An Aide-De-Camp of Lee
Charles Marshall


IT is noteworthy that the Army of Northern Virginia, though in 1861 it had for long been in sight of the Potomac, did not receive the name it was about to make historic until it had been withdrawn from the Northern Virginia and become engaged in the defence of Richmond.1 This would seem to be a proof that General Lee from his first assumption of the command of the army was inspired, even when he was engaged in the defence of the capital of the Confederacy, with the conviction that Northern Virginia was destined to become the principal scene of the operations of his troops. The concentration of the Confederate forces in Virginia and the Carolinas began when the troops under D. H. Hill, who had been stationed south of the James River, were drawn to Richmond, the policy was continued by bringing in Stonewall Jackson from the Valley in the manner described in the last chapter, and this was followed by summoning to the main body of General Lee’s army such reinforcements as the withdrawal of General Burnside from North Carolina had made disposable.

This movement of Burnside’s troops was the first result of General Lee’s plan for forcing the Federals to concentrate and for protecting the territory of the Confederacy much more effectively than by scattering troops troops in a number of states. As soon as General McClellan was in need of help General Burnside’s corps was withdrawn from the South Carolina coast and the transports conveying his troops were sent to Hampton Roads.

After the retreat of General McClellan to Westover his army remained inactive for about a month. It was not known what his next move would be, and in the presence of so large a force as his it was necessary to take all precautions lest he should renew the movement against Richmond. It was a matter of grave responsibility for General Lee to decide how his army could be moved elsewhere while that of General McClellan was yet in the immediate vicinity of the city. Yet inaction was impossible, for another great army commanded by General Pope had begun its advance from Washington along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and its commander proclaimed his intention of making his way from the Federal capital to New Orelans.2 It became necessary therefore for General Lee to prepare to meet this second army, while a larger force than his own lay still upon the James River at a comparatively short distance from Richmond. General Jackson’s division was accordingly ordered to proceed towards Gordonsville on July 13th.

Upon reaching Gordonsville General Jackson learned that a force under General Pope, superior to his own, had reached Culpeper, but the uncertainty that surrounded the plans of General McClellan still rendered it inexpedient to send reinforcements from the army at Richmond. General Jackson was therefore directed to ovserve the enemy’s movements closely and to avail himself of any opportunity to attack them, assistance being promised from Richmond should the progress of General Pope put it in our power to strike an effective blow at his army without withdrawing our troops too long and too far from the defence of the capital.

Towards the end of July General Pope’s advanced troops moving southward reached the Rapidan, and as General McClellan continued to manifest no intention of resuming active operations, General A. P. Hill was sent with his division on July 27th to reinforce General Jackson.3 At the same time, in order to keep General McClelland stationary, or at least to excite his uneasiness as to the security, or at least to excite his uneasiness as to the security of his position at Westover, General D. H. Hill, who now again commanded the troops on the south side of James River, was ordered to shell the enemy’s shipping in the James, and on the night of July 31st General French placed forty-three guns under Brigadier General Pendleton, chief of artillery, within range of the enemy’s vessels and of his camp on the north of the river. The guns were withdrawn before daybreak with small loss from the fire of the gun boats. This attack caused General McClellan to send a strong force to the south bank of the James, which entrenched itself at Coggins Point opposite Westover, an indication that he intended to retain his position at Westover with the expectation of receiving reinforcements.

At this time General Burnside’s troops still lay on transports in Hampton Roads. From that point he could easily ascend the James to reinforce Genral McClellan’s army at Westover, or as easily move up Chesapeake Bay to reinforce the army of General Pope now advancing from the north. Until the destination of General Burnside became known it was difficult for General Lee to determine his plans, for, as it was not believed that General McClellan would resume action without reinforcements, much depended upon whether Burnside joined him or not.4 The attention of General Lee was therefore fixed at the end of July upon the movements of General Burnside’s corps. To settle the destination of that corps and also to hasten the withdrawal of General McClellan from the Peninsula, General Lee was determined to act upon the fears of the Washington Government for hte safety of its capital by creating the belief that it was Jackson’s purpose to advance northwards. With this object in view, Jackson was ordered to advance towards the Rapidan, which the main body of the Federal Army under General Pope was known to be approaching along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Jackson crossed the Rapidan on August 8th, and the next day attacked the advance of General Pope’s army under General Banks at Slaughter’s Mountain, sometimes known as Cedar Run. A determined battle ensued, the result of which was to leave Jackson for two days in possession of the battlefield. On the rest of Pope’s army coming up Jackson retired south of the Rapidan, but his attack at Cedar Mountain had served its purpose in that it had strengthened the impression in Washington that he was advancing against that city and would endanger its safety, for news was shortly received that General Burnside’s corps had been moved up Chesapeake Bay from Fortress Monroe.

