Chapter 14: Second battle of Manassas (Bull Run).
- Battle opened by the Federals on Jackson's right, followed by Kearny -- Longstreet's reconnoissance -- Stuart, the cavalry leader, sleeps on the field of battle -- Pope thought at the close of the 29th that the Confederates were retreating -- Second day -- Fitz -- John Porter struck in flank -- Longstreet takes a hand in the fight late in the day -- Lee under fire -- the Federal retreat to Centreville -- that point turned -- Pope again dislodged-“Stonewall” Jackson's appearance and peculiarities -- killing of “fighting Phil” Kearny -- losses -- review of the campaign.
General Pope at daylight sent orders to General Sigel's corps, with Reynolds's division, to attack as soon as it was light enough to see, and bring the enemy to a stand if possible. At the same time orders were sent Heintzelman and Reno for their corps to hurry along the turnpike and join on the right of Sigel. The batteries opened in an irregular combat on the left, centre, and right a little after eight o'clock, and drew from Jackson a monotonous but resolute response. And thus early upon the 29th of August was begun the second battle upon this classic and fateful field. I, marched at daylight and filed to the left at Gainesville at nine o'clock. As the head of the column approached Gainesville the fire of artillery became more lively, and its volume swelled to proportions indicating near approach to battle. The men involuntarily quickened step, filed down the turnpike, and in twenty minutes came upon the battle as it began to press upon Jackson's right, their left battery partially turning his right. His battle, as before stated, stood upon its original line of the unfinished railroad. As my columns approached, the batteries of the leading brigades were thrown forward to ground of superior sweep. This display and the deploy of the infantry were  so threatening to the enemy's left batteries that he thought prudent to change the front of that end of his line more to his left and rear. Hood's two brigades were deployed across the turnpike at right angles, supported by the brigade under Evans. A battery advanced on their right to good position and put in some clever work, which caused the enemy to rectify all that end of his line. Kemper deployed two of his brigades, supported by the third, on the right of Hood. The three brigades under Wilcox were posted in rear of Hood and Evans, and in close supporting distance. On Hood's left and near Jackson's right was open field, of commanding position. This was selected by Colonel Walton, of the Washington Artillery, for his battalion, and he brought it bounding into position as soon as called. The division under D. R. Jones was deployed in the order of the others, but was broken off to the rear, across the Manassas Gap Railroad, to guard against forces of the enemy reported in the direction of Manassas Junction and Bristoe. As formed, my line made an obtuse angle forward of Jackson's, till it approached Manassas Gap Railroad, where D. R. Jones's division was broken in echelon to the rear. At twelve o'clock we were formed for battle. About eleven o'clock, Hooker's division filed to the right from the turnpike, to reinforce the Federal right under Kearny, who, with Sigel's corps and Reynolds's division, were engaged in a desultory affair against Jackson's left, chiefly of artillery. R. H. Anderson's division marched at daylight along the Warrenton turnpike for Gainesville. When I reported my troops in order for battle, General Lee was inclined to engage as soon as practicable, but did not order. All troops that he could hope to have were up except R. H. Anderson's division, which was near enough to come in when the battle was in progress. I asked him to be allowed to make a reconnoissance of the enemy's  ground, and along his left. After an hour's work, mounted and afoot, under the August sun, I returned and reported adversely as to attack, especially in view of the easy approach of the troops reported at Manassas against my right in the event of severe contention. We knew of Ricketts's division in that quarter, and of a considerable force at Manassas Junction, which indicated one corps. At two o'clock Kearny made an earnest opening against Jackson's left, but no information of battle reached us on the right. He made severe battle by his division, and with some success, but was checked by Jackson's movements to meet him. General Stevens supported his battle, but his numbers were not equal to the occasion. General Sigel joined in the affair, and part of General Hooker's division, making a gallant fight, but little progress. General Grover's brigade made a gallant charge, but a single brigade was a trifle, and it met with only partial success, and was obliged to retire with heavy loss of killed and wounded, --four