Lee's Campaign Against Pope In Northern Virginia
THE battle of Cedar Run, as General Lee says in his report, "effectually checked the progress of the enemy for the time ;" but the pressure from Washington was so great that Pope had to respond with an advance, which he made, on August 14th, when Reno's arrival increased his force to 50,000. He disposed his army from the crossing of Robertson river by the Orange road, to the crossing of the Rapidan at the historic Raccoon ford, across which Wayne led his Pennsylvania brigade to reinforce Lafayette in 1781. Lee, in expectation of this, had, on the 13th of August, ordered Longstreet, with his division and two brigades under Hood, to move to Gordonsville, and R. H. Anderson to follow him, anticipating by a day McClellan's movement from Harrison's landing toward Fort Monroe. At the same time Stuart was ordered to move the main body of his cavalry toward Orange Court House, covering the right of Longstreet's movement and placing his cavalry upon the right of Lee's army when concentrated in Orange.
Longstreet's troops reached the neighborhood of Gordonsville on the I6th, and the same day Jackson, in advance, moving secretly, put his command behind the outlying Clark's mountain range, east of Orange Court House, covering Raccoon and Somerville fords of the Rapidan.
Lee, in person, followed and joined his army in Orange near the middle of August, and on the 19th gave orders for an advance, having determined to strike Pope and defeat him before the great force under McClellan could join him. Longstreet advised a movement to the left, so that Lee's army, with the Blue ridge behind it, might fall upon Pope's right; but Lee and Jackson thought it better to turn Pope's left and put the army of Northern Virginia between him and Washington, cutting his line of supplies and retreat. Lee's order of the 19th directed Longstreet to cross the Rapidan at Raccoon ford with the right wing of the army, and move toward Culpeper Court House, while Jackson, with the left wing, was to cross at Somerville ford and move in the same direction, keeping on Longstreet's left. Anderson's division and S. D. Lee's battalion of artillery were to follow Jackson, while Stuart, crossing at Morton's ford, was to reach the Rappahannock, by way of Stevensburg, destroy the railroad bridge, cut Pope's communications, and operate on Longstreet's right. The men were to carry three days' rations in their haversacks, and the movement was to begin at dawn of the 20th. Jackson desired to attack earlier; but Longstreet was not prepared. The concentrated army was ready to move on the 19th, but Fitz Lee's brigade of Stuart's cavalry, the leading one in the march from Richmond, had gone too far to the right, in the direction of Fredericksburg, and was a day late in joining the army, thus causing another delay.
Pope, on the 19th, ordered a cavalry reconnoissance across the Rapidan, which captured one of Stuart's staff with Lee's order of march on his person. This was quickly furnished to Pope, who hastened to evacuate Culpeper and put the Rappahannock between himself and the now famous Confederate general-in-chief; and Lee had the mortification of seeing from the summit of Clark's mountain, the southeastern of "the little mountains of Orange," Pope's army in full retreat, across the plains of Culpeper, on the very day that he would have fallen upon it had his strategic orders been promptly and energetically obeyed by his first lieutenant.
Lee's 50,000 men followed his marching orders at dawn of the 20th; but not against Culpeper Court House, for Pope had evacuated that the day before. Longstreet, preceded by Fitz Lee's cavalry, marched to Kelly's ford of the Rappahannock, while Jackson marched by way of Stevensburg and Brandy station toward Rappahannock bridge, bivouacking for the night near Stevensburg. Stuart, with Robertson's cavalry brigade, had a spirited contest that day with Bayard's cavalry, near Brandy station. Forced from that point, Bayard took position between Brandy and Rappahannock bridge, still guarding the Federal rear, from which Stuart again routed him and drove him across the Rappahannock, under cover of Pope's batteries on the high northern bank. The Confederates captured 64 prisoners and lost 16, killed and wounded.
The morning of the 21st found Lee's 50,000 veterans on the south bank o the Rappahannock, with Jackson on the left, extending from the railroad bridge to Beverly ford, across which Robertson's Fifth Virginia cavalry had made a dash, scattering the Federal infantry near by, disabling a battery, and spending most of the day on the north side of the river by the aid of Jackson's batteries on the south side. On the approach of a large Federal force, Rosser, by order of Stuart, recrossed. Longstreet extended Lee's line from Rappahannock bridge to Kelly's ford. Pope's 55,000 men held the commanding ground on the north bank of the Rappahannock, and a lively artillery duel was kept up during the day between the confronting armies, but with little or no damage to either.
