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From the Rapidan to Frying-Pan in October, 1863.


General Meade's retreat from Culpeper, in October, 1863, was one of the liveliest episodes of the late war. This officer was not unpopular in the Southern army. Few depredations were laid to his charge, and he was generally regarded as a fair and honorable opponent. There was evidently no rhodomontade about him, and few trumpets were blown in his honour; but General Lee is said to have declared that he had given him as much trouble as any Federal general of the war. Of his status as a soldier, let history speak. The present sketch will show, I think, that no general ever better understood the difficult art of coolly retiring without loss, and promptly advancing to his former position at the right moment. As in other sketches, the writer will aim rather to present such details and incidents as convey a clear idea of the actual occurrence, then to indulge in historical generalization. Often the least trifling of things are “trifles.”

In October, 1863, General Meade's army was around Culpeper Court-House, with the advance at Mitchell's Station, on the Orange road, and General Lee faced him on the south bank of the Rapidan. One day there came from our signal-station, on Clarke's Mountain, the message: “General Meade's Headquarters are at Wallack's, and Pleasanton's at Cumberland, Georgia.General Fitz Lee thereupon sent to General Stuart, after the jocose fashion of “General Fitz,” to ask why Pleasanton had [253] been sent to “Cumberland, Georgia.” The message should have been Cumberland George's-the house, that is to say, of the Rev. Mr. George, in the suburbs of Culpeper Court-House.

Every day, at that time, the whistle of the “Yankee cars,” as we used to call them, was heard a few miles off, at Mitchell's Station; and as General Meade was plainly going to advance, it was obvious that he was going to fall back. It was at this time, early in October, that “for reasons best known to himself,” General Lee determined upon a movement through Madison, along the base of the Blue Ridge, to flank General Meade's right, cut him off from Manassas, and bring on a general engagement between the two armies. The plan was a simple one. Ewell and A. P. Hill were to move out with their corps from the works on the Rapidan, and marching up that stream, cross into Madison, leaving Fitz Lee's cavalry division to occupy their places in the abandoned works, and repulse any assault. Once across the Upper Rapidan, Ewell and Hill would move toward Madison Court-House with the rest of Stuart's cavalry on their right flank, to mask the movement; and, thence pushing on to the Rappahannock, make for Warrenton, somewhere near which point it was probable that they would strike General Meade's column on its retreat. Then a decisive trial of strength in a pitched battle.

The cavalry, by common consent of the army, “did the work” on this movement — the infantry having few opportunities to become engaged-and I shall ask the reader to follow “Stuart and his horsemen.”

I think it was the morning of the ioth of October when, moving on the right of the long column of Ewell and Hill then streaming toward Madison Court-House, Stuart came on the exterior picket of the enemy-their advance force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, being near the little village of James City. The picket on a little stream was driven in, and pushing on to Thoroughfare Mountain (not to be confounded with that near Manassas), we ran into a regiment of infantry which had hastily formed line of battle at the noise of the firing. Gordon, that gallant North Carolinian, at once became hotly engaged; but there [254] was no time to stop long. Stuart took Young's brigade-he had but two-and, making a detour to the left, charged straight down upon the enemy's right flank. Cheers, yells, carbines crackingand the infantry broke and scattered in the mountains, dropping large numbers of the newest, brightest, and handsomest muskets ever handled. The force was declared by prisoners to have numbered two hundred and fifty, of whom about twenty were taken. Stuart now pushed on without stopping, and speedily became engaged with the main force of Federal cavalry at James City. This force was commanded by General Kilpatrick, we afterwards discovered, and this gentleman had been enjoying himself greatly. There was a race-course near the town where races were held, General Kilpatrick having, it is said, a favorite mare called “Lively” which he used to run against a blood horse in his artillery called the “Battery horse.” What became of the “Battery horse” this historian cannot say; but — to anticipate events — the fate of “Lively” can be stated. Later in the fall, the general was running “Lively” near Manassas, when she flew the track, and two men were sent after her. Neither “Lively” nor the men ever returned. In fact, some of “Mosby's people” had been unseen spectators of the race from the adjoining woods, and these gentry took charge both of the mare and the men sent after her. “I really must have that mare,” General Stuart said, when he heard the incident, but her captors retained her.

