Robert E. Lee and the Southern Confederacy
By Henry Alexander White

CHAPTER VIII.

LEE’S ADVANCE INTO NORTHERN VIRGINIA—SECOND MANASSAS.
1862.

THE disaster incurred in the Chickahominy swamps at the hand of Lee, induced the Federal Administration to attempt the capture of Richmond from the direction of the upper Rappahannock. June 26 had seen the organisation of the Army of Virginia, under John Pope, who had recently attained some success in front of Corinth. Pope’s force was made up of the three corps of Frémont, Banks, and McDowell. Burnside’s thirteen thousand were ordered to hasten from North Carolina up the Potomac to Aquia, and preparations were made to withdraw McClellan’s ninety thousand from the James to the plains of northern Virginia, to add strength to Pope.

To facilitate McClellan’s retreat from the eastern front of Richmond was Pope’s first business. He was ordered to plant himself at the eastern base of the Blue Ridge in order to menace Charlottesville, Gordonsville, and the line of the Central railroad. It was expected that Lee would divide his Richmond forces to make resistance against Pope; thus McClellan could move down the James in safety. McClellan made strenuous opposition to the entire plan; he demanded reinforcements for another advance against Richmond. But the Administration overruled the young Napoleon, and the army under Pope became now the Federal advance guard in the movement toward the Confederate capital.

Early in July, Sigel led Frémont’s corps from the lower Valley to Sperryville; Banks likewise moved his force across the Ridge to Little Washington. Ricketts’s division of McDowell’s corps advanced from Manassas to Waterloo Bridge on the Rappahannock, and King’s division remained in camp at Fredericksburg. With his standard thus unfurled in the Piedmont region, Pope sought by means of a formal address, July 14, to reanimate the brigades whom Jackson had left demoralised in the valley:

I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies,—from an army whose business it has been to seek the adversary, and beat him when found,—whose policy has been attack, not defence. . . . I desire you to dismiss from your minds certain phrases, which I am sorry to find much in vogue amongst you. I hear constantly of taking strong positions and holding them,—of lines of retreat and of bases of supplies. Let us discard such ideas. The strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy is one from which he can most easily advance against the enemy. Let us study the probable lines of retreat of our opponents, and leave our own to take care of themselves. Let us look before us and not behind. Success and glory are in the advance. Disaster and shame lurk in the rear.

Pope also issued certain orders directed against the unarmed citizens of this section. Private property was appropriated by roaming bands of soldiers; citizens were held personally accountable for attacks made upon the Federal trains and troops by guerillas and partisan bands; all male citizens, in case of refusal to swear allegiance to the Federal Government, were to be driven beyond the Federal lines and “notified that if found again anywhere within our lines, or at any point in rear, they will be considered spies, and subjected to the extreme rigour of military law.”

Lee saw the danger to Richmond, with Pope in the Piedmont section and McClellan still encamped on the James. But the Federal plans were not yet apparent. On July 13, Jackson was sent to Gordonsville, with the divisions of Winder and Ewell, and Robertson’s cavalry, twelve thousand men. Soon thereafter were published Pope’s unprecedented orders, which Lee characterised as “atrocities” threatened against “defenceless citizens.” By direction of the Confederate authorities, Lee sent to Halleck a note protesting against Pope’s orders as a violation of the recent agreement for the exchange of prisoners, and as inaugurating “a savage war in which no quarter is to be given.” Halleck refused to consider the protest, but Pope abandoned his proposed policy. A week before sending the protest, Lee wrote this to his wife:

In the prospect before me I cannot see a single ray of pleasure daring this war; but so long as I can perform any service to the country I am content.

When you write to Rob [of Jackson’s artillery] again, tell him to catch Pope for me, and also to bring in his cousin Louis Marshall, who, I am told, is on his staff. I could forgive the latter fighting against us, but not his joining Pope.

On July 27, Lee sent forward twelve thousand additional troops under A. P. Hill, to aid Jackson in opposing the advance of Pope.

Before the gates of Richmond, Lee retained only about fifty thousand muskets. D. H. Hill was sent secretly to the southern bank of the James, and from Coggins Point, under cover of darkness, he suddenly poured the fire of forty-three guns upon McClellan’s shipping and his city of tents. Hill’s assault stirred McClellan into activity. August 5 saw him advance from Westover to his former field of Malvern Hill. Lee moved to meet him as far as the Long Bridge road. The Confederate left wing was pushed out to the Willis Church with orders to threaten McClellan’s rear; at the same time the brigades of Evans and Cobb, on the right, drove the Federal advance behind the Malvern guns.

