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Chapter 8:

The Mine Run Campaign.

November 11 to December 3, 1863.

  • A mud march
  • -- delays -- across the Rapidan -- Robertson's Tavern -- in line at Mine Run -- a Cold Snap -- rumors -- the expected as -- Sault -- the return to Brandy Station -- a brief synopsis of the Campaign.

Having once become fairly located in camp, we began to make more extensive preparations for our bodily comfort, in the line of stockades—a branch of architecture in which, thus far, we had had almost no experience—and comparatively spacious fireplaces communicating with lofty chimneys built of wood and lined with the red, clayey soil of Virginia. These, in common with the most aristocratic F. F. V.'s, we built outside our dwellings. But as rumors of further active operations were rife, we were kept on the anxious seat, and many of our number made themselves contented in less pretentious abodes until the future should seem more settled. Nor were we in much more uncertainty than the General commanding, who was anxious to achieve some marked success, but who, being a careful leader, kept his ‘weather eye’ out to guard against a ‘mud march.’ The paymaster favored us with his presence on the 12th. On the 15th we received orders to hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moment's notice, and Gen. French, accompanied by some English officers, reviewed our brigade on the 16th. Other than these no events worthy of [166] mention occurred until the 23d, when the ‘white horse orderly,’ whom every comrade will at once recall, brought orders to be in readiness to march at daylight. It was a relief to hear something positive, even though it was marching orders, and we strapped the usual quantity of grain upon the caissons, packed up most of our effects, and made all other preparations that could be made the night beforehand.

The bugle summoned us forth at 4 o'clock the next morning, when we immediately rolled up our bundles, struck tents, fed and hitched in the horses, and stood in readiness awaiting dawn. But with it came rain, and at 7 o'clock we received orders not to start, so we held the position until about 1 o'clock, when orders came to ‘unhitch and unharness.’ Two batteries that had left returned to camp. We now sought to make ourselves comfortable once more in our old quarters,—no easy matter in their drenched condition,—and then again, having once bade them adieu, there was an indefinable something which tended to repel us from them afterwards. A new camping ground would have been much more welcome. In this particular case the belief that it was a question of but a very short time before we must leave them for good, gave force to our repugnance.

We were not long permitted, however, to philosophize upon the question, or required to consider the comforts or miseries of our situation, for at half-past 3 in the morning of Thursday, November 26th, Thanksgiving day, we once more received the bugle summons announcing another movement about to be undertaken. The morning broke clear and cool. ‘Attention, Battery!’ was heard at 7 o'clock! ‘Drivers, mount!’ followed at once by the familiar command, ‘By piece from the right — front into column,’ [167] in the unmistakable staccato of our Captain, and we are on the move. We marched past Brandy Station, our depot of supplies, and crossing the railroad moved by rather slow stages over a flat country in a south-easterly direction. But now our labors begin. The roads, scarcely dry from two recent storms, soon give way under the constant streams of artillery and supply trains that are traversing them, so that they are in a most wretched condition. Teams are overhauled at intervals stuck fast in the mud, and these act as beacons, warning all who come after to give their anchorage a wide berth. Cannoneers are in unusually close attendance upon their pieces, and conscientious No. 8 men undergo an amount of strain, mental as well as physical, for which their extra dollar per month is a paltry remuneration.

We munched our hard-tack and raw salt pork this day with many a longing thought of home and roast turkey, yet with a keen relish which our exertions of the morning had begotten; but the afternoon had greater ones in store for us. The horses' patience as well as strength seemed to be giving out, from the frequent and severe strains to which they had been put, and now when a heavily laden caisson sinks more deeply than its wont they sullenly stop. Then ensues lusty shouting on the part of the chief of section and drivers, emulating his example, bellow forth their ‘gee-dap’ and use the lash without stint. Luckless cannoneers go down into the mire and contribute of their muscle to extricate the caisson from the wallow. Rails are sought to use as levers or throw before the wheels when a start has been made; but it all rests with those six horses. If they would only pull together how quickly the difficulty would be ended! But while one pair jumps [168] impatiently forward, another settles stubbornly back. or remains passive, and each time the caisson has sunk deeper than before: so the struggle continues, varied by a turn to the right or the left, until at last the horses, as if themselves wearied of this boys' play, at the word, give a spring together, taking the caisson from its miry cushion in a twinkling, and move steadily on till another slough repeats the scene and extracts so much more vitality from men and horses. At last higher ground gave us a harder road, and after having been sent two or three miles out of our way, we came up with the column at Jacobs Mill Ford at dark. The infantry of our corps crossed at this place.1 During this day's march Gen. Meade caused a despatch to be read announcing Grant's great victories at Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain, and stating that he had taken 20,000 prisoners. This, by the by, is a good specimen of such despatches. The actual number officially reported by Grant was 6,142.

