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Chapter 6:

The result of the battles around Richmond so weakened Federal confidence in General McClellan's ability, that General Halleck was called from the West and made commander-in-chief of their armies. Previous, however, to his assumption of command, the departments of the Rappahannock and the Shenandoah were combined into one army, called the army of Virginia, and Maj.-Gen. John Pope assigned to its command. Pope had for corps commanders, Generals Sigel, Banks and McDowell, and, as at first constituted, his army numbered somewhat over 40,000 men.1 As soon as this army began to threaten Gordonsville, General Lee, as Ropes remarks, ‘though the whole army of the Potomac was within twenty-five miles of Richmond, did not hesitate, on July 13th, to despatch to Gordonsville his most trusted lieutenant, the justly celebrated Stonewall Jackson, with two divisions—his own (so-called), commanded by Winder, and Ewell's, comprising together about 14,000 or 15,000 men.’ Then, when it became clear that the peninsula was being evacuated, Jackson was reinforced by the division of A. P. Hill. After Hill's juncture, Jackson's force numbered between 20,000 and 25,000 men, and the commander sought opportunity to strike a favorable blow.

The opportunity soon came. ‘Having received information,’ reports Jackson, ‘that only a part of General [93] Pope's army was at Culpeper Court House, and hoping, through the blessing of Providence, to be able to defeat it before reinforcements should arrive there, Ewell's, Hill's and Jackson's divisions were moved on the 7th in the direction of the enemy.’ On the 9th he reached Cedar mountain, about eight miles from Culpeper, and found his old antagonist of the valley, Banks, fronting him. Jackson had somewhat the advantage in numbers, according to the estimates in ‘Battles and Leaders.’ The tables there give ‘Pope's effective force on the field from first to last’ as 17,900, an estimate probably too large; Jackson's estimated strength on the field, at least 20,000.

Pope, who was waiting for Sigel to come up, states that he did not intend for Banks to attack Jackson with his corps, but, as the Confederates advanced, cautiously feeling their way, and themselves preparing to be the assailants, Banks threw the brigades of Prince, Geary, Greene and Crawford, and a little later, Gordon, against them. The attack came before Jackson's men had finished their battle formation, and while there was still a wide gap between two of their brigades. Jackson's line of battle, commencing on the right, stood: Trimble, Forno (Hays), Early, Taliaferro, Campbell (Garnett), and Winder's brigade under Colonel Ronald in reserve. In the front line, the Twenty-first regiment and Wharton's sharpshooters were the only North Carolina troops, and they were not engaged until toward the close of the struggle. The front assault of Geary and Prince fell on the brigades of Early and Taliaferro, and part of Campbell. While Campbell's men were meeting the front attack, Crawford, who had been sent to their left, fell on their left flank. Under this double attack, the left regiments retreated in some confusion. General Garnett, who hurried there, was wounded, as were Major Lane and Colonel Cunningham. The double fire was severe, and Campbell's whole brigade gave way. Crawford pushed [94] on until he struck Taliaferro's flank. This brigade was already hotly engaged with Geary, and as Crawford's men rushed steadily on, a part of Taliaferro's brigade, after a gallant resistance, also fell back. Early, however, manfully stood firm. Ronald moved up his reserves to fill the gap left by Campbell and part of Taliaferro's force, and the battle raged anew. Taliaferro had energetically rallied his men, but the battle was still in doubt when Branch's North Carolina brigade hurried on the field, and with a cheer, rushed against Crawford. The Seventh regiment was detached, but the Thirty-third, Twenty-eighth, Thirty-seventh and Eighteenth moved into Campbell's position and drove back the enemy, who, however, made a gallant resistance. General Taliaferro says: ‘At this critical moment the First brigade and Branch's brigade encountered the enemy, confused by their severe conflict with the Second brigade, and drove them back with terrible slaughter.’ Just as Taliaferro resumed his place in line, Bayard's cavalry followed its brave leader in a charge upon the Confederate line. However, the fire of Branch and Taliaferro was too galling, and the cavalry broke in disorder. Gordon's Federal brigade now came into action, and gallantly led, tried to break the Southern advance; Gordon was, however, only to waste blood, for he came too late. Archer was now up to the front line, and Pender's North Carolina brigade struck Gordon's flank. Just at this time, Thomas, Early, Forno and Trimble joined the left in a general advance, and Banks' whole line was swept back in the gathering darkness. The victory was largely due to Branch's front and Pender's flank attack, and the North Carolina soldiers felt proud of stopping an enemy that had just broken the ‘Stonewall brigade.’ Jackson says: ‘At this critical moment, Branch's brigade, with Winder's brigade farther to the left, met the Federal forces, flushed with temporary triumph, and drove them back with terrible slaughter through the woods.’ Gen. [95] A. P. Hill gives even more credit to Branch. He says: ‘Winder's brigade, immediately in front of Branch, being hard pressed, broke, and many fugitives came back. Without waiting for the formation of the entire line, Branch was immediately ordered forward, and passing through the broken brigade checked the pursuit, and in turn drove them back and relieved Taliaferro's flank.’ Latham's North Carolina battery was also engaged in this battle.