The undulating Midland plain, on which these contending armies had now met, was far better fighting ground than was the swampy and densely forested Tidewater country, which was so recently the field of contention. The larger portion of this vicinity of the Rappahannock was cleared and had been under cultivation, in large plantations, until the opening of the war. At the same time it was a more difficult region for strategic movements to be covered from observation. It was evident that Pope's concentrated army could not easily be reached by a front attack, while his left was difficult of approach, and receiving the reinforcements steadily coming to him from the direction of Fredericksburg. Lee's military genius, and his conferences with Jackson, convinced him that the proper movement was one that should turn Pope's right and place the Confederates in his rear, cutting him off from the old time highway that led through the Piedmont country, by Warrenton, toward Washington. Moreover, "the strength of the hills" lay in that direction; for within sight, looking to the northward and westward, were the outlying ridges of the coast range, the Rappahannock and Bull Run mountains, behind which concealed movements could be made in the desired direction.
The first step in this strategic movement was to get the mobile left wing of his army, under the energetic and always-ready Jackson, behind these covering low mountain ranges, the southwestward extensions of the Bull Run mountains, without the knowledge of Pope. To accomplish this, Lee adopted a series of novel advances. While Jackson and Stuart were engaging the attention of Pope along the Rappahannock, north of the railroad, he moved Longstreet from his right, by concealed roads, and placed him in Jackson's rear, leaving the latter free to fall back after dark, giving place to Longstreet, and march to a position farther up the river, but still holding on to Longstreet's left. This first exchange of positions was made during the night of the 21st, or rather the early morning of the 22d, and that day, preceded by cavalry, Jackson reached the neighborhood of Warrenton Springs, where the great highway, from Culpeper Court House toward Washington, crosses the Rappahannock and goes on through Warrenton to Centreville. During that day Longstreet, by a vigorous contention with skirmishers and artillery, engaged Pope's attention in his first position north of the Rappahannock, and caused him to add to his force at Beverly ford, apprehending that Longstreet was about to force a passage there and attack his center. Detachments of Federal cavalry and infantry made dashes on Jackson's line of march from a detached column that Pope was moving up the north bank of the river, to keep pace with whatever movement Lee might be making to his left. Especially was a bold dash made at Freeman's ford, about noon, as Jackson's rear was passing that point. His rear guard, under Trimble, deployed and awaited the Federal attack. Hood, with two of Longstreet's brigades, came up about four in the afternoon, when Trimble, aided by these, vigorously attacked the Federal brigade which had crossed the river, and drove it back with slaughter and in confusion. A third crossing, in pursuit of information, was made at Fant's ford, by cavalry, infantry and artillery, but these soon retired, having learned but little.
When Jackson reached the river, opposite the Warrenton Springs, and found the ford guarded, he at once began moving his troops to the other side, sending over the Thirteenth Georgia and two batteries, while Early crossed, on an old mill dam, about a mile further down the river. It began raining while these troops were crossing, and an afternoon of showers was followed by a night of heavy downpour and darkness, preventing the crossing of more troops. By morning the river was swollen past fording, and Jackson's advance, under Early, was isolated on the further shore. Pope's main body had continued to hold its position, near the railway, on the 22d, as he was unwilling to remove further from his expected reinforcements from Fredericksburg. Apprehensive of an attack from Longstreet, he did not care to move farther to his right to intercept Jackson's movement, concerning which he as yet had no reliable information. Longstreet still held him at bay.
On this same 22d, Lee initiated one of the boldest of his deceiving strategic movements. During the forenoon he dispatched Stuart, with the main body of his cavalry, by concealed roads behind his army, to Waterloo bridge, four miles above Warrenton Springs, held by Jackson, and where the graded highway from Warrenton to Little Washington crosses the Rappahannock. There Stuart, with 1,500 men and two guns, crossed the river and began a rapid march for Pope's rear, to break the railway leading to Washington and gather information, just as he had recently done in his grand ride around McClellan at Richmond. With a good road to march on, he reached Warrenton unopposed, in the afternoon. After halting there for a short rest, he continued eastward, by Auburn Mills, to Catlett's station, on the Orange & Alexandria railroad, intending to destroy the bridge over Cedar creek near that place. The downpour that had swelled the Rappahannock, caught Stuart on the march, and he reached his objective in the midst of rain and darkness; but an intercepted and captured negro led him to a camp where were the headquarters wagons of General Pope. These Stuart quickly captured with one of the Federal commander's staff and his personal baggage and official papers. His efforts to destroy the wagon trains and the railroad bridge were but partially successful, in consequence of the rain and the darkness. He began his return march before daylight of the 23d, bringing off 300 prisoners, and recrossed the Rappahannock in the evening of the same day, without molestation, after having taught Pope a second lesson on the subject of rear guards, and infused an element of fear into the Federal army as to the safety of its lines of retreat; also bringing off the captured correspondence between Pope and Halleck, which informed Lee fully concerning the strength and the plans of his antagonist.