When Lee advanced his line of battle against the heights held by the Army of the Potomac, the morning light revealed the fact that McClellan had again retired under cover of darkness. While Lee thus held McClellan in ward behind his Westover fortifications and Stuart guarded the line between Richmond and Gordonsville, Jackson was preparing to spring across the Rapidan upon his old antagonist. Banks, who was now under Pope’s orders. Lee’s strong desire was to send part of his own force to assist Jackson. He regarded McClellan’s movement to Malvern Hill as merely a demonstration, but held it prudent to retain his full line near Richmond. The management of the Rapidan campaign he entrusted to his lieutenant, and encouraged Jackson on the eve of battle in these terms: “Relying upon your judgment, courage, and discretion, and trusting to the continued blessing of an ever-kind Providence, I hope for victory.”

Jackson was watching Pope’s effort to concentrate his army at Culpeper. On August 7, the Federal forces, to the number of thirty-six thousand five hundred, were arrayed along the turnpike from Sperryville to Culpeper, while the Federal cavalry kept watch near the Rapidan. Jackson marched across the Rapidan against Culpeper Court House. Banks led eight thousand men southward to oppose Jackson’s advance across Cedar Run. Ricketts’s division of nearly ten thousand, likewise moved from Culpeper to sustain Banks. Across the roadway, Jackson drew up the heads of his columns, to meet the assault delivered by Banks; the six brigades forming the Confederate front line of battle numbered eight thousand, seven hundred muskets. Upon the plain south of Cedar Run, the eight thousand of Banks rushed to the attack. Jackson’s front line held the field until three brigades from the rearguard made him strong for the forward movement. From the northern slope of Cedar Mountain, Jackson’s guns rained their heavy shot upon the plains below; along the Culpeper road rushed Jackson’s left wing; their bayonets completed the work of Jackson’s batteries in routing Banks across Cedar Run to the refuge offered by the darkness and by the ten thousand men under Ricketts.

The sunrise of August 10 revealed over thirty thousand Federal troops concentrated behind Cedar Run on the Culpeper road, ten thousand more under King at the distance of one day’s march, and eight thousand of Burnside’s contingent only three marches distant under the leadership of Reno. Jackson therefore drew back to keep in touch with Lee, and the morning of August 12 dawned upon him near Gordonsville, while Pope remained at Culpeper to make conjectures concerning “Stonewall’s” movements. Jackson thus made report to Lee: “On the evening of the 9th instant, God blessed our arms with another victory.” Immediately in reply Lee sent Jackson this generous commendation: “I congratulate you most heartily on the victory which God has granted you over our enemies at Cedar Run. The country owes you and your brave officers and soldiers a deep debt of gratitude.”

Pope now advanced his batteries to the northern bank of the Rapidan, and McClellan showed signs of final flight down the Peninsula. Lee at once divined the plan to concentrate the entire Federal force under Pope’s banner, and thus to strike Richmond from the north. Even before McClellan folded his Westover tents, Lee began to move. His aim now was to hurl his entire army against Pope before the army of the Potomac could transplant itself from the James to the Rappahannock. Longstreet’s corps was set in motion from Richmond toward Gordonsville, on August 13; not until the following morning, August 14, did McClellan begin to move his army from Westover in the direction of Fortress Monroe. Into Gordonsville itself marched the head of Longstreet’s column, August 15, at an hour when McClellan’s rearguard had not yet broken camp to retreat from Westover. Lee’s strategy was thus making rapid progress toward success.

The Confederate scouts brought news from the summit of Clarke’s Mountain of a vast city of Federal tents pitched in the plains about Cedar Mountain and guarded by cavalry outposts at the Locust-dale and Raccoon fords. By the addition of Reno and King, Pope’s muskets now numbered beyond fifty thousand. Longstreet counselled a flank movement toward the Confederate left, in order to seek battle on the Blue Ridge slopes. But to Lee and Jackson it seemed wiser to press rapidly toward the Confederate right and to thrust the Confederate army between Pope and Washington.