hundred and eighty-four. At one time the enemy broke through the line, cutting off the extreme left brigade, and gained position on the railroad cut; but Jackson and A. P. Hill reinforced against that attack, and were in time to push it back and recover the lost ground. Their attacks were too much in detail to hold even the ground gained, but they held firmly to the battle and their line until after night, when they withdrew to await orders for the next day. Though this fight opened at two o'clock, and was fiercely contested till near night, no account of it came from headquarters to my command, nor did General Jackson think to send word of it. General Lee, not entirely satisfied with the report of my reconnoissance, was thinking of sending some of the engineers for more critical survey of his right front, when his chief of cavalry sent to inform him of the approach of a formidable column of infantry and artillery  threatening his right. Wilcox's division was changed to supporting position of our right, under Jones, and I rode to look at this new force, its strength, and the ground of its approach. It was the column of McDowell's and Porter's corps, marching under the joint order. Porter's corps in advance deployed Morell's division, and ordered Butterfield's brigade, preceded by a regiment of skirmishers, to advance on their right, Sykes's division to support Morell. As this was in process of execution, McDowell, whose corps was in rear, rode to the front and objected to the plan and attack so far from the main force. A few shots were exchanged, when all became quiet again. We saw nothing of McDowell's corps, and our cavalry had not been able to get far enough towards their rear to know of its presence or force. He afterwards drew off from Porter's column and marched by the Sudley Springs road to join the main force on the turnpike. I rode back and reported to General Lee that the column was hardly strong enough to mean aggressive work from that quarter, and at the same time reported a dust along the New Market road which seemed to indicate movement of other troops from Manassas. General Stuart rode up, making similar report, and asked for orders. As our chief was not ready with his orders at the moment, Stuart was asked to wait. The latter threw himself on the grass, put a large stone under his head, asked the general to have him called when his orders were ready for him, and went sound asleep. Our chief now returned to his first plan of attack by his right down the turnpike. Though more than anxious to meet his wishes, and anticipating his orders, I suggested, as the day was far spent, that a reconnoissance in force be made at nightfall to the immediate front of the enemy, and if an opening was found for an entering wedge, that we have all things in readiness at daylight for a good day's work. After a moment's hesitation he  assented, and orders were given for the advance at early twilight. This gave General Stuart half an hour siesta. When called, he sprang to his feet, received his orders, swung into his saddle, and at a lope, singing, “If you want to have a good time, jine the cavalry,” his banjo-player, Sweeny, on the jump behind him, rode to his troopers. Wilcox was recalled and ordered to march in support of Hood and Evans when they advanced on the reconnoissance. It so happened that our advance had been anticipated by an order to move from the enemy's side against us. They attacked along the turnpike by King's division about sunset. To the Confederates, who had been searching for an opportunity during the greater part of the day, and were about to march through the approaching darkness to find it, this was an agreeable surprise. Relieved of that irksome toil, and ready for work, they jumped at the presence, to welcome in countercharge the enemy's coming. 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 at nine o'clock to await the morrow. One cannon, a number of flags, and a few prisoners were taken. Generals Wilcox and Hood were ordered to carefully examine the position of the enemy and report of the feasibility of attack at daylight. They came to corps headquarters a little before twelve o'clock, and made separate reports, both against attack, with minute items of their conclusions. Hood was ordered to have the carriage of the captured gun cut up and left, and both were ordered to withdraw their commands to their first positions. Meanwhile, General Pope had sent orders to General Porter, dated 4.30 P. M., to attack upon my right flank, but  the order was not received until it was too late for battle, and the force was not strong enough, and a fight at that hour might have been more unfortunate than the fights by detail on their right. If it had been sent to General McDowell before he left, the two corps, if he could have been induced to go in, might have given serious trouble. The field on their left was favorable for tactics, but on Porter's front it was rough, and R. H. Anderson's division was in striking distance of their left, if that effort had been made. Anderson marched in the dark as far as Hood's front before reporting for position, and was ordered back to Gainesville. The 4.30 order was issued under the impression that my troops, or the greater part of them, were still at Thoroughfare Gap, and General Pope said, in his official report,--