But we were destined to move on and cross the river at Germania Ford, a few miles lower down, and being now in the rear, partly through loss of time in the mire, and partly from misdirection, we were condemned to the misery of waiting for those in advance to cross.2 And it was misery without any discount. The column would move on a few steps and halt. Thereupon cannoneers would seek some tolerably comfortable position on the carriages [169] or ground, and just begin to doze, when the column would move again, only to stop by the time one was fairly awake; and this programme was repeated for hours after dark. Our stops were of insufficient duration, either to cook a pot of coffee or steal a halfhour's nap, although intensely aggravated by the need of both. The weather, too, had grown quite cool and frosty. The woods were aglow with the fires lighted by the troops that had preceded us, to keep them comfortable while awaiting their turn to cross; and in alternately shivering and dozing

Alonzo N. Merrill

Hiram P. Ring

around these and sluggishly marching a few rods at a time, the hours wore drearily away until midnight, when we ascertained that since 6 o'clock we had traversed a distance of two miles.

At this time the column came to a halt, which seemed likely to continue some time; at least we resolved to take our risks of its thus continuing; and the cannoneers at once bestirred themselves to light fires and procure water, which luckily flowed front a spring near at hand; while the drivers hastened to [170] feed their tired horses, putting on their nose-bags of grain as they stood harnessed in the road. Every man soon had his dipper of coffee smoking on the fire, and his rasher of pork or beef impaled on a stick and sputtering in the flame. These, with their inevitable hard-tack accompaniment, having been dispatched, we piled on wood and lay down to sleep on a bed of leaves and in the glow of the fire. Being in momentary expectation of a forward summons, we hardly dared to unroll our blankets, containing, as they did, our little all of personal effects, that it would take us a few moments to gather up again; so we made vain efforts to keep warm without them by ‘spooning’ together; but as the fire died down, the pinching cold would rouse us from our light slumber, to put on more wood and lie down again. So by alternate dozing and trimming the fires we succeeded in passing the remainder of what, we are confident, all the men considered a most wretched night.

