Help Save 131 Acres in the Middle of the Tom’s Brook Battlefield
We have the chance to save 131 acres in the middle of the Toms Brook Battlefield – and to provide the first permanent interpretive access ever on this battlefield!
The property we have an opportunity to preserve was the site of heavy fighting and a flanking movement that helped decide the outcome of the battle. When added to the 974 acres already preserved at Toms Brook, protecting this property will bring the total acres preserved on this battlefield to a staggering 1,105 – not to mention, this deal will provide the best interpretive opportunity ever available on this battlefield.
This property must be preserved, and you can help get it done…
“Their fire became too hot for endurance and our thin line broke…the running fight degenerated into a stampede” – Confederate Pvt. Thomas Ranson, 12th Virginia (part of the Laurel Brigade)
After Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan’s victories at Third Winchester and Fisher’s Hill in September 1864, Sheridan embarked on “The Burning,” a campaign to cripple the Shenandoah Valley’s ability to support the Confederate war effort. Moving north, Sheridan’s cavalry, including troops commanded by Gen. George A. Custer, burned mills, barns, and public buildings, and destroyed or carried away forage, grain, and livestock. “It was [Sheridan’s] purpose to leave a trail of fire,” wrote Union Col. James H. Kidd.
Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early ordered his cavalry “to pursue the enemy, to harass him, and to ascertain his purposes.” Among those harrying the Federals was the “Laurel Brigade” under Gen. Thomas Rosser. Many members of the Laurel Brigade were Valley natives, and the destruction left them “blinded with rage at the sight of their ruined homes.” Eager for vengeance, they hammered relentlessly at the Federals on October 6-8, forcing them back “in one continuous running fight.”
Sheridan was infuriated by the attacks. On the night of October 8, 1864, he ordered his cavalry to “whip the rebel cavalry or get whipped.” Meanwhile, the rage and overconfidence of the Confederate cavalry had left them vulnerable. Not only were they badly outnumbered; they had advanced dangerously ahead of their infantry support.
On October 9 at Tom’s Brook, the Federal cavalry turned and struck back. Watching the Federals advance, one Confederate remembered that the “very ground seemed to spew forth cavalry…”