150 years ago, less a day, on September 12, 1863, a cavalry corps of three divisions of the Union Army of the Potomac was led by Major General Alfred Pleasonton to Warrenton, Virginia. There they crossed the Rappahannock River. The objective was an attack on Confederate Major General J.E.B. Stuart’s headquarters at Culpeper Court House, Virginia.
Early on the 13th, Pleasonton’s troopers crossed the Hazel River, driving off a scattering of Confederate pickets and skirmishers. They advanced against a Rebel defensive line near Culpeper and by early afternoon, Brigadier General H. Judson Kilpatrick ordered a mounted cavalry charge by Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer’s Michigan Brigade.
Custer’s men routed the Confederates and captured over one hundred prisoners, and three artillery pieces. With the Confederate troops routed, Pleasanton’s men converged on Culpeper Court House in three columns. Cavalry corps of two divisions of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia were driven across the Rapidan River. Because of Pleasonton’s success, the 2nd Corps of the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General Gouverneur K. Warren was able to occupy Culpeper Court House by evening.
The following morning, the Confederates established a strong new defensive line on the other side of the Rapidan River. The Federals made the decision not to pursue or assault.
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