Thursday, December 30, 2010

always the 'special duty'

Today at Brandy Station: December 30, 1863

Soldiers are always tasked with details. Police the grounds, picket duty, guard duty, stable duty, trash, etc... the list goes on and on. Today the 91st Pennsylvania published a list of soldiers in the regiment whom had been detailed to support the regimental leadership.

Henry Schaefer (Co. A)was detailed to Colonel Gregory to act as hostler.
John Costner (A) was cooking for his company commander, Captain Gregory.
Ed. Gamble (B) was cooking for his company commander, Lt. Kayser.
Joseph M. Johns[t]on (D) was cooking for Lt. Col Sinex.
Joesph Rementer (E) was cooking for his company commander, Captain Hall.
Henry Dunn (I) was cooking for his company commander, Lt. Donnell.

A hostler is a groom or stableman. Schaefer's mission in life was the care and feeding of Colonel Gregory's horses. It has to be assumed that the others had some skill in the preparation of meals. Gamble would be wounded at Petersburg in June 1864, the others survived the war.

These men had been detailed to these tasks within the last three months.

It should also be noted that Sergt David F. Mansfield (Co F) was detailed today to duty in the ambulance train, relieving Sargent John Hammill.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"I took care of a friend"

Today at Brandy Station: December 24, 1863

From the diary of William Owen, 86th New York Infantry:

"Dec. 24. Stayed in camp. I took care of my sick friend Asa."

There is little better that you can do on Christmas Eve.

Asa is likely Asa Croos, who was wounded at Orange Grove on November 27, 1863. Croos survived the war. Owen also survived. He was captured on May 10, 1864 along the Po River and would spend nine months in a POW camp.

William Owen's diary can be found at:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Shot to death by musketry"

Today at Brandy Station: December 18, 1863

On this day, five soldiers in the Army of the Potomac were shot for desertion.

John Tegue, 5th Vermont Infantry
George E. Blowers, 2nd Vermont Infantry
William H Devoe, 57th New York Infantry
Winslow N. Allen, 76th New York Infantry
John McMann, 11th U.S. Infantry

All are interesting and unique stories. But I will just discuss one, Winslow Allen. Maybe next year I will detail one or more of the others.

In today's terms, I would submit that Allen would be considered a winner of the infamous 'Darwin Award'. Originally in Company H of the 76th NY, he deserted in the spring of 1862 when the regiment was in Washington. On September 27, 1863, Company H of the 76th received eight new recruits and yup, Allen was one of the recruits. Yes I said he deserted from and rejoined the same company.

As the story goes..."He was possessed of a beautiful wife and one child, but, tempted by the bounty of three hundred dollars, he had sold himself as a substitute, trusting to fortune to make his escape again. As he was marched by the sergeant down the company street, though dark, his voice was recognized by his former comrades. This coming to the ears of the officers, he was arrested and placed in confinement to await his trial for desertion."

The trial and forlorn hope for appeal followed. On this fateful day:

"As they marched to the mournful measure of the death march, and neared the fatal spot where the rough coffin and gaping grave were waiting to receive their victim, he seemed suddenly struck with terror, and, seizing the Captain's [Swan] hand with a vice-like grasp, thus remained until they arrived at the coffin. Around him were formed his companions whom he had deserted. The grave which was to receive him as a loathsome criminal, was fresh beside him. It was a severe test of his physical courage. To none but the Captain was there the exhibition of the least emotion.
The condemned man was placed upon the foot of his coffin; the bandage placed over his eyes; his hands pinioned. The charges, specifications, findings and order for his execution bad been read. The Captain bent over him, and, his heart almost too full for utterance, whispered: "Winslow, I can go no further with you ; the rest of your dark journey is alone. Have you any last word for your wife and child?""No, Only tell them I love them all!" These were his last words. The Captain stepped back a few feet; the officer gave the signal to the executioners; the report as of a single gun rang out, and Winslow N. Allen fell lifeless upon his coffin. He had, on that day completed his twenty-sixth year. He died without a perceptible movement of a muscle."
The quotes are from the 'History of the 76th New York Volunteers" by A. B. Smith

A soldier in the 76th wrote to his wife that night; and after discussing the weather, the positive implications of avoiding a fight on the Rapidan [Mine Run] and the chance of furlough, he talked about the execution. The private states, "The court found him guilty of desertion, and sentenced him "to be shot to death by musketry." He was shot to day in presence of the 2d brigade."

His final line of the topic was poignant." "In looking over the mail to-night I noticed two letters for Winslow Allen, each marked "Please forward in haste." They came too late."

Friday, December 17, 2010

A gift to the Powhatan Cavalry Troop

Today at Brandy Station: December 17, 1861

The article below appeared today (1861 of course) in the Richmond Dispatch concerning a give to the Powhatan Troop, otherwise known as Company E, 4th Virginia Cavalry Regiment. Someone in the company must have made a very positive impression on Annie E. Wise of Culpeper.

A "Battle-Flag" for the Powhatan Troop.
We have been favored with the following correspondence between one of our patriotic Virginia ladies and the gallant commander of the Powhatan Troop. The letters speak for themselves, and we therefore, without further comment, give them to the reader:

Bel Bee, near Brandy Station, Culpeper, Nov. 28, 1861.Capt. Jno. F. Lay:
Dear Sir:
Be pleased to accept this "Battle-Flag" which I have taken great pleasure in making, and which I now present to your command; though it be pierced with many balls and stained with precious blood, rally around it with brave and determined hearts, protecting the interest common to us all — our beloved country. With much respect,
Annie E. Wise.

Cavalry Camp Beauregard, December 3, 1861.
My Dear Miss Annie:
This banner sent to us from your fair young hands was as opportune a gift to the "Powhatan Troop" as it was beautiful--"deep feelings, few words." Be assured your banner shall be borne proudly at the head of my command, wheresoever duty shall call, and whensoever a "battle flag" is flung to the air by the Army of the Potomac, and as we look at its brilliant folds, there shall ever be mingled kind memories of the fair donor, with a determination to be worthy of the love and devotion of the women of the South--a determination to secure to their homes immunity from the presence of the brutal invaders whose feet are now at the threshold of our beloved Virginia.
With warm regards and thanks in the name of the company, I am, my dear Miss Annie, your friend.
John F. Lay,

Capt. Commanding Powhatan Troop.

Captain Lay survived the war, being promoted to Major in March 1865. He left Company E and joined General Beauregard's staff in April, 1862.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

One Man's Opinion of the Mine Run Campaign

Today at Brandy Station: December 7, 1863

I have a few letters in my collection for Michael S. Austin, a Lieutenant in the 5th New Jersey Infantry. On this day he wrote to his father thanking him for shipping a box of goods, including butter ("Butter is good – and I am sure most officers would like to mess with me while it lasts.")

But what interested me was his commentary concerning General George Gordon Meade's decision not to continue the fight at Mine Run:

"Much censure is cast upon Gen Mead[e] for the apparent failure of the late campaign. Those who were more closely connected & interested in that affair, are satisfied that it terminated as it should have done, after they saw what they had first to overcome – considering, that there was a chance that the [?] might be repulsed – in which case a rout would, almost, have been a certain thing. Today there are 15,000 men living, & of service, if properly used. In the case contemplated, that number of men would have been lost to the enemy & country, with a great chance of defeat."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baby it's cold outside

Today at Brandy Station: December 6, 1863 & 2010

History does repeat itself. The temperature in Brandy Station right now is 32 degrees (at 7:30pm) with a wind chill of 16. The overnight low is predicted to be 26 degrees. Wind is blowing 10-15 miles per hour with gusts to 30 or more.

in 1863...
... "Cold weather."

"The weather is cold as Greenland, it freezes water in our house half an inch."

"Today has been quite cold, sharp wind -- "

"It has been very cold for a few days and they done me a great deal of good already. We have not had any snow yet. "

"Last night was probably the coldest we have had yet this winter. It was very windy. To day is clear but cold."

"This is an awful cold Sunday, we have to lay in bed, to keep from freezing."

Our last soldier, I believe has the right idea.

Friday, December 3, 2010

...out of the wilderness

Today at Brandy Station: December 3, 1863

The Union army recrosses the Rapidan River today and returns to it's former camps in and around Brandy Station. As they finally settle in for the winter, the First Corps will camp south of the town of Culpeper; the Second Corps will camp in the vicinity of Stevensburg; the Third Corps in and around Brandy Station; The Fifth Corps along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad between Rappahannock Station and the Bull Run and the Sixth Corps along the Hazel River, centered near Farley. The Cavalry will be dispersed, with divisions at Stevensburg and Warrenton.

But the commentary from the soldiers about there return is what today's blog is about:

86th New York: Stayed in camp all day, tired & worn out & rations short. Stragglers coming in all day. Called up in the night to march, did not go.

4th Michigan: Rose early and Packed up and went to the Rappahanock River crossed at Rapp Station and our Brig went on to Bealeton Station where we Camped for the night.

2nd Rhode Island: We moved three miles to this camp. I do not understand the late movements, but I presume General Meade does, and that is sufficient for me.

20th Indiana: Got back to our old camp about daylight. ...left the rapidan about noon, marching a short distance ...stopping for the train to pass, ...we stopped in the woods and were told that we would lay there three hours. About eleven we started again. I never saw worse roads in my life...

111th New York: We have just got Orders, to pack up everything, & be ready to move at a moments notice. Now for a general Sekdaddle, to Washington. It is also reported that Joe Hooker, had Command of the Army again. If this is so, we may be kept pretty busy this winter. You may be sure we are living anything, but Comfortable...

17th Maine: ...we recrossed the Rapidan, thankful to be alive. As soon as we got over, a band near the end of the bridge piped up, “O Ain’t We Glad We’re Out of the Wilderness.” We rather thought we were, and a hearty “Amen!” rose from every throat.

Jed Hotchkiss, mapmaker for General Richard Ewell wrote to his wife today: "...Well, we got back to our old quarters again today, Mr. Meade would not stay & fight, he ran away night before last & recrossed the river, we followed as soon as we saw that he was gone, but he had too much the start & we only succeeded in catching some 300 of the stragglers & rear guard..."

And the Army of the Potomac's Winter Encampment will finally begin.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The press reports on a Mosby raid

Today at Gordonsville: November 30, 1863

It was reported from Gordonsville, in the Richmond Daily Dispatch, of an incident in Brandy Station.

-Gordonsville, Va., Sunday, Nov.29--1 P. M.
Major Mosby and his hand came upon the rear of Meade's wagon train, near Brandy Station, just before daylight Friday morning, capturing one hundred and twelve mules and twenty prisoners. --They also destroyed between thirty and forty wagons, and came very near capturing Gen. French, of the Yankee army. Mosby's men report the line of the Orange Railroad abandoned, and think Meade will go to Fredericksburg if defeated. The mules captured are all of the finest kind. X.

I do not know who X was, but he pretty much got the story correct. Mosby crossed the Hazel River and raided French's Headquarters (the Miller House atop Fleetwood Hill) and, while missing French, who was away, did nabbed a number of his detailed staff of enlisted. The most interesting capture was French's cartographer, Robert Sneeden.

Sneeden was an anonymous man until the 1990's when his diaries and more importantly his art, was uncovered in Arizona and Connecticut. Sneeden's work, published as "Eye of the Storm", and "Voices of the Storm" are must haves if you are interested in the 1862 Campaign around Richmond, the activities of the Army of the Potomac in the fall of 1863 and a inside look at the Confederate prison system.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mine Run

Today in Orange County: November 28, 1863

The Army of the Potomac has left what many thought was their winter quarters in and around Brandy Station. Today the army finds itself in Orange County, beginning what would be called the Mine Run Campaign.

One of the many writings detailing the Federal march to contact. This is from the diary of George Perkins, Sixth New York Independent Battery. It is from the book "Three Years a Soldier," Edited by Richard N. Griffin.

"Unharnessed at daylight. Commenced to rain...About noon the rain ceased and at the same "boots and saddle" sounded....whole brigade started toward the Rapidan crossing the plank road and following and exceedingly narrow and muddy road which forms an acute angle with the plank road towards the river. The way lay most of the way through thick woods."

Perkins of course had entered the western edge what we all now know as the Wilderness. He crossed at Germanna Ford(other forces crossed at Jacob's Ford), and using modern roads, left route 3 turning down route 601 and moved onto 603 and then to route 611, reaching Robinson's Tavern and the Orange Turnpike. The unit continued on to Parker's Store, where is remained throughout the fight. Perkins and the 6th NY Independent Battery missed the fighting at Payne's Farm, which took place the previous day. They crossed over that portion of the battlefield as they journeyed to Parker's Store

Monday, November 22, 2010

More food

Today at Brandy Station: November 22, 1863

While looking through the diaries, letters and other documents about today, rations again seem to be on peoples mind. Yesterday it was the 2nd Corps. Today the 5th Corps.

I am a little surprised. What would become the Mine Run Campaign is still four days off (actually, it was to begin on November 25, but weather postponed the beginning. Still, far be it for the army not to hurry up and wait.

A small portion of a letter from a soldier in the 146th NY: "Be ready to move at a moments notice with 8 days rations on your back is a standing order and he is a lucky man that has any writing paper or envelopes in his possession."

A circular from the 91st Pennsylvania:
Head Quarters 91. Reg. P.V Circular
In pursuance of General Order N. 50 dated Head Quarters 2nd Div. 5th Corps Nov 21/63
Hereafter the amount of subsistence required to be carried in the Knapsacks of the troops in active Campaigns will be 2 days of hard Bread, Coffee Sugar & Salt instead of Five as heretofore directed.
Three days full Rations will be carried in Haversacks & Company Commanders will see that the above amount will be in the hands of their men on the morning of the 23rd in not.

What makes this really interesting (and typical) is the mixed signal. The soldier in the 146th got the word for eights days rations, while the 91st states two days rations (vice the previous five days). But of course, we must confuse things by saying that company commanders will see that soldiers have three days full rations.

Confused? Try being there...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not enough food, too much food

Today at Brandy Station: November 21, 1863

It is usually the case. Soldiers go for days and not receive their rations. Other times, they have more then they can eat. How can a soldier have to much?

Think about it. The soldier carries just about everything on his person, including food. The food of course is carried in his haversack. Inside that bag the contents (hardtack, coffee, tobacco, salted pork, maybe a potato or an onion) gets bounced around, dropped, used as a pillow or whatever else that could (and does happen). I guess it is the original casserole, uncooked of course.

Why do I mention this. Consider the experience of a soldier in the 111th New York Infantry. A portion of a letter to his father is below:

"Our Brig. Genl., is carrying things with a high hand, last night he ordered, 5 Days rations dealt out, which with the 6 Days we have on hand, would have made 11 Days, what do you think of that, for a load. Lusk [his friend], refused to take the Rations, & went to [Dir] Genl Hays, who [raved] around considerable & said his men, should not carry such Loads. We are on short Rations all the time, as we draw Field Rations, while we are in Camp, which makes a difference."

General Alexander Hays is the Hays our man refers to, is his Brigadier Commander. It took a little bit of courage to approach Hays. But as we see, Hay's concurred and after raving, agreed with Lusk.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Review by Foreigners

Today at Brandy Station: November 16, 1863

Major General William French's Third Corps held a review today (JEB Stuart didn't have a monopoly on reviews at Brandy Station). The reason for the event was the visit by four British officers: Lt. Col. Earle; Lord Castlecuffe (of the Grenadier Guards) and Captains Stephenson and Peel (of the Scotch Fusileer Guards).

The First (BG David Birney) and Third (BG Joseph Carr) Divisions were reviewed first, with some 48 pieces of artillery, and then separately the Second Division (BG Henry Prince). All before lunch. Lunch was at General French's Headquarters, which was at the Miller House, atop Fleetwood Hill.

The rank and file also commented on the event:

"A review today.'

"Grand review of our Corps (3rd) by Maj Gen French, commanding with staff and some foreign officers."

"Review this morning by Gen. French of two divisions of the corps. Some foreign officers were with the reviewing party. We did not march in review as usual, but stood in columns in mass while the reviewing party rode in front of the column. "

Monday, November 15, 2010

A heavy cannonading in the distance

Today at Brandy Station: November 15, 1863

As I reviewed what was on the minds of soldiers today, the sound of heavy cannonading was heard in many camps. It began around 9am and was "off to the left". The cause was unknown, but "...are anticipating a battle somewhere on the Rapidan River"

The firing was also heard in the Midland area, between Warrenton Junction and Bealeton. "This morning the day was opened with cannonading in our front; with what success is not known."

Orders were given throughout the army to be ready to move at a moments notice.

According to Theodore Lyman, of General Meade's staff: [written on November 16] "Yesterday morning we heard heavy artillery fire, apparently not over two miles away! It proved to be a reconnaissance by Custer at Raccoon Ford, 10 miles away. The damp air probably conveyed the sound; but there was some singular reflection, for at Stevensburg it was not heard at all."

It wasn't heard in Stevensburg (five miles), but it was heard in Midland (nearly 20 miles), Bealeton (15 miles), along the Hazel River (13 miles) and near Cedar Mountain (about 5 miles), and Brandy Station (10 miles). Acoustic shadow strikes again.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lost near Brandy Station

Today at Brandy Station: November 14, 1863

As it appeared in the Richmond Daily Dispatch:

To officers and Privates of Gen R. E. Lee's army.
--I will pay a reward of $200 for my boy Thornton, if lodged in jail so I can get him again. He is 35 years of age, a mulatto, about 5 feet7 inches, weighs about 160 lbs, whiskers and moustache, intelligent, good looking, writes well, well built, one or two small hard lumps on side of his neck. He was formerly owned by Col. J. Willis, near Orange C. H., and left there two weeks ago for the army at Brandy Station. He left Montgomery in the charge of a Lt Brooks, and he may be in some Alabama regiment. He may go by some other name. Address me, at Montgomery, Ala.
S. P. Wreford.