In the afternoon of the 23d, before Stuart cut the railway and the telegraph at Catlett's station, Pope had telegraphed to Halleck: "Under present circumstances I shall not attempt to prevent his (Lee's) crossing at Sulphur Springs, but will mass my whole force on his flank in the neighborhood of Fayetteville," a cross-roads hamlet five miles to the southeast of Sulphur Springs, and about the same distance northeast from the right of his position on the Rappahannock. An hour and a half later he telegraphed: "I cannot move against Sulphur Springs just now without exposing my rear to the heavy force in front of me," still looking with alarm across the Rappahannock at Longstreet. Three hours later, after reporting Jackson's crossing, he again telegraphed: "I must . . either fall back and meet Heintzelman behind Cedar run, or cross the Rappahannock with my whole force and assail the enemy's flank and rear. I must do one or the other at daylight; which shall it be?" Halleck approved the suggested bold attack on Lee's rear, and directed the troops approaching from Fredericksburg to march to Stevensburg and Brandy station, on the south side of the river, proposing to unite these with Pope the next day to attack Lee's rear. Gen. George H. Gordon, who has written so well concerning the army of Virginia, in which he served, and who fought so bravely at Winchester and Cedar run. says of Pope: "He awoke on the morning of the 23d with no very clear notions of what he intended to do."
The heavy rain of the night of the 22d interrupted Jackson's movement and compelled Lee to abandon, for the time being, his intended flank movement; Jackson, by the most persistent efforts, repaired the bridge at the springs in order to extricate Early from the perilous position which he was so boldly holding on the north bank of the Rappahannock, and Pope, knowing that river to be impassable, gave up, no doubt gladly, his scheme of crossing to attack Lee's rear, and determined to concentrate against the Confederates on the north side of the river, as he had at first proposed. In the early morning of the 23d he turned Sigel toward Sulphur Springs, by way of Fayetteville, followed by Banks and Reno. McDowell, from his left, was ordered to burn the railroad bridge, which up to this time, by the aid of guards and artillery, he had kept intact, and move toward Warrenton. These movements would bring him into line of battle facing any movement of Lee from Sulphur Springs toward Warrenton. Longstreet's batteries gave parting salutes to these backward movements. Reynolds' division of 6,000 men, from Aquia creek, reported during the forenoon of the 23d, and followed after McDowell.
The courage and ready wit of a Confederate soldier are well illustrated by the story that Allan tells in his "Army of Northern Virginia: .... Maj. A. L. Pitzer, of Early's staff, in attempting to find the Thirteenth Georgia regiment, was taken prisoner by a scouting party of the Sixth Federal cavalry. Overmatched in force, the major had recourse to his wits. He persuaded his captors that they were within the Confederate picket lines, and would be fired on whichever way they attempted to escape. He offered to lead them safely in if they would submit to his guidance. The offer was accepted, and the unarmed major led in and delivered the armed squad to General Early.
Early put on a bold front while awaiting the reconstruction of the bridge in his rear, aided by the swollen condition of Great run in his front. He destroyed the bridge over that stream, and held the road against Sigel's advance of 25,000 men, which Pope had ordered to make attack and beat the Confederates on the north side of the river. Sigel conceived the idea that Lee's whole army was in front of him, and therefore only skirmishing and artillery firing took place during the afternoon and until dark, Sigel, in the meantime, going into camp and advising Pope to withdraw his corps to a better position. Robertson, with his cavalry and some guns returning from Stuart's expedition in Pope's rear, joined Early during the day. As soon as the bridge was made passable, at about nightfall, Lawton's brigade was crossed over to Early's support. Ewell himself went over, for a consultation with Early during the night, when it was decided, in view of the large force before him, that it was not expedient to bring on a battle at that place; so orders were given at 3 o'clock next morning for Early to withdraw, which he did soon after daylight, and removed his men to Jackson's rear, where they broke their fast of two nights and the intervening day.
About 10 o'clock on the night of the 23d, Pope himself, accompanied by the corps of McDowell and the division of Reynolds, reached Warrenton. At that time more than 50,000 men of the army of Virginia were concentrated along the turnpike road between Jackson at Sulphur Springs and Warrenton. On the morning of the 24th, Pope girded himself to destroy the army of Lee, which he supposed was still north of the Rappahannock, as Sigel had reported. Buford's cavalry was sent to Waterloo, whence a good country road led to Warrenton, to reconnoiter and to destroy the bridge over the Rappahannock at that point, and get in Lee's supposed rear. Sigel, Banks and Reno were to move toward the same point, from opposite Sulphur Springs, while McDowell was placed along the roads leading to Sulphur Springs and to Waterloo to support the movement. As Sigel approached the river, A. P. Hill, who now, .in the succession of exchanging moves, held its Confederate side, opened his batteries and an engagement of artillery was brought on. Sigel continued, cautiously, his march up the river, annoyed by Hill's batteries, and it was well into the afternoon before Buford learned that there were no Confederates on the north side of the Rappahannock. It was nearly 4 p.m. when Pope telegraphed Halleck that "Sigel is pursuing the enemy in the direction of Waterloo bridge .... No force of the enemy has as yet been able to cross except that now enclosed by our forces between Sulphur Springs and Waterloo bridge, which will undoubtedly be captured unless they find some means of escaping."
