Van Dorn's failed attack on Corinth ended the Mississippi phase of Bragg's offensive into Kentucky and also set the stage for Grant's drive into the Deep South. This was the first of several Union offensives that gained steam in November and December 1862, the first simultaneous campaigns that the Union army had launched since the war began. Grant's drive also represented the continuation of the offensive that had stalled in June following the capture of Corinth. For the first time, a major Federal army was attempting to penetrate the Lower South. The war to destroy the Confederacy entered a new phase.
Farther west and east, other Federal forces also launched moves in the Upper South. In northwestern Arkansas, a Confederate army under Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman met an army of Yankees under Brig. Gen. Francis Jay Herron and Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt at Prairie Grove. The resulting fierce battle on December 7 was a tactical draw, but Hindman felt compelled to retreat southward, leaving the field and northern Arkansas in Union hands. In Virginia, the Army of the Potomac moved swiftly toward Fredericksburg under its new commander, Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, who succeeded George B. McClellan following the repulse of Lee's invasion of Maryland. Burnside's plan to cross the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg and outflank Lee was stymied by a delay in bringing forward pontoons, forcing him to wait for nearly a month on the eastern bank of the river while Lee assumed a strong defensive position on the heights west of the stream. Despite that setback, Burnside still was determined to move on before severe winter weather put an end to the campaigning season.
Indeed, it seemed as if all Union armies were on the move that late fall ex-