Major General Philip H. Sheridan (1831-1888), commander of the Federal forces at Cedar Creek, began the war as a first lieutenant in the infantry. Appointed Colonel, Second Michigan Cavalry, in May 1862, his brilliant performance led to command of a brigade and promotion within a month. In September 1862 he was given command of an infantry division. The performance of his tightly controlled and aggressive unit led to Sheridan's promotion to major general in December 1862.
Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early (1816-1894) commanded the Confederate army at Cedar Creek. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1837 and practiced law before entering Confederate service as a colonel, 24th Virginia Infantry, in April 1861. A division commander by 1862 and corps commander by 1864, Early was a superb, aggressive division commander. In corps command, however, he tended to commit assets piecemeal and never showed much understanding of the uses of cavalry.
Major General John B. Gordon (1832-1904) held temporary command of the left flank corps at Cedar Creek in addition to commanding his division. A Georgia lawyer and businessman, Gordon had no military experience until entering Confederate service as captain of a local infantry company. He served as regimental commander at Antietam (1862), brigade and division commander in 1863, and corps commander by the end of 1864. Aggressive and dynamic, he earned his troops' devotion with his willingness to take personal and tactical risks resulting in success.
page updated 26 February 2002