I am anticipating. General Kilpatrick was in command at James City, and, drawing up his cavalry on the high ground beyond, prepared to receive Stuart's attack. None was made. It was not a part of the programme. Stuart's orders were to keep the enemy off the infantry flanks, and this could best be accomplished by remaining quiet. So, every demonstration was made; lines of sharpshooters were advanced, our artillery opened, and --no attack was made. Thus the hours passed on. Shells raced across the little valley. Carbines cracked. An outside spectator would have said that the opponents were afraid of each other. The truth was that General Stuart was playing his own game, and his adversary did not understand it. At last, even the firing ceased. Fronting each other in line of battle, the opponents [255] waited in silence for some movement. The stillness was, however, broken suddenly by an incident, amusing, but by no means agreeable, at least from our point of view. General Stuart was lying down, surrounded by his staff and escort, with his flag floating on the top of the hill, when, behind a fringe of woods, near the Federal cavalry drawn up in long line of battle on the opposite plateau, was seen a puff of white smoke. A roar followed, then the whistle of a shell, and this polite visitor fell and burst in the very midst of the group. It was a percussion shell, and exploded as it struck, tearing up a deep hole and vanishing, without injuring a single individual. As the present writer was covered with the dirt where he lay, and found by inspection that it had been a “line shot,” striking within three or four feet of his head, the incident was highly pleasing. The shell was followed by others, but no harm was done by them, and it is not necessary to say that the friendly group, with the flag floating so temptingly above it, deployed to the right and left, laughing, and not displeased at the result of the first “good shot.”

At night the Federal cavalry were still there, and Stuart still remained quiet. His headquarters that night were at Mr. H's where that brave spirit, General Gordon, of the cavalry, came to see him. It is a melancholy pleasure to recall the gallant face of Gordon, now that he is dead; to remember his charming smile, his gay humour; the elegant little speech which he made as he gallantly presented a nosegay to the fair Miss H , bowing low as he did so amid friendly laughter. When he fell he left behind him no braver soldier or kindlier gentleman.


At dawn Stuart was again in the saddle, pressing forward upon the retiring enemy.

Ewell and Hill had moved unseen to their position on the Sperryville road, thanks to the stand of Stuart at James City; and now, for the first time, the enemy seemed to understand the nature of the blow about to be struck. General Meade had put his army in motion toward the Rappahannock; and, as the advance [256] force in our front retired, Stuart pressed them closely. It is hard to say whether this great soldier was better in falling back or in advancing. When he retired he was the soul of stubborn obstinacy. When he advanced he was all fire, dash, and impetus. He was now-following up a retreating enemy, and he did not allow the grass to grow under his feet.

Below Griffinsburg the rear-guard of the Federal cavalry was attacked and driven; and Stuart was pushing on, when the presence of a Federal infantry regiment in the woods to his right was announced. To this he paid no attention, but drove on, firing upon their cavalry, and soon the good judgment of this was shown. The infantry regiment heard the firing, feared being cut off, and double-quicked toward the rear. They reached the fields on Stone House Mountain as quickly as Stuart, moving parallel to his column, and suddenly their line appeared. I have rarely seen General Stuart more excited. It was a rich prize, that regiment, and it appeared in his grasp! But, unfortunately, his column was not “up.” He was leading a mere advance guard, and that was scattered. Every available staff-officer and courier was hurried back for the cavalry, and the “Jefferson company,” Lieutenant Baylor, got up first, and charged straight at the flank of the infantry. They were suddenly halted, formed line of battle, and the bright muskets fell to a level like a single weapon. The cavalry company received the fire at thirty yards, but pressed on, and would doubtless have ridden over the infantry, now scattering in great disorder, but for an impassable ditch. Before they could make a detour to avoid it, the Federal infantry had scattered, “every man for himself,” in the woods, dropping guns, knapsacks, and blankets.

