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V. Pope's campaign in Northern Virginia. August, 1862.

I. Removal of the army from the Peninsula.

It will have appeared from the exposition of the motives that prompted the change of base, that, in transferring the Army of the Potomac to the James River, the fundamental idea of its commander was to secure a line of operations whereby, with a refreshed and re-enforced army, a new campaign, under more promising auspices, might be undertaken. The position of the army, at once threatening the communications of Richmond and enabling it to spring on the rear of the Confederate force should it attempt an aggressive movement northward, seemed the most advantageous possible, whether for offensive operations or for insuring the safety of the national capital. General McClellan brought back to Harrison's Landing between eighty-five thousand and ninety thousand men; and his view was, that all the resources at the command of the Government should be at once forwarded to him. Having the James River now open as a line of supplies, he had formed the bold design of transferring the Army of the Potomac to the south bank of that river, and operating against the communications of Richmond by way of Petersburg.1 [168]

There appears to have been at first an intention on the part of the Administration to adopt this judicious course; but a train of events, partly the work of man and partly the effect of circumstances, presently arose, that not only frustrated this design, but wrenched the army wholly from the Peninsula, and transferred the theatre of operations to the front of Washington and then to the soil of the loyal States. What these events were I shall now set forth.

Just before the commencement of Lee's offensive operations, the military councils at Washington, taught a lesson by the events of Jackson's campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, had gathered together the disjointed fag-ends of armies in Northern Virginia under McDowell and Banks and Fremont, and had consolidated them into the ‘Army of Virginia,’ which was intrusted to the command of Major-General John Pope.2 That officer brought with him from the West, where he had held command under General Halleck, the reputation for a species of aggressive energy that was supposed to characterize the Western style of warfare, in contradistinction to the methodical campaigning of the East,3 and he signalized his advent [169] to command by the promulgation of a pseudo—Napoleonic proclamation, in which he expressed his contempt for ‘certain phrases he found much in vogue, such as bases of supplies, and lines of retreat,’—phrases which he enjoined his army to discard as unworthy of soldiers destined to follow the leadership of one who had never seen any thing but the ‘backs of his enemies.’ Underneath all its bombastic nonsense, Pope's proclamation contained one grain of sense, which was the rebuke it gave the ignorant use of military terms common at the North; and though there was an execrable want of taste in the pointed satire directed at McClellan's methodical tactics, there is no doubt that the declaration of a more vigorous war—policy quite met the views of the mass of the people.

In assigning Pope to the command of the ‘Army of Virginia,’ although his first duty was to cover Washington, yet his ultimate object and avowed purpose was to take Richmond by an overland advance; and he had charmed the ears of the members of the Committee on the Conduct of the War by his facile expositions of the manner in which he meant to ‘lie off on the flanks of the rebels,’ and even—had he only such an army as McClellan's—march straight to New Orleans!4 Before General Pope could set out in the execution of this design, however, there occurred the series of events culminating in the retreat of the Army of the Potomac.

No sooner had this taken place, than the powerful faction opposed to McClellan and his plan of campaign, united in bringing to bear on the President a weighty ‘pressure’ for the removal of the Army of the Potomac from the Pen [170] insula. Among the strongest in urging this measure was General Pope, who, as soon as the intelligence of McClellan's retreat to the James River was received, began to play upon the fears of the Administration touching the safety of Washington. To the President he expressed the opinion that Mc-Clellan's supplies would certainly be cut off;5 pointed out that co-operation between the Army of Virginia and the Army of the Potomac, in their then situations, was next to impossible; and strongly urged the recall of McClellan's force to the front of Washington.6

It happened, too, that at this crisis those who were urging these views received a powerful re-enforcement in the person of General Halleck, who had about this time been recalled from his Western field of operations and placed in supreme command of all the armies in the field by his appointment to the office of general-in-chief,—an office which, to the incalculable obstruction of the conduct of the war and the intolerable annoyance of every general commanding the Army of the Potomac, he continued to hold until pushed from his stool by the elevation, two years afterwards, of General Grant to the lieutenant-generalship.

General Halleck added his strident voice in favor of the withdrawal of the army from the Peninsula, although, owing to a sincere anxiety now cherished by Mr. Lincoln that General McClellan should be allowed his ‘own way,’ he was not at first able to make the order imperative. The President, in response to General McClellan's appeals for re-enforcements to enable him to renew operations against Richmond, had promised him an addition to his strength of twenty thousand men, to be drawn from Burnside's command in North Carolina and Hunter's command in South Carolina. With this re-enforcement, McClellan expressed his readiness to renew operations, and he had proceeded to make a reconnoissance in force with the divisions of Hooker and Sedgwick, who advanced [171] and reoccupied Malvern, when he was met by a telegram from the new general-in-chief, dated August 3d, ordering him to withdraw the entire army from the Peninsula to Aquia Creek, there to make a junction with Pope. After an urgent appeal from this order, General McClellan proceeded to carry out his instructions.

The judgment of the act that removed the Army of the Potomac from the Peninsula must turn on the one fact, whether or not it was really designed to re-enforce that army. If it was not designed to re-enforce it to an effective that would enable it to immediately recommence active operations, then undoubtedly the wisest course was to withdraw it from the Peninsula; for a concentration of the divided forces was so prime a necessity, that if a junction of the two armies was not to be allowed on the James, a junction in front of Washington was preferable to their continued isolation,—a situation in which neither could operate with much effect.7

If, however, there had been on the part of the Administration any intention of giving effect to the views of General McClellan, by furnishing such accessions to his strength as would permit his moving upon Richmond, the army should assuredly have remained on the line of the James.

Now, it is a curious circumstance, that at this time there was another person full as anxious as General Halleck to have the Army of the Potomac leave the Peninsula. That person was General Lee. And if there be any force in that military maxim, which admonishes ‘never to do what the [172] enemy wants you to do,’ this notable coincidence should raise grave suspicions touching the wisdom of a measure in which the opposing chiefs were in such entire harmony.

