New Kent County - Four Centuries of History 

JEB Stuart’s Ride Around the Union Army, June 10 to 16, 1862

  Driving Tour

The Mission

Stuart's Ride Map

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 in."

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 desired."

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.

The Expedition

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 station.

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 Tunstall’s Station.

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 Union cavalry.

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 the 16th.

For more information

Richmond Discoveries
www.richmonddiscoveries.com 

Dabb’s House Museum
www.co.henrico.va.us/rec/recreation-centers-facilities/dabbs-house-museum.html

New Kent County Tourism
www.visitnewkent.com

New Kent County Community Site
www.newkent.net 

Charles City County History
www.charlescity.org

Hanover County Historical Society
www.hanoverhistorical.org

Civil War Trails
www.civilwartrails.org

  

Maps of Stuart's Ride
J. E. B. Stuart

Staff Rides: White House Landing and Peninsula Campaign
 

 


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