Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes of the 23rd Ohio Infantry went on to become President of the United States. For all of his political success, he treasured the time that he spent leading his men during the Civil War more than any other achievement in his life. Below is his brief diary account regarding the battle of Cedar Creek.
Wednesday, October 19. — Before daylight under cover of a heavy fog Rebels attacked the left. Colonel Thoburn’s First Division was overwhelmed. His adjutant, Lieutenant —brought me the word. We hurried up, loaded our baggage, and got into line. [The] Nineteenth Corps went into the woods on right (one brigade). General Sheridan was absent. General Wright, in command, directed my division to close up on [the] Nineteenth. Too late; the fugitives of the First Division and the Nineteenth’s brigade came back on us. The Rebels broke on us in the fog and the whole line broke back. The Rebels did not push with energy. We held squads of men up to the fight all along. My horse was killed instantly. I took Lieutenant Henry’s, of my staff. We fell back–the whole army–in a good deal of confusion but without panic. Artillery (twenty-fivepieces) fell into Rebel hands and much camp equipage.
About two and one-half miles back, we formed a line. [The] Rebels failed to push on fast enough. P. M. General Sheridan appeared; greeted with cheering all along the line. His enthusiasm, magnetic and contagious. He brought up stragglers. “We’ll whip ’em yet like hell.” he says. General Crook’s men on left of pike. — Line goes ahead. A fine view of the battle. [The] rebels fight poorly. Awfully whipped.
-Cannon and spoils now on our side. Glorious!