To find a cavalry battlefield… on the back roads of Frederick County, part 2

Posted on November 13, 2014 by

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Continuing in my effort to figure out the site of the cavalry fight of November 12, I turned again to Pennington’s report… knowing he had provided estimated distances from Mount Zion to Cedar Creek, and beyond Lebanon Church.

Pennington wrote:

I moved out with the whole brigade and attacked the enemy… succeeded in driving him easily until within a mile and a half of the creek, when they made a sharp resistance. I formed my brigade in line of battle, the regiments being in column, with strong line of skirmishers, and having the ” charge” sounded, charged the enemy, driving them nearly to the creek, Then they again rallied. A sharp fight here ensued but the enemy were obliged to give way, and fled in confusion across Cedar Creek. After driving them a mile and a half beyond Lebanon Church, three miles beyond Cedar Creek, I withdrew my brigade to near Mount Zion Church.

Of course, I figured it might be best to test the accuracy of his estimations… starting at the far southern end point of the Federal pursuit (at the end of the day’s fighting, on November 12, 1864) I would work my way back (north) to Mount Zion.

Crossing Cedar Creek, I reached Lebanon Church, where I began to measure distances according to those provided by Pennington. By following his estimation of “a mile and a half beyond Lebanon Church”, I ended up at Mulberry Run… a spot which seemed to make sense for the end of the Federal pursuit, at the end of the day of fighting.

Centered on Lebanon Church, this map shows the roads to the south (John Marshall Highway), and to the north (Middle Road). Mulberry Run crosses, essentially, at the left bottom corner of the map, while Cedar Creek is at the top right corner of the map.

Centered on Lebanon Church, this map shows the roads to the south (John Marshall Highway), and to the north (Middle Road). Mulberry Run crosses, essentially, at the left bottom corner of the map (about where you see Rt. 623), while Cedar Creek is at the top right corner of the map.

Now it was time to work my way back to Cedar Creek.

Passing by Lebanon Church, I began checking the mileage back to Cedar Creek, but this time, it seemed that Pennington’s estimation was off.

After driving them a mile and a half beyond Lebanon Church, three miles beyond Cedar Creek.

Actually, the distance from Lebanon Church to Cedar Creek was closer to 3 miles (2.7, actually), making for a total of 4.5 miles from Cedar Creek to Mulberry Run. So, I knew it would be best to consider a “give or take” factor when considering the rest of Pennington’s estimations.

At Lebanon Church, looking north, down Back Road.

At Lebanon Church, looking north, down Back Road.

Once I reached Cedar Creek, it was time to begin measuring distance one again, as Pennington noted that his brigade had… “succeeded in driving him easily until within a mile and a half of the creek, when they made a sharp resistance.”

One and a half miles from Cedar Creek, heading north, brought me to a brick house which was clearly from the right era. Was this the site of the fight? Yes, but only part. Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.

This house, I believe, is what was referred to as the Brent House... more on that in a bit.

This house, I believe, is what was referred to as the Brent House… more on that in a bit.

A close-up view of the stretch of land between Cedar Creek (note that "Shenandoah" does not indicate the Shenandoah River, but the Frederick/Shenandoah County line... a border which is actually created by Cedar Creek. In the upper right of the image you can see a cluster of buildings which is actually the house picuted above (which might, as I already stated, have been known, at the time, as the Brent Farm).

A close-up view of the stretch of land between Cedar Creek (note that “Shenandoah” does not indicate the Shenandoah River, but the Frederick/Shenandoah County line… a border which is actually created by Cedar Creek. In the upper right of the image you can see a cluster of buildings which is actually the house pictured above (which might, as I already stated, have been known, at the time, as the Brent Farm).

Keeping my focus on the 7th Virginia Cavalry (remember… as I pointed out in part 1, my great-great grandfather was my inspiration for finding the battle site), it was time to reference William N. McDonald’s A History of the Laurel Brigade.

In his description of the action of the day, the 7th and 12th Virginia first came into action after having reinforced the 11th Virginia Cavalry, on the south bank of Cedar Creek.

It would probably be nice to explain how began that day, with the 11th Virginia, but… again, for keeping the focus that this is a “hunt” of mine, to find the general location in which Pvt. James Harvey Mayes was wounded, it might be best to remain focused on the 7th Virginia. Call it a gut feeling (and that’s a best guess as there are no details as to where he was shot in action of the day), but I don’t think my great-great grandfather was shot in this portion of the affair (in the action on the south bank of Cedar Creek.

Anyway, after the Federals were repulsed, McDonald offered an explanation of what followed:

The Seventh and Twelfth were now withdrawn, and joined Rosser with the rest of his division on the Middle Road, where a formidable body of Federal cavalry was threatening an advance. The Eleventh only was left on the Back Road (Cedar Creek Grade), Rosser supposing that the main body of the enemy was on the Middle Road, where they appeared in great strength, and threatened to overwhelm him with superior numbers.

Essentially, Rosser had guessed incorrectly, and the 11th Virginia was in a precarious position, but didn’t yet realize it…

In short, as the day moved on, the 11th Virginia would, once again, be glad to accept a little help from the rest of the brigade.

On that note it seems it might be best to carry this over to just one more night. You know… let all this talk of maneuvering sink in a bit.

Part 3 to follow, tomorrow.