The Union loss in this battle was 2,381; the Confederate, 1,276. North Carolina's loss was 15 killed and 102 wounded. This small loss is due to the fact that the Carolinians were under fire for so short a time. The brigades of Taliaferro, Early and Thomas were exposed during the whole encounter.

After the battle at Cedar mountain, General Jackson moved his command to the vicinity of Gordonsville. There General Lee, accompanying Longstreet's corps, joined Jackson, and on the 21st, the Confederate army moved toward the Rappahannock. Then followed a movement up that stream by both the Federals and Confederates; the Federals moving up the north bank as Lee's army moved up the south.

On the 22d of August, Trimble's brigade was stationed near Welford's ford on the Hazel river, a tributary of the Rappahannock, to protect the flank of the wagon train. Bohlen's Federal brigade was thrown across the Rappahannock at Freeman's ford in an effort to damage or capture part of the train. Trimble, supported by Hood, attacked Bohlen's force and drove it back across the river. The Federals suffered considerable loss, General Bohlen himself being among the slain. In this ‘sharp conflict,’ as General Trimble denominates it, the Twenty-first North Carolina, Lieutenant-Colonel Fulton, attacked the center of the enemy, while Trimble's two other regiments made a detour to the right. ‘After a sharp conflict with the Twenty-first North Carolina,’ [96] reports General Trimble, ‘the enemy were driven back to the hills in the rear.’ There Bohlen made a brave stand, but was not strong enough to hold his own against the united Confederates. Trimble's report thus commends Colonel Fulton: ‘It is specially due Lieutenant-Colonel Fulton, of the Twenty-first North Carolina, that I should mention the conspicuous gallantry with which he took the colors and led his regiment to the charge.’ This brigade was also under fire on the 24th, near Warrenton, and in the two days the Twenty-first and the two attached companies of sharpshooters lost 5 killed and II wounded.

There was heavy artillery firing at Warrenton Springs on the 24th. There Latham's North Carolina battery, with other batteries, was directed not to reply to the enemy's batteries posted across the river, but to wait for the appearance of his infantry passing up the river. These orders were carried out, and some loss inflicted.

On the 25th, Jackson started on his daring raid to throw his command between Washington City and the army of General Pope, and to break up Federal railroad communication with Washington. On the 26th he marched from near Salem to Bristoe Station. ‘Learning,’ says his official report, ‘that the enemy had collected at Manassas Junction, a station about seven miles distant, stores of great value, I deemed it important that no time should be lost in securing them. Notwithstanding the darkness of the night and the fatiguing march, which would be since dawn over thirty miles before reaching the junction, Brigadier-General Trimble volunteered to proceed there forthwith with the Twenty-first North Carolina, Lieut.-Col. S. Fulton commanding, and the Twenty-first Georgia, Major Glover commanding—in all about 500 men—and capture the place. I accepted the gallant offer, and gave him orders to move without delay.’

About 9 o'clock the two regiments started,

every man setting out with cheerful alacrity to perform the service. [97] Trimble's Report.

On approaching Manassas, one regiment was formed on the north side and one on the south side of the railroad. In this order they moved on in the intense darkness, watchwords and responses having been arranged. On each side of the railroad the Federals had a battery, consisting of four pieces, continuously firing toward their foes. The following is General Trimble's account of his success: ‘The position of the batteries on either side of the railroad having been ascertained pretty accurately, the word was given, “Charge!” when both regiments advanced rapidly and firmly, and in five minutes both batteries were carried at the point of the bayonet. Sending an officer to the north side of the railroad to ascertain the success of the Georgia regiment, he could not immediately find them, and cried out, “Halloo, Georgia, where are you?” The reply was, “Here! All right! We have taken a battery.” “So have we,” was the response, whereupon cheers rent the air.’

In addition to the 8 guns and 300 prisoners taken, 2,000 barrels of flour, 2,000 barrels of salted pork, 50,000 pounds of bacon, large supplies of ordnance, 2 trains of over 100 cars freighted with every article necessary for the outfit of a great army, large quantities of sutler's stores and other valuable supplies fell into Trimble's hands.2 The next morning, the 27th, Trimble having reported the accomplishment of his mission and asked for aid in holding his captures, General Jackson sent the divisions of A. P. Hill and Taliaferro to join him at Manassas. Ewell, with Jackson's remaining division, was left at Bristoe with orders to fall back if attacked in force. As these two divisions moved up to Manassas, Branch's Carolinians had a sharp encounter with one of the Federal batteries and its supports, but soon dispersed this force. Shortly after Hill's division arrived, General [98] Taylor with his New Jersey brigade, supported a little later by Scammon with an Ohio brigade of two regiments, attacked the Confederates, presumably with the intention of recapturing the stores. The Eighteenth North Carolina regiment was detached from Branch to guard the captured supplies, and the rest of Branch's brigade joined in the chase of Taylor's men, who had been scattered by the brigades of Archer, Field and Pender. General Taylor was mortally wounded, and his command driven across Bull Run. The Confederates took 200 prisoners, and inflicted, according to the itinerary of Taylor's brigade, ‘a very severe loss in killed, wounded and missing.’

The short supply of rations upon which Confederate soldiers did hard marching and harder fighting is well illustrated by this sentence from Gen. Samuel McGowan's report: ‘In the afternoon of that day, the brigade returned to the junction (Manassas), where three days rations were issued from the vast supply of captured stores; and the men for a few hours rested and regaled themselves upon delicacies unknown to our commissariat, which they were in good condition to enjoy, having eaten nothing for several days except roasting-ears taken by order from the cornfields near the road, and what was given by the generous citizens of the Salem valley to the soldiers as they hurried along in their rapid march.’

General Jackson's position was now exceedingly hazardous. His three divisions were separated by a long interval from Lee, and Pope was rapidly concentrating his entire army to fall upon and destroy him before Lee could succor him. McDowell, Sigel and Reynolds, having forces greatly outnumbering Jackson's command, were already between him and the army under Lee. McDowell felt, as Ropes states,

that if Jackson could be kept isolated for twenty-four hours longer, he ought to be overwhelmed, horse, foot and dragoons. The Army under Pope, p. 67.

