Friday, October 12, 2012

Stuart Again Rides Around McClellan

 After successfully warding of McClellan in the Battle of Antietam and recrossing the Potomac into Virginia, Lee's army quickly recovered. Troops which had scattered returned to the army, and the men rested and refitted. McClellan, meanwhile, was characteristically slow, and weeks passed without him launching a pursuit. Lee was so encouraged that he even considered again invading Maryland. Although he gave up that idea as too dangerous, he planned for Stuart to go on another of his famous raids to get information as to McClellan's position and plans.

Stuart set out on October 9th with 1,800 picked troopers. He crossed the Potomac River and ride all the way to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, temporarily cutting McClellan's supply line. He pushed his men hard and fast, rounding up horses and getting all the information he could. 150 years ago today he returned to the bank of the Potomac River, only to find two hundred Pennsylvania infantry blocking his way. Stuart sent out skirmishers, and ordered Pelham to deploy his artillery. The cannon shots quickly scattered the Yankees blocking their way. The rebel cavalry began crossing the river, their rear guarded from Federal pursuers by Pelham's guns.
The Gallant Pelham at West Point in 1858

Stuart's raid was successful, having ridden 120 miles in 60 hours without loosing a man. He had captured 1,200 horses and inflicted about a quarter of a million dollars worth of damage. It had been very successful as far as it went, bringing new glories on Stuart and the south, and scaring and embarrassing the Federals. When Lincoln was asked about the raid he drew a circle in the ground and said, "When I was a boy we used to play a game, three times round and out. Stuart has been round him twice; if he goes round him once more, gentlemen, McClellan will be out!"


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