Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

June 5, 2013

Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

June 5 — General J. E. B. Stuart had a grand review to-day of all the cavalry and horse artillery belonging to his corps. Early this morning we started to the field where the troops were to be reviewed by passing by the eagle eye of their great commander. The place where the review was held is a beautiful and nearly level plain about four miles northeast of Culpeper Court House and little over a mile southwest of Brandy Station, and on the west side of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.

When we arrived on the field some of the cavalry regiments were already forming in dress parade order, for the review procession. At about ten o’clock the whole column, which was about two miles long, was ready and in splendid trim to pass in review before its illustrious and gallant chief and his brilliant staff.

As soon as the whole line was formed General Stuart and his staff dashed on the field. He was superbly mounted. The trappings on his proud, prancing horse all looked bright and new, and his side-arms gleamed in the morning sun like burnished silver. A long black ostrich feather plume waved gracefully from a black slouch hat cocked up on one side, and was held with a golden clasp which also stayed the plume. Before the procession started General Stuart and staff rode along the front of the line from one end to the other. He is the prettiest and most graceful rider I ever saw. When he dashed past us I could not help but notice with what natural ease and comely elegance he sat his steed as it bounded over the field, and his every motion in the saddle was in such strict accord with the movements of his horse that he and his horse appeared to be but one and the same machine. Immediately after General Stuart and staff had passed along the front of the whole line he galloped to a little knoll in the southeast edge of the field near the railroad, wheeled his horse to a front face to the field, and sat there like a gallant knight errant, under his waving plume, presenting in veritable truth every characteristic of a chivalric cavalier of the first order. He was then ready for the review, and the whole cavalcade began to move and pass in review before the steady, martial, and scrutinizing gaze of the great cavalry chieftain of America.

I do not pretend to know or guess at the number of men in line, but there were thousands, and it was by far the largest body of cavalry that I ever saw on one field.

Sixteen pieces of horse artillery marched at the head of the column, three bands of music were playing nearly all the time while the procession was moving, a flag was fluttering in the breeze from every regiment, and the whole army was one grand magnificent pageant, inspiring enough to make even an old woman feel fightish.

After the whole cavalcade passed the review station, at a quick walk, the column divided up into divisions, brigades, and regiments, which maneuvered all over the field. The last and most inspiring and impressive act in the scene was a sham battle, the cavalry charging several times with drawn sabers and the horse artillery firing from four or five different positions on the field. I fired ten rounds from my gun.

Hundreds of ladies from Culpeper Court House and surrounding country stood in bunches on the hills and knolls around the field, looking at the grand military display.

A special train from Richmond stood on the track just in rear of the review stand, crowded with people, and judging from the fluttering ribbons at the car windows the most of the occupants were ladies. General Hood’s division of infantry was drawn up on the north side of the field, viewing the cavalry display, and also for a support in case the Yanks would have attempted to take a hand in the show. There is a heavy force of Yankees camped on the north bank of the Rappahannock only about five miles from the review field.

By about four o’clock this evening the whole affair was over and the troops withdrew from the field and repaired to their respective camps. We were assigned to-day to Beckham’s battalion of horse artillery, and we camped with it this evening. This is the first time since we have been in service that we have been assigned to a battalion of artillery. Heretofore our battery always operated and camped independent of any other artillery. Camped one mile south of Brandy Station.

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