Tom’s Brook, also known as the “Woodstock Races”, was the largest cavalry battle in the Shenandoah Valley. It demonstrated the importance of cavalry in the pursuit phase of a battle. The battle ended the effectiveness of Confederate cavalry in the Shenandoah Valley.
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After the Federal victory at Fisher’s Hill, Gen. Philip Sheridan pursued Confederate Gen. Jubal Early’s army south through the Shenandoah Valley as far as Staunton. On October 6, sensing that the conquest of the Valley was complete, Sheridan began a withdrawal north toward Cedar Creek. The Federal cavalry commanded by Gen. Torbert fanned out on both sides of the Valley and burned most of what could be deemed of military significance, including barns and mills. Reinforced by Confederate Gen. Joseph Kershaw’s division, Early followed north behind Sheridan. Gen. Rosser, commanding a Confederate cavalry division, harassed the retreating Federals and killed a number of them. On October 9, Torbert’s troopers with superior numbers and firepower turned on the pursuers, routing the divisions of Rosser and Gen. Lunsford Lomax at Tom’s Brook. The Federals furiously pursued the retreating Confederates through the Shenandoah County seat at Woodstock leading to the sobriquet, the “Woodstock Races”. With this victory, the Federal cavalry attained overwhelming superiority in the Valley and the fabled Confederate cavalry lost it effectiveness.