. [99]

Pope, thinking that Jackson would remain at Manassas, wrote McDowell on the 27th, ‘If you will march promptly and rapidly at the earliest dawn upon Manassas Junction, we shall bag the whole crowd.’ Jackson, however, was too active an antagonist ‘to bag’ on demand. Burning all the captured stores that his army could not use, he withdrew from Manassas with the celerity and secrecy that marked all his independent actions, and took position north of the Warrenton turnpike, on the battlefield of First Manassas. Pope spent all the 28th in a search for his missing foe. About sunset that night, Jackson disclosed himself by fiercely striking, at Groveton, the flank of King's division of McDowell's corps while on its march to Centreville, where Pope then thought Jackson was. This attack was made by the divisions of Ewell and Taliaferro. It was gallantly met by Gibbon and Doubleday, both fine soldiers, and lasted until 9 o'clock. The opposing forces fought, as Gibbon states, at d distance of 75 yards, and the engagement was a most sanguinary one. Trimble's brigade, containing the Twenty-first North Carolina and Wharton's battalion, took a conspicuous part, and met with a brigade loss of 310 men. The loss in the North Carolina commands was 26 killed and 37 wounded. Among the killed was Lieut.-Col. Saunders Fulton, commanding the Twenty-first, who had greatly distinguished himself by coolness and daring.

The next day began the two days of desperate fighting at Second Manassas, or Bull Run. North Carolina had eleven regiments and one battalion of infantry and two batteries of artillery engaged in these battles: In Law's brigade was the Sixth regiment, Maj. R. F. Webb; in Trimble's, the Twenty-first and First battalion; in Branch's brigade, the Seventh, Capt. R. B. MacRae; the Eighteenth, Lieutenant-Colonel Purdie; the Twenty-eighth, Col. J. H. Lane; the Thirty-third, Lieut.-Col. R. F. Hoke, and the Thirty-seventh, Lieut.-Col. W. M. Barbour; in Pender's brigade, the Sixteenth, Capt. L. W. [100] Stowe; the Twenty-second, Maj. C. C. Cole; the Thirty-fourth, Col. R. H. Riddick, and the Thirty-eighth, Captain McLaughlin; Latham's battery, Lieut. J. R. Potts, and Reilly's battery, Capt. James Reilly.

On the morning of the 29th, Jackson was in position along the line of an unfinished railroad, and Longstreet, having passed Thoroughfare gap, was marching in haste to reunite the two armies. Jackson's line extended from near Groveton, on the Warrenton pike, almost to Sudley's Springs. His own division held his right, Ewell the center, and A. P. Hill the left. In Sigel's morning attack on Jackson's right, an attack which made little impression, no North Carolina troops were under fire. However, in the afternoon, the Union forces, showing a pertinacity and heroism rarely equaled, rushed continuously against Jackson's obstinate Southerners. The puzzled Federals had been searching for Jackson, and now that they had found him, they wanted to end the search. In their repeated assaults, the Carolinians and their comrades on the left found foes of their own mettle. Hooker and Kearny and Reno were ordered to advance simultaneously against Jackson's center and left. Grover, of Hooker's division, however, led his five regiments into battle ahead of Kearny, and made one of the most brilliant charges of the war. He succeeded in crowding into a gap between Gregg's and Thomas' brigades, and reached the railroad. There he was fiercely driven back, and lost 486 men in about twenty minutes. So close was the fighting that bayonets and clubbed muskets were actually used.3 The dashing Kearny, aided by Stevens, next fell on Hill's left. Branch's and Pender's North Carolinians and Early's Virginians had moved up to reinforce the front lines, and for some time the line of battle swayed forward and backward. General Jackson had ordered his brigade commanders not to advance much to the front of the railroad, and so they never pressed their [101] advantages far. When Branch advanced, part of the Seventh regiment under Capt. McLeod Turner was deployed as skirmishers around Crenshaw's battery. The Thirty-seventh regiment first became engaged. The Eighteenth and Seventh marched to its aid. Col. R. F. Hoke, with the Thirty-third, was further to the left, and gallantly advanced into the open field and drove the enemy from his front. The Twenty-eighth, under Colonel Lane, fought determinedly in conjunction with Field's left. Finally this brigade, Gregg's and Field's, succeeded in freeing their front of the enemy. This was done, however, only after prolonged and costly effort. Pender, seeing that Thomas was in sore need of support, moved his brigade against the enemy, who had reached the railroad cut, and there, after a struggle, forced back the foe occupying the portion of it in his front, and drove him behind his batteries. He moved alone, and after waiting in vain for support to attack the batteries, retired unmolested to the railroad line. During this battle, General Pender was knocked down by a shell, but refused to leave the field. The official reports of both sides bear testimony to the unyielding spirit with which this contest was waged. Gen. A. P. Hill, to whose division both Pender and Branch belonged, says: ‘The evident intention of the enemy this day was to turn our left and overwhelm Jackson's corps before Longstreet came up, and to accomplish this the most persistent and furious onsets were made by column after column of infantry, accompanied by numerous batteries of artillery. Soon my reserves were all in, and up to 6 o'clock, my division, assisted by the Louisiana brigade of General Hays, commanded by Colonel Forno, with a heroic courage and obstinacy almost beyond parallel, had met and repulsed six separate and distinct assaults.’

