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The Second battle of Manassas. [from the times-dispatch, October 23, 1904.]

Account of it by one of Jackson's foot Cavalry.

Pope's retreat to the Capitol.

[The writer of this sketch, with highly interesting details, was a trusty comrade of the editor in ‘F’ Company and a gallant soldier. He is now a valued citizen of Richmond and bears in halting knee the evidence of a severe wound.]—Ed.

The middle of August, 1862, found Jackson's Corps camped at the foot of Clark's mountain, in Orange county. Here he was joined by General Lee with Longstreet's Corps. After a few days' needed rest, the army broke camp on August 20th, and marched in the direction of Pope's army, Jackson's Corps marching over Clark's mountain and crossing the Rapidan river at Summerville Ford. As Pope had retreated behind the Rappahannock river, we made direct for that. After trying several fords along that river with the seeming intention of crossing, the morning of the 25th of August found our corps near the village of Jeffersonton in Culpeper county. Orders were given the men to cook three days rations and be ready to move as soon as possible. A short time after we were ordered to fall in, the time was so short that none of the men had cooked all, and many none of their rations. This made no difference, half baked biscuits and raw dough had to be left, that meant to many, nothing to eat for some time, probably for days, as the wagons were to remain behind, and everything put in light marching order, indicating that something of importance was on hand.

As soon as the column was formed, we were hurried off on the march, passing through the village of Amosville and crossing the Rappahannock river at Hinson's mill, thence our march for several miles was right through the country, through fields, over ditches and fences, and through woods, until we came to a public road, this we took, passing through the village of Orlean and marching steadily until passing Salem about 8 or 9 o'clock at night, when we [78] are halted in the road, stack arms on its side, and are told we can lie down and rest. We marched about twenty-six miles.

Soon in the morning we were up and on the march again, passing through Bull Run Mountain at Thoroughfare Gap, thence through Haymarket and Gainesville, not stopping until 10 or 11 o'clock at night, marching about the same distance as the day before, and stopping in the road, many of the men now lie down right where they stopped, being so completely used up from the march and heat, they did not have energy enough to move to the side of the road. We were now near Bristow Station, and not far from Manassas Junction, and far in Pope's rear, ‘the man that had no rear.’ General Jackson now sends a force ahead to capture Manassas, which was done during the night with small loss to us. They captured immense quantities of stores of all kinds; several trains of cars, eight pieces of artillery, with caisons and horses, etc., complete, a number of wagons, ambulances, etc. Quite a number of prisoners were taken and several hundred negroes who had been persuaded to run away from their owners.

Early next morning Ewell's division marched in the direction of Bristow, the remainder of the corps to Manassas Junction, which place Jackson's division reached about 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning., The 2nd Brigade was filed by regiments to the right of the road in an open field, and stacked arms near the storehouses, and ordered to rest, but to remain near their guns.

Not long after this it was rumored that a force from Washington was approaching to drive us away. A. P. Hill's division was sent forward to meet them. They soon put the Yanks to rout. They consisted of a brigade of infantry with some artillery sent down to brush away a small raiding force of Confederates, as they supposed us to be. They caught a traitor and nearly all the party were killed, wounded or captured.

A guard was placed over the stores at Manassas as soon as we arrived a little while thereafter, rations were issued us, but not by weight and measure to each man, but a package or two to each company. Here is what was given to old F Company of Richmond: The first thing they brought us was a barrel of cakes, next a bag of hams, barrel of sugar and coffee (the Yankees had it mixed, ready for use) bag of beans, bag of potatoes and box of hardtack. This was a liberal bill-of-fare, for a small company.

General Jackson's idea in the early part of the day was to save what supplies he did not use for General Lee's army, and it was for [79] this reason the guard was placed over them. The enemy were now making such demonstations that he knew he could not hold the place, so the houses were thrown open and the men told to help themselves. Now ensued a scene around those storehouses never witnessed before, and cannot be described. You recollect that many of our men were hurried off on the march on the morning of the 25th, with nothing to eat. It is now the 27th. We have marched in that time about sixty miles and the men who had prepared some rations did not have enough for two days, much less three, after dividing with such comrades as had none; everything had been eaten. Now here were vast storehouses filled with all the delicacies, potted ham, lobster, tongue, candy, cakes, nuts, oranges, lemons, pickle, catsup, mustard, &c. It makes an old soldier's mouth water now just to think of the good things got there. Well, what do you think they did? Go to eating? Oh, no. They had to discuss what they should eat, and what they should take with them, as orders had been issued for us to take four days rations with us. Some filled their haversacks with cakes, some with candy, others with oranges, lemons, canned goods, &c. I know one that took nothing but French mustard; filled his haversack and was so greedy that he put one more bottle in his pocket. This was all his four days rations. It turned out to be the best thing taken, as he traded it for meat and bread, it lasting him until reaching Frederick City.

