The second battle at Bull Run
The Union retreat-sigel's corps recrossing the Rappahannock, August 19, 1862|
The railroad as an element in warfare
The Federals are clearing up the railroad, the Confederate damage to which compelled Pope to fall back in order to retard Lee's advance toward Washington.
“Stonewall” Jackson, who knew every foot of the Manassas region, did not despatch Ewell's forces with Stuart's cavalry to fall upon Catlett's Station and Manassas Junction for nothing.
At Manassas the Confederates captured a million dollars' worth of army reserve supplies, seriously crippling Pope's movements for the remainder of the campaign.
Meanwhile Jackson, pressing forward, united with Ewell and threatened Pope's exposed flank.
The purpose of the advance of Jackson to give battle to Pope near Manassas and Bull Run was to prevent the concentration of a heavy Federal force between his column and Longstreet's, then more than a day's march distant.
The crippling of his railroad communication and the seizure of his stores were not in themselves sufficient to do this.
In the pictures we see the work-trains of the Military Railroad removing the wreckage, gathering up debris to be used in repairing the road and its rolling-stock, and the tracks being relaid and guarded by the soldiers.
Before Pope could reestablish his railroad communication, Lee's clever maneuvers drew the Federals into the disastrous battle of Second Bull Run. |
An important part of the war game: repairing after the Confederate raid on Pope's line of March
A problem for the practical railroad man. It takes all kinds of people to make up a world and it takes all kinds of men to make up an army.
In the volunteer forces that fought in the ranks of both North and South were men of every calling, every profession, mechanics, artisans, artificers, men familiar with machine-shop practice as well as the men of field and plow, and the thinking soldier whose hand was as ready with the pen as with the sword.
Was an engine-driver needed, or a farrier or carpenter, the colonel of a regiment had but to shout.
But so important did the lines of communication by railway become to both armies that separate commands of practical engineers, trackmen, and wreckers had to be organized and maintained.
Train-wrecking seems a cruel act of deliberate vandalism, yet it is part of warfare.
When penetrating the enemy's country over unpatroled and ill-guarded routes, the engine-driver might expect any time to see just ahead of him, and too late to call for brakes, the misplaced rail or the broken culvert that would hurl him and his train, laden sometimes with human freight, into river-bed or deep abyss.
War leads to strenuous life and deeds of daring, and upon no force was the labor and the danger harder than the men of the track and throttle. |
The battle was indeed one of which General Lee had good reason to be proud.
It would be hard to find a better instance of that masterly comprehension of the actual condition of things which marks a great general than was exhibited in General Lee's allowing our formidable attack, in which more than half the Federal army was taking part, to be fully developed and to burst upon the exhausted troops of Stonewall Jackson, while Lee, relying upon the ability of that able soldier to maintain his position, was maturing and arranging for the great attack on our left flank by the powerful corps of Longstreet. --John C. Ropes, in The Army under Pope.
The battle of Cedar Mountain
was but a prelude to the far greater one that was to take place three weeks later on the banks of the little stream that had given its name, the year before, to the first important battle of the war; and here again the result to be registered was similar to that of the preceding year — a result that brought dismay to the people of the North
and exultation to the adherents of the Southern
The three intervening weeks between the battles of Cedar Mountain
and the Second Bull Run
were spent in sparring, in marshaling the armed hosts, in heavy skirmishing and getting position for a final decisive struggle.
Two events of this period invite special attention.
The respective heroes were J. E. B. Stuart
, the daring Southern cavalry leader, and “Stonewall
The victim in each case was General Pope
Before relating these incidents, however, we must take a general view of the field.
's headquarters at this moment were at Culpeper
, with a large part of his army, but he had left much of his personal baggage and many of his private papers at Catlett
's, a station on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad between Culpeper
, while his vast store of army supplies was at the latter place.
's great source of uncertainty lay in the fact that he did not know whether Lee
would move against him or would follow McClellan
in the latter's retreat from the Peninsula
; nor did he know when the reenforcements promised from McClellan
's army would reach him. Meanwhile Lee
had decided to let McClellan
depart in peace and to advance against Pope
, with the whole Confederate army.
To this end Longstreet
was ordered to the scene and with his corps he reached Gordonsville
on August 13th.
A few days later the two Confederate generals, Lee
, ascended to the top of Clark's Mountain, from which, through powerful field-glasses, they obtained a good view of Culpeper
, about twelve miles away.
They saw that Pope
's position was weak and determined to attack him without delay.
ordered his army to cross the Rapidan
He also sent a courier to gallop across the country with an important dispatch to General Stuart
, disclosing his plans.
It was now that General Pope
met fortune; he captured the courier and learned of Lee
knew that he was not in position to meet Lee
's army at Culpeper
, and he withdrew from that place and took up a strong position behind the Rappahannock
had strained every nerve to get at his antagonist before the latter left Culpeper
and before he could be reenforced by McClellan
But sudden rains changed the Rappahannock
from a placid stream into a rushing torrent.
