I’ve long wished for a good campaign study looking at the clashes between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia from after Gettysburg through the end of 1863. As many TOCWOC readers know, both sides sent one or more corps west to the fighting at Chickamauga and Chattanooga. Despite this, the fall of 1863 wasn’t as quiet as you might think. Lee tried to trap Meade in northern Virginia in October just as he had done to Pope in August 1862. Instead of allowing the third battle of Bull Run to take place however, the more than capable Meade chose the cautious path and retreated alertly, bloodying a portion of A.P. Hill’s Third Corps at Bristoe Station in the process. Meade by this point wanted to settle into winter quarters, but pressure from Washington forced him into a winter campaign. After a successful beginning to this campaign for the Union at Rappahannock Station, Lee’s formidable Mine Run fortifications forced a stalemate on Meade at the end of November, thus ending the campaign.
Where am I going with all of this you ask? I’ll tell you. I am over halfway through Eric Wittenberg, JD Petruzzi, and Mike Nugent’s book One Continuous Fight, which focuses on the numerous battles and skirmishes fought from July 4-14, 1863 as Lee attempted to remove his large number of wounded men from Gettysburg and escape into Virginia intact. In the preface to the book, well known author Noah Andre Trudeau talks quite a bit about the need to start chronicling the action between these two armies from July 4, 1863 through to the end of the year. In reading the Preface, one gets the feeling he may be taking up the torch and writing just such a campaign study. It might be nothing, but I thought I’d mention it as I found this subject matter very interesting and unexpected for the Preface of a book covering the retreat from Gettysburg. Trudeau just had Southern Storm published, so naturally he’s got to be working on something else currently. Right? Let the rampant speculation begin! 😉
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