An unsuccessful attempt of the Union Army of the Potomac to defeat the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, it was marked by false starts and low casualties and ended the war in the Eastern Theater for the year.
In late November, Meade attempted to steal a march through the Wilderness of Spotsylvania and strike the right flank of the Confederate Army south of the Rapidan River. Meade had intelligence reports that Lee's army, half the size of Meade's Army of the Potomac, was split in two, separated by Clark's Mountain, with the two flanks anchored at Mine Run and Liberty Mills, over thirty miles apart. His plan was to cross the Rapidan at points beyond Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry screen, overwhelm the right flank (Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's Second Corps) and then follow up with the remainder (Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill's Third Corps).
Unlike Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's plan in the Chancellorsville Campaign earlier that year on essentially the same ground, Meade planned no diversions; he intended a lightning strike with his entire army. The army marched on November 25 and got off to a good start, aided by fog on Clark's Mountain, which screened his movements from Confederate lookouts. However, Maj. Gen. William H. French's III Corps got bogged down in fording the river at Jacob's Ford, causing traffic jams when they moved their artillery to Germanna Ford, where other units were attempting to cross.
After dark, Lee withdrew to prepared field fortifications along Mine Run. The next day the Union Army closed on the Confederate position. Meade planned a heavy artillery bombardment followed by Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren's corps attack in the south, then Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick's corps in the north an hour later. Lee planned an assault for December 2 that would have exploited the dangling left flank of the Union line, discovered the previous day by Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton's cavalry. Although the Union bombardment began on schedule, the major attack did not materialize; Meade concluded that the Confederate line was too strong to attack (although Warren is credited with getting the attack canceled) and retired during the night of December 1 into December 2, ending the fall campaign. Lee was chagrined to find he had no one left in his front to attack.
Play springs from an attic trunk ; 'Dear Emma,' by Rhonda Carlson of South Portland, brings its 19th- century letter writers' concerns to life.
Dec 04, 2003; PAUL LIVINGSTONE News Assistant Portland Press Herald (Maine) 12-04-2003 Play springs from an attic trunk ; 'Dear Emma,' by...