New Kent County - Four
Centuries of History
Stuart’s Ride Around the Union Army, June 10 to 16, 1862
General Robert E. Lee’s orders to Stuart were characteristic of
Lee--breathtakingly bold, but tempered with warnings of caution.
"You are desired to make a scout movement to the rear of the enemy now posted
on the Chickahominy, with a view of gaining intelligence of his operations,
communications, etc., and of driving in his foraging parties and securing such
grain, cattle, etc., for ourselves as you can make arrangements to have driven
Lee added: "You will return as soon as the object of your expedition is
accomplished; and you must bear constantly in mind, while endeavoring to execute
the general purpose of your mission, not to hazard unnecessarily your command,
or to attempt what your judgment may not approve; but be content to accomplish
all the good you can, without feeling it necessary to obtain all that might be
Stuart replied "And if I find the way open, it may be that I can ride all the
way around him. Circle his whole army." There is no record of Lee’s reply.
General JEB Stuart left the Confederate lines on June 12, 1862 with 1200 men.
His commanders were Colonel Fitzhugh Lee, Lieutenant Colonel Will Martin, and
Colonel W. H. F. "Rooney" Lee. Rooney Lee was the 25 year old son of General
Robert E. Lee, and the owner of White House on the Pamunkey River where the
Union army had its supply base. James Breathed commanded a section of Stuart’s
Flying Artillery - a twelve-pound howitzer and a six-pound English rifle-piece.
The Union Commander
Brigadier General Phillip St. George Cooke commanded the Federal cavalry on
the Union right and was in camp in Hanover County. Cooke was the father-in-law
of Confederate J. E. B. Stuart and was also the uncle of John Esten Cooke, who
rode with Stuart.
On June 10, 1862 Brig. General J. E. B. Stuart met with General Robert E. Lee
at Confederate Army Headquarters at Dabb’s House in Henrico County where
they discussed the vulnerability of the Union army’s right wing, north of the Chickahominy River.
On June 11, Stuart received his orders for the expedition along with Lee’s
caution not to go beyond those orders.
At 2 am on June 12, Stuart’s men were awakened in their Henrico County camps
at Mordecai Farm (Bryan Park) and at Kilby’s Station.
The column headed west towards Louisa, appearing to all that they were going
to join Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. They then moved north
past Ashland and camped at the Winston
Farm near Taylorsville on the South Anna River in Hanover County.
That evening Stuart and "Rooney" Lee visited Hickory Hill, the home of
Mrs. Lee’s family. Stuart fell asleep in a chair while Rooney Lee talked with
his wife and relatives.
On the morning of Friday, June 13, Stuart called together his field officers
and told them his plan to reconnoiter the Union right. Silently they broke camp
and moved east towards Hanover Courthouse.
Avoiding the Union troops near Old Church, Stuart headed south past
Taliaferro’s Mill and Enon Church.
Near Haw’s Shop, Union scouts charged, fired at the lead column and
veered off. Stuart commanded "Form fours! Draw Saber! Charge!" A few prisoners
were taken but most escaped.
They crossed Totopotomoy Creek with no opposition, but soon found the
Union cavalry ready to defend the road at Linney’s Corner in Hanover
County. Stuart gave the order to charge. At the head of the lead column was
Confederate Captain William Latané, a doctor from Essex County. The troopers
threw themselves against the Federal cavalry under the command of Union Captain
William Royall. Latané wounded Royall with his saber, but Royall fired his
revolver and Captain Latané, hit by 5 bullets, became the only Confederate
killed on the expedition.
Stuart was 14 miles from Hanover Courthouse and had accomplished his goal of
establishing that the Union right was poorly defended. He weighed the option of
returning to Richmond along the same route they had traveled, where the Union
army would be on alert or proceeding forward approaching Richmond south of the Chickahominy River.
Whether the decision to ride around the Union army was made at that time or
whether Stuart had already determined to continue his daring adventure, we may
never know, but ride forward they did, making history and adding to the
reputation of their leader.
At Garlick’s Landing in New Kent County, the Confederates attacked and
burned Union vessels that were unloading supplies.
At Tunstall’s Station, Stuart’s troopers cut telegraph lines, attacked
a train heading towards White House Landing, and attempted to burn the
They rode past St. Peters Church, once the family church of Martha
Washington, the First First Lady.
At Talleysville, they visited Kearney’s Division Hospital,
relieved a sutler of his supply of food and drink at Baltimore Store, and
halted to give time for the rest of the command to catch up.
The order was given to move out at midnight. Stuart and many of his troopers
slept in the saddle; prisoners rode two to a mule; and the road glowed
white in the moonlight. The Union cavalry was still two hours behind at
The column passed Olivet Church, and at first light on June 14 arrived
at Christian’s Ford on the Chickahominy River. The high water that had
plagued both armies throughout the Peninsula Campaign could not be crossed, and
another route had to be found.
A mile down river at Providence Forge, the bridge had been destroyed,
but the stone abutments were still intact. The raiders rebuilt the bridge with
wood from a nearby barn and the troopers crossed just ahead of the arrival of
Now in Charles City County they rested for two hours at Green Oak, the
home of Thomas Christian, then rode to Woodburn, Judge Isaac Christian’s
plantation near Charles City Court House, and stopped for coffee at Rowland’s
Mill (now Edgewood). They continued to Col. J. M. Wilcox’s home of Buckland.
The Union cavalry was no longer a threat, but Stuart’s command was not out of
danger. As they rode towards Richmond, the troopers could see the masts of Union
vessels on the James River.
On the morning
of June 15 Stuart left the column under the command of Col. Fitz Lee and rode
ahead to report to Robert E. Lee. The rest of the Confederate troopers entered Richmond on
For more information
Dabb’s House Museum
New Kent County Tourism
New Kent County Community Site
Charles City County History
Hanover County Historical Society
Civil War Trails
of Stuart's Ride
E. B. Stuart
Rides: White House Landing and Peninsula Campaign
from White House Landing
New Kent Home Page
New Kent History Page
Indians - Virginia's First People
Captain John Smith Capture and Travels 1607-08
Washington Rochambeau Route to Victory 1781 Driving
Lafayette and Cornwallis 1781 Driving
James Lafayette - Spy of the American Revolution
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington - First First Lady of the United States
Letitia Christian Tyler - First Lady
JEB Stuart’s Ride Around the Union Army 1862 Driving
Green v School Board of New Kent County 1968
Stran L. Trout