The Great Beefsteak Raid
by Mort Kunstler
General Wade Hampton, September 16, 1864
By September of 1864, Confederate forces began to show the ill effects of a drawn-out War. Food, ammunition, and medicine were in short supply as trench Warfare and siege tactics became the norm. In Virginia, Gen. Wade Hampton was besieged at Petersburg and became well aware of the desperateness of his situation. A new enemy, one even more formidable than the much larger and better-outﬁtted Union Army, began to overtake his lines. The adversary’s name was “hunger” and it threatened to destroy the entire southern army’s spirit.
The growing desperateness of his troop’s situation forced Hampton to undertake What would become one of the most ambitious raids of the entire Civil War. On September 15th he set out to commandeer an entire herd of cattle, numbering in the thousands, from the surrounding Union Army. By September 17th he had not only accomplished his goal of thievery, he also managed to drive the herd back to the safety of his own lines.
This amazing feat required 2,500 captured cattle to traverse streams and cross battle scarred landscapes without stampeding. Perhaps the critical nature of the mission enabled the famished horsemen to pull it off as Hampton’s men returned triumphantly With enough food to sustain and nourish the starved army.
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