just after it became dark, about 8 p.m. They stealthily followed a narrow path (a "pig path") between the Shenandoah and the nose of Massanutten Mountain, previously scouted by Gordon and mapmaker, Maj. Jedediah Hotchkiss. The path required single file passage in places, and did not support the movement of artillery. The columns of Wharton and Kershaw departed at about 1 a.m. on October 19, and all three columns of infantry were in position by 3:30 a.m. Rosser's cavalry prepared to advance along the western side of the valley to attack in the vicinity of Cupp's Ford. The 300-man cavalry brigade of Col. William H. Payne, Rosser's division, was assigned to lead Gordon's men to the battle and then break off in an attempt to reach Belle Grove and capture General Sheridan from his headquarters. The Confederates were unaware that Sheridan was not present that morning. Lomax's cavalry was to advance on the Front Royal–Winchester Road to cut off any Union withdrawal in the area of Newtown (current Stephens City).[23]

    Surprise was virtually complete and most of the Army of West Virginia troops were caught unprepared in their camps. The Confederates' quiet approach was aided by the presence of heavy fog. Kershaw's Division attacked the trenches of Col. Joseph Thoburn's division at 5 a.m. A few minutes later, Gordon's column attacked the position of Col. Rutherford B. Hayes's division. Crook's division-sized "army" was overwhelmed and many fled, half-dressed, in panic. A brigade under Col. Thomas Wildes was one of the more alert units, and it conducted a fighting withdrawal over 30 minutes to the Valley Pike. Heroic leadership by Capt. Henry A. du Pont, acting chief of Crook's artillery, saved nine of his sixteen cannons while he kept them in action, stalling the Confederate advance, eventually establishing a rallying point for the Union north of Middletown. (Du Pont later received the Medal of Honor and a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel in the regular army for his efforts.)[24]

    The surprise at Cedar Creek
    The Confederate attack hits the rear of the XIX Corps

    At the XIX Corps camps, General Emory reacted to the sounds of battle and Crook's fleeing men entering his lines by reorienting his lines to face Gordon's oncoming attack. In doing so, he removed a covering force that was protecting a bridge over Cedar Creek, allowing Wharton's column to move forward unimpeded at 5:40 a.m. Col. Wildes's brigade of Crook's army was ordered by Emory to stop its withdrawal, turn around, and attack the advancing Confederates to buy more time for reorienting the Union lines. General Wright accompanied Wildes and received a painful wound to his chin. The XIX Corps brigade of Col. Stephen Thomas made a similar gallant stand for over 30 minutes while McMillan's division withdrew through the thin lines of Grover's division. These actions around Belle Grove delayed the Confederates enough that most of the headquarters units and supply trains were able to withdraw to safety and the VI Corps could prepare a better defense on the high ground just northwest of the plantation.[25]

    The three divisions of the VI Corps were able to establish proper defensive lines. Kiefer's division aligned itself with Cedar Creek, but as retreating XIX Corps soldiers flowed through, they were unable to hold their position and withdrew to just west of Meadow Brook. Elements of McMillan's division and Merritt's cavalry extended their line to the west. At approximately quarter after 7 in the morning, Kershaw's Division hit the line hard, gradually forcing it back. Wheaton's division, just to the north, was similarly forced back by Gordon's continued attack. The two Union divisions eventually linked up about a mile to the northeast, joining with Getty's division, which was pulling back from a fierce fight at the Middletown cemetery. Getty had originally marched his division toward the sound of battle, but when Wheaton withdrew, his men were unsupported. Briefly defending a slight rise south of Middletown, at 8 a.m. he moved his division to the town cemetery, on a hill to the west. For over an hour, Getty's division defended this position against assaults from four Confederate divisions. Jubal Early assumed by the ferocity of the defense that he was fighting the entire VI Corps. He allowed himself to become distracted, which diluted the momentum of the overall Confederate attack. Directing all of his artillery to concentrate on the cemetery position for 30 minutes, he was able to dislodge Getty's division, ordered to withdraw to the main Federal line, now being formed about a mile to the north, by temporary commander Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Grant. (The VI Corps' temporary commander, Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts, had been wounded and Getty assumed corps command.)[26]

    Sheridan's Ride

    Sheridan s Ride
    Sheridan's Ride, chromolithograph by Louis Prang & Co.

    Sheridan was at Winchester at the start of the battle. At 6 a.m., pickets south of Winchester reported back that they heard the distant sounds of artillery. Not expecting any significant action from Early that day, Sheridan dismissed the report. As additional reports arrived, he assumed it was "Grover's division banging away at the enemy simply to find out what he was up to", but he ordered his horse, Rienzi, to be saddled and ate a quick breakfast. At 9 a.m. he departed with three staff officers, and soon he was joined by a 300-man cavalry escort, and with them he rode aggressively to his command. He noticed that the sounds of battle were increasing in volume quickly, so he inferred that his army was retreating in his direction. At Newtown, he ordered a young officer from Crook's staff, Capt. William McKinley (elected President 32 years later, in 1896), to set up a line that would intercept stragglers and send them back to the battlefield. He reached the battle about 10:30 a.m. and began to rally his men to complete the defensive line north of Middletown that General Wright had begun to organize. His presence electrified the Union soldiers and he shouted, "Come on back, boys! Give 'em hell, God damn 'em! We'll make coffee out of Cedar Creek tonight!"[27]

    General Sheridan wrote in his official report an account of the famous ride:

    [I] was unconscious of the true condition of affairs until about 9 o'clock, when having ridden through the town of Winchester, the sound of the artillery made a battle unmistakable, and on reaching Mill Creek, half a mile south of Winchester, the head of the fugitives appeared in sight, trains and men coming to the rear with appalling rapidity. I immediately gave directions to halt and park the trains at Mill Creek, and ordered the brigade at Winchester to stretch across the country and stop all stragglers. Taking twenty men from my escort, I pushed on to the front, leaving the balance under General Forsyth and Colonels Thom and Alexander to do what they could in stemming the torrent of fugitives. I am happy to say that hundreds of the men, when of reflection found they had not done themselves justice, came back with cheers. ... still none behaved more gallantly or exhibited greater courage than those who returned from the rear determined to reoccupy their lost camp.[28]

    Thomas Buchanan Read wrote a popular poem, Sheridan's Ride, to commemorate Sheridan's exploit. The general took notice of the widespread public acclaim by renaming his horse "Winchester". In 1908, Gutzon Borglum created an equestrian statue of Sheridan and Winchester riding to Cedar Creek, which stands in Sheridan Circle, Washington, D.C.[29]

    The "fatal halt"

    Cedar Creek Union counterattack
    Battle of Cedar Creek, Union counterattack

    Fortunately for Sheridan, Early's men were too occupied to take notice of the Union general's dramatic arrival; they were hungry and exhausted and fell out of their ranks to pillage supplies from the Union camps. By 10 a.m., Jubal Early had developed a stunning Confederate victory, capturing 1,300 Union prisoners and 24 cannons, and driving seven infantry divisions off the field with a smaller force. But rather than exploiting his victory, Early ordered a halt in his offensive to reorganize, a decision for which he later received criticism from his surviving subordinates. John B. Gordon wrote years later, "My heart went into my boots. Visions of the fatal halt on the first day at Gettysburg, and of the whole day's hesitation to permit an assault on Grant's exposed flank on the 6th of May in The Wilderness rose before me." Early wrote to Robert E. Lee, "So many of our men had stopped in the camp to plunder (in which I am sorry to say that officers participated), the country was so open, and the enemy's cavalry so strong, that I did not deem it prudent to press further, especially as Lomax had not come up." The two armies stood about a mile apart in lines perpendicular to the Valley Pike. At 1 p.m. Early gave a halfhearted order to Gordon to attack the Union line, but "not if he found the enemy's line too strong to attack with success." Gordon's division moved forward against the XIX Corps, with Kershaw and Ramseur ready to support them, but after firing a heavy volley into the Union line, they withdrew.[30]

    Union counterattack

    Sheridan's boast about making coffee from Cedar Creek that evening meant that he was immediately contemplating a counterattack. He placed a cavalry division on each end of the line, which was made up of Wright's VI Corps and Emory's XIX Corps. Crook's Army of West Virginia was in reserve. While his cavalry pressed both of Early's flanks, Sheridan planned for the XIX Corps to execute a "left half-wheel" to the southeast, pivoting on Getty's VI Corps division, and driving the Confederates into the Pike. The main attack began at 4 p.m., meeting significant Confederate resistance north of Middletown for about an hour. Early's left flank began to crumble and Custer's cavalry raced into the Confederate rear. Many of the Confederate soldiers panicked as they envisioned their escape route across Cedar Creek being blocked by the Federal cavalrymen who had been so successful during the campaign. After the breakthrough on the Union right, Sheridan stepped up the pressure with an attack on Ramseur's Division. General Ramseur was mortally wounded and his men joined the retreat. Although the Confederate artillery made a few delaying stands along the way, Early had lost control of his army.[31]

