After Antietam and during what could easily be referred to as a “period of masterful inactivity,” General George McClellan’s large and well supplied Army of the Potomac remained essentially dormant, allowing Robert E. Lee time to recover from his first attempt to invade the American North.
An anxious Abraham Lincoln was overjoyed when McClellan began to move his army across the Potomac into Virginia. Lincoln wrote his general, “I am much pleased with the movement of the Army. When you get entirely across the river let me know. What do you know of the enemy?” Once across the Potomac into Virginia McClellan had little trouble finding Lee; in fact, by November 3 Longstreet’s Confederates occupied Culpepper Court House, fronting McClellan and virtually inviting Union attack. But McClellan would not respond.