This artwork by American painter and storyteller Keith Rocco depicts Middletown Cemetery at the Battle of Cedar Creek. Keith Rocco writes, “I was very excited to have the opportunity to create this painting for the National Park Service seeing that the battlefield of Cedar Creek is a mere 20 miles from home and a site that I have often visited and brought family and friends to.
“One of the most critical and stirring moments of the battle occurred near the Middletown Cemetery (modern Mt. Carmel Cemetery). There, a small part of the Union army conducted a determined holding action against overwhelming odds. This included a desperate hand-to-hand struggle over Battery M, 5th United States Artillery, which is vividly described in the following Union account:
“[The Confederates were] coming on ... there was an officer leading them, and I distinctly hear him shout: “Rally on the Battery! Rally on the Battery!” ...in a second they were amongst us, amid smoke, fog, wreck, yells, clash and confusion which no pen can depict and no pencil portray. It was now man to man, hand to hand, with bayonet and musket butt on their side and revolvers, rammer heads and handspikes on ours!
“But just at this supreme moment their advance line reeled and wavered, 80 or 100 of the Vermonters charged in and drove the enemy out of the Battery at the point of the bayonet ....”
“It was this critical moment which my painting depicts. The men of the battery tenaciously cling to their guns while Confederates begin to overrun the battery. At that same moment the famous Vermont Brigade can be seen rushing over from the right (just above the limber in the foreground) to begin their counterattack.
“This painting will eventually appear on site just outside of the Mt. Carmel Cemetery, and will help interpret the 1864 view shed, which is now obscured by the growth of non-historic vegetation.” For more, continue reading on the Keith Rocco website.