Stuart’s Horse Artillery (Part 4): Rosser’s Revenge

I have looked forward to writing this piece for some time. When I first started sketching out my series on Major John Pelham and Stuart’s Horse Artillery, the germ of the idea came to me.

The Armies Gather

Thomas Lafayette Rosser and John Pelham were roommates at West Point. They left the Academy together just prior to graduation in April 1861. Both men joined the fledgling Confederate army as artillery officers. Rosser commanded the 2nd Company of the Washington Artillery at First Manassas and again during the Seven Days Battles of the Peninsula Campaign. He was severely wounded at Mechanicsville. After recovering, Rosser was promoted and switched to cavalry, joining J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry brigade as Commander of the 5th Virginia Cavalry Regiment.

Man in uniform
Thomas Lafayette Rosser was a talented artilleryman and cavalry commander, and he is seen here in the uniform of a Confederate Major General. During the Battle of Fredericksburg, General Stuart directed Rosser to take a few 10-pound Parrott Rifles to attack the extreme left of the Union line. After the Civil War, in 1898, President McKinley, a Union veteran, appointed Rosser to train cavalry recruits for the Spanish-American War, which he did on the Chickamauga Battlefield in Georgia.

At the time of the Battle of Fredericksburg, Rosser’s regiment was part of W.H.F. Lee’s Cavalry Brigade that screened the Rappahannock River below Fredericksburg watching for signs of Union Army movement. After MG Ambrose Burnside’s Army of the Potomac crossed the river on December 11, Stuart summoned two of his cavalry brigades to the southern end of General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

According to John Esten Cooke, an aid to Stuart, Stuart felt that the land between Massaponax Creek and Franklin’s Crossing was not good ground for classic cavalry operations. He felt that it was too cut up by drainage canals, large ravines, and roads bounded by ditches, cedar trees and wattle fences to conduct large cavalry scale actions in the European style. Rather, he would use his cavalry troopers to press the Federals and protect his artillery. He agreed with Lieutenant General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson to “press ‘em with artillery.” These then were the tactics Stuart employed as he contested this ground during the battle. Knowing this information goes a long way to aid our understanding of how Stuart managed his fight.

Topographic map
This is a section of the 1931 USGS map of Fredericksburg vicinity. General Stuart felt the terrain was too cut up by obstacles to conduct classic cavalry operations in the European tradition. Bowling Green Road (marked in white) was flanked on each side with drainage ditches and cedar trees and wattled fencing. In addition, there were several deep ravines and other drainage canals lined with trees and thick brush (marked in green). The axis of advance of a potential cavalry is noted with the grey arrow. Its culmination point would be Franklin’s Crossing where Union pontoon bridges were located.

Command and Control of Stuart’s Artillery

Major John Pelham was Stuart’s Cavalry Corps Chief of Artillery.  On the morning of December 13, Pelham captured everyone’s attention with his daring ambush (read here) of Major General (MG) John Reynold’s First Corps. Today the location of that action is known as Pelham’s Corner. A short time later, during MG George Gordon Meade’s assault of Prospect Hill, Pelham used his Horse Artillery and batteries borrowed from MG Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s Second Corps to attack Meade’s left flank (read here).

As Meade’s division retreated after their penetration of the Jackson’s defensive line, Stuart selected Colonel Rosser to manage an attack on the extreme left of the Union line. This area was commanded by Brigadier General Abner Doubleday. Pelham was free to focus on the close fight enfilading Meade’s division as it retreated.

Because neither Stuart nor Pelham submitted official reports of the Battle of Fredericksburg, we are dependent on the writing of others to gain clarity on Stuart’s commanders’ intent and execution.

The following are excerpts of some of those accounts. Some were written immediately following the battle. Others were not written for twenty years by which time memory had dimmed and recollections might not be as accurate. These accounts are valuable, nonetheless.

One of the most complete accounts of the battle against Meade’s assault as it developed on December 13th is contained in a letter written by R. Channing Price to his father on December 17th , immediately after the battle was over.

R. Channing Price, former artilleryman and aid to General Stuart tells us about the battle.

“…The enemy’s field batteries and his heavy guns across the river commenced to shell in every direction to find our position.  The hill [Prospect Hill] on which Pegram and Ellett were came in for a large share of the shelling…  All of us except the general now got out of the way to the right of the railroad until the fight should commence in earnest. General Stuart remained where he could see plainly when the enemy began to move, so that he might know when to begin his work, which was to bring to bear a large number of guns and break the left flank of the enemy.  So soon as they began to advance, [Lieutenant Colonel] Lindsey Walker’s guns on the hill opened on their infantry, and Pelham moved into the field to the right of the railroad, with twelve or fifteen rifle guns, and opened an enfilading fire. We now all joined the general, who was near Pelham, and the fight began in earnest.  Time and again we strained over the field to General Jackson, the Lees, and Pelham. Once when I galloped into Major Pelham’s batteries to

Battle map
This is a portion of the National Park Service (NPS) map 3 showing the battle unfolding between 1 PM and 2 PM. MG Reynolds 1st Corps attack of Prospect Hill has reached its culmination point. Without reinforcements, MG George Gordon Meade and BG John Gibbon’s brigades are forced to retreat to their starting lines. A 3rd Corps division under BG David B. Birney is forming along the Bowling Green Road. The brigade, under BG Hiram G. Berry, is on his left, closest to Stuart’s cavalry and Pelham’s enfilading guns. BG Abner Doubleday’s division is threatened by Stuart’s cavalry and Pelham’s artillery. I use colors to call out the locations of the main players in Doubleday’s area, Blue for Union and Red for Confederate.

order him to advance his guns and enfilade the enemy, who was now recoiling from the fierce shock of A. P. Hill’s gallant men, I recognized the boys at the old gun [3rd Howitzers under Captain Utz] which I have assisted so often to work… Pelham was standing between [Sergeants] White’s and Wakeham’s guns, and the shells were crashing in every direction…  Pelham continued to advance his guns as the enemy retreated, pouring in an enfilading fire all the time. After reaching the protection of their batteries, the enemy were reorganized by bringing up fresh lines [Birney’s division], and again presented their front. 

