An Aide-De-Camp of Lee
Charles Marshall

[Notes: Chapter 6]

1 The first reference in the Official Records to the Army of Northern Virginia occurs in General Order No. 60, dated June 3, the day after Lee assumed command. That order runs: “Surgeon D. C. deLeon, in accordance with the instructions from the War Department, is announced as Medical Director of the Army of Northern Virginia.”—O.R., vol. XI, part III, p. 572.

2 On June 26, the opening day of the battles of the Seven Days, Lincoln had placed under Pope the armies of Frémont, Banks, and McDowell. Frémont thereupon resigned and his place was taken by Sigel. Shortly afterwards Lincoln brought General Halleck to Washington to direct the military operations of the Federal armies.

3 Lee in his letter of July 27 to Jackson, announcing A. P. Hill’s departure, says: “I want Pope to be suppressed.” He had perceived that Pope had ventured farther south than was safe, and wanted to take advantage of the fact.

4 McClellan was at this very time beseeching Halleck at Washington to send him reinforcements for a resumption of the advance on Richmond. Halleck at first hesitated and then his mind was made up by Lee’s action. Burnside was sent to Pope and McClelland withdrawn.

5 O.R., vol. XII, part II, p. 726

6 Other documents captured gave Lee exact information as to the approach of reinforcements from McClellan’s army for Pope.

7 As Colonel Marshall says, a great opportunity was lsot to Lee by muddle and accident. Stuart’s actual order to Fitzhugh Lee to be at Raccoon Ford on the evening of the 17th is not available, but the latter says of it himself: “The brigade commander he [Stuart] had expected did not understand from any instructions he received that it was necessary to be at this point on this particular aftrnoon, and had marched a little out of his way in order to reach his waggons and get from them a full supply of rations and ammunition.” (Fitzhugh Lee’s General Lee, p. 183.) Fitzhugh Lee, in saying that he went “a little out of his way,” is making a poor case for himself, as by going to Louisa Court House for supplies he more than doubled the length of his march; but Stuart seems to have been to blame for not making his orders more explicit. Then when Stuart rode off to Verdiersville to look for the missing brigade he sent his staff officer, Major Fitzhugh, off alone to continue the search. Fitzhugh rode into a party of the enemy’s cavalry and was captured with a copy of Lee’s ordres on him, which in such circumstances he should not have had about his person. Stuart himself only barely escaped capture, and had to leave his famous plumed hat behind him. So not only was the cavalry late, but Pope received warning of his danger.

Colonel Marshall does not overrate the influence which a defeat of Pope on the Rapidan might have had on the course of the war. Historians are wont to ascribe much of Lee’s success to luck and chance, but he had, in fact, as full an experience of the mischances of war as falls to the lot of most generals, and this is a striking instance. It is characteristic of Lee that he dismisses in his dispatch the reasons and responsibilities for a failure which must have been very bitter to him, in the words: “The movement was appointed for August 18th, but the necessary preparations not having been completed, its execution was postponed to the 20th.”

8 Colonel Marshall is clearly of opinion that this plan was Lee’s alone. Henderson (vol. II, p. 152) suggests that it might have been Jackson’s, but Longstreet takes the same view as Marshall and says Lee did not previously consult with anyone. Battles and Leaders, vol. II, p. 522.

9 FIRST PART MISSING disparity of force between the contending forces rendered the risks unavoidable” (Allan’s Army of Northern Virginia in 1862, p. 200). But if his prime intention was, as Colonel Marshall says, not to risk a battle but to unite Longstreet and Jackson in the Valley after he had caused Pope to retreat, the risks are much reduced.

The facts then seem to be that neither the second battle of Manassas nor any battle at all formed part of Lee’s original plan. That battle was brought on by Jackson’s action on the evening of August 28th, in attacking King’s division as it was marching across his front all unconscious of his presence. Lee, finding that the junction of Longstreet and Jackson was assured and Pope’s forces scattered, allowed the battle to proceed, but he could, had he wished to do so, have avoided the battle and withdrawn Jackson by Aldie, through Snickers Gap into the Valley. Then, by holding the gaps in the Valley with part of his force and marching on Harper’s Ferry with the remainder, he could have caused the withdrawal of the Federal army for the defense of Washington, and so achieved what he declared to be his purpose.

10 The Federal troops consisted of a brigade of infantry and a battery of artillery, and were sent forward from Alexandria by Halleck under the impression that Jackson’s force was no more than a raiding party.

11 The troops that attacked Ewell belonged to Hooker’s division of Heinzelman’s corps.

12 From this position Jackson could communicate with Lee and Longstreet by way of Hopewell Gap and if need be retire through Aldie or Snickers Gap into the Valley.

13 This was King’s division, which marched down the road in front of Jackson, unaware of the Confederate position. Jackson’s attack informed Pope where his enemy was and started the battle.

14 This appears to have had the desired effect, for Pope writes of the next day, August 27: “Heavy forces of the enemy still confronted us at Waterloo Bridge.” Anderson’s division numbered about 6000 men.

15 It was Buford’s cavalry brigade which harassed Longstreet on his march, and a patrol from this brigade that nearly captured General Lee and his staff.

16 In comparing the progress of Jackson and Longstreet over the same ground, it must be remembered that when Longstreet marched the Federal Commander was aware of the movement round his right and took steps to investigate it.

17 The force which opposed Longstreet at Thoroughfare Gap on the 28th consisted of Rickett’s division.

18 This was the first arrival of Porter’s corps. Pope maintained that Porter had come up before Longstreet was in position. But Porter was quite right in his opinion that he had a superior force in front of him.

19 This attack was made by Porter’s corps, which had been moved by Pope to the right to aid the attack on Jackson. Pope was apparently still unaware that Longstreet’s whole corps was in position on his left.

20 This withdrawal Pope took to be the beginning of a Confederate retreat.

21 General Kearny rode into the Confederate ranks in the dark. Lee sent his body back the next day with a note to General Pope, saying: “The body of General Philip Kearny was brought from the field last night, and he was reported dead. I send it forward under flag of truce, thinking the possession of his remains may be a consolation to his family.”