The huge camps at Stone House Mountain, as afterwards around Culpeper Court-House, were a sort of “Arabian nights” of wonder to the gray people. The troops had fixed themselves in the most admirable manner to defy the coming winter. Excellent stone chimneys, of every form; cabins, stoves, tables, magazines, books, wine and rum-bottles (empty), oil-cloths, coats, shoes, arms-everything was scattered about. Harpers' Magazine seemed to be a favourite; and full files of papers might have [257] been collected in the deserted cabins. From this abode of the dolce far niente the rude hand of war, in the shape of Stuart's cavalry, had pushed them.

Stuart continued to press the enemy toward the Court-House; and there their cavalry had made a stand. As to the infantry, it was nowhere visible in the immense camps around the placethose camps which contained, like the first, only rubbish. Not a wagon, ambulance, or piece of artillery, I believe, was captured. General Meade had swept clean. There were even very few empty boxes.

On “Cumberland George's” hill, the Federal artillery fought hard for a time, inflicting some loss; but Gordon was sent round by the Rixeyville Road to the left; Stuart advanced in front; and the enemy fell back toward Brandy. The reader will remember that General Fitz Lee had been left on the Lower Rapidan to repulse any assault in that direction, and the expected assault had been made. I think it was General Buford who attacked him; but the attack was unsuccessful, and as the enemy fell back Fitz Lee pressed forward on the track of the retreating column toward Brandy. We now heard the thunder of his guns upon the right as he pushed on toward the Rappahannock, and everything seemed to be concentrating in the neighbourhood of Fleetwood Hill, the scene of the sanguinary conflict of the 9th of June preceding. There the great struggle, in fact, took place-Stuart pressing the main column on their line of retreat from above, General Fitz Lee pushing as vigorously after the strong force which had fallen back from the Rappahannock. As it is not the design of the writer to attempt any “battle pictures” in this discursive sketch, he omits a detailed account of the hard fight which followed. It was among the heaviest of the war, and for a time nothing was seen but dust, smoke, and confused masses reeling to and fro; nothing was heard but shouts, cheers, yells, and orders, mixed with the quick bang of carbines and the clash of sabres-above all, and the continuous thunder of the artillery. It was as “mixed up” as any fight of the war, and at one time General Stuart, with Colonel Peyton, of General Lee's staff, and one or two other officers, found himself [258] cut off by the enemy. He got out, joined his column to Fitz Lee's, and charging the Federal forces, cavalry and infantry --the latter being drawn up on Fleetwood Hill-pressed them back to the Rappahannock, which they hastened to cross. General Meade has thus retreated from Culpeper, but it was the “cleanest” retreat on record, as far as the present writer's observation extended. He imitated it in December at Mine Run.