This information made General Lee certain of the ultimate destination of General Burnside’s command, and he immediately dismissed all fear that General McClellan would renew the attack on Richmond. He hoped that, if Jackson’s force should be reinforced and move northward from the Rapidan, the result would be the recall of General McClellan’s army from Westover to aid in the defence of Washington.

Meanwhile events in the Peninsula had confirmed these conclusions, for about August 4 General McClellan’s intention not to renew seriously the advance on Richmond was further demonstrated by the fact that he made a feeble advance from Westover to Malvern Hill and was found occupying the ground upon which the battle of July 1st had been fought; but as soon as he was challenged he retired, without delivering battle, during the night to his lines around Westover and offered little or no resistance to the advance of the Confederate force sent against him.

On August 13th, while Jackson was on the march back to Gordonsville, General Lee, having decided on his plan, sent Longstreet’s command with the addition of two brigades under General Hood to join Jackson at that place; at the same time General Stuart was directed to move thither with the main body of his cavalry, leaving a sufficient force to observe the enemy still remaining at Fredericksburg. General R. H. Anderson was also told to leave his position on James River and to follow Longstreet. Only the divisions of D. H. Hill and McLaws were left to watch McClellan.

On August 15th General Lee left Richmond in person to take command of the army assembling at Gordonsville, and the next day that army began to advance to the Rapidan on the north side of which, extending along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in the direction of Culpeper Court House, the Federal Army under Pope lay. General Lee and General Jackson with their staffs ascended Clark’s Mountain, a high hill near Pisgah church overlooking the valley of the Rapidan, and there had a full view of General Pope’s men resting on the north side of the river and apparently entirely ignorant that the main body of the Confederate army was concentrated behind Clark’s Mountain, on the south side of the Rapidan. General Lee, knowing that he had on the spot a superior force to that General Pope had ready for battle, at once determined to cross the river and attack the Federal Army between the Rapidan and the Rappahannock.

D. H. Hill

The plan of attack was the troops under Jackson and Longstreet should cross the Rapidan at Somerville and Raccoon Fords respectively on August 18th, Jackson moving against the enemy’s front while Longstreet assailed him in flank. The cavalry under General Stuart was ordered to cross the Rapidan in advance of the infantry and make its way round General Pope’s left to the bridge over the Rappahannock River where it is crossed by the Orange and Alexandria Railroad near Brandy Station. After destroying that bridge, which it was thought would seriously hamper Pope’s retreat, as the river was swollen by recent rains, and at the same time prevent the arrival of reinforcements for Pope, the cavalry was to attack the rear of the enemy, while he was engaged with Longstreet on his flank, and Jackson on his front. General Lee confidently expected that these movements would enable him to inflict a disastrous defeat on the army of General Pope, for the Federal Army lay in fancied security, apparently entirely unconscious of the proximity of the Confederate troops. Unfortunately the cavalry failed to arrivce to take its part on August 18th. That part was an essential feature of the plan of attack and so the movement had to be delayed until the cavalry came up.

As I have said, a portion of the cavalry, Fitzhugh Lee’s brigade, had been left in the vicinity of Fredericksburg to watch the enemy on the Rappahannock near that place, and it was this cavalry htat was expected. General Stuart had personally reported to General Lee and had informed him that the vavalry would arrive in time to take part in the movement on August 18th, and he anxiously expected its arrival on that day. When the unexpected delay took place Stuart proceeded down the plank road from Orange Court House towards Fredericksburg to look for the missing troops. While waiting for their approach he was nearly made prisoner at Verdiersville by some of the enemy’s cavalry that had made its way to that place. General Stuart says in his report:—