Sigel occupied most of the 24th in his cautious march of six miles from Sulphur Springs to Waterloo, where he arrived late in the afternoon and found the Confederates on the south side of the river, but holding and defending the bridge. The continuing thunder of Lee's guns, from point to point of vantage between Sulphur Springs and Waterloo, had thoroughly engaged Sigel's attention during the entire day, as Lee intended they should, to divert attention from the new flank movement which he had already begun. Pope was equally ignorant, for, in the afternoon, after learning that there were no Confederates north of the Rappahannock, he dispatched to Halleck that he would "early to-morrow . . . move back a considerable part of my force to the neighborhood of Rappahannock station," evidently disturbed by the long-staying qualities of Longstreet, which he had now been testing for a number of days, while he himself had been zigzagging around in a vain attempt to find the other portions of Lee's army.
Still desiring to strike a telling blow at Pope before McClellan's main body could reach him, Lee ordered from Richmond the divisions of Walker, McLaws and D. H. Hill , which had been held there for prudential reasons, and sought a conference with Jackson, to which the latter, a little later, called in his chief engineer, Lieut. James Keith Boswell, for information concerning the roads leading behind the Rappahannock mountains to the line of the Manassas Gap railroad and to Pope's rear, with which he was familiar; Lee and Jackson having devised a plan of campaign by which Jackson, free from all encumbrances, should move rapidly to Pope's rear, cut his line of communication at Bristoe, destroy his stores back to Manassas Junction, then fall back to the north of the Warrenton and Washington turnpike, and there await the arrival of Lee with Longstreet, who would remain a day longer on the banks of the Rappahannock for the purpose of detaining and perplexing Pope.
During the night of the 24th, Longstreet's batteries took the place of Jackson opposite Warrenton Springs, as did also his troops, leaving Jackson free to begin his movement on the morning of the 25th, which he did, at an early hour, leaving his baggage train behind and taking with him only ambulances and ordnance wagons. His troops carried in their haversacks scant rations for three days, Jackson confident of being able to abundantly supply them from the enemy's stores. Starting from the vicinity of Jeffersonton, to which he fell back in giving place to Longstreet, Jackson marched for some distance to the northwestward, along the great highway leading to the Valley, by way of Chester gap, and his bronzed veterans were elated with the conviction that they were again bound for the scene of their victories of the preceding spring; but, when a short distance beyond Amissville, their course was turned from the northwest to the northeast, they looked questioningly one to the other, as to whither they were going, led by Lieutenant Boswell and portions of the noted Black Horse cavalry through their Fauquier home-land. Jackson pressed steadily forward, through the long August day, without halt, until he had covered 25 miles and reached the vicinity of Salem, on the Manassas Gap railroad, just as the sun sank behind the Blue ridge to his left.
At dawn of the 26th, Jackson's men were again puzzled on finding themselves marching to the southeast, following the line of the Manassas Gap railroad, through Thoroughfare gap, to Gainesville, where Stuart joined them with his cavalry and led the way from that hamlet directly to Bristoe Station, on the Orange & Alexandria railroad, which they reached about dark, after a march of 24 miles, without having met opposition on the way. Jackson and his 22,000 enthusiastic men, and Stuart with wide-awake and jolly cavalry, were now in Pope's rear and on his line of communication, which they proceeded to destroy, capturing trains moving toward Washington and breaking up detached Federal encampments along the railway. Not satisfied with this, and desiring to not only reap the spoils stored at Manassas but to guard against movements from Washington, Jackson sent Trimble's brigade of infantry and Stuart with a portion of his cavalry, through the darkness, four miles further to Manassas Junction, which they reached and captured after a brief resistance, about midnight.
On this same 26th of August, Lee and Longstreet, leaving 6,000 men at Waterloo to guard the trains, followed after Jackson and encamped at Orleans. Apprised of these various movements by his scouts and spies, but not comprehending them or their objects or destination, Pope issued orders which scattered, rather than concentrated, his large army. He first ordered a concentration on Warrenton; Porter, with 10,000 men, reached Bealeton, and Heintzelman, with his 10,000 men, reached Warrenton Junction, on their way to obey this order. The corps of Sumner, Franklin and Cox, from McClellan's army, were that day marching toward Pope, under urgent orders, from Alexandria. Late in the night, when the import of Jackson's movement dawned upon him, Pope again changed his orders, directing his troops to march on Gainesville, to intercept what he supposed would be Jackson's line of retreat; and the different portions of his command were headed in that direction, but all hindered by a confusion of orders and a resulting mixing of marching columns.
