Explanation: Following the effective Union action at Rappahannock Station, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade and his army planned on a maneuver calculated to turn Gen. Robert E. Lee's exposed flank.
Following the effective Union action at Rappahannock Station on November 7, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade was inactive except for cavalry actions. On the 26th, he began a manuever calculated to turn Gen. Robert E. Lee's right, which was the nearest and most exposed Confederate flank. The advance was slow, largely due to the tentativeness, even ineptness, of Maj. Gen. William H. French, who commanded the lead corps. The delay allowed Lee to effect countermoves. When he ascertained that Meade meant to attack his army rather than attempt to cut the Fredericksburg & Richmond Railroad, he could scarcely believe his good fortune. His numerically inferior army would be in a position to fight a defensive action. Thus, on on the 28-29th, he established strong field fortifications along the west bank of Mine Run.
In the meantime, Maj. Gen. Gouvernuer K. Warren had arrived below Lee's position and notified Meade that he believed he could turn that portion of the Confederate line. During the bitter-cold night of the 28-29th, Lee had extended and fortified his line, and Warren realized that a general assault would be futile. Meade had the moral courage to countermand the orders for an attack that no doubt would have entailed severe losses for him with little effect on Lee. On December 2, when the Union attack had not materialized, Lee determined to take the offensive himself. When he learned that Meade had retreated, he exclaimed "I am too old to command this army. We should never have permitted those people to get away". Meade expected to pay for what some termed a "fiasco" at Mine Run, but sensible observers realized that he had saved his army from useless casualties.