A Parrott gun of the 2d Howitzers [under Captain Watson] and one of the Powhatan battery now crossed the Bowling Green Road and opened a very destructive fire on their flank (under the direction of Colonel Rosser), Major Pelham commanding the others. I went to General Jackson to apprise him of this change, and when I returned, the neighborhood of those two guns was, I think, the hottest place from artillery fire that I have ever been in… a caisson having been blown up a few minutes before [I returned]. Galloping to the general, I found him looking on with his usual coolness. He soon started towards the Crossing, and on our way met the two Parrots I have mentioned above leaving the field. The general was very much displeased at first, but Colonel Rosser made matters all right by telling him that it was useless to stay there, a great many horses having been killed, men wounded, and ammunition nearly exhausted.” (Emphasis added)

Sergeant Ruben Pleasants of the 1st Detachment, 2nd Richmond Howitzers (Watson) wrote an account in 1882 for a booklet published by his unit.

“Now on the morning, after an all-night march with Jackson’s Corps, from near Port Royal, our battery, along with a number of other batteries, was put into a position below the line of hills on which Fredericksburg is located. We advanced by half battery to the front… ours being the right section… [armed with 10-pound Parrott rifles], Cpt Watson was approached by Gen’l Stuart and Col Rosser. He was instructed to get a gun from his battery for ‘special duty’. Cpt Watson ordered the first gun to ‘limber up’ and report to the two officers. Being the sergeant of the First Detachment, I limbered to the rear, and reported to the two officers, and was ordered to follow them. I do well remember the chase they gave us across fields and ditches, and without a halt anywhere and at a long trot all the way.”

“We finally got into a sunken road, with a wattling fence on either side and lined with cedars [Bowling Green Road]. Down this road we went for some distance, with no idea whatever of our destination. We were halted in a narrow road and ordered to make an opening in the fence. This was soon done, and a few spadefulls of earth thrown in the ditch, made a passageway.”

Cross section of a road
The main artery for North-South movement was the Bowling Green Road, also known as the Old Richmond Stage Road. The dirt roadway was lined with cedar trees for shade and lined with drainage ditches, which were from three to six feet deep. The local farmers also wattle fenced the edge with young cedar saplings which were bent over and fastened to the ground adjacent to root into a new sapling. This created a dense thicket that acted like a fence. In fact, several Union officers used the term ‘fence’ when describing this feature in their reports. In some areas along the road, this growth gave it the appearance of being a sunken road.

“Col. Rosser told me to go up in the field and see what I had to do. I rode up… and found that we were on the extreme left flank of the Army of the Potomac. A battery [ Gerrish? Or Stewart?] was in position commanding the field we were about to enter. Colonel Rosser told me to take any distance I chose, and, in answer to my questions to how long I was expected to stay, he said “As long as you can”. I asked: “Until we are out of ammunition?” He answered: “Yes”. I have often thought he never expected us to get away from there.” (Emphasis added)

“We did not have a man or horse wounded as long as we had ammunition. The enemy could see us… and we could see them. As soon as I ordered “limber up” they knew we were out of ammunition and such a fire they opened up on us… Poor Charles was killed and Joe Cocke and several others wounded, and our horses “riddled”. We brought our gun off with two horses, and return for the caisson. As we were about to reenter the road, at the point where we left it, someone discovered… an abandoned gun from which we took supplies for our gunner’s bags, including friction primers and tallow… Certainly there were no dead or wounded men or horses with the abandoned gun. We left it as we had only two horses.”

Topographic map
This is a section of the Pre-publication of the 1867 Michler-Weyss map of the battlefield. I transferred the unit locations from the NPS map (see above) to add terrain detail and to expand the southern region traversed by Rosser and his artillery. I show a possible route (Yellow line), using information provided by the participants. The artillerymen didn’t know where they were going as they madly made their way, but they provided hints. R. Channing Price says that they “crossed the Bowling Green Road”. This could not have happened further north along the road because it was firmly in Union control. Sergeant Ruben Pleasants described going “across fields and ditches” and finally “got into a sunken road, with a wattling fence on either side and lined with cedars”. “We were halted in a narrow road and ordered to make an opening in the fence. This was soon done, and a few spadefulls of earth thrown in the ditch, made a passageway.” Private Willie Lee’s account is short on details but says, they were “taken across a sunken road into a field beyond the extreme left of the enemy’s line.”

I can’t help but wonder if this abandoned gun was one that escaped capture by Doubleday’s advancing troops at the ‘Piece of Woods’ before all rearward movement was prevented (read here)?

Lieutenant James Stewart, Commander of Battery B, 4th US Artillery armed with six Napoleons, wrote in his report.

“On the morning of the 13th… I was then ordered [by Doubleday] to go to the assistance of Captain Gerrish’s battery, Colonel Wainwright directing me to go on the right of that battery, which at that time was under fire from two batteries on our extreme left. I immediately came in battery, and, after firing several rounds from each gun, succeeded in silencing the enemy’s fire, blowing up one of their caissons, and driving them off. During this time another battery of the enemy on our left opened an enfilading fire. I immediately changed position and engaged it, and after firing some twenty minutes drove him off, disabling one of his guns and blowing up a caisson, and preventing him from carrying his disabled gun off during three successive attempts, although well supported by his [cavalry] sharp shooters, who were very destructive to my men and horses. In this position I had 2 men killed and wounded, besides a loss of 8 horses killed; 4 wounded so severely as to be abandoned; 1 slightly wounded, and 2 sets of wheel and 4 sets of lead harness being so cut up by the fragments of shell as to be utterly unserviceable.” (Emphasis added)

Private Willie Lee of the 2nd Richmond Howitzers in Brown’s Battalion wrote.

“… our gun was borrowed by Major Pelham of Stuarts Horse Artillery, taken across a sunken road into a field beyond the extreme left of the enemy’s line. …As soon as we got on the field we mounted the gun and caisson and rushed at full gallop up to a rifles shot of the enemy’s line and fired shot, shell and canister pointblank down his flank, so close was our fire that the line began to waver and crumble. In a few minutes though, a battery of 32-pounders [likely one of De Russy’s 20-pound Parrott batteries] across the river opened on us. Then a light battery of six guns [Stewart, B/4US] dashed to the infantry line and opened with shrapnel. We were literally smothered with shot and shell; of 12 horses, we lost 11, out of 14 men 9 were killed and wounded, 2 killed on the field and 2 died of wounds. We were ordered off the field by Major Pelham [Most likely Rosser]. Sergeant Green and I, as number 4, got to our knees to limber up hoping to get off the field with three horses, then standing. As we were working a shell passed through the limber chest, exploding it, killing or wounding every horse. We made tracks in quick time for the sunken road, leaving the gun.” (Emphasis added)