“General [Fitzhugh] Lee’s brigade did not arrive until the night of the 18th, a day behind time. Not appreciating the necessity of punctuality in this instance, he changed his course after leaving me and turned back by Louisa Court House following his waggons which I had directed him to send to that point for provisions, etc. By this failure to comply with instructions, not only the movement of the cavalry across the Rapidan was postpoined a day, but a fine opportunity lost to overhaul a body of the enemy’s cavalry on a predatory excursion far beyond their lines. By the great detour made by this brigade it was not in a condition to move on the 19th upon a forced march to the enemy’s rear; but in accordance with instruction from the commanding general, the 19th was devoted to rest and preparation, moving down for bivouac near Mitchell’s Ford late in the evening.”5

From this it would appear that General Stuart was not aware of the more serious consequence that resulted from the unfortunate delay of the cavalry on August 17th; it not only failed to intercept the cavalry expedition of the enemy to which he refers, but caused the postponement of the movement of the whole army, which there is good reason to believe would have resulted in a crushing defeat of the army of General Pope, for General Lee soon afterwards defeated the Federal Army on the battlefield of the second Manassas, although in the interval General Pope had been largely reinforced from the forces under General McClellan. To have opened the campaign in Northern Virginia with such a victory might have led to great consequences. As far as we can see, the battle of the second Manassas and the subsequent campaign in Maryland would have been avoided, for General Pope’s army, defeated on the Rapidan, would not have been able to retreat at once to the protection of thie lines around Washington.

The cavalry, not reaching its position until the time meantioned by General Stuart, did not cross the Rapidan until the 20th, but in the meantime General Pope, becoming informed of the presence of General Lee’s army south of the Rapidan, withdrew across the Rappahannock River. The facts of the escape of General Pope’s army came to light some days later. When Jackson, who was sent to turn the position of the enemy on the Rappahannock and gain his rear, reached Catletts Station on the night of August 22nd, Colonel W. H. F. Lee commanding one of Stuart’s regiments captured the camp in which General Pope’s headquarters tent was found. Among other things that were captured was General Pope’s letter-book containing a copy of two letters. In the first of these letters General Pope stated that his army was approaching Gordonsville and that he was confident that he would reach that place the next day. The second letter was of the same date from Pope to Halleck and in it he says substantially: “I have just learned that the whole Confederate Army under General Lee has arrived on the south side of the Rapidan River and is about to advance. I shall lose no time in placing this army north of the Rappahannock.”

It willthus be seen that in the interval while General Lee was waiting for the arrival of the cavalry to take part in the movement across the Rapidan his purpose became known to General Pope, who availed himself of that knowledge at once to retire beyond the Rappahannock, and thus avoided the consequences which there is every reason to believe would have followed had not the delay of the cavalry occured.

The cavalry being ready to advance on August 20th, Jackson crossed the Rapidan at Somerville Ford and Longstreet at Raccoon Ford on that day. They marched according to General Lee’s orders for the 18th and found that the army of General Pope had retired beyond the Rappahannock, the north side of which was occupied in force from the vicinity of the bridge of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad up to and above Warrenton Springs, all the fords of the Rappahannock being strongly guarded.7

There followed some exchange of artillery fire, and on August 23rd Jackson began to cross the river at Warrenton Springs, but it was soon found that the Rappahannock was so swollen by heavy rains that an attempt to force a passage would be attended with great danger. Accordingly on August 24th General Lee determined to send General Jackson’s corps up the river to cross it above General Pope’s right flank so as to strike the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in his rear. Longstreet in the meantime was ordered to divert Pope’s attention from Jackson’s movement by threatening him in front, and was to follow Jackson as soon as the latter should be sufficiently advance.8 The information which General Lee had obtained from General Pope’s captured papers showed him that the latter would very soon receive large reinforcements from General McClellan’s army. He did not wish to fight a battle and incur heavy losses which it would be difficult to replace, if