To dislodge the army from its threatening position on the James, Lee determined to menace its communications; and with this view he moved a force to the south bank of the James, seized a position immediately opposite Harrison's Landing, placed forty-three guns in position, and on the 31st of July opened fire on the shipping.8 This did little damage, however, and on the following morning General McClellan threw a force across the river, seized the position—Coggin's Point—fortified it, and was never troubled more. But little did the Confederate commander dream, when he was thus laboring to cause McClellan to withdraw, that the generalin-chief of the United States army was co-operating to the same end. Moreover, it happened that, while General Halleck was willing to remove the army from the Peninsula before Lee made any effort with the same view, a certain measure taken by the Confederate commander with an entirely different aim, greatly expedited the withdrawal. For the just appreciation of this it will be necessary to glance a moment at General Pope's contemporaneous operations in Northern Virginia.

Upon assuming command of the Army of Virginia, General Pope, whose military conduct was considerably sounder than his military principles, had concentrated his scattered commands into one body in front of Washington, and thrown it forward along the line of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, in the direction of Gordonsville and Charlottesville. His force numbered near fifty thousand men. As the seizure of the points named would tap the Confederate communications [173] with Southwestern Virginia, Lee, to meet Pope's advance, sent forward General Jackson, with his own and Ewell's divisions, towards Gordonsville. Jackson reached that place on the 19th of July; but from what he learned of Pope's strength he feared to risk offensive operations and called for re-enforcements.9 Lee then increased his force by General A. P. Hill's division, which joined Jackson on the 2d of August. At that time Pope's army was along the turnpike from Culpepper to Sperryville, near the Blue Ridge—his left at Culpepper; while with the cavalry brigades of Buford and Bayard he observed the line of the Rapidan.

The 7th and 8th of August, Jackson crossed the Rapidan, and moved towards Culpepper. Pope met this by throwing forward Banks' corps to a position eight miles south of Culpepper, near Cedar Mountain, where a severe action ensued on the 9th between Banks' corps and the three divisions under Jackson. Banks, with much spirit, assumed the offensive, although doubly outnumbered, and attacked Jackson's right, under General Ewell. He then fell with much impetuosity upon his left, turned that flank, and poured a destructive fire into his rear, which caused the Confederate centre and nearly the whole line to give way in confusion. The assailants were, however, considerably broken in moving through the woods; and Jackson, receiving an accession of fresh troops, was able to check Banks, and finally force him back. The latter retired a short distance, but again took up position: so that when Jackson, under the impression of having gained a victory, attempted to follow up with the view of making Culpepper, he found himself checked. He remained in front of Banks until the night of the 11th, and then being apprehensive of being again attacked, he retreated to Gordonsville. The Confederate loss was about thirteen hundred; the Union loss about eighteen hundred.10 [174]

The encounter between Jackson and Banks raised in the mind of General Halleck the liveliest apprehensions touching the safety of Washington, and he sent General McClellan urgent orders to hasten the removal of his army. The sick, to the number of ten thousand, had already been shipped; then followed Burnside's corps (eleven thousand strong), which had been brought from North Carolina for the purpose of re-enforcing the Army of the Potomac, but was not allowed to debark, and was sent forward to Aquia Creek and thence to Fredericksburg. McClellan then put his whole army in motion, marched back from Harrison's Landing to Fortress Monroe, and thence, by successive shipments, forwarded it to Aquia Creek and Alexandria.

Not till this movement had been fully disclosed did General Lee form the resolve of striking northward. The column detached under Jackson to operate against Pope was no larger than that he had had in his previous campaign, and was inferior in numbers to Pope's force; and the menacing position held by General McClellan while at Harrison's Landing had retarded Lee from sending any additional troops to Jackson.11 But now that he was being relieved from the pressure of Mc-Clellan's presence, there was nothing to prevent his moving [175] forward his entire army to destroy Pope, and he instantly took measures accordingly.12 Thus it was that at the very moment McClellan was turning an unwilling back on Richmond and leaving the course open to his mighty rival, Lee was putting his columns in motion towards the Potomac. I shall accordingly leave for a while the army undergoing the laborious process of transfer by water, and trace that fierce outburst of battle that swept from the Blue Ridge to the foreground of Washington.

II. Pope's retrograde movement.

After the action of Cedar Mountain, Jackson retired to Gordonsville, fearing an attack from Pope's superior force.13 The 15th of August he was joined at that place by the van of Lee's army, composed of Longstreet's division, two brigades under Hood, and Stuart's cavalry. Pope advanced his line, resting his left (Reno's corps of Burnside's army) on the Rapidan near Raccoon Ford; his centre (McDowell's corps) on Cedar Mountain, and his right (Sigel's corps) on Robertson's River, a branch of the Rapidan. Banks was posted at Culpepper.

On the arrival of Longstreet, Jackson advanced from Gordonsville to the Rapidan, waited till the 20th of August for Longstreet to come up, when they crossed at Raccoon and Somerville fords. [176]

Learning the approach of this force, Pope on the 18th and 19th drew his army back behind the Rappahannock, his left at Kelly's Ford, and his right three miles above Rappahannock Station. This was a judicious measure on the part of General Pope; but it was not carrying out his own principles. In expounding before the war committee, a month before this time, what he proposed doing, he held the following language: ‘By lying off on their flanks, if they should have only forty thousand or fifty thousand men, I could whip them. If they should have seventy thousand or eighty thousand men, I would attack their flanks, and force them, in order to get rid of me, to follow me out into the mountains, which would be what you would want, I should suppose. They would not march on Washington, with me lying with such a force as that on their flanks.’14 Now, though the force which Lee had at this time did not exceed the smallest of these hypothetical numbers, and the force with which Pope proposed this operation had been increased by the addition of Reno's command, he did not attempt to carry it out, finding Lee, perhaps, less impressed than he should have been with the apparition of Pope ‘lying off on his flanks.’

Pope having withdrawn behind the Rappahannock, Lee advanced his army to that stream, but finding that the Union commander covered the fords in force, he left Longstreet opposite these, to mask a turning movement by Jackson on Pope's right, by way of Warrenton.15 Jackson accordingly ascended the Rappahannock by the south bank, and crossed the head of his column (Early's brigade) at Sulphur or Warrenton Springs on the 22d August. But that day a severe storm rendered the river impassable, and Early was compelled to recross the Rappahannock, which he did the following night on an improvised bridge. While these manoeuvres were under way, Stuart with fifteen hundred horsemen, made an expedition to cut the railroad communications [177] in rear of Pope's army. Stuart succeeded in reaching Catlett's Station in the dead of an exceedingly dark night, fired the camp and captured three hundred prisoners, with Pope's official papers and his baggage. He failed, however, to burn the railroad-bridge, and does not seem to have been aware that Pope's entire army train was parked there.16

Iii. Jackson's flank march.

The movement of Jackson up the south bank of the Rappahannock to turn Pope's right was met by a corresponding movement of Pope up the Rappahannock on the north bank, so that on the 24th, Sigel and Banks and Reno occupied Sulphur Springs, and Jackson's main body lay on the opposite side of the stream; but on the 25th, Jackson, striking out still further to his left by Amissville, crossed the upper Rappahannock——here called the Hedgeman River—at Henson's Mill, turned Pope's right, and moving by Orleans, bivouacked at Salem, after a forced march of thirty-five miles. Next day (26th) Jackson continued the advance. Diverging eastward at Salem, he crossed the Bull Run Mountain through Thoroughfare Gap, and passing Gainesville, he, at sunset, reached Bristoe Station on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. This he proceeded to destroy, while he at the same time dispatched Stuart with his cavalry and a force of infantry to Manassas Junction, seven miles nearer Washington. Here Stuart took several hundred prisoners, eight guns, and immense supplies of commissary and quartermaster's stores. Jackson's instructions from his chief had [178] been to ‘throw his command between Washington City and the army of General Pope and to break up his railroad communications with the Federal capital.’17 That energetic lieutenant had carried them out to the letter. It is now time to look to Pope's movements.

While Jackson's column was executing this flank movement to the rear of Pope, Lee retained Longstreet's command in his front to divert his attention, and learning that Pope was about to receive re-enforcements from McClellan, he ordered forward the remainder of his army from Richmond.18 Nevertheless, the stealthy march of Jackson did not pass unbeknown to the Union commander, who received very precise information respecting his movement northward, though he was unable to divine its aim.19 Bewildered by his antagonist's manoeuvres, Pope made a series of ridiculous tentatives; but finally, on the 26th, he determined to fall back from the Rappahannock nearer to Washington. During the day he learned that Jackson was already on his rear at Manassas, and had cut his railway communications with Washington!

It must be admitted the situation was a difficult one, but it was one that afforded a vigorous commander a rare opening for a decisive blow. Lee had in fact committed an act of unwonted rashness, and voluntarily placed himself in such a position that when Jackson had reached Bristoe Station and Manassas, Longstreet, with the van of the main column, moving by the same route taken by that officer, was still distant two marches. Pope was therefore left free to place himself between the two, and beat them in detail. Such a piece of [179] temerity is only justifiable when a general has a great and well-grounded contempt for his adversary.

Pope was at this time in a condition to undertake a bold stroke; for he had already been re-enforced by a considerable body of the Army of the Potomac arriving from the Peninsula. Reynolds' division of Pennsylvania Reserves had joined him at Rappahannock Station on the 23d; the corps of Porter and Heintzelman at Warrenton Junction, on the 26th and 27th, and the remainder of the Army of the Potomac (corps of Sumner and Franklin) was en route from Alexandria.

The measures taken by Pope to meet the new turn of affairs showed an appreciation of the line of action suited to the circumstances; but he was incapable of carrying it out, for he had completely lost his head. The obvious move was to throw forward his left so as to seize the road by which Longstreet would advance to join Jackson. With this view, he, on the morning of the 27th, directed General McDowell, with his own and Sigel's corps and the division of Reynolds, upon Gainesville,—a movement that would plant that powerful force of forty thousand men on the road by which Lee's main column, moving through Thoroughfare Gap, must advance to join Jackson. This force was to be supported by Reno's corps and Kearney's division of Heintzelman's corps, which were directed on Greenwich, while he moved with Hooker's division along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad towards Manassas Junction. Porter's corps (when relieved at Warrenton Junction by Banks, who was to remain at that point, covering the trains and repairing the railroad) was also directed upon Gainesville. These dispositions were not only correct—they were brilliant. The lame and impotent sequel is now to be seen.

The main or interposing column under McDowell was to reach its assigned position at Gainesville and Greenwich that night, the 27th. This was successfully accomplished. At the same time, Pope, with Hooker's command, moved along the railroad to make up with Jackson at Bristoe Station. Near that place Hooker, late in the afternoon, came up with a Confederate [180] force under Ewell, whom Jackson had that morning left there, while he, with his other divisions, pushed forward to Manassas Junction. A brisk engagement ensued, but Ewell, finding himself unable to maintain his ground, withdrew across Broad Run, under orders from Jackson, and joined the latter at Manassas Junction. Thinking that the engagement might be renewed in the morning at Bristoe Station, Pope instructed General Porter to move up from Warrenton Junction at one A. M., and be at Bristoe by dawn of the 28th. Porter was not able to start till three o'clock, owing to the darkness of the night and the obstruction of the road, and did not reach Bristoe till between eight and nine o'clock. As it happened, however, there was no immediate occasion for him, as Ewell had, during the night, moved forward to rejoin Jackson at Manassas Junction.

