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150 Years Ago Today: The First Battle of Ream’s Station: June 29, 1864

The First Battle of Ream’s Station: June 29, 1864:

The Confederates Nearly Surround Wilson and Kautz

Brief Summary: The Wilson-Kautz Rsaid had kicked off on June 22, with the Southside and Richmond & Danville lines as the targets.  But the Yankee raiders met a setback at Staunton River Bridge on June 25, and by June 29 the Confederates had nearly surrounded them near Reams’ Station.  Wilson and Kautz were in a tight spot.

Vicinity Of Reams Station (OR XL, Part 1, Page 632)

Vicinity of Reams Station, Virginia




Confederate infantry led by William Mahone blocked the roads leading north to Petersburg and east to Ream’s Station.  Rebel Cavarly under Fitz Lee blocked the Yankee left.  And Wade Hampton, pursuing the raiders for some time, had finally caught up in Wilson’s rear.  There was no way to take the direct route home, so Wilson sent a small group to penetrate the Confederate lines and get a message back to Meade and Grant that infantry help was needed.  In the ensuing choes, Kautz managed to sneak through the Confederate lines with the loss of all of his artillery, while Wilson was forced to go around, heading south before moving east and back north to the Union lines.  Kautz made it back on June 30, while Wilson’s longer route delayed him by one more day.

Union Position Near Reams Station: June 29, 1864 (OR XL, Part 1, Page 633)

Union Position Near Reams Station: June 29, 1864 (OR XL, Part 1, Page 633)




Was the raid a success?  On the plus side for the Federals, they tore up miles of track and did delay two vital supply lines from working properly for some period of time.  On the negative, they had failed to reach and destroy the Staunton River Bridge, just barely.  In addition, both Yankee cavalry divisions were badly handled at Ream’s Station and were out of commission for awhile.  So the question becomes, “was the damage done to the Confederate supply lines worth the mauling of two Union cavalry divisions?”, and the answer isn’t really a strong yes or no either way.  What had started with such promise ended badly at Ream’s Station on June 29, 1864.

Note: As you will see in the links below, one big theme of the Richmond and Petersburg papers during and after the raid is the glee with which they recounted Union cavalrymen being found with all sorts of nonessential items like women’s dresses, silverware, and the like.

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