After the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg (July 1863), the Confederate Army commander, General Robert E. Lee, retreated south to Virginia. After a lull, fighting began again on 12 October 1863, at Jeffersonton and Fauquier White Sulphur Springs, as part of Lee’s plan to cut off the Union Army’s line of supply to Washington on the Orange and Alexandria railroad. Confederate General Richard S. Ewell successfully overwhelmed Union cavalry and flanked the Union’s Rappahannock defences. The Union forces, under General George Meade, moved south where, on the following two days, 13–14 October, the Confederate Generals, James Ewell Brown Stuart and A.P. Hill, were repulsed by Meade at Auburn and Bristoe Station. Hostilities continued with Meade’s defensive line near Centreville acting as a deterrent to Lee’s Confederates who returned to Rappahannock. By 30 November, after several minor victories on both sides, Meade cancelled a major attack on strengthened Confederate fortifications and withdrew behind the Rapidan River.
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