Categories
Historic America Photography

Turner Rifles at Antietam

Relief sculpture on the 12th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry monument at Antietam National Battlefield. The 12th NY ‘Turner Rifles’ was part of the Union Army of the Potomac, Third Brigade, Second Division, Sixth Army Corps. The regiment was involved in repelling the final Confederate counterattack near Dunker Church during the Battle of Antietam.

Categories
Historic America

Trevilian Station Battlefield in Louisa County, Virginia

Drive the battlefield where Union and Confederate forces clashed in one of the largest all-cavalry engagements of the war, and what some have called Gen. Custer’s “first last stand.”

The Battle of Trevilian Station was fought from June 11 to June 12, 1864 between Union cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan and Confederate cavalry commanded by Maj. Gens. Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee in Louisa County, Virginia during the American Civil War. This Confederate victory, part of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, was one of the largest cavalry fights of the war. Union forces failed to sever Robert E. Lee’s critical supply line, prolonging the war by months. It resulted in approximately 2,315 total casualties.

By the opening days of June 1864, the Union and Confederate armies had been locked in near-continuous deadly combat for a month. The two armies clashed in bloody battle after bloody battle, inching closer and closer to the Confederate capital of Richmond. After the Battle of Cold Harbor, Grant planned to slip away from Lee and cross the James River. He sent Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s cavalry corps to destroy the Virginia Central Railroad, one of Lee’s main supply lines, as a diversion.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Mohawk Warrior

This bronze statue of a Mohawk brave reaching to take a drink of water from a spring sits in Lake George Battlefield Park in Warren County, New York. Sculptor Alexander Phimister Proctor completed the statue (which is also a working fountain) for Commissioner of Conservation for New York State George Pratt in 1921. It has sat beside this quiet woodland pond ever since. Lake George was the scene of several battles between the French, British, and their native allies. Mohawk Indians fought on both sides.

Categories
Historic America

Buckland Mills Battlefield in Fauquier County, Virginia

Visit the scene of J.E.B. Stuart’s last decisive victory in Virginia before it is erased forever by suburban sprawl.

The Battle of Buckland Mills was fought on October 19, 1863 between Union cavalry commanded by Brig. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick and Confederate cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart in Fauquier County, Virginia during the American Civil War. The skirmish, though small, was the last decisive Confederate victory in Virginia, resulting in 230 total casualties and the route of Kilpatrick’s cavalry.

Following the Gettysburg Campaign, both the Union Army of the Potomac and Confederate Army of Northern Virginia were exhausted and needed time to recover, and both Maj. Gen. George G. Meade and Gen. Robert E. Lee sent units to reinforce Tennessee. This resulted in the often overlooked Bristoe Campaign, when Lee decided to go on the offensive against a depleted Union army. After being bruised at the Battle of Bristoe Station on October 14th, Lee tasked his cavalry commander Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart to cover their retreat.

Categories
Historic America

Smithsburg Battlefield in Washington County, Maryland

Visit the scene of this little-known Civil War cavalry skirmish that immediately followed the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Skirmish at Smithsburg was fought on July 5, 1863 between Union cavalry commanded by Brig. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick and Confederate cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart in Smithsburg, Maryland during the American Civil War. It was a tactical draw, with both sides withdrawing from the area allowing Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army to continue its retreat from Gettysburg. Both sides sustained minor casualties. 

After three bloody days of fighting at Gettysburg, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia retreated southwest toward the Potomac River and Virginia. As the main army staggered toward Williamsport, Maryland, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry division was tasked with keeping the Union army at bay and preventing it from cutting off their retreat.

Categories
Historic America

Coffee Hill Battlefield in Fauquier County, Virginia

Visit the site where Confederate cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart and his men escaped capture in this little-known Civil War skirmish.

The First and Second Battles of Auburn (aka Coffee Hill) were fought on October 13-14, 1863, between elements of the Union Army of the Potomac commanded by Maj. Gen. William H. French and Brig. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren and elements of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell in Fauquier County, Virginia during the American Civil War. The minor battles were part of the Bristoe Campaign and resulted in approximately 163 total casualties. Both were inconclusive.

Following the Gettysburg Campaign, the opposing forces were exhausted and needed time to recover, and both Maj. Gen. George G. Meade and Gen. Robert E. Lee sent units to reinforce Tennessee. This resulted in the often overlooked Bristoe Campaign, when Lee decided to go on the offensive against a depleted Union army. He sent his cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart north to distract Meade from his movements. Stuart caught up with the Union left flank in Fauquier County on October 13th.

Categories
Historic America

McClellan’s Forgotten Campaign

After Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861, no one was sure what would happen next. When Virginia seceded in May, a young Union general named George B. McClellan invaded northwestern Virginia. Few remember this minor campaign, but it launched him to national fame and notoriety.

When Virginia voters ratified the decision of its secession convention on May 23, 1861, Richmond had already been proclaimed the Confederate capital and militia units were mobilizing. As commander of the Department of the Ohio, Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan invaded northwestern Virginia under the pretext of protecting unionists there. Western counties would later vote to secede from Virginia and form the state of West Virginia.

McClellan sent 3,000 volunteer troops into Virginia under the overall command of Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Morris. Opposing them were approximately 800 poorly trained and equipped militia commanded by Col. George A. Porterfield gathered at the town of Grafton. Porterfield retreated to Philippi as the Union army advanced. Morris divided his force into two columns, which converged on Philippi and the Confederates camped there.

Skirmish at Philippi

Before dawn on June 3rd, the Confederates were sheltering from the rain in their tents and were almost taken completely by surprise, if not for a local woman firing her pistol at the Union troops. The Confederates broke and ran with Morris’ men in hot pursuit, leading Northern journalists to call the fight the “Races at Philippi”.