October 14, 1863
After Gettysburg, Lee settled down south of the Rapidan while Meade covered the crossings of the Rappahannock. Longstreet's corps was sent west and aided in the smashing victory at Chickamauga. The XI and XII Corps of the Army of the Potomac were sent west under Hooker. With Meade weakened, and with the need to draw attention from the western theater, Lee returned to the offensive. With Stuart screening the move, Lee moved west, then north, intending to get behind Meade or attack him as he withdrew before the Union army got to the defenses at Centreville. After a clash between Stuart and Union infantry at Auburn, Lee determined that Meade was withdrawing north along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and he advanced to intercept him. By the afternoon of October 14th, Lee's army was nearing Bristoe Station where Warren's II Corps was bringing up the rear of the Union army. Ewell's corps took some back roads while A.P. Hill's corps advanced directly on Bristoe Station.
From Position of Arnold's Union Artillery
As Confederate troops moved into view of Warren's corps moving along the railroad tracks, the Federals deployed in the railroad cuts, skirmishers were deployed, and artillery prepared for battle. Arnold's battery unlimbered on this hill. Here they would support the infantry. This is the view they would have had to the northwest. Down the shallow hill the infantry was deploying in the railroad. On the ridge in the distance, now wooded, the Confederates could be seen deploying for an attack.
Looking Downhill Toward Bristoe Station
This is the view down the road just to the right of Arnold's battery - with a normal and a zoomed-in view. The railroad crossing at Bristoe Station would become a focal point of the Confederate attack.
Looking Northwest From Bristoe Station
This is the view from just in front of the Union line at Bristoe Station. Heth's Confederate division advanced down the hill along both sides of the road and briefly penetrated the Union line at the railroad but were soon forced back. McIntosh's five gun Confederate battery was left without infantry support and was largely captured somewhere near here. The Confederate attack had extended beyond the hill on the left of the picture. There, Posey's and Perry's brigades reached the railroad but were forced back
Confederate Infantry and Artillery Position
At about 4 P.M., the Confederates regrouped on this ridge while the battle settled down to an artillery duel. The remains of McIntosh's guns were positioned here supporting Cooke's brigade. After night fell, Meade continued his withdrawal.
The impetuous Confederate attack had been costly. Lee lost 1,380 of 17,000 engaged compared to Meade's losses of only 540 of 8,400 engaged. Lee remained in the area for several days but was unable to supply the army and withdrew behind the Rappahannock. Aside from Rappahannock Station and the Mine Run campaign in November and early December, there would be little action in Virginia until Grant's Overland Campaign in spring of 1864.
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