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Library of Congress

Rappahannock Station

Fauquier County, VA  |  Nov 7, 1863

Pressured by Washington to make another attack on General Robert E. Lee’s army in northern Virginia, and perhaps enjoying the success of his partial victory over Lee at Bristoe Station three weeks earlier, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade ordered an assault against Lee’s infantry along the Rappahannock River on November 7th, 1863. A single pontoon bridge at Rappahannock Station was the only connection between Lee's army and the northern bank of the river. The bridge was protected by a bridgehead on the north bank consisting of redoubts and trenches. Confederate batteries posted on hills south of the river gave additional strength to the position. As Lee anticipated, Meade divided his forces, ordering Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick to the bridgehead and positioning Maj. Gen. William H. French five miles downstream to engage a Confederate line near Kelly’s Ford. To counter this move, Lee shifted a force under Maj. Gen. Robert Rodes to Kelly’s Ford, where they were overwhelmed by French. At Rappahannock Station, Sedgwick’s men skirmished with Maj. Gen. Jubal Early’s Confederates before launching a brutal nighttime bayonet attack. The Federals overran Early’s bridgehead taking more than 1,600 prisoners. Defeated, Lee retreated into Orange County south of the Rapidan River while the Army of the Potomac occupied the vicinity of Brandy Station and Culpeper County. Later in November, before the winter weather ended military campaign season, Meade would attempt one more offensive against Lee at Mine Run.

All battles of the Bristoe Campaign

Civil War  |  Battle
Bristoe Station
Prince William County, VA  |  Oct 14, 1863
Result: Union Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,920
Union: 540
Confederate: 1,380
Civil War  |  Battle
Buckland Mills
Fauquier County, VA  |  Oct 19, 1863
Result: Confederate Victory
Est. Casualties: 310
Union: 260
Confederate: 50
Civil War  |  Battle
Rappahannock Station
Fauquier County, VA  |  Nov 7, 1863
Result: Union Victory
Est. Casualties: 2,093
Union: 419
Confederate: 1,674

Related Battles

Remington, VA | November 7, 1863
Result: Union Victory
Commanders
Forces Engaged
4,000
Union
2,000
Confed.
2,000
Estimated Casualties
2,093
Union
419
Confed.
1,674