General Lee had meanwhile advanced with his infantry toward Warrenton Springs, still aiming to cut General Meade off from Manassas. On the next day commenced the trial of skill between the two commanders. General Meade's cavalry had been so rudely hustled by Stuart, and the cordon placed by the latter along the Rappahannock was so effective, that the Federal commander was absolutely in the dark as to his great adversary's position and designs. On the afternoon of this-next-day, therefore, a Federal force consisting of a corps of infantry and two brigades of cavalry, was moved across the Rappahannock where the Orange railway crosses it, and this force pushed straight toward the Court-House. The design was evidently to ascertain if General Lee was in that vicinity, and the column rapidly advanced. Near Brandy it encountered what seemed to be Stuart's entire cavalry. At various openings in the woods the heads of different columns were seen, calmly awaiting an attack, and the Federal infantry and cavalry speedily formed line of battle, prepared for vigorous engagement. They would scarcely have given themselves so much trouble if they had known that the entire force in their front consisted of about one hundred and eighty men, with one gun under Colonel Rosser, as a sort of grand picket guard. He had arranged detachments of eight or ten men as above indicated, at openings in the woods, to produce the impression of several heavy columns; and it was not until they attacked him that they discovered the ruse. The attack once made, all further concealment was impossible. Rosser's one hundred and eighty men, and single piece of artillery, were rapidly driven back by the enemy; and his gun was now roaring from the high ground just below the Court-House, when the clatter of hoofs was heard upon [259] the streets of the village. It was the gay and gallant P. M. B. Young, of Georgia, who had been left with his brigade near James City, and now came to Rosser's assistance. Young passed through the Court-House at a trot, hastened to the scene of action, and, dismounting his entire brigade, deployed them as sharpshooters, and made a sudden and determined attack upon the enemy. This vigorous movement seems to have completely deceived them. Night was now falling; they could not make out the numbers or character of Young's force; and an attack as bold as his must surely proceed from a heavy force of infantry! Was General Lee still at the place, with one of his corps d'arme'e? If this idea entered the minds of the enemy, it must have been encouraged by Young's next move. He had held his ground without flinching; and now, as night descended, he ordered camp fires to be built along two miles of front, and bringing up his splendid brass band, played the “Bonnie Blue flag” and “Dixie” with defiant animation. This ruse seemed to decide the matter; the Federal commander made no further effort to advance; and in the morning there was not a Federal soldier on the south bank of the Rappahannock. Their corps of infantry and two brigades of cavalry had “fallen back in good order:” and the laughing Young remained master of the situation.

Stuart had pushed on, meanwhile, toward Warrenton Springs, and just as the fight above described commenced, a gallant affair took place above. The enemy were attacked in the town of Jeffersonton, and after a hot fight forced back to Warrenton Springs, where the Jefferson Company again distinguished itself. The attempt was made to charge over the bridge, in face of the enemy's fire. In the middle of the structure the column suddenly recoiled, and retreated. The cause of this movement was soon discovered. Several of the planks had been torn up in the flooring of the bridge, and to cross was impossible. The Jefferson Company, however, did not abandon their work. They galloped to the ford, Stuart placed himself at their head, and, in the face of a heavy and determined fire from a double line of Federal sharpshooters, they charged across. The Federal force gave way before them, and crossing his whole column Stuart pushed on [260] upon the track of the enemy toward Warrenton, followed by the infantry, who had witnessed the feats of their cavalry brethren with all the satisfaction of “outside spectators.”

In Jeffersonton and at Warrenton Springs many brave fellows had fallen, and sad scenes were presented. Lieutenant Chew had fought from house to house in the first named place, and in a mansion of the village this gallant officer lay dying, with a bullet through his breast. At Mr. M—‘s, near the river, young Marshall, of Fauquier, a descendant of the Chief Justice, was lying on a table, covered with a sheet-dead, with a huge, bloody hole in the centre of his pale forehead; while in a bed opposite lay a wounded Federal officer. In the fields around were dead men, dead horses, and abandoned arms.

The army pushed on to Warrenton, the cavalry still in advance, and on the evening of the next day Stuart rapidly advanced with his column to reconnoitre toward Catlett's Station, the scene of his great raid in August, 1862, when he captured General Pope's coat and official papers. The incident which followed was one of the most curious of the war.


Stuart had just passed Auburn, when General Gordon, commanding the rear of his column, sent him word that a heavy force of the enemy's infantry had closed in behind him, completely cutting him off from General Lee. As at the same moment an army corps of Federal infantry was discovered moving across his front, General Stuart awoke to the unpleasant consciousness that his little force of cavalry was securely hemmed in between overpowering masses of the enemy, who, as soon as they discovered the presence of the audacious interlopers, would unquestionably attack and cut them to pieces.

The “situation” was now in the highest degree critical. In fact, Stuart had managed to get his command inclosed between the two retreating columns of General Meade-infantry, cavalry, and artillery-and these columns, as they moved across his front and rear, were converging toward Bristoe, near Manassas. The only hope of safety lay in complete concealment of his [261] presence, and General Stuart issued the most stringent orders to his troops that no noise of any description should be made during the night. There was little necessity to impress this upon the command. Within a few hundred yards of them, in front and in rear, were moving the huge columns of the enemy; the feet of the infantry shuffling, the hoofs of the cavalry clattering, the artillery wheels and chains rolling and jingling, and above the whole the stifled hum of an army on the march. The men sat motionless and silent in the saddle, listening, throughout the long hours of the night. No man spoke; no sound was heard from human lips as the little force remained perdu in the darkness. But the “dumb animals” were not equally intelligent, and more than once some thoughtless horse neighed or some indiscreet donkey in the artillery uttered his discordant notes. In the noise of the Federal retreat these sounds, however, were not observed, and thus the night wore on and daylight came.

The first glimmer showed General Stuart that the Federal forces had nearly all passed. In fact the rear force had halted within a few hundred yards of his position and were cooking their breakfasts. Now was his opportunity, not only to extricate himself, but to take vengeance for the long hours of anxiety and peril. Picked men had been sent during the night to pass through the advancing column and announce the critical position of affairs to General Lee, and Stuart had suggested a vigorous infantry attack upon the enemy's left flank while he attacked their right. Not hearing from General Lee, he took the initiative. At dawn he put his artillery in position, drew up his cavalry, and opened a thundering fire upon the Federal troops; knocking over their coffee-pots, and scattering them in wild confusion. They rallied, however, and made a vigorous attacka severe though brief engagement following-but Stuart repulsed this assault, slowly fell back, and soon his little command was extricated from its peril. Altogether this was a curious affair. It was not attractive, however “romantic.” One of the bravest infantry officers of the army, who accompanied the expedition as an amateur, declared, laughing, that he was “done with the cavalry — the infantry was enough for him thereafter.” [262]

Meanwhile General Lee was pressing the retiring enemy toward Bristoe; Stuart on the right, and General Fitz Lee moving on their left, through New Baltimore. There was some fatal blunder, however, in the execution of General Lee's orders, or else some obstacle which could not be overcome. General Meade pushed on and crossed Broad Run, making with his main body for Manassas. When the Southern advance force reached Bristoe they found the main Federal army gone. A strong force, however, remained, and this was drawn up behind a long railroad embankment serving admirably as a breastwork. The men had only to lie down upon the slope, rest their muskets on the track of the railroad, and sweep the open field in their front with a shower of balls if the Confederates attacked. The attack was made-straight across open ground, down a slope, right on the embankment. The consequence was that Cooke's brigade, which was ordered to make the attempt, was nearly annihilated, the General falling among the first at the head of his troops: and, advancing against the line to his left, the enemy captured, I believe, nine pieces of artillery. After this exploit they quietly retired across Broad Run, and rejoined the main column. A worse managed affair than that fight at Bristoe did not take place during the war. “Well, well, General,” Lee is reported to have said to the officer who essayed to explain the occurrence, “bury these poor men, and let us say no more about it.” General Meade was behind Bull Run fortifying.

Thus terminated General Lee's vigorous attempt to bring on a pitched battle with Meade. That was his design, as it was General Meade's design in coming over to Mine Run in the succeeding December. Both schemes failed. From the high ground beyond Bristoe, Lee, surrounded by his generals, reconnoitered the retiring rear-guard of the enemy, and issued his orders for the army to retrace its steps to the Rappahannock. The cavalry had not, however, finished their work. The fine October weather was admirable for active movement, and Stuart pushed straight on to Manassas, harassing the Federal forces as they crossed Bull Run. At Blackburn's Ford, General Fitz Lee had a brisk engagement, which drove the Federal cavalry across; [263] and, near Yates's Ford, General Stuart charged over a barricade at the head of his horsemen, scattered the Federal sharpshooters, and drove to and across the stream their cavalry and artillery.

