The Fight For Fleetwood Hill
American Battlefield Trust's map of the Fight for Fleetwood Hill
At the outset of the Gettysburg Campaign, Gen. Robert E. Lee sought to keep his advance hidden from the Union army. With his forces stationed at Culpeper, Virginia on the verge of turning north into the Shenandoah Valley, Lee ordered his Gen. J.E.B. Stuart to launch a diversionary cavalry raid on June 9, 1863. However, Union cavalry commander Gen. Alfred Pleasonton anticipated the raid and struck Stuart’s men in camp at Brandy Station on the day the Confederate incursion was set to begin with a two-pronged attack
While Gen. John Buford’s troopers engaged Stuart’s surprised Southerners at St. James Church and Yew Ridge, Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg’s Federal horsemen splashed across the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford. It was 11:30 A.M. before Gregg reached Brandy Station, but he was now firmly in the Confederate rear.
Gregg’s path to St. James Church was blocked by Fleetwood Hill, a broad elevation where J.E.B. Stuart had established his headquarters. Union artillery opened on Fleetwood Hill, giving a considerable shock to Stuart, whose main force was entirely committed to the battle in his front. Gregg’s preparatory barrage, however, and gave Stuart time to pull troops back to Fleetwood Hill to meet the first Union charge. Meanwhile, Confederates withdrawing from Yew Ridge were still holding Buford’s tired troopers at bay, allowing Stuart to shuffle more troops to face Gregg. The opposing lines crashed into one another again and again for almost five hours. Finally, hearing reports of incoming Confederate reinforcements, Pleasanton decided to withdraw at 5 P.M. Stuart did not pursue.
Learn More: The Battle of Brandy Station