“A Painful, but not Dangerous, Wound. . .”

Beverly Kennon Whittle was one of the victims of the General Rosser’s misadventure on Coffman’s Hill. In his diary, Private Whittle recounted his trials after being wounded, and the brief, unheroic record of his experience gives us an idea of the extent of the disintegration of Rosser’s command after the rout. Whittle spent his 19th birthday in a military…

Virginia’s Food Supply

Food tops the list of things that we take for granted. As a result, our attitude toward food serves as a great handicap as we try to understand history. U.S. Grant’s express purpose in the spring of 1864 was to starve the Confederate army into submission. He understood that it might take a year or…

Tom’s Brook Survivor Discovered in Michigan

Last week, I felt positively joyful when a reader offered to share some information about the fight at Tom’s Brook. That sentence is an understatement. What Ron Cleveland shared with me was not mere information but a great, fun, factual detective story directly related to the climax of the battle at Tom’s Brook.  Ron Cleveland…

An Infantryman Listens to the Fight at Tom’s Brook

Some of the more interesting accounts of any battle come from unexpected sources. A researcher focusing on a cavalry battle would logically focus on primary sources written by cavalrymen, but during the fighting at Tom’s Brook, tens of thousands of infantrymen were nearby, and their recollections are just as welcome and sometimes just a valuable.…

R.E. Lee Calls for Investigation into Tom’s Brook

By evening of October 9, 1864, Lt. Gen. Jubal Early knew for certain that his cavalry had been beaten badly that day. Early likely spoke personally with Gen. Lunsford Lomax, whose cavalry division had retreated to near Early’s headquarters at New Market. Even before hearing from his other cavalry commander, Gen. Thomas Rosser, Early dutifully reported…

Rosser the Cavalry Theorist? (part 2)

  In a previous post, I addressed the question of whether Rosser’s abilities as a cavalry commander extended beyond the realm of elementary tactics. I noted that we have some evidence–including Tom’s Brook–that suggests Rosser’s capabilities did not even go so far as a mastery of elementary tactics. I implied that judgment and discretion were…