    The situation worsened for the Confederates when a small bridge on the Valley Pike collapsed, making it impossible to cross with wagons or artillery over "No Name Creek" south of Strasburg. Early's army was forced to abandon all of the captured Union guns and wagons from the morning attack, as well as most of their own. Sheridan's pursuit ended at nightfall. The retreating Confederate soldiers gathered temporarily on Fisher's Hill and then the army retired the following day to New Market.[32]

    Aftermath

    Casualties

    Casualties for the Union totaled 5,665 (644 killed, 3,430 wounded, 1,591 missing). Confederate casualties are only estimates, about 2,910 (320 killed, 1,540 wounded, 1,050 missing).[7] In addition to the mortal wounding of Confederate general Ramseur (who died at Belle Grove in the company of Union officers who were former colleagues and friends), two Union brigadier generals were killed at Cedar Creek: Daniel D. Bidwell and Charles R. Lowell, Jr.[33]

    Outcome

    The battle was a crushing defeat for the Confederates. They were never again able to threaten the northern states through the Shenandoah Valley, nor protect the economic base in the Valley. In fact, Early still had the problem of feeding his own army. The reelection of Abraham Lincoln was materially aided by this victory and Phil Sheridan earned lasting fame. Ulysses S. Grant ordered a 100-gun salute be fired in his honor at Petersburg and he was rewarded with a promotion to major general in the regular army.[34]

    Reactions and effects

    Jubal Early told Jed Hotchkiss that night that the "fatal halt" occurred because, "the Yankees got whipped and we got scared". But he soon became bitter about his defeat, heaping blame on his soldiers. He wrote to Robert E. Lee, "but for their bad conduct I should have defeated Sheridan's whole force." Three days after the battle he addressed his army: "Many of you, including some commissioned officers, yielded to a disgraceful propensity for plunder. ... Subsequently those who had remained at their post, seeing their ranks thinned by the absence of the plunderer ... yielded to a needless panic and fled the field in confusion."[35]

    Early's military career was effectively ended. His surviving units returned to the Army of Northern Virginia in Petersburg that December. He was left for the winter with a command of fewer than 3,000 men at Waynesboro. On March 2, 1865, Sheridan marched his command to join Grant in Petersburg and Custer's cavalry division routed Early's small command along the way. Early escaped with a small escort and spent the next two weeks running from Federal patrols before reporting to Lee's headquarters. On March 30, Lee told him to go home.[36]

    Medals of Honor

    Twelve Union enlisted men and nine officers received the Medal of Honor for their actions in the Battle of Cedar Creek. One of the officers was a captain of the 5th U.S. Artillery and future U.S. Senator, Henry A. du Pont.

    Battlefield preservation

    Cedar Creek Battlefield and Belle Grove
    Built1797
    ArchitectHite, Isaac
    Architectural styleFederal
    NRHP reference #69000243[37]
    VLR #034-0002
    Significant dates
    Added to NRHPAugust 11, 1969
    Designated NHLDAugust 11, 1969[39]
    Designated NHPDecember 19, 2002
    Designated VLRNovember 5, 1968[38]

    More than 1,450 acres (5.9 km2) of the Cedar Creek Battlefield are preserved as part of the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, a partnership park, with much of the land owned by nonprofit preservation groups, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Belle Grove Plantation, the Potomac Conservancy, and the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation. In addition, nonprofit groups such as the Civil War Trust (a division of the American Battlefield Trust) have contributed substantial funding toward protection of these lands. Since 2000, the Trust and its federal, state and local partners have acquired and preserved 661 acres (2.67 km2) of the battlefield. Some of this battlefield land has been acquired by the National Park Service and incorporated into the park.[40] The left flank of the Union counterattack took place at Thorndale Farm.

    In May 2008, the Frederick County Board of Supervisors voted to allow Carmeuse Lime and Stone to expand its existing operation on the Cedar Creek Battlefield. The vote permits Carmeuse to mine 394 acres (1.59 km2) of core battlefield land at Cedar Creek. In response to this decision, an alliance of national and local preservation groups formed the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove Coalition to increase public awareness about the impact of the new mining on the battlefield, as well as to promote future preservation efforts at Cedar Creek.[41]

    The 1st Vermont Brigade's actions in the battle are commemorated by a large wall-sized painting in the Cedar Creek Room on the second floor of the Vermont State House in Montpelier, entitled The Battle of Cedar Creek. The painting is by Julian Scott, a Vermont soldier awarded the Medal of Honor for valor.[42] In 1997, proposed highway construction threatened a Virginia ridge where the 8th Vermont Regiment, commanded by Stephen Thomas, lost nearly two-thirds of its men in a heroic early morning stand. The proposal prompted the Vermont State Legislature to adopt a resolution stating that more Vermont units took part in this battle than in any other in the war and asking Virginia to prevent building on the ridge.[43]

    Limestone Mines at Cedar Creek

    Limestone Mines at Cedar Creek

    See also

    Notes

    1. ^ National Park Service.
    2. ^ Further information: Official Records, Series I, Volume XLIII, Part 1, pages 125-130.
    3. ^ Further information: Official Records, Series I, Volume XLIII, Part 2, pages 883-884.
    4. ^ a b Whitehorne, p. 15. The NPS battle summary Archived February 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine lists Union strength of 31,945. Cullen, p. 111, states 35,000 Union effectives, including 10,000 cavalry. Salmon, p. 368, and Kennedy, p. 319, state 32,000 Union.
    5. ^ a b Whitehorne, p. 17. The NPS battle summary Archived February 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine and Kennedy, p. 319, list Confederate strength of 21,000. Cullen, p. 112, states 18,000 Confederate effectives, including 4,000 cavalry.
    6. ^ Further information: Official Records, Series I, Volume XLIII, Part 1, pages 131-137.
    7. ^ a b c Wert, p. 246, Eicher, p. 752. Lewis, p. 288, reports Union totals as 5,764 (569 killed, 3,425 wounded, 1,770 missing), Confederates 3,060 (1,860 killed and wounded, 1,200 prisoners). Kennedy, p. 323, reports 5,672 Union, 2,910 Confederate. The NPS battle summary Archived February 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine reports 5,665 Union, 2,910 Confederate. Salmon, p. 372, reports Union "almost 5,700", Confederate "almost 3,000".
    8. ^ Salmon, p. 251.
    9. ^ Gallagher, pp. 2–3; Wert, p. 27.
    10. ^ Grimsley, pp. 167–68; Wert, pp. 27–28.
    11. ^ Kennedy, pp. 298–303; Eicher, pp. 691–94; Salmon, pp. 329–30.
    12. ^ Kennedy, p. 305; Eicher, p. 715; Salmon, p. 331.
    13. ^ Eicher, pp. 715–18; Salmon, pp. 331–32; Kennedy, pp. 305–312; Welcher, p. 1017.
    14. ^ Wert, p. 16; Eicher, p. 719; Salmon, pp. 332–33; Kennedy, p. 313; Welcher, p. 1018.
    15. ^ Welcher, pp. 1024–32; Eicher, pp. 743–47; Salmon, pp. 334–35; Kennedy, pp. 315–18.
    16. ^ Grimsley, pp. 167–68; Wert, pp. 144, 158; Lewis, p. 59; Eicher, p. 748; Salmon, pp. 335–36; Kennedy, p. 318.
    17. ^ Cullen, pp. 111–12; Patchan, pp. 8–12; Eicher, p. 748; Salmon, p. 336; Welcher, p. 1037.
    18. ^ Wert, pp. 171–74; Whitehorne, p. 11.
    19. ^ Welcher, p. 1038; Salmon, p. 368.
    20. ^ Whitehorne, pp. 14–15; Welcher, pp. 1044–45.
    21. ^ Welcher, p. 420. Crook's army consisted in part of troops that formerly belonged to the VIII Corps, of the Middle Department, so that name was sometimes used because it was less cumbersome than Army of West Virginia. The official name of the organization, established by order on August 8, 1864, was Army of West Virginia. Lewis, p. 107, notes that this grand title disguised the fact that the 4,000 men of the so-called army were the approximate size of a Union division, and their two constituent divisions were actually brigade-sized and led by colonels.
    22. ^ Whitehorne, pp. 16–17. The names of the Confederate divisions and brigades were traditionally based on early, or prominent, commanders, whether they remained with the units or not.
    23. ^ Cullen, pp. 112–15; Patchan, pp. 16–19; Lewis, pp. 185, 232; Kennedy, p. 322; Welcher, pp. 1039–40.
    24. ^ Wert, pp. 180–83; Patchan, pp. 19–24; Lewis, pp. 192–98; Kennedy, p. 322. Coffey, p. 78, states that there is disagreement among veterans about whether it was Kershaw or Gordon who launched the first attack.
    25. ^ Lewis, pp. 201–204; Patchan, p. 40; Cullen, p. 116; Kennedy, p. 322; Whitehorne, pp. 19–21.
    26. ^ Patchan, pp. 40–42; Lewis, pp. 213–39; Whitehorne, pp. 21–22; Welcher, p. 1042.
    27. ^ Lewis, pp. 243–48; Welcher, p. 1043; Cullen, pp. 110–11; Coffey, pp. 87–88; Patchan, pp. 43–45, states that there were 20 in the escort.
    28. ^ Report of Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, U.S. Army, commanding Middle Military Division, including operations August 4, 1864 – February 27, 1865: Official Records, Series I, Vol. XLIII, Part 1, pp. 52–54.
    29. ^ Wert, p. 248;
    30. ^ Cullen, p. 118; Lewis, pp. 257–60; Patchan, pp. 42, 46; Welcher, p. 1044; Coffey, pp. 82–85.
    31. ^ Whitehorne, p. 24; Welcher, p. 1044; Cullen, pp. 118–19; Coffey, pp. 90–92; Patchan, pp. 46–50.
    32. ^ Welcher, p. 1045; Cullen, p. 119; Patchan, p. 50.
    33. ^ Eicher, p. 752.
    34. ^ Lewis, p. 292; Kennedy, p. 323.
    35. ^ Bohannon, pp. 78, 71; Kennedy, pp. 323–24; Welcher, pp. 1047.
    36. ^ Lewis, pp. 297–98.
    37. ^ National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
    38. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
    39. ^ "Cedar Creek Battlefield and Belle Grove Plantation". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
    40. ^ [1] American Battlefield Trust "Saved Land" webpage. Accessed May 25, 2018.
    41. ^ Cedar Creek Supporters Lose Mine Rezoning Battle Archived September 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
    42. ^ Series Editors' Foreword, Seven Myths of the Civil War (eds. Wesley Moody, Alfred J. Andrea & Andrew Holt, 2017), p. ix.
    43. ^ NO. R-247. JOINT RESOLUTION TO URGING THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND THE VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION NOT TO APPROVE HIGHWAY PROJECTS THAT WOULD FURTHER DAMAGE THE HISTORIC CEDAR CREEK BATTLEFIELD (J.R.S. 103), 1998.

