Berea Church and Falmouth


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First Federal (Union) Occupation

Berea Church and Falmouth

After the skirmish at Aquia Church and Sickle’s antics at Stafford’s Courthouse, Sickles men withdrew from Stafford.  A larger Union force moved from the west towards Falmouth from Germantown, Catlett Station in Fauquier County.  These troops clashed with the Confederate rear guard near Berea Church on the afternoon of April 17th.  According to John Hennessey, chief historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, ” That was not enough for Christopher Augur, commander of the Union troops in the area.  He wanted to get to the crossings of the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg before the Confederates still lingering on the Stafford side of the river could destroy the bridges. To do that, he decided to do something a more experienced commander might not have dared–a nighttime raid into Falmouth.”

“As the soon as the Union army reached Stafford County, citizens inclined toward the Union stepped forth to help. On this evening of April 17, a Connecticut-born local named Horace B. Hewitt–a farmer who owned 152 acres near Hartwood Church–came into the Union camp near Berea Church.   Hewitt had just come from Fredericksburg and had seen that the Confederates had placed a barricade across the Warrenton Road about a mile northwest of Falmouth.  Hewitt promised Augur that he could lead the Union cavalry around the barricade, clearing the way for a dash to capture the Falmouth Bridge before the Confederates could burn it.  Augur accepted Hewitt’s word and his services, and just before midnight ordered parts of the 2d New York Cavalry (Lt. Col. Judson Kilpatrick at the reins) and 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry (Col. George Bayard) to horse. The happily bedizened 14th Brooklyn infantry–with their red pants and kepis–joined in as support, and illuminated by a half moon, the column of 1,500 men and horses started out from Berea.”

“Mr. Hewitt led them not directly down the Warrenton Road, but rather to the north–along what is today Berea Church Road to Truslow Road. Eastward along Truslow the Yankees rode. Just beyond where today Truslow crosses Interstate 95, Hewitt led the column onto a farm road to the right–a now-vanished path that led back to the Warrenton Road (Route 17). Just short of 2 a.m. on April 18, the column struck the Warrenton Road.  Hewitt–and hence Union officers–believed they had passed beyond the Confederate barricade, and so turned left and took up a more urgent pace toward Falmouth.  But Hewitt miscalculated (some Yankees thought he purposely deceived them, but they were surely wrong about that). Just 300 yards east on the Warrenton Road, not far from today’s Arby’s, Uncle’s B’s Soul Food Restaurant, and the “Mad Crab” restaurant, Rooney Lee’s cavalrymen and men of the 55th Virginia had built a barricade of rails and brush across the road, and lay in anxious wait.”

” The Confederates could hear but not see the Yankees coming.  The two companies of the 55th Virginia stood in the field north of the road. Men of the 9th Virginia Cavalry apparently held the barricade itself. As the Union horsemen neared, the Confederates lowered their weapons and fired.  The Yankees recoiled, and then future general George D. Bayard (who would die at Fredericksburg eight months hence) led New York cavalrymen in a charge–one that a Confederate said “was enough to make one’s hair stand on end.”  That charge met the same bloody fate, and the milling crowd of frightened Union horsemen withdrew up the Warrenton Road.  Five Union troopers died; more than a dozen fell wounded. Only one man fell on the Confederate side.”