The Raid Continues (March 2, 1864)

As Judson Kilpatrick and Ulric Dahlgren make their move on Richmond, the Army of the Potomac waits anxiously for news. Kilpatrick did not allow George Armstrong Custer on his raid, “no doubt a punishment for past insubordination,” as Kilpatrick biographer Samuel J. Martin speculates. Instead, Custer makes a diversionary attack.

George Armstrong Custer (Library of Congress).

George Armstrong Custer (Library of Congress).

We have all been in a state of excitement about our recent cavalry raids. On the 28th, I moved the Sixth Corps and part of the Third to Madison Court House, threatening the enemy’s left flank. At the same time Custer, with fifteen hundred cavalry and two pieces of artillery, was sent to Charlottesville to try and cut the Gordonsville and Lynchburg Railroad near that place, where there is an important bridge over the Ravenna River. Custer got within two miles of the bridge, but found it too strongly guarded. He, however, skirmished with the enemy, destroyed and captured a great deal of property, took fifty prisoners, and on his return cut his way through a large cavalry force, commanded by Jeb. Stuart, that had been sent to cut him off, thus being quite successful. In the meantime, while the enemy’s attention was fully occupied with Custer, and they were under the impression I was moving in that direction, Kilpatrick, with four thousand cavalry and six guns, at night crossed the Rapidan on our left and pushed straight for Richmond. He fortunately captured the picket on the Rapidan, thus preventing early intelligence of his movement being communicated. He left Sunday night, and the last we have heard of him was Monday afternoon, when he was within thirty miles of Richmond. Of course you can imagine our anxiety to know his fate. If he finds Richmond no better guarded than our information says it is, he will have a great chance of getting in and liberating all the prisoners, which is the great object of the movement. God grant he may, for their sakes and his.

I suppose you have seen by the papers that I have been confirmed as a brigadier general in the regular army.

Meade’s correspondence taken from The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Major-General United States Army, Vol. 2, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), pp. 168-9. Available via Google Books.

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