I have no idea if S.P. Wreford ever saw Thornton again. There are many documented stories of the loyalty of slaves to stay with their masters throughout the war. There are just as many stories of slaves who took the opportunity and crossed over the lines into Federally controlled land. Thornton could have just as easily been in either camp.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Laundry Day

Today at Brandy Station: November 13, 1863

Sometimes, as I look over the events of a certain day, the mundane appears. For soldiers, life was hurry up and wait; days, weeks and maybe months between action -- then brief moments of shear terror. Those moments are what most remember.

But what is captured in the diaries and letters, is the mundane, day-to-day survival of the private. Their diaries tell of what they did, or what was important to them that particular day. It will never make the regimental histories, but nonetheless, doing laundry was an important part of life.

Today, in the diaries and letters, the simple, quiet life emerges.

141st Pennsylvania: "[I] had Dandy [Graves’ horse] shod all around."

4th Michigan: "Jimmy Washed Clothes"

86th New York: "Washed some clothes..."

91st Pennsylvania: "...continued occupying quarters at Mountain Run...'

49th New York: "[no] mail today."

20 Indiana: "I done some extensive patchwork on my pantaloons to day, as indeed it was getting about time."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Protecting Property

Today at Brandy Station: November 12, 1863

From the Diary of Edwin Weist, 20th Indiana:

"Camp in the woods near Brandy Station. Our camp is on land belonging to the Hon. John Miner Botts, and a circular was read on dress parade ordering all officers to protect his property as far as possible. He is living with his family but a short distance from here."

John Botts, owner of Auburn would spend a good portion of the winter protecting his wood lots, fences and farm animals from being 'liberated' by the boys in blue. He would become such an issue that units actually moved off his property so they would not have to deal with him and his allegations of impropriety. Botts would press for payment for wood cut/used during the winter and for years afterwards. His family would receive final payment after he died.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Colonel Duffie' - leading the charge

Today along the Hazel River: November 11, 1862

From the history of the First Rhode Island Cavalry, by Frederic Denison
Near Hazee [Hazel] Run occurred a smart skirmish – a battle, indeed – in which our squadrons participated, Colonel [Alfred] Duffie, with carbine in hand, leading our men, and himself emptying a rebel saddle. We had two horses wounded, but no men; and we rolled the enemy back to Culpeper Court House. We ought to mention the coolness, bravery, and executive skill often exhibited by Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson.

Throughout the war, around the big battles, small actions like this one occurred. May resulted in little or no casualties, such as this on. While these events get little or no attention, all it would take is a random shot to end a life. And to that soldier, it doesn't matter if it is at Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Brandy Station, or along the Hazel River.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Today at Brandy Station: November 10, 1863

The Army of Northern Virginia has vacated Culpeper County, and into the vacuum swept the Army of the Potomac.

Soldiers will always take the path of least resistance, especially when it comes to "housing":

2nd Pennsylvania Reserves: "We marched to Mountain Run, where we also found comfortable quarters, which the enemy had erected in expectation of enjoying a pleasant winter’s rest. We remained here until the 24th..."

20th Indiana: "Camp in the woods near Brandy Station. This morning we changed front and went into regular camp. The rebels had up very good winter quarters here and left them a very great hurry leaving their rations of fresh beef behind. I got hold of a paper (Richmond Examiner)..."

141st Pennsylvania: "put up our tent by one of Johnny’s chimneys, for we have routed them out of their snug winter quarters."

Hey, they weren't going to be using them...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

First snow of the year

Today at Brandy Station: November 9, 1863

It is a simple statement on the wall: "First snow of the year November 9, 1863" The wall of course is in the Graffiti House in Brandy Station. This comment was revealed during restoration work completed by Christopher Mills this past spring.

All by itself, no other commentary. But true.

From the diary of a member of 3rd Massachusetts Light, Battery C: "There was a snow squall in the afternoon."

The History of the 40th Virginia Infantry reported: "...regiment marched through falling snow to the old camp along the Rapidan."

And Henry Seage of the 4th Michigan recorded in his diary: "It Snowed quite hard tonight the first snow of the Season"

The weather impacted the soldier greatly during the war, and diaries almost always included the local weather. It was important to the soldier to document how he endured the elements.

The 9th of November was also the last day the Army of Northern Virginia spent in Culpeper County. It's twin defeats at Kelly's Ford and Rappahannock Station by the Army of the Potomac closed the book on this portion of the ANV's storied history.

Personal note: between work and personal requirements and demands as well as my health, has caused this two month plus pause in the Today at Brandy Station blog. I hope most of these issues are behind me and I endeavour to again chronicle the daily passage of time and activities in and around Brandy Station.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Brandy Station in Civil War News

Today at Brandy Station: August 30, 2010

Two Owners Donate Easements On 782 Brandy Station Battlefield Acres

By Scott C. Boyd(September 2010 Civil War News)

BRANDY STATION, Va. – Two conservation easements donated to the state have added a total of 782 acres of preserved land to the Brandy Station Battlefield in Culpeper County.

“What this means is that, in return for some state tax credits based on the value of their property, these landowners have forsaken all future development rights to this land — meaning, it will be protected just the way it is forever,” Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) President Jim Lighthizer said in a July 30 appeal letter.

He wrote, “As part of the deal, and to help make sure these transactions went through, the Civil War Preservation Trust was asked to pay some of the landowners’ closing costs — a total of about $67,000.”

He called the $85.68 per acre cost to CWPT “one of the better and more innovative bargains we have ever struck.”

Until the easements were announced, the CWPT had preserved slightly over 1,000 acres at Brandy Station. Now the total is 1,797 acres, according to CWPT Policy and Communications Director Jim Campi.

“In both these easements here, you’re talking about highly significant battlefield property,” according to Clark B. “Bud” Hall, president of the non-profit Brandy Station Foundation (BSF) and historian of the battle.

“We’re thrilled about it,” Hall said. “All congratulations are due to the CWPT, because without their money, which comes from their donors, we couldn’t close the deal.”

“CWPT has been extraordinarily willing to work to secure easements around America’s greatest cavalry battlefield,” Hall noted.

“It’s a fact that the Brandy Station Battlefield remains threatened because of the pressures of adjacent residential and commercial development,” he said.

Negotiations, which he could not yet discuss publicly, are under way to secure additional “significant acreage” on and around the battlefield.

Lighthizer’s letter said the easement donors wished to remain anonymous, however local newspapers identified the Gyory family as the donors of 433 acres of Willow Run Farm on the eastern portion of the battlefield.

The second easement was for 349 acres of the Beauregard Farm on the northern part of the battlefield.

Of the Beauregard Farm tract, Hall said, “I can’t imagine a more important easement on the entire battlefield.”

Confederate Brig. Gen. W.H.F. “Rooney” Lee’s entire defensive position during the morning of 9 June 1863 is on the Beauregard Farm. “You could not more precisely draw an easement that would more accurately incorporate an entire line of troops,” according to Hall.

“Importantly, the CWPT already owns the Federal attack platform on the Cunningham Farm and this is contiguous with the Beauregard Farm.”

He said, “The dividing line between the properties is a stone wall which Rooney Lee’s brigade held during that morning. West of the stone wall are the Confederates and east of the stone wall are the Federals.”

“How many battlefields can you say that you got the entire morning phase of the battle protected — in one case by acquisition, CWPT land, and in the next case by this incredibly valuable easement? I’m thrilled to have it,” Hall said.

“What you’ve got is, in concert, a saved piece of battlefield that was purchased by acquisition now complemented in a major, major way by this easement.”

Lighthizer mentioned the potential fate the Beauregard Farm faced before the easement: “Three million square feet of retail stores, a 2,500-seat multiplex movie theater, 16 restaurants, 300 apartments, a water park, three hotels, three banks, three gas stations, a lighted(!) 18-hole golf course, an equestrian center, an ice skating rink and even a private K-12 school.”

Hall was also extremely pleased with the 433-acre Willow Run Farm easement. “This property gives us a wonderful piece of land that was marched over, camped upon and fought over as Confederate and Union cavalry forces vied with each other for control of the Brandy plain,” he said.

“Now you can have Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s viewscape from Fleetwood Hill all the way to the Rappahannock River,” he pointed out. “This was ground where Federal cavalry officers would deploy their troops for attacks against Fleetwood Hill.”

“When preservation groups work together, terrific things happen. The BSF is privileged to be a partner with CWPT,” Hall said.

For more information go to and

Thursday, August 26, 2010

George Writes Home

Today at Beverly Ford: August 26, 2010

Portion of a letter from George Fox (6th New Jersey Infantry/Third Corps) to his brother:

Camp 6th N. J. Vols near Beverley Ford Va. Aug 26th/[18]63
Dear Brother
I have just received your welcome Letter and I now set down to answer it.

We have quite a change in the weather. Last night about dark we had a hard shower and heavy wind and it blew up so cold that we nearly froze in the night. It looked queer this morning to see the boys standing around Cook fires. They have all got their wish for they all was complaining of the weather being so warm.

