150 years ago this Sunday, June 9, the Gettysburg Campaign started in earnest when shots were fired at the Battle of Brandy Station – the largest cavalry engagement to ever take place in the western hemisphere.
Almost 20,000 horse soldiers (and some Union infantry) clashed in the fields along the Orange and Alexandria railroad, south of the Rappahannock river. While casualties were relatively light as Civil War battles go (less than 1,500 between the two armies), and the engagement basically ended in a draw – with both sides returning to their original positions – it signaled the rise of the Federal cavalry, which up to this point had been easily whipped over and over by the southern forces under J.E.B. Stuart. This role reversal continued all the way up to Gettysburg.
It’s an exciting time of year for Civil War buffs, and with this year being the sesquicentennial, it’s even more so! Stay tuned for more posts as we follow the armies north.