The battle of fleet Wood.Virginia, have not been fully appreciated by those who have as yet attempted the story of the war. During the last two years of the war no branch of the Army of the Potomac contributed so much to the overthrow of Lee's army as the cavalry, both that which operated in the Valley of Virginia and that which remained at Petersburg. But for the efficiency of this force, it is safe to say, that the war would have been indefinitely prolonged. From the time that the cavalry was concentrated into a corps under General Pleasonton, until the close of the war, a steady progress was made in discipline, esprit du corps, and numbers. Nothing was spared to render this arm complete. Breech-loading carbines of the most approved patterns were provided; horses and accoutrements were never wanting, and during the last year of the war Sheridan commanded as fine a body of troops as ever drew sabre. On the other hand, two causes contributed steadily to diminish the numbers and efficiency of the Confederate cavalry. The government committed the fatal error of allowing the men to own their own horses, paying them a per diem for their use, and the muster valuation in cases where they were killed in action; but giving no compensation for horses lost by any of the other casualties of a campaign. If a man's horse were killed, disabled, or worn out in the service, he must return to his home to procure another; and the strength of the command was constantly reduced below its reported  “effective total” by the large number of men absent upon “horse details,” as they were called. Toward the close of the war many were unable to remount themselves, and hundreds of such dismounted men were collected in a useless crowd, which was dubbed “Company Q.” The second cause was the failure or inability of the government to supply good arms and accoutrements. Our breech-loading guns were nearly all captured from the enemy, and the same may be said of the best of our saddles and bridles. From these causes, which it was beyond the power of any cavalry commander to remedy, there was a steady decline in the numbers of the Confederate cavalry, and, as compared with the Federal cavalry, a decline in efficiency. But the men remained the same in courage and devotion, and to the very end the best blood in the land rode after Stuart, Hampton, and the Lees. But while the superior efficiency of the Federal horse is certainly to be acknowledged, a Confederate cavalryman may be pardoned in dissenting from some of the statements made by General D. McM. Gregg, in his able article on “The Union cavalry in the Gettysburg campaign.” In the first place, when stating the force of the cavalry under Stuart's command in June, 1863, General Gregg falls into the very common error of largely over-estimating his adversary. He states that the Confederate cavalry numbered “about twelve thousand horsemen, divided into five brigades, with sixteen pieces of artillery.” The brigade organization is stated correctly; our artillery consisted of five batteries of four guns each — in all twenty guns; but in estimating Stuart's horsemen at the battle of Brandy Station, June 9th, 1863, at twelve thousand, General Gregg nearly doubles our effective strength. As Assistant Adjutant General of the Cavalry, it was within my province to know its strength. Three grand reviews were held in Culpepper — on the 22d of May, and on the 5th and 8th of June, 1863. At the first of these reviews there were present only the three brigades of Hampton, and the two Lees. Private memoranda, now in my possession, show about four thousand men, exclusive of pickets, in the saddle upon that day. Before the second review Stuart was joined by Robertson's North Carolina Brigade, and by W. E. Jones' Virginia Brigade, and on the 31st of May, 1863, the “total effective” of the cavalry division was reported as nine thousand five hundred and thirty-six. To rightly estimate the force with which Stuart fought the battle of the 9th of June, 1863, there must be deducted from this number the men absent on special duty-“horse details” --the entire brigade of Robertson, the Fourth Virginia Cavalry, and the Second South Carolina Cavalry. It must also be stated that of Fitz  Lee's Brigade only four squadrons of sharpshooters were engaged, and these at the very close of the battle. When these deductions are made, it will appear that Stuart's available force did not much exceed, if at all, six thousand men. Again, in speaking of the time when General Pleasonton assumed command, General Gregg states: “To this time, for the reasons heretofore given, the prestige of success had steadily remained with the rebel cavalry in its greatest and more important undertakings; but the time was now at hand for its transfer to our side, there ‘to remain to the close of the war.’ ... ” I propose to show that the battle of the 9th of June, as a passage-at-arms, was a victory for the Southern cavalry. I could also show that Stuart was not, as General Gregg states, subsequently defeated at Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville; but that he successfully performed his task of guarding the flank of Lee's army while passing into Maryland, although falling back from Aldie to Upperville, before a superior force of cavalry, supported by at least seven regiments of infantry. I would remind General Gregg that the last charge in the cavalry battle at Gettysburg was made by the Southern cavalry; that by this charge his division was swept behind the protection of his artillery, and that the field remained in the undisputed possession of Stuart, save that from the opposite hills a fierce artillery duel was maintained until night. I would remind him how the Federal cavalry was handled after Gettysburg, on the road between Hagerstown and Williamsport, when this “limping cavalry giant” raised the siege of our wagon trains which were huddled together on the bank of the Potomac. I would remind him of “The Buckland races,” on the 19th of October, 1863, when Kilpatrick's Division was chased, with horses at full gallop, from within three miles of Warrenton to Buckland Mills, and only by this rapid flight escaped being crushed between Hampton's and Fitz Lee's Brigades. Nor must the battle near Trevillian's Station, in June, 1864, be forgotten, where the entire strength of the cavalry of both armies was concentrated. Had Sheridan been able to carry out his plans, the speedy evacuation of Richmond must have followed; but he was met and successfully opposed by Hampton, and in a two days battle was so severely crippled that he was compelled to abandon his designs, and retire during the night to a place of safety. Nor can Hampton's famous “Cattle raid” be passed over, where two thousand five hundred fat beeves were snatched from the guardianship of this same Federal cavalry, and safely conveyed within the Confederate lines at Petersburg, despite very vigorous efforts on the part of General  Gregg himself, if I mistake not, for their recovery. No! No! “The prestige of success” did rest finally and forever with the Federal horsemen, but there were many bright days between times, when the Confederate troopers could exult in conscious victory; and on the last day, glory, as of the setting sun, crowned the arms of the remnant of Fitz Lee's old brigade, when, under the gallant Munford, they made, at the High Bridge, near Farmville, a successful charge --the last charge of the war. No more accomplished commander, no harder fighter than General Gregg was to be found in the Federal army, and no one can afford better than he gracefully to acknowledge the achievements of the Southern Horse. “The fight at Brandy Station,!” or “The battle of Fleetwood,” as Stuart called it, was one of the most splendid passages-at-arms which the war furnished. General R. E. Lee was commencing the movement of his army which resulted in the Gettysburg campaign, and had already moved Ewell's Corps to the vicinity of Culpepper Court-House. On the 7th of June, he notified General Stuart that he would review his cavalry on the next day. This review was held on the 8th of June, on the broad open fields which lie between Brandy Station and Culpepper Court-House. On the evening of the same day the brigades were moved down toward the Rappahannock, preparatory to the crossing, which it was contemplated to make the next day. Fitz Lee's Brigade, commanded by Colonel Thomas T. Munford, having charge of the pickets on the upper Rappahannock, was, with the exception of the Fourth Virginia Cavalry, moved across the Hazel river. W. H. F. Lee's Brigade was stationed on the road to Welford's ford; Jones' Brigade on the road to Beverly's ford, and Robertson's Brigade on the farm of John Minor Botts, picketing the lower fords. Hampton's Brigade was held in reserve. One battery of horse artillery was sent with Fitz Lee's Brigade across the Hazel river; the remaining four batteries accompanied Jones' Brigade. The object of the movement contemplated for the next morning was not to make an extensive cavalry raid, but to place the command in such position as best to protect the flank of our army while marching northward. Orders were issued to march at an early hour on the 9th, and, ignorant of any concentration of the enemy's cavalry on the opposite side, the battalion of horse artillery bivouacked close to Beverly's ford, in advance of Jones' Brigade. The position was an exposed one, and nearly resulted in serious loss. With everything in readiness for an early start, Stuart himself bivouacked on the night of the 8th, on Fleetwood Hill, so-called from the name of the residence there situated. The hill is between  Brandy Station and the river, about half a mile from the station, and commands the open plain around it in every direction. At the very first dawn of day the firing of the pickets at Beverly's ford notified us that an attack had been made; and soon reports came in from Jones and from Robertson that the enemy had effected a crossing at both Beverly's and Kelley's fords. The condition of the horse artillery was, for a time, exceedingly critical. The advance of the enemy was pressed with vigor, and there was nothing between the guns and danger, save the squadron on picket. Guns and wagons were harnessed in haste, and retired in much confusion, until the arrival of Jones' grand guard, the Seventh Virginia, checked the enemy. No serious loss occurred save that Major Beckham's desk, in which he had placed the order of march received by him the