By Arnold Blumberg In late July 1863, after the conclusion of the Gettysburg campaign, the Union Army of the Potomac, under Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, and the Army of Northern Virginia, under General Robert E. Lee, settled exhaustedly into their respective camps. The Federal troops bivouacked on the north bank of the Rappahannock River near the village of Warrenton, Virginia, while the Confederates took up positions south of the river near Culpeper. Having won a major defensive victory—however narrowly—at Gettysburg, Meade considered going over to the offensive. He confided to Union General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck on July 28 that he was “making every effort to prepare the army for an advance.” But before any forward movement could be undertaken, Meade first had to discover the enemy’s exact location. To that end, he sent out a large reconnaissance force spearheaded by Brig. Gen. John Buford’s 1st Cavalry Division and supported by the infantry in Maj. Gen. John Newton’s I Corps. Lee Along the Rappahannock On August 1, Buford’s 3,500 troopers splashed across the Rappahannock and started down the line of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad to Culpeper. At 10 am, the bluecoats came into contact with Confederate horsemen guarding the area, Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton’s 1,000-man brigade, temporarily commanded by Colonel Pierce M.B. Young. As Union horsemen curled around both his flanks, Young conducted a grudging four-mile fighting withdrawal to Brandy Station


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