Jackson moved with rapid step, and August 16 found his corps in camp at Pisgah Church, ready to leave the Somerville ford behind them at the dawning of the 1 8th. On the same day, August 16, Lee ordered Longstreet forward from Gordonsville as far as this same Pisgah Church, with his tents pitched toward the Raccoon ford, where Lafayette crossed with his battalions in Revolutionary days. Longstreet made objection to the movement on the ground that his men were without provisions. Jackson offered to furnish bread to Longstreet’s men, and pleaded for immediate advance against Pope’s flank. Lee yielded to Longstreet’s obstinacy and postponed the attack, and with characteristic magnanimity assumed entire responsibility for the delay, as may be seen from the following report:

It was detennined with the cavalry to destroy the railroad bridge over the Rappahannock in rear of the enemy, while Longstreet and Jackson crossed the Rapidan and attacked his left flank. The movement, as explained in the accompanying order, was appointed for August 18th, but the necessary preparations not having been completed, its execution was postponed to the 20th.

The calmness of Lee while planning this bold flank movement may be seen in the following letter, dated August 17:

Here I am in a tent instead of my comfortable quarters at Dobbs’s. The tent, however, is very comfortable and of that I have nothing to complain. General Pope says he is very strong, and seems to feel so, for he is moving apparently up to the Rapidan. I hope he will not prove stronger than we are. I learn since I have left that General McClellan has moved down the James River with his whole army. I suppose he is coming here too, so we shall have a busy time. Burside and King from Fredericksburg have joined Pope, which, from their own report, has swelled Pope to ninety-two thousand. I do not believe it, though I believe he is very big. Johnny Lee saw Louis Marshall [General Lee’s nephew on Pope’s staff] after Jackson’s last battle, who asked him kindly after his old uncle, and said his mother was well. Johnny said Louis looked wretchedly himself. I am sorry he is in such bad company, but I suppose he could not help it.

August 19 found both Confederate corps massed near the Rapidan ready to strike Pope’s left and rear the following day. But Fitz Lee had led his brigade too far afield, because of Stuart’s indefinite orders, and failed to reach the appointed rendezvous. The entire cavalry corps was thus delayed twenty-four hours; the delay, moreover, resulted in the capture of Stuart’s adjutant on outpost duty. A paper on the person of this adjutant revealed to Pope the entire Confederate plan.

From the summit of Clarke’s Mountain, that same nineteenth day of August, Lee looked across the Rapidan in sorrow upon the Federal army moving back toward the Rappahannock. He was disappointed to see that Pope was turning toward his own rear. Lee was full of the spirit of combativeness. But his eagerness for battle was not greater than that of his own soldiers. Although their only habitation was the bare ground with the covering of a single blanket, their onty food “now and then an ear of corn, fried apples, or a bit of ham broiled on a stick, but quite frequently [they] do without either from morning until night,” yet with cheers and burning zeal did Lee’s veterans leap forward in pursuit of Pope.

August 21 found Lee’s fifty thousand confronting Pope’s fifty-five thousand along the Rappahannock River from Kelley’s ford to Beverley ford. Across the stream the artillery continued to play a furious game and cavalry assaults were made by both commanders. The advance corps of McClellan’s army were in rapid approach from Alexandria and Fredericksburg. The plains of Virginia, as far north as Washington, were rapidly filling up with the Federal hosts.

Lee now decided to move up-stream, to swing Jackson’s corps across the river, around the Federal right flank, and thus to cut off Pope from his line of communication with Washington. Jackson’s movement began to the sound of Longstreet’s guns; the latter kept Banks and McDowell under arms to oppose the feigned advance of Lee’s right wing across the river. At swift pace Jackson moved northward and threw Early across the stream at the Sulphur Springs. Stuart led fifteen hundred horsemen across Waterloo Bridge through Warrenton as far as Catlett’s Station on the Orange and Alexandria railway. Pope’s official papers became Stuart’s spoil, but torrents of rain prevented the daring trooper from inflicting further damage. The swollen river checked the progress of Jackson’s rearguard, and Stuart and Early recrossed the river and bivouacked once more on the southern bank. Pope had kept his brigades busy in zigzag movements to meet the threatened advance of the Confederate columns. Utter bewilderment had already settled like a cloud over the mind of the Federal commander.

Robert E. Lee and the Southern Confederacy By Henry Alexander White CHAPTER VIII.

MAJOR-GENERAL J. E. B. STUART.

Lee summoned forward from Richmond the divisions of D. H. Hill, J. G. Walker, and McLaws,and made ready for an assault upon Pope’s rear. He sought conference with Jackson. Eye-witnesses of this conference report Lee as listening while Jackson made boot-marks in the sand and gesticulated with his hands. The decision was made to send Jackson around Pope’s right flank, to cut his communications and then to hold him at bay until Lee could bring forward Longstreet’s corps and deliver battle with his entire army on the plains beyond the Rappahannock.