previous night, was jostled out of his wagon in its hasty retreat, and fell into the enemy's hands, thus revealing to him authoritatively part of the information which he had come to obtain. Retiring to the vicinity of St. James' Church, the artillery was placed in position for action, and the whole of Jones' Brigade having now been brought forward, the advance of the enemy was still further checked until Hampton, with four of his regiments, took-position upon Jones' right, and a junction was effected with W. H. F. Lee's Brigade upon the left. At the earliest report of the enemy's advance, Robertson moved to the support of his pickets, and encountered a party of the enemy near Brown's house, about two miles from Kelley's ford. This brigade was not, however, engaged during any part of the day. With matters in this position the fight continued for more than two hours, with no decisive result on either side, save that the Confederate cavalry held their position against every attack. It is the concurrent opinion of Generals Hampton and Jones, and of Major Beckham, as expressed in their official reports, that they could not have been dislodged by the force which had developed itself in their front. The enemy's infantry had been freely used, both as a support, and as an attacking force, but the effort to dislodge our troops from the first position they assumed near the church had entirely failed. But, meanwhile, the situation was becoming serious in another direction, and that, too, while we were ignorant of the danger. Before sending Hampton into action, Stuart had ordered that one of his regiments be detached to guard our rear at Brandy Station; but learning from Robertson that a column of the enemy was moving upon Stevensburg, this regiment, the Second South Carolina, Colonel M. C. Butler, was ordered to that point, which is about five miles from Brandy Station. The Fourth Virginia, Colonel Wickham, was  shortly after sent in the same direction. Relying upon these regiments and upon Robertson's Brigade to protect his rear from an attack by way of the lower fords, Stuart proceeded to the front at St. James' Church to urge on the battle; and as the field was geographically so extensive, he stationed his adjutant (the writer) upon Fleetwood Hill, directions having been given to the brigades and detached regiments to communicate with that point as headquarters. Every scrap of the camp was removed toward Culpepper Court-House, and there remained nothing upon the hill but the adjutant and his couriers. A six-pound howitzer from Chew's Battery, under charge of Lieutenant Carter, which had been retired from the fight near the river because its ammunition was nearly exhausted, was halted at the bottom of the hill; a circumstance which afterward proved to be our salvation. Perhaps nearly two hours had elapsed since Stuart had mounted for the front, when an individual scout reported to me that the enemy was advancing from Kelley's ford in force and unopposed upon Brandy Station, and that he was now directly in our rear. Not having personal acquaintance with the man, and deeming it impossible that such a movement could be made without opposition from Robertson's Brigade, I ordered the scout to return and satisfy himself by a closer inspection that he had not mistaken some of our troops for the enemy. In less than five minutes the man came back with the report that I could now satisfy myself, as the enemy was in plain view. And so it was! Within cannon-shot of the hill, a long column of the enemy filled the road which here skirted the woods, and were pressing steadily upon the railroad station, which must in a few moments be in their possession. How could they be prevented from also occupying the Fleetwood Hill, the key to the whole position? Matters looked serious! But it is wonderful what results can sometimes be accomplished with the smallest means. Lieutenant Carter's howitzer was brought up and boldly pushed beyond the crest of the hill; a few imperfect shells and some round shot were found in the limber chest; a slow fire was at once opened upon the marching column; and courier after courier was dispatched to General Stuart to inform him of the peril. It was all important to gain time; for should the enemy once plant his artillery upon this hill it would cost many valuable lives to retake the position, even if that could at all be accomplished. We must retain this position or suffer disastrous defeat, inclosed between the divisions of Buford and Gregg. But the enemy was deceived by appearances. There was not one man left upon the hill beside those belonging to the howitzer section and myself; for I had sent away even my last courier with an urgent  appeal for speedy help. Instead of moving a small force forward to an immediate attack, which would, of course, have been successful, three rifled-guns were unlimbered, and a fierce cannonade was commenced, and continued while troops were preparing for the assault. My first courier found General Stuart as incredulous concerning the presence of the enemy in his rear as I had been; but simultaneous with my second message came the sound of the cannonading, and there was no longer room for doubt. The nearest point from which a regiment could be sent was Jones' position, not less than two miles distant from Fleetwood. Two of his regiments, the Twelfth Virginia, Colonel Harman, and White's Thirty-fifth Virginia Battalion, were immediately withdrawn from his line and ordered at a gallop to meet this new danger. But minutes expanded seemingly into hours to those anxious watchers on the hill, who feared, lest, after all, help could not arrive in time. But it did come. The emergency was so pressing that Colonel Harman had no time to form his regiment in squadrons, or even platoons. He reached the top of the hill as Lieutenant Carter was retiring his gun after having fired his very last cartridge. Not fifty yards below Sir Percy Wyndham was advancing a strong regiment in magnificent order, in column of squadrons, with flags and guidons flying, directly upon the hill, and to meet this attack the Twelfth Virginia was compelled to move forward instantly, though disordered by a hard gallop, and in column of fours. The result was a recoil, which extended for a time to White's Battalion, which was following close after. Stuart reached the hill a few moments later, and, satisfied that he had here to encounter a large force of the enemy, he ordered both Jones and Hampton to withdraw with the artillery from the Beverly's ford road and concentrate upon Fleetwood Hill. And now the first serious contest was for the possession of this hill, and so stubbornly was this fought on either side, and for so long a time, that all of Jones' regiments, and all of Hampton's, participated successively in the charges and counter-charges which swept across its face. At one time Gregg would have possession, at another Stuart; but at no time did Gregg retain possession sufficiently long to bring up his guns to the crest. He did, indeed, advance three guns to the foot of the hill; but there they were destined to remain. On the other hand, Stuart did gain position little by little. How fierce this struggle was, and with what determined gallantry fought by both sides, may, perhaps, best be shown by an extract from Major Beckham's report. He says: 
The pieces first placed on Fleetwood Hill were under the command of Lieutenant Carter, of Chew's Battery, and had been repeatedly charged by the enemy and retaken by our cavalry; and at the time that the two guns of McGregor's were brought toward the crest of the hill, it was very doubtful which party had possession of it. The two guns were, however, moved up rapidly, and scarcely had they reached the top (and before they could be put in position), when a small party of the enemy charged them. The charge was met by the cannoneers of the pieces. Lieutenant Ford killed one of the enemy with his pistol; Lieutenant Hoxton killed one, and private Sully, of McGregor's Battery, knocked one off his horse with a sponge-staff. Several of the party were taken prisoners by the men at the guns.Aid was close at hand for these gallant cannoneers. Cobb's Georgia Legion, under Colonel P. 11. B. Young, cleared the hill of the enemy, and concerted charges, made by other regiments of Hampton's and Jones' Brigades, placed it securely in our possession. And now covetous eyes were cast toward the foot of the hill, where stood those three rifled guns, and around them the battle raged fiercely. Three times were they over-ridden by the Confederate Horse, and twice were they retaken by their friends.1 But Colonel Lomax, with the Eleventh Virginia, made the last charge, and the guns remained with us. One was disabled, the other two serviceable. These two points decided the struggle in our favor, and Brandy Station was soon cleared of its unwelcome visitors, who were hurried back along the road upon which they had advanced. The pursuit was continued by Lomax and Hampton, until checked by the fire of our own artillery,2 for the dust and smoke of the conflict was so great that from the position of the artillery, friends could not be distinguished from foes. But the question of further pursuit of Gregg's Division was soon decided for us by General Buford, who made a heavy attack upon W. H. F. Lee's Brigade, upon our left, beyond the Barbour House, at the same time advancing with infantry and cavalry through the open fields from the direction of St. James' Church, threatening another attack upon the Fleetwood Hill, and forming, subsequently,  a junction with Gregg's Division. The fight upon the left was obstinate and bloody, and our troops maintained their ground with difficulty, until the opportune arrival of Colonel Munford with Fitz Lee's Brigade, who attacked the enemy in flank at Green's house and Welford's, with sharpshooters and artillery, causing them to fall back toward the river, upon which our pickets were established at nightfall. Knowing that a force of infantry was present with both of the columns which had attacked him, and believing that the enemy's cavalry alone outnumbered ours, General Stuart had applied to General Lee for an infantry support, which arrived about four o'clock in the afternoon. This force, a portion of Ewell's Corps, was stationed to protect the Fleetwood Hill, and to support the brigades of the two Lees on our left. But the battle was virtually over before their arrival, and they did not fire a gun. Their presence, however, revealed