Author: Allison E. Herrmann

a graduate student in the department of history at American University in Washington, D.C

Yellow Tavern, Battle of

The Battle of Yellow Tavern was fought on May 11, 1864, at a vital crossroads in Henrico County, only six miles north of the Confederate capital of Richmond during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Part of Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant‘s Overland Campaign in the spring of 1864, the cavalry battle resulted from Philip H. Sheridan‘s quest to track down the famous Confederate trooper J. E. B. Stuart and “whip” him. Stuart, like Robert E. Lee, preferred to be on the offensive and immediately set out after Sheridan, but by the time he caught up with him at an inn called Yellow Tavern, his outnumbered force was hard-ridden and tired. The Confederate cavalry fought hard for a full day, and as Stuart rode up and down the front lines in the driving rain to rally his men, a Michigan sharpshooter shot the general in the side. Fitzhugh Lee then took command, but was forced to withdraw. Stuart died the next day, and Sheridan rode all the way to the outskirts of Richmond, where he eventually joined up with the Union forces of Benjamin F. Butler on the James River. In the end, the battle put to rest notions that the Confederate cavalry was invincible and it claimed the life of one of Lee’s most trusted and flamboyant lieutenants.