An odd incident marked this occasion. It was about dusk when the enemy began to retire from our front, their artillery roaring on the right, but taking position after position, each nearer Bull Run. General Stuart was within about four hundred yards of the Federal guns, in the edge of the woe ds, surrounded by his staff, escort, etc., one of whom had just taken up a dead man before him to carry off. At this moment, among the figures moving to and fro, one-apparently a member of the staff or escort — was seen quietly riding out into the field, as if to gain a better view of the Federal artillery. “Who is that?” said General Stuart, pointing to the figure, indistinct in the dusk. “One of the couriers,” some one replied. “No!” returned Stuart, “halt him!” Two men immediately galloped after the suspected individual, who was easily, carelessly, and quietly edging off; and he speedily returned between them. Behold! he wore under his oilcloth a blue coat!. “What do you belong to?” asked Stuart. “The first Maine, sir,” responded the other with great nonchalance. In fact, the “gentleman from Maine” had got mixed up with us when the column went over the barricade; and, wrapped in his oilcloth, had listened to the remarks of Stuart and his staff, until he thought he could get away. The quick eye of General Stuart, however, penetrated his disguise, and he was a prisoner.

It was now night, and operations were over for the day. The retreat had been admirably managed. General Meade had carried off everything. We did not capture a wagon wheel. All was beyond Bull Run. The present writer here records his own capture, viz. one oilcloth, one feed of oats, found in the road, and one copy of Harper's Magazine, full of charming pictures of rebels, running, or being annihilated, in every portion of the country. On the next morning, Stuart left Fitz Lee in front of Bull Run, to oppose any advance of the Federal cavalry there, and, taking Hampton's division, set out through a torrent of rain to make a flank movement against General Meade's right [264] beyond the Little River Turnpike. He had intended to cross at Sudley Ford, but coming upon the Federal cavalry near Groveton, a fight ensued, and the column could not cross there without having the movement unmasked. Stuart accordingly turned to the left; made a detour through Gainsville; and advancing, amid a violent storm, bivouacked that night beyond the Little Catharpin. The General on this day kept his entire staff and surroundings in great good-humour, by his songs and laughter, which only seemed to grow more jovial as the storm became more violent. I hope the reader will not regard this statement as “unworthy of the dignity of history.” Fortunately I am not writing history; only a poor little sketch of a passage in the life of a very great man; and it has seemed to me that all concerning him is interesting. Pardon! august muse of history, that dealest in protocols and treaties! We pass on.

The weather was charming, as on the next morning the column advanced toward “Frying-Pan Church,” and the troopers subsisted delightfully upon chinquepins, chestnuts, persimmons, and wild grapes. Reaching a magnificent apple-tree, weighed down with fruit as red as carnations, the men, with the fullest permission from the hospitable owner, threw themselves upon it, and soon the whole was stripped, the soldiers going on their way rejoicing. Never have I seen more splendid weather than those October days, or more beautiful tints in the foliage. Pity that the natural red of the birch and dogwood was not enough without blood! Stuart advanced rapidly, and near Frying-Pan Church came upon and at once attacked the Second corps of Federal infantry. A long line of sharpshooters was formed, which advanced on foot in line of battle. The artillery roared, and at first the Federal troops gave ground. The aspect of affairs speedily changed, however, and a strong Federal force, advancing in order of battle, made it necessary for Stuart to withdraw. This was done at once, with great deliberation, and at the “Recall” of the bugle the skirmishers slowly moved back and gained the woods. A spectacle which aroused the goodhumoured laughter of those who witnessed it, was a staff officer carrying off in his arms a young lady of about fourteen from [265] a house which the enemy were about to have within their lines. This was done at the suggestion of the General; and although the bullets were flying and the officers' horse was “dancing upon all four feet,” the young lady declared herself “not afraid,” and did not change colour at the bullets. If this meets the fair girl's eye she is informed that the officer has still the gray who came near unseating her as he jumped the fence, and that his rider has not forgotten the smiling little face, but remembers it with admiration and pleasure!


That night General Stuart was moving steadily back by the same route which he had pursued in advancing, and on the next day he had reached the vicinity of Bucklands.

