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Battle of Dranesville
Civil War Encyclopedia >> Battles
December 20, 1861 Battle of Dranesville Virginia
  J. E. B. Stuart
  Edward O. C. Ord
  Samuel Garland


Brigadier General George Meade moved northeast from the Union Army perimeter around Washington D. C. on December 6, 1861 with his brigade from the Pennsylvania Reserves to arrest the sons of a Southern sympathizer for murder and to secure from their farm all forage available. Supporting Meade to the east was General Edward O. C. Ord. Upon returning on December 19, Meade reported to George McCall that Confederate foragers would be in Dranesville on December 20.

The reports of foragers coming to this small farm community about 16 miles from Washington D. C. on the Alexandria-Leesburg Pike (now known as the Leesburg Pike) had McCall dispatching Ord on the morning of December 20 with a reinforced brigade. He told Ord
The object of the expedition is two-fold. In the first place, to drive back the enemy's pickets, which have advanced within four or five miles of our lines, and have carried off two good Union men and threatened others; and secondly, to procure a supply or forage


With a cavalry screen and skirmishers, Ord advanced on Dranesville on a chilly morning. Union cavalry scouts spotted Confederate cavalry south of the Leesburg Pike and smoke rose from the direction of Centerville, so Ord asked for support. With George McClellan's permission, McCall pushed his division forward in case of a major attack as Ord began moving his own men towards the Rebel line.

J. E. B. Stuart had a combined force totaling some 3,000 men including cavalry, artillery and infantry searching for food. The fact that he was fairly new to command did not deter an aggressive move against Ord, both to take advantage of Ord's position away from the Washington perimeter and to protect his wagon train and forages. The Confederate commander decided to take a key intersection on the Leesburg Pike and attempt to cut communication with Ord's main force. Stuart ordered Brigadier General Samuel Garland and his Eleventh Virginia forward. With artillery support, the Rebel force was substantial.

Ord quickly brought up his four pieces of artillery and had them return the Rebel fire. Stuart pushed his infantry forward towards a house between the two armies but Ord realized what was happening and ordered his own men forward to take the farmhouse. Ord's men reached the house first, took a position and immediately began to reinforce it against a Confederate attack.

Stuart could see reinforcements on the way to support Ord's men. Without support for himself, Stuart was forced to call off the Rebel attack on Ord's men. Stuart left a rear guard to give himself enough time to be certain his wagon train was safe. Ord pursued Stuart for about .5 miles, then called his men back.

Dranesville, Virginia




Links appearing on this page:

Edward O. C. Ord
George McClellan
George Meade
J. E. B. Stuart
Samuel Garland
Washington D. C.

Civil War Encyclopedia >> Battles

Battle of Dranesville was last changed on - December 22, 2007
Battle of Dranesville was added on - December 20, 2007





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