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The banks of the Chickahominy in 1862--when Stuart crossed it in the first great raid of the war This small but quick-rising little stream came nearer than the entire Union army to stopping Stuart in his famous “ride around McClellan” on the Peninsula, June 13-15, 1862. This was the first of the great Confederate raids that served to startle the Union into a recognition of the maladministration of its cavalry. After a brush with a squadron the Fifth United States Cavalry, commanded by Captain W. B. Royall, and a short halt at Old Church, he marched with only twelve hundred cavalrymen, by night, down through New Kent to Sycamore Ford on the Chickahominy, thence straight back to Richmond along the James River road. His entire loss was one man killed and a few wounded; yet he brought prisoners and plunder from under McClellan's very nose. Of most importance, he discovered the exact location of the Federal right wing, so that Jackson attacked it a few days later successfully. The cavalry gained confidence in itself, and the Confederacy rang with praises of its daring. The one really dangerous moment to the adventurous party came when the Chickahominy was reached on the homeward journey and was found to be swollen suddenly, and impassable even by swimming. Only Stuart's promptness in tearing down a mill and building a bridge with its timbers got his men across before the Federals hove in sight.

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