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June 25, 1863: Confederate cavalry breaks east toward Washington

Jun. 25, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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SALEM DEPOT, VA. — Confederate cavalry commander Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart broke away from the main body of the Army of Northern Virginia just after midnight this morning with orders with from Gen. Robert E. Lee to guard the right flank of his invasion force now moving north into Union territory across the Potomac River.

With his own intended route north blocked by Federal troops, however, Stuart is taking his three best brigades — nearly 5,000 troops in all — southeast in a bid to skirt the concentrated Union forces and rejoin the rebel advance as it makes its way into Pennsylvania, where major fighting is expected in the coming days.

That means it could be days before Stuart is able to reconnect with the rebel advance, but with such a sizeable force between the Union Army and Washington, top leaders are now likely wondering if perhaps the Union capital could be the real target of Lee’s invasion.

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