Inscription reads: "On the early morning hours of December 21, 1864, part of Union Gen. George A. Custer's cavalry division was eating breakfast here and preparing to advance when it suddenly came under attack. Custer had bivouacked the night before not expecting any interference from Confederate Gen. Thomas L. Rosser's smaller cavalry division nearby. After a brief and spirited skirmish, Custer elected to withdraw north and abort his mission to march to Staunton and support a larger cavalry operation on both sides of Massanutten Mountain. Custer lost forty men captured, along with a few horses and camp equipment. Lacey Spring was one of many smaller actions that followed Gen. Philip H. Sheridan's crushing defeats of Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early in September and October."
Custer and Rosser were friends and members of the class of 1861 at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Hundreds of former cadets and classmates served on each side during the war. The nature of academy life often forged close bonds among cadets, and many friendships survived the war. Rosser resigned from West Point in May 1861 before graduation, so he never received a class ranking. Custer, on the other hand, was the "goat" of the class, finishing last. Like many cadets, they studied each other's strengths and weaknesses while at the academy, and during the war this knowledge served them in combat. Though they fought fiercely against each other, many West Pointers remained "friendly enemies" during the war and afterward.