We have not moved and I do not believe we will for a while. Conscripts is beginning to come in here. The Eleventh Massachusetts received near three hundred the other day. There is going to be three conscripts shot next Saturday for deserting. They belong to the Corn Exchange Regt. (118 Pa) and lay right near us. I was over there today and saw them.

I am in first rate health hope this will find you all the same. I weigh more than I ever did before.
I was over to see the 14th Jersey the other day about one half of them is sick. They are just beginning to find out what soldering is. When I set down to write I hardly know what to write about as it is so dull in Camp nothing going on except the Boys playing Ball.

Give my love to all of our Folks also to Annie, Eddie, Joe and take a large portion for yourself and I Remain
Your Affectionate Brother George W. Fox

George tells us a few interesting things. The hot weather has finally broken, to the point where soldiers gather around the fire to stay warm. Conscripts have begun to filter into camp, the volunteers that flocked into service are now gone. For the remainder of the war it will be mostly conscripts and bounty soldiers.

George also mentions the five soldiers of the Corn Exchange Regiment awaiting execution. These men, all conscripts who spoke no English, deserted either before they arrived in camp or just after. They are to be shot in two days.

George claims good health, but the men of the 14th New Jersey are not doing as well. The 14th is a new regiment and are adapting to life in camp. Finally, he mentions life has gotten dull and playing ball. Playing baseball was a common experience in camp, as was a form of cricket. And I have to feel that George would prefer dull camp life than fighting; but fighting will bring the war to the end and George home.

George Fox transferred to the 8th New Jersey in July 1864, and was mustered out a year later

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Some Good News at Kelly's Ford

Today at Kelly's Ford: August 25, 2010

From today's edition of the Culpeper Star Exponent:

A cleaner riverbank, thanks to Fauquier County

By Nate Delesline Published: August 25, 2010

One week after community service workers removed 12 bags of trash from the Fauquier County side of the Kelly’s Ford riverbank, officials said that some elements of a plan to clean up and stop abuses along the Rappahannock River may be in place within a month. Tom Pavelko, director of Fauquier County’s Office of Adult Court Services, oversaw the two most recent cleanup efforts at what historians describe as one of the most important river crossings of the Civil War.
“We did the cleanup last Wednesday, and we also followed up (Monday),” he said.

But when about a half-dozen community service workers returned for the second cleaning, “We could tell that there was some evidence of illegal alcohol use,” Pavelko said.

He explained that the issue has gained the attention of a larger audience after stories about the problem appeared last week in the Free Lance Star and the Star-Exponent.

If the weather is nice, state officials, volunteer groups and local residents say people looking for a free recreation spot close to home trash the area with food containers, beer cans and even used diapers. The visitors are also suspected of chopping up trees, setting campfires and spending the night.

None of those things are allowed.

The Brandy Station Foundation, a local historic preservation group, owns the Culpeper riverbank. A substantial portion of the area is also under the control of the Department of Game and inland fisheries.

Ron Hughes , a land and facilities manager with DGIF, said Tuesday that Culpeper County officials, area volunteer groups and organizations like Friends of the Rappahannock and the Brandy Station Foundation are taking extra steps to minimize illegal activity.

Hughes said they all agree with a plan to institute closer monitoring and more strict enforcement through better signage and usage of existing regulations.

“We feel it’s a good approach, and the county agreed,” he said. “What we want to do is promote appropriate use on our management areas.”

According to DGIF appropriate use means fishing, hunting or observing wildlife, not camping or swimming. Hughes said the surge of activity has even caused some erosion on the Fauquier riverbank — yet another reason to stop the problem now.

“Our intent is to protect the resources and to protect the safety of the people,” he said. “We’re all working as partners to keep this river clean and pristine.”

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Second Burning of the Rappahannock River Bridge

Today along the Rappahannock: August 23, 1862

In the morning Gen. Longstreet drove the enemy across the Rappahannock Bridge, with a loss to them, but they succeeded in burning the bridge. Gen. Jackson remained at Lee’s Springs all day and took infantry and artillery over to the hills across the river. The enemy came up late in the P.M. and we opened on them; they replied and a fierce artillery duel took place. When the enemy’s infantry advanced a Georgia regiment charged on them with a yell and drove them away. I came up in the afternoon and found all engaged on fixing to cross the river. Gen. Stuart got back from an expedition to the enemy’s rear at Catlett’s, he captured wagons; some 300 prisoners, money, Pope’s Hd. Qr.s papers, etc. There was a heavy rain in the P.M. and the streams are getting up.

The Orange & Alexander bridge over the Rappahannock River at Rappahannock Station would suffer the fate of being destroyed throughtout the war. This episode was the second burning of the year. The first was done by the Confederates the previous spring, when they evacuated Culpeper in April.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The General Court-Martial of Lt. Morris Kayser

Today at Beverly's Ford: August 22, 1863

Charges and specifications preferred against Morris Kayser 1st Lieut Co. "B" 91st Reg. Pa. Vols

Charge 1st = Absence without leave
Specification 1st = In this that he the same Morris Kayser 1st Lieut Co "B" 91st Reg. Pa. Vols. did leave his company and Regt. without permission from proper authority. This at camp near Falmouth Va on or about the 9th day of February 1863
Specification 2nd = In this that he the said Morris Kayser 1st Lieut Co "B" 91st Reg Pa Vols while his Company and Regiment were on Picket duty and while he the same Morris Kayser 1st Lieut Co "B" 91st Pa Vols. was reported sick in camp did take advantage of the absence of his company and Regiment and visited--Philadelphia Pa without permission from his commanding officer and remained absent from the 19th to the 23rd of February 1863 to the detriment and injury of the service and his regiment. This at Camp near Falmouth Va. between the 19th and 23rd days of February 1863

Charge 2nd Positive and willful disobedience of Orders
Specification In this that he the said Morris Kayser 1st Lieut Co. "B" 91st Reg. Pa. Vols when relieved from duty as Acting Adjutant and when ordered by his Commanding Officer to report to Captain A. H. Bowman Co. "B" 91st Reg. Pa. Vols for duty did refuse to obey the order in the following letters and figures to wit Camp near United States Ford Va June 11th 1863. Lieut B. J. Tayman Adjutant 91st Reg. Pa. Vols. Lieutenant, Having been relieved from duty as Acting Adjutant, I therefore most respectfully but positively refuse returning to duty in Co "B" I am Lieutenant, Very Respectfully Yours &c Morris Kayser 1st Lieut Co "B" 91st Reg. Pa Vols. All this while the Reg. was stationed near United States Ford Va on or about June 11th 1863

B. J. Tayman 1st Lieut & Adjt 91st Reg. Pa. Vols.

CorpsCamp near Beverly Ford Va. Aug 22nd 1863 Genl Orders No. 36:
Before a General Court Martial of which Lieut Col. Lewis Ernst 140th Reg. New York Vols. is President convened at Camp of 3rd Brigade 2nd Div. by virtue of Special Orders No. 1 from Hd. Qrs. 2nd Division of July 29th /63 was arraigned and tried:
1st Lieut Morris Kayser Co. "B" 91st Reg. Pa. Vols

Charge 1st Absence without leave Charge 2nd Positive and wilfull disobedience of orders Charge 3rd Absence without leave proceedings;

The court finds the accused guilty on the three charges and sentences him to forfeit all pay and allowances for the period of two months

Extract II The proceedings, findings, and sentence in the case of Lieut Morris Kayser 91st Reg. Pa. Vols. are approved but the sentence is entirely inadequate to the offense of which he is found guilty. In time of War, willful disobedience of Orders merits death; dismissal from the service would be a lenient punishment for such an offence. This Officer is also found guilty of leaving his Regiment and visiting Philadelphia without permission and at a time when the testimony established that the Regiment was on picket duty [Locke uses this phrasing because the court found him not guilty on the specification claiming that he was AWOL when the regiment was on picket duty] The inference is that he took advantage of the absence of his Regiment from Camp to commit and act that he might be found out in, had it been present. The court think all these offences are amply atoned for by depriving Lieut Kayser of a few dollars. Comment is superfluous.

This Officer will resume his sword and duties By Command of Major Genl Locke (Signed) Fred. T. Locke Asst Adjt. Genl Head Quarters 2nd Brig 2nd Div. 5th Army Corps August 1863 "Official" (Signed) A. S. Marvin Jr Asst. Adjt Genl Head Quarters 91st Reg Pa Vols August 25th 1863 "official" B. J. Tayman Adjutant

Saturday, August 21, 2010

JEB gets a glass of milk

Today at Brandy Station: August 21, 1862

A portion of the diary of Jed Hotchkiss, civilian mapmaker for Stonewall Jackson, from Make Me a Map of the Valley: The Civil War Journal of Stonewall Jackson’s Topographer, Jedediah Hotchkiss

"We started from our ground bed at an early hour and went to Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s Hd. Qrs. at Maj. Barbour’s, and breakfasted with him. ... Found an enemy posted on the river bank with artillery in earth-works; they opened a severe cannonading showing that they intended to defend the R.R. bridge crossing, but we moved up cavalry, infantry and artillery and opposed them while the main body of Jackson’s Corps moved on to Beverly’s (Cunningham’s) Ford where we had a cannonade as well as at the R.R. bridge, simultaneously, Longstreet coming up to the R.R. bridge in time to occupy it, or the front near it, tonight after we had marched on. A portion of our troops crossed the river at Beverly’s Ford and drove the enemy from it, taking some prisoners, gun, etc. ...The cannonading from both sides was quite heavy; the Yankees shelled the wood we were in. I was engaging getting the topography of the country and at a late hour hunted up the General coming in from the front. We spent the night at Mr. Thompson’s, near St. James Church. The General was very weary and much enjoyed a glass of milk I procured for him. There was a heavy shower of rain in the night."

