Battle of Buckland Mills

Battle of Buckland Mills

Date:    October 19, 1863
Result:    Confederate Victory
Troops Engaged:    4,000 US; 8,000 CS
Casualties:    250 US; 30 CS

On the morning of October 19, General J.E.B. Stuart’s divisions held the Town of Buckland using its buildings as cover against the Federals who occupied the heights east of Broad Run. Leaving George A. Custer’s brigade to guard the town and Buckland bridge, Union Generals Davies and Kilpatrick followed Stuart west on the turnpike. When Kilpatrick’s force attacked from the east, Stuart “retreated designedly toward Warrenton” luring the federals down the turnpike and into a trap. Confederate General Lee concealed 5,200 cavalrymen in the woods on the federal left. Lee sounded cannon signals as the rear of Davies’ brigade passed them. Confederates then “came up perpendicular to the pike and cut their column in two,” driving Custer (at the rear of the Federal column) back over the Buckland bridge.

Meanwhile, the front of General Davies’ column had moved west past New Baltimore, where Stuart’s brigades charged the front of the Federal column at the sound of General Lee’s cannon fire, causing General Davies to reverse direction and take a position on a low range of hills between New Baltimore and Buckland to make a stand. Lee’s men combined forces with Stuart’s, attacking furiously the Federal front, flank and rear, driving the remaining US cavalry over Broad Run and north in full retreat.

The battle is often referred to as the “Buckland Races” for, “Hootin’ and hollerin’ all the way, Stuart’s Rebel horsemen chased the fleeing Yankees back to Buckland in an action that resembled a spirited steeplechase rather than a military operation.” In addition to 250 US casualties, half the Federal ambulances, wagons, and ammunitions were seized, Custer’s personal papers were confiscated, and 200 prisoners were marched to the Warrenton jail. Wrote Stuart: “I am justified in declaring the route of the enemy at Buckland the most single and complete that any cavalry has suffered during the war.” The next day, Stuart crossed to the south side of the Rappahannock River, to join the rest of General Robert E. Lee’s force.

As you drive along Lee Highway (old Warrenton Turnpike) in Buckland, you’re following the progression of the Battle of Buckland Mills. From Broad Run to New Baltimore, most of the day’s action occurred along this road.

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