And now, as it appeared on the morning of the 28th, there was no escape for Jackson; and Pope boldly proclaimed it.20 Jackson was at Manassas Junction; a powerful force was coming up in his rear. McDowell, at Gainesville, with forty thousand men, interposed between him and Lee, the remainder of whose force was still west of the Bull Run Mountains, distant a full day's march. But fortune and the errors of his adversary favored Jackson; and at the very time he seemed to be nearing the crisis of his fate, events were occurring that were destined to extricate him from his seemingly perilous position.

When, on the night of the 27th, Pope learnt that Jackson was in the vicinity of Manassas, he directed McDowell, with all his force, to take up the march early on the morning of the 28th, and move eastward from Gainesville and Greenwich upon Manassas Junction, following the line of the Manassas Gap Railroad; while he ordered Hooker and Kearney and Porter to advance northward from Bristoe Station upon the same place. From Gainesville to Manassas Junction the distance [181] is fifteen miles; from Bristoe Station, it is eight miles; and from Manassas Junction west to Thoroughfare Gap, where Lee must debouch through the Bull Run Mountains to unite with Jackson, is twenty miles.

This move was a great error. Pope's left (McDowell's column) was his strategic flank, and should have been thrown forward, in place of retired; for in withdrawing from the line of the Warrenton turnpike to Manassas Junction, he permitted Jackson, by a move from Manassas Junction to the north of the turnpike, to do precisely what he should at all hazards have been prevented from doing-namely, to put himself in the way of a junction with the main body of Lee's army. Could Jackson, indeed, have been induced to remain at Manassas Junction for the convenience of Pope, that general's strategy would have worked to a charm; but Jackson was fully alive to the peril of his position, and while Pope thought he was in the act of ‘bagging’ Jackson, Jackson was giving Pope the slip. The details are in this wise: During the night of the 27th and morning of the 28th Jackson moved his force from Manassas, by the Sudley Springs road, across to the Warrenton turnpike; crossing which, he gained the high timber—land north and west of Groveton, in the vicinity of the battle-field of the 21st July, 1861. When, therefore, Pope, with the divisions of Hooker and Kearney and Reno, reached Manassas Junction, about noon of the 25th, he found that Jackson had already gone! Pope then tried to correct his error by calling back McDowell's column from its march towards Manassas Junction and directing it on Centreville, to which point he also ordered forward Hooker. Kearney, and Reno, and afterwards Porter. But much time had been lost; the columns on the march towards Manassas had been forced to take other roads than those indicated for them; and it was late in the afternoon when McDowell, with one division of his whole command (King's), regained the Warrenton turnpike and headed towards Centreville. Now Jackson, as already seen, had taken position on the north side of the turnpike, near Groveton; so that on the approach of King's column, it [182] unwittingly presented a flank to Jackson, who assailed it furiously. Jackson attacked with two divisions (the Stonewall division, then under General Taliaferro, and Ewell's division), while the fight was sustained on the Union side by King's division alone. The behavior of his troops was exceedingly creditable, and they maintained their ground with what Jackson styles ‘obstinate determination.’ The loss on both sides was severe, and on the part of the Confederates included Generals Ewell and Taliaferro, both of whom were severely wounded —the former losing a leg. Unfortunately, during the night, King withdrew his command to Manassas, leaving the Warrenton turnpike available for Jackson to retire or Longstreet to advance. That same night, too, General Ricketts (whom McDowell had detached with his division to dispute the passage of Thoroughfare Gap with Longstreet) also withdrew to Manassas. Thus affairs went from bad to worse.

Iv. The Second battle of Manassas.

By the morning of the 29th, General Pope had learnt the real position of the adversary who had hitherto so adroitly eluded him; but his troops had become so scattered by his contradictory orders, that it could hardly be said he had an army at all. Sigel and Reynolds had, however, turned up near Groveton; and Pope directed them to develop the position of the enemy,21 while he sought to get his remaining forces in hand. Reno's corps, and Heintzelman with his two divisions under Hooker and Kearney, were ordered to countermarch from Centreville; while Porter, with his corps and King's division of McDowell's command, was directed to [183] advance on Gainesville, a position it had been more easy to abandon the day before than to regain now.

Jackson continued to hold his vantage-ground upon the highlands northwest of Groveton; and as he now commanded the Warrenton road, by which Lee was moving to join him, and had intelligence that his chief was close at hand, he had ceased to fear the result of an encounter with Pope. Jackson disposed his troops along the cut of an unfinished railroad,22 with his right resting on the Warrenton turnpike, and his left near Sudley Mill. The mass of his troops were sheltered in dense woods behind the railroad cut and embankment, which formed a ready-made parapet.

General Sigel, as ordered, attacked in the morning, pushing forward his line under a warm fire, under which he suffered severely; and, towards noon, he was joined by Reno's command and the divisions of Hooker and Kearney. Meanwhile, Porter, in the morning, moved forward from Manassas Junction to turn Jackson's right by an advance on Gainesville.

Had the position of the Confederates been as Pope imagined, the latter move should have been decisive, and must have seriously jeopardized Jackson's safety. But, while Porter's column was yet in motion, and before it could reach Jackson's flank, the van of Lee's main body began to reach the field from Thoroughfare Gap. In fact, by ten in the morning, Longstreet had come up, and, taking position on Jackson's right, drew an extension of the Confederate line across the Warrenton turnpike and the Manassas Gap Railroad, thus covering all the lines of approach by which the column of Porter might advance towards Gainesville. Upon [184] finding himself thus estopped, Porter was proceeding to form his line when he was overtaken by General McDowell, under whose orders the former then came. The precise tenor of the instructions which, at this moment, McDowell gave Porter is a point in dispute,—McDowell asserting that he ordered Porter to move against the enemy, and Porter claiming that McDowell directed him to remain where he was. However this may be, McDowell took King's division, which belonged to his own corps, from under Porter, and, uniting it with Rickett's division (also of McDowell's corps), headed his column northward to the battle-field near Groveton, where he arrived late in the afternoon. Porter held his command for the rest of the day in the position taken up,—Morell's division being deployed and in contact with the enemy; the other divisions massed.

