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Confederate Scout Will Farley: A Day in the Life of a Scout

22 April 2014 No Comment

In early November of 1862, following the bloodletting at Sharpsburg, the Confederate Army crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains and moved eastward to the defense of Fredericksburg. The cavalry had a running battle with the enemy on nearly a daily basis. General J. E. B. Stuart CSA moved his men south of the Rappahannock River into the safety of Culpeper County at Waterloo Bridge. The exhausted troopers cooked breakfast while Maj. John Pelham positioned his artillery to cover the bridge. The morning passed quietly with no enemy in sight.

But the soldiers jumped to battle positions as two horsemen approached the northern side of the bridge. “Hold your fire,” they called. “It’s Stringfellow and Farley.” The two scouts, who had been probing for the enemy, galloped across the bridge with a captured Yankee wagon. With boyish grins they dismounted in front of their esteemed leader and pulled the cover off the wagon. Inside they discovered an enormous shipment of Havana cigars and a large number of fine bowie knives.

Delighted, General Stuart distributed the prized Havana cigars and everyone relished this rare time of respite and the luxury of enjoying a Havana cigar.

Farley always prided himself on being fully equipped due to the generosity of the Yankees. He stuck a knife in his belt, wondering whether it would be useful to kill Yankees, but certain it would be handy for cutting the tough meat provided by the army.

Farley and Stringfellow reported only seeing scouting parties which indicated that the main body of the enemy had not arrived. By midday Stuart was restless and led a squadron across the river on reconnaissance. They soon confronted an advancing column of the enemy who attacked vigorously. The Confederates galloped back across the bridge covered by Pelham’s artillery. A brisk fight took place and the men in gray ignited the bridge before retreating to Jeffersonton.

Stay tuned for “Farley’s Only Defeat.”

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