Battle of Bristoe Station

Thomas' Legion
American Civil War HOMEPAGE
American Civil War
Causes of the Civil War : What Caused the Civil War
Organization of Union and Confederate Armies: Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery
Civil War Navy: Union Navy and Confederate Navy
American Civil War: The Soldier's Life
Civil War Turning Points
American Civil War: Casualties, Battles and Battlefields
Civil War Casualties, Fatalities & Statistics
Civil War Generals
American Civil War Desertion and Deserters: Union and Confederate
Civil War Prisoner of War: Union and Confederate Prison History
Civil War Reconstruction Era and Aftermath
American Civil War Genealogy and Research
Civil War
American Civil War Pictures - Photographs
African Americans and American Civil War History
American Civil War Store
American Civil War Polls
NORTH CAROLINA HISTORY
North Carolina Civil War History
North Carolina American Civil War Statistics, Battles, History
North Carolina Civil War History and Battles
North Carolina Civil War Regiments and Battles
North Carolina Coast: American Civil War
HISTORY OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA
Western North Carolina and the American Civil War
Western North Carolina: Civil War Troops, Regiments, Units
North Carolina: American Civil War Photos
Cherokee Chief William Holland Thomas
HISTORY OF THE CHEROKEE INDIANS
Cherokee Indian Heritage, History, Culture, Customs, Ceremonies, and Religion
Cherokee Indians: American Civil War
History of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Nation
Cherokee War Rituals, Culture, Festivals, Government, and Beliefs
Researching your Cherokee Heritage
Civil War Diary, Memoirs, Letters, and Newspapers
American Civil War Store: Books, DVDs, etc.

Battle of Bristoe Station

Battle of Bristoe Station

Other Names: Bristoe, Bristoe Campaign

Location: Prince William County

Campaign: Bristoe Campaign (October-November 1863)

Date(s): October 14, 1863

Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. G.K. Warren [US]; Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill [CS]

Result(s): Union victory

Forces Engaged: Corps

Estimated Casualties: 1,920 total

Introduction: The Battle of Bristoe Station was fought on October 14, 1863, at Bristoe Station, Virginia, between Union forces under Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren and Confederate forces under Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill during the Bristoe Campaign of the American Civil War. The Union II Corps under Warren was able to surprise and repel the Confederate attack by Hill on the Union rearguard, resulting in a Union victory.

Battle of Bristoe Station
Battle of Bristoe Station Historical Marker.jpg
Battle of Bristoe Station Historical Marker

Civil War Battle of Bristoe Station Map
Historic Bristoe Station Map of Battlefield.jpg
Bristoe Battlefield Map

Summary: On October 14, 1863, A.P. Hill’s corps stumbled upon two corps of the retreating Union army at Bristoe Station and attacked without proper reconnaissance. Union soldiers of the II Corps, posted behind the Orange & Alexandria Railroad embankment, mauled two brigades of Henry Heth’s division and captured a battery of artillery. Hill reinforced his line but could make little headway against the determined defenders. After this victory, the Federals continued their withdrawal to Centreville unmolested. Lee’s Bristoe offensive sputtered to a premature halt. After minor skirmishing near Manassas and Centreville, the Confederates retired slowly to Rappahannock River destroying the Orange & Alexandria Railroad as they went. At Bristoe Station, Hill lost standing in the eyes of Lee, who angrily ordered him to bury his dead and say no more about it.

The following day, as Lee and Hill rode together over the bloody-strewn battlefield, Hill sought to explain the previous day's misfortunes. Lee listened quietly, the sad expression on his face clearly showing his disappointment. "Well, well, General," he said, when the younger officer had finished, "bury these poor men and let us say no more about it."

Background: The Union army was led by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, the Confederates by General Robert E. Lee. Lee had stolen a march, passing around Cedar Mountain, the site of a battle in 1862. This forced Meade to retreat toward Centreville. By withdrawing, Meade prevented Lee from falling on an exposed flank of the Army of the Potomac. Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren, commanding II Corps in Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock's absence, was following V Corps on this retreat. On October 13, the II Corps had an encounter with Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry near Auburn, Virginia, the First Battle of Auburn, nicknamed "Coffee Hill." (Confederate shells interrupted Federals who were boiling coffee.) Warren had to push Stuart aside and, at the same time, retreat before the advance of the Confederate corps of Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell. On October 14, as Warren moved toward Bristoe Station, Stuart's cavalry harassed the rear guard at the Second Battle of Auburn.

