In early January 1862, Colonel Wade Hampton, with a small detachment of cavalrymen crossed the Occoquan River, and rode towards Pohick Church looking for a fight. After going only a few miles beyond the church on Telegraph Road, it encountered a small body of Union cavalry that immediately turned towards Alexandria and fled with Hampton and his men in hot pursuit. Hampton was reaching the top hill, a Texas scout dashed out from the left hand side of the road informing him to stop because he was leading his men into a Union ambush at the bottom of the hill. Heeding the warning, Hampton immediately halted and formed the squadron at the top of Potter's Hill.
The enemy stayed concealed hoping that the Confederates were forming to charge them. When the Union troops realized the Confederates were not going to enter their trap they started cursing and shaking their sabers at the Southerners. Then both sides started firing at each other with the Union troops using Sharp's carbines and the Confederates using pistols. The Union sharpshooters shot one of Hampton's men in the face and one or two others were slightly wounded, including several horses. Hampton then decided to retreat back across the Occoquan.
The scout that warned Colonel Hampton was none other than John Burke, who was known as "the spy with the glass
eye!" If it had not been for Burke's timely warning, many Confederates, including Hampton himself may have lost their lives that day at Potter's Hill. Hampton would go on to obtain the rank of lieutenant general and after the war he would be elected governor of South Carolina.