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Both armies went into winter quarters following the Battle of Ball's Bluff. On December 20, Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, with a mixed brigade, set out north from his position near Centerville to escort the army's wagon trains on a foraging expedition. At about the same time, Gen. Ord was leading a brigade of Pennsylvania Reserves to clear the south bank of the Potomac River of Confederate pickets and partisans.
At about noon, Ord arrived at the intersection of the Georgetown Pike and Leesburg Pike in the village of Dranesville, where he encountered Stuart's advance cavalry pickets, which were driven off. Stuart reached the village shortly after and found Ord's line deployed along the Leesburg Pike. Stuart deployed his infantry in the dense pine forest on the south side of the pike. The artillery then began to duel, but owing to the strength of the Union position, the Confederate guns were knocked back. The Confederates then pushed forward on the Union right and the 9th Pennsylvania moved forward to stop the Confederate advance, but then in turn was forced back. The two sides then squared off for nearly 2 hours. Around 3 p.m., Stuart received word that his wagons were safely away and secure from capture and he ordered a withdrawal.
The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.
December 20, 1861
Battle of Dranesville
The Battle of Dranesville was a small battle during the American Civil War that took place between Confederate forces under Brigadier General J. E. B. Stuart and Union forces under Brigadier General Edward O. C. Ord on December 20, 1861, in Fairfax County, Virginia, as part of Major General George B. McClellan's operations in northern Virginia. The two forces on similar winter-time patrols encountered and engaged one another in the crossroads village of Dranesville. The battle resulted in a Union victory.
Introduction to Wikipedia Article
Wikipedia: Battle of Dranesville