Even Generals need their milk.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beverly Roberson's Good Day at Brandy Station

Today at Brandy Station: August 20, 1862

From BG Beverly Robertson's report of the First Battle of Brandy Station:

"...As soon as practicable I ordered a charge, and led the Twelfth Virginia Regiment directly against the center of their line, while the Sixth and Seventh were directed against their flank. The men charged gallantly, and after a brief hand-to-hand contest the enemy was routed with the loss of several killed and a number wounded, capturing 64 prisoners, including several commissioned officers. Our loss was 3 killed and 13 wounded."

Major General JEB Stuart had praise for Robertson for his action on this day. Not so, the following June, when Robertson would report "present":

"General Robertson had cause to be proud of the command which his superior discipline, organization, and drill had brought to the stability of vetreans."

None of the Federal Cavalry units engaged submitted reports, so Federal casualties are unknown. The center of the Union line was atop Fleetwood Hill. Unsuccessfully holding the hill was the 1st New Jersey under Colonel Joesph Karge, and the 2nd New York commanded by Colonel Judson Kilpatrick.
The 6th and 7th Virginia Cavalry, who turned the Federal flanks were commanded by Colonel's Tom Flournoy and 'Grumble' Jones. The 12th, which charged the center was under the leadership of Colonel A. W. Harman.
The postcard shown, from my collection shows the advance of Harman's 12th up the western slope of Fleetwood Hill.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Counting Guns

Today at Beverly's Ford: August 19, 1863

Head Quarters 91st Reg. Pa Vols. August 19th 1863 "Circular"

Company commanders will in future include the number of Guns (known to be in their commands) in their morning reports and all changes that occur from Loss or gain of men - whether with or without Guns
By order of Joseph H Sinex Lieut Col. Commdg
B. J. Tayman Adjt

So, not only are we counting whom is present in the regiment, but Lt. Col. Sinex now requires how many Guns are in the regiment.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Popularity is not always a good thing

Today at Kelly's Ford: August 18, 2010

Today's Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star carried the following story concerning the area around Kelly's Ford.

The Ford is historically significant. It saw roles in many fights that took place in Virginia during the Civil War: Brandy Station, The Battle of Kelly's Ford, Chancellorsville, The Battle of Rappahannock Station and Stoneman's Raid to name a quick few.

The Kelly's Ford area is home to one of Virginia's most profitable mill, a trace from the Rappahannock River Canal is still visible.

History and recreation needs to find common ground. Hopefully the work of the groups like the Remington Community Partnership, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area, VDOT and other parties interested with this location will find a solution quickly and economically sound

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Another Unique Brandy Station Link

Today at Brandy Station: August 17, 2010

I saw this pass over the Internet yesterday, and then had two friends forward to me. According to this CNN story, they have found the stockade of Camp Lawton, which was outside Millen, Georgia.

Again, what is the connection with Brandy Station.

Well, both Brandy Station and Camp Lawton hosted on Robert Knox Sneden. Sneden was a private who prepared maps from III Corps Commander William 'Blinky' French. French used the Miller House, which sat on Fleetwood Hill (at least two photos of the house exist) as his headquarters.

French picked an opportune time to be away, the night of November 26/27. Sneden, however remained. You see, the night of November 26/27 was the night Major John S. Mosby would come a calling on the Miller House. Sneden and others became prisoners; and just because he could, Mosby crossed the O&A tracks and attacked a parked wagon train that consisted of about 200 wagons.

Back to Camp Lawton. Robert Sneden was escorted eventually to Richmond where he was held for some months. Robert, unfortunately, got the grand tour. He also would be held at Andersonville, Salisbury, NC, Savannah, Georgia, Charleston, SC and you guessed it Camp Lawton.

The books "Eye of the Storm," and "Images from the Storm" contain drawings made by Sneden of his prison experiences to include his depictions of Camp Lawton.

The link to the CNN story is below:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dillingham AK - Brandy Station VA

Today at Brandy Station: August 16, 2010

Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, an four others died as they were heading to a fishing expedition in western Alaska on August 9, 2010. The airport they were to land is located in Dillingham, Alaska. Believe it or not, there is a link between Dillingham, Alaska and Brandy Station, Virginia

Dillingham is named after William Paul Dillingham, a Texas Senator at the turn of the last century. Dillingham toured Alaska before it became a territory with his Senate subcommittee in 1903. The former post office (and United States Signal Corps weather station) at Nushagak was renamed Dillingham for the Senator. The subcommittee was investigating conditions following the Alaska Gold Rush of 1898. Dillingham was in Alaska before it became a territory.

So, what is the relationship with Dillingham Alaska and Brandy Station Virginia?

William Paul had an older brother. His name was Edwin. Edwin served in the 10th Vermont Infantry during the Civil War. In March and April of 1864, Edwin was in Brandy Station. He had just been paroled from the POW camp in Salisbury, North Carolina. After his return to the army, he was tasked to support the provost marshals in Brandy Station. One of the Provo's task -- process and escort the female (wives and family members) visitors to the camps where the army lay.

On the walls of the Graffiti House are a series of seven drawings, done by an unknown hand, probably a soldier from Vermont. One of the drawings depict two women with the notation "Turned over to Capt. Dillingham" Yes we are sure it is Edwin. There is other evidence in the room that confirms this fact. Edwin would rise to command the 1oth Vermont, and would die on the field near Winchester, in September 1864.

William Paul Dillingham, by the way, never set foot in Dillingham, Alaska.

My grateful thanks to my friend, Richard Deardoff, a history teacher at Kettle Run High School, Fauquier County, who posed the question to me if there was any link between the two. Thank you Richard.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Five minutes' notice

From the diary of Hospital Steward John N. Henry, in the 49th New York Infantry (Third Brigade, Second Division, Sixth Corps).

"An order came to pack up and be ready to move at five minutes’ notice. [I] went to work immediately [and] kept busy until dark when I drove the last nail in the large box and leaving nothing but a small box to mail at the last moment."

The 49th was camped about four miles south of Warrenton. The 91st Pennsylvania (Second Brigade, Second Division, Fifth Corps), camped along Beverly Ford, was also told to be prepared to move immediately and have three days rations prepared.

Naturally, neither unit went anywhere. Someone should do a study of how many times a command (of any size) was ordered to prepare to move at 'moments notice' or in five (or thirty) minutes, and they just sat there. Hurry up and wait, it has been the motto of the military for centuries.

Henry's diary is found in "Turn Them Out Like a Mule", edited by John Michael Priest

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A little ice please...

Today at Kelly's Ford: August 14, 1863

From the Albany Evening Journal
Ice For the Army of the Potomac – John Kelly, after whom Kelly’s Ford is named, and many other residents of Warrenton, Sulpher Springs and along the river bank , not supposing that Union troops would spend another summer on the Rappahannock, last winter laid a large supply of ice, and are troops are now using the valuable commodity. Every ice-house is honored with a guard, and each regiment receives a small piece every day. The owners have exhausted every argument to convince the commanding General the frozen water is not an article liable to be seized under a civilized system of warfare, but without success.

As suspected, ice is contraband and confiscated as a necessity of war.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Order of the Day

Today at Beverly Ford: August 13, 1863

The order of the day for the 91st Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, camped near Beverly Ford

The following Calls will be observed in the Command until further Orders
Reveille at 0500
Breakfast Call at 0515
Drill at 0550
Recall from Drill at 0700
Surgeons Call at 0715
1st Sergts Reports at 0730
Fatigue Call at 0800
Guard Mounting at 0900
Comms'd Officers School at 1000
Dinner Roll Call at 1200
Battalion drill at 1630
Recall from Drill at 1740
Dress parade at 1800
Tattoo at 2000
Taps at 2030

The Army of the Potomac has settled down into routine, the campaign is over.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"All is quiet here, except when a little picket fire"

Today 'on picket': August 11, 1863

Dear Sister, I thought I would write a few lines to you as I have not much of anything to say today. The brigade is here on picket now. It will be the regiment's turn to go on post tomorrow. All is quiet here, except when a little picket fire. Father has had a letter today and, as he was not here, I took the liberty to read it. I was glad to hear from home. I think the boys are first-rate with the haying, but I think it would pay as well to hire some as it is getting late in the season. It is very warm here now. I think it is the warmest weather I have felt in my life. Father is at Washington now. I am going to send $10 in this letter and shall send some more some other time. I am going to send Ansel a song that one of the boys in the company got up. As for news, I have not got any, but I must close. So good-bye for the present. Your brother, Dimon Hamilton, l Me. Cav. Co. F."

