withdrawn during the night to the west side of Mine Run, where it took up a more favorable position and proceeded to strengthen it with intrenchments.
The next day the enemy appeared on the opposite side of the creek immediately in our front, and skirmishing took place along the whole line, but no attack was made.
On the night of the 28th, General Stuart was ordered, with Hampton's cavalry, to endeavor to gain the rear of the enemy and ascertain his purpose. He penetrated as far as Parker's Shop, on the plank road, where he attacked and defeated a body of Federal cavalry, but the pursuit was arrested by the intelligence that the movements of the enemy indicated that a general engagement was imminent. He resumed his position on our right flank during the night, having captured more than 100 prisoners and a quantity of military stores.
On the morning of the 29th, a heavy fire of artillery was opened upon our lines, which was supposed to be preparatory to a general assault, a large force having been previously concentrated opposite our right. Our batteries responded occasionally, but the artillery fire ceased in about an hour, and nothing but the usual skirmishing took place during the remainder of the day.
Believing that the enemy would not abandon an enterprise undertaken with so great a display of force without giving battle, I was unwilling to lose the advantage of our position, and awaited the development of his plans until the night of December 1, but, finding that he hesitated to bring on an engagement, determined to move against him on the following morning. The troops were disposed for the purpose before dawn, but a soon as it became light enough to distinguish object, his pickets were found to have disappeared, and on advancing our skirmishers it was discovered that his whole army had retreated under cover of the night. Pursuit was immediately commenced, but on arriving near the river it was found that the Federal army had recrossed at Germanna, Culpeper Mine, and Ely's Fords. The withdrawal had no doubt begun the previous afternoon, but was concealed by the dense forest through which the roads of retreat lay. The same cause prevented the efficient use of our cavalry and rendered it necessary for the infantry to pursue with caution. About 500 prisoners fell into our hands.
Our casualties were slight with exception of those sustained by Johnson's division in the action at Payne's Farm. They are stated in the accompanying returns. Among them were several valuable officers whose names are appropriately mentioned in the reports of their superiors.
The army returned to its former position on the Rapidan.
The conduct of both officers and men throughout these operations deserves the highest commendation. The promptness with which they marched to meet the enemy, their uncomplaining fortitude while lying in line of battle for five days exposed without shelter to a drenching storm, followed by intense cold, and their steadiness and cheerful resolution in anticipation of an attack, could not have been excelled.
As has been already stated, the country was very unfavorable for cavalry. Hampton's division rendered good service in guarding our right flank. Fitz. Lee's division repulsed several efforts of the Federal cavalry under General Kilpatrick to gain the south side of the Rapidan at Raccoon and Morton's Fords, in rear of our left.