The army had fallen back, tearing up the road, and General Stuart now prepared to follow, the campaign having come to an end. He was not, however, to be permitted to fall back without molestation, and his command was to be present at the “Buckland races.” This comic episode will be briefly described, and the event related just as it occurred, without embellishment or exaggeration. General Kilpatrick, commanding the Federal cavalry, had been very much outraged, it would appear, at the hasty manner in which Stuart had compelled him to evacuate Culpeper; and he now felt an ardent desire, before the campaign ended, to give the great cavalier a “Roland for his Oliver.” With about 3,000 cavalry he accordingly crossed Bull Run, following upon Stuart's track as the latter fell back; and soon he had reached the little village of Bucklands, not far from New Baltimore.

Stuart had disappeared; but these disappearances of Stuart, like those of Jackson, were always dangerous. In fact, a ruse was about to be practised upon General Kilpatrick, who was known to want caution, and this ruse was of the simplest description. Stuart had arranged that he should retire before Kilpatrick as he advanced, until the Federal column was beyond Bucklandsthen Fitz Lee, who had fallen back from Manassas on the line of [266] the Orange Railroad, would have an opportunity to fall upon the enemy's flank and rear. The sound of Fitz Lee's guns would be the signal for Stuart to face about and attack; Kilpatrick would thus be assailed in front and flank at the same instant, and the result would probably be satisfactory. This plan was carried out exactly as Stuart had arranged. General Kilpatrick reached Bucklands, and is said to have stated while dining at a house there that “he would not press Stuart so hard, but he (Stuart) had boasted of driving him (Kilpatrick) out of Culpeper, and he was going to give him no rest.” It is said that General Kilpatrick had scarcely uttered this threat when the roar of artillery was heard upon his left flank, and this was speedily reechoed by similar sounds in his front. In fact, General Fitz Lee had carried out his half of the programme, and Stuart hastened to do the rest. At the sound of General Lee's artillery Stuart faced about, formed his command in three columns, and charged straight upon the enemy's front, while General Fitz Lee fell upon his flanks. The consequence was a complete rout of the Federal cavalry, who scattered in every direction, throwing down their arms as they fled, and the flight of many, it is said, was not checked until they reached Alexandria. General Custer's headquarter wagons and papers were captured — as happened, I believe, to the same officer twice subsequently-and the pursuing force, under Kilpatrick, gave Stuart no more trouble as he fell back. This engagement afforded huge enjoyment to the Southern cavalry, as it was almost bloodless and resembled a species of trap into which their opponents fell. Nothing amuses troops more than this latter circumstance, and the affair continues to be known among the disbanded troopers of Stuart, as the “Buckland races.”

This engagement ended the campaign as far as the cavalry were concerned, and it was the movements of this arm that I proposed to outline. These were uniformly successful, while those of the infantry, from what appeared to be some fatality, were regularly unsuccessful. While the cavalry drove their opponents before them at Stone House Mountain, Culpeper Court-House, Brandy, Warrenton Springs, Bull Run, and Bucklands, [267] the infantry failed to arrest the enemy at Auburn; were repulsed at Bristoe with the loss of several guns; and now, on the Rappahannock, was to occur that ugly affair at the railroad bridge, in which two brigades of General Lee's army were surprised, overpowered, and captured almost to a man. Such is the curiously mingled “warp and woof” of war. It was the Army of Northern Virginia, led by Ewell and Hill, with General Lee commanding in person, which sustained these losses, and failed in the object which the great soldier declared he had in viewto cut off and fight a pitched battle with General Meade. The movements of this latter commander entitled him to high praise, and he exhibited throughout the brief campaign a vigour and acumen which only belong to the thorough soldier.

Such is an outline of some incidents in this rapid campaign; this hasty movement backward and forward on the great chessboard of war. The discursive sketch here laid before the reader may convey some idea of the occurrences as they actually took place. From the “official reports” the grave Muse of History will sum up the results, generalizing upon the importance or non-importance of the events. This page aims at no generalization at all, but simply to show how Stuart and Fitz Lee, with their brave comrades, did the work assigned to them in those bright October days of 1863.

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