All good times have an end, and as night approaches, preparations were made to burn everything that we could not carry; not long after sundown they were fired, our division marching as soon as the fire got under way, the other two divisions taking each a different road. This march by three different roads is what mystified Pope so much, and caused his delay in his pursuit of Jackson. Jackson's old division marched several hours when the 2d Brigade was ordered on a road to the left of the one we were marching on, and put on picket duty; when it becomes day we find we are on the Warrenton and Alexandria pike and near Groveton.

There was only one field officer in our brigade at that time, a major commanding the 1st Battalion; the 48th Virginia was commanded by a lieutenant; the 42nd Virginia by a captain, and the 21st Virginia by a captain. General Jackson assigned Colonel Bradley T. Johnson temporarily to command it. The 2nd Brigade (ours) remained about Groveton until late in the evening. Colonel Johnson had orders to demonstrate and make the biggest show he could, so as to [80] delay the enemy as long as possible from any advance in this direction, and well did he do this. At one time he would have one regiment on top of a hill; its colors under the next hill, just high enough to show over its top; a regiment with its colors on the next, &c., thus making it appear a long line of battle. We had two pieces of artillery; as one body of the enemy was seen, one or both pieces would be run in sight and as the enemy moved, he would limber the cannon up and carry it to some far hill, to go through the same movement.

Battle begins.

Early in the morning, while the 21st Virginia regiment was on one of those hills, lying down in line, the enemy ran a cannon out on a hill, unlimbered and fired a shot at us, hitting one of the men of Company K, tearing off the heel of his shoe. This was the first cannon shot from either side at Second Manassas and the only one fired at that time, as the piece limbered up and withdrew in a trot. This same regiment soon after were deployed as skirmishers and posted across the Warrenton Pike, when a Yankee artilleryman rode into our line, thinking it his. This was the first prisoner taken.

The inmates of the Groveton house now abandoned it. A lady, bareheaded, and her servant woman came running out of the front door. They had a little girl between them, each having her by one of her hands. The child was crying loudly. They crossed the pike, got over the fence and went directly south through the fields and were soon lost to sight. In their excitement and hurry, they did not close the door to their deserted home.

The Yankee wagon train was now seen on a road south of us on its way to Washington. The two pieces of artillery were run out and commence to fire at them, causing a big stampede. It was now about 11 or 12 o'clock, and we retired to a wood north of the pike, formed the brigade in line of battle, stacked arms and laid down in peace.

None of the men of the Second brigade had seen or neard anything of the balance of our corps, and we had no idea where they were, and, singularly, old Jack had not made his accustomed presence along the front. The artillery fire did not even bring him. The men were much puzzled and mystified by this. Colonel Johnson now sent to the 21st Virginia regiment for a lieutenant and six men to report to him at once, armed. One of the men was to come from F Company and was designated by name. On reporting, they were ordered to drive a body of Yanks away from a house in [81] sight. This they did in quick order, although they had to cross an open field and get over three fences before reaching the house. We stayed at the house a short time, when, finding we were about to be cut off, we retired to the brigade under a fusilade of shots. This was the first musket fire of Second Manassas, and you may say that the battle had commenced, as the enemy were to be seen in several directions in our front. The officer, on getting back to Colonel Johnson, made his report, when the Colonel retained the man from F Company, and ordered him to go to the front as far as possible without being seen by the enemy and keep a lookout for them, reporting to him any body of the enemy seen approaching, and, in order to get along the better, to leave his arms. That man crept to the front, getting behind a brush on a slight rise. Here he laid down for several hours, observing during the time the movements of several small bodies of the enemy, mostly cavalry.

