Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Battle of Dranesville

Since the battle of Balls Bluff in October there had been no major movement by either side. However, from time to time small groups were sent out to probe the enemy's lines and forage for supplies. One hundred and fifty years ago today, J.E.B Stuart went on one of these raids towards Dranesville, VA. He led 4000 troops: a brigade of infantry, 150 cavalry troopers and a 4 gun battery.
Union Artillery
The Federal General Ord was in the area with 5,000 troops from the 3rd Brigade of Pennsylvania reserves. As Stuart approached Dranesville from the South, he found the Federals occupying the ridge he intended to hold east of the town. The artillery on both sides opened fire. The Federal guns had a better position, and quickly overpowered the Confederate artillery. Both sides formed up their infantry and the Confederates began to make progress on the center of the line. A South Carolina regiment came upon a body of troops from Kentucky hidden in a thicket. Both sides exchanged volleys, and several were hit before the friendly fire was stopped.

The Union General Reynolds who was arriving planned to strike the Rebels on the flank, which would have driven them from the field very easily. But before the flank attack struck, Stuart pulled his infantry back, having brought his wagons to safety and knowing that they had no hope of victory with more Northern troops on the way. Ord wrote this of his victory:
“My artillery slaughtered them – while they were cooped up & jammed in a road which I raked. It was the old story – they had an ignoramus for a general, a fool for an artillery capt’n, took it for granted we would run, made no reconnaissance, posted their artillery just where I would have place it to smash it soonest….”
Although Stuart had gotten the worst of this battle, he would soon prove to be one of the Confederacy's most able generals. This was the North's first victory in the east. The Confederates suffered 230 casualties, while inflicting only 71.


Post a Comment