Thus it was that, by contradictory orders and the useless marches and counter-marches they involved, Pope's opportunity was thrown away, and instead of fighting Jackson's corps alone, it was the entire army of Lee with which he had to deal,—this, too, with his forces very much out of position, and he himself ignorant both of his own situation and that of the enemy. When, towards noon, Pope, coming from Centreville, reached the field near Groveton, he found the situation as follows: Heintzelman's two divisions, under Hooker and Kearney, on the right, in front and west of the Sudley Springs road; Reno and Sigel holding the centre,—Sigel's line being extended a short distance south of the Warrenton turnpike; Reynolds with his division on the left. But the commander was ignorant of the whereabouts of both Porter and McDowell, and he knew not that Longstreet had joined Jackson! The troops had been considerably cut up by the brisk skirmishing that had been going on all morning. An artillery contest had also been waged all forenoon between the opposing lines; but it was at long range and of no effect.

The position of the troops in front of Jackson's intrenched line was one that promised very little success for a direct attack, and especially for a partial attack. Nevertheless, at [185] three o'clock, Pope ordered Hooker to assault. The attempt was so unpromising that that officer remonstrated against it; but the order being imperative, he made a very determined attack with his division. The action was especially brilliant on the part of Grover's brigade, which, advancing with the bayonet, succeeded in penetrating between the two extreme left brigades of Jackson's line,23 and got possession of the railroad embankment which, by a savage hand-to-hand fight, it held for some time, till driven back by the arrival of reenforcements to the Confederate left.24 Too late for united action, Kearney was sent to Hooker's assistance, and he also suffered repulse.

Meanwhile, Pope had learnt the position of Porter's command, and, at half-past 4 in the afternoon, sent orders to that officer to assail the enemy's right flank and rear,—Pope erroneously believing the right flank of Jackson, near Groveton, to be the right of the Confederate line. Towards six, when he thought Porter should be coming into action, he directed Heintzelman and Reno to assault the enemy's left. The attack was made with vigor, especially by Kearney, who struck Jackson's left under Hill, at a moment when the Confederates had almost exhausted their ammunition.25 Doubling up Hill's flank on his centre, Kearney seized the railroad embankment and that part of the field of battle. ‘This,’ as Kearney says, ‘presaged a victory for us all. Still,’ he goes on to observe, ‘our force was too light. The enemy brought up rapidly heavy reserves, so that our further progress was impeded.’26 In fact, Kearney was compelled to fall back [186] altogether from the railroad, and the ‘presage of victory’ was turned to naught.27

Turning now to the left, where Porter was to have assailed the Confederate left, it appears that the order which Pope sent at half-past 4, did not reach Porter till about dusk. He then made dispositions for attack, but it was too late. It is, however, more than doubtful that even had the order been received in time, any thing but repulse would have resulted from its execution. Porter was reduced to the necessity of making a direct attack in front; for there was no opportunity of making a turning movement, seeing that, contrary to Pope's opinion, he had then, and had had since noon, Longstreet's entire corps before him.28—So as firing now died away in the [187] darkling woods on the right, a pause was put for the day to the chaos and confusion of this mismanaged battle, in which many thousand men had fallen on the Union side.

It would have been judicious for General Pope, in the then condition of his army, to have that night withdrawn across Bull Run and taken position at Centreville, or even within the fortifications of Washington. By doing so he would have united with the corps of Franklin and Sumner, then between [188] Washington and Centreville, whereas at Manassas Lee was sure to receive fresh accessions of force, while Pope could hope for none. The army was much cut up; thousands had straggled from their commands; the troops had had little to eat for two days previous, and the artillery and cavalry horses had been in harness and saddled continually for ten days.

With untimely obstinacy, Pope determined to remain and again try the issue of battle. To utilize Porter's corps, he drew it over from the isolated position it had held the previous day to the Warrenton road, on which he pivoted, disposing his line in the form of a V reversed—Reynolds' command forming the left leg, and Porter, Sigel, and Reno the right, with Heintzelman's two divisions holding the extreme right. Lee retained the same relative position he had held the day before—Longstreet on the right, and Jackson on the left; but he drew back his left considerably, abandoning during the night some of the ground he had held on that flank.

Now, by one of those curious conjunctures which sometimes occur in battle, it so was that the opposing commanders had that day formed each the same resolution: Pope had determined to attack Lee's left flank, and Lee had determined to attack Pope's left flank. And thus it came about that when Heintzelman pushed forward to feel the enemy's left, the refusal of that flank by Lee, and his withdrawal of troops to his right for the purpose of making his contemplated attack on Pope's left, gave the impression that the Confederates were retreating up the Warrenton turnpike towards Gainesville. This impression was further strengthened by the report of a wounded Confederate soldier who fell into the hands of the Union pickets, and reported that he had heard his comrades say that ‘Jackson was retiring to unite with Longstreet.’ Now this statement was quite correct in the sense in which Lee's manoeuvres have already been presented—that is, as a tactical change of Jackson's position on the left to re-enforce Longstreet on the right. But Pope, who had not that day been to the front, accepted the story as indicating a real falling back, and telegraphed to Washington that the enemy was [189] ‘retreating to the mountains,’—a dispatch which, flashed throughout the land, gave the people a few hours, at least, of unmixed pleasure.

To take advantage of the supposed ‘retreat’ of Lee, Pope ordered McDowell with three corps-Porter's in the advance—to follow up rapidly on the Warrenton turnpike, and ‘press the enemy vigorously during the whole day.’ But no sooner were the troops put in motion to make this pursuit of a supposed flying foe, than the Confederates, hitherto concealed in the forest in front of Porter, uncovered themselves, and opened a heavy fire from their numerous artillery;29 and while King's division was being formed on Porter's right in order to press an attack, clouds of dust on the extreme left showed that the enemy was moving to turn the Union line in that direction; and that, instead of retiring, he was in the full tide of an offensive movement. To meet this manoeuvre, General McDowell detached Reynolds' command from the left of Porter's force north of the Warrenton turnpike, and directed it on a position south of that road to check this menace. The Warrenton turnpike, which intersects the Manassas battle-field, runs westward up the valley of the little rivulet of Young's Branch. From the stream the ground rises on both sides, in some places quite into hills. The Sudley Springs road, on crossing the stream at right angles, passes directly over one of these hills, just south of the Warrenton turnpike; and this hill has on it a detached road with fields stretching back away from it some hundreds of yards to the forest. This is the hill whereon what is known as the ‘Henry House’ stood. To the west of it is another hill—the Bald Hill, so called—which is in fact a rise lying between the roads, and making about the same angle [190] with each, and running back to the forest. Between the two hills is a brook, a tributary of Young's Branch. Upon the latter hill General McDowell directed Reynolds' division and a portion of Rickett's command, so as to check the flank mamoeuvre that menaced to seize the Warrenton turnpike, which was the line of retreat of the whole army.

The occupation of this position was judicious on the part of General McDowell; but the detachment of Reynolds from Porter's left for that purpose had an unfortunate result;30 for it exposed the key-point of Porter's line. Colonel G. K. Warren, who then commanded one of Porter's brigades, seeing the imminence of the danger, at once, and without waiting for orders, moved forward with his small but brave brigade of about a thousand men,31 and occupied the important position abandoned by Reynolds; Porter then, as well to sustain Warren, as to fulfil his orders of pursuit, his column of attack being formed, made a vigorous assault on the Confederate position; but beyond driving back the advanced line so as to develop the Confederate array as formed behind the railroad embankment, he was able to accomplish nothing. Line after line was swept ,way by the enemy's artillery and infantry fire, and so destructive was its effect that Porter's troops finally were compelled to withdraw. Porter's attack had been directed against Jackson; but Longstreet, on Jackson's right, found a commanding point of ground, whence he could rake the assaulting columns with an enfilading fire of artillery. ‘From an eminence near by,’ says that officer, ‘one portion of the enemy's masses, attacking General Jackson, were immediately within my view, and in easy range of batteries in that position. It gave me an advantage I had not expected to have, and I made haste to use it. Two batteries were ordered for the purpose, and one placed in position immediately and opened. Just as this fire began, I received a message from [191] the commanding general, informing me of General Jackson's condition and his wants. As it was evident that the attack against General Jackson could not be continued ten minutes under the fire of these batteries, I made no movement with my troops. Before the second battery could be placed in position the enemy began to retire, and in less than ten minutes the ranks were broken, and that portion of his army put to flight.’32 Warren occupying the important point he had seized, held on stoutly and against a fearful loss till all the rest of Porter's troops had been retired, and only withdrew when the enemy had advanced so close as to fire in the very faces of his men.

Such was the situation of affairs at five o'clock in the afternoon: Porter's troops, fearfully cut up in repeated assaults of a position which it was hopeless to attempt to carry, were retiring from the field. Jackson immediately took up the pursuit, and was joined by a general advance of the whole Confederate line—Longstreet extending his right so as, if possible, to cut off the retreat of the Union forces. By an impetuous rush, the latter carried the ‘Bald Hill,’ held by Reynolds and Ricketts; and it then became doubtful whether even the ‘Henry House Hill’ could be maintained so as to cover the retreat of the army over Bull Run, for Longstreet had thrown around his right so as to menace that position. This, however, was happily provided for by the firmness of some battalions of Regulars, which held the ground until relieved by the brigades of Meade and Seymour and other troops, that maintained the position and permitted the withdrawal of the army. Under cover of the darkness the wearied troops retired across Bull Run, by the stone bridge, and took position on the heights of Centreville. Owing to the obscurity of the night, and the uncertainty of the fords of Bull Run, Lee attempted no pursuit.33


V. Exit Pope.

At Centreville, Pope united with the corps of Franklin and Sumner, and he remained there during the whole of the 31st. But Lee had not yet given up the pursuit. Leaving Longstreet on the battle-field, he sent Jackson by a detour on Pope's right, to strike the Little River turnpike, and by that route to Fairfax Courthouse, to intercept, if possible, Pope's retreat to Washington. Jackson's march was much retarded by a heavy storm that commenced the day before and still continued. Pope, meantime, fell back to positions covering Fairfax Courthouse and Germantown; and on the evening of the 1st of September, Jackson struck his right posted at Ox Hill, near Germantown. He immediately engaged the Union force with Hill's and Ewell's divisions in the midst of a cold and drenching rain. The attack fell upon Reno, Hooker, a part of McDowell, and Kearney. A firm front was maintained till Stevens' division of Reno's corps, owing to the exhaustion of its ammunition, and the death of its general, was forced back in disorder. To repair this break, Kearney, with the promptitude that marked him, sent forward Birney's brigade of his own division; and presently, all aglow with zeal, brought up a battery which he placed in position. But there still remained a gap on Birney's right, caused by the retirement of Stevens' division. This Birney pointed out to Kearney, and that gallant soldier, dashing forward to reconnoitre the ground, unwittingly rode into the enemy's lines and was killed. In his death, the army lost the living ideal of a soldier—a preux chevalier, in whom there were mixed the qualities of chivalry and gallantry as strong as ever beat beneath the mailed coat of an olden knight. Like Desaix, whom Napoleon characterized as ‘the man most worthy to [193] be his lieutenant,’ Kearney died opposing a heroic breast to disaster.

On the following day, September 2d, the army was, by order of General Halleck, drawn back within the lines of Washington, and Lee, abandoning direct pursuit, began to turn his eyes towards the north of the Potomac.

