After the Battle of Gettysburg, Union General George G. Meade and Robert E. Lee of the Confederates headed south to Virginia in a footrace to gain a position in the Blue Ridge Mountains. At Bristoe Station, Virginia, Federal and Confederate corps crossed paths, and battle ensued. Confederate General A.P. Hill underestimated the size of the Union army and attacked an overwhelmingly large Union force, leading the Confederates to lose badly. There were nearly 2,000 casualties for both sides combined and the battle highlighted an instance of Confederate overzealousness as General Hill attempted to defeat the Union without proper reconnaissance. Nevertheless, despite emerging victorious, General Meade opted to move his forces to safety forty miles away an overly cautious move which allowed General Lee to destroy the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, one of the many railroads that were crucial to Union success.
Letter to Mrs. Erastus E. Blanchard, October 16, 1863, Mss 10756-a, box/fol. 1 Item, Henry T. Blanchard, Civil War letter, 1863.