American Battlefield Trust's map of the Battle of Cedar Creek - The Confederate Assault
Shrouded by an early morning fog, the Confederates of Jubal Early’s Army of the Valley crossed the Shenandoah River’s North Fork and launched an overwhelming surprise attack on the unsuspecting Federals camped near Cedar Creek. The Union Eighth and Nineteenth Corps were ill-prepared for defense and were easily routed by the smaller Confederate force. A few stalwart bands of Northerners tried in vain stem the Rebel tide and valiantly threw themselves in front of the enemy host. These acts of valor did little to slow Early’s assaulting column and had dreadful consequences for the Federal defenders; one regiment, the 8th Vermont, suffered 70 percent casualties during its stand. By midday the Confederates commanded the field while the battered Union army licked its wounds north of Middletown.