While lying down behind that brush an incident happened that has always bothered that man. He heard the quick step of a horse to his right and rear. On looking round he saw a horseman in full gallop, coming from the north and going along a small country road that joined the Warrenton pike at the Groveton house. On getting to a gap in the fence along the road, he wheeled his horse, passed through the gap, and made directly for the man lying down. It was done in such a deliberate way that it impressed the vidette that his presence was known before the horseman came along the road. He did not draw rein until getting almost on the vidette. He then asked if he knew where General Jackson was. On being told that he did not, he wheeled his horse and rode back to the gap, turned into the road, and was off at full gallop toward the Groveton house. That man was riding a black mare, and wore a long linen duster and dark pants. There was something so suspicious about his movements and dress that the vidette would have taken him to Colonel Johnson if he had had his gun. There was a squad of Yankees at the Groveton house, and when the rider reached there several of them ran from the front of the house and surrounded him, when he got off the horse and went with them to the front, while one of their number led the horse into the back yard and tied him. This was hardly done before a body of our cavalry charged up the Warrenton pike and grabbed the party. The vidette had seen that party coming along the pike a few minutes before, and could have warned the man riding the horse of the Yankees' presence, but a distrust came over him as soon as he saw him. [82]

About 4 o'clock in the afternoon the vidette was startled by a long line of skirmishers stepping out of the woods in his front and advancing; jumping to his feet he made for Colonel Johnson. He had got only a short distance when he saw their line of battle following. Now, that fellow just dusted, made his report to Colonel J., who at once called the line to attention; the command was given, ‘right, face; double quick, march,’ and away we went north, through the woods. All of us were wondering what had become of old Jack. When we got through the woods he was the first man we saw, and looking beyond we could see that his command was massed in a large field; arms stacked, batteries parked and everything resting. Colonel Johnson rode up to General Jackson, made his report, when General Jackson turned to his staff, gave each an order, and in a moment the field was a perfect hubbub-men riding in all directions, infantry getting to arms, cannoneers to their guns, and the drivers mounting. But you could see the master-hand now, even while I am telling this you could hear the sharp command of an officer, ‘right face; forward, march,’ and a body of skirmishers marched out of that confused mass right up to old Jack, when the officer gave the command to ‘file right,’ and the next instant to deploy, and the movement was done in a twinkle, and forward they went to meet the enemy; General Jackson had waited to see this; he then turned to Colonel Johnson, and told him to let his men stack arms and rest, as they had been on duty since the day before; he would not call on them if he could do without them, and off he went with the advance skirmishers. Another body of skirmishers had in the meantime marched out and filed to the left and gone forward, a column of infantry was unwinding itself out of that mass and marching up to the same point as the skirmishers had, filed to right, fronted and went forward; another was now filing to the left, while the third column moved straight ahead. Some of the artillery followed each column of infantry. This was the most perfect movement of troops I saw during the war, and now the crack of musket and the bang of artillery told us that the lines had met; the fire in a few minutes was terrific.

An officer soon came for the 2nd Brigade, to report on the extreme left of Jackson's line. On getting there, the entire brigade was formed as skirmishers and ordered forward, and after getting a certain distance were halted and ordered to lie down. We staid there all night, sleeping on arms. The enemy did not appear in our front, but the right had a hard fight, in which the enemy were defeated [83] and retreated during the night. Brigadier-General Taliaferro, commanded Jackson's division, and Major-General Ewell, being amongst the wounded.

The next morning the 2nd Brigade were marched to the right of Jackson's line on top of a large hill, where there were several pieces of artillery. We stayed there about an hour and were shelled severely by the enemy, who had made their appearance from another direction from that of the evening before.

Jackson now took position behind an unfinished railroad which ran parallel to and north of the Warrenton pike and I suppose about a mile from it. Jackson's division was on the right, Ewell's next and A. P. Hill's on the left. The 2nd Brigade was marched from the hill to the left about half a mile, where we formed a line of battle in two lines, in a wood and near its edge, facing south. In our front was a narrow neck of open land, say two hundred to three hundred yards wide; on the west the woods ran along this field about three hundred yards, where it widened into a large field; a short distance around the wood is the hill we were on soon in the morning. Jackson now had several batteries of artillery on it. On the east of the neck of land, the wood ran along the field for, say seven hundred yards, when it widened out into the same large field. About two hundred yards in our front is a part of the abandoned railroad, running across the open neck from the woods on the east to near that on the west. The eastern end runs in a bottom where there was a bank for say, seventy-five yards, when it reached a hill; through this hill was a cut, that runs out on level ground just before it reaches the west wood. You will now see that in front of the railroad at this point is a short strip of wood to the right (west) and a long strip on the left (east) where at both points the neck of the cleared land unites with a large open field that runs east and west and at its far side is the Warrenton pike.

Our skirmishers were placed at the railroad. We were ordered to lie down in place, with guns in hand and were directed to rush for the railroad as soon as an order to forward was given.

Colonel Johnson now came along the line, stopped about ten yards in front of F Company, took out his pipe, filled it and struck a light, then quietly sat on the ground and leaned back against a small sapling.

