One-tank road trip: Brandy Station battlefield
The Graffiti House at Brandy Station, Virginia, serves as the visitors center for the battlefield.
The Battle of Brandy Station is regarded as the first significant clash of what became the Gettysburg Campaign. Fought June 9, 1863, near Culpeper Courthouse, Virginia, Union cavalry attacked elements of J.E.B. Stuart’s Confederate cavalry and drove them back to an area near a small country church, St. James Church. More and more troops were funneled into the escalating conflict, and fighting swirled on the broad heights known as Fleetwood Hill. By the time the battle ended, Stuart and the Yankees has essentially fought to a draw. More importantly, the aura of invincibility that had surrounded Stuart’s cavaliers had suffered a severe blow, as the vastly improved Federal horsemen proved to be a better match in 1863 than in previous years.
Here are some photos I took of the modern battlefield.
Several acres of the old battlefield have been preserved and interpreted near the site of the wartime St. James Church (off of State Route 676, St. James Church Road. There is a nice walking trail with a handful of wayside markers explaining what happened in the vicinity during the fighting. Brandy Station Battlefield Park contains only a small portion of the battlefield, but at least it preserves one of the important sectors of the fighting.
There is a small parking area in the St. James sector. Confederate guns near the church contested the Yankee advance.
Fleetwood Hill became the scene of mass confusion and hand-to-hand fighting as various Union and Rebel units swept across the hill, temporarily taking possession until they in turn were driven off by fresh enemy troopers.
Brandy Station battlefield is just off of US Route 15 / 29 a few miles from Culpeper. After turning onto State Route 685, Fleetwood Heights Road, there are two wayside markers on the right side on a small knoll (they are easy to miss and drive by, and parking is on the grass).
Here is the other marker on the small hill.
The old Fleetwood Church is now decaying and showing its age.