Dimon would become a prisoner on March 1, 1864 and be held in Richmond, probably at Belle Island, in the James River. Dimon Hamilton survives the war.

By what is says in the letter, it appears that Dimon's father was attached to the 1st Maine in some way, but he is not listed on the regiments roster. But as you read, Dimon has no qualms about reading his fathers mail. As with just about all correspondence and diary entries, the soldiers comment on the heat.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Our horses are nearly all broken down"

Today at Brandy Station: August 10, 1863

Portion of a letter written by Lt. Samuel Willliam Newman Feamster of the 14th Virginia Cavalry

"We have a pretty hard time here, we are on duty all the time 16 of our men are on Provo Guard in Culpeper CH. Gen Stuart is not willing to let us leave, I think the Brig[ade] will all soon be gone if they keep on living as they have been doing. Our horses are nearly all broken down. My horse is gotten quite poor & I got him reared [sent to the rear]. We haven’t had any fighting for a few days not since I wrote you, but we are lying close to the Yankees all the time. I would like to have another horse but it is not worth while to bring a fat horse her for the way we have to treat them they would soon be as poor as the ones we have. The order is whem our horses break down we have them to send back & take to foot."

From the Regimental History of the 14th Virginia Cavalry, by Robert Driver Jr..

It should be noted that two months prior, JEB Stuart and his cavalry were at their zenith. Now, after two months of near constant activity from Culpeper to Gettysburg and back, plus the fighting that took place on the 1st and 4th of August, the mounted arm of the Army of Northern Virginia is broken down and in serious need of refit.

Monday, August 9, 2010

"Providence has kindly blessed our arms"

Today at Cedar Mountain: August 9, 1862

A portion of a letter from Jed. Hotchkiss to his wife. It can be found on UVA's Valley of the Shadow web site.

My Dr. Wife:
"... Then we were up by day the next morning, poking along through towards Culpeper C.H. driving the Yankee picket before us, and camping along the road for several miles last night -- in fact reaching some 6 miles, the Division of Gen. A.P. Hill being in the rear. The enemy attempted to fall upon our rear last night, with a strong cavalry force, but they "caught a Tartar," finding us ready for them, & were repulsed, we taking some 15 prisoners, at one point, and they attacked at another point & met the same fate -- we have taken some 350 of Pope's Cavalry, now, some officers that we shall hold as hostages for the treatment of our people by Pope -- ...I resume my writing on a hill top, in full view of several thousand of the enemy cavalry that have been drawn up all day in the hot sun, -- while we are maneuvering to take them, have been sitting round here all the evening -- trying to find out the enemy's position 4 P.M. the battle has opened -- ... -- it is about 6 miles west of Culpeper C.H. -- Sunday 6 A.M. -- the firing has opened again We had a bloody day yesterday -- as desperate a fight as I ever saw -- but we drove the enemy away from the battle field, took 12 leads of ammunition, 1 large piece of artillery, some 400 prisoners, one Brig. Gen. & a good many officers. The fight continued until 9 P.M. Our Gen. Winder was killed & we had a good many others killed & wounded -- We lost a good many men & killed & wounded large numbers of the enemy most of which they left on the battle field.... Providence has kindly blessed our arms & spared most of us -- May He still be near us.
I will write this evening May God bless you all
Your Aff husband
Jed. Hotchkiss

Hotchkiss is of course referring to the Battle of Cedar (or Slaughter's) Mountain. Jackson's victory here in southern Culpeper County is considered the beginning of the Second Manassas Campaign.

General Winder is Charles Sidney Winder, a native Marylander. He died while in command of the Stonewall Brigade. Winder was working the guns of an artillery battery, and not with his command, when a federal shell ripped through the left side of his body. He lingered for a time, conscious of his fate and was lucid, talking of his family. Winder died so quietly that according to Lt. McHenry Howard, "you could scarcely note the time of death."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Guest at Elkwood

Today at Brandy Station: August 8, 1861

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch

"Gen. E. Kirby Smith, of Florida.
Brandy Station, Culpeper co., Va.,
August 5, 1861.
Messrs Editors: I have the gratification to inform the readers of your valuable paper, and the friends of this distinguished and gallant officer, that his case is entirely hopeful, and that in a short time he will be ready to enter upon the discharge of his duties. His injury, though extensive, and inflicted by a large-size Minnie ball, was strictly a flesh wound. It grazed the spinal column, passing between the processes, coursing through the muscles of the neck, and passing out near the clavicle or collar-bone. He has suffered but little pain, has been cheerful at all times, and the wound has done better than usual, although his escape is to the writer a miracle. This gallant and accomplished officer bore a conspicuous part in the ever-memorable battle of Bull Run on the 21st July. He may be termed the Brucher in that glorious victory for the South. He commanded Elzy's brigade, which was the first to turn the tide of battle in our favor, causing the minions of Lincoln's invading forces to retreat like hares before our gallant army. The General was wounded when in the act of turning the enemy's right wing, which was endeavoring to flank us on our left, and just as he was giving the order by a rapid march to cut off and take as prisoners several thousand of the enemy. The God of Battles, who smiled upon us on that memorable occasion, has spared this noble and chivalric son of the South for future brilliant achievements in behalf of the great principles of constitutional liberty. The General is at the hospitable mansion of our esteemed county man, Richard H Cunningham, Esq., where he receives every kindness and attention."

Culpeper became a center for caring for the wounded Confederate soldiers following First Manassas. Most of the wounded stayed in a hospital that was built in downtown Culpeper. Kirby was recovering at Elkwood, home of Richard Hoop Cunningham, which was close to to confluence of the Hazel and Rappahannock Rivers. Elkwood would be destroyed a year later by Union soldiers under John Pope as he evacuated Culpeper in the opening stages of the Second Manassas Campaign. Another 'hero' of the fight, Major Roberdeau Wheat, was at Bellville in Brandy Station. Bellville is now named Beauregard, whose name was suggested by Wheat to honor the victor of Manassas.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

August the 7th 1863

Today at Brandy Station: August 7, 1863

Upstairs at the Graffiti House, in Brandy Station there are three rooms. The smallest of the three has the least amount of observable graffiti. The reason is due to paint covering the plaster, not lack of graffiti. There are hints throughout the room of the treasure that awaits.

On an interior wall, just above is the paint line, written in pencil is:

August the 7th 1863

Are there more words below? We do not yet know. However, just to the left of this piece of graffiti is a drawing of what appears to be the sun. As I have noted in earlier posts this month, August was in a word oppressive. The Brandy Station Foundation anxiously awaits the next opportunity to have a conservator return to the Graffiti House.

We believe the graffiti was created by Confederate cavalrymen. In August 1863, the opposing forces in northern Virginia have pretty much settled down in and around Culpeper County following the Gettysburg Campaign. The pickets for the Rebels were posted on and near Fleetwood Heights, and the Federals not far away to the north and east, but on the south side of the Rappahannock.

So, it seems we have a mystery. We know when the graffiti was created, but we do not know by whom, why, or even if there is anything else that our mystery man from August the 7th 1863 is willing to share.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Richmond Reports on the August 1 fight

Today at Brandy Station: August 6, 1863

The Richmond Daily Dispatch carried a story of the fighting that took place on August 1st. Portions of the article follow.

Friday night last a force of the enemy's cavalry, estimated at three brigades, crossed, or were reported to be crossing, the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford. Hampton's cavalry brigade were on picket at the time, their line extending from Kelly's to Beverly's Ford.--By morning the entire Yankee force engaged were across, and began a bold advance towards Brandy Station. Their force greatly outnumbering ours, Hampton's brigade commenced falling back slowly, the pickets having been previously driven by the enemy back to the main body. After falling back a mile or more, the brigade halted and checked the enemy's advance for a considerable time. The enemy's movements were covered, in a measure, by woods, of which they availed themselves; but whenever the opportunity and ground favored, were frequently and most gallantly charged by our regiments and driven back.

The day thus passed with successive skirmishing, fighting, and charging, until between four and five o'clock P. M., when within about a mile and a half of Culpeper two regiments of infantry from Anderson's division — the 12th Va., of Mahone's brigade, and the 2d Miss, of Posey's brigade — were thrown out as skirmishers, and advanced to the support of our cavalry. The Yankees perceiving these supports coming up, "about-faced" and "skedaddled" across an open field, or other open space of ground, in our front. The pursuit was continued until the enemy escaped out of sight, and, it is believed, recrossed the river that night.

We had not more than one battery of artillery engaged, which poured at interval a number of rounds of grape and canister into the enemy's ranks with great effect. Six or eight of our artillerymen were wounded, three of them mortally. The Yankees had at least two batteries engaged; but most of the casualties among our men were caused by their sharpshooters, their artillery on this occasion having been an ineffective auxiliary. It is alleged that our artillery would have done greater execution but for the deficiency of rifle ammunition provided.

Gen. Hampton being yet disabled from returning to the field by his wound, the brigade, as you have probably learned, was commanded and admirably handled by Col. Baker, of the 1st North Carolina regiment. Our loss is, at this writing, unknown, but will probably be covered by 75 or 100 killed and wounded.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

South of the Rappahannock

Today along the Rappahannock River: August 5, 1863

A portion of a letter from Sgt. William H. Shelton, Battery L, 1st New York Light Artillery, to his cousin.

"...We are in line of Battle; we are outside the outer line of breastwork... we are only nine miles from Culpeper where the enemy are believed to be in force. We are in the south side of the river thanks to the enterprise of our gallant cavalry & the support of a miniature pontoon of eight Rappahannock Station,.. were ordered to throw up breastworks in front of the pieces & obeyed ... our infantry failed to make its appearance. The sun blazed down...and we abandoned the works...
was particularly struck with the number of ladies in mourning. I am confident that two thirds of all the ladies I saw in W[arrenton] were in black. Any quantity of quiet elderly ladies and very pretty young ones appeared upon the veranda & in the yards. I suppose they consider us brutes..."

Many believe that the 'Dare Mark Line', otherwise known as the Rappahannock River, was the boundary between the contending armies in Northern Virginia in the summer of 1863. Not the case. The Federals were firmly placed south of the Rappahannock throughout August and September.

Sargent Sheldon comments on the weather, as the heat continued unabated for some period of time. It is also interesting that he notes the numbers of ladies in black in the town of Warrenton.

The war of course has taken a dreadful toll on the region. The economy is devastated by the armies constantly moving through and destroying farms and fences and killing livestock. But the emotional cost the families suffered must of been incredible. Long gone are those heady days in 1861 -- and the grim realities of war and occupation have settled into Northern Culpeper County and most of Fauquier County.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Skirmish at Brandy Station

Today at Brandy Station: August 4, 1863

Today is the last day of the Gettysburg Campaign. Below are a few excerpts that I have come across describing this last action.

9th Virginia Cavalry
Northern advance from Rappahannock Bridge brought on a fight near Miller’s [Fleetwood] Hill. The 9th was under artillery fire, with light casualties.

17th Pennsylvania Cavalry
Companies F and M, 17th PA Cavalry march to Kelly’s Ford and camp across the river after being relieved of picket duty near Brandy Station.

34th Battalion Virginia Cavalry
advance before 5:30pm and engage Federal forces in a skirmish at Brandy Station. The brigade consisted of 2,000 troops and six guns [Whitworths and 12 pounders]. The Confederate line was said to be so strong that it could not be penetrated without a fight; however, after driving the Federal pickets about 1,500 yards, the Southerners were in turn driven nearly two miles when the Federal Division came up. The Confederates were pressed so hard, they could not even form.

A soldier in the 107th New York Infantry
I can hear very distinctly the belching cannon. Soon we will have an invitation to the celebration. The firing comes nearer and nearer. We are expecting orders every minute.'

Mooreman's Lynchburg Battery
"I had the hottest arty fight I have had for some time. The Yankees had a four gun battery playing on my one gun (Napoleon) and literally ploughed up the ground around my piece – every man at the gun was struck and three of them badly wounded – still we held our ground until a shell struck the wheel of the carriage, disabling the piece entirely – we then had to withdraw."

12th Virginia Infantry
Union Cavalry…led by General John Buford, crossed the Rappahannock and engaged Stuart near Brandy Station. Mahone’s Brigade marched from Culpeper to Brandy, six miles, at the double quick in intense heat. The 12th, near Brandy, emerged from a woods, caught a part of the Union cavalry by surprise, and delivered a telling volley that emptied many saddles.

The fight is listed as a skirmish, like so many others during the later period of the war. Of course, if the 'skirmish' took place in August 1861, it would have been a great battle. But other real battles have taken place, most recent of course was Gettysburg. And because of Gettysburg, and others, this fight is just a footnote in history.

The sources for the Virgina units involved come from the Virginia Regimental Series, the 107th NY letter I saw years ago on ebay and the 17th Pennsylvania report is from the Supplemental OR, Series 69

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Confused Reports of this Fight

Today at Brandy Station: August 3, 1863

From the Richmond Dispatch:

Information received from Culpeper county by the train last evening furnishes us an account of a pretty severe cavalry fight in Culpeper county, in the immediate neighborhood of the old battlefield of Brandy Station, on Saturday last.

We could only obtain confused reports of this fight, but from these we gather that the enemy, in a force consisting of some three brigades of cavalry, advanced on our line of pickets in the early part of the day. The picket force was composed of the 12th Virginia regiment, Gen. Mahone's brigade. This force resisted the enemy until Hampton's cavalry came up, when the battle was joined between our cavalry and that of the enemy. During some portions of the engagement the fighting is represented to have been very severe. In the early part of the fight Capt. E. W. Branch, commanding the Grays, from this city, was killed, and his body brought to the city by the Central train last evening.

Hampton's Legion sustained the greater part of the loss inflicted upon us. Col. Black was shot through the hand with a Minnie ball; Col. Baker's arm was shattered, and Col. Young received a severe wound in the breast. The Legion is now commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel. Our cavalry fought them a distance of six miles, gradually falling back upon our infantry supports.

The enemy, however, did not afford these supports an opportunity to engage in the fight, but retired as soon as they came up. Our loss was some fifteen killed and from sixty to seventy wounded. The loss of the enemy was not known by any one with whom we conversed. It is not improbable that this light is the immediate forerunner of an engagement on a much larger scale.

A funeral notice was also printed in today's Dispatch:
The funeral services of Capt E. W Branch, Richmond Grays 12th regiment Va volunteers; who was killed in a skirmish near Brandy Station August 1st, will take place this afternoon at 6 o'clock at the Monumental Church.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A hot Sunday

Today at Brandy Station: August 2, 1863

A couple of diary entries which touch on the fighting on August 1. The first is from Jed. Hotchkiss and the second from Joseph A. Waddell, a quartermaster in Stauton. Hotchkisses comments can be found in "Made me a Map of the Valley" and Waddle's is from University of Virginia's, website: Valley of the Shadow.

We were obliged to work to-day to copy the maps lent us by Col. Smith, and were very busy all day and worked late last night. It continues to be very hot. The enemy advanced towards Culpeper C.H. and we had a little fight with them, some of the first or third corps on our side. We had 15 killed and a number wounded and killed and wounded quite a number of the enemy.

Oppressively hot to-day...We hear of a cavalry fight at Brandy Station, in Culpeper, on yesterday, the enemy being driven back several miles, with a loss on our side of 200 killed and wounded. … Gen. Lee's expedition into Pennsylvania and Morgan's into Indiana and Ohio have helped Lincoln to recruit the ranks of his army. I thought [Reverend] Mr. [John] Miller's sermon (I call it so by courtesy) rather calculated to depress. He took a discouraging view of our affairs at this time, so far as we can judge by sight; but having faith in God we have a right to feel hopeful. Almost too "spiritual" for the mass of his audience.

Both complain of heat. August would be an oppressive month with soldiers in blue, gray and the civilians complaining. There is also quite a difference between 15 and 200. The numbers are in between.

A quick look into Charles Wainwright's diary (had it here in front of me) tells too of the heat. He mentions it three times in the day's entry: "An intensely hot day with a great deal to do"..."why is it that every hot spell Sunday is always the hottest day it in..."..."The sun came down pelting all the time, and not a breath of air."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Battle of Brandy Station: August 1, 1863

Today at Brandy Station: August 1, 1863

From the history of the First & Second Stuart Horse Artillery, by Robert Moore, II.

"Shortly before dawn on August 1 Hart’s battery, along with at least a section of McGregor's battery, attached to Hampton’s brigade (temporarily under Colonel Pierce M. B. Young), was up shortly after dawn. General John Buford's First Calvary Division had crossed the Rappahannock and was heading for Brandy station. Moving his brigade northeast along the railroad tracks in one of the hottest days of that summer, Young drew up his men perpendicular to the Orange and Alexandria tracks. The batteries of the horse artillery were placed on the left of the line, just north of the tracks. Young opened the battle with his horse artillery, but the Confederate gunners were hard-pressed keep up a steady return fire. When preferred commence the attack, the confederates were driven almost Culpepper, at one point Yankees began to close in around Young's point's. In a desperate attempt to break out of a tight position, young called upon the horse artillery, which opened with canister at less than 50 yards, allowing temporary relief and a chance at escape. The first section from the Ashlee battery was also involved in the action. Shreve recalled the day “... a large body of federal Calvary crossed the Rappahannock and attacked us, and pressed us back slowly towards Culpepper court house. The day was very hot. At a point about a mile south of Brandy station, been pressed very closely, and in danger of being overwhelmed by numbers, both in front and on the left flank, we gave in canister and very short range. The order was given, “a double charge,” and for the first time (according to my memory) we loaded a double charge, and let them have it. This repulsed them and give us time to “limber to the rear.” “on nearing Culpepper, some infantry [from Anderson's division] came to our help, and the tide of battle was reversed and the enemy driven across the river. We found on the field of conflict, after the foe had retreated, one of our men (Private Lacking), who had been badly wounded, whom the enemy cared for. They had erected over him a temporary shelter, and had kindly administered to his wants, as best they could. Our Lieutenant Burwell was also wounded in this battle. The writer accompanied him to a private house and Culpepper, remained with him that night, and saw him board a train the next morning, bidding him “bon voyage.” He seemed very hopeful of getting well, and returning to assume, but alas; we never saw him more, for at his home, near Millwood, Clark County, he died”.

