Brandy Station, Virginia, June 9, 1863

The Largest Cavalry Battle of the Civil War


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About the Book

The winter of 1862-63 found Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Ambrose Burnside’s Army of the Potomac at a standoff along the Rappahannock River in Virginia, following the Union defeat at Fredericksburg. In January 1863 Major General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker relieved the disgraced Burnside, reorganized his troops and instituted company colors, giving his soldiers back their fighting spirit. Lee concentrated on maintaining his strength and fortifications while struggling for supplies. By spring, cavalry units from both sides had taken on increased importance—until the largest cavalry battle of the war was fought, near Brandy Station, Virginia, on June 9, 1863. Researched from numerous contemporary sources, this detailed history recounts the battle that marked the opening of the Gettysburg campaign and Lee’s last offensive into the North. Forces commanded by J.E.B. Stuart and Alfred Pleasanton fought indecisively in an area of 70 square miles: Confederate troops maintained possession and counted fewer casualties, yet Union forces had definitely taken the offensive. Historians still debate the significance of the battle; many view it as a harbinger of change, the beginning of dominance by Union horse soldiers and the decline of Stuart’s Confederate command.

About the Author(s)

Retired U.S. Army officer Joseph W. McKinney lives in Corrales, New Mexico.

Bibliographic Details

Joseph W. McKinney

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 340
Bibliographic Info: 111 photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013 [2006]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7723-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

List of Maps      viii
Introduction      1

1. A Real Virginia Winter      5
Stand-Off on the Rappahannock, December 1862–June 1863
2. Every Private Was a General      20
Confederate Cavalry and Cavalrymen
3. By Easy Marches      39
The Assembly of Stuart’s Regiments in Culpeper County
4. Pretty Well Used Up      55
Cavalry Corps Reorginization, May 1863
5. Stirring Events      79
Grand Reviews in Culpeper County, May–June 1863
6. What Dispositions Should be Made?      94
Union Preparations for Combat, May 23–June 8, 1863
7. Success Was Dearly Bought      107
Beverly Ford to Saint James Church
8. A Small Affair      133
The Advance of the Left Wing and the Fight at Stevensburg
9. Fight Like Gentlemen!      153
Fleetwood Hill
10. Hurrah for Hell, Wade In!      180
Yew Hills and the Union Withdrawal
11. Few Will Exult      198
After the Battle
12. Old Soldiers Never Die      219
Life After June 9, 1863

Appendix A: Order of Battle and Casualties      253
Appendix B: West Pointers at Brandy Station      262
Notes      265
Select Bibliography      303
Index      317

List of Maps
1—Pleasonton’s Plan      105
2—Stuart’s Reaction      113
3—Beverly Ford      118
4—St. James Church      130
5—Butler’s Move to Stevensburg      142
6—Duffié’s Attack at Stevensburg      146
7—Wyndham’s Attack at Fleetwood      160
8—Kilpatrick’s Attack      174
9—The Stone Fence      184
10—Yew Ridge      190

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “well-written…carefully researched…a fine job”—North & South
  • “excellent”—Civil War News
  • “should be the starting point for anyone interested in this battle”—The Past In Review
  • “this excellent book has received a ‘WOW’ rating and will make an excellent addition to your library…is so good that I didn’t want to put it down!”—The Lone Star
  • “a wealth of information”—Casanova Hunt