Enlarged topographic map
The distance from Rosser’s guns to Doubleday’s brigades and Gerrish and Stewart’s batteries is more challenging. Stewart (A) is north of Gerrish (B). I selected Stewart’s 12-pound Napoleons, because they caused documented damage to Rosser’s horses and crews. The range of Stewart’s round shot is 1,680 yards (1,540 meters), while his shells ranged 1,300 yards (1,190 meters) and the spherical case reached only 1,135 yards (1,040 meters). If we place Rosser (C) at the max range of the Napoleon’s spherical case shot, Rosser could be within 900 yards (825 meters) of Gerrish, who is 480 yards (438 meters) south of Stewart’s Napoleons. This is well within the range of Rosser’s guns and close to the ideal artillery range. Rosser would be within canister range of Meredith’s infantry! No wonder Private Willie Lee remembered that “so close was our fire that the line began to waver and crumble.” Doubleday saw the threat from Rosser’s artillery and probes from cavalry and adjusted his lines to get out of enfilade fire.

“General [Col.] Rosser and Major Pelham [Likely General Stuart], who had been watching the fight about a hundred yards to our left, had gotten to shelter ahead of us. The enemy’s sharpshooters advanced to the gun but a few dismounted cavalry of Rosser’s, in the sunken road, drove them back. After this we got our detachments together, and brought the gun off by hand, placing it in the sunken road. We again went into action and fired till late at night. In the meantime, Burnside had been beaten on his right and had somewhat drawn in his left. This gave us a chance to get off the gun.… “

Several Union commanders reported receiving fire from the extreme left.

MG Reynolds summarized the action saying, “…The remainder of Doubleday’s artillery was placed in position along the Bowling Green road, joining Meade’s, and was directed on that of the enemy, lining the crest in our front, and engaging some batteries still farther to our left. (Emphasis added)

Doubleday reported in part, “…Having made these dispositions, I directed General Meredith to meet some demonstrations against our left flank by forming line in that direction at an obtuse angle to the main road, his right connecting with Rogers’ brigade, and his left resting on the wood and river. In the meantime, Gerrish’s battery was contending with two batteries on our extreme left. Stewart’s battery was sent to its assistance and took part on its right. The latter officer soon succeeded in silencing the enemy’s fire, blowing up one of their caissons and driving them off…” (Emphasis added)

“…My line, as I have stated, ran along the Bowling Green road as far as the junction of the cross-road already referred to, and then made an angle to the left. At this angle Stewart’s battery was placed. At first it acted in concert with Gerrish’s battery, but, about the time of Meade’s and Gibbon’s retreat, Gerrish’s battery left the field to go a short distance to the rear for more ammunition, and Stewart was obliged to fight the batteries both in his front and on his left, the latter having an enfilading fire. Gerrish’s battery afterward returned to its position and resumed its fire…” (Emphasis added)

Doubleday was so concerned about vulnerability of his left flank, that he ordered BG Meredith to adjust his line. Failing that, Doubleday relieved Meredith, replacing him with Colonel Lysander Cutler. Cutler reported that,

When I took command, I found the Sixth Wisconsin supporting Battery B, on the Bowling Green road, on the right of Phelps’ brigade; the Second Wisconsin in their rear, Phelps’ and Rogers’ brigades being between them, and the balance of the brigade – the Twenty-fourth Michigan and Nineteenth Indiana – were in line of battle, extending back at right angles from the road, toward the river. The Seventh Wisconsin was thrown out on picket line, indicated by the division commander. The brigade being separated, and an attack being anticipated by the general, I obtained his order to have the Sixth relieved by one of Colonel Rogers’ regiments, which was done by the Thirty-fifth New York. I also obtained permission to change the line of battle to a position diagonal to the road, so as to avoid in part an enfilading fire from the enemy’s batteries…”(Emphasis added)

There are few times when we can look at the events during the Civil War and be fairly certain that the participants’ accounts were describing the same event. I believe that this is one of those occasions. Stuart made use of the talent available to him to push his battle aggressively. Stuart used Col. Rosser to manage artillery battle on the extreme left flank. This allowed his Chief of Artillery, Major Pelham to focus on his part of the battle directing 12 to 15 guns. On the Union side, Doubleday felt unsecure about his flank. At first, his brigades aligned up along the Bowling Green Road. By the time the day was finished, he realigned his brigades to tie into the river at the Point of Woods. This echelon formation also kept his troops better protected from enfilading fire conducted under Rosser.

My next blog will look at the artillery fight that occurred around 4:30 PM, just as daylight was fading from the field of battle. This short artillery duel preceded General Jackson’s aborted counterattack.



Thomas L. Rosser – Wikipedia

Thomas Lafayette Rosser | American Battlefield Trust (

Tables for Artillery Projectiles (

Books and Manuscripts:

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 128 vols. (Washington D.C., 1890-1901. Series 1. Volume 21, Serial No. 31.

No. 208. Report of Major General John F. Reynolds, U. S. Army, commanding First Army Corps. December 21, 1862. P 455.

No. 210. Report of Brigadier General Abner Doubleday, U. S. Army, commanding First Division. December 22, 1862. P 463.

No. 213. Report of Second Lieutenant James Stewart, Battery B, Fourth U. S. Artillery. December __, 1862. P 468.

No. 220. Report of Colonel Lysander Cutler, Sixth Wisconsin Infantry, commanding Fourth Brigade. December 17, 1862. P 478.

Ruben Pleasants, Nov 22, 1882, 1st Detachment, 2nd Richmond Howitzers (Watson), Contributions to the History of the Richmond Howitzers, Pamphlet No 3, Richmond, 1884, p 58.

Cooke, John Esten, Surry of Eagle’s-Nest or The Memoirs of a Staff-Officer Serving in Virginia, New York, G.W. Dillingham, 1889, P 363 and 367. Surry of Eagle’s-nest; Cooke, John Esten, 1830-1886: Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming: Internet Archive

Cooke, John Esten, Wearing of the Gray; Personal Portraits, Scenes, and Adventures of the War, New York, E.B. Treat & Co, 1867. P 21 and 133. Wearing of the Gray – Google Books

McClellan, Henry Brainerd, The life and campaigns of Major-General J. E. B. Stuart: commander of the cavalry of the Army of northern Virginia, Boston; New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company; Richmond, Va.: J. W. Randolph and English, 1885. Blackford map following P 190. The life and campaigns of Major-General J. E. B. Stuart : commander of the cavalry of the Army of northern Virginia : McClellan, H. B. (Henry Brainerd), 1840-1904 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive  Pp 193-4. R. Channing Price quote.