page 130 is missing as well as part of note 9

General Jackson crossed the Rappahannock at Hinson’s Mill about four miles above Waterloo very early on the 25th and encamped on the night of the 25th near Salem after a long march. The next morning continuing his route he passed the Bull Run Mountains at Thoroughfare Gap and proceeding by way of Gainesville, where he was joined by Stuart’s cavalry, reached the Orange and Alexandria Railroad at Bristoe Station about sunset. General Jackson was now between the army of General Pope and the Federal capital. No great force had been encountered, and General Pope did not seem to be aware of his situation. At Bristoe the track was torn up, two trains of cars moving northward from the direction of Warrenton were captured, and a number of prisoners were taken. As the interruption of the railroad must give the enemy warning of his presence, General Jackson determined, notwithstanding the darkness of the night, and the long and arduous march of the day, to lose no time in capturing the enemy’s depot at Manassas Junction about seven miles distant on the road to Alexandria. So a detachment under General Stuart was sent forward for that purpose and about midnight Manassas Junction was captured; eight pieces of artillery with their horses, ammunition and equipment were taken; about 300 prisoners; 200 new tents and immense quantities of quartermaster’s and commissary stores fell into our hands.

On receiving the news of this capture Jackson left Ewell’s division with the 5th Virginia cavalry at Bristoe Station, and with the rest of his command proceeded to Manassas Junction where he arrived early in the morning. Soon afterwards a considerable force of the enemy under Brigadier General Taylor approached from Alexandria and pushed forward to recapture the stores which had been lost. After a sharp engagement the enemy was routed and driven back, leaving his dead and wounded on the field, General Taylor himself being mortally wounded during the retreat.10 Jackson’s troops remained at Manassas Junction during the rest of the day supplying themselves with everything they needed from the masses of captured stores. In the afternoon General Ewell was attacked at Bristoe Station by a force coming from the direction of Warrenton Junction; the attacking party was repulsed and broken, but their places were soon supplied with fresh troops, and it was apparent that the Federal commander had now become aware of the situation of affairs.11 So Ewell upon perceiving the strength of the enemy withdrew his command, and rejoined General Jackson at Manassas Junction, having first destroyed the railroad bridge over Broad Run. The enemy being in greatly superior numbers, General Jackson determined to withdraw from Manassas Junction and take a position near Groveton, west of the turnpike road from Warrenton to Alexandria, where he could more readily unite with the column of Longstreet then known to be approaching.12

Having fully supplied the wants of his troops, Jackson was compelled from lack of transport to destroy the rest of the captured property, consisting of an immense amount of salt pork, corn beef, and flour, which were burned. General Taliaferro moved during the night by the road to Sudley’s Ford and, crossing the turnpike, halted on the west side near the battlefield of July 21st, 1861, where he was joined on the 28th by the divisions of A. P. Hill and Ewell. Perceiving during the afternoon that the enemy, approaching from the direction of Warrenton, was moving down the Warrenton turnpike towards Alexandria, thus exposing his left flank, General Jackson advanced to attack.13 After a fierce and sanguinary conflict which continued until about 9 P.M., the enemy slowly fell back leaving us in possession of the field; the loss on both sides was heavy, and among our wounded were Major General Ewell and Brigadier General Taliaferro, the former severely.

On the morning of the 29th the enemy had taken a position to interpose his army between General Jackson and Alexandria, and about 10 A.M. opened with artillery upon the right of Jackson’s line. The troops of the latter were disposed in rear of Groveton along the unfinished branch of the Manassas Gap Railroad and extended from a point a short distance west of the turnpike towards Sudley Mills. The Federal Army was evidently concentrating upon General Jackson with the design of overwhelming him before the arrival of General Longstreet.

Meanwhile General Longstreet had after the departure of General Jackson been engaged in making demonstrations along the Rappahannock, but on the morning of the 26th it became evident that the enemy was beginning to move away from the river, so General Lee decided that Longstreet should follow Jackson at once. General R. H. Anderson’s division was left at Waterloo to continue to attract the attention of the enemy,14 and General Longstreet moved up to Hinson’s Mill, and crossing the river reached Orleans that night. The Federal cavalry patrols were active, and early on the next morning when riding ahead of the column, General Lee narrowly escaped capture at Salem by a body of the enemy’s cavalry which were beaten off by his staff and couriers.15 Near that place General Lee received the first report bringing the welcome news of Jackson’s success at Bristoe and Manassas.

