Battle of Mine Run, Virginia

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Battle of Mine Run, Virginia
NOV. 26TH - DEC. 2ND, 1863

Battle of Mine Run

                                        NOV. 26TH - DEC. 2ND, 1863
                     Mine Run, Va, Nov. 26-Dec. 2, 1863.  Army of the Potomac.
                At the time of this campaign the army of the Potomac was
                commanded by Maj.-Gen. G. Meade and consisted of the
                1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th army corps, respectively under
                Maj.-Gens. John Newton, Gouverneur K. Warren, William H.
                French, George Sykes and John Sedgwick.  The divisions of
                Newton's corps were commanded by Brig.-Gens. Solomon Meredith,
                John C. Robinson and John R. Kenly; those of Warren's corps
                were under Brig.-Gens. John C. Caldwell, Alexander S. Webb and
                Alexander Hays; of French's, Maj.Gen. David B. Birney, and
                Brig.-Gens. Henry Prince and Joseph B. Carr; of Sykes', Brig.-
                Gens. Joseph J. Bartlett, Romeyn B. Ayres and Samuel W.
                Crawford; and of Sedgwick's, Brig.-Gens. Horatio G. Wright
                Albion P. Howe and Henry D. Terry. Kenly's division of
                Newton's corps did not accompany the expedition, being left to
                guard the railroad near Brandy Station.  The cavalry corps was
                under Maj.-Gen. Alfred Pleasonton, whose division commanders
                were Brig. Gens. John Buford, David McM. Gregg and George A.
                Custer, and the artillery was under Brig.-Gen. Henry J. Hunt.
                     While Custer's division of cavalry was attracting the
                attention of the enemy in front of his position at Raccoon and
                Morton's fords the rest of the army was to proceed to the
                lower fords of the Rapidan river, Jacobs', Germanna and
                Culpeper Mine, and cross simultaneously.  French, with his
                corps, was to proceed to Jacob's ford and his line of march
                being closest to the then known position of the Confederates,
                was to be followed by Sedgwick as a support.  Warren was to
                cross at Germanna ford and Sykes, supported by the two
                divisions of the 1st corps, was to proceed by way of Culpeper
                Mine ford.  Pursuant to the above plan the army was put in
                motion at 6 a.m. of the 26th, the heads of the 2nd and 5th
                corps reaching their crossing places between 9 and 10 a.m.
                For some unknown reason the 3rd corps did not reach Jacob's
                ford until noon.  The crossing was then made at all three
                fords, but the delay of French had so retarded the movement of
                the whole army that it was nightfall before it was all on the
                south side of the stream, and it was impossible for Meade to
                reach Robertson's tavern that day as he had planned.  French's
                artillery could not be crossed at Jacob's ford because of the
                steep banks on the south side and it was necessary to wait
                while it was sent around by way of Germanna ford 2 miles
                below.  Meantime Custer's division of cavalry proceeded from
                Stevensburg, took position at Raccoon and Morton's fords and
                made a demonstration as if to cross.  This movement caused the
                enemy to move a heavy force of infantry into the intrenchments
                and to open an artillery fire of 30 pieces on Custer, who
                replied with his pieces and until dark the fight was kept up.
                The army bivouacked a few miles south of the Rapidan and moved
                at daylight for Locust Grove or Robertson's tavern the 2nd
                corps arriving about 10 a.m. Warren's advance had quite a
                skirmish with the enemy, whose pickets were driven in and a
                number of prisoners from Ewell's corps were captured.  Meade
                ordered Warren to hold his position until the arrival of
                French's corps, which was momentarily expected.  About 11 a.m.
                Meade received a despatch from French stating that his column
                was on the plank road awaiting Warren's and a courier was
                immediately returned to inform him that Warren was at
                Robertson's tavern awaiting his arrival.  At 1 p.m. another
                message was received from French to the effect that the
                Confederates were throwing out a force on the right flank of
                his column on the Raccoon Ford road.  Warren again ordered him
                to hurry forward.  Prince's division on advancing came to a
                fork in the road and not knowing which to take, waited for 2
                hours for an order from French.  When it came it was for the
                division to take the right hand road and after a time another
                order was given for it to return and take the other fork.  As
                a consequence the enemy attacked again near Payne's farm, and
                a severe fight ensued.  Prince's line fell back and Carr, on
                the left of Prince, had one of his brigades driven back some
                distance, when the enemy was checked by a reinforcement from
                Birney's division.  These operations kept Sedgwick from
                joining Warren, who was therefore on the defensive all day.
                Gregg's cavalry division moving past the 5th corps advanced as
                far as New Hope Church where it was briskly engaged for a
                time, but succeeded in driving the Confederate cavalry until
                it was reinforced by infantry. when Gregg in turn was
                compelled to retire until relieved by Sykes' division, which
                repulsed the enemy.  Sykes had been informed of French's
                failure to reach Robertson's tavern and had been ordered not
                to advance beyond the church, so did not follow up his
                success.  Newton late in the afternoon was moved from the
                plank road to Robertson's tavern to support Warren and during
                the night the 5th and 6th corps also arrived there.  Next
                morning Meade made his dispositions to attack, but on driving
                in the Confederate pickets it was found that the enemy had
                abandoned his position.  Pursuit was immediately ordered and
                the enemy was discovered in a strongly intrenched position on
                the west bank of Mine run.  Convinced that there was little
                possibility of success no attempt was made to assault, but
                Warren's corps and one division of the 6th was sent to
                demonstrate on the Confederate right.  It took some time to
                prepare for the movement so that the start was not made until
                the next morning at daylight.  Arriving at the position
                desired the force was deployed and Gregg and Warren together
                reconnoitered the Confederate position.  About 1 p.m. an
                advance was ordered and the enemy was driven 3 miles to his
                intrenchments at the head of Mine run.  It was dark before the
                Federals were ready to assault, so the movement was postponed
                until next morning, the 30th.  During the day of the 29th
                Gregg's cavalry had a rather heavy fight at Parker's store in
                repulsing a force of Confederates attempting to get at a wagon
                train in Gregg's rear.  On the night of the 29th it was agreed
                at a conference of the corps commanders that a simultaneous
                assault should be made along the whole Confederate line next
                morning.  All the preparations were made, the Union
                skirmishers having even advanced across Mine run and driven in
                those of the enemy, when word was received from Warren that
                after reconnoitering the enemy's position in daylight he had
                concluded that it would be folly to attack.  Meade hastened to
                confer with him, but Warren's idea of the matter was unchanged
                even after he and the commanding general had gone over the
                situation together.
                     Admitting the failure of the expedition Meade determined
                to withdraw and the army started on its return on Dec. 1, and
                the next day reached the points from which it had started a
                week before.  The casualties in the Army of the Potomac for
                the whole campaign were 173 killed, 1,O99 wounded and 381
                captured or missing.  The Confederate losses were not reported
                for the campaign as a whole, but Ewell's corps (the 2nd) in
                the Payne's farm and Mine run affairs on the 27th and 28th
                suffered to the extent of 83 killed and 518 wounded.

Source: The Union Army, vol. 6

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