Some 150 years ago in the Civil War, Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart left Richmond, Va., on June 12, 1862, and began a daring reconnaissance mission on horseback in which his cavalry traced a giant circle around the Union Army of the Potomac.
Stuart's three-day, 150-mile round-trip ride supplied Confederate leadership with key intelligence about the huge Union army of Gen. George B. McClellan, then massed off southeast Virginia in a bid to take the Confederate capital of Richmond.
Stuart had already claimed fame by pursuing and harassing routed Union forces in July 1861 as the federals ran from defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, or Manassas. At the request of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Stuart and some 1,500 riders set out from Richmond on the intelligence-gathering mission that would encircle McClellan's Union forces and lead to the capture of dozens of Union soldiers.
Though not strategically important, Stuart's ride would boost Southern war morale and prove cause for embarrassment for the McClellan. Stuart isn't the only headache for McClellan this week. The Associated Press reports in a dispatch June 14, 1862, that a small group of Confederate troops have struck at Union forces in an area of the Pamunkey River in Virginia -- firing on them and reminding the enemy that they will resist all enemy efforts.
"The rebels burnt two schooners, some wagons, and drove off the mules," AP reported. The dispatch said Confederate shooters also killed two men on a passing train, but the paymaster jumped from the train and hid in the woods all night to evade capture. Despite taking Confederate fire, "the train never stopped," the report added.