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[82] of the brigade and between it and the river. Buford's advance overwhelmed the small force at the river, and came near running over and capturing the guns in rear before the horses could be harnessed and the pieces put in position. A few moments hesitation enabled the gunners with the prompt assistance of the cavalry, to check the first onset until better positions could be gained, and fresh supports arrived. After a stubborn and exciting struggle, Buford was checked and driven back. Gregg, meanwhile, crossing at the lower ford, and meeting little opposition, advanced rapidly to Brandy Station, and Stuart, whose camp was at Fleetwood, a half mile distant, found himself with the enemy in his rear and front at the same time. The situation was enough to dismay anyone with a heart less stout than Stuart's, but he proved himself equal to the occasion. Leaving a brigade to hold Buford in check, he quickly gathered his remaining forces, and threw himself upon Gregg with the strength of a giant. The most sanguinary cavalry battle of the war ensued, and Gregg was finally forced to withdraw, and he and Buford re-crossed the river during the afternoon, without having made the discovery that Longstreet's and Ewell's forces were in the vicinity.

In his official report of that date, Pleasanton states that a train of cars was run up to Brandy Station, filled with infantry, who opened on his men, and on the following day he reports having learned from contrabands that five or six divisions of infantry were near Culpeper and Orange Court House, but the Confederate infantry were kept concealed, and it proved unnecessary for them to participate in the engagement.

General Hooker seems to have been possessed of the idea about this time, that a cavalry raid on a large scale was projected on the Confederate side. In a letter to Lincoln of the 10th inst., he suggests the probability of a heavy column of infantry being sent by the Confederates to ‘accompany the cavalry on the proposed raid,’ in which case there would be nothing left to prevent a rapid advance on Richmond, and he concludes with the inquiry, ‘If it would not promote the true interests of the cause for me to advance to Richmond at once?’ This proposal, like the previous one, met with no favor from Mr. Lincoln, and under the circumstances, it is not surprising.

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