Within the fortifications of Washington the army now rested from the labors, fatigues, and privations of this trying campaign, in which, from the Rapidan to the front of the capital, it had fought and retreated, and retreated and fought. It had passed through an experience calculated to dislocate the structure of most armies; and if it reached the lines of Washington in any military order whatsoever, it was because the individual patriotism of the rank and file supplied a bond of cohesion when the bond of military discipline failed. Of the losses in killed and wounded during this campaign, no official record is found; but the Confederate commander claims the capture of nine thousand prisoners, thirty pieces of artillery, and upwards of twenty thousand stands of arms in the engagement on the plains of Manassas alone. Untold thousands had straggled from their commands during the retreat.

As for Pope, it is hardly possible to feel for him less than pity, in spite of the bombastic pretensions with which he set out. The record already given does not justify the assertion that he was not obeyed by his subordinates; but it cannot be denied that the estimate of his character held by the officers under his command was not of a kind to elicit that hearty and zealous co-operation needed for the effective conduct of great military operations. He had the misfortune to be of all men the most disbelieved. General Pope took the first opportunity on his return to Washington to vacate the command; the Army of Virginia passed out of existence, and its corps, united with the Army of the Potomac, fell back into the arms of McClellan.

1 That this was General McClellan's purpose is vouched for by no less an authority than General Halleck, who, in a memorandum of a visit to the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, at Harrison's Landing, on the 25th of July, A862, says: ‘I stated to him [McClellan] that the object of my visit was to ascertain from him his views and wishes in regard to future operations. He said that he proposed to cross the James River at that point [Harrison's Landing. General Grant, two years afterwards, crossed a few miles below], attack Petersburg, and cut off the enemy's communications by that route South, making no further demonstration, for the present, against Richmond. I stated to him very frankly my views in regard to the danger and impracticability of the plan,’ etc. (Report on the Conduct of the War, vol. i., p. 454.) It would appear that General Grant had less respect for General Halleck's views of ‘the danger and impracticability of the plan,’ seeing that two years afterwards he adopted that precise plan, and took Richmond and destroyed Lee by it! Nor can it be said that circumstances, so far as regards the defence of Washington, differed in the one case from those in the other-excepting that they were such as to warrant the adoption of the plan by General McClellan much more than by General Grant—for in 1862 there were ten men left behind for the defence of Washington to one in 1864.

2 The appointment of General Pope to the command of the Army of Virginia bears date the 26th of June, the day before the battle of Gaines' Mill.

3 This supposed distinction between the Western and Eastern mode of making war is thus expressed in Pope's address to his army: ‘I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of the enemies—from an army whose business it has been to seek the adversary, and to beat him when found; whose policy has been attack and not defence. I presume I have been called here to pursue the same system.’


Question. Suppose that you had the army that was here on the 1st day of March last, do you suppose you would find any obstacle to prevent your marching from here to New Orleans?

Pope. I should suppose not.

Report on the Conduct of the War, vol. i, p. 282.

5 Report on the Conduct of the War, vol. i., p. 279.

6 Ibid., p. 279.

7 There is another consideration that prompted certain officers of the army to urge the removal of the army from the Peninsula, if it was not to be reenforced; and that is the unhealthy situation in which the army would find itself lying in inaction amid the swamps of the James during the hot months of August and September. This was the reason why several of the officers of the Army of the Potomac—among them Generals Franklin and Newton—expressed to President Lincoln, during a visit he made to McClellan's camp in July, 1862, an opinion in favor of withdrawing the army from the Peninsula. 1 make this statement on the authority of the officers named. If reenforcements were to be expected, they were altogether in favor of remaining.

8 General Lee's own evidence leaves no doubt regarding the object of this operation: ‘In order to keep McClellan stationary, or, if possible, to cause hint to withdraw, General D. H. Hill, commanding south of James River was directed to threaten his communications by seizing favorable positions below Westover, from which to attack the transports in the river.’ Lee's Report: Reports of the Operations of Northern Virginia, vol. i., p. 15.

9 Jackson's Report: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 3.

10 It is proper to add here that the above too brief statement of Banks' attack of Jackson is based on the official report of Jackson himself, and is there. fore not likely to be over-colored. ‘Whilst the Federal attack upon Early was in progress,’ says Jackson, ‘the main body of the Federal infantry moved down from the woods, through the corn and wheat fields, and fell with great vigor upon our extreme left; and by the force of superior numbers, bearing down all opposition, turned it and poured a destructive fire into its rear. Campbell's brigade fell back in disorder. The enemy pushing forward, and the left flank of A. G. Taliaferro's brigade being by these movements exposed to a flank fire, fell back, as did also the left of Early's line. General W. B. Taliaferro's division (Jackson's old division) becoming exposed, they were withdrawn.’—Jackson's Report of Cedar Mountain: Reports of the Army of North ern Virginia, vol. II., p. 5. These are the words in which a general is apt to describe a serious defeat, and they justify a higher estimate of General Banks' conduct than his countrymen have yet accorded him.

11 On this point General Lee says: ‘Jackson, on reaching Gordonsville, ascertained that the force under General Pope was superior to his own, but the uncertainty that then surrounded the designs of General McClellan, rendered it inexpedient to re-enforce him from the army at Richmond.’—Lee: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 15.

12 Nothing could be clearer than the evidence of General Lee on this point ‘The corps of General Burnside,’ says he, ‘had reached Fredericksburg, and a part of General McClellan's army was believed to have left Westover [Harri. son's Landing] to unite with Pope. It therefore seemed that active operation on the James were no longer contemplated, and that the most effectual way to relieve Richmond from any danger of attack from that quarter would be to reenforce General Jackson, and advance upon General Pope.’—Lee: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 18. Veracious prophecy, showing that insight which is one of the highest marks of generalship!

13 Jackson's Report: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia vol. II., p 7.

14 Report on the Conduct of the War, vol. i., p. 278.

15 Lee's Report: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. i., p. 19.

16 This enterprise to the rear of his army must have given Pope an occasion to realize the truth of his own maxim, that ‘disaster and shame lurk in the rear.’

