5th U.S. Cavalry

“On the 16th of March a cavalry force under the command of General Averill moved up the Rappahannock to the Orange and Alexandria Railway for the purpose of crossing the river at Kell’s Ford and marching in the direction of Culpeper, where a strong force of the enemy’s cavalry were assembled under the command of General Fitzhugh Lee.  The column arrived at the ford on the morning of the 17th, and after a sharp skirmish, overwhelmed the enemy’s pickets, effected a crossing, and then moved in the direction of Culpeper Court-House, and about one mile from the ford a stubborn and desperate combat ensued, and during a struggle of four hours’ duration the enemy was driven back about six miles.  General Averill, finding that his ammunition was about exhausted, then withdrew his troops and recrossed the ford at dark, the enemy following him with some slight demonstrations.

“This was the first cavalry engagement of the war in which a division was engaged on each side.  The National forces consisted of seven volunteer regiments, the Sixth New York battery, and detachments from the regular cavalry which included three squadrons (C, E, G, H, I and K) of the regiment under Lieutenant Leib.  The enemy’s forces consisted of five regiments of cavalry and a battery.

“At the second attempt of the enemy to rally, the regiment seized the opportunity and made a brilliant charge which forced them into a rapid retreat and won the commendation of General Averill.  The National loss was eighty-four killed, wounded, and missing.  The enemy’s loss was one hundred and thirty-three.  A large number of horses were killed and wounded on each side.”

 Source:  Price, George F.  Across the Continent With the Fifth Cavalry.  New York: Antiquarian Press Ltd, 1959.  Pages 114-115.


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