When you hear of a cattle raid, does your mind picture gun slinging cowboys in the Wild West?
You may be surprised to learn that, arguably, the greatest cattle raid in American history took place during the Civil War in Prince George County! “The Great Beefsteak Raid” was planned by Confederate Major General Wade Hampton when he learned that a herd of cattle numbering 3,000 was being held behind Union lines at Coggins Point.
Gen. Hampton hoped this raid would nourish and encourage his combined 3,000 troops outside Petersburg and other Confederate forces defending Richmond. It was rumored that he even recruited several certified Texas cattle thieves and their shepherd dogs to assist in the raid.
At 5AM on September 16th
, 1864, after traveling about 100 miles, the raid began. Gen. Hampton chose Sycamore Church as their point of attack and had sent brigades to flank left and right protecting General Thomas Rosser’s brigade who drove up the middle directly towards Coggins Point and the cattle.
The raid was a success and the Confederate forces, having lost 10 men, traveling with 47 wounded, and counting 4 as missing,
herded about 2,400 cows back to their lines.
There is a rumored story that shortly after the raid, a reporter asked General Grant when he anticipated defeating General Lee, Grant replied, “Never, if our armies continue to supply him with beef cattle.” Even President Lincoln reportedly called the raid “the slickest piece of cattle stealing” he had ever heard of.
On Wed. Sept. 20th
, 2017, the Prince George County Reginal Heritage Center will hold its 9th Annual Great Beefsteak Raid Commemorative Dinner from 4-7PM at Scott Park. This fundraiser’s proceeds will go to the new Fire and EMS Museum! For more information visit http://www.princegeorgevahistoricalsociety.org/events.html
or call (804)-863-0212.
Mort Künstler, "The Great Beefsteak Raid: General Wade Hampton, September 16, 1864"