Battle at Brandy Station

The Great Cavalry Fight on the Rappahannock.

Yesterday the greatest cavalry battle of the war was fought on the Rappahannock. The result has been the defeat of the rebels, whose captured correspondence shows that they were about to make a most extensive raid into Maryland and Pennsylvania, under command of Stuart, with some 15,000 cavalry.

It was known at Hooker’s headquarters that Gen. Lee had assembled his cavalry, supported by artillery and infantry, between Culpepper Court House and Beverly’s Ford, designing soon to send them upon a raid, and Gen. Pleasanton was sent, with a portion of the divisions of our cavalry commanded by Generals Buford and Gregg respectively, to intercept them. The force under Buford — portions of the 1st, 2d, 5th, and 6th regular cavalry, and the 6th Pennsylvania cavalry — reached Beverly Ford early on Monday evening and crossed the river unopposed shortly after midnight.

The force under Gen. Gregg — portions of the 8th and 9th New York, 8th Illinois, and 3d Indiana cavalry — reached the ford at midnight, and commenced to cross at four a.m.

Buford’s force, which was on the right, first met the enemy’s pickets half a mile south of the ford, when a severe engagement immediately commenced, the rebels being in heavy force, and resisting the advance of our troops with continuous hand-to-hand fighting. When Gregg brought his force up to the fight, and became engaged, the enemy gradually gave way, disputing every inch of ground desperately. However, in this way, the federals made more than a dozen charges into the midst of the rebel ranks, relying almost entirely upon the sabre, which they used with terrible effect. The enemy, on the other hand, repeatedly charged, relying on their revolvers for the most part, however.

Both sides were repeatedly driven back. In the course of the battle, though we succeeded in driving the rebels — Fitzhugh Lee’s and Wade Hampton’s divisions of cavalry, with artillery, all commanded by Gen. Stuart — back to a point about five miles southwest of where their pickets were first encountered, where Pleasanton found the enemy so heavily reinforced with infantry and artillery, as to make it prudent to return to this side of the river.

The return was commenced about 4 p.m., Gen. Pleasanton bringing off about 200 prisoners, his own wounded, and the bodies of his officers who had been killed in the engagement.

The 6th Pennsylvania cavalry, which was in the advance, under Buford, lost heavily, including six officers killed, wounded or missing. The 8th New York had the advance under Gregg, and, under the command of Col. Davis, who was killed on the field, after slightly wavering, acquitted themselves with much gallantry.

On the return to this side of the river, the enemy skirmished frequently with our rear guard, doing us no damage to speak of, however.

As yet our loss had not been definitely ascertained. The proportion of horses killed on both sides, in this almost unexampled hand-to-hand cavalry battle, was very large. The field, from where Buford and Gregg first became engaged, throughout the whole distance of five miles, over which the enemy were driven before getting back to their reinforcements, was strewn with dead and wounded rebels.

Two batteries of federal artillery were engaged, and the enemy had the same. — Much credit is given to our artillery for bravery and efficiency. In force the enemy outnumbered us.

From documents that fell into the hands of Gen. Pleasanton, it was escertained that Stuart was to have started on his intended raid within an hour or two of the time our forces came up with him.

The following are wounded officers who have thus far arrived:

Adjt. G.S. Taylor, 3d Indiana cavalry, right leg; Capt. A. Clark, 8th Illinois, left hand; Captain J.G. Smith, do, left thigh; Captain G.A. Forsyth, 5th Illinois, right thigh; Major J.S. Beveredge, 8th Illinois.

The enemy on the Rappahannock has ceased his daily forward and retrograde movement, and is now in the rear, at and below Fredericksburg, in considerable force, though showing no activity, beyond building a few rifle-pits.

It is thought that the large force which necessitated Gen. Keyes to evacuate West Point was detached from Lee’s army for that purpose, as well as to defend Richmond.

Janesville Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) Jun 12, 1863

Up and At Them.


Up and at them,
Once again!
Freemen, up! the way is plain,
At the traitors once again!
Let not brief reverses daunt us;
Let no craven fears assail;
Treason’s banner now may taunt us
In the fierce but fleeting gale; —
But the time again will come,
When again that flag shall cower;
And the boasting voice be dumb,
Shouting now its little hour!
Up and at them,
Freemen, then, the way is plain;
At the traitors once again!

Up and at them
Once again!
Madmen! fiercely though ye drain
War a red challace, it is vain!
Never shall ye rend asunder
Freedom’s flag of stripes and stars; —
Freedom guards it with her thunder;
Down will smite your thing of bars;
Down your wretched counterfeit!
In her roused and sacred rage
She will tear and trample it!
Holy is the war ye wage!
Up and at them,
Freemen, then, the way is plain;
At the traitors once again!

Up and at them
Once again!
Though our blood be shed like rain,
At the traitors once again!
By our nation’s ancient story,
By the deeds of other days,
By our hopes of future glory,
By the deep disdain or praise,
That our action now awaits,
As we yield or dare the strife;
Let us, through all adverse fates,
Swear to guard the nation’s life!
Up and at them,
Freemen, then, the way is plain;
At the traitors once again!

Janesville Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) Jun 11, 1863

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