The Confederates were delayed and meantime the reenforcements from the Peninsula
began to reach Pope
with a part of Burnside
's corps was on the ground by August 14th. One week later came Generals Kearny
--both splendid leaders, both destined to give their lives for their country within a year — to join the Army of Virginia with some thousands of additional fighters from the Army of the Potomac.
Where the thunderbolt fell
The havoc wrought by the Confederate attack of August 26th on the Federal supply depot at Manassas Junction is here graphically preserved.
When Jackson arrived at sunset of that day at Bristoe's Station, on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, he knew that his daring movement would be reported to Pope's forces by the trains that escaped both north and south.
To save themselves, the troops that had already marched twenty-five miles had to make still further exertions.
Trimble volunteered to move on Manassas Junction; and, under command of Stuart, a small force moved northward through the woods.
At mid-night it arrived within half a mile of the Junction.
The Federal force greeted it with artillery fire, but when the Confederates charged at the sound of the bugle the gunners abandoned the batteries to the assaulters.
Some three hundred of the small Federal garrison were captured, with the immense stores that filled the warehouses to overflowing.
The next morning Hill's and Taliaferro's divisions arrived to hold the position.
The half-starved troops were now in possession of all that was needed to make them an effective force.
Jackson was now in position to control the movements of the Federal army under Pope. |
was completely thwarted in his purpose of attacking Pope
before his reenforcements arrived.
But he was not idle.
He sent the dauntless cavalry leader, J. E. B. Stuart
, to make a raid around the Union
did this effectively, and this was the first of the two notable events of these weeks of sparring.
Crossing the Rappahannock
at Waterloo Bridge with fifteen hundred mounted men as bold and dauntless as himself, Stuart
dashed up the country, riding all day and all night.
After the coming of night on the evening of the 22d, in the midst of a torrential rainstorm, while the darkness was so intense that every man was guided by the tread of his brother horsemen, Stuart
pounced upon the Federals
near Catlett's Station, overpowered the astonished guard, captured nearly two hundred prisoners, scattering the remainder of the troops stationed there far and wide in the darkness, and seized Pope
's despatch-book with his plans and private papers.
took also several hundred fine horses and burned a large number of wagons laden with supplies.
Among his trophies was a fine uniform cloak and hat which were the personal property of General Pope
These were exchanged on the following day for General Stuart
's plumed hat which a few days before had been left behind by that officer when surprised by Federal troops.
's bold raid proved a serious misfortune for the Union
had far greater things in store.
His next move was to send Jackson
's rear with a large part of the Confederate army.
led his army westward, shielded by the woods, the thickets, and the low hills of the Blue Ridge
It was a quiet rural community through which he passed.
The great majority of the simple country folk had never seen an army, though it is true that for many days the far-away boom of cannon had reached their ears from the valley of the Rapidan
Now here was a real army at their very doors.
Nor was it a hostile army, for their sympathies were Southern.
With baskets and armfuls of
bread and pies and cakes they cheered as best they could the tattered and hungry men on the march.
in the meantime had kept Longstreet
in front of Pope
's army on the Rappahannock
to make daily demonstrations and feints and thus to divert Pope
's attention from Jackson
's movements and lead him to believe that he was to be attacked in front.
The trick was eminently successful.
suddenly, on August 26th, emerged from the Bull Run Mountains
by way of the Thoroughfare Gap
and marshaled his clans on the plains of Manassas
, but a few miles from the site of the famous battle of the year before.
had taken alarm.
He was astonished to find Jackson
in his rear, and he had to decide instantly between two courses — to abandon his communications with Fredericksburg
on the one hand, or with Alexandria
on the other.
He decided to keep in touch with Washington
at all hazards.
Breaking his Camp on the Rappahannock
, he hastened with all speed to lead his forces toward Manassas Junction
, where he had stored vast quantities of provisions and munitions of war. But he was too late to save them.
had been joined by Stuart
and his cavalry.
On the evening of the 26th they were still some miles from Manassas
was sent ahead to make sure the capture before Pope
's army could arrive.
Through the darkness rode these same hardy men who had a few nights before made their bold raid on Catlett's Station.
Before midnight they reached Manassas
They met little opposition.
The guard was overpowered.
The spoils of this capture were great, including three hundred prisoners, one hundred and seventy-five horses, ten locomotives, seven long trains of provisions, and vast stores and munitions of war.
Next morning the weary and hungry foot soldiers of Jackson
's army came upon the scene and whatever else they did they feasted as only hungry men can. An eye-witness wrote, “To see a starving man eating lobster-salad and
wine, barefooted and in tatters, was curious; the whole thing was incredible.”
