Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 27, 1863 (Sunday): A Clash of Cavalry

Hartwood Church (Google Earth) Click to Enlarge

Culpeper Court-House, va., February 27, 1863.
    SIR: I have the honor to report that I crossed the Rappahannock River at Kelly's Ford on the 24th instant, on a reconnaissance, with 400 men of my command, consisting of detachments of the First, Second, and Third Regiments Virginia Cavalry, commanded, respectfully, by Colonels [J. H.] Drake, [T. T.] Munford, and Lieutenant-Colonel [William R.] Carter.
     On the 25th, I drove in the enemy's pickets near Hartwood Church, and attacked his reserve and main body. Routed them, and pursued them within 5 miles of Falmouth, to their infantry lines. Killed and wounded many of them. Captured 150 prisoners, including 5 commissioned officers, with all their horses, arms, and equipments. I them withdrew my command slowly, retiring by detachments. Encamped at Morrisville that night, and on the 26 th recrossed the river, and returned to camp with my prisoners. The successive charges were splendidly executed. My loss in killed, wounded, and missing was 14.
     I regret to report that Surgeon [W. B.] Davis and Lieutenant [E. W.] Horner, of the Second Regiment, were left in the enemy's lines, I fear mortally wounded. Lieutenant [J.] Alexander, also of the same regiment, was taken prisoner.
     Lieutenants [G. W.] Dorsey and [R.] Cecil, of Company k, First Virginia Cavalry, and Adjutant [Lomax] Tayloe, Captain [T. B.] Holland, Lieutenants [William] Stoptoe and [S. C.] Kilkpatrick, and Sergeant Fulks, Second Regiments Virginia Cavalry, are especially commended by their immediate commanders for good conduct in action.
      As coming under my own observation, I mention the gallant conduct of Colonels Munford and Drake, and Lieutenant-Colonel Carter; also Majors [W. A.] Morgan, of the First, and [C.] Breckinridge, of the Second Regiment.
     Major [Robert F.] Mason, Surgeon [A. C.] Randolph, Captain [Thomas F.] Bowie, Lieutenants [H. C.] Lee and [G. M.] Ryals, of my staff, were of much assistance. The enemy's force was far superior to mine. I took prisoners from seven different regiments.
     I have also to report that one of my men who taken by the enemy, and afterward retaken by our men, reports that he was shot by the enemy when about to be recaptured. i inclose on a separate paper information obtained.*
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     FITZ. LEE,
     Brigadier-General, Commanding.

     Assistant Adjutant-General, Cavalry Division.

* Not found.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 1, Page 25.

Cavalry skirmishes take on the feel of jousting matches between bands of knights.  But they served the useful purpose of feeling the enemies lines and determining his dispositions.  Through these clashes opposing generals divined the intent of their opposite number.  The deeper the incursion the more risk (and more information gathered) there was.


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