I believe, in fact I am positive, that at five o'clock in the afternoon of the 29th, General Porter had in his front no considerable body of the enemy. I believed then, as I am very sure now, that it was easily practicable for him to have turned the right flank of Jackson and to have fallen upon his rear; that if he had done so, we should have gained a decisive victory over the army under Jackson before he could have been joined by any of the forces of Longstreet.1After night, Porter's column marched by its right to follow the route of McDowell. The morning of the 30th broke fair, and for the Federal commander bright with anticipations for the day. He wired the Washington authorities of success, that “the enemy was retreating to the mountains,” and told of his preparations for pursuit. It seems that he took my reconnoissance for a fight, and my withdrawal for retreat, also interpreting reports from the right as very favorable. He reported,--
General Hooker estimated the loss of the enemy as at least two to one, and General Kearny as at least three to one. He construed the operations of the night of the 29th and the reports of the morning of the 30th as indications of retreat of the Confederates. Prisoners captured during the night, paroled and returning to him, so reported on the morning of the 30th, and his general officers had impressions of the Confederate left that confirmed the other accounts, and convinced him that we were in retreat. The forces threatening our right the day before having marched around towards the turnpike, D. R. Jones's division was advanced to position near Kemper's right. Colonel S. D. Lee's artillery battalion was advanced to relieve the Washington Artillery, making our line complete, in battle front. About one o'clock in the afternoon, General Pope ordered attack against Jackson's front by the corps under General Porter, supported by King's division, Heintzelman and Reno to move forward and attack Jackson's left, to turn it and strike down against the flank, Ricketts's division in support of it; but Ricketts was recalled and put near the turnpike, to support that part of Porter's field. During the early part of this severe battle not a gun was fired by my troops, except occasional shots from S. D. Lee's batteries of reserve artillery, and less frequent shots from one or two of my other batteries. Developments appearing unfavorable for a general engagement, General Lee had settled upon a move by Sudley Springs, to cross Bull Run during the night and try to again reach Pope's rear, this time with his army. About three P. M. I rode to the front to prepare to make a diversion a little before dark, to cover the plan proposed for our night march. As I rode, batteries resting on the sides of the turnpike thought that battle was at hand, and called their officers and men to stand to their guns and horses. Passing by and beyond my lines, a message came from General Jackson reporting his lines heavily  pressed, and asking to be reinforced. Riding forward a few rods to an open, which gave a view of Jackson's field, I came in sight of Porter's battle, piling up against Jackson's right, centre, and left. At the same time an order came from General Lee for a division to be sent General Jackson. Porter's masses were in almost direct line from the point at which I stood, and in enfilade fire. It was evident that they could not stand fifteen minutes under the fire of batteries planted at that point, while a division marching back and across the field to aid Jackson could not reach him in an hour, more time probably than he could stand under the heavy weights then bearing down upon him. Boldness was prudence! Prompt work by the wing and batteries could relieve the battle. Reinforcements might not be in time, so I called for my nearest batteries. Ready, anticipating call, they sprang to their places and drove at speed, saw the opportunity before it could be pointed out, and went into action. The first fire was by Chapman's battery, followed in rolling practice by Boyce's and Reilly's. Almost immediately the wounded began to drop off from Porter's ranks; the number seemed to increase with every shot; the masses began to waver, swinging back and forth, showing signs of discomfiture along the left and left centre. In ten or fifteen minutes it crumbled into disorder and turned towards the rear. Although the batteries seemed to hasten the movements of the discomfited, the fire was less effective upon broken ranks, which gave them courage, and they made brave efforts to rally; but as the new lines formed they had to breast against Jackson's standing line, and make a new and favorable target for the batteries, which again drove them to disruption and retreat. Not satisfied, they made a third effort to rally and fight the battle through, but by that time they had fallen back far enough to open the field to the fire of S. D. Lee's artillery battalion. As the line began to take shape, this  fearful fire was added to that under which they had tried so ineffectually to fight. The combination tore the line to pieces, and as it broke the third time the charge was ordered. The heavy fumes of gunpowder hanging about our ranks, as stimulating as sparkling wine, charged the atmosphere with the light and splendor of battle. Time was culminating under a flowing tide. The noble horses took the spirit of the riders sitting lightly in their saddles. As orders were given, the staff, their limbs already closed to the horses' flanks, pressed their spurs, but the electric current overleaped their speedy strides, and twenty-five thousand braves moved in line as by a single impulse. My old horse, appreciating the importance of corps headquarters, envious of the spread of his comrades as they measured the green, yet anxious to maintain his role, moved up and down his limited space in lofty bounds, resolved to cover in the air the space allotted his more fortunate comrades on the plain. Leaving the broken ranks for Jackson, our fight was made against the lines near my front. As the plain along Hood's front was more favorable for the tread of soldiers, he was ordered, as the column of direction, to push for the plateau at the Henry House, in order to cut off retreat at the crossings by Young's Branch. Wilcox was called to support and cover Hood's left, but he lost sight of two of his brigades,--Featherston's and Pryor's, --and only gave the aid of his single brigade. Kemper and Jones were pushed on with Hood's right, Evans in Hood's direct support. The batteries were advanced as rapidly as fields were opened to them, Stribling's, J. B. Richardson's, Eshleman's, and Rogers's having fairest field for progress. At the first sound of the charge, General Lee sent to revoke his call in favor of Jackson, asked me to push the battle, ordered R. H. Anderson's division up, and rode himself to join me.  In the fulness of the battle, General Toombs rode up on his iron-gray under sweat and spur, his hat off, and asked for his command. He was told that a courier was about to start with an order for the division commander, and would guide him. He asked to be the bearer of the order, received it, and with the guide rode to find his post in the battle. The meeting of the brigade and its commander was more than joyful. Jackson failed to pull up even on the left, which gave opportunity for some of the enemy's batteries to turn their fire across the right wing in enfilade, as we advanced, and the enemy strongly reinforced against us from troops drawn from Jackson's front, but we being on the jump, the fire of the batteries was not effective. It was severely threatening upon General Lee, however, who would ride under it, notwithstanding appeals to avoid it, until I thought to ride through a ravine, and thus throw a traverse between him and the fire. He sent orders to Jackson to advance and drive off or capture the batteries standing in his front and firing across our line, but it was not in season to relieve us. Hood's aggressive force was well spent when his troops approached the Chinn House, but R. H. Anderson was up and put in to reinforce and relieve his battle. General Pope drew Ricketts's division from his right to brace his left, then Reno's command to aid in checking our march, but its progress, furiously resisted, was steady, though much delayed. Platt's brigade was also put against us. This made time for Porter to gather his forces. His regulars of Sykes's division, particularly, made desperate resistance, that could only be overcome by our overreaching lines threatening their rear. When the last guns were fired the thickening twilight concealed the lines of friend and foe, so that the danger of friend firing against friend became imminent. The hill of the Henry House was reached in good time, but  darkness coming on earlier because of thickening clouds hovering over us, and a gentle fall of rain closely following, the plateau was shut off from view, and its ascent only found by groping through the darkening rainfall. As long as the enemy held the plateau, he covered the line of retreat by the turnpike and the bridge at Young's Branch. As he retired, heavy darkness gave safe-conduct to such of his columns as could find their way through the weird mists. Captain William H. Powell, of the Fourth Regular Infantry, wrote of his experience,--