Morning came at last, disclosing the ground covered by a white frost; and getting our horses started with some difficulty, cold, stiff, cross, and balky as they were, we moved on down to the river through an immense jam of cavalry, wagons, and batteries. On the opposite bank were strong fortifications, in which a thousand men might have held a whole army at bay; but as our march was unexpected, our advance had met with no opposition here, the enemy being encamped at some distance from the river. Having crossed over by pontoon, we found a very steep hill to be climbed ere we reached the top of the south bank. This explained the cause of the tedious delay. So steep was the rise that no team was sufficient to climb it unaided, and resort must be had to ‘doubling up’; that is, each piece had the ‘lead’ [171] and ‘swing’ horses of its caisson added to its own strength to surmount the steep, and, having done this, four of the piece horses returned with those of the caisson to help the latter up. All this consumed time, and a great deal of it, and it was high noon when the Battery had been thus transferred to plane terra firma once more. But then our advance was promptly resumed along the Stevensburg Plank Road, into the enemy's country, pursuing this course perhaps four miles. Cannonading heard in the distance announced to us that the enemy had been found, and turning into the woods on our right, in the direction of the firing, we rapidly drew nearer the scene of battle, advancing at a trot as the sounds of strife became more distinct. We are to be hurried without delay into battle. What an array of sensations crowd themselves upon us as we rush along! The unknown result, the dread possibilities, nay, even probabilities, the quick thoughts of home and loved ones, the conscious shrinking from impending danger, and the antagonizing something within, which yet impels us sternly onward,—all these raise a tumult in the mind which every soldier will remember. What is it that thus spurs us on, our breasts bared to the enemy, while all the flesh cries out against it? Is it courage? Is it the fear of being branded as cowards? Is it mad indifference to consequences? Are we buoyed up to the requirements of the situation by the touch of the elbow to the right and left, of those who are hurrying on with us alike ignorant of consequences? Ah, it is something higher and more powerful than all these. It is not courage. No man of sane mind ever faced a hostile line of battle without flinching. There is no manliness in such an act. It is not fear of the stigma of cowardice, for the circumstances of the [172] hour are such that the stigma can be easily evaded, if any one cares to deserve it. It is not blind indifference or rashness, for an occasion of this nature begets thoughtfulness and a thoughtfulness born of discretion. Moreover, the thoughtful man is not rash. Rashness in a well-balanced mind is more likely to involve another in difficulty than the author of it. It is not companionship in the hour of danger, though that undoubtedly steadies the nerves in a measure. The impelling power includes all these. It is duty! That it is which says to us, ‘You voluntarily put your hand to the plough, thus imposing upon yourself the responsibility of all the consequences entailed by that act. One of those consequences, the risk of your life or limb, is now impending. Are you ready to stand by your contract?’ And the soldier who had not self-respect enough to honor such a draft as that deserved to have his name branded with eternal disgrace.

But we will make no longer pause to analyze our feelings. Suffice it, if, from any or all considerations, we can hold ourselves resolutely to the promised work of the hour. We were spared the ordeal of battle this time, however. After travelling in woods some distance, we emerged on the Orange Turnpike, two miles east of Robertson's Tavern, in whose vicinity a part of Warren's Second Corps had been engaged, and parked near their hospitals. In these lay many men dead or wounded. Among the former was Lieut. Col. Hesser, of the Seventy-second Pennsylvania Regiment, shot through the head. While we lay here, Capt. Randolph dispatched an aid to Gen. French to inquire whether he would like more artillery, to which answer was sent that he already had more than he could get into action. It seems he took the wrong road from the ford, and had [173] fallen in with a part of Ewell's corps before he had spanned half the distance from the river to the tavern, where he was to have joined Warren. With this body of the enemy he had been engaged during the afternoon, but they had now fallen back before him. This failure on the part of Gen. French to make an early junction with the Second Corps at the tavern was a serious interference with Gen. Meade's plans, as will be shown hereafter.

On the morning of Saturday the 28th, towards 9 o'clock, our march was resumed to Robertson's Tavern. In this somewhat dilapidated hostelry Gen. Meade had established his headquarters. Just to the westward of it a breastwork had been thrown up by our forces, which ran across the turnpike at right angles, and a countervailing defence of similar character was erected by the Rebels still farther on. As the latter had fallen back, neither of these was now occupied. Drops of rain had commenced to fall as we left our camp in the morning, and had now multiplied to such an extent that locomotion was becoming decidedly uncomfortable and difficult. At noon we were again ordered forward, marching down the pike through the earthworks already mentioned, behind which an occasional dead Rebel was seen, lying as he fell. The haversack of one of these which we investigated, contained nothing except a quart of raw, uncracked corn, and the body was clothed with an amount of covering inadequate to the season. How can one do otherwise than admire a devotion to a cause, so intense as to endure these two hardships of scanty fare and exposure! We must pay this tribute to Rebel patriotism even while we disapprove of and condemn the convictions which prompted it.

Leaving the pike we turn to our left into the [174] woods, which form a part of the region appropriately termed the Wilderness. Here we halt for a short time, awaiting a supply of rations from the train, which was parked across the river at Richardsville, under the protection of our cavalry. Having obtained these we plunge on again through the mire, and at last emerge from the woods upon a ridge which falls away gently before us to a small stream known as Mine Run. The rain had ceased falling before mid-afternoon, and a cold wind, starting up from the westward, had cleared the face of the heavens, so that the stars now shone brightly above us. When night fairly obscured our movements from the enemy we put our guns into position, having as a supporting force the Sixty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers. We are now at the very front Just before us is our outer line of pickets, and along the horizon gleam the lights from the camp-fires of the enemy.