17 Jackson's Report: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 92.

18 This force consisted of D. H. Hill's and McLaws' divisions, two brigades under General Walker, and Hampton's cavalry brigade.

19 The information was derived from Colonel J. S. Clark, of the staff of General Banks. That officer remained all day in a perilous position within sight of Jackson's moving column, and counted its force, which he found to be thirty six regiments of infantry, with the proper proportion of batteries and a considerable cavalry force.

20 ‘If you will march promptly and rapidly at the earliest dawn upon Manassas Junction, we shall bag the whole crowd.’—Pope's order of 27th to General McDowell: Report, p. 41.

21 General Pope, in his official report (p. 20), states that the attack by Sigel was for the purpose of ‘bringing Jackson to a stand, it were possible to do so,’ thus intimating that Jackson was moving off. There does not seem to have been any occasion for this solicitude.

22 ‘My troops on this day were distributed along and in the vicinity of the cut of an unfinished railroad (intended as a part of the track to connect the Manassas road directly with Alexandria), stretching from the Warrenton turnpike in the direction of Sudley Mill. It was mainly along the unfinished excavation of this unfinished road that my line of battle was formed on the 29th: Jackson's division, under Brigadier-General Starke, on the right; Ewell's division, under Brigadier-General Lawton, in the centre; and Hill's division on the left’—Jackson's Report: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 95.

23 These were the brigades of Gregg and Thomas Jackson: Report, p. 95.

24 Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 252.

25 ‘The enemy prepared for a last and determined attempt. Their serried masses, overwhelming superiority of numbers [absurd exaggeration common to both sides], and bold bearing [it was Kearney], made the chance of victory to tremble in the balance; my own division, exhausted by seven hours unremitted fighting, had hardly one round per man remaining, and was weakened in all things save its unconquerable spirit.’—Report of General A. P. Hill: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 125.

26 Kearney's Report: Report of General Pope, p. 79.

27 The Confederate re-enforcements, of which Kearney speaks, consisted of the brigades of Early and Lawton. (See Report of General A. P. Hill: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 125.) General Early says, in his report: ‘My brigade and the Eighth Louisiana advanced upon the enemy through a field, and drove him from the woods and out of the railroad—cut, crossing the latter and following in pursuit several hundred yards beyond.’— Ibid., p. 184.

28 As the view above taken of the action of that part of the ‘Second Bull Run,’ fought on the 29th of August, differs in some important particulars from previous accounts, and especially from the official report of General Pope, I shall here substantiate by Confederate official records the truth of such points of difference as are of moment. The question foremost in interest has relation to the time at which Longstreet's corps joined Jackson. General Pope repeatedly states that this did not take place till ‘about sunset’ (see Pope's Official Report, p. 21); and it is on this ground that he and the court-martial that tried General Porter based their condemnation of that officer for not turning Jackson's right. Says Pope: ‘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’ (Pope's Report, p. 22.) Now this assertion is traversed by the positive evidence of the official reports of several of the generals under Longstreet's command, who show conclusively that Longstreet joined Jackson as early as noon. Says Longstreet himself: ‘Early on the 29th the columns were united, and the advance, to join General Jackson, was resumed. The noise of battle was heard before we reached Gainesville. The march was quickened to the extent of our capacity. The excitement of battle seemed to give new life and strength to our jaded men, and the head of my column soon reached a position in rear of the enemy's left flank.’ (Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 8.) See also Hood. (Ibid., p. 209.) But General D. R. Jones, who commanded the rear division of Longstreet's corps is still more explicit. ‘Early on the morning of the 29th, I took up the march in the direction of the old battle-ground of Manasses, whence heavy firing was heard. Arriving on the ground about noon, my command was stationed on the extreme right of our line,’ etc. (Ibid., p. 217.) This would appear to settle the time of arrival of Longstreet; and I shall now show that before Porter came up from Manassas, Longstreet had taken up such a position as to bar his advance towards Gainesville. On this head Longstreet's own testimony will suffice, and it is as complete as could be desired. After giving his dispositions for his connection with Jackson's right, he states that ‘Hood's division was deployed on the right and left of the Warrenton turnpike, at right angles with it. General D. R. Jones' division was placed upon the Manassas Gap Railroad, to the right, and in echelon with regard to the three last brigades.’ (Ibid., pp. 81, 82.) Now it is quite obvious that this disposition covered Porter's whole front, and that it barred his approach to Gainesville. Any attack by Porter would therefore necessarily be made in front. When he received Pope's order to attack the enemy's right and turn his rear, Morell's division was already deployed in front of Longstreet, and it was near dark when the order came to hand. Probably there is no military man who will now say that the operation indicated by Pope was at that time possible. General Porter many months subsequent to these events, and after having in the meanwhile had command of the forces for the defence of the capital, and been at the head of his corps at the battle of Antietam, was arraigned before a court. martial at Washington, and dismissed the service of the United States, for alleged disobedience to the above orders of Pope. I do not constitute myself the champion of General Porter, nor of any other officer; but having become possessed of the Confederate official reports, and having been struck with the new light thrown on these events by the unconscious testimony given above by the Confederate generals, I should have violated my instinct of historic veracity to have suppressed these facts.

29 ‘As soon as Butterfield's brigade advanced up the hill, there was great commotion among the rebel forces, and the whole side of the hill and edges of the woods swarmed with men before unseen. The effect was not unlike flushing a covey of quail. The enemy fell back to the line of the railroad, and took shelter in the cut and behind the embankment.’—Warren: Report of the Second Battle of Manassas.


* Sigel's corps should have been taken in place of Reynolds' division, or anybody else rather than Reynolds.

31 Warren's command consisted of the Fifth and Tenth New York Volunteers.

32 Longstreet: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. II., p. 83.

33 ‘The obscurity of the night, and the uncertainty of the fords of Bull Run, rendered it necessary to suspend operations until morning.’ Lee's Report.: Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, vol. i., p. 25.

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