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[392] plankroad to Orange Courthouse. The Second Corps was to cross at Germanna Ford, and proceed out on the turnpike (which runs parallel with the plankroad) to Robertson's Tavern. To this point also the Third Corps, crossing at Jacobs' Mill Ford, and followed by the Sixth Corps, was to march by other routes, and there make a junction with the Second Corps. With the left thus at Parker's Store and the right at Robertson's Tavern, the army would be in close communication on parallel roads, and by advancing westward towards Orange Courthouse would turn the line of the Mine Run defences, which it was known did not extend as far south as to cross the turnpike and plankroads. As the distance of the several corps from their encampments to the assigned points of concentration was under twenty miles, General Meade reasonably assumed that marching early on the 26th, each corps-commander would be able to make the march inside of thirty-four hours, or, at most, by noon of the 27th. It remains to relate how this well-devised and meritorious plan was baulked by circumstances that, though seemingly trivial to those uninstructed in war, are yet the very elements that in a large degree assure success or entail failure.

The first of these delays was occasioned by the tardiness of movement of the Third Corps under General French, which having a greater distance to march than the other corps, yet did not reach its assigned point for the crossing of the Rapidan until three hours after the other corps had arrived. This caused a delay to the whole army of the time named; for, not knowing what he should encounter on the other side, General Meade was unwilling to allow the other corps to cross until the Third was up. A second obstacle was the result of an unpardonable blunder on the part of the engineers in underestimating the width of the Rapidan, so that the ponton-bridges it was designed to throw across that stream were too short, and trestle-work and temporary means had to be provided to increase their length. In addition, another cause of delay resulted from the very precipitous

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