At eight o'clock we lay down to get what rest we could, fully expecting to take part in a great battle the following morning. All night long the busy click of thousands of axes, heard faintly across the valley, told us the enemy were vigorously at work on their fortifications. When daylight broke, red lines of fresh earth stretching along the opposite ridge showed to how good purpose they had labored.

It was a clear, quiet Sabbath morning, but no Sabbath bells broke the stillness, summoning us away from the unhallowed pursuit of war to the worship of Him, the maker of foe as well as friend. Our attention was early devoted to getting the guns into a better position. Everything still remained quiet, but our skirmishers were now advancing, and the opening of a general engagement was momentarily expected; they succeeded, however, in provoking only skirmishing in return. Thus the forenoon wore [175] away, and a cold wind springing up, we gathered around huge fires to discuss and ponder the scenes which might be close at land. Rumor, with her hundred tongues, was a potent agent in keeping the discussion animated. Every orderly who gallops by, every straggler who comes up from the rear, has his contribution of wisdom to add to the general fund; for it is in the safe rear, among the ‘Coffee Coolers’ and ‘Company Q,’ that the most marvellous accounts of battles and authentic reports of movements are concocted. Now, Lee is all but surrounded, and we are waiting for the cavalry to cut his only remaining line of communication, when a general attack is to take place. Now he has taken an almost impregnable position which it will cost half our army to carry. One man knows that the Rebel army is but half ours in number, while another is equally positive that Longstreet's corps arrived from East Tennessee during the night, thus making them a match for us. So, as the cold increases, we gather closer about our fires, receive, discuss, and dispatch the rumors as they come in, and await the course of events.

In the afternoon more definite information came to hand. Gen. Warren's corps had gone around to the enemy's right flank, and was expected to attack at once. Simultaneously with this assault a charge was to be made in our front by the First, Third, and Sixth corps, under cover of a heavy fire from the artillery. Our signal to begin was to be the booing of Warren's guns. The lines of assault were drawn up; but what a direful prospect before those who were to make it! A half mile over broken, shrubby ground, to the Run, and across this over another half mile up to the Rebel works, exposed most of the way to direct and cross fires of artillery, and at the [176] last moment to a close, deadly discharge of musketry, was the path before them. Well might the men grow pale and await the signal with set teeth! And soon it came, we thought; a boom of a single gun, then another, and another in quick succession. We can see the white smoke rising in clouds over the hills. We are ready, but still the signal lingers.

Not yet had those sounds increased to a crash and roar which would indicate the attack really begun. Ere long the reports slacken and die away, then are heard again, as if our forces were fumbling about ascertaining the strength or position of the enemy. Warren had evidently found some insuperable obstacle, and night came on without any decisive result. The piercing wind grew stronger as the sun went down. The ground became solid under our feet; and about the well near us, where all the water for the troops in the immediate vicinity was obtained, a thick mass of ice formed. Our horses were kept standing in their harness, and as we lay down around the fires, wrapped in all the covering at our disposal, we could not but think of the outer pickets in their lonely pits that bitter night without shelter or fire. Some of them were found the next day frozen at their posts.

The morning of the 30th dawned sharp and clear. This, surely, was to be a day of decisive fighting. We were astir at 5 o'clock, and received orders to be ready to open fire at eight. Ere this hour arrived our skirmishers had been thrown out and were advancing, soon after capturing a line of riflepits.3 At [177] the time appointed a gun far to the right belched forth the signal. The next took up the note, and so from gun to gun, and battery to battery, the wave of sound rolled along until the thirty guns of the Third Corps added their thunder to the roaring tempest. Now we aimed at a salient in the enemy's works, now directed our shells into a piece of woods, and now sent them crashing through isolated buildings which afforded a probable shelter for Rebel sharpshooters. But this tornado provoked no hostile response from the enemy beyond skirmishing. They remained silent, ominously silent, evidently reserving their strength to repel the charge usually succeeding such heavy cannonading. In less than an hour the firing ceased, and we were ordered to change our guns to a position at our left, vacated by Randolph's Battery, whose shells did not reach. Skirmishing continued with rattling sound along our front, and dead and wounded were occasionally brought to the rear. Among the former was Lieut. Col. Tripp (?) of Berdan's Sharpshooters. The rest of the day wore away with no other events worthy of record except the holding of a council of war by Gen. Meade in the little house near us, of whose doings we were not apprised. Another night, cold and blustering, ensued, succeeded by a morning of like description, when we woke to find the water in the canteens completely frozen. We called it the coldest night we had passed in the open air thus far. Later in the forenoon there were desultory sounds of fighting beyond the woods on our right, ringing cheers, and some cannonading. Two divisions of [178] our corps that had been sent to aid Warren in his anticipated attack on the enemy's right the day before, rejoined us; but nothing was done during the day beyond strengthening our fortifications.

Rumors of retreat now began to be whispered about, and just before dark orders came to be ready to move. When night had fairly closed in we retrimmed the fires, leaving them brightly burning to deceive the enemy, noiselessly drew out and directed our march toward the river. Toiling on with great labor through a thick swamp, from the mire of which our caissons were lifted almost bodily by the friendly aid of a brigade of infantry, we at last reached the Orange Plank Road. Along this thoroughfare we marched in the cutting wind quite rapidly a full mile, when we made another turn to the left into the Stevensburg Plank Road. Turning to the right from this we pressed on until the river was reached. So cold was the weather that cannoneers were frequently called upon to relieve the drivers who were in danger of freezing on their horses. Culpepper Mine Ford, where we now recrossed the Rapidan, is some miles below Germania Ford.

The first streaks of dawn found the Battery on the north side of the river, and by broad daylight the whole army was safely across, the pontoons being then taken up without molestation from the enemy, who by this time, probably, had discovered our departure.4

After two or three hours rest, and a cup of hot coffee, we started on again. The ear was no longer greeted with sounds of strife, but was soothed by the melodious cooing of the cattle-drivers, or more properly, [179] leaders, for the man in charge of the herd went ahead instead of behind it, and the cattle always yielded to the charm of his voice, even in darkness and in forests, with wonderful readiness. Ten o'clock that night found the Battery strewn along the road quite a distance, as team after team had been all but hopelessly mired. In this respect it was a repetition of our advance. The roads were badly cut up and the horses sadly jaded. Moreover, travelling as we did after dark gave no opportunity to select the best course. There stands out as a bright spot in the memory the aid given us by a body of the ‘Blue Diamonds’ personally supervised by Gen. J. B. Carr.

The right section, finding itself in the rear of a long train of cavalry wagons, half of them immovable in the slough, turned aside and bivouacked for the night in a bed of mud. The rest of the teams came up as rapidly as they were extricated, and the men, thoroughly exhausted with the fatigues of the day, stretched themselves on the dryest hillocks to be found, and were soon lost in slumber.

Thursday morning we got under way once more, and traversed three miles of the muddiest territory, as it seemed to us, that the sacred soil could produce. It was the territory that lay between us and our old camp near Brandy Station, which we had now learned was our destination. Never did wayworn travellers returning from a pilgrimage greet their home with greater enthusiasm than did we our old quarters, or what was left of them, for Gen. Patrick's provost guard, camped the other side of the ridge, had appropriated all our boards, besides other conveniences that we had collected. Nevertheless it seemed like coming home again. At 9 o'clock Friday night orders came to pack up and hitch in [180] immediately, which we did. Signal rockets were visible in various directions. It was said we were attacked; but shortly after 11 o'clock orders came to unhitch and unharness, thus ending the matter. What the cause of the scare was we never knew, although rumor had it that the enemy were attempting to cross the river. But this cannot be true, as the testimony is concurrent that Lee made no attempt at pursuit.