On the 27th the column halted for the night between Salem and Whiteplains. Most of the cavalry was with Jackson, and Longstreet’s movements were delayed by the want of sufficient cavalry to enable him to ascertain the meaning of certain movements of the enemy from the direction of Warrenton, which appeared to threaten his right flank.16

The following day General Longstreet reached Thoroughfare Gap, a narrow and difficult pass through the Bull Run Mountains. The mountains rise for several hundred feet on either side of the pass, through which flows a stream over a rough and stony bottom. The enemy was found to be holding the eastern extremity of the pass in large force and directed heavy artillery fire upon the road leading through it and upon the sides of the mountain. General G. R. Jones’ division attempted to force its way through the gap and dislodge the enemy’s sharpshooters from the trees and rocks on either side. But the ground afforded no opportunity for the employment of artillery in support of General Jones, so General Lee decided to send General Hood with two brigades and General Wilcox with three to turn the enemy’s right. The former moved by a narrow path over the mountain on the north side of the gorge, and the latter further to the north to Hopewell Gap. Before these troops reached their destination the enemy advanced and attacked Jones’ left, but being vigorously repulsed he withdrew to his position at the eastern end of the pass, from which he kept up a heavy artillery fire until dark, when the progress of Good and Wilcox on his flank caused him to retire. That night Generals Jones and Wilcox bivouacked east of the mountain.17


On the morning of the 29th Longstreet’s whole command resumed its march. The sound of cannon was soon heard from the direction of Groveton, announcing that Jackson was already engaged. Longstreet’s troops began to enter Warrenton turnpike near Gainesville about 9 A.M. and moving towards Groveton, the head of his column came upon the field in rear of the enemy’s left, which had already opened with artillery upon Jackson’s right. Longstreet immediately placed some of his batteries in position, but before he could complete his preparations for attack the enemy withdrew, not without suffering some loss from our artillery. Longstreet then took position on the right of Jackson, Hood’s two brigades supported by Evans being deployed across the turnpike and at right angles to the road. The line was continued to the right by a force under General Kemper, which was supported by Wilcox’s three brigades. D. R. Jones’ division formed the extreme right of the infantry, resting on the Manassas Gap Railroad. The cavalry guarded our right and left flanks, that on the right being under General Stuart in person. General Lee established his headquarters on a small hill just south of the Warrenton Pike behind Hood’s troops. After the arrival of Longstreet the enemy changed his position and began to concentrate opposite Jackson’s left, opening a brisk artillery fire which was responded to with effect by some of A. P. Hill’s batteries. Colonel Walton, who commanded the Washington artillery of Longstreet’s corps, placed a part of his artillery in a commanding position between the lines of Jackson and Longstreet by order of the latter, and engaged the enemy vigorously for several hours.

Soon after this artillery came into action Stuart reported the approach of a large force from the direction of Bristoe threatening Longstreet’s right under D. R. Jones.18 The brigades under General Wilcox were therefore sent to reinforce Jones, but no serious attack was made, and after firing a few shots the enemy withdrew. While this demonstration was being made on our right the enemy advanced to assail the left of Jackson’s position occupied by the division of A. P. Hill; the attack was received by Hill’s troops with their accustomed steadiness, and the battle raged with great fury; the enemy was repeatedly repulsed, but again pressed on to the attack with fresh troops. Once he succeeded in penetrating the interval between Gregg’s brigade on the left and that of Thomas, but was quickly driven back with great slaughter by the 14th South Carolina Regiment held in reserve, and the 49th Georgia of Thomas’s brigade. The contest was close and obstinate the combatants sometimes delivering their fire at ten paces. In the midst of the fierce struggle some of the troops of General Starke, having exhausted their ammunition, supplied the want of it by the use of stones, taken from the railroad cut, which they hurled at the enemy.

Gregg’s brigade which was most exposed was reinforced by Hayes’ brigade under Colonel Forno. All of Forno’s field officers except two being killed or wounded, he was relieved after several hours of severe fighting by Early’s brigade and the 8th Louisiana Regiment. Early drove the enemy back with heavy loss, and pursued about 200 yards beyond the line of battle when he was recalled to the position on the unfinished railroad. Here Thomas, Pender and Archer firmly held their ground against every attack. While the battle was raging on Jackson’s left Longstreet ordered Hood and Evans to advance, but before the order could be obeyed Hood himself was attacked and his command became at once warmly engaged.19 Wilcox was recalled from the right and ordered to advance on Hood’s left, and one of Kemper’s brigades under Colonel Hunton moved forward on his right. The enemy was repulsed by Hood after a severe contest and fell back closely followed by our troops. The battle continued until 9 P.M., the enemy retreating until he reached a strong position which he held with a large force. Darkness put an end to the engagement and our troops retained their advanced position until early next morning when they were withdrawn to their original line.20

