Second Battle of Manassas
By: Jefferson Davis
When General Jackson arrived near Gordonsville on July 19, 1862, he was at his request reinforced by Major General A. P. Hill. Receiving information that only a part of General Pope's army was at Culpeper Court House, General Jackson, hoping to defeat it before reinforcements should arrive, moved in that direction the division of Ewell, Hill, and Jackson, on August 7th, from their encampments near Gordonsville. As the enemy's cavalry displayed unusual activity and the train of Jack-son's division was seriously endangered, General Lawton with his brigade was ordered to guard it. On August 9th Jackson arrived within eight miles of Culpeper Court House and found the foe in his front near - Cedar Run and a short distance west and north of Slaughter Mountain. When first seen, the cavalry in large force occupied a ridge to the right - of the road. A battery opened upon it and soon forced it to retire. Our fire was responded to by some guns beyond the ridge from which the advance had just been driven. Soon after, the cavalry returned to the station where it was first seen, and General Early was ordered forward, keeping near the Culpeper road, while General Ewell with his two remaining brigades diverged from the road to the right, advancing along the western slope of Slaughter Mountain. General Early, forming his brigade in line of battle, moved into the open field, and, passing a short distance to the right of the road but parallel to it, pushed forward, driving the opposing cavalry before him to the crest of a hill which over looked the ground between his troops and the opposite hill, along which the enemy's batteries were posted, and opened upon him as soon as he -reached the eminence. Early retired his troops under the protection of the hill, and a small battery of ours, in advance of his right, opened. Meantime General Winder with Jackson's brigade was placed on the left of the road, Campbell's brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Garnett commanding, being on the left, Taliaferro's parallel to the road, supporting the batteries, and Winder's own brigade under Colonel Roland in reserve. The battle opened with a fierce fire of artillery, which continued about two hours, during which Brigadier General Charles S. Winder, while directing the positions of his batteries, received a wound, from the effects of which he expired in a few hours. General Jackson thus spoke of him in his report: It is difficult, within the proper reserve of an official report, to do justice to the merits of this accomplished officer. Urged by the medical director to take no part in the movements of the day, because of the then enfeebled state of his health, his ardent patriotism and military pride could bear no restraint, Richly endowed with those qualities of mind and person which fit an officer for command, and which attract the admiration and excite the enthusiasm of troops, he was rapidly rising to the front rank of his profession. His loss has been severely felt.
Charles Winder had attracted my special notice, when I was Secretary of War of the United States, by an act of heroism and devotion to duty which it gives me pleasure to record. A regiment of artillery, in which he was a second lieutenant, being under orders for California, embarked on the steamer San Francisco, and in a storm became disabled; drifting helplessly at sea, she was approached by a bark which, to give succor, hove to. Not being able to receive all the passengers, the commissioned officers left, as the colonel naively reported, in the order of their rank. Winder alone remained with the troops; in great discomfort and by strenuous exertion the wreck was kept afloat until a vessel bound for Liverpool came to the relief of the sufferers.
Arriving at Liverpool, Winder left the soldiers there, went to the American consul in London, got means to provide for their needs, and returned with them. Soon afterward four regiments were added to the army, and, for his good conduct so full of promise, he was nominated a captain of infantry, and, notwithstanding his youth, was confirmed and commissioned accordingly. He died manifesting the same spirit as on the wreck that which holds life light when weighed against honor,
The enemy's infantry advanced about 5 P. M., and attacked General Early in front, while another body, concealed by the inequality of the ground, moved upon his right. Thomas's brigade of A. P. Hill's division which had now arrived, was sent to his support, and the contest soon became animated. In the meantime the main body of the opposing army, under cover of a wood and the undulations of the field, gained the left -of Jackson's division, now commanded by Brigadier General Taliaferro, and poured a destructive fire into its flank and rear. Campbell's brigade fell back in confusion, exposing the flank of Taliaferro's, which also gave way, as did the left of Early's. The rest of his brigade, however, firmly held its ground.
