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150 Years Ago Today: Hampton’s Beefsteak Raid: September 17, 1864

September 17, 1864: Beefsteak for the Confederate Army

Note: Here is the best map I could find of Hampton’s Beefsteak Raid.  There are surprisingly few of these out there.

Brief Summary: After an eventful September 16, 1864, Hampton had a relatively easy time on September 17, the last day of his beefsteak raid.  On this day 150 years ago, Hampton’s men shepherded almost 2,500 stolen Yankee cattle back into Confederate lines southwest of Petersburg.  The Federals failed to mount a concerted, or even determined, pursuit.


At the cost of just over 60 casualties all told, Hampton had captured hundreds of Yankee troopers, embarrassed the Federal high command, and most importantly, had secured 2,468 cattle for the nearly starving Confederates in Lee’s trenches.

Meade had feared just such as attack when two of his cavalry divisions had been sent with Phil Sheridan to the Shenandoah Valley.  Gregg’s remaining division from the Army of the Potomac as well as Kautz’s understrength division from the Army of the James simply could not hold all of the key points they needed to in enough force to dissuade the Confederates from just such an attack.

Despite Confederate post-war claims of the herd feeding Lee’s army “for two months” or “to the end of the campaign,” in reality they only provided rations for several weeks.  Lee’s supply issues were too great for the raid to make a major, game changing difference.  It was one of the last hurrahs for the proud Army of Northern Virginia.

Meanwhile, Grant was already planning to tighten the noose around Petersburg and Richmond even more at the end of the month…

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