On the 27th, Lee with Longstreet continued his march through Salem and the Plains station, on the Manassas Gap railroad, but once interrupted, by the attack of a small body of Federal cavalry, which came near capturing General Lee. In the early morning of this same day Jackson marched the divisions of Taliaferro (recently Winder) and of A. P. Hill to Manassas Junction, where, during the day, they rested and reveled in the vast stores of quartermaster and commissary supplies the Federals had gathered at that important junction. Ewell was left behind, at Bristoe, to protect Jackson's rear' and oppose any advance from the line of the Rappahannock. There, in the afternoon, he had a vigorous combat with Porter, repulsing him, then withdrew across Broad run, and late in the day followed on to Manassas Junction.
Longstreet was slow in getting under way on the morning of the 28th, and so did not reach Thoroughfare gap, but seven miles from his camp, until 3 in the afternoon, to find that important way, the gate he must pass through to reach Jackson's right at the appointed rendezvous, held by Ricketts and a Federal division. Lee promptly addressed himself to clear the way. Wilcox, with three brigades, was sent three miles to the northward to cross the Bull Run mountains at Hopewell gap and flank the right of Ricketts. Law's brigade was ordered to climb the ends of the mountains cut by Broad run, along which the road and the railway followed, while D. R. Jones was to make a direct attack with his brigade through the pass. Law's toughened veterans soon scaled the mountains, fell upon Ricketts' flanks and forced him to retire just as the day closed, when Longstreet led his command through Thoroughfare gap and encamped east of the Bull Run mountains and eight miles from the battlefield of Groveton heights, where Jackson was hotly engaged with King's division of Pope's army, and anxiously awaiting the coming of Lee and Longstreet.
Satisfied, by the contention of Hooker with Ewell at Bristoe, that Jackson's command was at Manassas Junction, Pope concluded that there was a good opportunity for "bagging the whole crowd;" so he issued orders that, turning from the ways to Gainesville, his columns should, on the morning of the 28th, march rapidly on Manassas Junction. Jackson spoiled this third plan of concentration for his capture, by not waiting for Pope at Manassas Junction; for on the night of the 27th he set fire to the stores at Manassas that his men had not appropriated and his wagons could not carry away, and hastened to the appointed place for meeting Lee, but by ways that completely baffled his over-confident adversary. Taliaferro's division, with the trains, was sent northward, by the direct road to Sudley church, with orders to occupy the forest covered position behind the unfinished Gainesville & Alexandria railroad, with which Jackson was thoroughly familiar from having encamped in that region after the First Bull Run battle. A.P. Hill was sent northeastward, by the highway across Bull run, to Centreville on the great road leading to Washington, and Ewell was left to follow after him in the same direction.
Porter could not find his way, even with the aid of lighted candles, through the darkness of this night, from Warrenton Junction to Manassas; but Jackson's men, somehow, found the way to their ordered destinations. Hill, on the morning of the 28th, took the big road from Centreville westward, marched across Bull run and took position, on Taliaferro's left, near Sudley church. Ewell, who had encamped the night before on the south side of Bull run, at Blackburn's ford, crossed over, and marching up that stream to the stone bridge, followed after Hill and took position on his right, Taliaferro moving still farther to the right in the direction of Gainesville; so that by the middle of the day Jackson was concentrated in a strong position, the one the Federals had first occupied at the first battle of Bull Run, looking down upon the stream valley of Young's branch along which ran the Warrenton and Alexandria turnpike, his guns in place and his troops ready for action. That same noonday, Pope, having reached Manassas Junction, was still seeking for Jackson. The movement of Hill and Ewell toward Centreville, the threatening of Washington by Fitz Lee and his horsemen at Fairfax Court House and Burke's station, meant, Pope knew not what, but he proceeded to issue a third order for concentration. Gainesville and Manassas Junction had failed him, and now, thinking he was after a defeated and retreating foe, he ordered his columns to Centreville. The leading divisions of McDowell's corps had passed through Gainesville, on the way to the junction, early in the day; but King's division did not reach that point until after Pope had ordered a concentration at Centreville, so King, on receiving these orders, decided to take the direct road from Gainesville to Centreville rather than the circuitous one by Manassas Junction, ignorant of the fact that Jackson lay concealed in the forest, flanking the left of this direct road, but a short distance from Gainesville; and so it came to pass that when, late in the afternoon, he was marching along in front of Jackson's concealed army, the divisions of Taliaferro and Ewell sprang upon him, and by a short, but fierce and bloody struggle, drove him back, under cover of the night, to Gainesville and to the road to Manassas Junction, on which Ricketts' column, retreating from Lee's bold assault at the Thoroughfare gap, overtook him during the night. On the morning of the 29th these discomfited divisions of King and Ricketts appeared in the vicinity of the junction, and there was now no Federal force to oppose the coming together of the two wings of Lee's army on the famous battlefield of "Groveton Heights," as Jackson named it, that of the first day of the Second Bull Run, or Manassas.