    References

    • Bohannon, Keith S. "The 'Fatal Halt' Versus 'Bad Conduct': John B. Gordon, Jubal A. Early, and the Battle of Cedar Creek". In The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864, edited by Gary W. Gallagher. Military Campaigns of the Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-8078-3005-5.
    • Coffey, David. Sheridan's Lieutenants: Phil Sheridan, His Generals, and the Final Year of the Civil War. Wilmington, DE: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005. ISBN 0-7425-4306-4.
    • Cullen, Joseph P. "Cedar Creek". In Battle Chronicles of the Civil War: 1864, edited by James M. McPherson. Lakeville, CT: Grey Castle Press, 1989. ISBN 1-55905-024-1. First published in 1989 by McMillan.
    • Eicher, David J. The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN 0-684-84944-5.
    • Gallagher, Gary W. "The Shenandoah Valley in 1864". In Struggle for the Shenandoah: Essays on the 1864 Valley Campaign, edited by Gary W. Gallagher. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-87338-429-6.
    • Grimsley, Mark. The Hard Hand of War. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-521-59941-5.
    • Kennedy, Frances H., ed. The Civil War Battlefield Guide. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998. ISBN 0-395-74012-6.
    • Lewis, Thomas A. The Guns of Cedar Creek. New York: Harper and Row, 1988. ISBN 0-06-015941-3.
    • Patchan, Scott C. "The Battle Of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864". Blue & Gray Magazine XXIV, no. 1 (2007).
    • Salmon, John S. The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2001. ISBN 0-8117-2868-4.
    • Welcher, Frank J. The Union Army, 1861–1865 Organization and Operations. Vol. 1, The Eastern Theater. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. ISBN 0-253-36453-1.
    • Wert, Jeffry D. From Winchester to Cedar Creek: The Shenandoah Campaign of 1864. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987. ISBN 0-671-67806-X.
    • Whitehorne, Joseph W. A. The Battle of Cedar Creek: Self-Guided Tour. rev. ed., Middletown, VA: Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, 2006. First published as The Battle of Cedar Creek: Self-Guided Tour. Washington, DC: United States Army Center of Military History, 1992. ISBN 978-0-16-026854-0.
    • National Park Service battle description
    • CWSAC Report Update