Willie Lee, 2nd Richmond Howitzers, Brown’s Bn, CWTI collection, MHI, Reserve Arty folder, memoirs, date unknown. P 5.


Michler 1867 Pre-Publication Map, National Archives RG77_CWMF_G204-27 RG77_CWMF_G204-27 – The Unwritten Record (

Michler-Weyss 1867 Map of Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg. [Dec. 1862] – Copy 1 | Library of Congress (

1931 USGS Topographical Map of Fredericksburg Vicinity, showing battlefields. Topographic map of Fredericksburg and vicinity, Virginia, showing battlefields | Library of Congress (


Thomas L. Rosser. Confederate cavalryman Thomas Lafayette Rosser. (Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library/University of Virginia. Biography: A Civil War general who deserves to be better known – The Virginian-Pilot (

Posted in Burnside's Main Attack, Confederate Artillery, In the neighborhood, Terrain, Union Artillery | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Piece of Woods’ – Fort Hood, VA

The winter is a good time to do field work in Virginia. Most of the undergrowth has died back, and the trees have lost their leaves. In late December last year, I took my eldest grandson out to look at Doubleday’s ‘Piece of Woods’. It is still there to be explored. If you do choose to visit the site, please be respectful of private property that surrounds the site on all but the southern side and be aware that some of the terrain is rather steep.

Union Gunboats appear on the Rappahannock River.

In the leadup to the Battle of Fredericksburg, four Union gunboats made an appearance opposite Port Royal, 18 miles (29 kilometers) downstream of Fredericksburg. The US Navy Potomac Flotilla, under Commodore Andres A. Hartwood, had agreed to assist General Burnside cross the Rappahannock River at Skinker’s Neck so as to get in behind Lee’s Army. On December 4th, the gunboats made it up the Rappahannock as far as Rappahannock Academy, 16 miles downstream of Fredericksburg, where two-20-pound Parrots from the 1st Rockbridge Artillery forced them to withdraw down river. Then, Major John Pelham, employing the 3-inch rifled guns of Captain Marcellus N. Moorman’s Horse Artillery battery, attacked and drove them further down river below Port Royal. Moorman’s horse artillery battery remained in the vicinity in case the gunboats reappeared.

General Robert E. Lee, concerned about this lingering naval threat, took several actions to counter potential future naval incursions. One amongst them was to charge his aide, Engineer Major Thomas M. R. Talcott, with finding a suitable site on the riverbank to position artillery closer to Fredericksburg. Talcott’s site choice lay about four miles below Fredericksburg at a light bend in the river. There troops of Major General (MG) John Bell Hood’s division constructed emplacements upon the bluff. The site became known as Fort Hood. It consisted of field fortifications dug deep enough into the earth that they could not be seen from the river. There were two “masked batteries” capable of holding a total of eight guns, arranged to fire down the river for a long distance. The guns were placed in pits specially formed to allow the guns to depress their muzzles and target boats on the river. Among those initially manning the fort was Captain Hugh M. Ross’s Georgia battery with four long-range guns, which was part of Brigadier General (BG) William Pendleton’s reserve artillery. After Union troops crossed the Rappahannock two miles upriver on December 11th, Pendleton ordered Ross’s battery to relocate to a position near Telegraph Hill.

State of Virginia Historical Resources reference sign for Fort Hood is located at the junction of Route 2 and Benchmark Road, south of Fredericksburg. Also, a portion of the 1859 map issued by the US Coast Guard Office under the direction of Alexander Bache. One can make out the narrowness of the actual navigable river channel downstream of Fort Hood. Although this survey focused upon the river depths and banks, it provides information on nearby structures and minor roads. Depths are expressed in feet using mean low water as the reference datum point.

Fortification Limits.

The fort was located on excellent ground for firing on Union naval vessels. It was also in the worst possible location against Union infantry advancing overland, moving south from Franklin’s Crossing. The land was cut by two deep gorges or ravines which resulted from drainage of the land between Prospect Hill and the river. It was covered with trees and other vegetation which obstructed observation from a distance.  BG Abner Doubleday considered it to be a very strong position, intersected with ravines and covered with a thick undergrowth’.

The ‘Piece of Woods’ was covered by a blanket of undergrowth and trees. Because it was too rough to farm, it was left wild. Resistance to the Union advance was conducted by Confederate cavalry from the 13th Virginia, along with some infantry and artillery.

When Confederate Major John Pelham opened his surprise ambush against MG George Gordon Meade’s division at 10 AM (read more here), Doubleday’s division also received some artillery fire from a southerly direction. Given that Pelham only had one 12-pound Napoleon and was opposed by Meade’s divisional artillery and that of De Russy’s 20-pound Parrot rifles from across the river, it seems unlikely that Doubleday received much of Pelham’s attention. Pelham was seeking to disrupt the Federal attack against Prospect Hill. Pelham’s fire froze most Union troops where they stood, including Doubleday’s.

Assault on the ‘Piece of Woods’.

During Doubleday’s eventual advance, the Iron Brigade, under BG Solomon Meredith, assaulted the ‘Piece of Woods’ with the 2nd US Sharpshooters and the 24th New York Infantry in the lead as skirmishers. From Sergeant White of the 2nd US Sharpshooters, we learn that they “moved towards a piece of woods that seemed full of rebels. Their fire was from artillery and infantry and quite a body of cavalry showed themselves as we advanced.” Then, “Most of the of the rebels had retreated leaving a small number to observe our advance.”

The actual ground is bisected by two steep gorges or ravines which empty into the Rappahannock River. The main bluff or ridgeline where the masked guns are located is 50 to 60 feet (15 to 18 meters) above the river.

The defenders: cavalry, infantry, and artillery, departed as quickly as they could once their position was compromised. There were some defenders who fired on Doubleday’s advancing federal troops, attempting to give most of their comrades a chance to escape as best they could.  There were several pieces of confederate artillery abandoned in the ‘Piece of Woods’ as noted from several Union accounts. Our problem today is we do not know which battery they came from nor their type. The record is silent. It is conceivable that these were possibly from Stuart’s Horse Artillery. Stuart and Pelham submitted no reports. As Artillery Commander in this sector, Pelham had immediately available two howitzers from Captain Henry’s 2nd Horse Artillery battery, and four guns, two rifles and two howitzers from Captain James Breathed’s 1st Horse Artillery battery. We simply do not know if they were used here.

