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[79]

Falls church, on the Confederate picket line in 1861-nearly three miles from Washington This typical cross-roads Virginia church, less than three miles from Washington, lay on the end of the line patroled by the Confederate cavalry pickets in the summer and fall of 1861. Strange-looking soldiers were those riders in Colonel J. E. B. Stuart's command, without uniforms, armed with rifles and double-barreled shot-guns, with hardly a saber or a revolver. While McClellan was drilling his army in Washington and metamorphosing it from an “armed mob” into an efficient fighting machine, the Confederate horsemen occupied and held Mason's and Munson's Hill and picketed at points along the Potomac. With the exception of an affair at Lewinsville in September there was little actual fighting. In that month Stuart was commissioned brigadier-general, and in December occurred the battle of Dranesville, in which he commanded the Confederate forces, but failed to carry the day. Soon, however, he leaped into fame.

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