    Memoirs and primary sources

    Further reading

    • Lewis, Thomas A., and the Editors of Time-Life Books. The Shenandoah in Flames: The Valley Campaign of 1864. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1987. ISBN 0-8094-4784-3.
    • Mahr, Theodore C. The Battle of Cedar Creek: Showdown in the Shenandoah, October 1–30, 1864. Lynchburg, VA: H. E. Howard Inc., 1992. ISBN 978-1-56190-025-1.
    • Morris, Roy, Jr. Sheridan: The Life and Wars of General Phil Sheridan. New York: Crown Publishing, 1992. ISBN 0-517-58070-5.
    • Patchan, Scott C. Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8032-3754-4.
    • Spaulding, Brett W. Last Chance for Victory: Jubal Early's 1864 Maryland Invasion. Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications, 2010. ISBN 978-1-57747-152-3.
    • Wittenberg, Eric J. Little Phil: A Reassessment of the Civil War Leadership of Gen. Philip H. Sheridan. Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2002. ISBN 1-57488-548-0.

    External links

    10th Vermont Infantry

    The 10th Vermont Infantry (or 10th VVI) was an infantry regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

    14th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry

    The 14th New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment was an infantry regiment that participated in the American Civil War. It was the last three-year regiment raised in New Hampshire, serving from September 24, 1862, to July 8, 1865. Carroll Davidson Wright was one of its regimental leaders. The regiment lost a total of 232 men during its service; 8 officers and 63 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, 4 officers and 151 enlisted men by disease.

    On September 24, 1862, the regiment was organized and mustered in Concord, New Hampshire. In October 1862, the 14th NH arrived in Washington, D.C., where it camped on East Capitol Hill before establishing winter quarters at Poolesville, Maryland. From November 1862 to April 1863, the 14th NH served picket duty along the upper Potomac River. In April 1863, the regiment moved its quarters to Camp Adirondack, in northeast Washington D.C. From April 1863 to the end of the year, the 14th NH performed guard duty at Old Capitol Prison, transporting prisoners and deserters, and at the Navy Yard Bridge (Benning's Bridge). In early 1864, the 14th NH briefly performed picket duty in the Shenandoah Valley.

    The regiment returned to New Hampshire to vote in the spring elections which were heavily contested. On March 16, 1864, the 14th N.H. departed for Louisiana to participate in the Red River Campaign, but arrived after it had ended. The regiment served at Camp Parapet, Carrollton, and Jefferson City until June 1864, when they returned to Virginia. The 14th served at Fortress Monroe and Berryville in Virginia until the end of July 1864. From August to December 1864, the regiment was part of General Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah, and participated in the Third Battle of Winchester, on September 19, 1864, with heavy losses at the Battle of Fisher's Hill on September 22, 1864, and the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864. Sergeant Major J. Henry Jenks, from Keene, New Hampshire, was the last man from this unit to fall in battle on October 19, 1864, in the Battle of Cedar Creek. At the conclusion of the Civil War, the 14th NH was stationed near Augusta and Savannah, Georgia. On July 8, 1865, the 14th New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment was mustered out in Savannah.

    8th Vermont Infantry

    The 8th Regiment, Vermont Volunteer Infantry was a three-year infantry regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It served in both major theaters, first in Louisiana and then in Virginia, from February 1862 to June 1865. It was a member of the XIX Corps.

