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

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