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.