    The regiment was mustered into Federal service on February 18, 1862, at Brattleboro, Vermont. It was engaged in, or present at, the Occupation of New Orleans, Raceland, Boutte Station, Bayou des Allemands, the Steamer "Cotton," Bisland, and Port Hudson, in the Department of the Gulf, and Opequon, Fisher's Hill, Cedar Creek, and Newtown in the Shenandoah Valley campaign.A notable member of this regiment is Captain Squire E. Howard, a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

    Battle of Cedar Creek (1876)

    The Battle of Cedar Creek (also called Big Dry Creek or Big Dry River) occurred on October 21, 1876, in the Montana Territory between the United States Army and a force of Lakota Sioux Native Americans during the Great Sioux War of 1876. The battle broke out after talks between Colonel Nelson A. Miles and Chief Sitting Bull broke down, and ended with surrender of 400 Lakota lodges (with approximately 2,000 men, women, and children) to Miles six days later.

    Battle of Cedar Creek (disambiguation)

    Battle of Cedar Creek was a battle fought in Virginia in 1864 during the American Civil War.

    Battle of Cedar Creek may also refer to:

    Battle of Cedar Creek (Jacksonville), a battle fought in Florida in 1864 during the American Civil War

    Battle of Cedar Creek (1876), a battle fought in the Montana Territory during the Great Sioux War of 1876

    Cedar Creek (North Fork Shenandoah River tributary)

    Cedar Creek is a 40.5-mile-long (65.2 km) tributary stream of the North Fork Shenandoah River in northern Virginia in the United States. It forms the majority of the boundary between Frederick and Shenandoah counties. Cedar Creek's confluence with the North Fork Shenandoah is located at Strasburg.

    It was the site of the 1864 Battle of Cedar Creek in the American Civil War.

    Charles Russell Lowell

    Charles Russell Lowell III (January 2, 1835 – October 20, 1864) was a railroad executive, foundryman, and General in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek and was mourned by a number of leading generals.

    Daniel D. Bidwell

    Daniel Davidson Bidwell (August 12, 1819 – October 19, 1864) was a civic leader in Buffalo, New York, before the outbreak of the American Civil War. He enlisted early in the war and then was appointed colonel of a regiment of infantry. He was promoted to general in command of a brigade in early 1864, leading it until he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek.

    Daniel P. Reigle

    Daniel P. Reigle (February 19, 1841 – March 19, 1917) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Cedar Creek fought near Middletown, Virginia on October 19, 1864. The battle was the decisive engagement of Major General Philip Sheridan’s Valley Campaigns of 1864 and was the largest battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley.

    Henry A. du Pont

    Henry Algernon du Pont (July 30, 1838 – December 31, 1926) was an American military officer, businessman, and politician from Delaware. A member of the famed Du Pont family, he graduated first in his class from West Point shortly after the beginning of the American Civil War and served in the U.S. Army, earning the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Cedar Creek in October 1864.

    After retiring from the Army in 1875, he was president of the Wilmington and Northern Railroad Company for 20 years, until 1899. An active member of the Republican Party, he was elected by the state legislature as a U.S. Senator from Delaware, serving most of two terms (June 13, 1906 to March 4, 1917).

    Henry H. Crocker

    Henry H. Crocker (January 20, 1839 – January 1, 1913) was a Union Army officer during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Cedar Creek fought near Middletown, Virginia on October 19, 1864. The battle was the decisive engagement of Major General Philip Sheridan's Valley Campaigns of 1864 and was the largest battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley.

    When the war broke out Crocker was living in San Francisco, California. He joined one hundred other pro-Union California men who returned east to fight. The so-called "California Hundred" were organized as a cavalry troop and sent via ship to Camp Meigs in Massachusetts. There they were designated Company A and joined by seven cavalry companies from Massachusetts to form the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry. Crocker eventually became captain of Company F, and mustered out in July 1865.

    J. Howard Kitching

    John Howard Kitching (July 16, 1838 – January 10 or 11, 1865), often referred to as J. Howard Kitching, was an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He served in the cavalry, artillery and infantry in the Army of the Potomac and Army of the Shenandoah. He received a posthumous promotion to brevet brigadier general after being mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek.

