Northern Colonel Nathan Kimball saw the position of his troops on nearby Pritchard's Hill (1.5 miles left and in front of you) becoming indefensible. Southern artillery recently placed on the higher elevation of Sandy Ridge (just in front of you) seriously threatened them.
In an effort to capture these guns, Kimball dispatched Colonel Erastus B. Tyler (Ohio) with a brigade of infantry from Winchester. He hoped Tyler's troops would conduct a surprise attack on the Southern left and rear. Tyler's 2300 infantry and 400 cavalry marched south from Cedar Creek Grade (directly behind you) in a narrow column formation. The formation, designed to move a large body of troops through rough and wooded terrain efficiently, was well suited to traversing the ground south of Cedar Creek Grade. It proved dangerous when these Northern troops came out of the woods and into open ground in front of the Southern infantry, massed behind the stone wall that ran along the crest of Sandy Ridge. The Northern column was an easy target. As Northern casualties mounted, Tyler's attempt to dislodge Southern defenders stalled.
Tyler's failure to seize enemy artillery on Sandy Ridge prompted his commander, Kimball, to send in additional Northern troops against Southern infantry and artillery on Sandy Ridge. These units marched directly west from Pritchard's Hill, instead of following the route Tyler's men had taken. The steadily increasing pressure of this second wave of Northern infantry began to turn the tide. The retreat of Southern infantry on the high ground finally enabled Tyler's brigade to seize the stone wall and advance southward.
"In the excitement of battle I could aim at them only fourty or fifty yards from me, as coolly as I ever did at a squirrel. But now it seams very much like murder. They would throw up their hands and fall every time we would get a fair shot at them, and we would laugh at their motions and make jest at their misfortune. I don't nor can't imagine now how we could do it. The fact is, in battle a man becomes a sinner and delights at the work of death. And if his best friend falls at his side he heeds it not, but presses on eager to engage in the wholesale murder."
-John G. Marsh, 29th Ohio, written in a letter home after the battle