The Civil War, Day by Day

The Charge at Trevilian Station


The Charge at Trevilian Station

Born into a distinguished South Carolina family and descended from Revolutionary War patriots, Hampton organized a cavalry force, Hampton’s Legion, and outfitted them at his own expense. He rose to brigadier quickly, was wounded at First Manassas, Seven Pines and Gettysburg, and was promoted to major general in August of 1863.

A year later, after the death of Stuart, Hampton was given command of the Army of Northern Virginia’s cavalry corps. Almost immediately, he engaged the army. In early June of 1864, General Philip Sheridan led 6,000 Federal cavalrymen on an expedition to destroy a vital section of the Virginia Central Railroad. Just after daybreak on the morning of June 11th, Hampton and 5,000 Confederate cavalrymen intercepted Sheridan’s force at Trevilian Station in Virginia. A fierce battle erupted in dense woods, forcing the cavalrymen to fight on foot. In the heat of the fight, however, Hampton seized the opportunity to mount a charge against the Federals in a dusty clearing near the railroad.

“Charge them, my brave boys, charge them,” he ordered, and courageously led the attack atop his favorite mount, a big bay named, “Butler.” Around him, the troops in gray and butternut surged toward the enemy through a haze of smoke and dust. Bolstering Hampton’s veterans was a force of newly-arrived South Carolinians that included the Cadet Rangers - Company F of the 6th South Carolina Cavalry - which had been organized at The Citadel. Typically, Hampton led with his saber - then, in hand-to-hand combat, switched to his revolver. Saddles were emptied on both sides, and Hampton single-handedly took down three adversaries.

The battle shifted to other fields and continued the next day. It was finally decided when a bold Confederate counterattack shattered the Federal line. On June 13th, Sheridan and his troops retreated without destroying the railroad. Hampton had driven back the enemy - and had demonstrated his ability to assume J.E.B. Stuart’s mantle of leadership.





June's Archived Features:

Saturday June 1, 2019
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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.