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[427] bridge, which had been destroyed, as a tete-de-pont to the pontoon Lee had there laid. In the midst of a sudden and heavy rain, late in the evening of November 7th,Meade, seizing this opportunity, made a rush upon and captured these two brigades, before help could reach them, securing 1,600 prisoners, eight flags and several guns.

After Lee had reached the southern bank of the Rappahannock, everything indicated that his army would remain in Culpeper for some time. Writing to his wife he said:

I moved yesterday into a nice pine thicket, and Perry is today engaged in constructing a chimney in front of my tent, which will make it warm and comfortable. . . . . I am glad you have some socks for the army. Send them to me. They will come safely. Tell the girls to send all they can. I wish they could make some shoes, too. We have thousands of barefooted men. There is no news. General Meade, I believe, is repairing the railroad, and I presume will come on again. If I could only get some shoes and clothes for the men I would save him the trouble.

The disaster at the bridge-head broke up all this, and Lee again retired with his army beyond the Rapidan, and put his men in winter quarters on the sunny side of the ‘little mountains of Orange,’ finding another dense pine thicket, on the mountain slope eastward from Orange Court House, where he fixed his headquarters for the winter.

The winter quiet of Lee's camps was rudely disturbed by Meade when he began his Mine Run campaign, on the 26th of November, by ordering the First and Fifth corps to cross the Rapidan at the Culpeper mine ford, near the mouth of the Wilderness run, the boundary between Orange and Spottsylvania counties, to be followed by the Second corps crossing at the Germanna ford, a few miles further up the river, and the Third and Sixth corps, that were to cross still higher up the stream, expecting these three strong columns of attack to converge upon the old turnpike and the plank road, both leading to Orange Court House, and turn the right of Lee's encampments. Meade found it no easy matter to overcome the steep banks and the chilly waters of the Rapidan, and unexpectedly lost a day in the beginning of his movement. His Third corps moved too far to the north to strike its ordered ford, and on the 27th, Johnson's division of Ewell's corps repulsed its attempted crossing.

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