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Groveton, battle of.

After the battle at Cedar Mountain (q. v.), Pope [180] took position with his army along the line of the Rapidan, where he was reinforced by troops from North Carolina, under Burnside and Stevens. The Confederates now concentrated their forces for a dash on Washington in heavy columns. Halleck, perceiving possible danger to the capital, issued a positive order to McClellan, Aug. 3, 1862, for the immediate transfer of the Army of the Potomac from the James River to the vicinity of Washington. The commander of that army instructed Halleck that the “true defence of Washington” was “on the banks of the James.” The order was at once repeated, but it was twenty days after it

Map of the operations at Groveton.

was first given before the transfer was accomplished. Meanwhile, General Lee having massed a heavy force on Pope's front, the latter had retired behind the forks of the Rappahannock. Lee pushed forward to that river with heavy columns, and on Aug. 20-21 a severe artillery duel was fought above Fredericksburg, for 7 or 8 miles along that stream. Finding they could not force a passage of the river, the Confederates took a circuitous route towards the mountains to flank the Nationals, when Pope made movements to thwart them.

But danger to the capital increased every hour. Troops were coming with tardy pace from the Peninsula, and on the 25th, when those of Franklin, Heintzelman, and Porter had arrived, Pope's army, somewhat scattered, numbered about 60,000 men. Jackson crossed the Rappahannock, marched swiftly over Bull Run Mountain, through Thoroughfare Gap, to Gainesville (Aug. 26), where he was joined by Stuart, with two cavalry brigades. At twilight Stuart was at Bristow Station, in Pope's rear, and between the latter and Washington. He and Banks had no suspicion of this movement. Jackson knew the perils of his position, and the necessity for quick action. He sent Stuart forward to Manassas Junction before daylight (Aug. 27), to break up Pope's communications with the capital. The alarm instantly spread among the Nationals. Jackson, with his whole force, pressed to the Junction, and Pope attempted to capture him before he should form a junction with Longstreet, at the head of Lee's column, then approaching. Pope ordered McDowell, with Sigel and the troops of Reynolds, to hasten to Gainesville to intercept Longstreet. Reno was ordered to move on a different road, and support McDowell, while Pope moved along the railway towards Manassas Junction with [181] Hooker's division. He directed General Porter to remain at Warrenton Station until Banks should arrive there to hold it, and then hasten to Gainesville. McDowell reached Gainesville without interruption; but near Bristow Station, Hooker encountered General Ewell, and in the struggle that ensued each lost about 300 men.

The latter hastened towards Manassas, but Hooker's ammunition failing, he was unable to pursue. Pope now ordered a rapid movement upon the Confederates at the Junction, while General Kearny was directed to make his way to Bristow Station, where Jackson might mass his troops and attempt to turn the National right. This movement was made early on the morning of Aug. 28, 1862. Porter was ordered to move towards Bristow Station at one o'clock, but did not march before daylight, at which time Jackson had taken another direction. He destroyed an immense amount of captured stores, and hastened to join Longstreet, then approaching through Thoroughfare Gap. Some of Pope's troops failed to execute orders. The latter arrived at the Junction just after Jackson had left, and pushed all of his available forces upon Centreville in pursuit. Kearny drew Jackson's rear-guard out of Centreville late in the afternoon (Aug. 28), and the forces of the Confederates were turned towards Thoroughfare Gap, from which was coming their help. Towards evening the troops under Ewell and Taliaferro encamped near the battle-ground of Bull Run nearly a year before. King's division of McDowell's corps was in close pursuit, and when they had reached a point desired by the watching Confederates, the latter fell fiercely upon them. A sanguinary battle ensued. The brunt of it was borne by Gibbons's brigade, supported by that of General Doubleday. The struggle continued until dark. The losses were heavy, and in that battle General Ewell lost a leg.

Pope, at Centreville, now attempted to crush Jackson before Longstreet could join him. McDowell and King were directed to maintain their position, while Kearny should follow Jackson closely at one o'clock in the morning (Aug. 29), and Porter (whom he believed to be at the Junction) to move upon Centreville at dawn. Before these movements could be executed, Longstreet and Jackson had formed a partial junction. Near the entrance to Thoroughfare Gap, through which Longstreet had marched, there was

Soldiers' monument at Groveton.

a sharp engagement, which ended at twilight. Longstreet was held in check for a while by Ricketts's division, and the cavalry of Buford and Bayard, which had fought the battle. Early the next morning (Aug. 29), Ricketts fled to Gainesville, closely pursued. Pope's army was now scattered and somewhat confused. Lee's whole army, now combined, pressed forward. Pope ordered Sigel, supported by Reynolds, to advance from Groveton and attack Jackson on wooded heights near. He ordered Heintzelman, with the divisions of Hooker and Kearny, towards Gainesville, to be followed by Reno, while Porter, with his own corps and King's division, was to move upon the road to Gainesville from Manassas, for the turning of Jackson's flank on the Warrenton pike, and to fall heavily on his rear. Lee was then approaching along that pike, and Jackson determined to hold his advantageous position, at all hazards, until the main army should arrive.

At five o'clock in the morning, Sigel, with the divisions of Schurz, Schenck, and [182] Milroy, advanced to attack Jackson. A battle began at seven o'clock, and continued with great fury until ten, Sigel constantly advancing, while it was evident that Jackson had been reinforced. It was so. Longstreet, with the vanguard of Lee's whole army, which had been streaming through Thoroughfare Gap all the morning unopposed, had now reached the field of action. Sigel maintained his ground until noon, when Kearny's division arrived, and took position on Sigel's right. Reynolds and Reno also came up, followed soon afterwards by Hooker. Then the Nationals outnumbered the Confederates, and for some hours the battle assumed the aspect of a series of skirmishes. Pope ordered Porter into action, and other troops were directed to support him; but Porter, as he alleged, did not receive the order until dusk, and the brunt of the battle fell upon his intended supports. It was desperately and gallantly fought on both sides. Jackson was hourly reinforced by fresh divisions of Lee's army. Soon after dusk this sharp and important battle at Groveton ended, without victory on either side, and each having lost about 7;000 men. Pope's entire army (excepting Banks's forces at Bristow Station) and a part of McClellan's were in this action. Pope's effective men had been reduced in numbers by various causes, and it was estimated that his army fit for service did not exceed 40,000 men on the evening of this battle.

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