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The Bristoe campaign-preliminary report of General R. E. Lee.

[The following report has never been in print. The reports of Lieutenant-General A. P. Hill, Major-General R. H. Anderson, Major-General H. Heth, Brigadier-General H. H. Walker, Colonel E. D. Hall and Major D. G. McIntosh were all published by the Confederate Government, but from some cause General Lee's report and other subordinate reports were not. Nor do we know whether General Lee ever wrote his final report, as was his custom, after receiving the reports of his subordinates. If he did, it is not in the War Records' office at Washington, and we fear it was destroyed with other invaluable papers on the retreat from Petersburg. We are indebted to the kindness of the War Records' office for a copy of this report.]

headquarters army of Northern Virginia, October 23d, 1863.
General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General, C. S. A., Richmond, Va.:
General — In advance of a detailed report I have the honor to submit for the information of the Department the following outline of the recent operations of this army. With the design of bringing on an engagement with the Federal army, which was encamped around Culpeper Courthouse, extending thence to the Rapidan, this army crossed that river on the 9th instant, and advanced by way of Madison Courthouse. Our progress was necessarily slow, as the march was by circuitous and concealed roads, in order to avoid the observation of the enemy. General Fitz. Lee, with his. cavalry division and a detachment of infantry, remained to hold [251] our lines south of the Rapidan. General Stuart, with Hampton's division, moved on the right of the column. With a portion of his command he attacked the advance of the enemy near James City on the 10th, and drove them back towards Culpeper. Our main body arrived near that place on the 11th instant and discovered that the enemy had retreated towards the Rappahannock, removing or destroying his stores. We were compelled to halt during the rest of the day to provision the troops, but the cavalry, under General Stuart, continued to press the enemy's rear guard towards the Rappahannock. A large force of Federal cavalry in the meantime had crossed the Rapidan after our movement began, but was repulsed by General Fitz. Lee and pursued towards Brandy station. Near that place the commands of Stuart and Lee united on the afternoon of the 11th, and after a severe engagement drove the enemy's cavalry across the Rappahannock with heavy loss. On the morning of the 12th the army marched in two columns, with the design of reaching the Orange and Alexandria railroad north of the river and intercepting the retreat of the enemy. After a skirmish with some of the Federal cavalry at Jeffersonton we reached the Rappahannock at Warrenton Springs in the afternoon, where the passage of the river was disputed by cavalry and artillery. The enemy was quickly driven off by a detachment of our cavalry, aided by a small force of infantry and a battery. Early next morning (13th) the march was resumed, and the two columns reunited at Warrenton in the afternoon, where another halt was made to supply the troops with provisions. The enemy fell back rapidly along the line of the railroad, and early on the 14th the pursuit was. continued, a portion of the army moving by way of New Baltimore towards Bristoe station and the rest, accompanied by the main body of the cavalry, proceeding to the same point by Auburn mills and Greenwich. Near the former place a skirmish took place between General Ewell's advance and the rear guard of the enemy, which was forced back and rapidly pursued. The retreat of the enemy was conducted by several direct parallel roads, while our troops were compelled to march by difficult and circuitous routes. We were consequently unable to intercept him. General Hill arrived first at Bristoe, where his advance, consisting of two brigades, became engaged with a force largely superior in numbers posted behind the railroad embankment. The particulars of the action have not been officially reported, but the brigades were repulsed with some loss and five pieces of artillery, with a number of prisoners captured. Before the rest of the troops could be brought up, [252] and the position of the enemy ascertained, he retreated across Broad run. The next morning he was reported to be fortifying beyond Bull run, extending his line towards the Little River turn-pike. The vicinity of the entrenchments around Washington and Alexandria rendered it useless to turn his new position, as it was apparent that he could readily retire to them and would decline an engagement unless attacked in his fortifications. A further advance was, therefore, deemed unnecessary, and after destroying the railroad from Cub run southwardly to the Rappahannock, the army returned on the 18th to the line of that river, leaving the cavalry in the enemy's front. The cavalry of the latter advanced on the following day, and some skirmishing occurred at Buckland. General Stuart, with Hampton's division, retired slowly towards Warrenton in order to draw the enemy in that direction, thus exposing his flank and rear to General Lee, who moved from Auburn and attacked him near Buckland. As soon as General Stuart heard the sound of Lee's guns, he turned upon the enemy, who, after a stubborn resistance, broke and fled in confusion, pursued by General Stuart nearly to Haymarket and by General Lee to Gainesville. Here the Federal infantry was encountered, and after capturing a number of them during the night, the cavalry slowly retired before their advance on the following day. When the movement of the army from the Rapidan commenced, General Imboden was instructed to advance down the Valley and guard the gaps of the mountains on our left. This duty was well performed by that officer, and on the 18th instant he marched upon Charlestown and succeeded, by a well concerted plan, in surrounding the place and capturing nearly the whole force stationed there, with all their stores and transportation; only a few escaped to Harper's Ferry. The enemy advanced from that place in superior numbers to attack General Imboden, who retired, bringing off his prisoners and captured property — his command suffering very little loss, and inflicting some damage upon the pursuing columns. In the course of these operations two thousand four hundred and thirty-six prisoners were captured, including forty-one commissioned officers. Of the above number four hundred and thirty-four were taken by General Imboden. A more complete account, with a statement of our loss in killed, wounded and prisoners, will be forwarded as soon as the necessary official reports shall have been received.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee, General.

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