The campaign thus brought to a close was deserving of a much more glorious termination. It was admirably conceived, and its failure, while intensely mortifying to its author, cast no reflection on his generalship. Gen. Meade, desirous of achieving some further success to the Union arms before the closing in of winter, being extremely sensitive to all criticisms made respecting the inactivity of the army, devised a plan of operations which certainly looked feasible, certain contingencies being unprovided for. But unfortunately, as it often happens, contingencies did arise which wrecked the success of the movement. He had ascertained that Lee had left the lower fords of the Rapidan uncovered; that his two corps were widely scattered in winterquar-ters,—Ewell's Corps extending from Morton's Ford across the country to the vicinity of Orange Court House, and Hill's distributed from south of that point along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad to the neighborhood of Charlottesville. Some miles intervened between these corps. Meade's plan was to cross at the uncovered fords and advance by the Orange plank and Orange turnpike roads, which are intersected by roads from Ely's, Jacobs Mill, Germania and Culpepper Mine fords, to Orange Court House, thus placing his army between the corps of the enemy, which he hoped to destroy in detail. It [181] was a bold stroke, necessitating a cutting loose from his base of supplies, and a nice execution of all the details of the movement planned, at the time and in the manner for which they were planned. The Fifth Corps, followed by the First, was to cross at Culpepper Mine Ford and proceed to Parker's Store on the Orange Plank Road. The Second was to cross at Germania Ford and proceed to Robertson's Tavern on the turnpike. The Third, followed by the Sixth, was to cross at Jacobs Mill Ford and make a junction with the Second at the Tavern, thus placing the whole army in close communication on the two parallel roads. Meade had calculated that as the distance was but about twenty miles, by taking an early start on the 26th each corps commander would appear at the post assigned him at the latest by noon of the 27th. But the Third Corps, having somewhat farther to march than the others, did not reach the river until three hours after the arrival of the other corps, through the mistake of Gen. Prince, one of its division commanders, who took the wrong road. This made a delay, as Gen. Meade, not sure how much opposition he should meet, wished all the corps to cross at the same time. A second serious contingency was the miscalculation on the part of the engineers, who underestimated the width of the river, causing a delay while they pieced out the pontoon bridges. The steepness of the banks was a third obstacle. These hindrances, already alluded to, conspired to bring ultimate failure upon the plan which depended for its success on surprising Lee in winter-quarters.

Early on the morning of the 27th the army, which should have been across the river the day before, being now for the most part on the south bank, under the most imperative orders from Gen. Meade, [182] pressed forward with greater rapidity. Warren reached Robertson's Tavern about 1 o'clock P. M., where he began skirmishing with the enemy, but dared not make a serious attack until joined by the Third Corps. But, unfortunately, this body was doomed to be a further stumbling-block, for after crossing the river, Gen. French took the wrong road, which, carrying him too far to the right, involved him in serious trouble with Johnson's Division of Ewell's Corps, and by the time he had finished the brush the afternoon was far spent and the golden opportunity had passed.5 Hill's Corps now coming up, the Rebel army fell back and took position along the left bank of Mine Run. Little remains to be said not already given. On the 28th Warren was sent to find the enemy's right, and, if he deemed it feasible, to flank and turn it. He completed his observations on the 29th, and reported the situation favorable for an attack. At the same time Sedgwick found a weak spot in the Confederate left that he thought penetrable. Thereupon Gen. Meade resolved on a simultaneous attack on both wings, but preparations were not complete until too late to attack Sunday, hence it was deferred till Monday morning with the result already known. Lee, suspecting the movement, had so strengthened his right, where the attack was to begin, during the night, that it was simply madness to think of an assault upon it. So thought Warren, who was considered a skilful engineer; so thought the men of his command;6 so decided Gen. Meade, who rode rapidly [183] over to the left to satisfy himself. It was a great grief to the latter to have a campaign from which he had hoped so much end without success, but any further move looking to a dislodgment of Lee would entail a still further advance into the enemy's country; and this, with our supply trains across the river, and the rations of the army now nearly exhausted, was not to be thought of in the hostile month of December. He therefore decided to sacrifice himself, if necessary, rather than continue operations longer, and issued the orders for withdrawal. He would now have marched to the heights of Fredericksburg to camp for the winter, but was again negatived in the project by Halleck.

Morning reports.