The amazement at the North
when the news of the capture of Manassas
became known cannot be described.
But the newspapers belittled it, declaring that it was merely a bold raid and that for any large force to get between Pope
's army and Washington
became aware of the attempt was simply impossible.
had done an astonishing thing.
But his position was precarious, nevertheless.
was moving toward him with a far larger army, recently augmented by Heintzelman
's corps from the Army of the Potomac, while Fitz John Porter
with an additional force was not far off. It is true that Longstreet
was hastening to the aid of Jackson
, but he had to come by the same route which had brought Jackson
— through Thoroughfare Gap — and Pope
thought he saw a great opportunity.
If he could only detain Longstreet
at the gap, why should he not crush Jackson
with his superior numbers?
To this end he sent orders to Porter
, to McDowell
, and to Kearny
and others whose forces were scattered about the country, to concentrate during the night of the 27th and move upon Jackson
with a small force — too small — to prevent Longstreet
from passing through Thoroughfare Gap, and hastened to join the main army against Jackson
But that able commander was not to be caught in a trap.
He moved from Manassas Junction
by three roads toward the old battle-field of Bull Run
and by noon on the 28th the whole corps was once more united between Centreville
and Sudley Spring
Late in the day he encountered King
's division of McDowell
's corps near the village of Groveton
, and a sharp fight was opened and kept up till an hour after dark.
The Confederates were left in possession of the field.
The following day, August 29th, was the first of the two days battle, leaving out of account the fight of the evening
before and the desultory fighting of the preceding ten days. General Pope
was still hopeful of crushing Jackson
before the arrival of Longstreet
, and on the morning of the 29th he ordered a general advance across Bull Run
As the noon hour approached a wild shout that arose from Jackson
's men told too well of the arrival of Longstreet
Far away on the hills near Gainesville
could be seen the marching columns of Longstreet
, who had passed through the gap in safety and who was now rushing to the support of Jackson
The Confederate army was at last to be reunited.
was greatly relieved.
had lost his opportunity of fighting the army of his opponent in sections.
The field was almost the same that the opposing forces had occupied a year and a month before when the first great battle of the war was fought.
And many of them were the same men. Some who had engaged in that first conflict had gone home and had refused to reenlist; others had found soldiers' graves since then — but still others on both sides were here again, no longer the raw recruits that they were before, but, with their year of hard experience in the field, they were trained soldiers, equal to any in the world.
The two armies faced each other in a line nearly five miles long.
There was heavy fighting here and there along the line from the early morning hours, but no general engagement until late in the afternoon.
The Union right pressed hard against the Confederate
left and by ten o'clock had forced it back more than a mile.
But the Confederates
, presently reenforced in that quarter, hurled heavy masses of infantry against the Union
right and regained much that it had lost.
Late in the afternoon fresh regiments under Kearny
charged the Confederate
left, which was swept back and rolled in upon the center.
But presently the Southern General Hood
, with his famous Texan brigade, rushed forward in a wild, irresistible dash, pressed Kearny
back, captured one gun, several flags and a hundred prisoners. Night then closed over
the scene and the two armies rested on their arms until the morning.
The first day's battle is sometimes called the battle of Groveton
, but usually it is considered as the first half of the second battle of Bull Run
It was a formidable conflict in itself.
The Union loss was at least forty-five hundred men, the Confederate
was somewhat larger.
Over the gory field lay multitudes of men, the blue and the gray commingled, who would dream of battlefields no more.
The living men lay down among the dead in order to snatch a little rest and strength that they might renew the strife in the morning.
It is a strange fact that Lee
each believed that the other would withdraw his army during the night, and each was surprised in the morning to find his opponent still on the ground, ready, waiting, defiant.
It was quite certain that on this day, August 30th, there would be a decisive action and that one of the two armies would be victor and the other defeated.
The two opposing commanders had called in their outlying battalions and the armies now faced each other in almost full force, the Confederates
with over fifty thousand men and the Union
forces exceeding their opponents by probably fifteen thousand men. The Confederate left wing was commanded by Jackson
, and the right by Longstreet
The extreme left of the Union
army was under Fitz John Porter
, who, owing to a misunderstanding of orders, had not reached the field the day before.
The center was commanded by Heintzelman
and the right by Reno
In the early hours of the morning the hills echoed with the firing of artillery, with which the day was opened.
made an infantry attack in the forenoon, but was met by the enemy in vastly superior numbers and was soon pressed back in great confusion.
As the hours passed one fearful attack followed another, each side in turn pressing forward and again receding.
In the afternoon a large part of
The advance that became a retreat
The Stone Bridge across Bull Run.
When the Federal army silently put Bull Run between itself and Lee on the night of August 30, 1862, Pope's attempt to capture Richmond was turned into a Confederate advance upon Washington.
Lee, on discovering Pope's position at Centreville on the next day, sent “Stonewall” Jackson to turn the Federal right.
