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Mine Run, operations near

Early in November, 1863, General Lee was preparing to go into winter quarters near Culpeper Court-house when the National victory at Rappahannock Station and the crossing of that stream by Meade, Nov. 8, caused him, under cover of darkness, to withdraw beyond the Rapidan, and intrench his army on Mine Run and its vicinity, a strong defensive position. Meade lay quietly between the Rappahannock and Rapidan, until late in November, when, his communications being perfect with his supplies and the capital, he undertook a bold movement. He proceeded to attempt to turn the right of the Confederates, and, sweeping round towards Orange Court-house, overwhelm Ewell, turn the works on Mine Run, and effect a lodgment at Orange and Gordonsville. This would involve the perilous measure of cutting loose from his supplies, but he took the risk. He left his trains parked at Richardsville, on the north side of the Rapidan, and moved on the morning of Nov. 26; but instead of crossing that stream in a short time, so as to march rapidly and surprise the Confederates, the whole day was consumed in the passage. It was 10 A. M. the next day before any of the troops reached the designated point, when the movement had become known to the Confederates.

Warren, with 10,000 men, followed by an artillery reserve, was confronted by a large portion of Ewell's corps, and brisk skirmishing began. French's troops, that were to support Warren, did not, for various causes, come up until night, when the latter was so hard pressed that Meade was compelled to send troops from his left to Warren's assistance. These various delays had given Lee ample time to prepare to meet his antagonist, and Meade's plans, so well laid, were frustrated. He concentrated his whole army on the west bank of Mine Run, and [191] extended his fortifications along the line of that stream until they crossed the two highways on which Meade's army lay. In front of all was a strong abatis. Meade, however, resolved to attack Lee, and to Warren was intrusted the task of opening the assault, his whole force being about 26,000 men. He was to make the attack at 8 A. M., Nov. 30.

At that hour Meade's batteries on the left and centre were opened, and skirmishers of the latter dashed across Mine Run and drove back those of the Confederates. But Warren's guns were not heard. He had found the Confederates much stronger than he expected, and prudently refrained from attacking. Satisfied that Warren had done wisely, Meade ordered a general suspension of operations. Lee's defences were growing stronger every hour, while Meade's strength was diminishing. His rations were nearly exhausted, and his supply-trains were beyond the Rapidan. To attempt to bring them over might expose them to disaster, for winter was at

The abatis in front of Lee's fortifications.

hand and rain might suddenly swell the streams and make them impassable. Meade therefore determined to sacrifice himself, if necessary, rather than his army. He abandoned the enterprise, recrossed the Rapidan, and went into winter quarters on his old camping-ground between that stream and the Rappahannock.

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Richard Kidder Meade (10)
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