Second Dranesville - The Battle

The Battle

The following morning, 160 Rangers gathered to bury McCobb. At the same time Maj. Charles Russell Lowell dispatched 167 troopers of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry and 16th New York Cavalry under Capt. James Sewall Reed, on a raid into Loudoun. At the funeral near Middleburg, Mosby learned of the Federal raid and mounted the Rangers in pursuit, sending the bulk of the force under William Henry Chapman to Ball's Mill, south of Leesburg, while he and a small party shadowed the Federals. At Leesburg, Reed, not finding any sign of Confederates, set out east on the Leesburg-Alexandria Turnpike, camping 6 miles (9.7 km) east of the town that night. As the Federals bivouacked, Mosby rejoined his main body, who he had since directed to Guilford Station (present day Sterling) on the Alexandria, Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad. Upon rejoining the Rangers Mosby led them to the pike, 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Dranesville and deployed them in three wings; a dismounted squad on the Pike and two companies on each flank concealed in the woods to the sides of the road. A skirmish party was sent west on the Pike as bait for the ambush.

At 10 a.m. the Federals broke camp and came upon Mosby's skirmishers an hour later. As the Federal vanguard, in pursuit of the fleeing skirmishers, came into sight the flank wings sprung the trap, missing the main Federal force. Reed took advantage of the mistake and ordered a counterattack. The two force collided in heavy hand-to-hand combat. At one point in the fighting Ranger John Munson captured a Federal trooper but failed to take his sidearm and when he turned to rejoin the fight the Yankee shot him in the back. Moments later, Ranger Baron Robert von Massow captured Reed, but he too failed to take his side arm and was also shot in the back. William Chapman wasted no time in killing Reed in retaliation. With Reed dead, the Federal resistance gave way and the Rangers chased them north towards the Potomac river. Several of the Federal troopers jumped into the river in their haste to flee and drowned.

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