Crossing Bull Run at Sudley Ford, Jackson advanced along a country road till he reached the Little River Turnpike, on which the troops bivouacked for the night.
On September 1st he was met near Chantilly by Reno and Kearney, who had been sent by Pope to intercept him. A fierce encounter followed in a drenching rainstorm.
The brilliant bayonet charge by Birney, in command of the division of General Philip Kearney, who had just fallen, drove back the Confederates, and Birney held the field that night.
The next morning orders came from General Halleck for the broken and demoralized army of Pope to fall back within the defenses of Washington.
Large quantities of Federal stores were left to fall into the hands of Lee, which were of great use in his advance into Maryland. |
army made a desperate onslaught on the Confederate
left under Jackson
Here for some time the slaughter of men was fearful.
It was nearing sunset.
saw that his lines were wavering.
He called for reenforcements which did not come and it seemed as if the Federals
were about to win a signal victory.
But this was not to be. Far away on a little hill at the Confederate
placed four batteries in such a position that he could enfilade the Federal
Quickly he trained his cannon on the Federal
lines that were hammering away at Jackson
, and opened fire.
Ghastly gaps were soon cut in the Federal
ranks and they fell back.
But they re-formed and came again and still again, each time only to be mercilessly cut down by Longstreet
At length Longstreet
's whole line rushed forward, and with the coming of darkness, the whole Union front began to waver.
, seeing this, ordered the Confederates
in all parts of the field to advance.
With wild, triumphant yells they did so. It was now dark and there was little more fighting; but Lee
captured several thousand prisoners. Pope
retreated across Bull Run
with the remnant of his army and by morning was ensconced behind the field-works at Centreville
There was no mistaking the fact that General Pope
had lost the battle and the campaign.
He decided to lead his army back to the entrenchments of Washington
After spending a day behind the embankments at Centreville
, the retreat was begun.
's troops with Jackson
in the advance pursued and struck a portion of the retreating army at Chantilly
It was late in the afternoon of September 1st.
The rain, accompanied by vivid lightning and terrific crashes of thunder, was falling in torrents as Stuart
's horsemen, sent in advance were driven back by the Federal infantry.
now pushed two of A. P. Hill
's brigades forward to ascertain the condition of the Union
was protecting Pope
's right flank, and he lost no time in proceeding against Hill
The latter was promptly checked, and both forces took
Fairfax Court House, Virginia
Pope's retirement from the field of Bull Run gave the famous Confederate cavalry leader, J. E. B. Stuart, a splendid opportunity for the kind of warfare he most delighted in. No sooner had the Federals started than Stuart was following them.
Ascertaining that their main body was at Centreville and Fairfax Court House, he planned to make an attack on the pike between the two places.
A section of the famous Washington Artillery took position just after dark on August 31st, within range of a road completely filled with a continuous stream of Federal army wagons making their way toward the Court House.
A few rounds from the Confederate guns threw “everything into confusion, and such commotion, upsetting, collisions, and smash-ups were rarely ever seen.”
Stuart bivouacked that night near Chantilly, and after Jackson came up on September 1st, tried to force his way down the pike toward Fairfax Court House.
But the Federals were too strong in number at that point.
The next day (September 2d) Halleck sent word to Pope to bring his army back to Washington.
Stuart then promptly took possession of Fairfax Court House, after a sharp skirmish with some of Sumner's departing troops. |
position for battle.
One side and then the other fell back in turn as lines were re-formed and urged forward.
Night fell and the tempest's fury increased.
The ammunition of both armies was so wet that much of it could not be used.
Try as they would the Confederates
were unable to break the Union
line and the two armies finally withdrew.
The Confederates suffered a loss of five hundred men in their unsuccessful attempt to demoralize Pope
in his retreat, and the Federals
more than a thousand, including Generals Stevens
might have been saved but for his reckless bravery.
He was rounding up the retreat of his men in the darkness of the night when he chanced to come within the Confederate
Called on to surrender, he lay flat on his horse's back, sank his spurs into its sides, and attempted to escape.
Half a dozen muskets were leveled and fired at the fleeing general.
Within thirty yards he rolled from his horse's back dead.
The consternation in Washington
and throughout the North
's defeated army reached Arlington Heights
can better be imagined than described.
, who bore the brunt of public indignation, begged to be relieved of the command.
The President complied with his wishes and the disorganized remnants of the Army of Virginia and the Army of the Potomac were handed to the “Little Napoleon” of Peninsula fame, George B. McClellan
The South was overjoyed with its victory — twice it had unfurled its banner in triumph on the battlefield at Manassas
by the remarkable strategy of its generals and the courage of its warriors on the firing-line.
Twice it had stood literally on the road that led to the capital of the Republic
, only by some strange destiny of war to fail to enter its precincts on the wave of victory.