Picket Duty in King George, Christmas Day 1862

The 8th Illinois Cavalry relieved the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry from picket duty in King George County on Christmas Day 1862.  Leaving their camps in Stafford County, the men headed south and east along present-day Route 3 into King George County.  Stafford County was desolate, stark and war-ravaged; fences had disappeared, forests denuded and farms abandoned. …

Picket Duty on the Rappahannock River

Writing after the war, Bvt. Col. Benjamin Crowninshield, 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, explained the vital importance of outpost, vidette or picket duty.  “On the skill and fidelity of cavalry depends the safety of the army.”  Cavalry, Crowninshield continued, “is constantly employed…in the hardest and most inglorious service in the world, outpost and vidette duty, – where…

Willow Hill

King George County saw several skirmishes but no great battles during the Civil War.  Still, the long tenure of the two great armies along the Rappahannock River in 1862 and 1863 insured a military presence in the county.  Southern soldiers crossed the Rappahannock River routinely seeking food and forage from the farms in the county. …

Col. Benjamin ‘Grimes’ Davis at Barbee’s Cross Roads

Col. Benjamin Franklin ‘Grimes’ Davis, 8th New York Cavalry, remains an intriguing figure, largely because he is so elusive.  A Regular Army officer, Davis’s rigid adherence to strict discipline put him at odds with the volunteers who served under him.  One perpetually disgruntled surgeon termed him “a proud tyrannical devil.”  Upon learning that Davis had…