This Week in the Civil War - 674
On Friday, October 9, 1863 Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia began crossing the Rapidan River in an attempt to move against Washington, D.C. Lee hoped to take advantage of Meade’s army, reduced in size due to reinforcements sent to Rosecrans in the West, while also preventing any further transfers.
The size of the Army of the Potomac still greatly exceeded that of Lee’s force, but the North feared Lee’s military prowess. On October 10, Abraham Lincoln wired George Meade, asking “How is it now?”
The following day Meade would telegraph Lincoln that he was retreating, noting “The enemy are either moving to my right and rear or moving down on my flank.” In truth, Lee was moving against Meade’s right flank, attempting to turn it.