Meanwhile, Longstreet had reached the field and taken position. At 6:30 o'clock, King's division, under General Hatch, encountered Hood's Texas and Georgia brigade [102] and Law's brigade of North Carolinians, Alabamians and Mississippians. The Southerners had made a toilsome journey to help their comrades, and Longstreet says they welcomed the opportunity. ‘Each,’ reports Hood, the senior commander,

seemed to vie with the other in efforts to plunge the deeper into the ranks of the enemy. Advance and Retreat, p. 34.

Longstreet comments:
A fierce struggle of thirty minutes gave them advantage, which they followed through the dark to the base of the high ground held by bayonets and batteries innumerable, as compared with their limited ranks. Their task accomplished, they were halted to wait the morrow. Manassas to Appomattox, p. 184.

Law's men drove off three guns and captured one. Law states in his report that this gun was fought until its discharges blackened the faces of his advancing men. ‘What higher praise,’ exclaims Ropes,

could be given, either to the gunners or their antagonists? The Army under Pope, p. 108.

That night, General Lee, knowing that the forces would again join battle in the morning, readjusted his entire line. All of Jackson's men were moved into their original and strong position along the unfinished railroad, and Longstreet's corps was aligned on Jackson's right. Pope mistook these movements for a retreat, and telegraphed, ‘The enemy is retiring toward the mountains.’ Little did he then anticipate how he was to be swept across Bull Run by that ‘retreating army’ next day.

On the morning of the 30th, General Pope, seemingly yet unaware that Longstreet was in position to strike his left, massed the commands of Porter, King, Hooker, Kearny, Ricketts, and Reynolds in a final effort to crush Jackson. Not all the men ordered against Jackson joined in the heavy assaults on his weakened lines. Still, that afternoon enough pressed the attack home to make it doubtful whether his three divisions could stand the [103] strain, hence he sent to General Lee for another division. Longstreet and Hood had, however, both gone ahead of their troops, and they saw that the best way to relieve the pressure on Jackson was by artillery. Straightway Chapman's, then Reilly's North Carolina battery, and then Boyce's came rolling into position and opened a destructive enfilade fire on Jackson's assailants. ‘It was a fire that no troops could live under for ten minutes,’ is Longstreet's characterization of the work done by these batteries, soon added to by all of Col. S. D. Lee's guns. The Federal lines crumbled into disorder from the double fire, but again and again they stoutly reformed, only at last to be discomfited. Jackson's troops were fighting in almost the same positions as on the day before. Branch's brigade was, however, so far to the left that it was not in close action on the 30th. The Carolinians in Trimble's brigade, although not in the action of the day, had a day of anxiety, as guards to Jackson's trains that had been threatened by a cavalry attack. Pender was kept on the left until Archer and Thomas were severely pressed. Then his brigade and Brockenbrough's were put in, and all together repulsed the assault.

