Yet, even as the county's men joined the war, geography and circumstance insured that Culpeper itself would be a focal point for military action. Geographically, it sat midway between and slightly to the west of Richmond and Washington, D.C., and railroads linked it to both national capitals. The Orange and Alexandria ran northward from the county seat of Culpeper Court House to Alexandria; the Virginia Central connected the county to Richmond via Gordonsville. In addition, the Rappahannock River formed the county's northern boundary, and Culpeper marked the first point on the river where an invading Union force could ford the Rappahannock during most of the year. Outside of the Shenandoah Valley, it was one of the best invasion routes in the state.
Lee launched the Gettysburg Campaign from Culpeper, though not before his cavalry, under J. E. B. Stuart, faced off against Union troopers at Brandy Station in the largest cavalry battle of the war, in June 1863. Lee returned to Culpeper following Gettysburg, and would have wintered there had not the Union Army of the Potomac pushed him out in September. Lee returned the favor a month later by ousting the Union troops, only to be expelled himself in the Battle of Rappahannock Station (1863).
May 1861 - Camp Henry, a Confederate military training camp and recruit depot, is established at Culpeper Court House.
October 1862 - Confederate general Robert E. Lee occupies Culpeper County following his failed invasion of the North and the bloody stalemate at the Battle of Antietam on September 17.
November 1863–May 1864 - Culpeper County is occupied by the Union Army of the Potomac.
December 22–25, 1864 - The largest of occasional Union raiding parties sweeps through Culpeper County.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Sutherland, D. E. Culpeper County During the Civil War. (2012, May 17). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Culpeper_County_During_the_Civil_War.
- MLA Citation:
Sutherland, Daniel E. "Culpeper County During the Civil War." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 17 May. 2012. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: May 28, 2009 | Last modified: May 17, 2012