Everything with us was perfectly quiet. This did not last long. The stillness in our front was broken by a bang, and almost at the same instant a shell went crashing through the trees overhead; this [84] was a signal for a severe shelling of our woods; a man was soon wounded; Col. Johnson immediately got up and went to him and sent him to the rear, stopped long enough to talk to the men around him, and quiet their uneasiness, when he came back and resumed his seat. This was repeated several times. The enemy now advanced and engaged our skirmishers at the railroad, some of the balls aimed at them occasionally reached our line and some of the men were wounded. Colonel Johnson invited several of the men, who were becoming uneasy, to come and sit by him; he now had about a dozen around him, laughing and talking. Our skirmishers were then being driven back to the line of battle by the enemy and soon to the line, and the enemy was some distance on our side of the railroad. The brigade was then called to attention. Instantly they were on their feet, and when the order to forward was given, it found them rushing to the front. On reaching the field we emptied our guns into the enemy and made for them with empty guns. They turned and ran, leaving many dead and wounded on our side of the railroad. In approaching these men lying on the ground, about one hundred yards from us, I noticed one of them, who was lying on his back, gesticulating with his hands, raising them up, moving them violently backward and forward; I think he was trying to call our attention so that we would not injure him in our advance. On reaching him I recognized from his straps that he was a Yankee captain, and one of our captains running on my left said he was making the Masonic sign of distress. On getting to the railroad the 21st Virginia Regiment occupied the bank, and the remainder of the brigade the cut to our right. We loaded and fired at the retreating enemy and soon had the field cleared.

In anticipation of the attack being renewed by the enemy, we remained at the railroad, and we did not have long to wait before the announcement of ‘here they come,’ was heard. A line of battle marched out of the far end of the woods on our left, into our field, halted, dressed their line, and moved forward. They were allowed to come to about one hundred yards of us, when we opened fire. You could see them stagger, then halt, stand a short time, then break and run. By this time another line made its appearance, coming from the same point. This line came a little nearer us when they, too, broke and ran. Then came another line—they came nearer when they broke and ran. It then seemed as if the whole field was full of Yankees and some of them advanced nearly [85] to the railroad, when we went over the bank at them, the remainder of the brigade following our example.

The enemy now broke and ran and we pursued, firing as fast as we could. We followed them into the woods and drove them out on the other side, when we were halted and ordered back to the railroad.

We captured two pieces of artillery in the woods and carried them back with us. In going back, a Yankee battery of eight guns had full play on us in the field and our line became a little confused. We were halted; every man on the instant turned and faced the battery. Just as we did I heard a thud on my right like some one had been struck with a heavy fist. On looking around I saw a man at my side standing erect with his head off; a stream of blood squirting a foot or more from his neck. By the time I turned around, I saw three others lying on the ground, all killed by the same cannon shot. The man standing was a captain in the 42nd Virginia Regiment, and his brains and blood bespattered the face and clothing of one of my company, who was standing in my rear. This was the second time I saw four men killed by the same shot during the war — the other time being at Cedar Run a few weeks before-each time the shot struck as it was descending. The first man had his head taken off, the next was shot through the breast, the next through the stomach, and the fourth had his bowels torn out.

We now went back to our position in the woods, formed our old line of battle in two lines and laid down as before. We had hardly got fixed when our attention was called to a line of battle filing into line in our front, but nearly at right angles to us. What did this mean? Were the enemy making preparations to storm us again? General Starke, our Division Commander, then arrived. His attention was called to the line. He took his glass, and after a careful survey called a courier and directed him to go to the right around the hill in our front and find out who they were. The Yankees were shelling our woods heavily, but the excitement was so great that the men who had orders to lie down for protection were all standing up watching the line form, which grew longer each moment. Our courier, after a short stay, was seen coming as fast as his horse could run, and before he reached General Starke cried out, ‘it is Longstreet.’ A great shout that Longstreet had come was taken up by the men all down the line. The courier then told Gen. Starke that the man sitting on a stump, whom we had noticed [86] before was General Lee, and that Longstreet said he had got up in time to witness our charge, which he said was splendid.

This put new life into Jackson's men, as they had heard nothing of Longstreet. They knew that Pope with his large army would put forth all the energy he could to greatly damage us, but everything was changed then. We only wished him to renew the attack but were afraid he would not, after his repulse of the morning and the presence of Longstreet. He did attack A. P. Hill's division on the left of Jackson's line in the afternoon, and met with the same repulse as we had given him. A part of Longstreet's command became heavily engaged also. This ended the second day's fighting and the Second brigade were jubilant over their share of Second Manassas. We slept in peace during the night.

