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[143] beyond Robinson's Tavern. Now as the Third Corps advanced, picket firing, and an occasional cannonade, told us that this command had found the way obstructed. Indeed, it seems that the leading division of the corps had mistaken the road to the tavern, having borne too far to the west; at any rate, lively skirmishing commenced, in which the corps was employed until the middle of the afternoon. Then the engagement became general. The First and Second Divisions of the Sixth Corps with their artillery were sent to the support of the Third Corps, which was vigorously pressed. The air in the woods was thick with the smoke of battle, and the trees echoed the din of musket shot and cannon peal, as the Sixth moved into the gap between the Second and Third Corps. A dense second growth of timber effectually precluded any view of the operations in the Third or the Second, but it enabled Confederate scouting parties to creep unperceived upon our flanks. Not a shot, however, was fired by us after reaching this position, though the Third Corps repeatedly repulsed determined charges upon its lines.

No demonstration was made in our front. The Second Corps and Gen. Gregg's cavalry were engaged near the tavern. The former drove back, under cover of the woods, a comparatively small force of assailants. Gen. Gregg was equally successful in putting to flight the body of Confederates which he encountered. This plan of Gen. Meade, of crossing the fords of the Rapidan which Gen. Lee had left uncovered, and pushing his force between those of Ewell and Hill, which Lee, relying upon the great natural strength of his position on the west side of Mine Run, had deployed respectively along the Orange, C. H., road and the railroad to Charlottesville for miles, was bold in its conception, and skilfully devised in its details. The First and Fifth Corps, crossing at Culpepper Mine Ford, were to move along the plank road to Parker's Store. The Second, crossing at Germanna, was to march along the wilderness pike to Robinson's Tavern, where the Third and Sixth were to join it. Here was to rest the right of the Federal line.

Gen. Meade might fairly estimate that an early start on the 26th would enable the corps to reach their assigned positions on the noon of the following day. The Sixth Corps was en route at sunrise; it was ordered to follow the Third. Who might be responsible

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