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We have once more moved our Headquarters. . . . Reveille was beaten so early that, when I popped my sleepy head out of the tent, there were the stars, most magnificent, especially Venus who sat above the moon and looked like a fire-ball. The moon was but a little one, but her circle was completed by that kind of image you often see, only the figure of the Man-in-the-Moon was plainly reflected on this image, a thing I never noticed before. These were the astronomical observations of Lyman, as he stood in the sharp air, clad in a flannel shirt and drawers. A sense of coldness about the legs roused me to a sense of my position, and I speedily added more warm garments. Breakfast was ready by the time it was light; and, every mouthful of beef I stowed away, I expected to hear the cannon that would announce the opening of the great battle. The General was confident of a battle and remarked cheerfully that "he meant to pitch right into them." The idea was that they would take a chosen position, near Brandy Station, and there await our attack, for which they would not have been obliged to wait long. The bulk of the army was therefore crossed at Kelly's Ford, so as to advance with undivided force; General Sedgwick, however, with nearly his whole corps, held the redoubt he had taken on the north side, and, at the proper moment, was ready to throw his bridges, cross the river and take them in the flank. An hour wore away, and there was no sound of battle; so we all mounted, and rode to a small house on Mt. Holly. This is a low, steep hill, close to Kelly's Ford and commanding it. ... Presently there appeared a couple of dragoons, with five fresh prisoners. . . . " How were you taken? " quoth the Provost-Marshal. "Well, we were on guard and we went to sleep, and, when we woke up, the first thing we seed was your skirmish line" (which was only a roundabout way of saying they were common stragglers). "Where is the rest of your army?" "All gone last night to the breastworks behind the Rapidan!" And this was the gist of the matter. We passed Swell's Headquarters, a little while after, and there I learned that, when news of the capture of the redoubt was brought him, he exclaimed with some profanity, "Then it's time we were out of this!" and immediately issued orders to fall back, along the whole line, after dark. There we crossed on a pontoon bridge, and found the 5th Corps massed, on the other side. As the cavalcade trotted by, the men all ran to the road and cheered and yelled most vociferously for General Meade. Soon we came up with General Warren. He looked like a man of disappointed hopes, as he gazed round the country and said, "There's nobody here nobody!" And so we passed on, and beheld our English friends, with the Staff of General Webb. They had a very bewildered air, which seemed to say: "Oh, ah, where are these Rebel persons? pray could you tell me where they are?" Near Brandy Station we met good "Uncle John" Sedgwick, who said it was a cool day, as if there was nothing particular on hand, and he hadn't been doing anything for a week or two. It was now late on this Sunday afternoon and the troops were massing, to bivouac. There seemed really no end of them; though but part of the army was there; yet I never saw it look so big, which is accounted for by the fact that the country is very open and rolling and we could see the whole of it quite swarming with blue coats. . . . We recrossed the Rappahannock at the railroad, and saw the fresh graves of the poor fellows who fell in the assault of the redoubt. The Rebel officers said it was the most gallant thing they had seen. Two regiments, the 6th Maine and 7th Wisconsin, just at sundown, as the light was fading, charged up a long, naked slope, in face of the fire of a brigade and of four cannon, and carried the works at the point of the bayonet. ... I think it no small praise to General Meade to say that his plans were so well laid out that our loss in all is but about 400. No useless slaughter, you see, though there was plenty of room for a blunder, as you would have known had you seen the lines of breastworks the fellows had; but we took part of them and scared them out of the rest.
- Theodore Lyman
- Meades Headquarters 1863 - 1865, Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox