George Custer and Buford’s Knoll at Brandy Station

Buford’s Knoll at Brandy Station.

While preparing for my next work in the Emerging Civil War Series, The Most Desperate Acts of Gallantry: George A. Custer in the Civil War, I came across the photo at right that will appear in the book from the Brandy Station battlefield. This high ground on the farm of Richard Cunningham served as wing commander Brig. Gen. John Buford’s command post for much of the battle. Cavalry corps commander Alfred Pleasonton also observed the fighting from this area. Custer, an aide to Pleasonton was spotted here during the afternoon phase of the engagement.

Daniel Oakey was an officer in the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry, which made up Brig. Gen. Adelbert Ames’ demi-brigade that supported Pleasonton’s horse soldiers. “Having nothing to do as yet but smoke our pipes, we lolled on the grass and studied our cavalry friends”, Oakey recalled. “Custer was the most striking of the group with…his long hair, and spirited manner. He seemed to enjoy the shelling, and appeared to beam all over, almost dancing with excitement.”

When Buford called on the Bay Staters to dislodge elements of Brig. Gen. W.H.F. “Rooney” Lee’s brigade at a stonewall at the knoll’s western base, Oakey wrote that “Custer showed much interest” in accompanying them and “evidently would have enjoyed going with us.” The young officer, however, remained behind with Pleasonton.

Although I’ve used the photo on the blog in the past, I wanted to highlight it here since it will be converted to black and white for the publication.