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Stonewall Jackson Free Online Books | Stonewall Jackson in Civil War | Stonewall Jackson Biography | Stonewall Jackson Obituary | Stonewall Jackson's Last Words | Stonewall Jackson Birthday | Stonewall Jackson Quotes

STONEWALL JACKSON
Chapter XVI
Battle of Groveton and Second Manassas

Stonewall Jackson Index | Stonewall Jackson at West Point | Stonewall Jackson and Mexican War | Stonewall Jackson Lexington | Stonewall Jackson and Secession | Stonewall Jackson and Harper's Ferry | Stonewall Jackson at Battle of Bull Run | Stonewall Jackson at Romney | Stonewall Jackson at Kernstown | Battle of McDowell | Battle of Winchester | Battle of Cross Keys and Port Republic | Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign | The Seven Days Battle | Battle of Frayser's Farm and Malvern Hill | Battle of Cedar Run | Second Battle of Bull Run | Battle of Second Bull Run Conclusion | Battle of Harper's Ferry | Battle of Sharpsburg | Battle of Fredericksburg | The Army of Northern Virginia | Stonewall Jackson's Winter Quarters | Battle of Chancellorsville | Battle of Chancellorsville Conclusion

During the summer of 1862 the stirring events in the Western hemisphere attracted universal attention. All eyes were fixed on Richmond. The fierce fighting on the Chickahominy, and the defeat of the invaders, excited Europe hardly less than it did the North. The weekly mails were eagerly awaited. The newspapers devoted many columns to narrative, criticism, and prediction. The strategy and tactics of the rival armies were everywhere discussed, and the fact that almost every single item of intelligence came from a Northern source served only as a whet to curiosity. The vast territory controlled by the Confederacy was so completely cut off from the outer world that an atmosphere of mystery enveloped the efforts of the defence. “The Southern States,” it has been said, “stood in the attitude of a beleaguered fortress. The war was in truth a great siege; the fortress covered an area of more than 700,000 square miles, and the lines of investment around it extended over more than 10,000 miles.” Within the circle of Federal cannon and Federal cruisers only the imagination could penetrate. At rare intervals some daring blockade-runner brought a budget of Southern newspapers, or an enterprising correspondent succeeded in transmitting a dispatch from Richmond. But such glimpses of the situation within the cordon did little more than tantalise. The news was generally belated, and had often been long discounted by more recent events. Still, from Northern sources alone, it was abundantly clear that the weaker of the two belligerents was making a splendid struggle. Great names and great achievements loomed large through

MISGIVINGS OF THE NORTH  109

the darkness. The war at the outset, waged by ill-trained and ill-disciplined volunteers, commanded by officers unknown to fame, had attracted small notice from professional soldiers. After the Seven Days’ battles it assumed a new aspect. The men, despite their shortcomings, had displayed undeniable courage, and the strategy which had relieved Richmond recalled the master-strokes of Napoleon. It was evident that the Southern army was led by men of brilliant ability, and the names of Lee’s lieutenants were on every tongue. Foremost amongst these was Stonewall Jackson. Even the Northern newspapers made no scruple of expressing their admiration, and the dispatches of their own generals gave them constant opportunities of expatiating on his skill. During the first weeks of August, the reports from the front, whether from Winchester, from Fredericksburg, or from the Peninsula, betrayed the fear and uneasiness he inspired. The overthrow of Pope’s advanced guard at Cedar Run, followed by the unaccountable disappearance of the victorious army, was of a piece with the manœuvres in the Valley. What did this disappearance portend? Whither had the man of mystery betaken himself? Where would the next blow fall? “I don’t like Jackson’s movements,” wrote McClellan to Halleck; “he will suddenly appear when least expected.” This misgiving found many echoes. While Jackson was operating against Pope, McClellan had successfully completed the evacuation of Harrison’s Landing. Embarking his sick, he marched his five army corps to Fortress Monroe, observed by Lee’s patrols, but otherwise unmolested. The quiescence of the Confederates, however, brought no relief to the North. Stocks fell fast, and the premium on gold rose to sixteen per cent. For some days not a shot had been fired along the Rapidan. Pope’s army rested in its camps. Jackson had completely vanished. But the silence at the front was not considered a reassuring symptom.

If the Confederates had allowed McClellan to escape, it was very generally felt that they had done so only because they were preparing to crush Pope before he could be

MISGIVINGS OF THE NORTH  110

reinforced. “It is the fear of this operation,” wrote the Times Special Correspondent in the Northern States, “conducted by the redoubtable Stonewall Jackson, that has filled New York with uneasy forebodings. Wall Street does not ardently believe in the present good fortune or the future prospects of the Republic.”1

Neither the knowledge which McClellan possessed of his old West Point comrade, nor the instinct of the financiers, proved misleading. Jackson had already made his plans. Even before he had lured Pope forward to the Rapidan he had begun to plot his downfall. “When we were marching back from Cedar Run,” writes Major Hotchkiss, “and had passed Orange Court House on our way to Gordonsville, the general, who was riding in front of the staff, beckoned me to his aide. He at once entered into conversation, and said that as soon as we got back to camp he wished me to prepare maps of the whole country between Gordonsville and Washington, adding that he required several copies—I think five.

August 13   “This was about noon on Sunday, and as we were near camp I asked him if the map was to be begun immediately, knowing his great antipathy to doing anything on Sunday which was not a work of necessity. He replied that it was important to have it done at once.”2

August 14   The next day, August 14, the exact position of the Federal army was ascertained. The camps were north and east of Slaughter Mountain, and Jackson instructed Captain Boswell, his chief engineer, who had lived in the neighbourhood, to report on the best means of turning the enemy’s left flank and reaching Warrenton, thus intervening between Pope and Washington, or between Pope and Aquia Creek. The line of march recommended by Boswell led through Orange Court House to Pisgah Church, and crossing the Rapidan at Somerville Ford, ran by Lime Church and Stevensburg to Brandy Station.

August 15   On the night of the 15th, after two days’ rest, the three divisions moved from Gordonsville to Pisgah Church, and there halted to await reinforcements.

1  The Times, September 4, 1862.
2  Letter to the author.

THE COUNCIL OF WAR  111

These were already on their way. On the 13th General Lee had learned that Burnside, who had already left the Peninsula for Aquia Creek on the Potomac, was preparing to join Pope, and it was reported by a deserter that part of McClellan’s army had embarked on the transports at Harrison’s Landing. Inferring that the enemy had relinquished all active operations in the Peninsula, and that Pope would soon be reinforced by the Army of the Potomac, Lee resolved to take the offensive without delay. The campaign which Jackson had suggested more than a month before, when McClellan was still reeling under the effects of his defeat, and Pope’s army was not yet organised, was now to be begun. The same evening the railway conveyed Longstreet’s advanced brigade to Gordonsville, and with the exception of D. H. Hill’s and McLaws’ divisions, which remained to watch McClellan, the whole army fled.

On the 15th Lee met his generals in council. The map drawn by Captain Hotchkiss was produced, and the manœuvre which had suggested itself to Jackson was definitely ordered by the Commander-in-Chief. The Valley army, at dawn on the 18th, was to cross the Rapidan at Somerville Ford. Longstreet, preceded by Stuart, who was to cut the Federal communications in rear of Culpeper Court House, was to make the passage at Raccoon Ford. Jackson’s cavalry was to cover the left and front, and Anderson’s division was to form a general reserve. The movement was intended to be speedy. Only ambulances and ammunition waggons were to follow the troops. Baggage and supply trains were to be parked on the south side of the Rapidan, and the men were to carry three days’ cooked rations in their haversacks.

On Clark’s Mountain, a high hill near Pisgah Church, Jackson had established a signal station. The view from the summit embraced an extensive landscape. The ravages of war had not yet effaced its tranquil beauty, nor had the names of its bright rivers and thriving villages become household words. It was still unknown to history, a peaceful and pastoral district, remote from the beaten

POPE IN DANGER  112

tracks of trade and travel, and inhabited by a quiet and industrious people. To-day there are few regions which boast sterner or more heroic memories. To the right, rolling away in light and shadow for a score of miles, is the great forest of Spotsylvania, within whose gloomy depths lie the fields of Chancellorsville; where the breastworks of the Wilderness can still be traced; and on the eastern verge of which stand the grass-grown batteries of Fredericksburg. Northward, beyond the woods which hide the Rapidan, the eye ranges over the wide and fertile plains of Culpeper, with the green crest of Slaughter Mountain overlooking Cedar Run, and the dim levels of Brandy Station, the scene of the great cavalry battle,1 just visible beyond. Far away to the north-east the faint outline of a range of hills marks the source of Bull Run and the Manassas plateau, and to the west, the long rampart of the Blue Ridge, softened by distance, stands high above the Virginia plains.

August 17   On the afternoon of August 17, Pope’s forces seemed doomed to inevitable destruction. The Confederate army, ready to advance the next morning, was concentrated behind Clark’s Mountain, and Lee and Jackson, looking toward Culpeper, saw the promise of victory in the careless attitude of the enemy. The day was hot and still. Round the base of Slaughter Mountain, fifteen miles northward, clustered many thousands of tents, and the blue smoke of the camp-fires rose straight and thin in the sultry air. Regiments of infantry, just discernible through the glare, were marching and countermarching in various directions, and long waggon-trains were creeping slowly along the dusty roads. Near at hand, rising above the tree-tops, the Union colours showed that the outposts still held the river, and the flash of steel at the end of some woodland vista betrayed the presence of scouting party or vedette. But there were no symptoms of unusual excitement, no sign of working parties, of reinforcements for the advanced posts, of the construction of earthworks or abattis. Pope’s camps were scattered over a wide tract of

1  June 9, 1863.

POPE IN DANGER  113

country, his cavalry was idle, and it seemed absolutely certain that he was unconscious of the near neighbourhood of the Confederate army.

The inference was correct. The march to Pisgah Church had escaped notice. The Federals were unaware that Lee had arrived at Gordonsville, and they had as yet no reason to believe that there was the smallest danger of attack.

Between Raccoon and Locustdale fords, and stretching back to Culpeper Court House, 52,500 men—for Reno, with two divisions of Burnside’s army, 8,000 strong, had arrived from Fredericksburg—were in camp and bivouac. The front was protected by a river nearly a hundred yards wide, of which every crossing was held by a detachment, and Pope had reported that his position was so strong that it would be difficult to drive him from it. But he had not made sufficient allowance for the energy and ability of the Confederate leaders. His situation, in reality, was one of extreme danger. In ordering Pope to the Rapidan, and bidding him “fight like the devil’1 until McClellan should come up, Halleck made the same fatal error as Stanton, when he sent Shields up the Luray Valley in pursuit of Jackson. He had put an inferior force within reach of an enemy who held the interior lines, and had ordered two armies, separated by several marches, to effect their concentration under the fire of the enemy’s guns. And if Pope’s strategical position was bad, his tactical position was even worse. His left, covering Raccoon and Somerville Fords, was very weak. The main body of his army was massed on the opposite flank, several miles distant, astride the direct road from Gordonsville to Culpeper Court House, and he remained without the least idea, so late as the morning of the 18th, that the whole Confederate army was concentrated behind Clark’s Mountain, within six miles of his most vulnerable point. Aware that Jackson was based on Gordonsville, he seems to have been convinced that if he advanced at all, he would advance directly on Culpeper

1  O.R., vol. xii, part ii, p. 67. “It may have been fortunate for the Confederates,” says Longstreet, “that he was not instructed to fight like Jackson.”

POPE IN DANGER  114

Court House; and the move to Pisgah Church, which left Gordonsville unprotected, never entered into his calculations. A sudden attack against his left was the last contingency that he anticipated; and had the Confederates moved as Lee intended, there can be no question but that the Federal army, deprived of all supplies, cut off from Washington, and forced to fight on ground where it was unprepared, would have been disastrously defeated.

But it was not to be. The design was thwarted by one of those petty accidents which play so large a part in war. Stuart had been instructed to lead the advance. The only brigade at his disposal had not yet come up into line, but a message had been sent to appoint a rendezvous, and it was expected to reach Verdiersville, five miles from Raccoon Ford, on the night of the 17th. Stuart’s message, however, was not sufficiently explicit. Nothing was said of the exigencies of the situation; and the brigadier, General Fitzhugh Lee, not realising the importance of reaching Verdiersville on the 17th, marched by a circuitous route in order to replenish his supplies. At nightfall he was still absent, and the omission of a few words in a simple order cost the Confederates dear. Moreover, Stuart himself, who had ridden to Verdiersville with a small escort, narrowly escaped capture. His plumed hat, with which the whole army was familiar, as well as his adjutant-general and his dispatch-box, fell into the hands of a Federal reconnoitring party; and among the papers brought to Pope was found a letter from General Lee, disclosing the fact that Jackson had been strongly reinforced.

