Battle History

                                        MINE RUN, VA
                                  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. George 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 -----------------------------------------------------------------

Return To Home Page