The Rappahannock River is named after a Native American Tribe of the same name. The source of the Rappahannock River is close to Chester Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains and very near Front Royal Virginia. As the river leaves the mountains eastward, it runs nearly the entire northern part of the state before turning south and emptying into the Chesapeake Bay just south of the Potomac River, defining the southern edge of the middle “neck” in southeast Virginia.
The Rappahannock Cavalry was sometimes called, “The Old Guard”, officially known as Co. B of the Virginia 6th Cavalry.
The Va. 6th Cavalry was organized in November of 1861. The unit played an important role in the final action of the battle of Front Royal on May 23rd 1862. The federal army was retreating up the Winchester Turnpike, Stonewall Jackson shouted to the Commander of the 6th Cavalry, Thomas S. Flournoy, “ They have two pieces of artillery, go and take them!!”
Flournoy closed in north of Cedarville. The Union captian leading the retreat, George Smith, recorded that , “ A wild shout was heard and the rebel cavalry came crashing into our lines, cutting right and left, showing no quarter while displaying a black flag with a red sun!”.
The Commander of the Rappahannock Cavalry, Daniel A Grimsley, led the attack.
Flournoy reported to Richmond that “ Co. B was the first upon the retreating invaders and charged most gallantly into their line, breaking them and throwing them into confusion”.
When it later became known that The Rappahannock cavalry’s dark blue flag was interpreted as a black flag of , “no surrender” it was retired, having only been flown in the battle of Front Royal.
Only 3 men surrendered at Appomattox as the majority of the Cavalry cut through the federal lines and later disbanded.