Confederate Line of Defense at St. James Church
Several hundred yards behind you, in the copse of trees, is the site of the St. James Church. Union soldiers tore down the small brick structure for materials to make their quarters during the winter of 1863-1864, when the Army of the Potomac wintered in Culpeper County.
Six months earlier, on June 9, 1863, the woods, meadows, and country roads here saw major fighting during the Battle of Brandy Station. By 8 a.m. on that date, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart had formed a solid defensive line along the St. James Road, facing north.
On the narrow plateau to your right, he positioned 16 pieces of artillery, covering both the field in front of you and the Beverly Ford Road. Aligned along the St. James Road and Green's Mill Road, on your left, was Gen. William E. "Grumble" Jones' brigade of Virginia horsemen. In the distant right, Gen. Wade Hampton's brigade of North and South Carolinians, Georgians, and Mississippians held the line towards the Rappahannock.
Some of the cavalry fought mounted, some dismounted with carbines and pistols, and others dispersed as skirmishers. Stuart's 5,000-man force was evenly matched by Brig. Gen. John Buford's Federals. Fighting along this line - sometimes intense with dramatic charges, sometimes sporadic - consumed the morning of June 9, 1863.
In the early afternoon, the Federals seized this position after the Confederates abandoned it to face another threat. Brig. Gen. David M. Gregg's Union division had had finally pounded forth from the town of Brandy Station and was trying to capture Fleetwood Hill, the highest ground on the battlefield and original location of Stuart's headquarters. If Gregg succeeded, Stuart would be surrounded..
Help Preserve Battlefields · call CWPT at 1-888-606-1400 · www.civilwar.org · The Hallowell Foundation generously contributed toward the interpretation of this site in memory of Carrington Williams.This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinion, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.