Bristoe Station Civil War Battlefield Map
Battle Bristoe Station History Map.jpg
Battle of Bristoe Station, Virginia, Battlefield

Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill, leading the Confederate Third Corps, was advancing on Ewell's left. He reached Bristoe Station on October 14. (The town is variously called Bristoe, Bristow, and Bristo in contemporary newspapers.) Hill tried to harass the rearguard of V Corps just across Broad Run, but he missed the presence of II Corps just coming up from Auburn. Seeing Heth's advance, Warren rapidly deployed his forces behind an embankment of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad near Bristoe Station. The result was a powerful ambush as Hill's corps moved to attack the Federal rear guard across Broad Run.

Battle: On October 14, 1863, A.P. Hill’s corps stumbled upon two corps of the retreating Union army at Bristoe Station and attacked without proper reconnaissance. Union soldiers of the II Corps, posted behind the Orange & Alexandria Railroad embankment, mauled two brigades of Henry Heth’s division and captured a battery of artillery. Hill reinforced his line but could make little headway against the determined defenders. After this victory, the Federals continued their withdrawal to Centreville unmolested. Lee’s Bristoe offensive sputtered to a premature halt. After minor skirmishing near Manassas and Centreville, the Confederates retired slowly to Rappahannock River destroying the Orange & Alexandria Railroad as they went. At Bristoe Station, Hill lost standing in the eyes of Lee, who angrily ordered him to bury his dead and say no more about it.

Bristoe Station Battlefield Map
Battle of Bristoe Station Map.jpg
Battle of Bristoe Station Map

Maj. Gen. Henry Heth's division moved to attack the V Corps, but it was redirected to attack the II Corps. Union artillery, including the battery of Capt. R. Bruce Ricketts, opened on the Confederates; and infantry fire soon was added. Despite this fire, Heth's men briefly secured a foothold in the lines of Col. James E. Mallon in the second division under Brig. Gen. Alexander S. Webb. The Confederates were driven back, and five guns of a Confederate battery were captured in a Federal counterattack. Col. Mallon was killed in the fighting. The Confederate division of Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson attacked the lines of Brig. Gen. Alexander Hays's division and also was repelled. Brig. Gen. Carnot Posey was mortally wounded in that attack. Two of Heth's brigade commanders also were badly wounded.
 
Union casualties were 540, Confederate about 1,380. Warren, seeing Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's Second Corps coming up on his left, eventually had to withdraw. Lee is said to have cut off Hill's excuses for this defeat by saying, "Well, well, general, bury these poor men and let us say no more about it." The Union forces won the battle, but they had to retreat to Centreville, Virginia, before standing their ground. When they pulled back, starting on October 18, the Confederates destroyed much of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Meade had to rebuild the railroad when he reoccupied the area around Bristoe Station. Warren won such reputation as a corps commander that he was given V Corps as a regular assignment after Hancock returned to the Army of the Potomac in 1864.

Virginia Battle of Bristoe Station Map
Battle of Bristoe Station Map.gif
Civil War Battle of Bristoe Station Map

Analysis: In the autumn of 1863, Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, with Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill’s III Corps in the lead, pursued Maj. Gen. George G. Meade's Union army as it withdrew toward Washington. On the afternoon of October 14, Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren's II Corps, Meade's rear guard, took a strong defensive position along the railroad embankment to meet an impetuous attack by elements of Hill's corps from the northwest. The Confederates were repulsed with heavy casualties (about 1,380 to Warren's 540), including the loss of an unsupported battery of five guns about 500 yards north. Warren stealthily withdrew after dark to resume his march to Centerville. About 43 Union and 137 Confederate dead were buried on the field.

Site search Web search

Advance to:
 

Sources: National Park Service; Civil War Trust online civilwar.org; Freeman, Douglas S. Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command. 3 vols. New York: Scribner, 1946. ISBN 0-684-85979-3; Jordan, David M. Happiness Is Not My Companion: The Life of General G. K. Warren. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-253-33904-9; Walker, Francis A. History of the Second Army Corps in the Army of the Potomac. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1886. OCLC 287902026; Henderson, William D. The Road to Bristoe Station: Campaigning with Lee and Meade, August 1–October 20, 1863. Lynchburg, VA: H. E. Howard, 1987. ISBN 978-0-930919-45-0; Tighe, Adrian G. The Bristoe Campaign: General Lee's Last Strategic Offensive with the Army of Northern Virginia, October 1863. Xlibris, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4568-8869-5.

Tags: Battle of Bristoe Station Campaign, Detailed Battlefield History, Maps, General A.P. Hill, Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, Union Confederate Artillery, General Robert E. Lee, American Civil War in Virginia, Picture and Photograph of Artillery Duel.

Return to American Civil War Homepage

Best viewed with Google Chrome

Google Safe.jpg