Jackson’s corps of twenty-two thousand men stripped themselves of every encumbrance, girded their loins for the conflict. Ammunition only was to be conveyed on wheels. Some tough biscuits and a handful of salt formed the contents of the haversacks. Green corn from the fields, and apples from the trees, were to suppl food until these heroes could draw rations from the vast storehouses located on the railway in the rear of Pope’s army. The sun of August 25 arose in midsummer glory upon Jackson’s march. Enthusiasm and fierce courage flashed from every eye as these raw-boned, half-clad athletes pressed onward after their beloved leader. As sunset fell upon the weary column, the barefooted veterans with swinging caps and suppressed cheers filed past Jackson in the roadway at Salem. Not a soldier nor an officer knew his plans. Twenty-five miles had been left behind them during the single day. A radiance lit up Jackson’s face as he said, “Who would not conquer with such men as these!” From morning until afternoon they had listened to the sound of Longstreet’s artillery as he kept Pope at bay below Waterloo Bridge. Those guns spoke of another corps as brave and as true as the men under Jackson; they spoke of Lee’s stern courage, and of his sublime confidence in his lieutenant, now entrusted with full authority and discretion to strike the chief blow of the campaign. Lee was violating a fundamental principle of military strategy in dividing his own forces before the very face of the enemy; but this act of splendid daring reveals the perfect harmony that bound together the two chief Confederate leaders. It shows Lee’s quick knowledge of the temper and intrepid valour of his citizen-soldiers, that he could swing his army in separate columns from the Rappahannock to Manassas, and there deliver the aggressive battle that forced a more numerous foe from the soil of Virginia into the defences around Washington.

August 26 found Jackson hastening from Salem forward through the narrow gorge in Bull Run Mountain called Thoroughfare Gap. As the darkness fell upon his swift-foooted veterans at the end of a twenty-four-mile march, their banner was unfurled at Bristoe Station, Alexandria railway, and at midnight Trimble’s bayonets and Stuart’s sabres were in possession of Manassas Junction, four miles to the eastward. Sunset of this same day saw Longstreet’s head of column going into camp at Orleans; Lee had left six thousand men to watch the river at Waterloo and was pushing his main column forward in Jackson’s footsteps. The latter had now planted himself directly between Pope and Washington. Pope’s army had been augmented by the arrival of Porter’s ten thousand men at Bealeton, Heintzelman’s ten thousand at Warrenton Junction, while Sumner, Franklin, and Cox were approaching from Alexandria. The morning of August 27 dawned upon Pope’s vast Federal host with face turned to the rear, and under orders to march toward Gainesville in search of Jackson.

The early hours of August 27 witnessed great commotion on theplains between the Rappahannock and Bull Run. The waters of the former stream heard not the sound of a gun, but flowed unvexed toward the Bay. The rumble of cannon carriages and the tramp of heavy columns drew near the Bull Run bluflfs. Behind the mountain chain to the north, the veterans of Longstreet, accompanied by Lee in person, were pressing forward at steady pace from Orleans through Salem to White Plains. The disturbing cause of all this hasty marching by Federal and Confederate forces was enjoying in quietness the spoil of war at Manassas. Jackson’s corps held high carnival all day long amid the wealth of Pope’s store of supplies. Bare feet were shod and naked bodies were clad, but first of all were Jackson’s starved heroes fed upon the abundance of Manassas.

Ewell, behind Broad Run, held Hooker at bay; but Sigel and McDowell in Gainesville, and Kearney and Reno at Greenwich, were, at sunset between Jackson and Lee. The march of Longstreet’scorps on the 27th carried him over the fifteen miles from Orleans to White Plains. Lee rode in advance and left the control of the corps entirely to his lieutenant. Longstreet states that because couriers from Jackson affirmed all to be well, he did not urge his men to a swift pace. The gallant brigades under his banner, not aware that speed was necessary, did not make a forced march. As Lee was moving onward far in front with his staff, he narrowly escaped capture near Salem by a squadron of Federal cavalry. A large body of Federal horsemen were hovering near the Confederate column. More than an hour’s delay in the march of the corps was caused by the sending of infantry to drive them away.

