Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 21, 1863 (Friday): The Bristoe Campaign Ends With A Whimper

General George G. Meade

Gainesville, Va., October 21, 1863-10. 30 a. m.
(Received 11 a. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    I regret to inform you that from the examination made, I have reason to believe that the Orange and Alexandria Railroad has been destroyed from Bristoe Station to Culpeper Court-House. To repair and put in working order the road to the Rappahannock will require the use of a considerable part of this army for guards and working parties. Under these circumstances, I do not see the practicability of an advance on this line to Gordonsville. A transfer to the Fredericksburg road, if successful in crossing the Rappahannock, would require time to put the road in working order from Aquia Creek, and the enemy would doubtless destroy it in advance of the point we held.
    It seems to me, therefore, that the campaign is virtually over for the present season, and that it would be better to withdraw the army to some position in front of Washington and detach from it such portions as may be required to operate elsewhere. Although I have no information but the acts of the enemy, I think it is his intention to detach a portion of his forces for operations elsewhere. I should be glad to have the views of the Government at the earliest possible moment.

     GEO. G. MEADE,
     Major-General, Commanding.

WASHINGTON, October 21, 1863-1. 30 p. m.
(Received 9. 15 p. m.)
Major-General MEADE:
     Your telegrams of 8 p. m. last night and 10. 30 this morning were received. I cannot reply till I receive the orders of the President and the Secretary of War.

     H. W. HALLECK,

WASHINGTON, October 21, 1863-3. 30 p. m.
(Received 9. 15 p. m.)
Major-General MEADE:
     If you can conveniently leave your army, the President wishes to see you to-morrow.

    H. W. HALLECK,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Pages 361-362.

It is well to remember we are only 90 days or so removed from the Union victory at Gettysburg.  It is popular to consider Gettysburg a pivot point on which the war turned in favor of the North.  But since the battle Meade has not taken the battle to Lee, but Lee has attempted to get at Meade and driven him into Washington's defenses.  So much for the great victory at Gettysburg.

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