This aerial photo of the ‘Piece of Woods’ was taken in early 2007. The leaves are off the trees. The private homes which surround it are now complete and occupied. I use this photo because you can readily make out the steep ravines that cut up the terrain. Refer to the previous topo map to better understand this important relationship of the battery positions and the ravines. One of these ravines starts just below the notation for Battery A ‘Gun Pits 3&4’. The other one comes up from the bottom of the photo. My route into the site began at the Lee Hill Community Center.

Expedited Artillery Locations.

In my field work, I found three locations adjacent to, but behind the formal firing positions, where temporary or expedient firing positions were hurriedly excavated adjacent to the prepared artillery positions. Here a gun could have been rolled out of the battery and redirected towards Doubleday’s advancing division. From Sergeant White of the 2nd US Sharpshooters we learn that “They (the Confederates) had pulled several guns out of their pits to oppose us. These they left when they retreated out of the woods.” There was simply no way for the Confederates to safely extricate the guns in the face of the Iron Brigade’s attack. As it was, Union skirmishers advancing over level ground west of the fortifications cut off the retreat and captured some of the late leaving confederate defenders who struggled over and along the ravines.

Evidently, the Union troops simply rolled the guns back into position and left them there where this artillery could not threaten them as the soldiers advanced further. While Doubleday’s quartermaster gained some ‘horses and equipments’, as related by J.R. Young of the 24th NY Infantry in a letter home, the guns were evidently still there when Franklin’s troops withdrew on the night of 15-16th. The confederates took them back once they reoccupied the fort on the 16th.

We used a fallen tree across the inlet from the river to access the hillside that leads to the fort proper. The hillside is quite steep with occasional thorn plants termed locally as ‘wait-a-minute’ vines. Oh, to have the energy of youthful legs!

Today, Fort Hood, well-preserved due to its isolated location, is managed by the American Battlefields Trust within its 5.5-acre easement, situated between to private property and the river. Please avoid the private property if you visit the site.

In Battery A on top of the ridge, there are two sets of gun pits. Typically, a Gun Section composed of two guns would be located adjacent to each other. In Battery A, both sets of guns were dug deeply into the terrain. My grandson is pointing in the direction of the gun pit 4. A narrow ‘V’-shaped trench was excavated in front of the gun to enable the gun barrel to depress sufficiently to fire on an approaching naval vessel. This would have been impossible to see from the deck of an approaching boat. A possible temporary firing position used to oppose the advancing Union troops is located just to his front. The second set of gun pits, 1 and 2, is located 27 yards (25 meters) northward along the ridge. You can see my grandson standing at gun pit 2. (The terms of battery identity and gun pit designations are the authors for ease of describing the firing positions)
This is Battery A gun pits 1 and 2. You can make out the Rappahannock River in the background. Gun pit 1 is choked with wood debris. Both pits are aimed squarely down the center line of the river. A second temporary firing position is located to the lower right off camera.
Battery B sits about 100 yards (90 meters) distant from Battery A. The terrain between the two is also cut up, not easily traversed. Battery B has an infantry trench running along the river and northern edges of the emplacement. Its’ gun pits also bear on the river at the same point as Battery A. My grandson points in the direction of fire for Gun pit 1. Gun pit 4 is similarly situated. The third temporary firing position is located about 10 yards (9 meters) off camera to the hard left from gun pit 1. Whereas the expedient firing positions of Battery A simply rolled the gun out and rotated it to fire, in Battery B, the gun had to be wheeled some distance to its new temporary position. There it would have had a clear line of fire to the north against the Iron Brigade’s advance.

I am indebted to National Park Service Historian Noel Harrison for his field work conducted in the ‘90’s.

My next post will cover Colonel Thomas L. Rosser’s artillery adventure against Doubleday’s southern flank.


Harrison, Noel G. Fredericksburg Civil War Sites: April 1861-November 1862. Lynchburg, VA: H.E. Howard, Inc., 1995. P 151.

O’Reilly, Francis Augustín. The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 2003. pp 51-3,

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 128 vols. (Washington D.C., 1890-1901. Series 1.

O.R. Vol. XXI, Serial 31, December 4, 1862. Engagement on the Rappahannock River, VA. Report No. 1, Major General Daniel H. Hill, C.S. Army. pp 36-37.

O.R. Vol. XXI, Serial 31, No. 210. Report of Brig. Gen. Abner Doubleday, U.S. Army, commanding First Division, pp 461-462.

O.R. Vol. XXI, Serial 31, No. 266. Report of Brig. Gen. William N. Pendleton, C.S. Army, Chief of Artillery, Army of Northern Virginia, pp 563-5.

Wise, Jennings Cooper, The Long Arm of Lee, Vol 1: Bull Run to Fredericksburg, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1988, pp 373, 386.


Lee’s Position E-43 | Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania Historical Markers (

VA-2 & Benchmark Rd, Fredericksburg, VA 22408 junction of route 2 and benchmark road fredericksburg va – Search (

Manuscripts and Letters:

Beardsley, Samuel R., LTC, Letter 17 Dec 1862, NHI.

J.R. Young Letter, Special Collections Knight Library, Univ of Oregon.

The Civil War Diary of Wyman S. White, First Sergeant of Company “F” of the 2nd United States Sharpshooter Regiment (New Hampshire Men) in the Army of the Potomac, 1861-1865, P 61-2.


USGS 1933 Topo map. Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania Battlefield National Monument, Virginia | Library of Congress (

Michler 1867 map of Fredericksburg

Survey of the Coast of the United States, Rappahannock River, Virginia: from Fredericksburg to near Moss Neck. nypl.digitalcollections.0010b4a0-697c-0135-252e-0c3cd4576cfc.001.g

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Doubleday’s Advance to Contact

The actions of Brigadier General (BG) Abner Doubleday and his 1st Division, members of Major General (MG) John F. Reynolds 1st Corps, are usually dismissed as a side show to the assault of Prospect Hill by MG George G. Meade’s 3rd Division. Were they just a side show? Could Doubleday have done more to influence the battle? What did Doubleday’s Division do?

