In need yet again of an opportunity to get out of the house and into the countryside away from the cacophony of repetitive news, we visited the Battlefield of Brandy Station (June 9, 1863), just outside Culpeper, Virginia.
Touted as the first battle of the Gettysburg campaign, it also is important as the largest cavalry engagement in the war. Further, as the many placards sprinkled around the large battlefield state, it was the battle at which the Union cavalry finally saw itself as the equal of the Confederates’ forces.
Also interesting is the number of very colorful characters who were involved, probably not surprising since the dashing horseman concept was highly-valued at the time. The group includes, of course, JEB Stuart and his loyal and cantankerous deputy, William “Grumble: Jones. On the Union side, “Kill Cavalry” Judson Kilpatrick, Golden Boy George Custer, and British import “Sir” Percy Wyndham all had a good day, at least according to their biographers.
I should note that all of the above, as well as Union commander Alfred Pleasonton, are featured in my upcoming books, Civil War Trailblazers and Troublemakers and Civil War Rogues, Rascals, and Rapscallions. I won’t say which are in which book — you have to buy them to find out!
Below are some of the placards: