Battle of Culpeper Court House (September 13, 1863)

Updated: September 27, 2016

The Battle of Culpeper Court House was a cavalry engagement fought in Culpeper County, Virginia on September 13, 1863. The cavalry corps of three divisions of the Union Army of the Potomac defeated the cavalry corps of two divisions of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

Following the Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), Confederate General Robert E. Lee was forced to abandon his invasion of the North and withdraw his Army of Northern Virginia to Virginia. Despite prodding from President Abraham Lincoln, the victorious General George Meade failed to aggressively pursue Lee with the Army of the Potomac. The remainder of the campaign year in the East was dominated by minor skirmishes.

On September 12, 1863, Major General Alfred Pleasonton led the cavalry corps of three divisions of the Union Army of the Potomac from their camp near Warrenton, Virginia and crossed the Rappahannock River. Pleasonton's objective was to attack Confederate Major General J.E.B. Stuart's headquarters at Culpeper Court House, Virginia.

Early the next morning, Pleasonton's troopers forded the Hazel River and drove off scattered Confederate pickets and skirmishers. Advancing on the main Rebel defensive line near Culpeper by early afternoon, Brigadier General H. Judson Kilpatrick ordered a mounted charge by Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer's Michigan Brigade. Custer's men routed the Confederates, capturing more than one hundred prisoners, as well as three artillery pieces. Pleasanton's men then converged on Culpeper Court House in three columns and drove the cavalry corps of two divisions of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia across the Rapidan River. Pleasonton's success enabled the 2nd Corps of the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General Gouverneur K. Warren's to occupy Culpeper Court House that evening. By the next morning the Confederates established a strong new defensive line on the other side of the Rapidan River, which the Federals decided not to assault.

Ohio units that participated in the Battle of Culpeper Court House included;

Cavalry units:

6th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

In October, the Confederates pushed back, briefly reoccupying Culpeper County. However, a decisive Union victory at the Second Battle of Rappahannock Station (November 7 1863) placed the area under Federal control for the remainder of the war.

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MLA Style

"Battle of Culpeper Court House," Ohio Civil War Central, 2022, Ohio Civil War Central. 28 May 2022 <>

APA Style

"Battle of Culpeper Court House." (2022) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved May 28, 2022, from Ohio Civil War Central:

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