Sunday, December 20, 2009

Friendly Fire

Two small winter patrols encountered each other at a crossroad on December 20th 1861 and the Battle of Dranesville took place.

Union Brigadier General Edward Otho Cresap Ord arrived at the village of Dranesville, Virginia at about noon at the intersection of the Georgetown Pike and Leesburg Pike. They ran into a troop of Confederate Brigadier General JEB Stuart’s advanced cavalry, and quickly drove them off. Ord continued west down the Leesburg Pike. Stuart arrived shortly with the main body of his troops, approaching Dranesville from the south, running into the rear of the Union troops.

The Union infantry wheeled around to meet the Confederates, forming a line on the North side of the Leesburg Pike. Stuart deployed his infantry and artillery about 300 yards south of the Union troops. As the Confederates were forming the 6th South Carolina mistook the 1st Kentucky for Union troops and opened fire, which the was returned, causing a lot of deaths by friendly fire. An artillery duel began, but the Union had better position and quickly took out the Confederate guns. The two sides skirmished for two hours. Once Stuart was sure his supply wagons were safely away, he ordered a withdrawal. Ord pursued the Confederates for about a mile before breaking off and returning to Langley, Virginia.

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