On the morning of the 30th the enemy again advanced and skirmishing began along the line; the troops of Longstreet and Jackson maintained their positions of the previous day. During the forenoon General R. H. Anderson’s division came up from Waterloo by the Warrenton turnpike and was held in reserve. The batteries of Colonel S. D. Lee took the position occupied the day before by Colonel Walton with the Washington artillery and engaged the enemy’s artillery until noon, when firing ceased and all was quiet for several hours. About 3 P.M. the enemy, having massed his troops in front of General Jackson, advanced against his position with a strong force; his front line pushed forward until it was engaged at close quarters by Jackson’s troops, when his progress was checked and a fierce and bloody struggle ensued. A second and a third line moved up to support the first, but in doing so the Federal troops came within easy range of a position a little in advance of Longstreet’s left, whence they were exposed to enfilading fire. General Longstreet at once ordered up two batteries and two others were thrown forward by Colonel S. D. Lee. Under their well directed and destructive fire the supporting lines assailing Jackson’s left were broken and driven back in confusion.

Their repeated efforts to rally were unavailing, and Jackson’s troops being thus relieved from the pressure of overwhelming numbers began to press steadily forward, driving the enemy before them. He retreated in confusion suffering severely from our artillery, which advanced as he retired. General Lee thereupon ordered a general advance and Longstreet, anticipating this order, now threw his whole command against the Federal centre and left. Hood’s two brigades, closely followed by Evans, led the attack; R. H, Anderson’s division came up from reserve to the support of Hood, while two of the three brigades under Wilcox moved forward on Hood’s left, and Kemper’s troops on his right. D. R. Jones advanced on the extreme right and the whole line swept steadily on driving the enemy with great carnage from each successive position until 10 P.M., when darkness put an end to the pursuit. During the latter part of the engagement General Wilcox was ordered to take his own brigade to the right, where the resistance of the enemy was most obstinate, and he rendered efficient assistance to the troops engaged in that part of the line. His other two brigades maintained their positions in line and acted with General Jackson’s command.

The obscurity of the night rendered it necessary to suspend operations until morning, when the cavalry being pushed forward discovered that the enemy had escaped to the strong position of Centreville about four miles beyond Bull Run. A heavy rain which fell during the night threatened to make Bull Run impassable and impeded our movements. Longstreet remained on the battlefield to engage the attention of the enemy and cover the burial of the dead and the removal of the wounded, while Jackson on the 31st proceeded by way of Sudley Ford to the Little River Turnpike to turn the enemy’s right and intercept his retreat to Washington. Jackson’s progress was retarded by the inclemency of the weather and the fatigue of his troops who besides their arduous marching had fought three severe engagements in as many days. He reached Little River Turnpike in the evening, and the next day, September 1st, advanced by that road towards Fairfax Court House. The enemy in the meantime was falling back rapidly towards Washington and had thrown out a strong force towards Germantown on the Little River Turnpike to cover his line of retreat from Centreville.


Jackson’s column encountered the enemy at Ox Hill near Germantown about 5 P.M. when a line of battle was at once formed and two brigades of A. P. Hill’s division, those of Branch and Field under Colonel Brockenbrough, were thrown forward to ascertain the strength and position of the enemy. A cold and drenching rainstorm drove in the faces of our troops as they advanced and gallantly engaged the enemy; they were subsequently supported by the brigades of Gregg, Thomas, and Pender also of Hill’s division which with part of Ewell’s became engaged. The conflict was obstinately maintained by the enemy until dark, when he retreated having lost two general officers, one of whom, Major General Kearny, was left dead on the field.21 Longstreet’s command arrived after the battle was over, and the next day it was found that the enemy had conducted his retreat so rapidly that the attempt to intercept him was abandoned. The proximity of the fortifications around Alexandria and Washington rendered further pursuit useless, and our army rested during September 2nd near Chantilly, the enemy being followed only by the cavalry, who continued to harass him until he reached the shelter of his Washington entrenchments south of the Potomac.