Closeup of the The Cavalry Charge at Fort Collier wayside marker at Winchester

Closeup of the The Cavalry Charge at Fort Collier wayside marker at Winchester

The Cavalry Charge at Fort Collier

September 19, 1864

The shocking impact of the great charge and capture of Fort Collier unhinged Early’s entire line of battle. Confederate troops streamed south through the streets of Winchester, Confederate artillery continued firing from Star Fort, slowing the Federal pursuit; a few regiments made a brief stand at Mt. Hebron Cemetery, enabling Early to withdraw his tired and battered forces to Fishers Hill, above Strasburg. Except for a few brief hours at the Battle of Ceder Creek, one month later, the Confederates had lost both the initiative and the ability to defend the Shenandoah Valley.

 

The Confederates in the fort were in a hopeless position. There were too many horsemen, coming in too many waves for any defender to have a chance. But the gunners and infantrymen stayed at their positions, fighting until the end. When Union infantry reached the fort, they found no living defenders, but only “their abandoned artillery [2 guns] which had done so much damage... hissing hot with action, with their miserable rac-a-bone horses attached.”

Dudley L. Vaill
The County Regiment
2nd Connecticut Vol. Heavy Artillery

 

Just before reaching Fort Collier, Federal cavalry shattered three small infantry regiments under command of Colonel George S. Patton, grandfather of the famous General Patton of the Second World War.

"Custer led it, boot to boot...the enemy’s line broke into a thousand fragments under the shock.”

General Wesley Merrit
Commander, 1st Cavalry Div.
Army of the Shenandoah

 

Colonel Patton’s regiments were beyond the fort, with the cavalry bearing down on them. “For the first time I saw a division of infantry, or what was left of one, form a hollow square to resist cavalry.”

Henry Kyd Douglas
Confederate Staff Officer

 

“I never saw such a sight in my life as that of the tremendous force, the flying banners, sparkling bayonets, and flashing sabres moving from the north and east upon the left flank and rear of our army.”

An Unknown Confederate Soldier

 

“Boys, look at that! We did look and saw a sight to be remembered a lifetime. In solid columns, with drawn sabres flashing in the sun, and without firing a shot came a brigade of troopers like a thunder clap out of a clear sky.”

G.A. Carpenter
8th Regiment Vermont Volunteers

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