Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior to Southern Redeemer

By Rod Andrew Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
BRANDY STATION TO GETTYSBURG

On the night of June 8, 1863, Stuart, Hampton, and the Confederate cavalry slept confidently following their grand review performed in the presence of Robert E. Lee. Unknown to any gray troopers, their side of the Rappahannock had been under observation by Union scouts. Stuart had three brigades bivouacked north of Brandy Station, a few miles south of the Rappahannock. Grumble Jones’s was at St. James Church. On Jones’s right as one faces the Rappahannock was Rooney Lee’s brigade and to Jones’s left was Fitz Lee’s, temporarily led by Thomas Munford. Behind this line and overlooking Brandy Station to the south was Fleetwood Hill, on which Stuart had placed his headquarters. Hampton’s brigade and Beverly Robertson’s demi-brigade were camped south of the railroad between Brandy Station and Stevensburg. The brigades were situated in a way that indicates that Stuart anticipated soon beginning his march north to screen and support Lee’s invasion of Maryland. The dispositions also suggest that Stuart did not expect a large-scale enemy attack.1

The scenario was ready-made for an especially chaotic battle and a frustrating one for the Confederates. Union cavalry leader Alfred Pleasonton had known for some time that Stuart’s division was concentrated around Culpeper, though he did not realize that it had recently moved about five miles northwest to Brandy Station. He convinced his superiors that the time was ripe to strike an offensive blow against the Rebels. On June 8 Pleasonton divided his command into two columns. In the predawn hours of the ninth, one division led by John Buford crossed Beverly Ford while David Gregg’s division crossed Kelly’s Ford. Pleasonton’s original plan was for the two columns to link up at Brandy Station and slam into the Confederates near Culpeper. While the Federals did not know that Stuart had moved to Brandy Station, the Confederates did not know that the Federals were coming at all. The result was that the Federals had an unexpected opportunity to strike the unsuspecting Stuart from two directions at once—the planned linkup at Brandy Station became a pincer movement with the Rebels trapped in between and taken by surprise.2

Neither Hampton nor any other Confederate knew this on hearing gunfire to the north shortly before 6:00 A.M. Over an hour before, Jones

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