Whatever battle ideas MG William B. Franklin and his 1st Corps and its Division Commanders made to MG Ambrose E. Burnside, during his late afternoon visit on 12 December 1862, they were ignored. Burnside’s confused orders, that did reach Franklin on the morning of 13 December, have been dissected many times and judged as a failure. Certainly, these orders failed to adequately describe ‘Commander’s Intent.’ They were filled with too many constraints and restraints. As written, they fed Franklin’s overly cautious mindset.

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Stuart’s Horse Artillery (Part 3) Pelham’s Gunline

Union Reset Following Pelham’s Corner Ambush.

So, what happened after Major John Pelham withdrew from Pelham’s Corner around 11 AM? Now free from Pelham’s distracting ambush, Major General (MG) John Reynolds, Commander of 1st Corps, was anxious to get the Federal attack underway.  Colonel Charles Shiels Wainwright, Reynolds’ Chief of Artillery, redistributed his artillery batteries. He retained Captain Cooper’s four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles on the knoll on the left of MG George Gordon Meade’s 1st Brigade and Simpson’s three Napoleon’s along the Bowling Green Road to handle any renewed threat from the south. He moved Captain Ransom’s four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles further to the right, in front of 1st Brigade, and inserted Captain Amsden’s four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles between Cooper and Ransom. Historian Brent Nosworthy tells us that these would have been 60 yards in front of the infantry. In the meantime, Meade pivoted Brigadier General (BG) C. Feger Jackson’s 3rd Brigade to the left thereby making his front two brigades wide. BG Abner Doubleday’s 1st Division moved further south securing the area beyond Pelham’s Corner.

[Insert S1 – Adjusted 1st Corps line]

Topographic map
S1 – Adjusted 1st Corps line. This is a detailed section of a much larger 1933 USGS topographic map that shows locations of trenches from the civil war. The unit placement is of Federal infantry (blue lines) and artillery batteries (grey rectangles) at around noon. The artillery units: Hall, Ransom, Amsden, Cooper, and Simpson, were realigned following its ambush by Major John Pelham at 10 AM to interdict unknown locations of Jackson’s 2nd Corps. At this point in time, Federal troops are just about ready to begin their assault against Prospect Hill and its adjoining ridgeline.

Wainwright delineated specific artillery sectors along Prospect Hill and the adjoining ridge upon which each battery could direct fire. The goal was to disrupt Lieutenant General (LG) Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s 2nd Corps artillery and infantry hidden in the woods. Reynolds’s artilleries were joined by Captain De Russy’s eight 20-pounder Parrott Rifles from across the river and by several of BG John Gibbon’s batteries. Satisfied that an hour’s long bombardment had done its job, the Federal infantry finally kicked off their movement around noon from positions that Pelham’s artillery ambush left them.

Pelham’s Response to Union Attack.

In the meantime, what was happening with Pelham on the confederate side while this Union artillery interdiction fire occurred?

Pelham had already used half of Captain Mathis W. Henry’s 2nd Stuart Horse Artillery battery. We know that Henry’s Napoleon, used at Pelham’s Corner, was depleted. At a minimum Captain Henry needed a complete ammunition resupply and replacement of men and horses wounded or lost at the Pelham’s Corner. Henry’s 12-pounder Blakely rifle had been knocked out of action earlier, on its way to support Pelham’s ambush at Pelham’s Corner. That left Henry with two 12-pound Howitzers immediately available. Pelham could also deploy Captain James R. Breathed’s 1st Stuart Horse Artillery battery composed of two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles and two 12-pound Howitzers.

With no report from Pelham or Stuart, we can only guess where Pelham now placed his horse artillery. Fortunately, we have the reports of others to fill in some of the blanks.

Pelham had a lot of territory to cover that exceeded the capacity of his small horse artillery battalion. Anticipating this, Pelham had coordinated for receipt of additional artillery from Jackson’s 2nd Corps. Now, Pelham and MG James E.B. Stuart called for the coordinated assistance from Jackson’s Artillery Chief Colonel Stapleton Crutchfield.

Crutchfield’s reported, “… [F]ifteen guns-composed of sections from the batteries of Captain Poague [Lieutenant A. Graham, commanding] Watson, Smith, Garber, one gun of Captain Dance’s battery, and the Louisiana Guards Battery [three guns]-were thrown into position into the plain to our right, so as to cross their fire with that of the guns of Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, being specially designed to check the advance of the enemy toward the road from Hamilton’s Crossing to the river road. These pieces were under the immediate command of Major [John] Pelham, …. All these batteries did not go in at once but were added as the weight of the enemy’s fire seemed to require it.”

Most of this reinforcing artillery, sent by Crutchfield, came from 2nd Corps Artillery Reserve commanded by Colonel J. Thomas Brown. Brown provides additional clarification.

“About 11 o’clock, Saturday morning, my batteries were ordered to a position in rear of Hamilton’s house, ready to be called on as occasion might require. About 12 o’clock, by order Colonel [S.] Crutchfield, I sent two (10-pound) Parrott rifles from Captain Poague’s (1st Rockbridge) battery, under command of Lieutenant [Archibald] Graham, and two similar pieces from the Third Howitzers, under Lieutenant [James S.] Utz, to report to Major [John] Pelham, on the right of the railroad. Shortly afterward I was ordered to send to the same point four other rifle guns, viz, two 10-pounders Parrott’s and one brass rifle from Second Howitzers, and one 3-inch rifle from Captain Dance’s battery, all under the command of Captain Watson, Second Howitzers. These eight guns were actively engaged and suffered severely from the enemy’s artillery and sharpshooters.”

The remainder came from Ewell’s Division, commanded by BG Jubal A. Early. Crutchfield sent portions of this artillery north under command of Captain J.W. Latimer to support Captain Greenlee Davidson at Bernard’s Slave Cabins. (Read here). The remainder composed of Louisiana Guard Artillery battery under Captain Louis E. D’Aquin, with two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles, and the Staunton Artillery battery under command of Lieutenant Asher W. Garber, armed with four 12-pounder Napoleons were sent to Pelham.

