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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.

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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.

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Historic America

1863 Rappahannock Station Battlefield in Fauquier County, Virginia

Not much remains to mark the scene of one of Robert E. Lee’s biggest military blunders.

The Second Battle of Rappahannock Station was fought on November 7, 1863 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick and Confederate forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Jubal Early near Rappahannock Station, Virginia during the American Civil War. This devastating Confederate defeat cost Robert E. Lee two veteran brigades and resulted in over 2,000 total casualties, mostly Confederate.

After defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 and months of inconclusive maneuvers in northern Virginia, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee withdrew his 45,000-man Army of Northern Virginia south of the Rappahannock River to wait out the winter. He left a small force on the north bank of the river to guard a pontoon bridge near Rappahannock Station, where he hoped to compel Union Maj. Gen. George G. Meade to divide his 76,000-man Army of the Potomac and expose it to attack.

Meade divided his army as anticipated, but things didn’t go well for the Confederates. Meade sent Maj. Gen. William H. French’s III Corps to cross the Rappahannock River at Kelly’s Ford and Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick’s VI Corps to attack Lee’s bridgehead at Rappahannock Station. On November 7, Union troops brushed aside the Confederate defenders at Kelly’s Ford, while Sedgwick bombarded Maj. Gen. Jubal Early’s division at the bridgehead. The delayed attack tricked Lee into thinking Sedgwick’s advance was only a diversion, so he sent no help to Jubal Early.

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Historic America

1862 Rappahannock Station Battlefield in Fauquier and Culpeper Counties, Virginia

A scenic drive will take you to often-forgotten sites of Civil War drama along the Rappahannock River.

The First Battle of Rappahannock Station (White Sulphur Springs/Freeman’s Ford) was a series of skirmishes fought from August 22-25, 1862 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. John Pope and Confederate forces commanded by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet around Rappahannock Station, Virginia during the American Civil War. This inconclusive battle allowed the Confederate army to outflank Union forces and win the Second Battle of Bull Run three days later. It resulted in 225 total casualties.

In July 1862, Maj. Gen. John Pope’s newly formed 51,000-man Union Army of Virginia began to consolidate across northern Virginia. After a bruising at the Battle of Cedar Mountain on August 9th, Pope withdrew his army behind the Rappahannock River, where he skirmished with Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s 48,500-man Army of Northern Virginia and waited for reinforcements. Between August 22 and 25, the two armies fought minor skirmishes at Waterloo Bridge, White Sulphur Springs, Freeman’s Ford, and Beverly Ford.

On August 22nd, Union Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel directed Big. Gen. Carl Schurz to cross the river at Freeman’s Ford and ascertain or disrupt the movement of Jackson’s corps. Schurz sent the 74th Pennsylvania Regiment, which captured some supplies and sent for reinforcements. That came in the form of two regiments from Brig. Gen. Henry Bohlen’s brigade. They quickly ran into Isaac Trimble’s brigade, who with help from John Bell Hood, overwhelmed Bohlen’s men and sent them fleeing. Bohlen himself was shot in the chest and killed while directing his men back across the ford.

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Historic America

J.E.B. Stuart’s Audacious Catlett Station Raid

How a Victorian notion of chivalry led to the Civil War’s most consequential raid.

James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart (1833-1864) was an audacious Confederate commander who rose rapidly through the ranks from lieutenant colonel to major general. He emerged as one of the most legendary and well-known cavalry commanders of the Civil War, especially for the South. Wearing a dashing uniform complete with cape and plumed hat, he imagined himself as a chivalric knight adhering to a code of honor. It was his code of honor that led to his famous raid on Catlett Station.

Early in the morning on August 18, 1862, near Verdiersville, Virginia, Union cavalry caught Stuart and his aides off guard. Stuart rode off so quickly that he left behind a hat and cloak sent to him days earlier by Union Brig. Gen. Samuel Crawford. During a parley after the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Stuart bet Crawford that Northern newspapers would portray the Union defeat as a victory. Crawford, true to his word, sent a copy of the New York Herald along with the plumed hat.

Stuart’s ego was stung by the ‘loss’ at Verdiersville. “I intend to make the Yankees pay for that hat,” he promised his wife, Flora. On August 21st, after Union Maj. Gen. John Pope moved his army north behind the Rappahannock River, Stuart proposed to General Robert E. Lee an ambitious plan to ride around Pope’s flank and cut his supply line along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. The next morning, Stuart rode off with 1,500 troopers.