considered as very remarkable, yet each was followed by very decided, solid gains to the North
The first led to the evacuation of Nashville, Tennessee
, and transferring the Union
forces to the west of the Tennessee river
; the last, followed speedily by the surrender of Port Hudson
, virtually closed the Mississippi
to the Confederacy
and cut it in twain.
Credit is due to General Grant
for knowing where to direct his blows.
Battles in which the greatest numbers are engaged, and most brilliant victories won, are not always followed by the best results to the fortunate side.
When General Grant
was assigned to duty as above stated, the Army of the Potomac, commanded by General Meade
, lay in Culpepper county, Virginia, and, confronting it, across the Rapidan
, was the Army of Northern Virginia.
These armies had, with two exceptions, held the above positions since early in August following the battle of Gettysburg
The first was in October, when General Lee
, although much reduced by detaching Longstreet South, crossed the Rapidan
and advanced on Meade
The latter retired rapidly, not halting until he had crossed Bull Run
During this retreat of Meade
a collision occurred at Bristoe Station between three of Hill
's Brigades and the Fifth Corps, in which the former were worsted.
returned to the Rapidan
, and Meade
to his old camp in Culpepper
The latter part of November (the second exception), Meade
crossed the Rapidan
below the Confederate
changed front immediately, and moved rapidly to meet him. A slight skirmish occurred late in the afternoon.
Next morning the Army of Northern Virginia took position in the rear of Mine run
The Union forces confronted it a week, retired at night, hurried back to the Rapidan
, and recrossed into Culpepper
without a battle but losing prisoners.
During the winter, while on the Rapidan
, General Lee
's troops --A. P. Hill
's Corps — extended up the river as far as Liberty mills
, six miles above Orange Court-House
's Corps on the right, below Clarke's Mountain, which was eight miles from Orange
, after his return from East Tennessee
, remained near Gordonsville
, eight miles in rear.
In general, while on the Rapidan
, the troops were not regularly and well supplied with good and sufficient rations, nor was their clothing of the best; their morale
was, nevertheless, excellent, and when spring came the camp was enlivened by the resuming of military exercises, drills, etc. In April, without any orders being given, there was a sending to the rear, by officers, of extra baggage, and a general but quiet preparation for the coming campaign, soon to be inaugurated early in May.
There was at length