In the early morning hours of October 19th, 1864 Confederate troops under the command of General Jubal Early launched a surprise attack on Union troops, under the command of Major General Phillip Sheridan, who were encamped along Cedar Creek, south of Middletown, Virginia. Although Union troops attempted to repulse the attack, collapsing back upon one another, they were routed and retreated northward heading towards Winchester.
At approximately 10:00 AM, Major General Sheridan and Union officers were able to stall the retreat and Union Gen. Wesley Merritt's First Cavalry Division occupied Thorndale Farm. With brigades under the command of Brig. Gen. Thomas C. Devin, Col. James H. Kidd, Col. Alpheus S. Moore, and Col. Charles R. Lowell Jr., commanding the reserve brigade, the Union left was formed across the farm. The cavalry brigades were supported by artillery batteries at the western edge of the farm.
Facing them, to the south, formed along Reliance Road’s original historical route, were the Confederate lines under the command of Brig. Gen. Gabriel C. Wharton. There, the Confederate forces awaited a possible Union counterattack. At approximately 4:00 PM that counterattack came. It was lead by Col. Charles R. Lowell Jr. Lowell, who, having been seriously wounded during the early morning action, remained in the field and was mortally wounded during the counterattack. He died the following morning.
In September of 2014, Thorndale Farm purchased a Civil War Trails Marker through the Civil War Trails program to commemorate the action that took place on the property. On October 19, 2014, 150 years to the day, the marker was dedicated.