Stone Sentinels, battlefield monuments of the American Civil War

New Market

The Bloody Cedars

The Bloody Cedars wayside marker was erected just north of New Market, Virginia by Virginia Civil War Trails. It is next to the monument to the 54th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment whose story it tells.


How to get there


The marker is on the north side of New Market, Virginia on the west side of the Valley Pike (U.S. 11). It can either be reached from the Valley Pike or by a foot trail from the battlefield park which passes under the Interstate. (38.665426° N, 78.661938° W; see map)


Text from the marker


The Bloody Cedars

"Which was done with alacrity and spirit."

— 1864 Valley Campaign —


As the Battle of New Market unfolded on May 15, 1864, Confederate troops under Gen. John C. Breckinridge heavily assaulted the left flank of Union Gen. Franz Sigel's army. Sigel counterattacked with Gen. Julius Stahel's cavalry, which charged down the Valley Turnpike (present-day U.S. Route 11). The Confederates repulsed the attack, and Stahel's men fell back in disorder, leaving the 54th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment to anchor the Union left flank on the field in front of you.


Sigel then ordered his infantry to launch another attack. The 1st West Virginia Infantry (posted to the right of the 54th Pennsylvania) was the first to advance. "I ordered the 54th also to charge," wrote its commander, Col. Jacob Campbell, "which was done with alacrity and spirit." Under heavy fire, the West Virginians retreated unexpectedly. The men of the 54th Pennsylvania, now alone, came over the crest of this cedar-covered hill and were shocked by the number of Confederates waiting in a ravine to the south.


The heavy Confederate infantry fire cut deeply into the ranks of the unsupported Union troops. Campbell had no choice but to retreat to save his command, and his men made two defensive stands among the grove of cedar trees here as they retreated. Of the regiment's 566 soldiers, 32 were killed, 100 wounded, and 42 captured, totaling a loss of more than 30 percent of the unit. The 54th suffered the second-highest regimental loss at the Battle of New Market. They christened this part of the battlefield "The Bloody Cedars."


From the sidebar:


Where we did our part to preserve the Union."
In October 1905, surviving 54th Pennsylvania Infantry veterans gathered here to dedicate this monument to their regiment's valor - the only statue in Virginia memorializing Pennsylvania's Civil War Soldiers. After the ceremony, the veterans returned home with cedar seedlings from Jacob Bushong's field. Some of those trees still survive at the cemetery in Johnstown, Pa., where many of the regiment's veterans are buried.

Wayside marker for The Bloody Cedars at New Market, Virginia
(above) Wayside marker for The Bloody Cedars at New Market, Virginia
(below) Statue from the nearby monument to the 54th Pennsylvania Infantry

Statue from the nearby monument to the 54th Pennsylvania Infantry

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