Bealeton is a small unincorporated community in Fauquier County, Virginia. The population as of the 2010 Census was 4,435.
Bealeton in The Guns of the South
|Battle of Bealeton|
|Part of Second American Revolution|
|Confederate States||United States|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Robert E. Lee|
Richard S. Ewell
| Ulysses S. Grant
After the success in the Wilderness, General Robert E. Lee had most of the Army of Northern Virginia begin to advance due north. He did take the precaution of detaching James Longstreet's I Corp and sending it east to guard the fords of the Rapidan against the possibility of General Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Potomac going around his own army and threaten Richmond.
When Lee's army was well on the march, he dispatched General Jeb Stuart's cavalry corps ahead to seize the Rappahannock crossing at the Rappahannock Station on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Stuart succeeded in driving off Federal pickets but discovered the rest of the army approaching from Bealeton. He attempted to hold the crossing with the superior fire power of his AK-47s while the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia approached at a quickstep. Lee had Richard S. Ewell's II Corps deploy in the line south from Bealeton to the Rappahannock, with A.P. Hill's III Corps to the left and Longstreet held in reserve.
Grant engaged Ewell at Bealeton with infantry and artillery while sending General Ambrose Burnside's IX Corps west in a flanking action. This thrust was meet by Hill's III Corp which broke the attack. Part of IX Corp was made up of Edward Ferrero's Fourth Division which was composed of black men, both freemen and freed slaves. White Confederate troops were infuriated to see so many black men bearing arms, and their white commissioned officers were singled out as special targets and shot first of all. Few black men lived long enough to even try surrendering, and fewer still were willing to. Not many Confederates were willing to take black soldiers alive, however; some black soldiers were executed after attempting to give up, and others were enslaved or re-enslaved.
The atrocities led General Lee to issue a general order requiring Confederate soldiers to treat captured blacks no differently from whites. While this order was couched in terms of preventing retribution against captured Confederates (President Abraham Lincoln had promised to retaliate if the Confederacy took vengeance on United States Colored Troops), Lee also felt that this was the only humane thing to do. However, it outraged the Rivington Men, causing their leader, Andries Rhoodie, to demand it be rescinded. He threatened to withhold ammunition for the AK-47s if Lee did not do as he demanded. Lee refused, reasoning that it was more important for the Rivington Men to have a southern victory rather than having blacks treated decently. In the event, Lee successfully called Rhoodie's bluff as the cartridges continued to be delivered.
The Battle of Bealeton dealt a lethal blow to the Army of the Potomac's efforts to finally drive south to take Richmond, and ultimately to Union fortunes in the war. With entire regiments and even General Ferrero's Fourth Division destroyed in the Wilderness and at Bealeton, the Army of the Potomac was forced to retreat back towards Washington City.
For the Confederate States, on the other hand, Bealeton was a glorious victory. Soon after breaking the Army of the Potomac in no less than two major battles, the Army of Northern Virginia assaulted Washington City and captured it, forcing U.S. President Abraham Lincoln to finally concede defeat and recognize the Confederacy's independence. After the war, one Confederate river gunboat was named CSS Bealeton.