The cannonading commenced early on the morning of the 30th, with skirmishing in the front that at times became active. About noon in anticipation of an attack, the 2nd Brigade was moved to the railroad, taking position as on the day before. About 2 or 3 o'clock we heard on our right the exclamation of: ‘Here they come!’ And almost instantly we saw a column of the enemy marched into the field from the same point they did the day before, dress the line and then advance on us. Every man in our line shifted his cartridge box to the front, unfastened it and his cap box, gave his gun a second look over and took his position to meet the coming enemy who were rapidly approaching. We allowed them to come about the same distance as the day before and then opened, with about the same result. Another line took its place, we continued firing. Other lines advanced, each getting nearer us. The field was then filled with Yankees as on the day before, but in much greater numbers. Their advance continued. Every man in the 2nd Brigade at this moment remembered Cedar Run, each one loaded his gun with care, raised it deliberately to his shoulder, took deadly aim and pulled the trigger. We were fighting then as I never saw before. We were behind the railroad bank and in the cut, which made a splendid breastwork. The enemy crowded in the field; their men were falling fast, as we could plainly see. Our ammunition was failing, men were taking it from the boxes of dead and wounded comrades. The advance of the enemy continued. By this time they were at the bank; they were mounting it. Our men mounted, too; some with bayonets fixed, some with large rocks in their hands. (Some of the enemy were killed with these rocks. Colonel Johnson mentioned it in his official report.) [87]

A short struggle on top of the bank and in front of the cut and the battle was won. The enemy were running, and then went up that yell that only Confederates could make. Some men, wild with excitement, hats off, and some went up into the air. It was right here that Lieutenant Rawlings, commanding F Company, was killed, his hat in one hand, his sword in the other, cheering his men to victory. He was struck in the head by a rifle ball and fell dead.

After the flying enemy we went, through the field in our front to the woods on the left; through that into the next field, where we could see our line advancing in all directions. Our artillery fired over our heads, some following in the pursuit, and on nearing a hill would run up on that, unlimber and fire rapidly through intervals in our advancing line-thousands of muskets firing, the men giving the old yell, the enemy in full retreat, and we right after them. It was one of the inspiring scenes whose actors will never forget and which makes a soldier at once of a recruit.

We kept up the pursuit until eight or nine o'clock in the night, when we were halted and allowed to rest until morning. And the man with ‘headquarters in the saddle’ and who had ‘no rear’ was taught the second lesson at Jackson's tactics. He wished then he had a rear, and he was putting forth all his efforts to find Washington with its fortifications, which was forty-five to fifty miles in his rear when we commenced our movement.

The figures of losses.

Pope's army numbered over 70,000; his loss was over 20,000 and thirty pieces of artillery.

Lee's numbered about 50,000; his loss was 8,000.

The loss in our brigade was small. Amongst the killed was Lieutenant Edward G. Rawlings, commanding F. Company. He was as good a soldier as the war produced, a magnificent specimen of manhood, tall and erect, over six feet in his stockings, weighing about two hundred pounds, with endurance in proportion to his size. I have often heard him say he could march forever if his feet would keep from getting sore. He was kind, gentle and always at his post and in the performance of his duty.

To Jackson falls the chief honor of Second Manassas, as it did in the first battle, and the position held by the 2d Brigade was one of the points the enemy made their most desperate and repeated assaults, [88] in all of which they were repulsed with great loss. I saw more of their dead lying on the ground in our front than I ever saw in the same space during the war.

One of my company wrote home that ‘he was shot all to pieces,’ had twenty-seven holes shot through his blanket. In his next letter he explained that his blanket was folded and one shot going through it, made the twenty-seven holes.

It was the unanimous sentiment of the 2d Brigade that they were never handled as well before as they were by Col. Bradley T. Johnson, during this battle, and the balance of the time he was with us. His personal interest in the men went right to their hearts, and they showed their appreciation by obeying every order with cheerfulness and alacrity, and these circumstances made him a Brigadier-General.

Here is an extract from a letter written to the Secretary of War by Lieutenant-General Jackson, in which he thus mentions Colonel Johnson and the 2d Brigade at Second Manassas:

‘The heroism with which the brigade fought, and its success in battle, but brightened my opinion of its commander.’

John H. Worsham, F Company, 21st Virginia Regiment Infantry, 2d Brigade, Jackson's Division, 2d Corps, A. N. Va.

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