his plan of attack was to engage the Federal
troops in his front with sharpshooters, while he moved the Confederate brigades of Jenkins
and W. F. H. Lee
secretly through the woods in an effort to reach the Union
hoped to strike at the psychological moment when Pickett
's famous infantry charge, on the center of the Union
line of battle, would engage the entire attention of the Army of the Potomac.
The cavalry combat which followed was probably as desperate and as stubbornly contested as any in which the cavalry took part during the entire period of the war. A mounted charge by a regiment of W. F. H. Lee
's brigade, was met by a countercharge of the Seventh Michigan Cavalry, the two regiments meeting face to face on opposite sides of a stone wall, and discharging their carbines point blank.
The First Michigan Cavalry, aided by Chester
's battery made a charge which, followed by a hand-to-hand fight, drove the Confederate
lines back in confusion.
Then followed charges and counter-charges by each opponent, until a large part of both commands was involved in a general melee.
In this terrible cavalry combat every possible weapon was utilized, and after it was over, men were found interlocked in each other's arms, with fingers so firmly imbedded in the flesh as to require force to remove them.
The casualties were heavy for both Stuart
, but the latter was able to stop the Confederate cavalry leader's critical turning movement.
with his veteran cavalry been able to strike the rear of the Federal
army simultaneously with Pickett
's infantry charge in front, the result of this decisive battle of the war might have been different.
On April 4, 1864, General Sheridan
assumed command of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, and thereafter a new order of things was inaugurated for the Union
cavalry in the Eastern
theater of operations.
insisted that his cavalry should not be separated into fragments, but should be concentrated “to fight the ”