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 column is behind time. When the Sixth corps reaches Brandy Station it finds the Third still occupied with the first preparations for its departure; several hours are lost before the column is able to march—an unpardonable delay, justly attributed by Meade to General French. The Third corps reaches Jacobs' Ford only at noon. Unforeseen difficulties impede its crossing. The banks of the river are steep, and a day's work would not suffice to cut them away sufficiently for the crossing of the artillery and wagons. French despatches these to Germanna Ford, where the river is more accessible. But the boats must be brought down, and this retards the building of the bridge for several hours. However, Meade, who accompanies Warren, fearing to reveal too soon his design, does not allow the remainder of his troops to commence the crossing before the right column has landed on the southern bank. This prudence retards the movements of the whole army. At length, about half-past 1, he resolves to wait no longer, and orders Warren and Sykes to prepare for crossing. But the waters of the Rapidan have been swollen by the last rain. At Germanna Ford the soldiers in the advance of the Second corps are in the water up to their necks, and reach the opposite bank only after great difficulty. The fords being impracticable, the pontonniers launch their boats, but in consequence of the overflow the bridges are found too short, and in order to lengthen them it is necessary to hastily cut trees and make trestles. While the heads of columns are thus detained, the troops who follow advance slowly as the way is opened. Nothing is more tiresome than a march interrupted by long halts, during which the soldiers cannot even make their coffee for fear of being interrupted by the order to move. The bridges are at last practicable. Sykes on the left, Warren in the centre, and French on the right, cross them before sunset with a part of their forces. But night stops them at a short distance from the river. The Second corps reaches Flat Run, four miles from Germanna Ford: the advance of the Third corps having lost its way, French finally returns to the riverbank with his fatigued soldiers. It is after midnight when he gives up the bridge to the Sixth corps for crossing. The
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