Just before the Army of the Potomac set out for what would be the Mine Run campaign in late November 1863, word reached the men of the Union victory at Chattanooga. Between Nov. 23-25, the Federal armies of the Tennessee and the Cumberland, under the overall command of Ulysses S. Grant, swept the Confederate Army of Tennessee from its besieging position around the city. “That’s good news to march on,” proclaimed a member of the Army of the Potomac’s 39th Massachusetts.
Weeks passed before Army of the Potomac commander George Gordon Meade—who ended up stymied in his own campaign—found opportunity to express his thoughts about his Western counterpart’s success. He shared his views in a Dec. 20 letter to his wife:
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