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.

October 12, 2013

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

October 12— This morning General Stuart’s and Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry started on a flank movement up the Rappahannock and around through Warrenton. The first section of our battery, with about two hundred cavalrymen of the Fifth Virginia Regiment under Colonel Rosser, were ordered to the Barbour house to serve and play as a sort of feint to detain, try, and deceive, and hold the Yankee cavalry in our front and on this side of the Rappahannock as long as possible, and until they get ready to look for General Stuart in their rear.

Our ruse business at the Barbour house played very well until about three o’clock this afternoon, when the Yanks discovered the hollowness of our pretensions and advanced on us in force and cleaned us off of the hill in short order and in double-quick style.

When they first came in range of our guns we fired some three or four rounds at them, but they meant business and refused to be checked by a few shell, but threw their heads down into the notch of stubborn determination and came on. We limbered up and left the hill in double-quick time and for about two miles we fell back about as fast as horse artillery can travel under extraordinary and emergent circumstances with a rear pressure under full steam.

After we had retired about two miles we unlimbered our guns and fired a few shell into a railroad cut through which the pursuing Yankee horsemen were approaching, but they saw how few men we had to oppose them and still refused to be checked by a few shell, but maneuveringly advanced on our position and compelled us to renew our retiring schedule, running about on the same time as we did before.

When we arrived within about two miles of Culpeper Court House in our precipitate retreat, we were reinforced by Colonel Young, of Georgia, with a regiment of cavalry and five pieces of artillery. Colonel Young is a doughty and courteous commander and a valiant and gallant fighter. When we arrived at his position he had his artillery in battery and his cavalry in line ready for action. As we were nearing his line, which was drawn up along the crest of a low ridge, we passed through a strong line of dismounted sharpshooters that were posted and rather concealed along a row of cedar bushes that extended across the field at right angles to the road, and about three hundred yards in advance of his artillery.

As we passed through the line of sharpshooters I heard some of the men exclaim: “Let the Yanks come; we are ready for them.” It was but a few moments after we passed the waiting line of riflemen until the Yankee cavalry that pursued us some five or six miles came in sight, and soon afterwards in range of the sharpshooters’ rifles, who opened a steady fire on the van of the approaching enemy. The fire at first was slow, but like the big drops of rain that skirmish for an approaching thunder-storm, merge into the incessant roar of the descending shower, so the slow fire of the sharpshooters soon changed into the roll of a young battle, with booming cannon on both sides. The enemy put one or two batteries in position and opened a rapid fire on our line, to which we quickly replied with seven guns, and for a while the artillery fire was fierce and the roar of the guns almost drowned the sharp crash of small arms. Colonel Young’s men fought well, and gallantly withstood the onslaught and repulsed our pursuers at last.

At dusk the Yankee fire began to slacken, and soon after ceased altogether, and the foe fell back toward the Rappahannock. We remained on the field in position about an hour after the firing ceased, and until everything in front had quieted down to peaceful silence; then we struck out for the Hazel River. We marched until way into the night. Camped to-night at Rickseyville, near the Hazel, about six miles north of Culpeper Court House.

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