The Battle Concludes: Buford's Flanking Movement & Stuart's Withdrawal

The Battle Concludes: Buford's Flanking Movement & Stuart's Withdrawal (HM2HHQ)

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N 38° 58.084', W 77° 45.82'

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Battle of Middleburg/Mt. Defiance

Under pressure to drive the Southern cavalry through Ashby's Gap and thereby locate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, Union General Alfred Pleasonton had determined to attack on June 19th along two fronts. General David Gregg's division confronted J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry west of Middleburg along the Ashby's Gap Turnpike here at Mount Defiance. General John Buford's division, meanwhile, would swing around Middleburg in an effort to outflank Stuart's position and reach Snicker's Gap to the northwest, where today's Virginia Route 7 crosses the Blue Ridge. At this time, across the mountain, Lee's forces were streaming north through Berryville, reached through that gap. To accomplish the task before him, Buford split his division, sending one brigade to Middleburg and then north and northwest toward the tiny village crossroads of Pot House (off to your right, three miles north of here), while the remainder moved from Aldie (east of us) northwest along the Snickersville Turnpike, past the site of the June 17th Aldie bloodbath, continuing along back roads to Pot House.

Buford's wing, facing Confederate skirmishers at Benton's Bridge over Goose Creek a mile beyond Middleburg, fought successfully, left defenses at the bridge, then pressed on along the narrow sunken roads. As the day progressed, Buford's brigades converged

on Pot House as planned, three miles north of Mt. Defiance. But here, Buford began to encounter elements of Col. Thomas Rosser's 5th Virginia Cavalry, as well as the 7th Virginia Cavalry coming east from the village of Union (today's Unison). Rosser was ordered not to bring on a full engagement, so he made a series of "spoiling attacks," pinning Buford to the small crossroads and hindering further movement west toward Snickers Gap in the Blue Ridge—his goal. Fighting continued around Pot House into the evening.

But at the same time, the sounds of battle from here at Mt. Defiance echoed across the rolling hills and forced Buford to a decision. He chose to send a part of his force south to Mt. Defiance to assist Gregg. The Reserve Brigade he sent included the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th U.S. Cavalry, units of the Regularly Army. Heading south, they splashed across Goose Creek at tiny Millville then continued along Kirk's Branch Road towards the Ashby's Gap Turnpike, in our right distance 3/8 mile away.

In the meantime, J.E.B. Stuart's forces abandoned their position at Mount Defiance and were being reposted along the north-south ridge immediately west of us. As Buford's men came south, Stuart became aware of this new Union threat coming towards his left flank along the road from Millville. Soon, cavalrymen from both sides were charging toward each

other, meeting in a field a half-mile north of the turnpike to your right in the distance. The race ended in a draw when the two sides confronted each other behind two stone walls along the crest of a prominent knoll in the field. After trading several desultory volleys, a building thunderstorm from the heat of that steamy day struck. Federal and Confederate cavalry alike were forced to settle in for "a very cold and rainy night."

It would continue to rain for most of the next day, June 20th, hindering significant efforts. But Sunday, June 21st would bring continued Federal probes, with fierce fighting all around Upperville to the west. It would be the concluding day of the Aldie-Middleburg-Upperville cavalry campaign.

General John Buford Library of Congress
The Road to Millville Courtesy of Richard Gillespie
Battle Knoll map
Year Placed2019
Placed ByNOVA Parks
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, June 3rd, 2019 at 11:01am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 260562 N 4316866
Decimal Degrees38.96806667, -77.76366667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 58.084', W 77° 45.82'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 58' 5.0400000000002" N, 77° 45' 49.2" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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