The Battle of Brandy Station actually occurred in several locations, miles apart. A mile in front of you is Hansborough Ridge. Late in the morning of June 9, 1863, a division of the Union Cavalry under Col. Alfred Duffie approached the ridge from the south along what is now Route 3. Duffie's 2nd Division of the Army of the Potomac's Cavalry Corps, about 3000 men and 6 cannon, was part of a larger force that had crossed the Rappahannock River earlier that morning at Kelly's ford. Other Union troops led by Brig. Gen. John Buford had crossed at Beverly ford, further upstream.Duffie was ordered to reconnoiter Stevensburg and Germanna Plank Road (now Route 3) for evidence of Confederate Infantry. He was then to join the other Union columns at Brandy Station, five miles away, before a joint advance of the Confederate Cavalry reported to be at Culpeper Court House.In attempting to cross Hansborough Ridge, the Federals were confronted by 200 troops of the 2nd South Carolina Cavalry under Col. Mathew C. Butler. Duffie hesitated. Finally, the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry charged, whether they simply lost patience or were ordered forward is unclear. They hurled themselves down the road and smashed into Butler's thin line of men, most of whom fought dismounted. The Federals plowed through the gap and hit the 4th Virginia Cavalry while
these Confederates were still deploying. The greatly outnumbered Confederates then made a dash for the Norman's Mill ford, crossing over to the north side of Mt. Run where the lone cannon of the 4th Virginia Cavalry was placed guarding the 2 horse wide ford. This ford was the only place where horses could cross Mt. Run.Since Duffie could not follow across the stream, the Confederates enjoyed their first "breathing spell" of the morning and immediately started organizing their defense, using Mt. Run as a natural barrier.Hansborough Ridge was the site of the 2nd Corps and 2nd Cavalry Division, Army of the Potomac, winter camps during the winter of 1863-1864.The hill at the far left is Signal Hill, used as a signal station throughout the war.