The Bristoe Campaign – October 13-15, 2011

Thursday, October 13 (7:30 PM) thru Saturday, October 15 (5 PM)
Headquartered in Manassas, VA
Led by J. Michael Miller, Horace Mewborn and Bruce Venter
Registration Fee: $375.00 

Sandwiched between the climactic battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 and the blood-letting of the Overland campaign the following spring, the Bristoe Campaign has been largely overlooked by historians and Civil War enthusiasts alike.

America’s History will remedy this lapse of attention to the Bristoe Campaign by offering two full days exploring the cavalry and infantry maneuvering and fighting between General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac. As Lee sought to take advantage of his opponent and the Federal commander attempted to avoid any operational mistakes, there was a great deal of action in this unheralded operation along the Orange and Alexandria R. R. In the end, the two celebrated armies came to combat near an oft-misspelled railroad depot. The Confederate infantry’s valorous, but failed attack resulted in one of Lee’s most famous admonishments during the war. “Well, well, general, bury these poor men and let us say no more about it,” the Confederate army commander remarked to Lt. Gen. A. P. Hill after his corps commander’s disastrous attack against a well-entrenched Union II Corps under Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren. How and why Hill’s attack failed will be a keynote of this tour.

After a meet-and-greet orientation on Thursday evening, our Bristoe tour will start at Jack’s Shop, an overlooked cavalry battle southeast of Madison Court House. The flamboyant Confederate cavalry commander, Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart was nearly annihilated by Union cavalry under Brig. Gen. John Buford and the always colorful Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick. Recent unpublished research by one of our historian/tour leaders, Horace Mewborn will correct previous interpretations of this fight, including the official Civil War Trails marker. Next it’s on to see Liberty Mills Ford, Stuart’s escape route. Then we will follow the start of the Bristoe campaign as we cross the Robinson River near Russell’s Ford and stop at Bethsaida Church to discuss the action there. From here we’ll go to the often missed site of the battle at James City. You’ll also be able to see Thoroughfare Mountain, a Union signal station that is cited in many official reports. We’ll follow Stuart’s route through Griffensburg, having lunch in historic Culpeper, and then ride to the site of the second battle at Brandy Station on October 10, 1863. Before ending our first day, we’ll stop for the actions at Jeffersonton and Fauquier Sulfur Springs and then back thru historic Warrenton which also played a part in the Bristoe campaign.

On Day Two we’ll drive to Auburn, the site of the battle of Coffee Hill and get a glimpse of Neavel’s Mill (private property.) After Auburn, we’ll make a brief dismount at Stuart’s Bivouac, and then it’s on to the recently saved battlefield of Bristoe Station. Our historian/tour leader, Mike Miller was instrumental in preserving parts of this battlefield and his knowledge of the battlefield is incomparable. We will spend the remainder of the morning walking the field of Hill’s attack, getting a detailed, unit-by-unit lesson on what happened on this site. After lunch, we will walk Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell’s attack across Kettle Run at Bristoe (private property.) for another detailed study of this action. We will complete our day with a stop at Buckland, an infamous cavalry battle subsequent to Bristoe Station where Stuart and Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee turned the tables on Kilpatrick and his subordinate Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer in the so-called “Buckland Races.” With our third historian/tour leader, Bruce Venter’s interest in Yankee cavalry, this stop will surely spark a lively discussion. Before returning to our hotel, we’ll pass Chestnut Ridge, a terrain feature that factored heavily into Stuart’s plan for attacking Kilpatrick’s cavalry. This geographic feature is presently under development, so this may be your last chance to see the terrain before it is obliterated by Mc-mansions.

Registration Fee: $375.00

What’s included: motor coach transportation, two lunches, beverage and snack breaks, a map and materials package, all admissions and gratuities, and the services of three experienced tour guides/historians. Our headquarters hotel will provide a complimentary breakfast buffet each morning. Tour participants are responsible for transportation to the headquarters hotel, and securing a room reservation, if necessary. Dinner is on your own. Tour goes out rain or shine. Please see our policy page for information about cancellations.

Hotel: We have arranged with the headquarters hotel for a group rate of $79.00 per night plus tax. Please call the Marriott Courtyard Manassas, 10701 Battleview Parkway, Manassas, VA 20109 at 800-321-2211 and ask to reserve your room at the America’s History group rate. This rate will be guaranteed up to 30 days prior to the tour, so please make your reservations early.

About our Tour Guides/Historians:

J. Michael Miller is director of the Archives and Special Collections at the Library of the Marine Corps, Quantico, VA. He is the author of several books and articles on the Civil War and United States Marine Corps, including a 2009 article on the two battles at Bristoe Station for Blue & Gray magazine. He is an experienced tour leader and leads staff rides for the Marine Corps.

Horace Mewborn is an experienced tour leader, lecturer and co-authored the 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry Mosby’s Command (1993), edited From Mosby’s Command: Newspaper Letters & Articles by and about John S. Mosby and his Rangers (2005), and has written several feature issues for Blue & Gray magazine including “Stuart’s Ride around McClellan.” He is currently writing a history of the North Carolina cavalry brigade and a regimental history of White’s 35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry.

Bruce M. Venter, CEO of America’s History is an experienced tour leader and lecturer whose special interest is Union cavalry. His articles have appeared in Blue & Gray, Civil War and the Washington Times. He is currently completing a book-length study of the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid on Richmond.

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