[Insert S2-Hunt’s Map]

Historic map
S2- Hunt’s Map. Maps are another important historical record. Pelham’s gunline populated by the 1st Rockbridge Artillery section of 10-pounder Parrot Rifles and the Staunton Artillery of four 12-pound Napoleons is indicated by the white circle. The Library of Congress notes tell us; “Map originally prepared following the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862 … enhanced by the addition of details from a captured map prepared by topographical engineer Jedediah Hotchkiss for the use of Confederate lieutenant general Stonewall Jackson. A significant feature of the map is an overlay (overleaf) depicting the rapidly changing positions of Federal troops during and after their successful crossing of the Rappahannock River.”
Historic Map
S3- O.R. Map. This map, found on page 1127, at the back of the Official Records volume on the Battle of Fredericksburg notes Pelham’s gunline. The numbers delineate battery’s locations during the battle. The complete list is found on page 1126 (not shown).
Historic Map
S4- Hotchkiss Map. This is a small portion of Jedediah Hotchkiss’s map of the battle. I note Pelham’s gunline inside the white circle. Comparing the several maps, one sees variations in the location of the gunline caused by movement during the battle, or simplification in the map, or in this case, the length of time between the battle and Hotchkiss’ mapping visit. Consistently, however, the Staunton battery is to the left of Rockbridge artillery.

Pelham established two lines of defense with this additional artillery as seen on the preceding maps. One ran diagonally across the open field south of Hamilton’s Corner. Here he placed the Graham’s two Rockbridge artillery 10-pound Parrott Rifles in the middle of the field and Gerber’s Staunton artillery four Napoleons closer to the crossing. He placed the other pieces from Brown’s Reserve Artillery along the road leading from Hamilton’s Crossing to Pelham’s Corner at the Bowling Green Road junction as these became available. The cedar hedgerow along the northern side of this road provided limited protection from Union observation. The first to arrive was Lt. Utz’s section of two 10-pound Parrott Rifles and Cpt. D’Aquin’s two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. These Pelham set in ambush behind the cedar hedgerow awaiting the Union attack, which everyone knew was coming.

Following Reynold’s initial artillery effort to soften up Jackson’s line, Meade’s and Gibbon’s division advanced past their artillery. Chaos on the battlefield began when Walker’s and Pelham’s artillery opened fire upon advancing Union troops. As these troops passed isolated marker trees 800 yards from Prospect Hill all hell broke loose. Walker’s 14 guns from the crest of Prospect Hill (read here) and Pelham’s four guns on the flank ripped into the advancing infantry.

Col Wainwright saw it this way: “Soon after they also opened from six to eight guns behind the fence, beyond our left, which took our batteries and troops in the flank”. Wainwright’s ‘fence’ is the cedar hedgerow along the road leading to Hamilton’s Crossing. He countered Pelham’s collection of artillery by redirecting Cpt. Gerrish’s four 3-inch Ordnance Rifle battery from Doubleday’s division and moving Lt. Stewart’s battery of six Napoleons to Pelham’s corner. To these he added Cpt. Wolcott’s six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. From positions east of the Bowling Green Road they enfiladed Pelham batteries.

Seeing this added Union firepower, Crutchfield now releases Brown’s four other rifle guns, two 10-pounders Parrott’s and one brass rifle from Second Howitzers, and one 3-inch rifle from Captain Dance’s battery, all under the command of Captain Watson. Pelham adds these to the guns already in the road.

[Insert S5- Blackford Map]

Historic map
S5- Blackford Map. A.A. Blackburn was an engineer on MG Jeb Stuart’s staff. Unique among our cartographers, he provides the location of Pelham’s enfilading guns. Pelham’s gunline, while still at an angle, is more recessed and closer to Hamilton’s Crossing. He uses yellow to identify MG Stuart’s cavalry locations at various times during the battle. Similarly, he portrays the Federal army as deployed where it was early in the battle. Doubleday’s division ultimately occupied Pelham’s Corner and aligned with the stream where the map shows “straw stacks”.

This onslaught of confederate artillery drove Reynold’s divisions, under command of MG Meade and BG Gibbon, back to their starting point for another round of artillery. This time Reynolds’ gunners know exactly where to fire. After about 30 minutes, they succeeded in blowing up one limber and a caisson and unseating a few of the guns on Prospect Hill. Now Meade’s 3rd Division surged forward, again followed by Gibbon’s 2nd Division.

While the fire from confederate artillery did cause punishing damage upon the attacking Union infantry, it did not prevent sizeable portions of Meade’s 1st and 2nd brigades from reaching the crest of Prospect Hill. BG Conrad Feger Jackson’s 3rd brigade were the Union troops closest to this flank. These troops were stalled in front of the railroad and continued to receive Pelham’s enfilading fire from the road.

[Insert S6- Union Deployment of 1:15 PM]

USGS Topographic map
S6- Union Deployment of 1:15 PM. This is a detail section of a much larger 1933 USGS topographic map that shows locations of trenches from the civil war. The unit placement is of Federal infantry (blue lines) and artillery batteries (grey rectangles) at around 1:15 PM. Generals’ Meade and Gibbon’s division are battling Jackson’s troops. Meade penetrated Confederate General A.P. Hill’s position. Doubleday’s Division is defending along the Rappahannock River against a perceived threat from Stuart’s cavalry. Pelham’s gunline and enfilading gun positions are noted.

None of Pelham’s batteries had the advantage of gun emplacements like those of Walker’s 14-guns on Prospect Hill. At best, they used folds in the terrain to gain some protection.

Confederate Recollections of the Artillery Battle:

Private Robert Frazer of the 1st Rockbridge Artillery Battery, posted out in the middle of the field, recalled, “With the exception of brief intervals, to let the guns cool, we ceased firing only once during the entire day, and this was to move about a hundred yards to a more effective position. Excepting the few minutes this occupied, our guns and limber-chests remained in the same position all day, the caissons plying steadily between the ordnance-train and the battle line, keeping up the stock of ammunition.” Private Thomas M. Wade from the same battery said, “I moved between the gun and the limber chest and carried every round of ammunition, 200.”  

18-year-old Vivian Minor Fleming of the 2nd Richmond Howitzers recalled it this way, “The night was black, dark… We were halted on the left side of the railroad. While standing with the horses still hitched to the field pieces and caissons, a man rode up… We did not know who he was till he said he was he was Major Pelham, Chief of Artillery of Stuart’s staff…. Pelham wanted to know where Col. Coleman was… He found him and asked him to let him have 25 or thirty pieces to help him out on Bernard’s flats, east of the railroad, or rather south by east and near Hamilton’s Crossing. Col Coleman told him he would let him have this artillery and sent his orderly to the commander of each battery in his regiment to pick out such detachments in each battery that he thought would render Pelham most efficient service…. My piece happened to be one of the pieces which fell to Pelham. So, we filed out of battery and fell into line, Pelham heading the march. So, we crossed the railroad….”

