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As we shall see later on, Venable and Ryal were again to have special mention together for signal service, after their brilliant chief had fallen in battle.

In October, 1863, three months after Gettysburg, Lee, ever ready to strike and confident in the aggressive morale of his veterans of confirmed hardiness, began a movement around the right flank of Meade's army (then lying in Culpeper), with a view to forcing his late anatagonist again to battle. This is known to old soldiers as ‘the Bristoe Campaign.’

The duty assigned Stuart was to guard Lee's right and screen the movement from the enemy's powerful and skillfully-handled horse. It was a most difficult and delicate service, and Lee's instructions prove beyond question how entirely his Chief of Cavalry retained his great commander's complete confidence. Stuart, chafing under half-muttered cavillings, and eager to have a chance to sweep away every cloud of adverse criticism, showed up at his best from start to finish. In the saddle day and night, he handled his small cavalry force against the preponderating squadrons of the enemy with a happy blending of prudence and audacity that friend and foe alike (among trained soldiers) applauded with generous accord.

But his wise audacity (which, if unsuccessful, would have been termed ‘foolish rashness’) had at one point what is known as ‘a very close call.’ The story is familiar to the old troopers of his command and is too long to detail here. Suffice it to say, that he discovered a movement of the enemy's infantry that neither he nor Lee had suspected. As usual, he selected Venable to carry the news to the commanding general, instructing him to ‘ride by way of Auburn,’ which Lomax, with his brigade of horse, was supposed to hold. Venable sped upon his mission, and rode confidently into Auburn, only to ride out as fast as he could put spur to horse under a tempest of bullets, for Lomax had just been driven from the place and Kilpatrick's troopers held all the roads. But the trusted staff officer, with more than one ‘touch-and-go’ escape, made a wide detour, knowing every foot of the country even in the darkness, and safely delivered the message to Lee.

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W. H. A. Lee (5)
Andrew R. Venable (3)
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L. L. Lomax (2)
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