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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Brandy Station in Culpeper County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Battle of Kelly's Ford

Union Cavalry Comes of Age

 
 
Battle of Kelly's Ford Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 17, 2013
1. Battle of Kelly's Ford Marker
Inscription. On March 17, 1863, Union Gen. William W. Averell led 2,100 horsemen to the northern bank of the Rappahannock River at Kelly's Ford, four miles in front of you, under orders to "rout or destroy" Confederate Gen. Fitzhugh Lee and his cavalry command in their camps at Culpeper Court House.

Pounding through the hail of flying lead, Averell's men advanced about a mile toward his objective before Lee counterattacked near Wheatley's Ford. Dismounted Union troopers hurled back the gray cavalry from behind a stone wall and mortally wounded artillerist John Pelham, one of the Confederacy's most beloved heroes, before re-mounting and chasing the Virginians into the fields in front of you. Here the two lines crashed together several times in a savage melee.

In a swirling brawl punctuated by pistol shots, saber clashes, and cries of "To the death!" the Federals forced their opponents back across Carter's Run, the small stream about 1,200 yards in front of you. With artillery fire arching overhead, Lee desperately rallied his shaken men where you now stand. At this point, after eight hours of hard fighting, Averell chose to withdraw. Although the New Yorker had failed to "rout or destroy" his foe, the Battle of Kelly's Ford proved that the reorganized and refitted Union cavalry was now a combat force to be reckoned with.

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Map on the Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 17, 2013
2. Map on the Marker
The Battle of Kelly's Ford provided Union Gen. Joseph Hooker with valuable intelligence that he would soon use to outflank and gravely threaten Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in the Chancellorsville Campaign.
wish you would put up your sword, leave my state, and go home. You ride a good horse, I ride a better. If you won't go home, returned my visit, and bring me a sack of coffee."
- Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, letter to Gen. William W. Averell after the action at Hartwood Church

"Here's your coffee. Here's your visit. How did you like it? How's that horse?" - Gen. William W. Averell, letter to Gen. Fitzhugh Lee after the Battle of Kelly's Ford
 
Erected 2013 by Virginia Civil Wa Trails and Civil War Trust.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 38° 30.63′ N, 77° 49.28′ W. Marker is near Brandy Station, Virginia, in Culpeper County. Marker is on Newbys Shop Road (Virginia Route 673), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Remington VA 22734, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Battle of Kelly's Ford (here, next to this marker); Fauquier County / Culpeper County (approx. 1.2 miles away); Francis Hume (approx. 1.3 miles away); Rappahannock Station (approx.
John Pelham image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 17, 2013
3. John Pelham
Twenty-four-year old Maj. John Pelham won a sterling reputation commanding Confederate artillery on the battlefields of Antietam and Fredericksburg. He was in Culpeper County courting Elizabeth Shackleford, the daughter of a local judge, when the sound of guns at Kelly's Ford called him to battle. He died in her parlor that night. From Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War (1911)
1.6 miles away); Where Pelham Fell (approx. 1.7 miles away); Major John Pelham, C.S.A. (approx. 2.4 miles away); The Battle of Brandy Station (approx. 2.5 miles away); a different marker also named Battle of Brandy Station (approx. 2.5 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Brandy Station.
 
More about this marker. Although the marker is in Culpeper County, the area where the marker is within the Remington, Virginia zip code area.
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Fighting at Kelly's Ford image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 17, 2013
4. Fighting at Kelly's Ford
Many troopers experienced their first clash of sabers at Kelly's Ford. The two lines met in hand-to-hand combat and broke off quickly, then reformed and charged again. The horrifying effects of saber wounds played a significant role in determining who would give way first. - Courtesy Library of Congress
Battle of Kelly's Ford Interpretive Center image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain
5. Battle of Kelly's Ford Interpretive Center
Fields before Carter's Run image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 17, 2013
6. Fields before Carter's Run
Carter's Run crosses the open fields in the far distance. The last stages of the battle of Kelly's Ford played out across these open fields on March 17, 1863.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 24, 2013, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 723 times since then and 103 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on March 24, 2013, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on April 6, 2013, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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