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Nokesville in Prince William County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Early & Gordon at Bristoe Station

A Missed Opportunity

 
 
Early & Gordon at Bristoe Station Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), November 30, 2019
1. Early & Gordon at Bristoe Station Marker
Inscription.  After the Gettysburg Campaign, Union Gen. George G. Meade's Army of the Potomac faced Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia across the Rapidan River. In October 1863, Lee attempted to outflank Meade's army and cut the Union supply line—the Orange and Alexandria (O&A) Railroad. In response, Meade withdrew the Army of the Potomac east to protect Washington, D.C., with Lee in pursuit.

As Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill, at the front of Lee's army, neared Bristoe Station on the O&A, he thought he saw the Federal rear. In reality, Hill saw the rear of V Corps. A gap had opened between it and H Corps, which the elevated railroad bed screened from Hill's vision. As Hill attacked, II Corps crossed Kettle Run and fired into Hill's right flank, inflicting heavy casualties. When the battle shifted onto the railroad corridor, some II Corps units moved west to Kettle Run to protect the Union left flank.

Confederate Gen. Richard S. Ewell ordered Gen. Jubal A. Early's division, following Hill, to attack across Kettle Run and outflank II Corps.

"As we descended the hill toward Kettle Run the air
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above us rang with the whistle of minie bullets, and athwart the creek appeared the advancing enemy [Gen. John B. Gordon's brigade] pressing to cut us off."

—Chaplain Henry R. Pine, The History of the 1st New Jersey Cavalry (1871)


Early directed Gen. John B. Gordon to form a battle line and wait, but Gordon impulsively charged across Kettle Run to attack Federal cavalrymen. Early was surprised when he "found Gordon unexpectedly gone." By then, II Corps had marched on, leaving Early—missing a third of his manpower with Gordon chasing Union cavalry—"no enemy to attack in the direction I had been ordered to move." Because of Hill's and Gordon's ill-considered attacks, Meade's army escaped by nightfall. Lee's opportunity for inflicting a heavy blow was lost near Kettle Run.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Railroads & StreetcarsWar, US CivilWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and the Virginia Civil War Trails series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is October 1863.
 
Location. 38° 42.456′ N, 77° 33.892′ W. Marker is in Nokesville, Virginia, in Prince William County. Marker is at the
Early & Gordon at Bristoe Station Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), November 30, 2019
2. Early & Gordon at Bristoe Station Marker
intersection of Aden Road (Virginia Route 646) and Marsteller Drive, on the right when traveling south on Aden Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 11336 Aden Road, Nokesville VA 20181, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A Narrow Escape (here, next to this marker); Preparing for Battle (approx. 1½ miles away); Battle Along the Railroad (approx. 1½ miles away); Confederates in Bristoe (approx. 1½ miles away); Deadly Day for Excelsior Brigade (approx. 1½ miles away); The "Tigers" of Louisiana (approx. 1.6 miles away); Here Lie Men from the State of Alabama (approx. 1.6 miles away); “We Shall Bag the Whole Crowd” (approx. 1.6 miles away).
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 1, 2019. It was originally submitted on December 1, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 298 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 1, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Apr. 17, 2024