A Want of Vigilance

The Bristoe Station Campaign, October 9–19, 1863

Bill Backus, Robert Orrison

Date Published :
October 2015
Publisher :
Savas Beatie
Series :
Emerging Civil War Series
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781611213003
Pages : 192
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
In stock


"The months after Gettysburg had hardly been quiet—filled with skirmishes, cavalry clashes, and plenty of marching. Nonetheless, Union commander Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade had yet to come to serious blows with his Confederate counterpart, Gen. Robert E. Lee.

“Lee is undoubtedly bullying you,” one of Meade’s superiors goaded.

Lee’s army—severely bloodied at Gettysburg—did not have quite the offensive capability it once possessed, yet Lee’s aggressive nature could not be quelled. He looked for the chance to strike out at Meade.

In mid-October, 1863, both men shifted their armies into motion. Each surprised the other. Quickly, Meade found himself racing northward for safety along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, with Lee charging up the rail line behind him.

Last stop: Bristoe Station.

Authors Robert Orrison and Bill Backus have worked at the Bristoe Station battlefield, which is now surrounded by one of the fastest-growing parts of Virginia. In A Want of Vigilance, they trace the campaign from the armies’ camps around Orange and Culpeper northwest through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the vital railroad—to Centreville and back—in a back-and-forth game of cat and mouse: the “goggle-eyed snapping turtle” versus “the old gray fox” pitted against each other in one of the most overlooked periods of the war."

About The Author

Rob Orrison and Bill Backus both researched and led the interpretation for the Bristoe Station battlefield. Bill currently works as a historian at a 19th century historic site in Northern Virginia.

Rob Orrison and Bill Backus both researched and led the interpretation for the Bristoe Station battlefield. Rob, a contributor to Emerging Civil War, has been working in the history field for more than 20 years. He currently oversees day-to-day operations of municipal historic site program in Virginia.


"…an excellent short summary of a complex but often overlooked period of the Civil War. The tactical stalemates of Bristoe and later Mine Run led to the reorganization of the Union war effort in the East and the subsequent Overland Campaign of the Spring and Summer of 1964.

- Civil War News, August 2016

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