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9 Jun 2008, by

June 9, 1863

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 …

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I’m sitting in the A.P Hill Room (yes, I thought of you immediately when I heard which room I’d been assigned, Jenny Goellnitz) in the very lovely Inn at Kelly’s Ford, meaning that I am again spending the night on a battlefield this evening. It was 97 here today, with high humidity, which is just ghastly. It’s hard to believe that it’s only June 8 with such weather.

Here’s a quick recap of the weekend. I left Columbus at 2:00 on Thursday afternoon, arriving at Dr. Dave Moore’s house on Herr’s Ridge about 8. We proceeded to sign 175 books and another 80 or so book plates for our special edition. I then went to Stan O’Donnell’s mansion …

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As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m leading a tour of central Virginia cavalry battlefields for the Civil War Education Association from June 19-22. The event is headquartered in Culpeper, VA, and will be covering the Battle of Brandy Station, the Battle of Kelly’s Ford, the Battle of Trevilian Station, and the fighting at Culpeper in September 1863. It should be a terrific tour.

I’ve been coordinating the Culpeper County events with my old friend and mentor Bud Hall, who is THE authority on Brandy Station, and who is the one most responsible for the preservation of that battlefield. Between us, we’ve cooked up some nifty surprises for the group for the Culpeper County portion of the tour. Just to whet your …

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We’re now moving into my busy season. I have six upcoming events in the next ninety days, and I figured I would share information about them here in case anyone has any interest in attending any of them.

June 6-7: J. D., Mike Nugent and I have a bunch of book signings (something close to 6) scheduled in Gettysburg that weekend. The annual spring muster of the Gettysburg Discussion Group is also that weekend. Once our final schedule is pinned down, I will post it here.

June 13-15: This is the weekend of my 25th reunion at my alma mater, Dickinson College. Normally, I wouldn’t even mention this, but the College is having me do a book signing from …

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Stan O’Donnell specifically requested this one, so here’s a profile of forgotten cavalryman Bvt. Maj. Gen. John Irvin Gregg….

John Irvin GreggJohn Irvin Gregg was born on July 26, 1826 at Bellefonte, Centre County, Pennsylvania, his family’s home for nearly 100 years. His grandfather, Andrew Gregg, served two terms in the United States Senate. He was a first cousin of Bvt. Maj. Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg, and both were first cousins of Pennsylvania’s war-time governor, Andrew Gregg Curtin.

J. I. Gregg stood 6’4” tall, and was called “Long John” by the men who served under his command. He received a sound education in the academies of Centre and Union Counties. In December, 1846, he volunteered as a private for the Mexican War, …

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Time for another installment of my infrequent series of profiles of forgotten cavalrymen.

John Baillie McIntosh was born at Tampa Bay, Florida, on June 29, 1829. His father, James S. McIntosh, was a Colonel in the United States army, and a native of Georgia. His mother was Eliza (Shumate) McIntosh. He was the grand-nephew of a Revolutionary War general who killed Button Gwinnett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Young John was educated at Nazareth Hall, Pennsylvania, at S. M. Hammill’s School, Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and at Marlborough Churchill’s Military School at Sing Sing, New York, where he received a good education. Demonstrating an inclination toward the military, his family attempted to obtain an appointment to West Point for …

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From June 19-22, 2008, I will be leading a tour for the Civil War Education Association titled The Clash of Cavalry in Virginia. I will be the sole tour leader for this event.

Here’s the description that I’ve written for the weekend event, which I’m really looking forward to:

Join the CWEA for a tour of some of the most hard-fought cavalry actions of the American Civil War. We will tour three cavalry battlefields in Culpeper County, and one in Louisa County. Join Civil War cavalry historian Eric J. Wittenberg for this intensive tour of the cavalry actions of 1863 and 1864.

The March 17, 1863 Battle of Kelly’s Ford marked one of the earliest large scale clashes of the …

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The great Battle of Brandy Station was fought on June 9, 1863. 12,000 Union cavalrymen splashed across the Rappahannock River at Beverly’s Ford and Kelly’s Ford to strike at Confederate cavalry thought to be near the town of Culpeper. They were surprised to find the enemy right across the river. Although the Confederate troopers were surprised by the bold attack, they rallied and held their own, keeping John Buford from taking the guns of the vaunted Stuart Horse Artillery. A fourteen hour battle raged, with Alfred Pleasonton, the Federal cavalry commander, eventually breaking off and withdrawing, leaving the battlefield in Stuart’s hands.

Pleasonton had received orders to march with his whole command and break up or disperse the large concentration …

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While working on the Kelly’s Ford article, I re-discovered a couple of fabulous, parallel quotes that describe some of the mounted charges and countercharges that took place during the Battle of Kelly’s Ford. What’s particularly interesting about them is that one is by a Yankee trooper and one is by a Confederate trooper, but the similarity is really striking. Have a look:

“A cavalry charge is a terrible thing. Almost before you can think, the shock of horse against horse, the clash of steel against steel, crack of pistols, yells of some poor lost one, as he lost his seat and went down under those iron shod hoofs that knew no mercy, or the shriek of some horse overturned and …

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Keith Poulter of North and South magazine has been soliciting a raft of new articles for upcoming issues. Last weekend, Keith asked–and I agreed–for four articles from me. Fortunately, three of the four are things that can be adapted from different book projects. One of them will be an article on the June 30, 1863 Battle of Hanover, adapted from Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg. JD’s doing the bulk of the work on that one.

Right now, I’m working on a piece on the March 17, 1863 Battle of Kelly’s Ford. This one is an adaptation of a chapter from The Union Cavalry Comes of Age: Hartwood Church to Brandy Station, 1863

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