One-tank trips: Belle Grove Plantation
Background posts: Shenandoah battlefields, Winchester battlefields.
During my recent trip to the Shenandoah Valley, I stopped by the Cedar Creek Battlefield, site of the 1864 thrashing Phil Sheridan placed upon the forces of Jubal Early (which including a large number of regiments that had sojourned in York the previous summer during the Gettysburg Campaign). Early was initially winning the fight, highlighted by John B. Gordon’s hard-hitting attack on Union camps on the Belle Grove plantation. Early was unable to capitalize on the morning’s progress, and, after a stirring ride down the Valley Pike from Winchester, Phil Sheridan arrived and stabilized the Union line before launching a decisive counterattack.
Here is a photograph of some of the rolling terrain immediately south of the mansion where unsuspecting Union infantry camped. Gordon’s attack chased them up the Valley Pike past the village of Middletown, where Sheridan rallied them.
The Cedar Creek Battlefield contains much of the old Belle Grove Plantation, including the nicely preserved and restored Belle Grove mansion house. Surrounded by a rain garden, many outbuildings, and some beautiful vistas, Belle Grove by itself is well worth a visit.
The battlefield has a small visitors center along U.S. Route 11 (the Valley Pike) just south of Middletown. The VC sells books, maps, and other items of interest, as well as serving as a place to discuss the battle with local experts.
This monument to the 28th NYSV is one of the few regimental markers on the Cedar Creek Battlefield.There is also a nice monument to Confederate General Stephen D. Ramseur, a Gettysburg veteran who perished at Cedar Creek. The battlefield also has a few interpretative markers and maps.
Cedar Creek / Belle Grove is a “can’t miss” stop for Civil War buffs who are touring the Shenandoah Valley this summer. With reasonable hotel prices, fewer tourists due to the gasoline crisis, and park officials who are always willing to share what they know about these sites, the Valley’s battlefields are ripe for an extended visit. I will be back there this weekend to take in a few more sites I missed last weekend.