As we filed from the battle-field into the turnpike leading over the stone bridge, we came upon a group of mounted officers, one of whom wore a peculiar style of hat which had been seen on the field that day, and which had been the occasion of a great deal of comment in the ranks. As we passed these officers, the one with the peculiar hat called out in a loud voice,-- ‘What troops are those?’ ‘The regulars,’ answered somebody. ‘Second Division, Fifth Corps,’ replied another. ‘God bless them! they saved the army,’ added the officer. Subsequently we learned that he was General Irvin McDowell. As we neared the bridge we came upon confusion. Men singly and in detachments were mingled with sutlers' wagons, artillery caissons, supply wagons, and ambulances, each striving to get ahead of the other. Vehicles rushed through organized bodies and broke the columns into fragments. Little detachments gathered by the road-side after crossing the bridge, crying out to members of their regiments as a guide to scattered comrades. And what a night it was! Dark, gloomy, and beclouded by the volumes of smoke which had risen from the battle-field.2At six o'clock, General Pope received report of the Sixth Corps, that had marched from Alexandria under General Franklin to the vicinity of Centreville, and ordered the several commands to concentrate about that  hamlet during the night. The Second Corps from the Army of the Potomac under General Sumner also joined him at Centreville. But for the dropping off of two of Wilcox's brigades from close connection with the right wing, and the deflection of Drayton's brigade, which was taken off by some unauthorized and unknown person from my right to the support of cavalry, it is possible that my working column could have gained the plateau of the Henry House before it was dark. Or if Jackson had been fresh enough to pull up even with us, he could have retained the commands under Reno and Sykes's regulars in his front, which could have given us safe sweep to the plateau, an hour before sundown, and in sight of great possibilities. By morning of the 31st everything off the turnpike was nasty and soggy. Stuart's cavalry, followed by Pryor's brigade, were ordered across the Run at Stone Bridge as a diversion, while we were trying another move to reach the enemy's rear. The Confederates had worked all of the winter before, fortifying this new position, just taken by Pope at Centreville. Direct pursuit by the turnpike against these fortifications would therefore be fruitless. General Jackson was called to Headquarters early in the morning. Upon receiving General Lee's orders to cross Bull Run at Sudley's and march by Little River turnpike to intercept the enemy's march, he said, “Good!” and away he went, without another word, or even a smile. Though the suggestion of a smile always hung about his features, it was commonly said that it never fully developed, with a single exception, during his military career, though some claim there were other occasions on which it ripened, and those very near him say that he always smiled at the mention of the names of the Federal leaders whom he was accustomed to encounter over  in the Valley behind the Blue Ridge. Standing, he was a graceful figure, five feet ten inches in height, with brown wavy hair, full beard, and regular features. At first glance his gentle expression repelled the idea of his severe piety, the full beard concealing the lower features, which had they been revealed would have marked the character of the man who claimed “his first duty to God, and his next to Jackson and General Lee.” Mounted, his figure was not so imposing as that of the bold dragoon, Charley May, on Black Tom. He had a habit of raising his right hand, riding or sitting, which some of his followers were wont to construe into invocation for Divine aid, but they do not claim to know whether the prayers were for the slain, or for the success of other fields. The fact is, he received a shot in that hand at the First Bull Run, which left the hand under partial paralysis and the circulation through it imperfect. To relieve the pressure and assist the circulation he sometimes raised his arm. I was ordered to look after the dead and those whose misfortune it was to be wounded, till Jackson could have time to stretch out on his new march, then to follow him, leaving the work to details and to General D. H. Hill's division, just coming in from Richmond. After giving orders for the day, General Lee rode out towards Centreville for personal observation, halted, and dismounted at a point which seemed safe from danger or observation. Suddenly alarm was given of “The enemy's cavalry!” The