Alfred Thomas Archimedes Torbert began his military career after graduating ranked 21 out of 34 from the United States Military Academy in 1855. He served in numerous western posts before the outbreak of the war, and in 1861, was offered appointed a first lieutenant in the Confederate army. He turned down the appointment from the Confederate army and instead accepted an appointment as colonel of the 1st New Jersey Volunteers.
In 1862, Torbert commanded his regiment on the Virginia Peninsula, and fought at the Second Battle of Manassas and South Mountain. He commanded a brigade at the Battle of Antietam, and fought during the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. He commanded his troops skillfully in all of the battles, and was promoted to brigadier general on November 29, 1862. In 1864, Torbert was given command of a cavalry division under Union General Philip Sheridan. He commanded his division during the Overland Campaign as well as during Sheridan’s Valley Campaign of 1864. During the Valley Campaign he led his troops to victory over Confederate cavalry at the Battle of Tom’s Brook, and remained in command until the end of the war.
Learn more about the historical significance of the Battle of Tom's Brook, fought on October 9, 1864. It was here at Tom's Brook, that the Union cavalry forces won their most decisive victory in the Eastern Theater.
The Battle of Fredericksburg was arguably the largest battle of the war, and one of the most embarrassing Union defeats. The details of why the fighting unfolded as it did, however, are less well-known. Here are some facts to help shed a little light on the battle for newcomers and test the knowledge of veterans.