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.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks! I'm thrilled to see one of my regimentals put to some use!

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  2. Thank you for highlighting this battle. My great, great grandfather, Sgt. Bedford Hendrick of the 34th NC Infantry, Company F, was captured during this engagement. Confederate records list him as MIA on 8/1/1863 at Culpepper, VA. Union records show him as captured 8/1 at Brandy Station. Thank you for shedding additional light on what happened that day.

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