On 7 November 1863, the Union I, II and III Corps, under Major General William French, moved against Kelly’s Ford, a convenient point to cross the Rappahannock River in eastern Virginia. The plan was that they would then push on towards Brandy Station, and join further Union forces. Confederate General Robert E. Rhodes and his 30th North Carolina Infantry held the ford. French placed three batteries north of the river and rolled cannons into place. At this point the Confederates became aware of their presence and opened fire. French and Rhodes ‘met’ to the right and left, where French’s sharpshooters hailed bullets on the Confederates, many of whom were in rifle pits. Described by one historian as a ‘turkey shoot’, those Confederate forces not killed or wounded were taken prisoner when Union troops finally crossed the river. Although 1,629 Confederate prisoners were taken, the North lost more men.
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