The fighting was general throughout the day. Pushed back toward Culpeper, Confederate infantry made it's presence known (and felt) before Buford retired.

The drawing was made by Alfred Waud, on August 1. The location is a small hill just west of the town of Brandy Station, very close to the home Beauregard. Waud was able to make this drawing, at a location miles from Beverly Ford, deep into Culpeper County -- on the day of the fight. He must be considered as one of the original 'embedded journalists'.

Most everyone is aware of the Battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863. It is the opening action of the Gettysburg Campaign. Very few know the Gettysburg Campaign ended on the same fields. Fighting took place in Culpeper County on August 1 & 4. These were the final battles of the Gettysburg Campaign. The August 1st fight is one of the unknown battles of the Civil War, overshadowed by the larger fight two months earlier.

As for fighting on Fleetwood Hill, at least twelve separate and distinct actions took place on that piece of American soil between August 20, 1862 and November 8, 1863. And I am not county John Mosby's visit on November 26, 1863.

Is Fleetwood Hill the most fought over piece of ground in America? I do not know for a fact, but I challenge anyone to find another location.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A move to the Rappahannock

Today at Warrenton Junction; July 31, 1863

From the diary of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright

We have now been in this spot for nearly a week, so I suspect no one will be sorry to move out of it tomorrow, which we have orders to do in the direction of Rappahannock Station. The weather is really warm, hot one you may call, and this low spot very close, with the woods very close. The whole army army I believe is to move up to the line of the river.

The army would indeed move up to the Rappahannock; and while some would disagree, I state that the last phase of the Gettysburg campaign is about to begin.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Washin' my drawers

Today at Brandy Station: July 30, 1863

Another entry from the diary of Private Edwin Weist of the 20th Indiana

Camp near Warrenton. Mailed a letter to Anna this morning. The day has been pleasant with the appearance of rain. I was about two miles from camp this morning in search of du berries. The officers are ordered to make out a requisition for camp or garrison equipage. The first Brigade changed camp this morning. The reg. was inspected by Brigade inspection. I washed a pair of drawers to day in the creek was pretty hard work. About 11. o.clock we moved camp moving about forty feet and went into camp by column of Divisions. Had some heavy shower of rain this afternoon. Commenced a letter to cousin Carrie.

Yes - Edwin had a busy day.
-Mailed a letter
-Search for du berries
-change camp
-regimental inspection
-washed his drawers
-dealt with a summer shower
-wrote a letter

Such is the life of a private.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Resting and refitting the cavalry

Today at Brandy Station: July 29, 1863
The 2nd Virginia Cavalry Regiment's commander, Colonel Thomas Munford establishes a horse pasture for the broken-down horses in the regiment, in order to restore them to duty. He did this in spite of orders from Stuart to the contrary. The horses of the sick and wounded men were kept there also, until the men returned.

As we all know, the Gettysburg Campaign was brutal on the Confederate horseflesh, and Munford would do what he could to reconstitute those horses (and men) who could be brought back into active service

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back in Fauquier

Today in Brandy Station: July 27, 1863

From the diary of Private Edwin Weist, 20th Indiana Infantry

"Camp near Warrenton. It has rained some little to day. Col. Berdan has placed guards all around the camp and does not allow anyone to pass out even for water without a pass. I wrote a letter to father to day. We had word day before yesterday while marching through Gen. Ward that Indiana had captured Morgan and his whole force. We have three cheers for the gallant old state and its gallant Governor."

The Army of Northern Virginia has been followed down the Shenandoah and Loudoun Valley's by the Army of the Potomac and, crossing the 'Dare mark line' of the Rappahannock River, is settling into Culpeper and Orange Counties.

The Army of the Potomac, is filtering down into Fauquier County. The 20th Indiana, part of the First Division of the Third Corps, encamped around Warrenton, Virginia. Their stay however, would be short. On July 31, they would travel by foot, train and boat -- to New York City, to quell the draft riots which erupted in that city. The 20th Indiana would be in New York for two and a half months.

As for John Hunt Morgan, well his stay up north would not be as long as some had hoped.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Presque Isle

Today at Brandy Station: July 26, 2010

As it appeared in today's Culpeper Star Exponent.

A peek inside Presque Isle

By Rhonda Simmons Published: July 26, 2010
Sitting atop a grassy knoll near the confluence of the Rappahannock and Hazel Rivers in eastern Culpeper County, a stately brick house has stood the test of time.
The 19th century 4,500-square-foot Federal-style house accommodated Union head-quarters during the American Civil War and generations of local families over the years.
Built in 1813, Presque Isle features original hardwood floors, several fireplaces, four bedrooms, a renovated kitchen, ornate plaster moldings, a basement and an attic.
“This home is a historical marvel. It’s not only unique in its presentation in Culpeper County, this house would be unique and a rare gem wherever it’s at,” said historian Clark “Bud” Hall, president of the Brandy Station Foundation.
Homeowners Alan and Phyllis Johnson of Orange County opened their historic home to the public on Sunday for a fundraising event.
As part of the Museum of Culpeper History’s 10-year-anniversary on Main Street, a total of 130 guests gathered on the house’s manicured lawn and listened to Mountain Remedy during the Picnic at Presque Isle.
“They’re doing this as a gift to the museum and we are doing this as a thank you to all of the members in the community,” said museum executive director Lee Langston-Harrison.
The menu included hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, cole slaw, fresh fruit, pasta salad, lemonade and iced tea.
Located at the end of a three-mile gravel road, the 135-acre plantation includes a pond, five wells, three natural springs, two brick buildings used as slave quarters, an old blacksmith shop and several rental properties.
Planter Alan Johnson, who purchased the property in 2003, also uses the land to grow soybeans.
“We’ve been working on the farm for all of these years and you never finish,” said Alan Johnson. “The millwork, floors and doors are all original. It’s a unique place.”
The couple tried to keep the house in its original condition except for a few upgrades.
“It’s just so unique to keep it the way it was,” said Phyllis Johnson. “So many times people buy places and you don’t even recognize them because they’ve added so much stuff and changed things around.”

History of the home
The property actually dates back to the archaic period, according to Hall, who served at the event’s guest speaker.
“This was determined by an archeological (study),” said Hall, a close friend of the Johnsons. “This was the home of prehistoric peoples. That’s been documented by finds on the property particularly the spear points.”
Manahoac Indians, a Siouan tribe, also occupied the property, Hall added.
“They were hunters and gatherers and they camped in this area,” he said. “It’s interesting that their archeological remnants were shown to be exactly where the prehistoric camps were. They built on top of each other.”
Judge Daniel Grinnan of Fredericksburg built the house during the early 1800s and completed it in 1813.
By the Civil War, the Major family was living in the home.“What happened here during the war was profound,” Hall explained. “You didn’t see brick homes in Culpeper County during that era. People came from miles around to visit this home. This is easily the most remote house in the county. Therefore, it has always proved to be very mysterious to people.”
During the war, Presque Isle frequently changed hands between Union and Confederate control.
The property is also tactically located between Welford’s Ford on the Hazel River and Freeman’s Ford on the Rappahannock River.
“This house is situated militarily in a profoundly strategic sense in the center of two of the most important Civil War crossings. It was bound to incur Civil War activity and in truth it would.”
While the Majors family still lived in the home, Union Gen. Emory Upton and his soldiers occupied the home from December 1863 until May 1864, according to Hall.
“Just because the Yankees showed up didn’t mean they were leaving,” Hall said. “All credit to the Major family for staying in the home. Because they didn’t vacate the home, the Yankees could not tear the house apart. But if you had to turn a house over to somebody, you’d want it to be Emory Upton. He was a great guy.”
After the war, Upton was appointed commandant of West Point and published several books regarding military tactics.
“He was a very distinguished guy,” Hall said.
Want to help save a battlefield?
The Civil War Preservation Trust is trying to protect 782 acres of hallowed ground where the Battle of Brandy Station ensued.
Organizers are requesting donations of $85.68 per acre through the Help Save the Brandy Station Battlefield campaign.
The two tracts of land that make up this new effort are considered highly significant to this particular campaign that started June 9, 1863.
According to historians, the northernmost tract is where Gen. John Buford’s Union cavalry fought against Rooney Lee’s Confederate troops. The southernmost tract features land where Union cavalry under Col. Thomas Devin’s leadership clashed with Gen. Wade Hampton’s Confederate soldiers.
“There is no piece of Piedmont plain in Culpeper County that witnessed more infantry and cavalry action than this property.”
The CWPT’s goal is to raise $67,000.
To donate, visit