“…We started down in that valley of death, it was almost day. A solemn stillness prevailed broken only by the sound of heavy artillery wheels over hard ground, artillery getting into position. Pelham aligned his pieces along a country road, crossing the railroad at Hamilton’s Crossing. …The fight was on at once. Men fell in all direction, caissons blown up and men killed and wounded, actually not enough men left to man the guns, or horses to move them. … a number of our guns were knocked off the trunnions by their shell, still they were replaced by others and the fight kept on; death groans and carnage prevailed on all sides…”

Another participant was Captain R. Channing Price, aid to MG Stuart. His account helps fill in the blanks: “…(T)he fight began in earnest. Time and again we strained over the field to General Jackson, the Lees, and Pelham. Once when I galloped into Major Pelham’s batteries to order him to advance his guns and enfilade the enemy, who was now recoiling from the fierce shock of A. P. Hill’s gallant men, I recognized the boys at the old gun (3rd Howitzers) which I have assisted so often to work. In a minute they pulled off their caps and cheered me until I left the place. Pelham was standing between White’s and Wakeham’s guns, (likely the 10-pound Parrott rifles of 3rd Howitzers) and the shells were crashing in every direction. This was the last time I saw poor Jim Utz, as he was struck soon afterwards and instantly killed.”

How long did this portion of the battle last? The firing at Pelham’s Corner began around 10 AM and lasted for about an hour. Reynold’s artillery, placed by Wainwright, spent 45 minutes to an hour searching out hidden confederate guns on Prospect Hill and ridge. The first Union infantry advance lasted approximately ten to fifteen minutes before it was arrested and thrown back by Walker and Pelham’s guns, when it crossed to within 800 yards of the confederate gun positions on Prospect Hill. Wainwright’s guns then spent up to thirty minutes battling Walker’s and Pelham’s guns until a limber and caisson blew up. At this point Meade’s division arose and ran forward, crossed the Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac railroad tracks gaining the heights. Here they battled BG James J. Archer’s and BG Maxcy Gregg’s brigades until they were ejected by Early’s division around 2 PM. Meade’s and Gibbon’s divisions were back behind their guns by 2:15 PM.  By 2:30 PM Meade’s shattered division moves back behind the Bowling Green Road to reorganize. Meade and Gibbon reported losses of 3,120 men, most of which occurred during this attack.

The losses to the confederate batteries used by Pelham are difficult to codify. Pelham did not submit a report. The limited data available comes from incomplete accounts by others or includes battery totals that included other actions that day or for the entire campaign. Any losses of guns mean little because the guns were repaired. None were captured. Also, these totals only cover the period following Pelham’s Corner and ending about 2:30 PM.

[Insert S7 – Pelham’s Artillery Loss table]

Tabulation of Losses
S7 – Pelham’s Artillery Losses. Lacking reports from Major John Pelham (*) and MG Jeb Stuart, and incomplete records from other participants, we see there are some losses in artillery batteries managed by Pelham. These do not match the descriptions of the several participants. Artillery pieces noted as losses were repaired to see another day of battle. Most of the wounded returned to duty following recovery. Losses were likely higher, especially amongst the horses.

Artillery did not stop firing at 2:30 PM, rather it continued until well after dark.

I will get to some of these interesting events in my next several blogs. First, however, I will pause with Pelham to look at what happened in BG Abner Doubleday’s area of operation along the Rappahannock River. These set the stage for further Confederate artillery actions.



The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 128 vols. (Washington D.C., 1890-1901. Series 1.

O.R. Vol. XXI, Serial 31, No. 3. Reports of Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, U.S. Army, commanding the Army of the Potomac, of operations November 9, 1862-January 25, 1863, p 91-92 (General Hardie’s dispatches on December 13, 1862).

O.R. Vol. XXI, Serial 31, December 21, 1862, No. 208. Report of Major General John F. Reynolds, U. S. Army, commanding First Army Corps, p 453-4.

O.R. Vol. XXI, Serial 31, December 22, 1862, No. 209. Report of Colonel C. S. Wainwright, First New York Light Artillery, Chief of Artillery, p 458-9.

O.R. Vol. XXI, Serial 31, January 3, 1863, No. 304. Report of Colonel S. Crutchfield, Chief of Artillery, p 638.

O.R. Vol. XXI, Serial 31, December 19, 1862, No. 305. Reports of Colonel J. Thompson, Brown, First Virginia Artillery, p 639.

O.R. Vol. XXI, Serial 31, Map of Artillery locations, p 1126-1127.

Driver, Robert J., Jr., 1st and 2nd Rockbridge Artillery, Lynchburg, H.E. Howard, 1967, Pp 34-36.

Fleming, Vivian Minor, Reminiscences, tss.s in the files of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Fredericksburg, Va.

Nosworthy, Brent, The Bloody Crucible of Courage, New York, Carrol and Graf, p 420.

O’Reilly, Francis Augustín, The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 2003, p 149-165.

Wallace, Lew (Introduction), Contributions to a History of the Richmond Howitzer Battalion, reprint by Butternut and Blue, Baltimore, 2000.


A.A. Blackburn map. The life and campaigns of Major-General J. E. B. Stuart : commander of the cavalry of the Army of northern Virginia : McClellan, H. B. (Henry Brainerd), 1840-1904 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Hunt’s Artillery map. Passages of the Rappahannock and Battle of Fredericksburg, December 10th to 16th, 1862 : copied from the original belonging to Gen’l. Burnside – Copy 1 | Library of Congress (

USGS 1933 Topo map. Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania Battlefield National Monument, Virginia | Library of Congress (

Hotchkiss map. Jedediah Hotchkiss: Mapmaker of the Confederacy – The Unwritten Record (

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Stuart’s Horse Artillery (Part 2) Pelham’s Corner

As I pointed out in my previous blog (click here), neither Major General (MG) James E.B. Stuart nor Major John Pelham, and his two subordinate battery commanders, Captains James Breathed and Mathias W. Henry, submitted reports on the Battle of Fredericksburg. We are therefore dependent upon reports and letters of other participants.

At 10 o’clock on the morning of 13 December 1862, Stuart’s Horse Artillery, led by Major John Pelham, ambushed MG George Gordon Meade’s 3rd Division as it prepared to assault. This audacious act completely disrupted the timetable of the entire Union attack against Lieutenant General (LG) Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s 2nd Corps. John Pelham was a consummate practitioner of aggressive horse artillery employment. If not the first to employ such tactics, he certainly perfected the art of such action.

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