In consequence of the absence of Fitzhugh Lee’s brigade, the movement was postponed until the morning of the 20th. The Commander-in-Chief was of opinion that the horses, exhausted by their long march, would require some rest before they were fit for the hard work he proposed for them. Jackson, for once in opposition, urged that the movement should go forward. His signal officer on Clark’s Mountain reported that the enemy was quiet, and even extending his right up stream. The location of the Federal divisions had been already ascertained. The

JACKSON’S ADVICE OVERRULED  115

cavalry was not required to get information. There was no need, therefore, to wait till Fitzhugh Lee’s brigade was fit for movement. Jackson had, with his own command, a sufficient number of squadrons to protect the front and flanks of the whole army; and the main object was not to cut the enemy’s communications, but to turn his left and annihilate him. Pope was still isolated, still unconscious of his danger, and the opportunity might never return.

The suggestion, however, was overruled, and “it was fortunate,” says one of Pope’s generals, “that Jackson was not in command of the Confederates on the night of August 17; for the superior force of the enemy must have overwhelmed us, if we could not have escaped, and escape on that night was impossible.”1

It is probable, however, that other causes induced General Lee to hold his hand. There is good reason to believe that it was not only the cavalry that was unprepared. The movement from Richmond had been rapid, and both vehicles and supplies had been delayed. Nor were all the generals so avaricious of time as Jackson. It was impossible, it was urged, to move without some food in the waggons. Jackson replied that the enemy had a large magazine at Brandy Station, which might easily be captured, and that the intervening district promised an abundance of ripening corn and green apples. It was decided, however, that such fare, on which, it may be said, the Confederates learned afterwards to subsist for many days in succession, was too meagre for the work in hand. Jackson, runs the story, groaned so audibly when Lee pronounced in favour of postponement, that Longstreet called the attention of the Commander-in-Chief to his apparent disrespect.

August 18   Be this as it may, had it been possible to adopt Jackson’s advice, the Federal army would have been caught in the execution of a difficult manœuvre. On the morning of the 18th, about the very hour that the advance should have begun, Pope was informed by a spy that the Confederate army was assembled behind Clark’s

1  General George H. Gordon. The Army of Virginia, p. 9.

POPE ESCAPES  116

Mountain and the neighbouring hills; that the artillery horses were harnessed, and that the troops were momentarily expecting orders to cross the river and strike his rear. He at once made preparations for retreat. The trains moved off to seek shelter behind the Rappahannock, and the army followed, leaving the cavalry in position, and marching as follows:—

Reno by Stevensburg to Kelly’s Ford.
Banks and McDowell by Culpeper Court House and
    Brandy Station to the Rappahannock railway bridge.
Sigel by Rixeyville to Sulphur Springs.

August 19   The march was slow and halts were frequent. The long lines of waggons blocked every road, and on the morning of August 19 the troops were still at some distance from the Rappahannock, in neither condition nor formation to resist a resolute attack.

August 20   The movement, however, was not discovered by the Confederates until it had been more than four-and-twenty hours in progress. General Lee, on August 19, had taken his stand on Clark’s Mountain, but the weather was unfavourable for observation. Late in the afternoon the haze lifted, and almost at the same moment the remaining tents of the Federal army, fifteen miles away to the north-west, suddenly vanished from the landscape, and great clouds of dust, rising high above the woods, left it no longer doubtful that Pope had taken the alarm. It was too late to interfere, and the sun set on an army baffled of its prey. In the Confederate councils there was some dismay, among the troops much heart-burning. Every hour that was wasted brought nearer the junction of Pope and McClellan, and the soldiers were well aware that a most promising opportunity, which it was worth while living on green corn and apples to secure, had been allowed to slip. Nevertheless, the pursuit was prompt. By the light of the rising moon the advanced guards plunged thigh-deep into the clear waters of the Rapidan, and the whole army crossed by Raccoon and Somerville Fords. Stuart, with Robertson’s and Fitzhugh Lee’s brigades, pressed forward on the traces

POPE ESCAPES  117

of the retreating foe. Near Brandy Station the Federal cavalry made a stubborn stand. The Confederates, covering a wide front, had become separated. Robertson had marched through Stevensburg, Fitzhugh Lee on Kelly’s Ford, an interval of six miles dividing the two brigades; and when Robertson was met by Bayard’s squadrons, holding a skirt of woods with dismounted men, it was several hours before a sufficient force could be assembled to force the road. Towards evening two of Fitzhugh Lee’s regiments came up, and the Confederates were now concentrated in superior numbers. A series of vigorous charges, delivered by successive regiments on a front of fours, for the horsemen were confined to the road, hurried the retreating Federals across the Rappahannock; but the presence of infantry and guns near the railway bridge placed an effective barrier in the way of further pursuit. Before nightfall Jackson’s advanced guard reached Brandy Station, after a march of twenty miles, and Longstreet bivouacked near Kelly’s Ford.

The Rappahannock, a broad and rapid stream, with banks high and well-timbered, now rolled between the hostile armies. Pope, by his timely retreat, had gained a position where he could be readily reinforced, and although the river, in consequence of the long drought, had much dwindled from its usual volume, his front was perfectly secure.

The situation with which the Confederate commander had now to deal was beset by difficulties. The delay from August 18 to August 20 had been most unfortunate. The Federals were actually nearer Richmond than the Army of Northern Virginia, and if McClellan, landing as Burnside had done at Aquia Creek, were to move due south through Fredericksburg, he would find the capital but feebly garrisoned. It was more probable, however, that he would reinforce Pope, and Lee held fast to his idea of crushing his enemies in detail. Aquia Creek was only thirty-five miles’ march from the Rappahannock, but the disembarkation with horses, trains, and artillery must needs be a lengthy process, and it might still be possible, by skilful and swift

ON THE RAPPAHANNOCK  118

manœuvres, to redeem the time which had been already lost. But the Federal position was very strong.

August 21   Early on the 21st it was ascertained that Pope’s whole army was massed on the left bank of the Rappahannock, extending from Kelly’s Ford to Hazel Run, and that a powerful artillery crowned the commanding bluffs. To turn the line of the river from the south was hardly practicable. The Federal cavalry was vigilant, and Pope would have quietly fallen back on Washington. A turning movement from the north was more promising, and during the day Stuart, supported by Jackson, made vigorous efforts to find a passage across the river. Covered by a heavy fire of artillery, the squadrons drove in a regiment and a battery holding Beverley Ford, and spread their patrols over the country on the left bank. It was soon evident, however, that the ground was unsuitable for attack, and Stuart, menaced by a strong force of infantry, withdrew his troopers across the stream. Nothing further was attempted. Jackson went into bivouac near St. James’s Church, and Longstreet closed in upon his right.

August 22   The next morning, in accordance with Lee’s orders to “seek a more favourable place to cross higher up the river, and thus gain the enemy’s right,” Jackson, still preceded by Stuart, and concealing his march as far as possible in the woods, moved towards the fords near Warrenton Springs. Longstreet, meanwhile, marched towards the bridge at Rappahannock Station, where the enemy had established a tête-de-pont, and bringing his guns into action at every opportunity, made brisk demonstrations along the river.

Late in the afternoon, after an attack on his rear-guard at Welford’s Mill had been repulsed by Trimble, reinforced by Hood, Jackson, under a lowering sky, reached the ruined bridge at the Sulphur Springs. Only a few of the enemy’s cavalry had been descried, and he at once made preparations to effect the passage of the Rappahannock. The 13th Georgia dashed through the ford, and occupied the cottages of the little watering-place. Early’s brigade and two batteries crossed by an old mill-dam, a mile below, and

ON THE RAPPAHANNOCK  119

took post on the ridge beyond. But heavy rain had begun to fall; the night was closing in; and the river, swollen by the storms in the mountains, was already rising. The difficulties of the passage increased every moment, and the main body of the Valley army was ordered into bivouac on the western bank. It was not, however, the darkness of the ford or the precarious footing of the mill-dam that held Jackson back from reinforcing his advanced guard, but the knowledge that these dangerous roadways would soon be submerged by a raging torrent. Early was, indeed, in peril, but it was better that one brigade should take its chance of escape than that one half the column should be cut off from the remainder.

August 23   Next morning the pioneers were ordered to repair the bridge, while Longstreet, feinting strongly against the tête-de-pont, gave Pope occupation. Early’s troops, under cover of the woods, moved northward to the protection of a creek named Great Run, and although the Federal cavalry kept close watch upon him, no attack was made till nightfall. This was easily beaten back; and Jackson, anxious to keep the attention of the enemy fixed on this point, sent over another brigade.

August 24   At dawn on the 24th, however, as the Federals were reported to be advancing in force, the detachment was brought back to the Confederate bank. The men had been for two days and a night without food or shelter. It was in vain that Early, after the bridge had been restored, had requested to be withdrawn. Jackson sent Lawton to reinforce him with the curt message: “Tell General Early to hold his position;” and although the generals grumbled at their isolation, Pope was effectually deluded into the conviction that a serious attack had been repulsed, and that no further attempt to turn his right was to be immediately apprehended. The significance of Jackson’s action will be seen hereafter.

While Jackson was thus mystifying the enemy, both Longstreet and Stuart had been hard at work. The former, after an artillery contest of several hours’ duration, had driven the enemy from his tête-de-pont on the railway, and had burnt the bridge. The latter, on the morning of the

CAPTURE OF POPE’S BAGGAGE  120

22nd, had moved northward with the whole of the cavalry, except two regiments, and had ridden round the Federal right. Crossing the Rappahannock at Waterloo Bridge and Hart’s Mills, he marched eastward without meeting a single hostile scout, and as evening fell the column of 1,500 men and two pieces of artillery clattered into Warrenton. The troopers dismounted in the streets. The horses were fed and watered, and while the officers amused themselves by registering their names, embellished with fantastic titles, at the hotel, Stuart’s staff, questioning the throng of women and old men, elicited important information. None of the enemy’s cavalry had been seen in the vicinity for some days, and Pope’s supply trains were parked at Catlett’s Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railway, ten miles south-east. After an hour’s rest the force moved on, and passing through Auburn village was caught by the same storm that had cut off Early. The narrow roads became running streams, and the creeks which crossed the line of march soon rose to the horses’ withers. But this was the very condition of the elements most favourable for the enterprise. The enemy’s vedettes and patrols, sheltering from the fury of the storm, were captured, one after another, by the advanced guard, and the two brigades arrived at Catlett’s Station without the Federals receiving the least notice of their approach.

A moment’s halt, a short consultation, a silent movement forward, and the astonished sentinels were overpowered. Beyond were the encampments and the trains, guarded by 1,500 infantry and 500 horsemen. The night was dark—the darkest, said Stuart, that he had ever known. Without a guide concerted action seemed impossible. The rain still fell in torrents, and the raiders, soaked to the skin, could only grope aimlessly in the gloom. But just at this moment a negro was captured who recognised Stuart, and who knew where Pope’s baggage and horses were to be found. He was told to lead the way, and Colonel W. H. F. Lee, a son of the Commander-in-Chief, was ordered to follow with his regiment. The guide

CAPTURE OF POPE’S BAGGAGE  121

led the column towards the headquarter tents. “Then there mingled with the noise of the rain upon the canvas and the roar of the wind in the forest the rushing sound of many horsemen, of loud voices, and clashing sabres.” One of Pope’s staff officers, together with the uniform and horses of the Federal commander, his treasure chest, and his personal effects, fell into the hands of the Confederates, and the greater part of the enemy’s troops, suddenly alarmed in the deep darkness, dispersed into the woods. Another camp was quickly looted, and the 1st and 5th Virginia Cavalry were sent across the railway, riding without accident, notwithstanding the darkness, over a high embankment with deep ditches on either side. But the Federal guards had now rallied under cover, and the attack on the railway waggons had to be abandoned. Another party had taken in hand the main object of the expedition, the destruction of the railway bridge over Cedar Run. The force which should have defended it was surprised and scattered. The timbers, however, were by this time thoroughly saturated, and only a few axes had been discovered. Some Federal skirmishers maintained a heavy fire from the opposite bank, and it was impossible to complete the work. The telegraph was more easily dealt with; and shortly before daylight on the 23rd, carrying with him 300 prisoners, including many officers, Stuart withdrew by the light of the blazing camp, and after a march of sixty miles in six-and-twenty hours, reached the Sulphur Springs before evening.

The most important result of this raid was the capture of Pope’s dispatch book, containing most detailed information as to his strength, dispositions, and designs; referring to the reinforcements he expected, and disclosing his belief that the line of the Rappahannock was no longer tenable. But the enterprise had an indirect effect upon the enemy’s calculations, which was not without bearing on the campaign. Pope believed that Stuart’s advance on Catlett’s Station had been made in connection with Jackson’s attempt to cross at Sulphur Springs; and the retreat of the cavalry, combined with that of Early, seemed

LEE’S PLAN  122

to indicate that the movement to turn his right had been definitely abandoned.