Stuart, from Jackson's right, on the 29th, soon opened communication with Lee and Longstreet, who had but eight miles to march to the field of action and extend his lines southward from Jackson's right and cover the roads leading from Centreville and from Manassas Junction. By 10 a.m. of the morning of the 29th, Lee had stationed himself on a commanding knoll, near the head of Young's branch, on the south side of the turnpike, from which he could see his left, under Jackson, stretching away to the northeast in his strong position on the Sudley ridge, for nearly three miles, those of Longstreet, reaching to the southward, through fields and forests, for nearly the same distance, like two gigantic arms outstretched, with the fingers of Robertson's cavalry on the right and those of Fitz Lee on the left, and ready to close in deadly embrace upon any foe that should venture to come within their far-extending reach.
In the early morning of the 29th, Pope, at Centreville, was issuing orders for a fourth concentration of his troops, which were now scattered anywhere and everywhere within the 12 miles of broken and much afforested country between his headquarters and Bristoe, still believing that he had but Jackson's command before him only seeking an opportunity to escape, and ignorant of the position of Longstreet. Pope ordered a vigorous attack on Jackson's left by Sigel's corps, supported by Heintzelman, Reno and Reynolds. This attack was bold and vigorous, and from 6:30 to 10:30 there was a fierce contention between A. P. Hill and the Federals; but the latter were repulsed when, just as Lee was leading Longstreet into position, 18,500 men under Heintzelman and Reno were moving in to Sigel's aid. Pope's men, wearied by the constant marchings and countermarchings of previous days, were slow in moving forward; but at noonday, when Pope himself appeared and took post on Buck hill, whence his own lines and those of Jackson were visible, he found his 35,000 men in battle order facing Jackson. These he urged to renew the attack from which Sigel had been repulsed. He also ordered McDowell and Porter to advance their 30,000 men, from Manassas, upon Gainesville; his numerous cavalry hovered about the flanks of the Confederates. Pope did not believe that Lee was yet on the field, so he proposed to hurl his 75,000 against Jackson's 20,000 and win a victory before Longstreet could arrive.
Earnestly watching the battlefield from his well-chosen point of observation, Lee discovered that Longstreet was not far from the left of Pope's line of attack, and as that solid mass of Federal veterans marched with quick and resolute step to assault Jackson, Lee urged Longstreet to join in the issue. After overlooking the field, the latter reported the prospect as "not inviting," and greatly disappointed his commander-in-chief by obstinately persisting in his opposition to make an attack. Just then, Stuart, who was on the right and had been reconnoitering toward Manassas Junction, reported the approach of McDowell and Porter; but these soon turned to the northward and marched, by the Sudley road, to the left of Pope's contention with Jackson. Through all the long day, during ten hours of hotly-con-tested battle, constantly adding fresh troops and in six vigorous assaults, did Pope force his men against Jackson's position; mainly against A. P. Hill on his left.
The Federal soldiers, well led, with the skill of veterans and the courage of brave men, marched to the very front of Jackson's lines, which, by determined efforts, they several times broke and carried, but were every time driven back, once partly with cobblestones, picked from the fills of the unfinished railway, when the supply of ammunition gave out.
Lee anxiously watched these fierce assaults and desperate repulses, and urged his stubborn lieutenant to join in the combat and relieve the pressure upon his other and indomitable lieutenant, who, with another sort of stubbornness, held to his lines and drove back the successive waves of Federal assaults. At 5 p.m., when less than two hours of the day remained, Pope massed the divisions of Kearney and Stevens for a last assault upon Jackson's left. Gregg had exhausted his ammunition and sent for more, adding that his Carolinians would hold on with the bayonet; but these were forced backward, when the Georgians and the North Carolinians of Branch, dropped in behind them, and all, like Indian fighters, took advantage of every rock and tree as the stubborn Federals forced them back. Jackson promptly moved from his center the Virginians of Field and Early, the Georgians of Lawton, and the Louisianians of Hays, threw these into A. P. Hill's hot contest on his left, and routed and dispersed the brave Federal attack, shattering the brigades of Pope's right.