When Longstreet saw the enemy's attack on Jackson fairly broken, he ordered his whole corps to advance on the right. This movement in such force was not expected by Pope, and in spite of McDowell's efforts the left was at once pushed back. For the possession of the Henry house hill, so vital to the Federal retreat, both sides fiercely contested, and the dead lay thick on its sides. General Law reports that he united the Sixth North Carolina with his other regiments in a charge on a destructive battery near the Dogan house, and drove the gunners from it. His whole brigade was active during the afternoon's fight. Law also reports that Major Webb handled his men with consummate ability. Jackson had joined in the forward movement, and the Federal army had been slowly driven off the entire field. In the [104] advance of Jackson, Archer's, Thomas' and Pender's brigades acting in concert had rendered most effective service. Latham's and Reilly's batteries contributed their full share to this victory.

The Federal army retreated toward Fairfax, and Jackson was sent in pursuit over the Little River road. Near Germantown was fought, on the 1st of September, what the Confederates call the battle of Ox Hill. The Federals name it Chantilly. As soon as Jackson overtook the Federals, he deployed for attack, and the battle was fought during a terrific storm. The brigades of Branch and Brockenbrough were sent forward to develop the enemy's force, and were soon hotly engaged, and Branch was exposed to a heavy fire in front and on his flank. General Hill, whose brigades were mainly engaged, says: ‘Gregg, Pender, Thomas and Archer were successively thrown in. The enemy obstinately contested the ground, and it was not until the Federal generals, Kearny and Stevens, had fallen in front of Thomas' brigade, that they were driven from the ground. They did not retire far until later in the night, when they entirely disappeared. The brunt of this fight was borne by Branch, Gregg and Pender.’

Col. R. H. Riddick, whose power as a disciplinarian and ability as a field officer had made the Thirty-fourth regiment so efficient, was mortally wounded there, as was Maj. Eli H. Miller, and Captain Stowe, commanding the Sixteenth North Carolina. The fighting on both the Confederate and the Federal side during this campaign was such as is done only by seasoned and disciplined troops, commanded by officers of mettle and ambition. In modern war, the range of the rifle has about broken up personal conflict, and lines of battle do not often come in close contact; but in these engagements around Manassas, hand-to-hand fighting actually occurred. General Grover reports that, in his charge on Jackson, bayonet wounds were given; on the right a Confederate colonel [105] was struck in the head with a musket; in front of the ‘deep cut,’ Gen. Bradley Johnson saw men standing in line and fighting with stones, and at least one man was killed with these antiquated weapons. General Hood states that after the night battle on the 28th he found the Confederates and Federals so close and so intermingled ‘that commanders of both armies gave orders for alignment, in some instances, to the troops of their opponents.’ In some cases, volleys were exchanged at such short range that ‘brave men in blue and brave men in gray fell dead almost in one another's arms.’ General Johnson reports that he noticed ‘a Federal flag hold its position for half an hour within ten yards of a flag of one of the regiments (Confederate) in the cut, and go down six or eight times, and that after the fight 100 dead men were lying twenty yards from the cut and some of them within two feet of it.’ General Gregg's reply, ‘I am out of ammunition, but I think I can hold my place with my bayonets,’ breathes the spirit of Manassas. The result of the campaign was most gratifying to the Confederates. Pope, despite the fact that he unfortunately entered upon his new command with the declaration, ‘I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies,’ had been forced back from Gordonsville to the Washington lines. His total battle casualties had been 16,843,4 and Lee had captured from him thirty pieces of artillery and upward of 20,000 small-arms,5 to say nothing of the stores at Manassas.

The North Carolina losses in the two days and one night at Manassas were as follows: killed, 70; wounded, 448. At Ox Hill, or Chantilly, they were: killed, 29; wounded, 139. [106]

1 The Army under Pope.-Ropes, p. 3.

2 Trimble's and Taliaferro's Official Reports, Rebellion Records, XII, 2.

3 Grover's Report.

4 Official Records, Series I, XII, II, 262, 139.

5 Lee's Report.

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