previous next

8% of the text is displayed below. If you wish to view the entire text, please click here


Chapter 11: second Manassas

Gen. Lee had arrived at Gordonsville early on Aug. 15, and taken command. On the 13th McClellan had abandoned his camp at Harrison's Landing and marched for Fortress Monroe. Lee now left at Richmond but two brigades of infantry to protect the city against cavalry raids, and took the rest of his army to the vicinity of Gordonsville for an aggressive campaign against Pope. He now occupied interior lines between McClellan and Pope, and it behooved him to crush Pope before McClellan's forces could join him. Lee understood this thoroughly, and Halleck and Pope understood it equally well; but Pope, perhaps inspired by his own boast that he was about to ‘seek the adversary and beat him when he was found,’ and tempted, also, by Jackson's retreat from Cedar Mountain, had decided to cross the Rapidan and advance upon Louisa C. H. Nothing could have suited Lee's plans better, but Halleck had not taken entire leave of his senses, and he no sooner heard of Pope's design to cross the Rapidan than he promptly forbade it. He [186] also, in another letter, told Pope that he had much better be north of the Rappahannock. Lee's idea of the game the Federals should have played was to retreat to the north side of Bull Run.

Pope's army had now been reenforced by Burnside, and numbered about 52,000 men. Its left flank rested near Raccoon Ford of the Rapidan, some four miles east of Mitchell Station on the O. & A. R. R. His centre was at Cedar Mountain, and his right on Robertson's River, about five miles west of the railroad. He was, therefore, directly opposite Gordonsville, where Jackson's forces had arrived on the 13th.

About two miles below Rapidan Station was a high hill called Clark's Mountain, close to the Rapidan, and giving from its top an extensive view of the flat lands of Culpeper, across the river. A signal station was maintained there, and from it the white tents of the Federal camps, marking out their positions, were plainly visible. Spurs of Clark's Mountain, running parallel to the Rapidan, extended eastward down the river about three miles, to the vicinity of a ford called Somerville's, two miles above Raccoon Ford. Raccoon Ford was within ten miles of Culpeper C. H., almost as near it as the position of Pope's army.

Lee, on arriving about 8 A. M. on the 15th, and learning the details of the situation, lost no time. The topography gave him a beautiful opportunity to mass his army (now about 54,000 men) behind Clark's Mountain, to cross at Somerville Ford, fall upon Pope's left flank and sweep around it with a superior force, cutting off Pope's retreat to Washington. Probably at no time during the war was a more brilliant opportunity put so easily within his grasp. He appreciated it, and promptly issued the necessary orders on the very day of his arrival. His army, however, was not yet sufficiently well organized to be called a ‘military machine,’ or to be relied upon to carry out orders strictly. On the contrary, in some respects, it might be called a very ‘unmilitary’ machine, as the history of the failure in this case will illustrate.

Lee, in his report, tells the story very briefly. He says, —

‘The movement, as explained in the accompanying order, was appointed for Aug. 18, but the necessary preparations not having been completed, its execution was postponed until the 20th.’

[187] This postponement was the fatal act, for on the 18th the enemy discovered his danger, and in great haste put his army in motion to the rear and fell back behind the Rappahannock, during that day and the next.

The principal failure in the preparations was the non-arrival of Fitz-Lee's brigade of cavalry at the appointed rendezvous at Verdiersville, near Raccoon Ford, where it was to cross on the morning of the 18th to act upon the right flank of the army. Its commander had duly received orders from Stuart, but had taken the liberty to delay their execution for a day, not supposing that it would make any material difference. Stuart's report gives the following details:—

‘On Aug. 16, 1862, in pursuance of the

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Jackson (Mississippi, United States) (48)
Gainesville (Virginia, United States) (18)
Centreville (Virginia, United States) (18)
Bull Run, Va. (Virginia, United States) (14)
Raccoon Ford (Virginia, United States) (8)
Salem (Massachusetts, United States) (7)
Verdiersville (Virginia, United States) (6)
Groveton (Virginia, United States) (6)
Warrenton (Virginia, United States) (5)
Gordonsville (Virginia, United States) (5)
Manassas, Va. (Virginia, United States) (4)
Cedar Mountain (Virginia, United States) (4)
White Plains (Virginia, United States) (3)
Louisa Court House (Virginia, United States) (3)
Waterloo bridge (United Kingdom) (2)
Ox Hill (Massachusetts, United States) (2)
Orleans, Ma. (Massachusetts, United States) (2)
Orange Court House (Virginia, United States) (2)
Henry, Marshall County, Illinois (Illinois, United States) (2)
Broad Run (Virginia, United States) (2)
Wisconsin (Wisconsin, United States) (1)
West Point (Virginia, United States) (1)
Waterloo, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
United States (United States) (1)
Stone Bridge (Virginia, United States) (1)
Staunton, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
Slaughter Mountain (Virginia, United States) (1)
Rappahannock (Virginia, United States) (1)
Pleasant Valley (Maryland, United States) (1)
Napoleon (Ohio, United States) (1)
Mitchell's Station (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Mexico (Mexico, Mexico) (1)
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (1)
Malvern Hill (Virginia, United States) (1)
Little (Virginia, United States) (1)
Leesburg (Virginia, United States) (1)
Jeffersonton (Virginia, United States) (1)
Indiana (Indiana, United States) (1)
Harrison's Landing (Virginia, United States) (1)
Gum Springs (Virginia, United States) (1)
Greenwich (Virginia, United States) (1)
Gainsville (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Front Royal (Virginia, United States) (1)
Fortress Monroe (Virginia, United States) (1)
Falmouth, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
Fairfax, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
Dawkins Branch (Virginia, United States) (1)
Chantilly (Virginia, United States) (1)
Beaver Dam (Wisconsin, United States) (1)
Amissville (Virginia, United States) (1)
Aldie (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
31st (3)
29th (3)
25th (3)
1500 AD (2)
September 1st (2)
August 15th (2)
28th (2)
27th (2)
26th (2)
17th (2)
13th (2)
May 4th, 1882 AD (1)
1878 AD (1)
January 10th, 1863 AD (1)
August 16th, 1862 AD (1)
1862 AD (1)
1861 AD (1)
1839 AD (1)
1000 AD (1)
September 2nd (1)
August 30th (1)
August 26th (1)
August 25th (1)
August 22nd (1)
August 18th (1)
June 1st (1)
20th (1)
15th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: