— 1864 Valley Campaign —
When Gen. U.S. Grant came East to assume command of all Union forces in 1864, he ordered Gen. Franz Sigel to seize control of the Valley. As Sigel moved south along the Valley Turnpike, Confederates on May 9, 1864, burned the bridge here delaying his advance. Sigel was defeated at New Market a few days later.
Following Sigel's defeat, and after months of on-and-off fighting, Grant placed Gen. Philip Sheridan in command of the Union army in the Valley. In the pre-dawn darkness of Oct. 19, 1864, Sheridan's pickets were attacked here by Confederates from Gen. Jubal Early's army as the Battle of Cedar Creek began. The Confederates were slowed by artillery fire from a Federal battery situated on the hill one-quarter mile northeast of here. Confederate artillery took position on the hills above the Stickley farm, west of the road. These guns sent shells across the creek into the Federal camps. When the Northerners retreated, the Confederate artillery and Gen. G.C. Wharton's infantry division crossed the bridge and joined the battle raging north of the creek.
That same day, near dusk, a Union counterattack drove the Confederates back across Cedar Creek. While trying to cross the bridge, the last organized Confederate division under Gen. John Pegram was broken. The Southerners gathered what men they could land made a stand along the hills to your left and behind you in an effort to save their wagons and artillery, which were then jammed up along the Pike heading south. Their escape failed when Federal cavalry under Gens. George A. Custer and Tom Devin charged the panic-stricken Confederates, capturing men and cannon.
After the Battle of Cedar Creek, the Federals converted Daniel Stickley's fine brick residence into a field hospital. Wounded from both armies were cared for by U.S. medical staff for weeks following the battle. It is said that the limbs from amputations were piled higher than the table on which the surgery was performed.
Most of the soldiers buried here were re-interred at the military cemeteries in Winchester soon after the war. The remains of John Helms of Atlanta, Georgia, still lie west of the house.
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The Stickley Mills were among the last of some 100 mills burned by order of Gen. Philip Sheridan during the fall of 1864. Sheridan's cavalry also torched more than 2,000 barns and destroyed an estimated 15,000 farm animals sin the region during the period known as The Burning. The remains of the mills are still visible west of the Pike.