A Great Clash of Sabers: Stuart is Surprised at Brandy Station Itinerary

A 2019 BGES Field University Program

May 4-5, 2019

Robert E. Lee reorganized his army and focused northward. The bittersweet triumph at Chancellorsville cost Lee a Wing Commander: Stonewall Jackson died from pneumonia and Lee reorganized his command into three Corps. The spirited young cavalry Chief, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, returned to the cavalry after his brief stint replacing Jackson, and in keeping with his cavalier reputation, Stuart scheduled a grand review of his division on a flat plain south of Culpeper on June 5. This “Grand Review” was, however, absent one very important “reviewer”–Robert E. Lee–and so Stuart scheduled a second review for the army commander on June 8, after which Stuart received orders to depart on the 9th to screen Lee’s move north. The distracted Stuart, however, missed the movement of Federal cavalry into an attack position, from which at 4:30 AM on the 9th they would strike and nearly destroy Stuart’s reputation, and cavalry command.

As befitting the largest cavalry battle of the Civil War–also distinguished by signaling the inaugural phase of the threshold Gettysburg Campaign–the Battle of Brandy Station played out over a vast battlefield 8 miles long and 8 miles wide. From Kelly’s Ford on the Rappahannock River south to the interior of Culpeper County at Stevensburg, and then west past the hamlet of Brandy Station to Northern Fleetwood Hill, the panorama will play itself out. Come see the battle in all its detail and preserved tactical splendor.


Saturday, May 4, 2019

9:00 AM. Meet us at the headquarters hotel as we depart en route to Beverly’s Ford, where it all began at 4:30 AM on June 9. As this is a detailed tactical study over a wide-ranging area, many actions take place simultaneously and to keep it in order we will zip back and forth. As it was a mounted action, our vans will be our mounts, and you will certainly have some sense of the move to contact points, the turning movements, and the unexpected breakouts of troopers that have been expertly ridden. Conversely, you will see rides of urgency, as key locations must be secured to prevent disaster and the disclosure of Lee’s plans. This wide-ranging day will be enlightening and will leave you ready for the conclusion on Sunday. Lunch is included, but dinner is on your own.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

9:00 AM. Our comprehensive tour today continues as we cover the entire battlefield, in detail. We will visit unique locales on the battlefield unavailable to the general public. We will ascend, for example, Hansbrough’s Ridge near Stevensburg, not only defended by Confederate troopers on June 9, but also which served as the wintering platform for the 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac during the fateful encampment of 1863–1864. We also will journey down to legendary Kelly’s and Beverly’s Fords, the latter of which is on private property. More troops crossed at these two fords throughout the Civil War than any river fords in this country. After Stuart secures his force and averts the disaster, we will jointly assess the battle’s enormous strategic implications not only for Gettysburg, but the remainder of the war. Lunch is included. We will finish by 5:00 PM so you can start on your way home or spend the night and get rolling on Monday.

About the Faculty

Bud Hall is the father of the Save Historic Brandy Station movement. Long known for his relentless and successful efforts to preserve Brandy Station from development in the early 1990s and for his determined support for a consolidated state park incorporating Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain, Bud is nuanced in every element of the engagement at Brandy Station and its ramifications. While large tracks of the battlefield are preserved thanks to Bud’s leadership, you will have access to others that are not open to the public. Bud recently retired from his position as a Principal in the Fairfax Group, after years serving as a primary investigator for the United States Congress in the Iran-Contra Affair and for the FBI. A longtime member of the BGES, we are indeed privileged to enjoy his favor on this tour.

Hotel Information

This program will be based in Culpeper, Virginia, and will start at 9:00 AM on Saturday. This will allow locals to commute if they desire and arrive in time for the start. A headquarters hotel will have a block for Friday and Saturday nights. The hotel is not included in the fee. We will announce the hotel on this website by the end of December.


There is no convenient airport. All will require ground transportation such as a rental car. The following airports are in reasonable range: Washington Reagan (DCA), Washington Dulles (IAD), Richmond International (RIC), and Charlottesville (CHO). Amtrak does service Culpeper, thus a Friday evening arrival would be possible with a taxi to the hotel.

Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program. Amazon.com has a program to support non-profits IF YOU SIGN UP to support Blue and Gray Education Society (EIN 54-1720582) at AmazonSmile. When you sign up there rather than the normal Amazon site, one-half of one percent of your purchase price will be provided to BGES as a donation from Amazon. This will apply not only on this purchase but others you may make at other times.

W.W. Blackford: War Years with Jeb Stuart
Abner Hard: History of the 8th Cavalry Regiment, Illinois Volunteers, During the Great Rebellion
Henry B. McClellan: The Life and Campaigns of Major-General J.E.B. Stuart
Edward P. Tobie: History of the 1st Maine Cavalry
Heros Von Borcke: The Great Cavalry Battle of Brandy Station

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Registration Type

To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: A Great Clash of Sabers: Stuart is Surprised at Brandy Station Itinerary