Bowman's Mill Ford

From Stop 1: Turn right onto US 11 and proceed south 1 mile to the junction with VA 55 East at the traffic light in Strasburg. Turn left onto VA 55 East; go .5 mile and turn left onto Charles Street (the last street before VA 55 East curves to the right). Go one block and turn right onto E. Washington Street, following the sign for CR 635. Go 1.2 miles until you reach Cedar Creek.

Bowman's Mill Ford, also known as Robert's Ford, is where Early gave Kershaw final instructions before Kershaw's Division crossed Cedar Creek to attack the First Division, VIII Corps Federals. Early describes the scene:

We got in sight of the enemy's fires at half-past three o'clock. The moon was now shining and we could see the camps. The division was halted under cover to await the arrival of the proper time, and I pointed out to Kershaw, and the commander of his leading brigade, the enemy's position and described the nature of the ground, and directed them how the attack was to be made and followed up. Kershaw was directed to cross his division over the creek as quietly as possible, and to form it into column of brigades, as he did so, and advance extending to the right or left as might be necessary. . . . At half-past four he was ordered forward. Captain Augustus Dickert of the Third South Carolina Volunteers crossed the creek with Kershaw's Division: The river crossed, the brigade continued in columns of fours, moving rapidly forward that all would be in readiness by the time Gordon's guns opened. At the beginning of dawn we heard [them]. Nearer and nearer came the roll of battle as each succeeding brigade was put in action. We were moving forward in double-quick to reach the enemy's line by the time the brigade on our right became engaged. . . . Half dressed troops opened a galling fire on us [and] with one impulse [we] sprang forward. An early morning fog enhanced the surprise element of Early's attack. Sergeant Milton Humphrey, Bryan's Virginia Battery, recalls the Federal response: Shortly before daylight, a heavy mist or fog rose from the ground and under cover of the mist we advanced our lines nearer and nearer until at one spot we could hear the Federals talking to each other in their tents as they woke from sleep. A few blue coats were stirring about and rebuilding the camp fires when there was a sudden crash of musketry all along the front. . . . Panic was no name for it. As the soldiers said, every Confederate looked seven feet tall in the mist and their advent was too sudden to create a panic. There was a rush for the rear as fast as men could roll out of their tents. Bowman's Ford is just south of the farm, where the tree line reaches the river. CR 611 turns north at this point, following the approach of Gordon's corps.

Go to Stop 2A