group dispersed in hot haste to have the heels of their animals under them. The rush and confusion frightened the general's horse, so that he pulled him violently to the ground, severely spraining his right wrist, besides breaking some of the bones of the hand. On reaching his Headquarters, Jackson ordered the assembly sounded, mounted his horse, and marched for the Sudley Springs crossing. He cleared the way in time for my column to reach that point at dark, the head of his  own column tapping Little River turnpike. The march was over a single-track country road, bad enough on the south side of the river, much worn through a post-oak forest over quicksand subsoil on the north side. If Jackson had been followed by an enemy whose march he wished to baffle, his gun-carriages could not have made deeper cuts through the mud and quicksand. Stuart was ordered over to the Little River turnpike, and advanced to the vicinity of Ox Hill and Fairfax Court-House. He made some interesting captures and reports of movements by the enemy. He slept near their lines, north of the turnpike, east of Chantilly. The Little River and Warrenton turnpikes converge and join as they near Fairfax Court-House. At vulnerable points on the latter, General Pope posted parts of his command to cover his rearward march. At Ox Hill (Chantilly) were stationed Heintzelman's and Reno's corps, the divisions of Hooker, Kearny, Stevens, and Reno. Early on the 1st of September the Confederates resumed their march. Jackson reached Ox Hill late in the afternoon, and deployed by inversion,--A. P. Hill's division on his right, Ewell's under Lawton next, his own under Stuart on his left, on the right of the road. On the left of the road were Stuart's cavalry and the artillery. Two of Hill's brigades were thrown out to find the enemy, and were soon met by his advance in search of Jackson, which made a furious attack, driving back the Confederate brigades in some disorder. Stevens, appreciating the crisis as momentous, thought it necessary to follow the opportunity by aggressive battle, in order to hold Jackson away from the Warrenton turnpike. Kearny, always ready to second any courageous move, joined in the daring battle. At the critical moment the rain and thunder-storm burst with great violence upon the combatants, the high wind beating the storm in the faces of the Confederates. So  firm was the unexpected battle that part of Jackson's line yielded to the onslaught. At one moment his artillery seemed in danger. Stevens was killed when the storm of battle, as well as that of the elements, began to quiet down. Stuart's cavalry drew near Jackson's left during the progress of the battle. As I rode up and met General Jackson, I remarked upon the number of his men going to the rear: “General, your men don't appear to work well to-day.” “No,” he replied, “but I hope it will prove a victory in the morning.” His troops were relieved as mine came up, to give them a respite till morning. While my reliefs were going around, General Philip Kearny rode to the line in search of his division. Finding himself in the presence of Confederates, he wheeled his horse and put spurs, preferring the danger of musket-balls to humiliating surrender. Several challenges called, but not heeded, were followed by the ring of half a dozen muskets, when he fell mortally hurt, and so perished one of the most gallant and dashing of the Union generals.
The rain so concealed the fight in its last struggles that the troops escaped before we were aware that it had been abandoned. As both Federal division commanders fell, the accounts  fail to do justice to their fight. Stevens in his short career gave evidence of courage, judgment, skill, and genius not far below his illustrious antagonist. During the fight Stuart had parties out seeking information, and early on the second had his troopers in the saddle in pursuit. The army, ready to move, awaited reports of the cavalry, which came from time to time, as they followed on the line of retreat. From Fairfax Court-House came the report that the enemy's rear had passed in rapid retreat quite out of reach, approaching the fortifications of Alexandria and Washington City. Arms were ordered stacked, and a good rest was given the troops. Stuart's cavalry pursued and engaged the retreating army. In the afternoon the First Corps started on the march via Dranesville for Leesburg and the Potomac River, followed on the third by the Second. The results to the Confederates of the several engagements about Manassas Plains were seven thousand prisoners, two thousand of the enemy's wounded, thirty pieces of artillery, many thousand small-arms picked up from the field, and many colors, besides the captures made at Manassas Junction by General Jackson.4 A fair estimate of forces engaged:
|Federal army, aggregate||63,000|