09 June 2008 by Published in: Battlefield stomping 1 comment

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge the 145th anniversary of the largest cavalry battle ever fought on the North American continent. Today is the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Brandy Station, and it was my honor to spend yesterday on the battlefield with Bud Hall. In the process, I got to see things that hardly anyone else ever gets to see. As we were in Bud’s SUV, we did some serious four-wheeling across farm fields to see some of the sites.

As just one example, we went down to the site of the Green farm, which served as Alfred Pleasonton’s headquarters during the winter encampment of 1863-1864. The house is gone, but Bud retrieved two bricks for me and for J.D. from it. Bud also showed me the spot where Wesley Merritt had his fencing match with Rooney Lee on the eastern slope of the northern end of Yew Ridge. It’s not a spot I’d seen before, and it’s one that required (a) Bud’s unlimited access to the ground and (b) a good four-wheel drive vehicle to locate.

I also got to see the two new parcels of land on Fleetwood Hill that have just been acquired by the Brandy Station Foundation. They’re mostly pristine, and they give the BSF the transitional area between Buford’s fight and the great melee for the southern end of Fleetwood Hill. We also visited the northern end of Fleetwood Hill, where Buford’s troopers briefly gained the summit before being driven off by the Confederate horsemen. It’s quite a spot, and it’s on private property, so I would never have been able to see it without being with Bud.

Then, as I noted last night, I spent the night at Kelly’s Ford, the site of so many crossings of the Rappahannock River during the war. Kelly’s Ford played a major role in the Battle of Brandy Station, and it was very cool waking up on a portion of the battlefield on the anniversary of the battle. I did a quick lap around Buford’s sector of the battlefield before heading out this morning. As I stopped at the site of St. James Church my mind’s eye had no problem seeing five companies of the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry come thundering across that open field, galloping to glory among the guns of the Confederate horse artillery.

The preservation of that battlefield happened because of the efforts of many people. However, nobody contributed more, and nobody has done more to make it happen, than Bud Hall. Bud is far too modest to accept credit for his efforts, but he deserves all the credit that can be bestowed upon him. It’s my honor and privilege to call him friend and to walk those fields with him.

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  1. Keith Toney
    Wed 11th Jun 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Too, too cool. As much as I love the view from Fleetwood, for some reason I’ve always found St. James Church to be one of my favorite spots on any battlefield…

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