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Stonewall Jackson led the advance across the Rapidan, and met a corps of Pope's army, under General Banks, at Cedar mountain, a point about nine miles south of Culpeper Courthouse, where he defeated Banks, driving him back to Culpeper, with a loss of 2,000 men, while the Confederate loss was about 1,300. Jackson remained in front of Culpeper a few days, then fell back to Gordonsville, unwilling to hazard an attack from Pope's superior force, which was rapidly advancing. General Lee in the meantime was hurrying forward with Longstreet and the two Hills, and joined Jackson at Raccoon ford, on the Rapidan river, August 20.

The defeat of Banks raised in the minds of the Washington government serious apprehensions for the safety of the city, and every available man was sent to re-enforce Pope. When General Lee crossed the Rapidan, Pope withdrew his army back to the north side of the Rappahannock, which was doubtless a judicious move, but it was inconsistent with his recent utterances, and not carrying out his own principles, which he explained to the Federal War Department in these words: ‘By lying off on their flanks, if they should have only 50,000 men, I could whip them. If they should have 80,000 men, I would attack their flanks and force them to follow me into the mountains, which would be just what you want.’ While the conditions were better for Pope than he expressed, yet, when the time came to put his tactics into effect, he made no effort to carry out his avowed purpose.

It seems, also, that General Lee was not much disturbed by apprehensions of Pope ‘lying off on his flank,’ but marched straight after him. Reaching the Rappahannock, he made pretense of crossing, while he sent Jackson thirty-five miles further to his left, to cross the river at Henson's mill.

Jackson did this, and bivouacked for the night at a little place called Salem. Continuing his march early the following morning, he reached Bristoe station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, destroyed the depot and tore up the track. At the same time he sent Stuart to Manassas junction, where he captured a number of prisoners and two batteries, besides an immense supply of quartermaster and commissary stores. He also captured Catlett's station, with several hundred prisoners and Pope's baggage and official documents. His official papers bore the head lines, ‘Headquarters in the Saddle.’

While Jackson marched to Pope's rear, General Lee diverted his attention by a pretended effort to cross with Longstreet's Corps.

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John Pope (8)
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