150 Years Ago: J.E.B. Stuart at Freeman’s Ford

After their retreat from the Culpeper County, elements of General John Pope’s Army of Virginia occupied crossing points on the Rappahannock River astride the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. Several crossing points existed in the vicinity of Rappahannock Station (today’s Remington). One of those was Freeman’s Ford. Still smarting from the embarrassment from the Verdiersville raid, Confederate cavalryman General J.E.B. Stuart probed Freeman’s Ford some 150 years ago today:

On August 22 I moved early to Freeman’s Ford, on Rappahanock River, where I had a picket the night previous, to carry out instructions by effecting a crossing if possible. The ford was commanded by the enemy’s artillery and infantry, and four pieces of the Stuart Horse Artillery, under Captain Pelham, tried in vain to silence the enemy’s guns. Having advantage in position, he handled the enemy severely, though suffering casualties in his own battery. While this cannonading was going on General Jackson’s column passed just in my rear, going higher up….(OR, Series I, Volume 12, Part II, Serial 16, page 730).

Although he does not mention them by name, Stuart’s toopers and artillerists sparred with the independent brigade of General Robert Milroy at Freeman’s Ford. The action was inconsequential, but, as Stuart notes, did cover Jackson’s movements. More importantly, Stuart received additional instructions while engaged at Freeman’s Ford:

… I received a note from the commanding general that my proposition to strike with cavalry the enemy’s rear was approved, and at 10 a.m. I started to the execution of the plan with the main portion of Robertson’s brigade, except Seventh Virginia Cavalry (Jones’), and Lee’s brigade, except Third Virginia Cavalry–say about 1,500 men–and two pieces of artillery….

Stuart goes on to outline his route as he moved from the ford to through the town of Jefferson to Waterloo Bridge and Hart’s Mill; and then to Warrenton. Stuart’s map objective was the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, specifically Catlett’s Station. Of course another objective Stuart had in mind was revenge – for losing his hat and being surprised days earlier at Verdiersville.

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One response to “150 Years Ago: J.E.B. Stuart at Freeman’s Ford

  1. Craig, during the Battle of Freeman’s Ford, August 22, 1862, a Union brigade commander was killed in this hot action, the only Federal general to be killed in Culpeper County–Brig. Gen. Henry Bohlen.. The action in which he was killed is summarized below in an article that previously appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent–and set forth herein with permission by the managing editor.. In effect, Stuart’s Horse Artillery held the left flank of the Confederate line at Freeman’s Ford while Trimble’s Brigade slashed Bohlen’s left flank, killing General Bohlen in the process..

    http://www2.starexponent.com/lifestyles/2007/oct/18/brig_gen_bohlens_culpeper_trip_ends_abruptly_10_18-ar-344853/

    Clark B. Hall

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