to General Pleasonton another item of information which he had set out to obtain. While these events were transpiring near Brandy Station, affairs wore a far different complexion near Stevensburg, to which point Colonel M. C. Butler's Second South Carolina, and Colonel W. C. Wickham's Fourth Virginia Cavalry had been sent to oppose the advance of Duffie's Division. On his arrival near Willis Madden's house, Colonel Wickham found Butler already engaged with the enemy. Before dispositions could be made, either to receive or make an attack, a charge of the enemy produced some confusion in a portion of the line of the Second South Carolina, which extended to the Fourth Virginia. The whole regiment became demoralized, and ran from the enemy's charge without firing a gun. They were pursued through the town of Stevensburg, and for some distance beyond, nor could the men be rallied until satisfied that the enemy's pursuit had ceased. In his report, Stuart says: “This regiment usually fights well, and its stampede on this occasion is unaccountable.” In fact, the Fourth Virginia was one of our largest and best regiments. The men were deeply humiliated by this disgraceful conduct. Through their colonel they presented to General Stuart an humble confession of their fault, and a promise that they would wipe out their disgrace upon the next field of battle — a promise which the future history of the regiment fully redeemed. This affair cost us some valuable lives. The bursting of one shell killed Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hampton, brother of General Wade Hampton, and Captain Farley, volunteer aide-de-camp to General Stuart, and carried away the foot of Colonel M. C. Butler, necessitating amputation of the leg, and depriving his regiment of his valuable services for many months.  In summing up the results of this battle it must be remembered that Robertson's Brigade, which numbered more than a thousand men, did not, at any time in the day, participate in the fighting.* *Inasmuch as General Robertson has, in the Memphis Appeal, complained of injustice done him by the references which I have made to his operations, I append his own reports of this day's work, as follows:
Deeming this report unsatisfactory, General Stuart required another from General Robertson, which was furnished, as follows:
See Reports of battles, Richmond, 1864. As to what force occupied General Robertson's attention, near Brown's house, I quote the following from letters recently received from General D. McM. Gregg, commanding Federal cavalry:
In reply to your question as to what force I left near Kelley's ford, when I advanced on Brandy Station, on June 9th, 1863, from my recollection. I would say, none at all. I know of no reason why I should have done so, for after I crossed, General Russel followed with about fifteen hundred infantry, and directed his march upon General Buford's flank.And again: “In my official report there is no mention of my having sent any cavalry with the infantry; if I sent any at all, it must have been a mere detachment. You will observe that General Pleasonton makes no mention of artillery having accompanied the infantry.” These quotations abundantly justify my remarks. General Robertson was expected to observe the road upon which General Gregg advanced; but Gregg attained our rear, and nearly effected a disastrous surprise.  He allowed himself to be occupied in an almost useless observation of the enemy, who had thrown a small force into his front, after crossing at Kelley's ford. Nor did Colonel Munford, with Fitz Lee's Brigade, reach the field until after noonday, and-only participated, with his sharpshooters, in repelling the last attack of Buford upon our left. The brunt of the battle was borne by the three brigades of Jones, W. H. F. Lee, and Hampton, and from the last one regiment  was detached. Taking, therefore, General Gregg's statement, that the Union cavalry in this engagement numbered about nine thousand men, and that both his and Buford's Divisions were supported by infantry, it cannot be denied that General Stuart was opposed by a force which largely outnumbered his own. As trophies of the battle Stuart could number three pieces of artillery (a loss of which General Gregg makes no mention), three regimental and three company flags, three hundred and sixty-three prisoners captured, beside horses, pistols, sabres, and carbines. Our total loss, making an extreme estimate of that in White's Battalion, from which no report was received, was four hundred and eighty-five.3 In regard to the loss in Pleasonton's command, it may be stated that one of the Northern newspapers, of about that date, contained a list of one hundred and ninety-two wounded, who were received into one hospital in Alexandria from this battle. Doubtless many were placed in other hospitals. But add to this number the prisoners sent to Richmond, and we find a loss of five hundred and fifty-five, without counting those killed on the field. The total number of casualties probably exceeded seven hundred men. The laurel crown remains with General Gregg, and he can well afford to acknowledge that, though his men fought long and well, they met more than equals at Brandy Station on the 9th of June, 1863.