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…

A Question for Readers

The 1st Maine Cavalry’s Committee on History adopted a policy “that no unpleasant thing should appear relating to the personal record of any comrade,” in the regimental history prepared by Edward Tobie.  Other regimental historians may have followed suit, though I am not aware of another history in which this intention is so clearly stated.  Noble…