, 10 tweets, 3 min read
You’re never gonna believe this, and stop me if you’ve heard something like this before, but #OnThisDay a dashing cavalryman named George Custer found himself in a REAL STICKY PICKLE.

Yes, it was a sticky pickle even for Custer. Which, let’s face it, is SAYING SOMETHING …
After the Rebel defeat at Bristoe Station in 1863 (when Robert E. Lee told a bumbling A.P. Hill, “Well, well, general, bury these poor men and let us say no more about it,” which is also what my boss told me after a tough first day at Blockbuster Video) the Union cavalry pursued.
Leading the pursuit was Judson Kilpatrick (pictured), who was, as usual, full of his own horseshit. J.E.B. Stuart commanded the Rebel rearguard, and he saw an opportunity to bait the reckless, impulsive Kilpatrick into an attack far from the protection of the Union infantry.
Stuart put up a defense at a bridge, then fell back and allowed the Union cavalry to cross. While the lead Northern brigade hurried after Stuart, more Rebel cavalry under Fitzhugh Lee lurked nearby, waiting to block the bridge and cut off the rest of the Yankee horsemen. #Tactics
But here’s where George Custer exerted his unique brand of leadership. In the midst of a hot pursuit, what did he do? HE STOPPED FOR SNACKS. Yep, for the next 3-4 hours, his men made coffee and took snoozes.

(Bad news, Sun Tzu. Your book is gonna need another chapter.)
Cuz guess what? The leisurely picnic was TACTICALLY BRILLIANT. While the lead Union brigade chased after Stuart and fell into his trap, Custer was still throwing away his paper plates and brushing the ants off his blankets. He was literally TOO BUSY PICNICKING TO GET AMBUSHED!!!
One of Custer’s men, James Kidd, talked to Fitzhugh Lee long after the war, and told him about the impromptu picnic. Lee was FLABBERGASTED. He’d always assumed Custer had sniffed out the trap. Nope! Just some potato salad that AIN’T GONNA EAT ITSELF!
When the Rebels did attack, Custer “was a fighting man, through and through,” Kidd wrote. Custer was badly outnumbered (and not for the last time), but he “put up one of the gamiest fights against odds seen in the war.” And the picnic stop meant he never fell into the real trap.
Custer called The Battle of Buckland Mills “the most disastrous this division ever passed through." The Rebels called it “The Buckland Races,” because of the Union cavalry’s galloping 5-mile rout, “the most complete that any cavalry ... suffered during this war,” Stuart boasted.
So how did Kilpatrick, who took Stuart’s bait, react to the sobering defeat? He partied! That night, he threw a shindig at HQ, with milk-punch and music. “But the punch, palatable as it undeniably was, did not serve to take away the bad taste left by the affair,” Kidd wrote.
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