Confederate defeat at Bristoe Station in October 1863, Maj. Gen.
George G. Meade pressed Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia
south across the Rapidan River into Orange County. The Union
army then settled in for the winter around Culpeper Courthouse
in Culpeper County, while the Confederates encamped along the
south bank of the Rapidan.
The rail station at Brandy became the major transportation hub
for the winter encampment.
Supplies, visiting dignitaries and people of notoriety came to
Culpeper during this time. Officer’s wives came and toured the
area with pomp and pageantry. Grand balls were held in the homes
of prominent citizens.
For five months, the two combatants studied each other,
resupplied and reinforced their armies, and tested each other's
lines with occasional thrusts. In March 1864, Grant arrived in
Culpeper County, having been appointed commander of all Union
armies by President Abraham Lincoln and having decided to
accompany Meade rather than remain in Washington. With his
presence, the war in Virginia would enter a new and even
bloodier phase when the Federals crossed the Rapidan on May 4th
to begin a campaign that would inflict some 45 percent
casualties on each army within two-and-a-half months.