The Federal Army of the Potomac Rebuilds
On the night of December 1, 1863, following its unsuccessful advance against Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the Mine Run Campaign, a cold and tired Army of the Potomac withdrew across the Rapidan River and returned to Culpeper County.
On these fields and throughout most of Cupleper and part of Fauquier Counties, 100,000 Union soldiers set up a massive winter encampment that disrupted the lives of local residents
Union commander Maj. Gen. George G. Meade (right) ordered that the army establish its camps in an enormous oval-shapped configuration. As protection, an outer ring of cavalry pickets stretched around the army, backed up by an inner line of infantry.
Supplies from Alexandria, Virginia rolled down the Orange and Alexandria Railroad into Brandy Station, the army's principle supply depot, and to Ingalls Station, 1.2 miles to the north.
The encampment, which lasted from December 1, 1863 to May 4, 1864, was described by one soldier as a time "when the shattered regiments regained form and fair; when the new men learned the ways of the old, and caught the spirit of the organization they had entered... and the new body, thus composed, was to be thrown into one of the most furious campaigns of human history."
"A man could walk for miles and never leave the camps around Brandy Station."
Anonymous Union Solder
"A few weeks ago it was a wilderness; now it is a city of log huts, hardly a tree to be seen."
126th New York Soldier
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