At the dawn of the 28th, the corps was moving out of White Plains, but Longstreet did not bring the head of his column to the mouth of Thoroughfare Gap, seven miles away, until three o’clock in the aftertioon. The pass was gleaming with Federal bayonets entering from the east. Across the Bull Run Mountain rolled the booming sound of distant cannon, telling of Jackson standing like a lion at bay. To the right and to the left Lee sent scouting parties in search of a path across the steep cliffs. His features were calm, and courtesy and geniality marked his manner in this hour of impending battle. Lee sent D. R. Jones’s Georgians straight through the pass; at the eastern gateway they grappled with the Federal muskets and cannon under Ricketts. Three brigades under Wilcox were sent three miles to the northward to cross at Hopewell Gap and turn the Federal position. Over the steep rocky crest that immediately overlooks Thoroughfare Gap clambered Law with one of Hood’s brigades. Down the eastern slope of the mountain rushed Law’s men in the gathering darkness. As they fell upon the Federal flank Ricketts drew his troops away. Lee’s brigades began to pour through the gap and their campfires were lighted at the eastern base of the mountain within eight miles of the field of Groveton, where Jackson was delivering fierce battle and awaiting the coming of Lee.

During the twenty-four hours preceding this bivouac of Lee on the Manassas side of the Bull Run Mountain, Jackson had wrought vast changes in the great field of war. As the darkness of the 27th fell upon him at Manassas, Jackson set torch to the spoil that could not be removed, and behind the curtain of the night began the game of deluding Pope. The latter had begun to dream of “bagging the whole crowd,” and now changed the direction of his marching columns and urged all his brigades upon Manassas Junction. But the fox was escaping even while Pope was preparing the toils. Jackson sent Taliaferro with the trains directly to Sudley. Due eastward toward Washington he despatched A. P. Hill and Ewell; Hill moved beyond Bull Run to Centreville. This night march of Jackson was made through darkness so dense that Porter with lighted candles failed to track his way in pursuit from Warrenton Junction to Manassas. The morning of the 28th gave Hill and Ewell time to move south-westward across the Stone Bridge to Sudley Church. Noonday saw Jackson’s bayonets all in line on the southern bank of Bull Run. His shotted guns were ready behind the Warrenton turnpike looking downstream toward the field of their former victory of July, 1861.

Far afield were Pope’s brigades on this momentous morning. Amidst the smoking embers of his burnt supplies at noonday he heard rumours of war from Centreville, and from the line of railway beyond. The movement of Hill’s division and of Fitz Lee’s horsemen toward Washington gave indications to Pope that the fox might yet be ensnared on the northern bank of the Bull Run. The third time a change was made in his proposed point of concentration. Gainesville and Manassas in turn had been assigned as the goal for his converging battalions; the waning hours of the 28th saw them all dragging weary feet toward Centreville. While Pope thus deluded himself with the vain idea that he was in hot pursuit of a defeated foe, the object of his pursuit, Jackson, stood defiantly at the edge of the Warrenton roadway on the left flank of the eastward-moving Federal columns. With tardy step the division of King, McDowell’s corps, was passing along this highway from Gainesville toward Centreville in the late afternoon. With the spring of the lion two of Jackson’s three divisions leaped upon King’s column. The sun had disappeared when the assault began; short and fierce was the encounter, and Taliaferro and Ewell, the division commanders, were both disabled. King’s line was forced backward, and under cover of darkness he withdrew from the field of blood. During the night, King was overtaken by the division of Ricketts in full retreat from Lee’s vanguard at Thoroughfare Gap. Both Federal divisions fled from Jackson’s front, and the morning of the 29th dawned upon them near Manassas. Lee’s strategy was now practically a success. No Federal force opposed the union of the two wings of his army. Sunrise of the 29th saw Longstreet’s brigades starting upon the eight-mile journey to Jackson’s right at Groveton; at the same hour were the troops of Pope scattered through the fields and along the highway from Bristoe and Manassas even to Centreville. From the latter place Pope began to issue his morning orders for a fourth rendezvous, reversing the direction of his columns and calling all his men toward “Stonewall’s” field near Groveton.

Robert E. Lee and the Southern Confederacy By Henry Alexander White CHAPTER VIII.

SECOND BATTLE OF MANASSAS.
BASED ON THE U.S. WAR-RECORDS MAP.

The corps of Longstreet moved leisurely eastward from Thoroughfare Gap. But the morning’s early hours brought them the sounds of Jackson’s renewed conflict; like war-horses, these gallant soldiers snuffed the battle from afar and voluntarily quickened their pace. Under Lee in person they filed through Gainesville down the turnpike to the left, and at ten o’clock they were taking position in front of that village upon the right flank of Jackson’s line. As Lee stood near Groveton, he saw toward his left a great battle in full progress. The roar of heavy guns and the crash of musketry told him where Jackson’s men were arrayed in a line of two and one half miles from Groveton to Sudley Church. Behind the embankments and excavations of an unfinished railroad, and in the midst of heavy woods, stood “Stonewall’s” veterans fighting their second day’s battle on the same field. Since early morning, the storm of battle had lowered heavily against Jackson’s left, under A. P. Hill. Sigel’s entire corps, from 6.30 to 10.30, had there attempted to push its way up the southern bank of the Bull Run, but had met severe repulse at the hands of Gregg’s brigade of South Carolinians, assisted by Thomas’s Georgians. Just as Lee was planting Longstreet in front of Gainesville, Heintzelman and Reno were leading up their two corps, eighteen thousand five hundred men, to Sigel’s aid against Jackson’s left. Moreover, the clouds of dust, the waving banners, the varied sounds of war that were manifest upon the knolls and plains that stretched away toward Manassas and Bull Run, told Lee where the Federal host was assembling for a grand assault.

Pope’s troops were wearied by the protracted marchings in quest of Jackson. From far Centreville rode Pope himself that morning of the 29th, and at noonday he took position on Buck Hill near the Warrenton turnpike. Deployed in his front, and holding the triangle between the Warrenton and Sudley roads, Pope found the corps of Heintzelman, Reno, and Sigel, and the division of Reynolds. These thirty-five thousand stood at last face to face with Jackson. Pope urged them against “Stonewall’s” left where Sigel had already suffered defeat. The two corps of McDowell and Porter, nearly thirty thousand strong, Pope ordered to advance from Manassas upon Gainesville. Banks, with eight thousand, was yet absent from the scene. The Federal cavalry were hovering about the flanks of the army. Pope refused to believe that Lee had reached the field and proposed to hurl his seventy-five thousand against Jackson’s line of about twenty thousand.

Lee stationed himself between the Meadowville and Pageland lanes, near the southern edge of the Warrenton highway. Even farther to the front he rode to watch the movements of his foe. He found himself in close proximity to the Federal left flank. As the Federal line moved forward again to assail Jackson’s left, Lee urged Longstreet to assail the Federal left. After reconnaissance, Longstreet reported that the position “was not inviting.”

“General Lee was quite disappointed,” says Longstreet, “by my report against immediate attack along the turnpike, and insisted that by throwing some of the brigades beyond the Federal left, their position would be broken up and a favourable field gained.” At this moment came Stuart with news of the approach of McDowell and Porter from Manassas. This force, however, failed to attack. Lee urged Longstreet to attack Porter, but Longstreet watched and waited. When McDowell soon afterward turned to his right and marched by the Sudley road to Pope’s battle against Jackson, leaving Porter alone near Manassas, Lee “again became anxious to bring on the battle by attacking down the Groveton pike.” But Longstreet pleaded the near approach of darkness as an objection, and suggested a forced reconnaissance. “To this he reluctantly gave consent,” says Longstreet.

With this repeated urgency did Lee seek to deliver assault against Pope’s centre and left during the afternoon hours when the battle waxed fierce and fiercer in the woods near Sudley. Six successive waves of attack surged against Jackson’s left during the day. After 10.30 A.M., additional brigades moved forward, but Gregg and Thomas drove them back. At 3 o’clock P.M., another Federal column essayed to break the Confederate line, but Johnson and Starke rushed to aid the brigades of Hill, and a fearful slaughter was visited upon Pope’s divisions. After 5 P.M. were the divisions of Kearney and Stevens massed for a final assault. During ten hours of almost continuous battle against an increasing foe, the same small Confederate brigades held the field. The gallant and modest Gregg now sent this message: “Tell General Hill that my ammunition is exhausted but that I will hold my position with the bayonet.” As his Carolinians were forced backward, Thomas’s Georgians and Branch’s North Carolinians came to their aid. From rock to rock, from tree to tree, they retired, still offering courageous battle. The Virginians under Field and Early, the Georgfians under Lawton, and the Louisianians under Hays, rushed to the rescue and turned the Federal tide backward in complete defeat. During a portion of the time, the majority of the Confederates engaged in this struggle were without a cartridge. Pope’s brigades on this flank were completely shattered. In the centre, Lee defended his position against the power of Reynolds by a hot fire from Hood’s batteries, and at sunset he turned loose the war-dogs of Hood’s division in a forced reconnaissance against the Federal centre. King was driven back and Hood retained as battle-trophies one heavy gun and three flags.

The night of the 29th closed down upon the Confederate army in the position selected at midday. Defeat had been visited upon every assault made by Federal arms. While Pope telegraphed to Washington his claim of victory, Lee awaited the dawning of Saturday, August 30, in the full confidence of driving his foe across Bull Run. With absolute truth it may be asserted that Lee’s banner now floated over an army whose fighting qualities have never yet been surpassed on any field of war. Caesar’s Tenth Legion and Napoleon’s Guard were more than matched by the heroes who rested where they had fought, and at any moment were ready to spring to arms to beat back the foe. Pale with hunger and worn with long marching, the Confederate soldiers were still practically invincible. The two chief leaders, Lee and Jackson, had inspired their men to trust in the God of battles. As both chieftains closed their eyes that night in slumber, the whispered prayer was yet upon their lips. Along the Confederate line of battle, but chiefly in Jackson’s corps, when night had closed the strife, groups of veterans gathered themselves for united prayer.

By the chaplains, or by some ragged soldier, were these midnight devotions led. With the last petition to Heaven, the men betook themselves to their allotted posts ready for the battle of the morrow. Like Bruce’s men at Bannockburn, these embattled patriots were ready to give life for home and country:

Upon the spot where they have kneeled, These men will die or win the field.

As brilliant as the sun of Austerlitz arose the sun of the Second Manassas, August 30, 1862. Lee stood defiant near the Warrenton road, one half-mile west of Groveton, within the angle formed by his two wings. Across the rolling country to the left, as far as Sudley Church, the forests and uplands behind the unfinished railway were held by Jackson’s guns and muskets under A. P. Hill, Lawton, and Starke. Almost at a right angle to this left wing was Lee’s right wing, drawn out across the Warrenton turnpike and across the Manassas railroad as far as Dawkins’s Branch. Behind the heavy forests, Lee had here arrayed the brigades of Longstreet under Wilcox, Hood, Kemper, and D. R. Jones. R. H. Anderson’s six thousand muskets stood in the roadway as a reserve behind the Confederate centre. Nearly fifty thousand men stood ready to obey his orders, as Lee measured with his eye the triangular field of war. Eastward along the turnpike which equally divided the battle-territory, he saw the forest and the open ground separated into ridges and plateaus by the winding tributaries of Young’s Branch. Behind this screen of trees and hills he could hear the early rumbling of the enemy’s gun-carriages. Upon a ridge that marked the angle made by his two converging wings, Lee placed thirty-six guns under S. D. Lee
to sweep the plains and the heights in front of Jackson’s line.

Strange to record. Pope noticed the absence of Lee’s advanced skirmishers of the day before, and conceived the idea that the Confederate army was in full retreat toward the Bull Run Mountain. He therefore ordered his columns “in pursuit” along the Warrenton and Haymarket roads. Porter’s corps had been drawn from Dawkins’s Branch to Pope’s centre and was now thrust forward to lead the Federal advance. The defeat of Cold Harbor was fresh in Porter’s memory, and he did not believe in Lee’s retreat. Instead of hurrying forward in column. Porter formed his own corps in threefold line of battle; King’s division he arrayed on his right in seven lines of attack; the division of Reynolds was to render support at Porter’s left. Behind this host under Porter, the corps of Sigel and half the corps of Reno stood ready. In the dense wood that lies east of Groveton, and north of the Warrenton turnpike, Porter stationed this thunderbolt of war for an assault upon Lee’s left centre. Against the extreme Confederate left were massed the corps of Heintzelman and half of the two corps of McDowell and Reno. Pope was ready to throw his entire force against Lee’s left wing. In two lines of battle stood Jackson’s Ironsides ready for the attack.

Noonday looked down upon the brigades that were still moving forward to take position under Porter’s banner. The early morning had witnessed Heintzelman’s advance against the extreme Confederate left; A. P. Hill’s guns roared defiance, and Ricketts drew back. Against the Confederate centre Reynolds’s skirmishers had felt their way, and Federal artillery had volleyed and thundered, but Lee’s thirty-six guns visited severe repulse on all such distant advances. At 3 P.M. Porter sounded the signal to charge. Through the dense wood his men pressed forward; then across the open field, from the Dogan house to the railway cut, rushed Porter’s first blue-coated line. The old “Stonewall” division under Starke, and the division of Lawton were first to greet the Federal troops with the leaden messengers of death; heavy guns from the rearward heights poured their weight of iron upon Porter’s brave men. In Starke’s immediate front the conflict was fierce and almost hand to hand. The two Confederate lines were merged into one, and with tenacious grasp held the edge of the railroad excavation. Two flags waved defiance for thirty minutes within ten paces of each other; men were strewn upon the ground like leaves in autumn. Ammunition failed with a part of Jackson’s line, but these men of Virginia and of Louisiana, Johnson’s and Stafford’s brigades, gathered stones from the ground and flung them with deadly effect. Porter’s charge was checked by these stone missiles. Through the forest, farther to the Confederate left, stood the lines of Lawton and A. P. Hill engaged in similar fierce conflict.