Again Lee, with all the earnestness of his heroic nature, urged Longstreet to participate and help Jackson in meeting this furious attack. But he persisted in his refusal to move, claiming that it was now too late in the day for so doing. But Lee had one force obedient to his commands, or rather his requests, for thus were the orders of that high-toned gentleman expressed. He had massed Hood's batteries on Longstreet's left, on commanding ground, and as Pope's left, under Reynolds, moved forward to attack, a hot fire from these guns drove him back, and just at set of sun, when Longstreet yielded for what he called a reconnoissance in force, he turned loose Hood's courageous Texans, who fell upon the Federal center and drove King back with heavy loss, capturing three of his battleflags and one of his guns; and so the night closed on this long day of furious and bloody battle, in which the contending armies had each displayed the undaunted courage of their common, fighting, ancestral stock; but the skill of leadership had again asserted itself against the mere power of numbers, and history, in all its annals, nowhere records braver deeds of heroic and daring defense and persistent courage than were exhibited by Jackson's men through all that long day of steady contention against fearful odds. The invincible Stonewall had unflinchingly held the left, confident that the equally invincible Lee was not only watching the contest, but would, in the crisis of the day, throw his sword into the scale and decide the unequal contest.
The battle over, Jackson's men cared for their wounded, gathered their dead for burial, and prepared for another day of conflict, which they well knew was impending; gathered in groups, praying for further aid to the God of Battles, and then, in trusting confidence, slept on their arms awaiting the coming day.
The 30th of August, as the summer neared its end, opened clear and bright, with the two armies ready for the renewal of the mighty conflict. The position of Lee's two wings was unchanged, except that he had massed thirty-six guns, under Col. Stephen D. Lee, on the commanding watershed swell in the center of his lines, where their lines of fire led down the center of the depression followed by Young's branch and threaded by the turnpike leading through the midst of the Federal host to the stone bridge over Bull run. The brigades of Longstreet, from the center southward, were those of Wilcox, Hood, Kemper and D. R. Jones. R. H. Anderson was in reserve, with his 6,000 men, on the turnpike to the rear.
Lee then had about 50,000 men at command in his two far-reaching wings, the great jaws of the war monster,
"After the arrival of Longstreet the enemy charged his position and began to concentrate opposite Jackson's left ... Colonel Walton placed a part of his artillery upon a commanding position between the lines of Generals Jackson and Longstreet by order of the latter, and engaged the enemy vigorously for several hours. Soon afterward General Stuart reported the approach of a large force from the direction of Bristoe Station, threatening Longstreet's right. The brigades under General Wilcox were sent to reinforce General Jones [Longstreet's right], but no serious attack was made. . . While the battle Was raging on Jackson's left General Longstreet ordered Hood and Evans to advance, but before the order could be obeyed Hood was himself attacked. . . " (Report of Gen. R. E. Lee.)
into which the army of Pope was preparing to move, unconscious of the fate that awaited it when these jaws should close and crush it in defeat.
Noticing that the nearby skirmishers of the previous day had disappeared, Pope again rashly concluded that the Confederate army had been defeated, by his assaults of the day before, and was now in full retreat, seeking safety behind the Bull Run mountains; therefore he ordered a prompt pursuit along the Warrenton road to Gainesville, and then toward the Thoroughfare gap. He had brought up Porter's corps, which had been holding the line of Dawkin's branch on the road from Manassas Junction to Gainesville, and placed it in his center; so it fell to that brave and skillful officer to lead in the supposed pursuit. Recalling Cold Harbor, Porter did not believe, as Pope did, that Lee and Jackson had given up the contest and were retreating, so he formed his men into a triple line of battle, across the turnpike, and placed King's division to support his right and Reynolds' his left; in his rear followed Sigel's corps and half of Reno's. These dispositions were made in the dense forest along the turnpike and to the east of the Sudley road, and thence Porter was ready to advance on Lee's center.
Pope, having had, on the previous day, bitter experience of the sharp temper of Jackson's left, massed the whole of Heintzelman's and the half of each of the corps of McDowell and Reno, ready to throw them against Jackson with the advance of Porter. In the morning. Heintzelman moved against A. P. Hill with Ricketts' division, but soon drew back from the hot reception he met. The skirmishers of Reynolds met the same fate, from S. D. Lee's guns, when they advanced to feel Lee's center. It was three in the afternoon when Pope was good and ready, with his entire army in hand, for his grand assault. The signal was given and Porter's men rushed forward, wheeling on their left, and struck the Stonewall brigade, now in command of Starke, and Lawton's division. The contest was as fierce and earnest as brave men could make it; the lines, for some minutes, were almost within touch, and the dead and dying on both sides strewed the ground. As Porter closed in, across the open field, his left was exposed to S. D. Lee's masked batteries, which now swept through his lines their shot and shell and aided to stagger Porter's attack, while Longstreet opened with three batteries upon his left rear. Thus unexpectedly received, Porter's men fled in routed masses, followed by the men of Jackson's old division, from his right, who leaped across their defenses and chased them in hot pursuit. The fierce attacks of Pope on Jackson's left had, in the meantime, been also repulsed.
Lee now saw that the supreme moment for action had come, and he ordered Longstreet to close in upon the Federal left; but his veteran soldiery, now well trained in the art of war, had at the same moment reached the same conclusion, and without waiting for the word of command, they fairly leaped forward, swinging on their left, and, with Lee leading in person in the midst of them, charged grandly to the front, responding to the movement of all of Jackson's men on the left and hurrying on the rout of the Federal army. The Confederate batteries also joined in the rushing charge and were abreast of their infantry comrades all along the lines, where there was opportunity for giving parting shots to the retreating Federals. Stuart, on the right, on the old Alexandria road, heard the well-known shouts of Confederate pursuit, and rushed his brigades and batteries far in advance against the Federal left. Warren's attempt to stem the tide, just east of Groveton, cost him dearly. Schenck, with German tenacity, hung on to the Bald hill, on the Federal left, but the victory-compelling Confederates swarmed upon his flank and forced him from the summit. Hood swept the line of the turnpike to the east of the Stone house. Pope's reserves, on the Henry hill, the old plateau which was the center of the fierce fighting of the year before, resisted the tide of victory, for a time, on his left, until Jackson closed down with his left, upon the retreating Federals, toward the stone bridge, until darkness put an end to his advance, and gave Pope's demoralized brigades an opportunity to follow the crowd of fugitives that, long before the sun went down, crowded over that bridge, seeking safety behind Franklin's corps, then advancing from Alexandria, and the earthworks at Centreville. This day's advance and retreat cost Pope some 20,000 of his brave men, in killed, wounded and missing. Since Jackson met him at Cedar run, he had lost 30,000 men, 30 pieces of artillery, and military stores and small-arms worth millions in value and many thousands in number. This great victory of Groveton Heights cost Lee 8,000 men, mostly in Jackson's command, including many of his noblest and bravest officers.
A deluge of rain followed the great battle, such as had followed most of those that had preceded it; but through that, and the mud that followed it, Stuart rode in the early morning of Sunday, August 31st, across Bull run to learn what had become of Pope. He found the reinforcements, that had the day before come up from Washington, holding the formidable intrenchments at Centreville bristling with artillery. Informed of this delay in Pope's retreat, Lee ordered Jackson, who was on his left and nearest Centreville, to cross Bull run and march to the Little River turnpike, which enters the Alexandria road near Fairfax Court House, turn Pope's right and cut off his retreat to Washington. The rain and mud made the march a difficult one for Jackson's weary and battle worn surviving veterans; but they, instinctively, divined their important mission and eagerly followed their great leader. When Pope learned of Jackson's new flanking movement, although he had in hand 20,000 fresh troops who had not fired a gun, he hastened in retreat to Fairfax Court House, after placing Reno's corps across the two converging turnpikes covering the approaches to Fairfax Court House from Centreville and Chantilly, with orders to keep back the irrepressible Confederates. Jackson, by continuing his march well into the night, took position across the Little River turnpike, at Ox hill, in front of Chantilly. In the midst of a terrific storm of driving rain, with almost continuous thunder and lightning, on Monday, September 1st, he met and repulsed a Federal advance under Reno, ordering the use of bayonets when informed that the rain-soaked ammunition could not be used. Heintzelman supported Reno, but Jackson's well-directed blows forced them both back until darkness ended the contest, when they followed Pope's line of retreat to within the fortifications of the Federal city, where his brief career, of less than two months' duration, as commander of the army of Virginia, came to an inglorious end, and McClellan again took charge to reorganize the army of the Potomac from the broken Federal forces there gathered.
Longstreet followed Jackson to Chantilly, but did not reach there in time to take part in the battle. Lee paused in his onward march, at this noble "Chantilly" mansion of one of his relatives, to give his men much-needed rest and bring forward the supply trains which his rapid marches had left far in the rear. In four short months the army of Northern Virginia had, under his leadership, with its 80,000 men, met and driven Banks, Fremont, McDowell, McClellan and Pope, with their 200,000 veteran troops, from far within the bounds of Virginia, in disastrous retreat, to beyond its borders, with the exception of a small body that still held the line of the Baltimore & Ohio, in the lower Valley, and the remnant that had found refuge within the fortifications of Washington, on the Virginia side of the Potomac.
Source: Confederate Military History, Volume 3, Chapter XVIII
This page last updated 02/16/02
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