    Joseph Thoburn

    Joseph Thoburn (April 29, 1825 – October 19, 1864) was born in the district of Mallusk north of Belfast, County Antrim, to be found in the modern-day borough of Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, UK. He went on to be a physician and soldier from the state of West Virginia who served as an officer and brigade commander in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was killed in action in the Shenandoah Valley at the Battle of Cedar Creek.

    List of Medal of Honor recipients for the Battle of Cedar Creek

    The Battle of Cedar Creek was fought near Middletown, Virginia on October 19, 1864. The battle was the decisive engagement of Major General Philip Sheridan’s Valley Campaigns of 1864 and was the largest battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley. Twelve Union Army enlisted men and nine officers were awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the battle.

    The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.

    Signal Knob

    Signal Knob is the northern peak of Massanutten Mountain in the Ridge and Valley Appalachians with an elevation of 2,106 feet (642 m). It is located in George Washington National Forest in Shenandoah County and Warren County in Virginia.

    The peak offers expansive views into the northern Shenandoah Valley and the town of Strasburg, Virginia.

    Signal Knob was used by Signal Corps in the American Civil War by both the Union and Confederate armies. The Confederates occupied it from 1862 to 1864, and it was a key observation point for the Battle of Cedar Creek. On August 14, 1864, a group of Union troops won control of the peak by defeating a detachment of the 61st Georgia Volunteer Infantry. Remains of Civil War era fortifications can still be seen around the area.The Massanutten Trail, maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, leads hikers and mountain bikers up to Signal Knob. There are many loop options of varying lengths which may be combined with the Tuscarora Trail. Trails in the Signal Knob area are known to be less crowded than Shenandoah National Park, to the east.

    Skirmish at Cedar Creek

    The Skirmish at Cedar Creek, also known as Camp Mooney or McGirt's Creek, was a small engagement of the American Civil War fought in present-day Jacksonville, Florida on March 1, 1864. It was fought between a small Confederate States Army outpost and the 40th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry of the Union Army, and resulted in 29 casualties. It was the last engagement in the Olustee Campaign.

    Thomas Maley Harris

    Thomas Maley Harris (1817–1906) was a physician and Union general during the American Civil War.

    Born and raised in Harrisville, Virginia (now part of West Virginia), Harris originally set out to be a teacher, but changed career paths to study medicine. He received his medical degree from Louisville Medical College in 1843 and returned to Virginia to practice medicine until 1861, when he closed his practice when the Civil War began.During the war, Harris commanded the 10th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Shenandoah Valley, then a brigade and division during Philip Sheridan's Valley Campaigns of 1864. He was brevetted to brigadier general for service at the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864.He was transferred to the Army of the James and took command of a division of reinforcements from the Department of West Virginia attached to the XXIV Corps. He received a full promotion to brigadier general in March 1865 and a brevet promotion to major general for service at the battle of Fort Gregg on April 2, 1865. His troops were among those directly responsible for cutting off Robert E. Lee's line of retreat at Appomattox Courthouse. Following the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Harris served on the military commission which tried the Lincoln Conspirators. Following the trial general Harris authored two books about the trial evidences and proceedings: Assassination of Lincoln: A History of the Great Conspiracy, Trial of the Conspirators by a Military Commission, and a Review of the Trial of John H. Surratt, 1892; and later: Rome's Responsibility for the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, 1897.

    After the war, Harris served in the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1867. He was a member of the Whig Party and then joined the Republican Party when the Civil War started in 1861. Harris also served as mayor of Harrisville, West Virginia. He served as an adjunct general in the state militia, from 1867 to 1869, and as the U.S. pension agent for Wheeling, West Virginia from 1871 to 1876. He resumed his medical practice until his retirement in 1885.

    Ulric L. Crocker

    Ulric Lyona Crocker (September 5, 1843 – February 2, 1913) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Cedar Creek fought near Middletown, Virginia on October 19, 1864. The battle was the decisive engagement of Major General Philip Sheridan's Valley Campaigns of 1864 and was the largest battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley.

    Union Army of the Shenandoah

    The Army of the Shenandoah was a Union army during the American Civil War. First organized as the Department of the Shenandoah in 1861 and then disbanded in early 1862, it became most effective after its recreation on August 1, 1864, under Philip Sheridan. Its Valley Campaigns of 1864 rendered the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia unable to produce foodstuffs for the Confederate States Army, a condition which would speed the end of the Civil War.

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