Mine Run Campaign
November 27 - December 2, 1863
Payne’s Farm and New Hope Church were the first and heaviest clashes of the Mine Run Campaign. In late November 1863, Meade attempted to steal a march through the Wilderness and strike the right flank of the Confederate army south of the Rapidan River. Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early in command of Ewell's Corps marched east on the Orange Turnpike to meet the advance of William French’s III Corps near Payne’s Farm. Carr’s division (US) attacked twice. Johnson’s division (CS) counterattacked but was scattered by heavy fire and broken terrain. After dark, Lee withdrew to prepared field fortifications along Mine Run. The next day the Union army closed on the Confederate position. Skirmishing was heavy, but a major attack did not materialize. Meade concluded that the Confederate line was too strong to attack and retired during the night of December 1-2, ending the winter campaign.
Letter dated December 6th, 1863
Dec. 6, 1863
Virginia, in camp near the Rappahannock River
I now take the opportunity to try and write a few lines to you to let you know that I am alive and well yet. My health is first rate yet, although I have had a very hard time of it for the last 2 weeks. We have been on the march both night and day. We advanced across the Rapidan River and drove the rebels into some strong fortifications that they had about 10 miles from the river. We was drawn up in a line of battle on Saturday in front of them about one mile off with a small river called Mine Run between us. It rained hard. Then we had to lay down in the wet grass while our artillery got in position a little to the right and in front of us. They threw shells at the rebs for an hour and got but little reply. One of the shells burst in front of our line but a short distance from where General Meade was sitting on his horse giving directions to the colonels.
The rebs dammed up the river so that we could not cross it. They worked all night at that and building fortifications. I was on guard at the colonels tent that night. We was to have attacked the rebs at 8 o.c. on Monday morning. We was taken to the right about a half a mile; took off our knapsacks and laid down in line again. The artillery opened fire for an hour but only got two shots in reply. The firing then ceased and we was moved to the left again. We laid there in line of battle from Saturday till Tuesday night then we took up our line of march and got back to the Rappahannock River at Kelleys Ford on Wednesday night. We had to live on 20 crackers or hard tack with a little beef for 4 days it was pretty hard for some. I tell you though I did not suffer much for I had some 6 extra crackers that I had saved from my rations before. Well, enough of this, now if you will get the Herald you can read all of the particulars in that and the first of January I will send you the rest of my book and that will tell you all. Now as to answering your letter, in the first place, I am very sorry to have you write so much about my not writing oftener, for I write as often as I can. If you could only know how the time goes here you would not say a word. I received your letter Friday night with the likeness' for which I am very glad, they are nice. I had to work all day yesterday fixing up camp. Work that I was obliged to do for I was ordered to and before we got it done we had to pack up again. We laid here till dark then was told to pitch tents again on the same ground (as) this morning. We had an inspection at 10 o.c. it took all morning to clean our guns and pack up things for that so that it is almost impossible to do anything for myself I am in the First Army Corps, Second Division, Second Brigade. As for the boys from Russell there is only John Heyland in the regiment. H. Knox is in the hospital at David's Island, New York. I had a letter from him a week ago, he has been home for 15 days on a furlough free of expenses. He went home to vote the Republican ticket. There I can't write any more this time but will as soon as I can again. If we ever get into winter quarters I want to send for some things, a towel, socks, boots and so on. Write soon again and I will write as often as possible. I send you 5 dollars with this, take care of it, it comes hard.
Yours as ever