While thus the storm of battle surged and roared. Porter’s reserve lines essayed to cross the open field to bring their comrades aid. Now it was that Lee’s central battalion of thirty-six guns with enfilading fire, carried death across the treeless plain in front of his left wing. Porter’s assault was visibly shaken by these guns. Bayonets, stones, and musket-balls, still preserved an impregnable front along Jackson’s line. Longstreet replied to Lee’s command to advance by opening an additional artillery fire upon Porter’s left rear. These cannon-shot had just begun to play when the Federal troops fell back in routed masses from the fire of Jackson and S. D. Lee. “Stonewall’s” brigades sprang to the charge in hot pursuit. Lee’s eye had already discerned the crisis of battle, and his order had gone to Longstreet to dash upon the Federal left. Longstreet’s soldiers themselves anticipated the word of command by moving forward on the run. In this magnificent charge Lee rode to the front through the storm of shells from the Federal artillery.

Longstreet closed in the Confederate right wing with vigour; across the hills he pushed batteries and brigades against the flank of the flying foe. Far in front of the extreme Confederate right, dashed Stuart with his horse artillery. Warren’s Federal brigade left a vast tribute of dead and wounded just east of Groveton; Schenck made gallant defence of the Bald Hill summit, but the Confederates swarmed up in front and flank and the knoll was won. Hood swept the turnpike eastward to the Stone House. Against this tide of Confederate victory, on his left, Pope’s reserves made final stand on the Henry Hill. Down-stream for more than a mile Jackson continued to push the Federal rout until darkness fell upon his brigades at the Carter House. Across the Bull Run, between Sudley and Stone Bridge, many Federal regiments had rushed in retreat. Darkness upreared a protecting wall about the demoralized Federal brigades, gathered in a mass on the Bull Run bluffs between the Henry and Robinson houses. Long before sunset, the Stone Bridge began to choke with the rush of fugitives; the coming darkness saw a turbid stream of defeated soldiers rolling back in rout to find refuge behind Franklin’s corps approaching from Alexandria. At dusk. Pope sounded the bugle of general retreat and fled in the night to his fortress at Centreville. The field of Saturday claimed from Pope’s army nearly twenty thousand men in dead, wounded, and prisoners. Since the first blow delivered by Jackson upon his rear, the Federal commander had lost thirty thousand men and thirty heavy guns, and stores and small arms innumerable. Lee had paid eight thousand men for the wondrous victory.

Through the rain and mud of the early morning of Sunday (August 31), Lee pushed his horsemen across Bull Run in search of Pope. Frowning upon Stuart from the Centreville heights were the heavy guns of the Federal army. Lee now despatched Jackson by Sudley Ford toward the Little River turnpike with orders to turn the enemy’s right and cut off his retreat to Washington. Jackson’s men were still eager in spirit, but their feet were battle-weary, and the heavy downpour of rain delayed their progress. Pope was resting in the arms of twenty thousand fresh troops, but when he learned of Jackson’s approach he issued orders for a retreat to Fairfax. At the same time he arrayed Reno’s corps across the turnpike to fight a rearguard battle; Heintzelman gave support to Reno. In the face of a blinding storm of rain, Jackson’s divisions fell upon this Federal force in the afternoon of Monday, September 1. In the midst of the rolling thunder and the lightning, bayonets were freely used in the place of firearms that would not fire. Jackson gave Pope a staggering blow, but the darkness checked his advance. Longstreet did not reach the field of Ox Hill in time to take part in the struggle.

Lee’s consideration for the family of a Federal officer was shown the following day when he sent the body of Kearney from the battle-field to Pope under a flag of truce. The night of September 2 found the shattered divisions of Pope’s army behind the fortifications at Washington. Lee at Chantilly was giving rest to the hungry veterans, who had outmarched their supply train. The pause gave the Confederates time to discover that they had worn the shoes from their feet in the hot pursuit of Banks, McClellan, and Pope since the days of the previous May and June. In a campaign of about four months, under Lee’s guidance, eighty thousand Confederate soldiers had driven two hundred thousand Federal troops beyond the borders of Virginia, with the exception of a small band that still troubled the lower valley.

 

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