Battle of Fisher's Hill Banner

[Source: Atlas Editions; Civil War Cards]


General Philip H. Sheridan had devised a masterly plan by which his Union Army of the Shenandoah could utterly destroy General Jubal A. Early's Confederate Army of the Valley at Fisher's Hill, Va. The Rebels, only 9,000 in number, were well entrenched on the steep sided eminence and were hoping Sheridan would send his men forward in a frontal attack on the nearly impregnable position. All day on September 21, 1864, two divisions of Sheridan's army marched into positions at the front of the Rebel line, while two other divisions, commanded by General George Crook, stayed hidden until well after nightfall and then began a long march around the left of the Confederate line.

Soon after dawn on September 22, Union cannon began firing at the front of the Rebel position while Union soldiers maneuvered and made feints as though they were about to attack. The skirmishing and demonstrations continued for most of the day while Crook's men trudged to their attack position. Finally, at 4:00 p.m., the Union flankers deployed and came crashing down on the Confederate left flank, rolling it up. "Had the heavens opened and we been seen descending from the clouds," wrote one of the attackers, "no greater consternation would have been created." With cries of "Flanked!" and "Outflanked!" the Rebels at the left of the line fled before the onslaught.

As the entire Confederate line began to crumble, Sheridan, crying "Forward! Forward everything," attacked with the rest of his army. The Yankees swarmed over the breastworks, routed the Southerners, captured 12 cannon, and gained more than 1,000 prisoners. Sheridan had sent a cavalry force to cut Early's line of retreat, but the Union troopers had failed to attack a blocking force of Rebel horsemen. Early's ragged army stumbled southward up the Shenandoah Valley and then eastward to escape into the Blue Ridge Mountains.