The Federal commander was soon to be undeceived. Thrice had General Lee been baulked. The enemy, who should have been annihilated on August 19, had gained six days’ respite. On the 20th he had placed himself behind the Rappahannock. On the 22nd the rising waters forbade Jackson’s passage at the Sulphur Springs; and now, on the afternoon of the 24th, the situation was still unchanged. Disregarding Longstreet’s demonstrations, Pope had marched northward, keeping pace with Jackson, and his whole force was concentrated on the great road which runs from the Sulphur Springs through Warrenton and Gainesville to Washington and Alexandria. He had answered move by countermove. Hitherto, except in permitting Early to recross the river, he had made no mistake, and he had gained time. He had marched over thirty miles, and executed complicated manœuvres, without offering the Confederates an opening. His position near the Sulphur Springs was as strong as that which he had left on the lower reaches near the railway bridge. Moreover, the correspondence in his dispatch book disclosed the fact that a portion at least of McClellan’s army had landed at Aquia Creek, and was marching to Bealtown;1 that a strong force, drawn from the Kanawha Valley and elsewhere, was assembling at Washington; and that 150,000 men might be concentrated within a few days on the Rappahannock. Lee, on learning McClellan’s destination, immediately asked that the troops which had been retained at Richmond should be sent to join him. Mr. Davis assented, but it was not till the request had been repeated and time lost that the divisions of D. H. Hill and McLaws’, two brigades of infantry, under J. G. Walker, and Hampton’s cavalry

1  Between August 21 and 25 Pope received the following reinforcements for the Army of the Potomac, raising his strength to over 80,000 men:

Third CorpsHeintzleman Hooker’s Division
Kearney’s Division
10,000
Fifth CorpsPorter Morell’s Division
Sykes’ Division
10,000
Pennsylvania Reserves. Reynolds8,000

LEE’S PLAN  123

brigade were ordered up. Yet these reinforcements only raised Lee’s numbers to 75,000 men, and they were from eighty to a hundred miles distant by an indifferent railroad.

Nor was it possible to await their arrival. Instant action was imperative. But what action was possible? A defensive attitude could only result in the Confederate army being forced back by superior strength; and retreat on Richmond would be difficult, for the Federals held the interior lines. The offensive seemed out of the question. Pope’s position was more favourable than before. His army was massed, and reinforcements were close at hand. His right flank was well secured. The ford at Sulphur Springs and the Waterloo Bridge were both in his possession; north of the Springs rose the Bull Run Mountains, a range covered with thick forest, and crossed by few roads; and his left was protected by the march of McClellan’s army corps from Aquia Creek. Even the genius of a Napoleon might well have been baffled by the difficulties in the way of attack. But there were men in the Confederate army to whom overwhelming numbers and strong positions were merely obstacles to be overcome.

On August 24 Lee removed his headquarters to Jefferson, where Jackson was already encamped, and on the same evening, with Pope’s captured correspondence before them, the two generals discussed the problem. What occurred at this council of war was never made public. To use Lee’s words: “A plan of operations was determined on;” but by whom it was suggested there is none to tell us. “Jackson was so reticent,” writes Dr. McGuire, “that it was only by accident that we ever found out what he proposed to do, and there is no staff officer living (1897) who could throw any light on this matter. The day before we started to march round Pope’s army I saw Lee and Jackson conferring together. Jackson—for him—was very much excited, drawing with the toe of his boot a map in the sand, and gesticulating in a much more earnest way than he was in the habit of doing. General Lee was simply listening, and after Jackson had got through, he nodded his head, as if

LEE’S PLAN  124

acceding to some proposal. I believe, from what occurred afterwards, that Jackson suggested the movement as it was made, but I have no further proof than the incident I have just mentioned.”1 It is only certain that we have record of few enterprises of greater daring than that which was then decided on; and no matter from whose brain it emanated, on Lee fell the burden of the responsibility; on his shoulders, and on his alone, rested the honour of the Confederate arms, the fate of Richmond, the independence of the South; and if we may suppose, so consonant was the design proposed with the strategy which Jackson had already practised, that it was to him its inception was due, it is still to Lee that we must assign the higher merit. It is easy to conceive. It is less easy to execute. But to risk cause and country, name and reputation, on a single throw, and to abide the issue with unflinching heart, is the supreme exhibition of the soldier’s fortitude.

Lee’s decision was to divide his army. Jackson, marching northwards, was to cross the Bull Run Mountains at Thoroughfare Gap, ten miles as the crow flies from the enemy’s right, and strike the railway which formed Pope’s line of supply. The Federal commander, who would meanwhile be held in play by Longstreet, would be compelled to fall back in a north-easterly direction to save his communications, and thus be drawn away from McClellan. Longstreet would then follow Jackson, and it was hoped that the Federals, disconcerted by these movements, might be attacked in detail or forced to fight at a disadvantage. The risk, however, was very great.

An army of 55,000 men was about to march into a region occupied by 100,000,2 who might easily be reinforced to 150,000; and it was to march in two wings,

1  Letter to the author.
2  Pope, 80,000; Washington and Aquia Creek, 20,000. Lee was well aware, from the correspondence which Stuart had captured, if indeed he had not already inferred it, that Pope had been strictly enjoined to cover Washington, and that he was dependent on the railway for supplies. There was not the slightest fear of his falling back towards Aquia Creek to join McClellan.

THE GREAT MARCH  125

separated from each other by two days’ march. If Pope were to receive early warning of Jackson’s march, he might hurl his whole force on one or the other. Moreover, defeat, with both Pope and McClellan between the Confederates and Richmond, spelt ruin and nothing less. But as Lee said after the war, referring to the criticism evoked by manœuvres, in this as in other of his campaigns, which were daring even to rashness, “Such criticism is obvious, but the disparity of force between the contending forces rendered the risks unavoidable.”1 In the present case the only alternative was an immediate retreat; and retreat, so long as the enemy was not fully concentrated, and there was a chance of dealing with him in detail, was a measure which neither Lee nor Jackson was ever willing to advise.

On the evening of the 24th Jackson began his preparations for the most famous of his marches. His troops were quietly withdrawn from before the Sulphur Springs, and Longstreet’s division, unobserved by the Federals, took their place. Captain Boswell was ordered to report on the most direct and hidden route to Manassas Junction, and the three divisions—Ewell’s, Hill’s, and the Stonewall, now commanded by Taliaferro—assembled near Jefferson. Three days’ cooked rations were to be carried in the haversacks, and a herd of cattle, together with the green corn standing in the fields, was relied upon for subsistence until requisition could be made on the Federal magazines. The troops marched light. Knapsacks were left behind. Tin cans and a few frying-pans formed the only camp equipment, and many an officer’s outfit consisted of a few badly baked biscuits and a handful of salt.

August 26   Long before dawn the divisions were afoot. The men were hungry, and their rest had been short; but they were old acquaintances of the morning star, and to march while the east was still grey had become a matter of routine. But as their guides led northward, and the sound of the guns, opening along the Rappahannock, grew fainter and fainter, a certain excitement began to pervade the column. Something mysterious was in the air.

The Army of Northern Virginia, Colonel Allan, p. 200.

THE GREAT MARCH  126

What their movement portended not the shrewdest of the soldiers could divine; but they recalled their marches in the Valley and their inevitable results, and they knew instinctively that a surprise on a still larger scale was in contemplation. The thought was enough. Asking no questions, and full of enthusiasm, they followed with quick step the leader in whom their confidence had become so absolute. The flood had subsided on the Upper Rappahannock, and the divisions forded it at Hinson’s Mill, unmolested and apparently unobserved. Without halting it pressed on, Boswell with a small escort of cavalry leading the way. The march led first by Amissville, thence north to Orleans, beyond Hedgeman’s River, and thence to Salem, a village on the Manassas Gap Railroad. Where the roads diverged from the shortest line the troops took to the fields. Guides were stationed by the advanced guard at each gap and gate which marked the route. Every precaution was taken to conceal the movement. The roads in the direction of the enemy were watched by cavalry, and so far as possible the column was directed through woods and valleys. The men, although they knew nothing of their destination, whether Winchester, or Harper’s Ferry, or even Washington itself, strode on mile after mile, through field and ford, in the fierce heat of the August noon, without question or complaint. “Old Jack” had asked them to do their best, and that was enough to command their most strenuous efforts.

Near the end of the day Jackson rode to the head of the leading brigade, and complimented the officers on the fine condition of the troops and the regularity of the march. They had made more than twenty miles, and were still moving briskly, well closed up, and without stragglers. Then, standing by the wayside, he watched his army pass. The sun was setting, and the rays struck full on his familiar face, brown with exposure, and his dusty uniform. Ewell’s division led the way, and when the men saw their general, they prepared to salute him with their usual greeting. But as they began to cheer he raised his hand to stop them, and the word passed down the column, “Don’t shout, boys, the

THE GREAT MARCH  127

Yankees will hear us;” and the soldiers contented themselves with swinging their caps in mute acclamation. When the next division passed a deeper flush spread over Jackson’s face. Here were the men he had so often led to triumph, the men he had trained himself, the men of the Valley, of the First Manassas, of Kernstown, and McDowell. The Stonewall regiments were before him, and he was unable to restrain them; devotion such as theirs was not to be silenced at such a moment, and the wild battle-yell of his own brigade set his pulses tingling. For once a breach of discipline was condoned. “It is of no use,” said Jackson, turning to his staff, “you see I can’t stop them;” and then, with a sudden access of intense pride in his gallant veterans, he added, half to himself, “Who could fail to win battles with such men as these?”

It was midnight before the column halted near Salem village, and the men, wearied outright with their march of six-and-twenty miles, threw themselves on the ground by the piles of muskets, without even troubling to unroll their blankets. So far the movement had been entirely successful. Not a Federal had been seen, and none appeared during the warm midsummer night. Yet the soldiers were permitted scant time for rest. Once more they were aroused while the stars were bright; and, half awake, snatching what food they could, they stumbled forward through the darkness.

August 26   As the cool breath of the morning rose about them, the dark forests of the Bull Run Mountains became gradually visible in the faint light of the eastern sky, and the men at last discovered whither their general was leading them. With the knowledge, which spread quickly through the ranks, that they were making for the communications of the boaster Pope, the regiments stepped out with renewed energy. “There was no need for speech, no breath to spare if there had been—only the shuffling tramp of marching feet, the rumbling of wheels, the creak and clank of harness and accoutrements, with an occasional order, uttered under the breath, and always the same: ‘Close up, men! Close up!’ ”1

Battles and Leaders, vol. ii, p. 533.

THE GREAT MARCH  128

Through Thoroughfare Gap, a narrow gorge in the Bull Run range, with high cliffs, covered with creepers and crowned with pines on either hand, the column wound steadily upwards; and, gaining the higher level, the troops looked down on the open country to the eastward. Over a vast area of alternate field and forest, bounded by distant uplands, the shadows of the clouds were slowly sailing. Issuing from the mouth of the pass, and trending a little to the south-east, ran the broad high-road, passing through two tiny hamlets, Haymarket and Gainesville, and climbing by gentle gradients to a great bare plateau, familiar to the soldiers of Bull Run under the name of Manassas Plains. At Gainesville this road was crossed by another, which, lost in dense woods, appeared once more on the open heights to the far north-east, where the white buildings of Centreville glistened in the sunshine. The second road was the Warrenton and Alexandria highway, the direct line of communication between Pope’s army and Washington, and it is not difficult to divine the anxiety with which it was scrutinised by Jackson. If his march had been detected, a far superior force might already be moving to intercept him. At any moment the news might come in that the Federal army was rapidly approaching; and even were that not the case, it seemed hardly possible that the Confederate column, betrayed by the dust, could escape the observation of passing patrols or orderlies. But not a solitary scout was visible; no movement was reported from the direction of Warrenton; and the troops pressed on, further and further round the Federal rear, further and further from Lee and Longstreet. The cooked rations which they carried had been consumed or thrown away; there was no time for the slaughter and distribution of the cattle; but the men took tribute from the fields and orchards, and green corn and green apples were all the morning meal that many of them enjoyed. At Gainesville the column was joined by Stuart, who had maintained a fierce artillery fight at Waterloo Bridge the previous day; and then, slipping quietly away under cover of the darkness, had marched at two in the morning to cover

THE JUNCTION CAPTURED  129

Jackson’s flank. The sun was high in the heavens, and still the enemy made no sign. Munford’s horsemen, forming the advanced guard, had long since reached the Alexandria turnpike, sweeping up all before them, and neither patrols nor orderlies had escaped to carry the news to Warrenton.

So the point of danger was safely passed, and thirteen miles in rear of Pope’s headquarters, right across the communications he had told his troops to disregard, the long column swung swiftly forward in the noonday heat. Not a sound, save the muffled roll of many wheels, broke the stillness of the tranquil valley; only the great dust cloud, rolling always eastward up the slopes of the Manassas plateau, betrayed the presence of war.

Beyond Gainesville Jackson took the road which led to Bristoe Station, some seven miles south of Manassas Junction. Neither the success which had hitherto accompanied his movement, nor the excitement incident on his situation, had overbalanced his judgment. From Gainesville the Junction might have been reached in little more than an hour’s march; and prudence would have recommended a swift dash at the supply depôt, swift destruction, and swift escape. But it was always possible that Pope might have been alarmed, and the railroad from Warrenton Junction supplied him with the means of throwing a strong force of infantry rapidly to his rear. In order to obstruct such a movement Jackson had determined to seize Bristoe Station. Here, breaking down the railway bridge over Broad Run, and establishing his main body in an almost impregnable position behind the stream, he could proceed at his leisure with the destruction of the stores at Manassas Junction. The advantages promised by this manœuvre more than compensated for the increased length of the march.

The sun had not yet set when the advanced guard arrived within striking distance of Bristoe Station. Munford’s squadrons, still leading the way, dashed upon the village. Ewell followed in hot haste, and a large portion of the guard, consisting of two companies, one of cavalry and one of infantry, was immediately captured.

THE JUNCTION CAPTURED  130

A train returning empty from Warrenton Junction to Alexandria darted through the station under a heavy fire.1 The line was then torn up, and two trains which followed in the same direction as the first were thrown down a high embankment. A fourth, scenting danger ahead, moved back before it reached the break in the road. The column had now closed up, and it was already dark. The escape of the two trains was most unfortunate. It would soon be known, both at Alexandria and Warrenton, that Manassas Junction was in danger. The troops had marched nearly five-and-twenty miles, but if the object of the expedition was to be accomplished, further exertions were absolutely necessary. Trimble, energetic as ever, volunteered with two regiments, the 21st Georgia and 21st North Carolina, to move on Manassas Junction. Stuart was placed in command, and without a moment’s delay the detachment moved northward through the woods. The night was hot and moonless. The infantry moved in order of battle, the skirmishers in advance; and pushing slowly forward over a broken country, it was nearly midnight before they reached the Junction. Half a mile from the depôt their advance was greeted by a salvo of shells. The Federal garrison, warned by the fugitives from Bristoe Station, were on the alert; but so harmless was their fire that Trimble’s men swept on without a check. The two regiments, one on either side of the railroad, halted within a hundred yards of the Federal guns. The countersign was passed down the ranks, and the bugles sounded the charge. The Northern gunners, without waiting for the onset, fled through the darkness, and two batteries, each with its full complement of guns and waggons, became the prize of the Confederate infantry. Stuart, coming up on the flank, rode down the fugitives. Over 300 prisoners were taken, and the remainder of the garrison streamed northward through the deserted camps. The results of

1  The report received at Alexandria from Manassas Junction ran as follows: “No. 6 train, engine Secretary, was fired into at Bristoe by a party of cavalry, some 500 strong. They had piled ties on the track, but the engine threw them off. Secretary is completely riddled by bullets.”

JACKSON’S SITUATION  131

this attack more than compensated for the exertions the troops had undergone. Only 15 Confederates had been wounded, and the supplies on which Pope’s army, whether it was intended to move against Longstreet or merely to hold the line of the Rappahannock, depended both for food and ammunition were in Jackson’s hands.

August 27   The next morning Hill’s and Taliaferro’s divisions joined Trimble. Ewell remained at Bristoe; cavalry patrols were sent out in every direction, and Jackson, riding to Manassas, saw before him the reward of his splendid march. Streets of warehouses, stored to overflowing, had sprung up round the Junction. A line of freight cars, two miles in length, stood upon the railway. Thousands of barrels, containing flour, pork, and biscuit, covered the neighbouring fields. Brand-new ambulances were packed in regular rows. Field-ovens, with the fires still smouldering, and all the paraphernalia of a large bakery, attracted the wondering gaze of the Confederate soldiery; while great pyramids of shot and shell, piled with the symmetry of an arsenal, testified to the profusion with which the enemy’s artillery was supplied.

It was a strange commentary on war. Washington was but a long day’s march to the north; Warrenton, Pope’s headquarters, but twelve miles distant to the south-west; and along the Rappahannock, between Jackson and Lee, stood the tents of a host which outnumbered the whole Confederate army. No thought of danger had entered the minds of those who selected Manassas Junction as the depôt of the Federal forces. Pope had been content to leave a small guard as a protection against raiding cavalry. Halleck, concerned only with massing the whole army on the Rappahannock, had used every effort to fill the storehouses. If, he thought, there was one place in Virginia where the Stars and Stripes might be displayed in full security, that place was Manassas Junction; and here, as nowhere else, the wealth of the North had been poured out with a prodigality such as had never been seen in war. To feed, clothe, and equip the Union armies no expenditure was

JACKSON’S SITUATION  132

deemed extravagant. For the comfort and well-being of the individual soldier the purse-strings of the nation were freely loosed. No demand, however preposterous, was disregarded. The markets of Europe were called upon to supply the deficiencies of the States; and if money could have effected the re-establishment of the Union, the war would have already reached a triumphant issue. But the Northern Government had yet to learn that the accumulation of men, materiel, and supplies is not in itself sufficient for success. Money alone cannot provide good generals, a trained staff, or an efficient cavalry; and so on this August morning 20,000 ragged Confederates, the soldiers of a country which ranked as the poorest of nations, had marched right round the rear of the Federal army, and were now halted in undisturbed possession of all that made that army an effective force.

Few generals have occupied a position so commanding as did Jackson on the morning of August 27. His enemies would henceforward have to dance while he piped. It was Jackson, and not Pope, who was to dictate the movements of the Federal army. It was impossible that the latter could now maintain its position on the Rappahannock, and Lee’s strategy had achieved its end. The capture of Manassas Junction, however, was only the first step in the campaign. Pope, to restore his communications with Alexandria, would be compelled to fall back; but before he could be defeated the two Confederate wings must be united, and the harder part of the work would devolve on Jackson. The Federals, at Warrenton, were nearer by five miles to Thoroughfare Gap, his shortest line of communication with Lee and Longstreet, than he was himself. Washington held a large garrison, and the railway was available for the transit of the troops. The fugitives from Manassas must already have given the alarm, and at any moment the enemy might appear.

If there were those in the Confederate ranks who considered the manœuvres of their leader overbold, their misgivings were soon justified.

THE SPOILS OF WAR  133

A train full of soldiers from Warrenton Junction put back on finding Ewell in possession of Bristoe Station; but a more determined effort was made from the direction of Alexandria. So early as seven o’clock a brigade of infantry, accompanied by a battery, detrained on the north bank of Bull Run, and advanced in battle order against the Junction.1 The Federals, unaware that the depôt was held in strength, expected to drive before them a few squadrons of cavalry. But when several batteries opened a heavy fire, and heavy columns advanced against their flanks, the men broke in flight towards the bridge. The Confederate infantry followed rapidly, and two Ohio regiments, which had just arrived from the Kanawha Valley, were defeated with heavy loss. Fitzhugh Lee, who had fallen back before the enemy’s advance, was then ordered in pursuit. The cars and railway bridge were destroyed; and during the day the brigade followed the fugitives as far as Burke’s Station, only twelve miles from Alexandria.

This feeble attack appears to have convinced Jackson that his danger was not pressing. It was evident that the enemy had as yet no idea of his strength. Stuart’s cavalry watched every road; Ewell held a strong position on Broad Run, barring the direct approach from Warrenton Junction, and it was determined to give the wearied soldiers the remainder of the day for rest and pillage. It was impossible to carry away even a tithe of the stores, and when an issue of rations had been made, the bakery set working, and the liquor placed under guard, the regiments were let loose on the magazines. Such an opportunity occurs but seldom in the soldiers’ service, and the hungry Confederates were not the men to let it pass. “Weak and haggard from their diet of green corn and apples, one can well imagine,” says Gordon, “with what surprise their eyes opened upon the contents of the sutlers’ stores, containing an amount and

1  These troops were sent forward, without cavalry, by order of General Halleck. O.R., vol. xii, part iii, p. 680. The Federal Commander-in-Chief expected that the opposition would be slight. He had evidently no suspicion of the length to which the daring of Lee and Jackson might have carried them.

THE SPOILS OF WAR  134

variety of property such as they had never conceived. Then came a storming charge of men rushing in a tumultuous mob over each other’s heads, under each other’s feet, anywhere, everywhere, to satisfy a craving stronger than a yearning for fame. There were no laggards in that charge, and there was abundant evidence of the fruits of victory. Men ragged and famished clutched tenaciously at whatever came in their way, whether of clothing or food, of luxury or necessity. Here a long yellow-haired, barefooted son of the South claimed as prizes a toothbrush, a box of candles, a barrel of coffee; while another, whose butternut homespun hung round him in tatters, crammed himself with lobster salad, sardines, potted game and sweetmeats, and washed them down with Rhenish wine. Nor was the outer man neglected. From piles of new clothing the Southerners arrayed themselves in the blue uniforms of the Federals. The naked were clad, the barefooted were shod, and the sick provided with luxuries to which they had long been strangers.”1

The history of war records many extraordinary scenes, but there are few more ludicrous than this wild revel at Manassas. Even the chagrin of Northern writers gives way before the spectacle; and Jackson must have smiled grimly when he thought of the maxim which Pope had promulgated with such splendid confidence: “Let us study the probable lines of retreat of our opponents, and leave our own to take care of themselves!”

It was no time, however, to indulge in reflections on the irony of fortune. All through the afternoon, while the sharp-set Confederates were sweeping away the profits which the Northern sutlers had wrung from Northern soldiers, Stuart’s vigilant patrols sent in report on report of the Federal movements. From Warrenton heavy columns were hurrying over the great highroad to Gainesville, and from Warrenton Junction a large force of all arms was marching direct on Bristoe. There was news, too, from Lee. Despite the distance to be covered, and the

The Army of Virginia. General George H. Gordon.

RETREAT  135

proximity of the enemy, a trooper of the Black Horse, a regiment of young planters which now formed Jackson’s Escort, disguised as a countryman, made his way back from headquarters, and Jackson learned that Longstreet, who had started the previous evening, was following his own track by Orleans, Salem, and Thoroughfare Gap.1 It was evident, then, that the whole Federal army was in motion northwards, and that Longstreet had crossed the Rappahannock. But Longstreet had many miles to march and Thoroughfare Gap to pass before he could lend assistance; and the movement of the enemy on Gainesville threatened to intervene between the widely separated wings of the Confederate army.

It was no difficult matter for Jackson to decide on the course to be adopted. There was but one thing to do, to retreat at once; and only one line of escape still open, the roads leading north and north-west from Manassas Junction. To remain at Manassas and await Lee’s arrival would have been to sacrifice his command. 20,000 men, even with the protection of intrenchments, could hardly hope to hold the whole Federal army at bay for two days; and it was always possible that Pope, blocking Thoroughfare Gap with a portion of his force, might delay Lee for even longer than two days. Nor did it recommend itself to Jackson as sound strategy to move south, attack the Federal column approaching Bristoe, and driving it from his path to escape past the rear of the column moving to Gainesville. The exact position of the Federal troops was far from clear. Large forces might be encountered near the Rappahannock, and part of McClellan’s army was known to be marching westward from Aquia Creek. Moreover, such a movement would have accentuated the separation of the Confederate wings, and a local success over a portion of the hostile army would have been but a poor substitute for the decisive victory which Lee hoped to win when his whole force was once more concentrated.

1  “Up to the night of August 28 we received,” says Longstreet, “reports from General Jackson at regular intervals, assuring us of his successful operation, and of confidence in his ability to baffle all efforts of the enemy, till we should reach him.” Battles and Leaders, vol. ii, p. 517.

RETREAT  136

About three in the afternoon the thunder of artillery was heard from the direction of Bristoe. Ewell had sent a brigade along the railroad to support some cavalry on reconnaissance, and to destroy a bridge over Kettle Run. Hardly had the latter task been accomplished when a strong column of Federal infantry emerged from the forest and deployed for action. Hooker’s division of 5,500 men, belonging to McClellan’s army, had joined Pope on the same day that Jackson had crossed the Rappahannock, and had been dispatched northwards from Warrenton Junction as soon as the news came in that Manassas Junction had been captured. Hooker had been instructed to ascertain the strength of the enemy at Manassas, for Pope was still under the impression that the attack on his rear was nothing more than a repetition of the raid on Catlett’s Station. Striking the Confederate outposts at Kettle Run, he deployed his troops in three lines and pushed briskly forward. The batteries on both sides opened, and after a hot skirmish of an hour’s duration Ewell, who had orders not to risk an engagement with superior forces, found that his flanks were threatened. In accordance with his instructions he directed his three brigades to retire in succession across Broad Run. This difficult manœuvre was accomplished with trifling loss, and Hooker, ascertaining that Jackson’s whole corps, estimated at 30,000 men, was near at hand, advanced no further than the stream. Ewell fell back slowly to the Junction; and shortly after midnight the three Confederate divisions had disappeared into the darkness. The torch had already been set to the captured stores; warehouses, trains, camps, and hospitals were burning fiercely, and the dark figures of Stuart’s troopers, still urging on the work, passed to and fro amid the flames. Of the value of property destroyed it is difficult to arrive at an estimate. Jackson, in his official report, enumerates the various items with an unction which he must have inherited from some moss-trooping ancestor. Yet the actual quantity mattered little, for the stores could be readily replaced. But the effect of their destruction on the Federal operations was for the time being overwhelming. And of this

POPE  137

destruction Pope himself was a witness. The fight with Ewell had just ceased, and the troops were going into bivouac, when the Commander-in-Chief, anxious to ascertain with his own eyes the extent of the danger to which he was exposed, reached Bristoe Station. There, while the explosion of the piles of shells resembled the noise of a great battle, from the ridge above Broad Run he saw the sky to the north-east lurid with the blaze of a vast conflagration; and there he learned for the first time that it was no mere raid of cavalry, but Stonewall Jackson, with his whole army corps, who stood between himself and Washington.

For the best part of three days the Union general had been completely mystified. Jackson had left Jefferson on the 25th. But although his march had been seen by the Federal signaller on the hills near Waterloo Bridge,1 and the exact strength of his force had been reported, his destination had been unsuspected. When the column was last seen it was moving northward from Orleans, but the darkness had covered it, and the measure of prolonging the march to midnight bore good fruit. For the best part of two days Jackson had vanished from his enemy’s view, to be found by Pope himself at Manassas Junction.2 Nevertheless, although working in the dark, the Federal commander, up to the moment he reached Bristoe Station, had acted with sound judgment. He had inferred from the reports of his signalmen that Jackson was marching to Front Royal on the Shenandoah; but in order to clear up the situation, on the 26th Sigel and McDowell were ordered to force the passage of the Rappahannock at Waterloo Bridge and the Sulphur Springs, and obtain information of the enemy’s movements. Reno, at the same time, was to

1  Five messages were sent in between 8.45 a.m. and 11 a.m., but evidently reached headquarters much later. O.R., vol. xii, part iii, pp. 654–5.
2  There is a curious undated report on page 671, O.R., vol. xii, part iii, from Colonel Duffie, a French officer in the Federal service, which speaks of a column passing through Thoroughfare Gap; but, although the compilers of the Records have placed it under the date August 26, it seems evident, as this officer (see page 670) was at Rappahannock Station on the 26th and 27th (O.R., vol. xii, part iii, p. 688), that the report refers to Longstreet’s and not Jackson’s troops, and was written on August 28.

POPE  138

cross below the railway bridge and make for Culpeper. The manœuvres, however, were not carried out as contemplated. Only McDowell advanced; and as Lee had replaced Longstreet, who marched to Orleans the same afternoon, by Anderson, but little was discovered.


Second Manassas Battle Map

It was evident, however, that the Confederates were trending steadily northwards, and on the night of the 26th Pope ordered his 80,000 Federals to concentrate in the neighbourhood of Warrenton. Reports had come in that hostile troops had passed through Salem, White Plains, and Thoroughfare Gap.1 But it seemed improbable, both to Pope and McDowell, the second in command, that more was meant by this than a flank attack on Warrenton. McDowell expressed his opinion that a movement round the right wing in the direction of Alexandria was far too hazardous for the enemy to attempt. Pope appears to have acquiesced, and a line of battle near Warrenton, with a strong reserve at Greenwich, to the right rear, was then decided on. Franklin’s army corps from the Peninsula, instead of proceeding to Aquia Creek, was disembarking at Alexandria, and Halleck had been requested to push these 10,000 men forward with all speed to Gainesville. The Kanawha regiments had also reached Washington, and Pope was under the impression that these too would be sent to join him. He had therefore but little apprehension for his rear. The one error of judgment into which both Pope and McDowell had been betrayed was in not giving Lee due credit for audacity or Jackson for energy. That Lee would dare to divide his army they had never conceived; that Jackson would march fifty miles in two days and place his single corps astride their communications was an idea which had they thought of they would have instantly dismissed. Like the Austrian generals when they first confronted Napoleon, they might well have complained that their enemy broke every rule of the military art; and like all generals who believe that war is a mere matter of precedent, they found themselves egregiously deceived.

1  O.R., vol. xii, part iii, p. 672. Pope to Porter, p. 675. Pope to Halleck, p. 684.

POPE  139

The capture of Manassas, to use Pope’s own words, rendered his position at Warrenton no longer tenable, and early on the 27th, the army, instead of concentrating on Warrenton, was ordered to move to Gainesville (from Gainesville it was easy to block Thoroughfare Gap); Buford’s cavalry brigade was thrown out towards White Plains to observe Longstreet, and Hooker was dispatched to clear up the situation at Manassas. This move, which was completed before nightfall, could hardly have been improved upon. The whole Federal army was now established on the direct line of communication between Jackson and Lee, and although Jackson might still escape, the Confederates had as yet gained no advantage beyond the destruction of Pope’s supplies. It seemed impossible that the two wings could combine east of the Bull Run Mountains. But on the evening of the 27th, after the conclusion of the engagement at Bristoe Station, Pope lost his head. The view he now took of the situation was absolutely erroneous. Ewell’s retreat before Hooker he interpreted as an easy victory, which fully compensated for the loss of his magazines. He imagined that Jackson had been surprised, and that no other course was open to him than to take refuge in the intrenchments of Manassas Junction and await Lee’s arrival. Orders were at once issued for a manœuvre which should ensure the defeat of the presumptuous foe. The Federal army corps, marching in three columns, were called up to Manassas, a movement which would leave Thoroughfare Gap unguarded save by Buford’s cavalry. Some were to move at midnight, others “at the very earliest blush of dawn.” “We shall bag the whole crowd, if they are prompt and expeditious,”1 said Pope, with a sad lapse from the poetical phraseology he had just employed.

August 28   And so, on the morning of the 28th, a Federal army once more set out with the expectation of surrounding Jackson, to find once more that the task was beyond their powers.

The march was slow. Pope made no movement from

1  O.R., vol. xii, part ii, p. 72.

POPE  140

Bristoe Station until Hooker had been reinforced by Kearney and Reno; McDowell, before he turned east from Gainesville, was delayed by Sigel’s trains, which crossed his line of march, and it was not till noon that Hooker’s advanced guard halted amid the still smouldering ruins on the Manassas plateau. The march had been undisturbed. The redoubts were untenanted. The woods to the north were silent. A few grey-coated vedettes watched the operations from far-distant ridges; a few stragglers, overcome perhaps by their Gargantuan meal of the previous evening, were picked up in the copses, but Jackson’s divisions had vanished from the earth.

Then came order and counter-order. Pope was completely bewildered. By four o’clock, however, the news arrived that the railway at Burke’s Station, within twelve miles of Alexandria, had been cut, and that the enemy was in force between that point and Centreville. On Centreville, therefore, the whole army was now directed; Hooker, Kearney, and Reno, forming the right wing, marched by Blackburn’s Ford, and were to be followed by Porter and Banks; Sigel and Reynolds, forming the centre, took the road by New Market and the Stone Bridge; McDowell (King’s and Ricketts’ divisions), forming the left, was to pass through Gainesville and Groveton. But when the right wing reached Centreville, Pope was still at fault. There were traces of a marching column, but some small patrols of cavalry, who retreated leisurely before the Federal advance, were the sole evidence of the enemy’s existence. Night was at hand, and as the divisions he accompanied were directed to their bivouacs, Pope sought in vain for the enemy he had believed so easy a prey.

Before his troops halted the knowledge came to him. Far away to the south-west, where the great Groveton valley, backed by the wooded mountains, lay green and beautiful, rose the dull booming of cannon, swelling to a continuous roar; and as the weary soldiers, climbing the slopes near Centreville, looked eagerly in the direction of the sound, the rolling smoke of a fierce battle was distinctly visible above the woods which bordered the Warrenton-Alexandria highway.

JACKSON’S MANŒUVRES  141

Across Bull Run, in the neighbourhood of Groveton, and still further westward, where the cleft in the blue hills marked Thoroughfare Gap, was seen the flash of distant guns. McDowell, marching northwards through Gainesville, had evidently come into collision with the enemy. Jackson was run to earth at last; and it was now clear that while Pope had been moving northwards on Centreville, the Confederates had been moving westward, and that they were once more within reach of Lee. But by what means, Pope might well have asked, had a whole army corps, with its batteries and waggons, passed through the cordon which he had planned to throw around it, and passed through as if gifted with the secret of invisibility?

The explanation was simple. While his enemies were watching the midnight glare above Manassas, Jackson was moving north by three roads; and before morning broke A. P. Hill was near Centreville, Ewell had crossed Bull Run by Blackburn’s Ford, and Taliaferro was north of Bald Hill, with a brigade at Groveton, while Stuart’s squadrons formed a screen to front and flank. Then, as the Federals slowly converged on Manassas, Hill and Ewell, marching unobserved along the north bank of Bull Run, crossed the Stone Bridge; Taliaferro joined them, and before Pope had found that his enemy had left the Junction, the Confederates were in bivouac north of Groveton, hidden in the woods, and recovering from the fatigue of their long night march.1

Jackson’s arrangements for deceiving his enemy, for concealing his line of retreat, and for drawing Pope northward on Centreville, had been carefully thought out. The march from Manassas was no hasty movement to the rear. Taliaferro, as soon as darkness fell, had moved by New Market on Bald Hill. At 1 a.m. Ewell followed Hill to Blackburn’s Ford; but instead of continuing the march on Centrevile, had crossed Bull Run, and moving up stream, had joined Taliaferro by way of the Stone Bridge. Hill, leaving Centreville at 10 a.m.,

1  A. P. Hill had marched fourteen miles, Ewell fifteen, and Taliaferro, with whom were the trains, from eight to ten.

JACKSON’S MANŒUVRES  142

marched to the same rendezvous. Thus, while the attention of the enemy was attracted to Centreville, Jackson’s divisions were concentrated in the woods beyond Bull Bun, some five or six miles west. The position in which his troops were resting had been skilfully selected. South of Sudley Springs, and north of the Warrenton turnpike, it was within twelve miles of Thoroughfare Gap, and a line of retreat, in case of emergency, as well as a line by which Lee could join him, should Thoroughfare Gap be blocked, ran to Aldie Gap, the northern pass of the Bull Run Mountains. Established on his enemy’s flank, he could avoid the full shock of his force should Lee be delayed, or he could strike effectively himself; and it was to retain the power of striking that he had not moved further northward, and secured his front by camping beyond Catharpen Run. It was essential that he should be prepared for offensive action. The object with which he had marched upon Manassas had only been half accomplished. Pope had been compelled to abandon the strong line of the Rappahannock, but he had not yet been defeated; and if he were not defeated, he would combine with McClellan, and advance in a few days in overwhelming force. Lee looked for a battle with Pope before he could be reinforced, and to achieve this end it was necessary that the Federal commander should be prevented from retreating further; that Jackson should hold him by the throat until Lee should come up to administer the coup de grâce.

It was with this purpose in his mind that Jackson had taken post near Groveton, and he was now awaiting the information that should tell him the time had come to strike. But, as already related, the march of the Federals on Manassas was slow and toilsome. It was not till the morning was well on that the brigade of Taliaferro’s division near Groveton, commanded by Colonel Bradley Johnson, was warned by the cavalry that the enemy was moving through Gainesville in great strength. A skirmish took place a mile or two north of that village, and Johnson, finding himself menaced by far superior numbers, fell back

THE CAPTURED ORDER  143

to the wood near the Douglass House. He was not followed. The Union generals, Sigel and Reynolds, who had been ordered to Manassas to “bag” Jackson, had received no word of his departure from the Junction; and believing that Johnson’s small force was composed only of cavalry, they resumed the march which had been temporarily interrupted.

The situation, however, was no clearer to the Confederates. The enemy had disappeared in the great woods south-west of Groveton, and heavy columns were still reported coming up from Gainesville. During the afternoon, however, the cavalry captured a Federal courier, carrying McDowell’s orders for the movement of the left and centre, which had been placed under his command, to Manassas Junction,1 and this important document was immediately forwarded to Jackson.

“Johnson’s messenger,” says General Taliaferro, “found the Confederate headquarters established on the shady side of an old-fashioned worm-fence, in the corner of which General Jackson and his division commanders were profoundly sleeping after the fatigues of the preceding night, notwithstanding the intense heat of the August day. There was not so much as an ambulance at headquarters. The headquarters’ train was back beyond the Rappahannock, at Jefferson, with remounts, camp equipage, and all the arrangements for cooking and serving food. All the property of the general, the staff, and the headquarters’ bureau was strapped to the pommels and cantels of the saddles, and these formed the pillows of their weary owners. The captured dispatch roused Jackson like an electric shock. He was essentially a man of action. He rarely, if ever, hesitated. He never asked advice. He called no council to discuss the situation disclosed by this

1  The order, dated 2 a.m., August 25, was to the following effect:—

“1. Sigel’s Corps to march from Gainesville to Manassas Junction, the right resting on the Manassas railroad.

“2. Reynolds to follow Sigel.

“3. King to follow Reynolds.

“4. Ricketts to follow King; but to halt at Thoroughfare Gap if the enemy threatened the pass.

King was afterwards, while on the march, directed to Centreville by the Warrenton–Alexandria road.”

THE CAPTURED ORDER  144

communication, although his ranking officers were almost at his side. He asked no conference of opinion. He made no suggestion, but simply, without a word, except to repeat the language of the message, turned to me and said: ‘Move your division and attack the enemy;’ and to Ewell, ‘Support the attack.’ The slumbering soldiers sprang from the earth at the first murmur. They were sleeping almost in ranks; and by the time the horses of their officers were saddled, the long lines of infantry were moving to the anticipated battle-field.

“The two divisions, after marching some distance to the north of the turnpike, were halted and rested, and the prospect of an engagement on that afternoon seemed to disappear with the lengthening shadows. The enemy did not come. The Warrenton turnpike, along which it was supposed he would march, was in view, but it was as free from Federal soldiery as it had been two days before, when Jackson’s men had streamed along its highway.”1


Second Bull Run Map of Battle

Jackson, however, was better informed than his subordinate. Troops were still moving through Gainesville, and, instead of turning off to Manassas, were marching up the turnpike on which so many eyes were turned from the neighbouring woods. King’s division, while on the march to Manassas, had been instructed to countermarch and make for Centrevile, by Groveton and the Stone Bridge. Ricketts, who had been ordered by McDowell to hold Thoroughfare Gap, was already engaged with Longstreet’s advanced guard, and of this Jackson was aware; for Stuart, in position at Haymarket, three miles north of Gainesville, had been skirmishing all day with the enemy’s cavalry, and had been in full view of the conflict at the Gap.2

Jackson, however, knew not that one division was all that was before him. The Federal movements had covered

Battles and Leaders, vol. ii, pp. 507, 508.
2  Longstreet had been unable to march with the same speed as Jackson. Leaving Jefferson on the afternoon of August 26, he did not reach Thoroughfare Gap until “just before night” on August 28. He had been delayed for an hour at White Plains by the Federal cavalry, and the trains of the army, such as they were, may also have retarded him. In two days he covered only thirty miles.

JACKSON’S PLAN OF ACTION  145

so wide an extent of country, and had been so well concealed by the forests, that it was hardly possible for Stuart’s patrols, enterprising as they were, to obtain accurate information. Unaccustomed to such disjointed marches as were now in progress across his front, Jackson believed that King’s column was the flank-guard of McDowell’s army corps. But, although he had been compelled to leave Hill near the Stone Bridge, in order to protect his line of retreat on Aldie, he had still determined to attack. The main idea which absorbed his thoughts is clear enough. The Federal army, instead of moving direct from Warrenton on Alexandria, as he had anticipated, had apparently taken the more circuitous route by Manassas, and if Pope was to be fought in the open field before he could be reinforced by McClellan, he must be induced to retrace his steps. To do this, the surest means was a resolute attack on King’s division, despite the probability that it might be strongly reinforced; and it is by no means unlikely that Jackson deferred his attack until near sunset in order that, if confronted by superior numbers, he might still be able to hold on till nightfall, and obtain time for Longstreet to come up.

Within the wood due north of the Dogan House, through which ran an unfinished railroad, Ewell’s and Taliaferro’s divisions, awaiting the propitious moment for attack, were drawn up in order of battle. Eight brigades, and three small batteries, which had been brought across country with great difficulty, were present, and the remainder of the artillery was not far distant.1 Taliaferro, on the right, had two brigades (A. G. Taliaferro’s and the Stonewall) in first line; Starke was in second line, and Bradley Johnson near Groveton village. Ewell, on the left, had placed Lawton and Trimble in front, while Early and Forno formed a general reserve. This force numbered in all about 8,000 men, and even the skirmishers, thrown out well to the front, were concealed by the undulations of the ground.

1  Twenty pieces had been ordered to the front soon after the infantry moved forward. The dense woods, however, proved impenetrable to all but three horse-artillery guns, and one of these was unable to keep up.

JACKSON’S PLAN OF ACTION  146

The Federal division commanded by General King, although unprovided with cavalry and quite unsupported, was no unworthy enemy. It was composed of four brigades of infantry, led by excellent officers, and accompanied by four batteries. The total strength was 10,000 men. The absence of horsemen, however, placed the Northerners at a disadvantage from the outset.

The leading brigade was within a mile of Groveton, a hamlet of a few houses at the foot of a long descent, and the advanced guard, deployed as skirmishers, was searching the woods in front. On the road in rear, with the batteries between the columns, came the three remaining brigades—Gibbon’s, Doubleday’s, and Patrick’s—in the order named.

The wood in which the Confederates were drawn up was near a mile from the highway, on a commanding ridge, overlooking a broad expanse of open ground, which fell gently in successive undulations to the road. The Federals were marching in absolute unconsciousness that the enemy, whom the last reports had placed at Manassas, far away to the right, was close at hand. No flank-guards had been thrown out. General King was at Gainesville, sick, and a regimental band had just struck up a merry quickstep. On the open fields to the left, bathed in sunshine, there was not a sign of life. The whitewashed cottages, surrounded by green orchards, which stood upon the slopes, were lonely and untenanted, and on the edge of the distant wood, still and drooping in the heat, was neither stir nor motion. The troops trudged steadily forward through the dust; regiment after regiment disappeared in the deep copse which stands west of Groveton, and far to the rear the road was still crowded with men and guns. Jackson’s time had come.

Two Confederate batteries, trotting forward from the wood, deployed upon the ridge. The range was soon found, and the effect was instantaneous. But the confusion in the Northern ranks was soon checked; the troops found cover inside the bank which lined the road, and two batteries, one with the advanced guard and one from the centre of the column, wheeling into the fields to the

THE FEDERALS SURPRISED  147

left, came quickly into action. About the same moment Bradley Johnson became engaged with the skirmishers near Groveton.

The Confederate infantry, still hidden by the rolling ground, was forming for attack, when a Federal brigade, led by General Gibbon, rapidly deploying on the slopes, moved forward against the guns. It was Stuart’s horse-artillery, so the Northerners believed, which had fired on the column, and a bold attack would soon drive back the cavalry. But as Gibbon’s regiments came forward the Southern skirmishers, lying in front of the batteries, sprang to their feet and opened with rapid volleys; and then the grey line of battle, rising suddenly into view, bore down upon the astonished foe. Taliaferro, on the right, seized a small farmhouse near Gainesville, and occupied the orchard; the Stonewall Brigade advanced upon his left, and Lawton and Trimble prolonged the front towards the Douglass House. But the Western farmers of Gibbon’s brigade were made of stubborn stuff. The Wisconsin regiments held their ground with unflinching courage. Both flanks were protected by artillery, and strong reinforcements were coming up. The advanced guard was gradually falling back from Groveton; the rear brigades were hurrying forward up the road. The two Confederate batteries, overpowered by superior metal, had been compelled to shift position; only a section of Stuart’s horse-artillery under Captain Pelham had come to their assistance, and the battle was confined to a frontal attack at the closest range. In many places the lines approached within a hundred yards, the men standing in the open and blazing fiercely in each other’s faces. Here and there, as fresh regiments came up on either side, the grey or the blue gave way for a few short paces; but the gaps were quickly filled, and the wave once more surged forward over the piles of dead. Men fell like leaves in autumn. Ewell was struck down and Taliaferro, and many of their field officers, and still the Federals held their ground. Night was settling on the field, and although the gallant Pelham, the boy soldier, brought a gun into action within seventy paces of Gibbon’s line, yet

LOSSES  148

the front of fire, flashing redly through the gloom, neither receded nor advanced. A flank attack on either side would have turned the scale, but the fight was destined to end as it had begun. The Federal commander, ignorant of the enemy’s strength, and reaching the field when the fight was hottest, was reluctant to engage his last reserves. Jackson had ordered Early and Forno, moving through the wood west of the Douglass House, to turn the enemy’s right; but within the thickets ran the deep cuttings and high embankments of the unfinished railroad; and the regiments, bewildered in the darkness, were unable to advance. Meanwhile the fight to the front had gradually died away. The Federals, outflanked upon the left, and far outnumbered, had slowly retreated to the road. The Confederates had been too roughly handled to pursue.

The reports of the engagement at Groveton are singularly meagre. Preceded and followed by events of still greater moment, it never attracted the attention it deserved. On the side of the Union 2,800 men were engaged, on the side of the Southerners 4,500, and for more than an hour and a half the lines of infantry were engaged at the very closest quarters. The rifled guns of the Federals undoubtedly gave them a marked advantage. But the men who faced each other that August evening fought with a gallantry that has seldom been surpassed. The Federals, surprised and unsupported, bore away the honours. The Western brigade, commanded by General Gibbon, displayed a coolness and a steadfastness worthy of the soldiers of Albuera. Out of 2,000 men the four Wisconsin and Indiana regiments lost 750, and were still unconquered. The three regiments which supported them, although it was their first battle, lost nearly half their number, and the casualties must have reached a total of 1,100. The Confederate losses were even greater. Ewell, who was shot down in the first line, and lay long on the field, lost 725 out of 3,000. The Stonewall Brigade, which had by this time dwindled to 600 muskets, lost over 200, including five field officers; the 21st Georgia, of Trimble’s brigade, 178 men out of 242; and it is probable that the Valley army on

LOSSES  149

this day was diminished by more than 1,200 stout soldiers. The fall of Ewell was a terrible disaster. Zealous and indefatigable, a stern fighter and beloved by his men, he was the most able and the most loyal of Jackson’s generals. Taliaferro, peculiarly acceptable to his Virginia regiments as a Virginian himself, had risen from the rank of colonel to the command of a division, and his spurs had been well won. The battle of Groveton left gaps in Jackson’s ranks which it was hard to fill, and although the men might well feel proud of their stubborn fight, they could hardly boast of a brilliant victory.

Strategically, however, the engagement was decisive. Jackson had brought on the fight with the view of drawing the whole Federal army on himself, and he was completely successful. The centre, marching on the Stone Bridge from Manassas Junction, heard the thunder of the cannon and turned westward; and before nightfall A. P. Hill’s artillery became engaged with Sigel’s advanced guard. Pope himself, who received the intelligence of the engagement at 9.20 p.m., immediately issued orders for an attack on Jackson the next morning, in which the troops who had already reached Centreville were to take part. “McDowell,” ran the order, “has intercepted the retreat of the enemy, Sigel is immediately in his front, and I see no possibility of his escape.”

But Pope, full of the idea that Jackson had been stopped in attempting to retreat through Thoroughfare Gap, altogether misunderstood the situation. He was badly informed. He did not know even the position of his own troops. His divisions, scattered over a wide extent of country, harassed by Stuart’s cavalry, and ignorant of the topography, had lost all touch with the Commander-in-Chief. Important dispatches had been captured. Messages and orders were slow in arriving, if they arrived at all. Even the generals were at a loss to find either the Commander-in-Chief or the right road. McDowell had ridden from Gainesville to Manassas in order to consult with Pope, but Pope had gone to Centreville. McDowell thereupon set out to rejoin his troops, but lost his way in the forest and went

THE SITUATION  150

back to Manassas. From Ricketts Pope received no information whatever.1 He was not aware that after a long skirmish at Thoroughfare Gap, Longstreet had opened the pass by sending his brigades over the mountains on either hand, threatening both flanks of the Federals, and compelling them to retire. He was not aware that King’s division, so far from intercepting Jackson’s retreat, had abandoned the field of Groveton at 1 a.m., and, finding its position untenable in face of superior numbers, had fallen back on Manassas; or that Ricketts, who had by this time reached Gainesville, had in consequence continued his retreat in the same direction.

Seldom have the baneful effects of dispersion been more strikingly illustrated, and the difficulty, under such circumstances, of keeping the troops in the hand of the Commander-in-Chief. On the morning of the 28th Pope had ordered his army to march in three columns on Manassas, one column starting from Warrenton Junction, one from Greenwich, and one from Buckland Mills, the roads which they were to follow being at their furthest point no more than seven miles apart. And yet at dawn on the 29th he was absolutely ignorant of the whereabouts of McDowell’s army corps; he was but vaguely informed of what had happened during the day; and while part of his army was at Bald Hill, another part was at Centreville, seven miles north-east, and a third at Manassas and at Bristoe, from seven to twelve miles south-east. Nor could the staff be held to blame for the absence of communication between the columns. In peace it is an easy matter to assume that a message sent to a destination seven miles distant by a highroad or even country lanes arrives in good time. Seven miles in peace are very short. In war, in the neighbourhood of the enemy, they are very long. In peace, roads are easy to find. In war, it is the exception that they are found, even when messengers are provided with good maps

1  Ricketts’ report would have been transmitted through McDowell, under whose command he was, and as McDowell was not to be found, it naturally went astray.

THE SITUATION  151

and the country is thickly populated; and it is from war that the soldier’s trade is to be learned.

Jackson’s army corps bivouacked in the position they had held when the fierce musketry of Groveton died away. It was not till long after daybreak on the 29th that his cavalry patrols discovered that King’s troops had disappeared, and that Longstreet’s advanced guard was already through Thoroughfare Gap. Nor was it till the sun was high that Lee learned the events of the previous evening, and these threw only a faint light on the general situation. But had either the Commander-in-Chief or his lieutenant, on the night of the 28th, known the true state of affairs, they would have had reason to congratulate themselves on the success of the plan which had been hatched on the Rappahannock. They had anticipated that should Jackson’s movement on Manassas prove successful, Pope would not only fall back, but that he would fall back in all the confusion which arises from a hastily conceived plan and hastily executed manœuvres. They had expected that in his hurried retreat his army corps would lose touch and cohesion; that divisions would become isolated; that the care of his impedimenta, suddenly turned in a new direction, would embarrass every movement; and that the general himself would become demoralised.

The orders and counter-orders, the marches and counter-marches of August 28, and the consequent dispersion of the Federal army, are sufficient in themselves to prove the deep insight into war possessed by the Confederate leaders.

Nevertheless, the risk bred of separation which, in order to achieve great results, they had deliberately accepted had not yet passed away. Longstreet had indeed cleared the pass, and the Federals who guarded it had retreated; but the main body of the Confederate army had still twelve miles to march before it could reach Jackson, and Jackson was confronted by superior numbers. On the plateau of Bull Run, little more than two miles from the field of Groveton, were encamped over 20,000 Federals, with the main number at Manassas. At Centreville, a seven miles’ march, were 18,000; and at Bristoe Station, about the same distance, 11,000.

THE SITUATION  152

It was thus possible for Pope to hurl a superior force against Jackson before Lee could intervene; and although it would have been sounder strategy, on the part of the Federal commander, to have concentrated towards Centreville, and have there awaited reinforcements, now fast coming up, he had some reason for believing that he might still, unaided, deal with the enemy in detail. The high virtue of patience was not his. Ambition, anxiety to retrieve his reputation, already blemished by his enforced retreat, the thought that he might be superseded by McClellan, whose operations in the Peninsula he had contemptuously criticised, all urged him forward. An unsuccessful general who feels instinctively that his command is slipping from him, and who sees in victory the only hope of retaining it, seldom listens to the voice of prudence.

August 29   So on the morning of the 29th Jackson had to do with an enemy who had resolved to overwhelm him by weight of numbers. Nor could he expect immediate help. The Federal cavalry still stood between Stuart and Thoroughfare Gap, and not only was Jackson unaware that Longstreet had broken through, but he was unaware whether he could break through. In any case, it would be several hours before he could receive support, and for that space of time his three divisions, worn with long marching and the fierce fight of the previous evening, would have to hold their own unaided. The outlook, to all appearance, was anything but bright. But on the opposite hills, where the Federals were now forming in line of battle, the Valley soldiers had already given proof of their stubborn qualities on the defensive. The sight of their baptismal battle-field and the memories of Bull Run must have gone far to nerve the hearts of the Stonewall regiments, and in preparing once more to justify their proud title the troops were aided by their leader’s quick eye for a position. While it was still dark the divisions which had been engaged at Groveton took ground to their left, and passing north of the hamlet, deployed on the right of A. P. Hill. The long, flat-topped ridge, covered with scattered copses and rough undergrowth, which stands north of the

JACKSON’S POSITION FOR BATTLE  153

Warrenton–Centreville road, commands the approaches from the south and east, and some five hundred yards below the crest ran the unfinished railroad.

Behind the deep cuttings and high embankments the Confederate fighting-line was strongly placed. The left, lightly thrown back, rested on a rocky spur near Bull Run, commanding Sudley Springs Ford and the road to Aldie Gap. The front extended for a mile and three-quarters south-west. Early, with two brigades and a battery, occupied a wooded knoll where the unfinished railroad crosses the highroad, protecting the right rear, and stretching a hand to Longstreet.

The infantry and artillery were thus disposed:—

Infantry

    Left.—A. P. Hill’s Division. First and Second line: Three brigades. (Field, Thomas, Gregg.) Third line: Three brigades. (Branch, Pender, Archer.)

    Centre.—Two brigades of Ewell’s Division (now commanded by Lawton). (Trimble’s and Lawton’s.)

    Right.—Taliaferro’s Division (now commanded by Stark). First and Second line: Two brigades. Third line: Two brigades.

    Force detached on the right: Two brigades of Ewell’s Division (Early and Forno), and one battery.

Artillery

     16 guns behind the left, 24 guns behind the right centre: On the ridge, five hundred yards in rear of the fighting-line.

The flanks were secured by Stuart. A portion of the cavalry was placed at Haymarket to communicate as soon as possible with Longstreet. A regiment was pushed out towards Manassas, and on the left bank of Bull Run Fitzhugh Lee’s brigade watched the approaches from Centreville and the north. Jackson’s strength, deducting the losses of the previous day, and the numerous stragglers left behind during his forced marches, can hardly have exceeded 18,000 muskets, supported by 40 guns, all that there was room for, and some 2,500 cavalry. These numbers, however, were ample for the defence of the position which had been selected. Excluding the detached force on the extreme

JACKSON’S POSITION FOR BATTLE  154

right, the line occupied was three thousand yards in length, and to every yard of this line there were more than five muskets, so that half the force could be retained in third line or reserve. The position was thus strongly held and strong by nature. The embankments formed stout parapets, the cuttings deep ditches.

Before the right and the right centre the green pastures, shorn for thirteen hundred yards of all obstacles save a few solitary cottages, sloped almost imperceptibly to the brook which is called Young’s Branch. The left centre and left, however, were shut in by a belt of timber, from four hundred to six hundred yards in width, which we may call the Groveton wood. This belt closed in upon, and at one point crossed, the railroad, and, as regards the field of fire, it was the weakest point. In another respect, however, it was the strongest, for the defenders were screened by the trees from the enemy’s artillery. The rocky hill on the left, facing north-east, was a point of vantage, for an open corn-field lay between it and Bull Run. Within the position, behind the copses and undulations, there was ample cover for all troops not employed on the fighting-line; and from the ridge in rear the general could view the field from commanding ground.

5.15 a.m.   Shortly after 5 a.m., while the Confederates were still taking up their positions, the Federal columns were seen moving down the heights near the Henry House. Jackson had ridden round his lines, and ordering Early to throw forward two regiments east of the turnpike, had then moved to the great battery forming in rear of his right centre. His orders had already been issued. The troops were merely to hold their ground, no general counterstroke was intended, and the divisional commanders were to confine themselves to repulsing the attack. The time for a strong offensive return had not yet come.

The enemy advanced slowly in imposing masses. Shortly after seven o’clock, hidden to some extent by the woods, four divisions of infantry deployed in several lines at the foot of the Henry Hill, and their skirmishers became

SIGEL’S CORPS  155

engaged with the Confederate pickets. At the same moment three batteries came into action on a rise north-east of Groveton, opposite the Confederate centre, and Sigel, supported by Reynolds, prepared to carry out his instructions, and hold Jackson until the remainder of Pope’s army should arrive upon the field. At the end of July, Sigel’s army corps had numbered 13,000 men. Allowing for stragglers and for casualties on the Rappahannock, where it had been several times engaged, it must still have mustered 11,000. It was accompanied by ten batteries, and Reynolds’ division was composed of 8,000 infantry and four batteries. The attack was thus no stronger than the defence, and as the Federal artillery positions were restricted by the woods, there could be little doubt of the result. In other respects, moreover, the combatants were not evenly matched. Reynolds’ Pennsylvanians were fine troops, already seasoned in the battles on the Peninsula, and commanded by such officers as Meade and Seymour. But Sigel, who had been an officer in the Baden army, had succeeded Frémont, and his corps was composed of those same Germans whom Ewell had used so hardly at Cross Keys. Many of them were old soldiers, who had borne arms in Europe; but the stern discipline and trained officers of conscript armies were lacking in America, and the Confederate volunteers had little respect for these foreign levies. Nor were Sigel’s dispositions a brilliant example of offensive tactics. His three divisions, Schurz’, Schenck’s, and Steinwehr’s, supported by Milroy’s independent brigade, advanced to the attack along a wide front. Schurz, with two brigades, moving into the Groveton wood, assailed the Confederate left, while Milroy and Schenck advanced over the open meadows which lay in front of the right. Steinwehr was in reserve, and Reynolds, somewhat to the rear, moved forward on the extreme left. The line was more than two miles long; the artillery, hampered by the ground, could render but small assistance; and at no single point were the troops disposed in sufficient depth to break through the front of the defence. The attack, too, was piecemeal. Advancing

SIGEL’S CORP  156

through the wood, Schurz’ division was at once met by a sharp counterstroke, delivered by the left brigade (Gregg’s South Carolina) of A. P. Hill’s division, which drove the two Federal brigades apart. Reinforcements were sent in by Milroy, who had been checked on the open ground by the heavy fire of Jackson’s guns, and the Germans rallied; but, after some hard fighting, a fresh counterstroke, in which Thomas’ brigade took part, drove them in disorder from the wood; and the South Carolinians, following to the edge, poured heavy volleys into their retreating masses. Schenck, meanwhile, deterred by the batteries on Jackson’s right, had remained inactive; the Federal artillery, such as had been brought into action, had produced no effect; Reynolds, who had a difficult march, had not yet come into action; and in order to support the broken troops Schenck was now ordered to close in upon the right. But the opportunity had already passed.

10.15 a.m.   It was now 10.30 a.m., and Jackson had long since learned that Lee was near at hand. Longstreet’s advanced guard had passed through Gainesville, and the main body was closing up. Not only had time been gained, but two brigades alone had proved sufficient to hold the enemy at arm’s length, and the rough counterstrokes had disconcerted the order of attack. A fresh Federal force, however, was already approaching. The troops from Centreville, comprising the divisions of Hooker, Kearney, and Reno, 17,000 or 18,000 men, were hurrying over the Stone Bridge; and a second and more vigorous attack was now to be withstood. Sigel, too, was still capable of further effort. Bringing up Steinwehr’s division, and demanding reinforcements from Reno, he threw his whole force against the Confederate front. Schenck, however, still exposed to the fire of the massed artillery, was unable to advance, and Milroy in the centre was hurled back. But through the wood the attack was vigorously pressed, and the fight raged fiercely at close quarters along the railway. Between Gregg’s and Thomas’ brigades a gap of over a hundred yards, as the men closed in upon the

LONGSTREET AT LAST  157

centre, had gradually opened. Opposite the gap was a deep cutting, and the Federals, covered by the wood, massed here unobserved in heavy force. Attack from this quarter was unexpected, and for a moment Hill’s first line was in jeopardy. Gregg, however, had still a regiment in second line, and throwing it quickly forward he drove the enemy across the railroad. Then Hill, bringing up Branch from the third line, sent this fresh brigade to Gregg’s support, and cleared the front.

The Germans had now been finally disposed of. But although Longstreet had arrived upon the ground, and was deploying in the woods on Jackson’s right, thus relieving Early, who at once marched to support the centre, Jackson’s men had not yet finished with the enemy. Pope had now taken over command; and besides the troops from Centreville, who had already reached the field, McDowell and Porter, with 27,000 men, were coming up from Manassas, and Reynolds had not yet been engaged. But it is one thing to assemble large numbers on the battle-field, another to give them the right direction.

In the direction of Gainesville high woods and rolling ridges had concealed Longstreet’s approach, and the Federal patrols had been everywhere held in check by Stuart’s squadrons. In ignorance, therefore, that the whole Confederate army was concentrated before him, Pope, anticipating an easy victory, determined to sweep Jackson from the field. But it was first necessary to relieve Sigel. Kearney’s division had already deployed on the extreme right of the Federal line, resting on Bull Run. Hooker was on the left of Kearney and a brigade of Reno’s on the left of Hooker. While Sigel assembled his shattered forces, these 10,000 fresh troops, led by some of the best officers of the Army of the Potomac, were ordered to advance against A. P. Hill. Reynolds, under the impression that he was fighting Jackson, was already in collision with Longstreet’s advanced-guard; and McDowell and Porter, marching along the railway from Manassas, might be expected to strike the Confederate right rear at any moment. It was then with good

LONGSTREET AT LAST  158

hope of victory that Pope rode along his line and explained the situation to his generals.

But the fresh attack was made with no better concert than those which preceded it. Kearney, on the right, near Bull Run, was held at bay by Jackson’s guns, and Hooker and Reno advanced alone.


Bull Run Battle Positions

1 p.m.   As the Federals moved forward the grey skirmishers fell back through the Groveton wood, and scarcely had they reached the railroad before the long blue lines came crashing through the undergrowth. Hill’s riflemen, lying down to load, and rising only to fire, poured in their deadly volleys at point-blank range. The storm of bullets, shredding leaves and twigs, stripped the trees of their verdure, and the long dry grass, ignited by the powder sparks, burst into flames between the opposing lines. But neither flames nor musketry availed to stop Hooker’s onset. Bayonets flashed through the smoke, and a gallant rush placed the stormers on the embankment. The Confederates reeled back in confusion, and men crowded round the colours to protect them. But assistance was at hand. A fierce yell and a heavy volley, and the regiments of the second line surged forward, driving back the intruders, and closing the breach. Yet the Federal ranks reformed; the wood rang with cheers, and a fresh brigade advanced to the assault. Again the parapet was carried; again the Southern bayonets cleared the front. Hooker’s leading brigade, abandoning the edge of the wood, had already given ground. Reno’s regiments, suffering fearful slaughter, with difficulty maintained their place; and Hill, calling once more upon his reserves, sent in Pender to the counterstroke. Passing by the right of Thomas, who, with Field, had borne the brunt of the last attack, Pender crossed the railroad, and charged into the wood. Many of the men in the fighting-line joined in the onward movement. The Federals were borne back; the brigades in rear were swept away by the tide of fugitives; the wood was cleared, and a battery near by was deserted by the gunners.

Then Pender, received with a heavy artillery fire from the opposite heights, moved boldly forward across the open. But the counterstroke had been pushed too far. The line

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faltered; hostile infantry appeared on either flank, and as the Confederates fell back to the railroad, the enemy came forward in pursuit. Grover’s brigade of Hooker’s division had hitherto been held in reserve, sheltered by a roll of the land opposite that portion of the front which was held by Thomas.

