Thunder in the Valley After Action Report

14 September 2014 in Lexington, VA


The 2nd U.S. Cavalry Company A acquitted itself well in the recent Thunder in the Valley reenactment of Hunter's Raid in and around Lexington, VA. Mentioned in dispatches are Trooper Colaw and Trooper Marci Drewry, who took on the daunting task of coordinating and planning for the event. Also on the merit list are Trooper Frenchie, Corporal Happy, and Jan, who ensured we were fed and handled the myriad logistical details to support a troop of cavalry covering 27 miles in hostile territory then fighting two pitched battles in Lexington.

Photo: Elizabeth Rettig

I must also mention Lieutenant Mark, Sergeant Barry, and Corporals Happy and Moreau, who ably led the unit in the major battles while I tried to herd the rest of the galvanized Federal cats in the same direction. Our stalwart additions from the 1st Tennessee and Maryland rounded out the unit and provided some unique and useful skills. Lastly, I salute all of the troopers - from our most seasoned veterans to some new recruits - who endured the frustrations and discomforts I promised in my pre-ride message with the stoicism and professionalism expected of Regulars. Huzzah!

A brief (I hope) recap of the action follows: 

The unit made camp at about midnight on Wednesday just west of Middlebrook, VA after a trying day of trailer marshaling and shuttling and settled in for a brief rest. Thursday morning we began a pursuit of the Confederate Cavalry towards the hamlet of Brownsburg, catching up with them for a skirmish at Arbor Hill. Anticipating a flank attack, we advanced in two ranks then at the minute split the second rank off screened by a hill to surprise the Confederate flankers as they began their move around our rear. What followed was a sharp engagement and Confederate withdrawal. The rest of this day's thirteen mile ride consisted of a series of rear guard actions and small scale ambushes, to which we responded with a vedette/advance guard combination that allowed the main body to keep its momentum and spared our mounts constant deploying and skirmishing. The day's action ended with a running battle through the streets of Brownsburg, VA and its subsequent capture by the Union forces. The denizens of the town treated both sides to a generous and tasty dinner and an enjoyable concert at our camp in the middle of town.

Friday morning started with another pursuit and morning skirmish just outside Brownsburg. Again, judicious use of two ranks independently bottled the Confederates in a corner of the field and allowed us to hammer at them mercilessly. The fourteen mile ride that followed had little action but ample views of spectacular countryside. We ended the day in camp just outside Lexington, VA and received some replacements for the impending battles.

Saturday and Sunday each pitted thirteen troopers from the 2nd U.S. Cavalry and a composite unit of eleven troopers from the 1st Tennessee, Maryland, and 1st North Carolina Cavalry, eight galvanized infantry, and two galvanized cannon against thirty Confederate Cavalry, eighty Confederate Infantry, and two cannon. Needless to say it was a target rich environment and the defenders of the Union made the enemy pay dearly for every inch of ground by using our mobility and firepower to good effect. Numbers matter, however, and pitting a total of thirty-two Federals against 110 Confederates (eighty of them infantry) on open but artificially restricted ground had predictable results.

The entire event was blessed by mostly fair weather and no serious injuries to man or beast. Again, I appreciate the hard work, attention to detail, and timeliness of everyone in the unit and I look forward to finishing out the season at Gettysburg National Park and Cedar Creek. Expect a letter of instruction on Gettysburg soon, as it is already less than two weeks away.

Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant,
Scott E. Womack
Captain, Commanding
2nd U.S. Cavalry Company A/9th Virginia Cavalry Company D