Nov. 12. Serg't G. F. Gould and privates H. Newton, Charles Slack, T. Ellworth, reported to quarters. Bugler Reed at hospital.

Nov. 13. Privates Charles Slack, Thomas Ellworth, Hiram Warburton reported for duty.

Nov. 14. Private H. Newton and Serg't Gould (?) reported for duty.

Nov. 15. Five horses unserviceable. Three horses shot by order of Dr. Benson Third Corps Headquarters.

Nov. 16. Received 8 horses from Capt. A H. Pierce, Warrenton Junction, Va.

Nov. 17. One horse died, one horse condemned and shot, by order Inspector General. [184]

Nov. 18. Corporal Currant and privates McAllister, Maxwell and Colbath, reported to quarters.

Nov. 19. Corporal Currant and Private Colbath report for duty.

Nov. 20. Ten horses condemned and turned over to Capt. L. H. Pierce A. Q. Seven horses received from Capt. Pierce. Privates Maxwell and MacAllister report for duty. W. H. Fitzpatrick started tonight on a ten days leave of absence to Boston.

Nov. 22. Bugler Joshua T. Reed went to Washington Hospital.

Nov. 24. Daniel MacAllister and Wm. G. Donnelly reported to quarters. Orders to move which were countermanded.

Nov. 25. Alex. W. Holbrook reported to quarters.

Nov. 26. Left Brandy Station for Germania Ford at daylight, via Jacobs Mill Ford. Halted about two miles this side of the Ford about midnight and stopped until daylight.

Nov. 27. Moved on at daylight and crossed Germania Ford at 11.30 A. M. Arrived near Robertson's Tavern at 4 o'clock and stopped all night. One mule died on the march.

Nov. 28. At 2 o'clock P. M. moved to the left and front of our line and reported to General Birney, First Division, Third A. C.

Nov. 29. Went into position and remained all day and night.

Nov. 30. At 8 o'clock opened on the enemy's works 2200 yards distant and continued (firing) about half an hour, using about 200 rounds. Two P. M. relieved Battery E, 1st R. I. Art'y.

Dec. 1. Moved from the front just after dark for Culpepper Ford. Marched all night.

Dec. 2. Arrived at Culpepper Ford about 5 o'clock and halted. About 10 moved on and [185] marched until within four miles of Brandy Station and stopped for the night.

Dec. 3. At daylight marched to our old camp ground at Brandy Station. Arrived there about 9.30 A. M. Ten horses unserviceable.

1 ‘Jacobs Ford, the place selected for crossing the river by the Third Corps, was impracticable on the opposite bank for artillery, or wagons, or even empty ambulances. In fact it was almost impossible for a horseman to go up on the opposite side of the river without dismounting. The Third Corps, on reaching the river, had to send all the artillery and ambulances to the Germania Ford.’— Gen. Birney: Testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War.

2 We afterwards learned that Warren's Second Corps, which crossed at this ford, was ahead of us, and must cross first.


At 8 o'clock, A. M., according to orders, the artillery on my line opened on the enemy, and I ordered my infantry to advance. We crossed the creek of Mine Run and took the first line of rifle-pits of the enemy. The enemy were in great commotion. I think that in extending their right they had weakened their centre.

At that time, to my astonishment, an aid rode up from Gen. Meade, and ordered me to cease the demonstration; that there was to be no attack; and I withdrew from the line of the enemy's works and resumed my position, the one I held that morning before I made the attack.

Gen. Birney: Testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War.

4 ‘December 3d. Meade recrossed the Rapidan last night. This is a greater relief to us than the enemy has any idea of. I hope the campaign is over for the winter.’—A Rebel War Clerk's Diary. Jones.

5 According to Mr. Greeley, he seems to have played at cross purposes with the implicit commands of his superior. See American Conflict, p. 400, Vol. II.

6 ‘Recognizing that the task now before them was of the character of a forlorn hope, knowing well that no man could here count on escaping death, the soldiers, without sign of shrinking from the sacrifice, were seen quietly pinning on the breast of their blouses of blue, slips of paper on which each had written his name.’—Swinton's campaigns of the Army of the Potomac.

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