previous next

Doc. 21.-operations in Virginia.

Major-General Meade's reports.

headquarters army of the Potomac, December 6, 1863.
Adjutant-General of the Army:
I have the honor to submit for the information of the General-in-Chief the following report of the operations of this army since the date (July thirty-first) at which the report of the Gettysburgh campaign was concluded. At that date the army was in position on the north bank of the Rappahannock, the enemy being in position about Culpeper Court-House, and between the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers. The instructions of the General-in-Chief required the army should maintain this position, assuming a threatening attitude toward the enemy. On the first of August, Brigadier-General Buford, in command of a division of cavalry, advanced from Rappahannock Station, and drove the enemy's cavalry to the vicinity of Culpeper Court-House, where a strong force of infantry being met, Buford was obliged to retire. This reconnoissance, it is believed, had the effect to cause the enemy to withdraw his infantry to the south side of the Rapidan.

About the middle of August a considerable detachment was withdrawn from this army under the orders of the General-in-Chief, for duty elsewhere. On the first of September Brigadier-General Kilpatrick, commanding a division of cavalry, proceeded to Port Conway, on the Lower Rappahannock, where, after driving across the river a force of cavalry and infantry which the enemy had on the north bank, he, by means of his artillery, effectually destroyed the two gun-boats, recently captured by the enemy on the Potomac, and which they had brought to this point.

On the thirteenth of September, intelligence having been received rendering it probable the enemy was making a retrograde movement, Major-General Pleasanton, in command of all the cavalry, supported by the Second corps, Major-General Warren, crossed the Rappahannock at several points, and after a spirited engagement with the enemy's cavalry, in which he captured two guns and many prisoners, drove the enemy across the Rapidan, but found it impossible to force the passage of that river. Major-General Warren, with his corps, occupied Culpeper Court-House, taking no part in the engagement, which was entirely a cavalry fight. The result of this movement proved that the enemy had sent Longstreet's corps to the south-west, but still held the line of the Rapidan in force.

On the sixteenth of September the army crossed the Rappahannock and took up a position around Culpeper Court-House, with the advance of two corps on the Rapidan. An examination of the enemy's position proved it entirely out of the question to attempt to force the passage of the river in his immediate front

The command of all fords was on the south bank, and this obstacle was greatly increased by numerous earthworks and rifle-pits, with batteries in position.

Just as a plan of operations for a flank movement had been matured, it was thought proper to withdraw from the army the Eleventh and Twelfth corps for duty in the South-West; these corps leaving on the twenty-fourth of September. Early in October a portion of the troops withdrawn in August were returned, and about the same time considerable accessions to the force under my command were made by drafted men. On the tenth of October, information being received leading to the belief the enemy was about to make some movement, Brigadier-General Buford was sent across the Rapidan with his division of cavalry, with orders to uncover, if practicable, the upper fords, when the First and Sixth corps, in advance on the river, were ordered to force the passages at these points.

On the tenth, before intelligence of Buford's movements were received, the enemy crossed to Robertson's River, and advanced from Madison Court-House in heavy force, driving in my cavalry. The indications of the enemy's purpose to pass my flanks, and threaten my rear being conclusive, on the eleventh of October the army was withdrawn to the north side of the Rappahannock.

In effecting this operation, the enemy followed the rear-guard of cavalry under Major-General Pleasanton, engaging him from Culpeper CourtHouse to Brandy Station, where, when General Pleasanton being reinforced by Buford, (who had been compelled to recross the Rapidan, after proceeding as far as Morton's Ford,) the enemy was held in check till evening, when the cavalry withdrew.

The reports of the officers with the rear-guard leading me to believe the enemy occupied Culpeper, on the twelfth of October the Sixth, Fifth, and Second corps recrossed the Rappahannock, advancing as far as Brandy Station, while Buford's cavalry drove a small force of the enemy into Culpeper. During the night despatches were received from General Gregg, commanding a cavalry division guarding the upper fords of the Rappahannock and Hazel rivers, that he had been forced back early in the morning from Hazel River, and in the afternoon from Rappahannock, and that the enemy were crossing at Sulphur Springs and Waterloo in heavy force. As it was too late when this intelligence reached me to attempt to gain Warrenton in advance of the enemy, the army on the thirteenth was withdrawn to Auburn and Catlett's Station, and on the fourteenth to Centreville. This retrograde movement was effected without molestation from the enemy till the fourteenth, on.which day he skirmished at Auburn with the Second corps, Major-General Warren, and on the afternoon of that day attacked General Warren at Bristol Station. The attack was most handsomely repulsed by General Warren, who captured five pieces of artillery and some four hundred and fifty prisoners.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Buford (6)
W. J. Warren (5)
Pleasanton (3)
George G. Meade (1)
James Longstreet (1)
Judson Kilpatrick (1)
Maxcy Gregg (1)
Doc (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: