The winter of 1862-1863 found Robert Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and Ambrose Burnside's Army of the Potomac at a standoff along the Rappahannock River in Virginia. In December 1862, outnumbered Confederate forces had dealt the Union army a handy defeat in the Battle of Fredericksburg. A demoralised Union army was waiting for spring and revitalisation. The latter came in late January 1863 in the form of Major General Joseph ""Fighting Joe"" Hooker. Relieving the disgraced and outmatched Burnside, Hooker reorganised his troops, establishing regular drills, procuring adequate rations and instituting company colors, thereby giving his soldiers back their fighting spirit. Lee, also with his eye on the spring campaign, concentrated on maintaining his strength and fortifications while struggling with the ever-increasing problem of adequate supplies. As the spring campaign - and Hooker's new fighting approach - began, cavalry units from both sides took on an increased importance. This culminated in the largest cavalry battle of the war, fought near Brandy Station, Virginia on June 9, 1863.
Compiled from various contemporary sources, this volume details the contributions of cavalry units during the spring campaign of 1863. Although the work discusses early encounters such as the Battle of Chancellorsville, the main focus is the Battle of Brandy Station, which marked the opening of the Gettysburg campaign and Lee's last offensive into the North. Here, forces commanded by J.E.B. Stuart and Alfred Pleasanton fought a battle which ranged over 70 square miles but left no decisive victor. At the end of the day, Confederate troops were still in possession of the territory and counted fewer casualties, yet Union forces had definitely taken the offensive.
While historians still debate the significance of the battle, many now view it as a harbinger of change, signifying the beginning of dominance of Union horse soldiers and the corresponding decline of Stuart's Confederate command. Appendices contain information on individual units with recorded casualties and a list of West Pointers who took part in the battle.
Retired U.S. Army officer Joseph W. McKinney lives in Brandy Station, Virginia.
Table of Contents List of Maps viii Introduction 1 1. A Real Virginia Winter 5 Stand-Off on the Rappahannock, December 1862-June 1863 2. Every Private Was a General 20 Confederate Cavalry and Cavalrymen 3. By Easy Marches 39 The Assembly of Stuart's Regiments in Culpeper County 4. Pretty Well Used Up 55 Cavalry Corps Reorginization, May 1863 5. Stirring Events 79 Grand Reviews in Culpeper County, May-June 1863 6. What Dispositions Should be Made? 94 Union Preparations for Combat, May 23-June 8, 1863 7. Success Was Dearly Bought 107 Beverly Ford to Saint James Church 8. A Small Affair 133 The Advance of the Left Wing and the Fight at Stevensburg 9. Fight Like Gentlemen! 153 Fleetwood Hill 10. Hurrah for Hell, Wade In! 180 Yew Hills and the Union Withdrawal 11. Few Will Exult 198 After the Battle 12. Old Soldiers Never Die 219 Life After June 9, 1863 Appendix A: Order of Battle and Casualties 253 Appendix B: West Pointers at Brandy Station 262 Notes 265 Select Bibliography 303 Index 317 List of Maps 1-Pleasonton's Plan 105 2-Stuart's Reaction 113 3-Beverly Ford 118 4-St. James Church 130 5-Butler's Move to Stevensburg 142 6-Duffie's Attack at Stevensburg 146 7-Wyndham's Attack at Fleetwood 160 8-Kilpatrick's Attack 174 9-The Stone Fence 184 10-Yew Ridge 190