From Cattlet's Station to the Battles of Battles of Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville.

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Posted by webguy on Monday 17 June 2013

From Cattlet's Station to the Battles of Battles of Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville.

(June 15-22, 1863) At 5:30 AM on June 15, the 22nd Massachusetts again got orders to march on to Bristow Station-- this time, the orders were not countermanded. Parker notes that the land they marched over was part of the old Bull Run battlefield, and that it "...bore all of the unmistakeable evidences of war's destructive hand" (Parker 324). The day was again hot and dusty, with little water to be had. Encamping by 11 PM, the 22nd MVI remained throughout the day of the 16th, awaiting further orders. (See map location B ) June 17 saw the unit again broke camp, moving off to the north and west, past Centreville, and crossing Bull Run Creek. Given the dryness of the past few days, the lads most certainly filled their canteens at Bull Run creek; and Parker shares that after leaving the Bull Run area, the only water the regiment came across was in the form of "slimy mudholes", which, despite their poorness of water, became the site of much activity as the water-deprived men sought to filter out whatever moisture they could from the brown muck. Parker adds that the division is reputed to have suffered the end of seventeen men on this stretch of march to sunstroke, including Colonel Gleason of the 25th New York; and that countless other lads deserted as they passed Centreville and its ruined train junction. The night of the 17th and through the 18th of June, the 22nd MVI camped near Gum Spring (map location C), which was a location that offered-- mercifully-- good water, and pleased the lads despite a strong thunderstorm that must have remained a relief given the hot and dusty marches. On the 19th, the regiment moved out at 3 PM to Aldie, Virginia (see map location D), some five miles to the west, where they were encamped near their friends in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry (who'd complained of rebel cavalry tactics of fighting dismounted behind stone walls) and the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry (who Parker noted were "fearfully cut up") (325). While the 22nd MVI was at Gum Spring, their cavalry friends were engaged in a pair of fights in the Loudoun Valley at Aldie (June 17), and Middleburg (June 17-19). These battles were the result of General Hooker's desire for his own cavalry to punch through Stuart's, gain access to the Shenandoah Valley, and ascertain the location and movements of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia-- A mission which General Alfred Pleasanton had thus far failed to accomplish. On the 21st, the 22nd Mass was called up to support the cavalry as skirmishers near Aldie (see map location E), seizing a ridge and witnessing a cavalry charge that Parker described as "...a grand sight" (326). By 2 PM, the 22nd MVI was again called into line of battle, advancing through Ashby's Gap, past Rector's Crossroads, into Upperville, and finally over Goose Creek bridge, which was the pivot point of the day's fighting. This fight became known as the Battle of Upperville. On June 22, the regiment received a number of conflicting orders in the wee hours, but remained encamped near Aldie, awaiting its next movement.


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