3 p.m.   It was now directed to attack. “Move slowly forward,” were the orders which Grover gave to his command, “until the enemy opens fire. Then advance rapidly, give them one volley, and then the bayonet.” The five regiments moved steadily through the wood in a single line. When they reached the edge they saw immediately before them the red earth of the embankment, at this point ten feet high and lined with riflemen. There was a crash of fire, a swift rush through the rolling smoke, and the Federals, crossing the parapet, swept all before them. Hill’s second line received them with a scattered fire, turned in confusion, and fled back upon the guns. Then beckoned victory to him who had held his reserves in hand. Jackson had seen the charge, and Forno’s Louisianians, with a regiment of Lawton’s, had already been sent forward with the bayonet.

In close order the counterstroke came on. The thinned ranks of the Federals could oppose no resolute resistance. Fighting they fell back, first to the embankment, where for a few moments they held their own, and then to the wood. But without supports it was impossible to rally. Johnson’s and Starke’s brigades swept down upon their flank, the Louisianians, supported by Field and Archer, against their front, and in twenty minutes, with a loss of one-fourth his numbers, Grover in his turn was driven beyond the Warrenton turnpike.

Four divisions, Schurz’, Steinwehr’s, Hooker’s, and Reno’s, had been hurled in succession against Jackson’s front. Their losses had been enormous. Grover’s brigade had lost 461 out of 2,000, of which one regiment, 288 strong, accounted for 6 officers and 106 men; three regiments of Reno’s lost 530; and it is probable that more than 4,000 men had fallen in the wood which lay in front of Hill’s brigades.

The fighting, however, had not been without effect on

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the Confederates. The charges to which they had been exposed, impetuous as they were, were doubtless less trying than a sustained attack, pressed on by continuous waves of fresh troops, and allowing the defence no breathing space. Such steady pressure, always increasing in strength, saps the morale more rapidly than a series of fierce assaults, delivered at wide intervals of time. But such pressure implies on the part of the assailant an accumulation of superior force, and this accumulation the enemy’s generals had not attempted to provide. In none of the four attacks which had shivered against Hill’s front had the strength of the assailants been greater than that of his own division; and to the tremendous weight of such a stroke as had won the battles of Gaines’ Mill or Cedar Run, to the closely combined advance of overwhelming numbers, Jackson’s men had not yet been subjected.

The battle, nevertheless, had been fiercely contested, and the strain of constant vigilance and close-range fighting had told on the Light Division. The Federal skirmishers, boldly advancing as Pender’s men fell back, had once more filled the wood, and their venomous fire allowed the defenders no leisure for repose.1 Ammunition had already given out; many of the men had but two or three cartridges remaining, and the volunteers who ran the gauntlet to procure fresh supplies were many of them shot down. Moreover, nine hours’ fighting, much of it at close range, had piled the corpses thick upon the railroad, and the ranks of Hill’s brigades were terribly attenuated. The second line had already been brought up to fill the gaps, and every brigade had been heavily engaged.

4 p.m.   It was about four o’clock, and for a short space the pressure on the Confederate lines relaxed. The continuous

1  “The Federal sharpshooters at this time,” says Colonel McCrady, of the Light Division, “held possession of the wood, and kept up a deadly fire of single shots whenever any one of us was exposed. Every lieutenant who had to change position did so at the risk of his life. What was my horror, during an interval in the attack, to see General Jackson himself walking quickly down the railroad cut, examining our position, and calmly looking into the wood that concealed the enemy! Strange to say, he was not molested.”—Southern Historical Society Papers, vol. xiii, p. 27.

THE LAST ATTACK  161

roar of the artillery dwindled to a fitful cannonade; and along the edge of the wood, drooping under the heat, where the foliage was white with the dust of battle, the skirmishers let their rifles cool. But the Valley soldiers knew that their respite would be short. The Federal masses were still marching and counter-marching on the opposite hills; from the forest beyond long columns streamed steadily to the front, and near the Warrenton turnpike fresh batteries were coming into action.

Pope had ordered Kearney and Reno to make a fresh attack. The former, one of the most dashing officers in the Federal army, disposed his division in two lines. Reno, in the same formation, deployed upon Kearney’s right, and with their flank resting on Bull Run the five brigades went forward to the charge. The Confederate batteries, posted on the ridge in rear, swept the open ground along the stream; but, regardless of their fire, the Federals came rapidly to close quarters, and seized the railroad.

4.30 p.m.   When Hill saw this formidable storm bursting on his lines he felt that the supreme moment had arrived. Would Gregg, on whose front the division of Reno was bearing down, be able to hold his own? That gallant soldier, although more than one half of his command lay dead or wounded, replied, in answer to his chief’s enquiry, that his ammunition was almost expended, but that he had still the bayonet. Nevertheless, the pressure was too heavy for his wearied troops. Foot by foot they were forced back, and, at the same moment, Thomas, Field, and Branch, still fighting desperately, were compelled to yield their ground. Hill, anxiously looking for succour, had already called on Early. The enemy, swarming across the railroad, had penetrated to a point three hundred yards within the Confederate position. But the grey line was not yet shattered. The men of the Light Division, though borne backwards by the rush, still faced towards the foe; and Early’s brigade, supported by two regiments of Lawton’s division, advanced with levelled bayonets, drove through the tumult, and opposed a solid line to the crowd of Federals.

Once more the fresh reserve, thrown in at the propitious

THE LAST ATTACK  162

moment, swept back numbers far superior to itself. Once more order prevailed over disorder, and the cold steel asserted its supremacy. The strength of the assailants was already spent. The wave receded more swiftly than it had risen, and through the copses and across the railroad the Confederates drove their exhausted foe. General Hill had instructed Early that he was not to pass beyond the original front; but it was impossible to restrain the troops, and not till they had advanced several hundred yards was the brigade halted and brought back.

5.15 p.m.   The counterstroke was as completely successful as those that had preceded it. Early’s losses were comparatively slight, those inflicted on the enemy very heavy, and Hill’s brigades were finally relieved. Pope abandoned all further efforts to crush Jackson. Five assaults had failed. 30,000 infantry had charged in vain through the fatal wood; and of the 8,000 Federal casualties reported on this day, by far the larger proportion was due to the deadly fire and dashing counterstrokes of Jackson’s infantry.

While Pope was hurling division after division against the Confederate left, Lee, with Longstreet at his side, observed the conflict from Stuart’s Hill, the wooded eminence which stands south-west of Groveton. On this wing, though a mile distant from Jackson’s battle, both Federals and Confederates were in force. At least one half of Pope’s army had gradually assembled on this flank. Here were Reynolds and McDowell, and on the Manassas road stood two divisions under Porter.

Within the woods on Stuart’s Hill, with the cavalry on his flank, Longstreet had deployed his whole force, with the exception of Anderson, who had not yet passed Thoroughfare Gap. But although both Pope and Lee were anxious to engage, neither could bring their subordinates to the point. Pope had sent vague instructions to Porter and McDowell, and when at Length he had substituted a definite order it was not only late in arriving, but the generals found that it was based on an absolutely incorrect view of the situation. The Federal commander had no knowledge that Longstreet,

STUART’S HILL  163

with 25,000 men, was already in position beyond his left. So close lay the Confederates that under the impression that Stuart’s Hill was still untenanted, he desired Porter to move across it and envelop Jackson’s right. Porter, suspecting that the main body of the Southern army was before him, declined to risk his 10,000 men until he had reported the true state of affairs. A peremptory reply to attack at once was received at 6.30, but it was then too late to intervene.

Nor had Lee been more successful in developing a counterstroke. Longstreet, with a complacency it is difficult to understand, has related how he opposed the wishes of the Commander-in-Chief. Three times Lee urged him forward. The first time he rode to the front to reconnoitre, and found that the position, in his own words, was not inviting. Again Lee insisted that the enemy’s left might be turned. While the question was under discussion, a heavy force (Porter and McDowell) was reported advancing from Manassas Junction. No attack followed, however, and Lee repeated his instructions. Longstreet was still unwilling. A large portion of the Federal force on the Manassas road now marched northward to join Pope, and Lee, for the last time, bade Longstreet attack towards Groveton. “I suggested,” says the latter, “that the day being far spent, it might be as well to advance before night on a forced reconnaissance, get our troops into the most favourable positions, and have all things ready for battle the next morning. To this General Lee reluctantly gave consent, and orders were given for an advance to be pursued under cover of night, until the main position could be carefully examined. It so happened that an order to advance was issued on the other side at the same time, so that the encounter was something of a surprise on both sides.1 Hood, with his two Texan brigades, led the Confederates, and King’s division, now commanded by Hatch, met him on the slopes of Stuart’s Hill. Although the Federals, since 1 a.m. the same morning, had marched to Manassas and back again, the fight was spirited. Hood, however, was strongly supported, and the Texans pushed forward

Battles and Leaders, vol. ii, p. 519.

STUART’S HILL  164

a mile and a half in front of the position they had held since noon. Longstreet had now full leisure to make his reconnaissance. The ground to which the enemy had retreated was very strong. He believed it strongly manned, and an hour after midnight Hood’s brigades were ordered to withdraw.

The firing, even of the skirmishers, had long since died away on the opposite flank. The battle was over, and the Valley army had been once more victorious. But when Jackson’s staff gathered round him in the bivouac, “their triumph,” says Dabney, “bore a solemn hue.” Their great task had been accomplished, and Pope’s army, harassed, starving, and bewildered, had been brought to bay. But their energies were worn down. The incessant marching, by day and night, the suspense of the past week, the fierce strife of the day that had just closed, pressed heavily on the whole force. Many of the bravest were gone. Trimble, that stout soldier, was severely wounded, Field and Forno had fallen, and in Gregg’s brigade alone 40 officers were dead or wounded. Doctor McGuire, fresh from the ghastly spectacle of the silent battle-field, said, “General, this day has been won by nothing but stark and stern fighting.” “No,” replied Jackson, very quietly, “it has been won by nothing but the blessing and protection of Providence.” And in this attitude of acknowledgment general and soldiers were as one. When the pickets had been posted, and night had fallen on the forest, officers and men, gathered together round their chaplains, made such preparations for the morrow’s battle as did the host of King Harry on the eve of Agincourt.

  165

NOTE

Students of war will note with interest the tactical details of the passage of the Rappahannock by the Army of Northern Virginia.

August 21.—FEDERALS.

In position behind the river from Kelly’s Ford to Freeman’s Ford.

Tête de pont covering the railway bridge, occupied by a brigade.

CONFEDERATES.

Longstreet to Kelly’s Ford.

Jackson to Beverley Ford.

Stuart to above Beverley Ford.

Constant skirmishing and artillery fire.

August 22.—FEDERALS.

In position from Kelly’s Ford to Freeman’s Ford.

Bayard’s cavalry brigade on right flank.

Buford’s cavalry brigade at Rappahannock Station.

CONFEDERATES.

Jackson to Sulphur Springs. Early crosses the river.

Longstreet to Beverley Ford and railway.

Constant skirmishing and artillery fire.

August 23.—FEDERALS.

Pope abandons tête de pont and burns railway bridge.

Sigel moves against Early, but his advance is repulsed.

Army to a position about Warrenton, with detachments along the river, and a strong force at Kelly’s Ford.

CONFEDERATES.

Early moves north to Great Run, and is reinforced by Lawton.

Stuart to Catlett’s Station.

Longstreet demonstrates against railway bridge.

  166

August 24.—FEDERAL.

Buford’s and Bayard’s cavalry to Waterloo.

Army to Waterloo and Sulphur Springs.

CONFEDERATES.

Jackson in the evening retires to Jefferson, and is relieved after dark opposite Sulphur Springs and Waterloo by Longstreet.

Anderson relieves Longstreet on the railway.

Constant skirmishing and artillery fire all along the line.

August 25.—FEDERALS.

Pope extends his left down the river to Kelly’s Ford, determining to receive attack at Warrenton should the Confederates cross.

CONFEDERATES.

Jackson moves north and crosses the river at Hinson’s Mills.

Longstreet demonstrates at Waterloo, and Anderson at the Sulphur Springs.

August 26.—FEDERALS.

A reconnaissance in force, owing to bad staff arrangements, comes to nothing. At nightfall the whole army is ordered to concentrate at Warrenton.

CONFEDERATES.

2 a.m. Stuart follows Jackson.

Late in the afternoon, Longstreet, having been relieved by Anderson, marches to Hinson’s Mills.

Jackson captures Manassas Junction.

Skirmishing all day along the Rappahannock.

August 27.—FEDERALS.

7 a.m. Hooker’s division from Warrenton Junction to Bristoe Station.

8.30 a.m. Army ordered to concentrate at Gainesville, Buckland Mills, and Greenwich. Porter and Banks at Warrenton Junction.

3 p.m. Action at Bristoe Station.

6.30 p.m. Pope arrives at Bristoe Station.

Army ordered to march to Manassaa Junction at dawn.

CONFEDERATES.

Jackson at Manassas Junction.

Longstreet to White Plains.

 

 

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