Winder's brigade, with Branch's of A. P. Hill's division on its right advanced promptly to the support of Jackson's division, and after a sanguinary struggle the assailants were repulsed with loss. Pender's and Archer's brigades, also of Hill's division, came up on the left of Winder's, and by a general charge the foe was driven back in confusion, leaving the ground covered with his dead and wounded. General Ewell, with the two brigades on the extreme right, had been prevented from advancing by the fire of our own artillery, which swept his approach to the enemy S left. The obstacle being 110W removed, he pressed forward under a hot fire, and came gallantly into action. Repulsed and vigorously followed on Our left and center, and now hotly pressed on our right, the whole line of the enemy gave way, and was soon in full retreat. Night had now set in, but General Jackson, desiring to enter Culpeper Court -House before morning, determined to pursue. Hill's division led the advance; Owing to the darkness, however, it was compelled to move slowly and with caution.
The enemy was found about a mile and a half in the rear of the field of battle, and information was received that reinforcements had arrived. General Jackson thereupon halted for the night, and the next day, becoming satisfied that the enemy's force had been so largely increased as to render a further advance on his part imprudent, he Sent his wounded to the rear, and proceeded to bury the dead and collect the arms from the battlefield. On the 11th the enemy asked and received permission to bury dose of his dead not already interred. General Jackson remained In position during the day, and at night returned to the vicinity of Gordonsville. In this engagement 400 prisoners, including a brigadier general, were captured, and 5,300 stand of small arms, one piece of artillery, several caissons, and three colors, fell into our hands. Our killed were 229, wounded 1047, total 1,276. The loss on the other side exceeded 1,500, of whom nearly 300 were taken prisoners.
The victory of Cedar Run effectually checked the invasion the time; it soon became apparent, however, that his army was receiving a large increase. The corps of Majr General Burnside, from North Carolina, which had reached Fredericksburg, was reported to have moved up the Rappahannock a few days after the battle to unite with General Pope, and a part of General McClellan's army had left Westover for the same purpose. It therefore seemed that active operations on the James were no longer contemplated, and that the most effectual way to relieve Richmond from any danger of an attack would be to reinforce General Jackson and advance upon General Pope.
Accordingly, On August 13th, Longstreet, Anderson, and Stuart were, ordered to proceed to Gordonsville. On the 16th the troops began to move from the vicinity of Gordonsville toward the Rapidan, On the north side of which, extending along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in the direction of Culpeper Court House, the army of invasion lay in great force. It was determined, with the cavalry, to destroy the railroad bridge over the Rappahannock in rear of the enemy, while Jackson and Long-street crossed the Rapidan and attacked his left flank. But the enemy. becoming apprised of our design, hastily retreated beyond the Rappahannock. On the 21st our forces moved toward flat river, and some sharp skirmishing ensued with our cavalry that had crossed at Beverly's Ford. As it had been determined ill the meantime not to attempt the passage of the river at that point with the army, the cavalry withdrew to the south side. Soon afterward the enemy appeared in great Strength on the opposite bank, and an active fire was kept up during the rest of the day between his artillery and the batteries attached to Jackson's leading division, under Brigadier General Taliaferro.
But as our positions on the south bank of the Rappahannock were commanded by those on the north bank, which seemed to guard all the fords, General Lee determined to seek a more favorable place to cross higher up the river, and thus gain his adversary's night. Accordingly, General Longstreet was directed to leave Kelly's Ford on the 21st, and take the position in the vicinity of Beverly's Ford and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad bridge, then held by Jackson, in order to mask the movement of the latter, who was instructed to ascend the river. On the 22d Jackson proceeded up the Rappahannock, leaving Trimble's brigade near Freeman's Ford to protect his train. In the afternoon Longstreet sent General Hood with his own and Whiting's brigade to relieve Trimble. Hood had just reached the position when he and Trimble were attacked by a considerable force which had crossed at Freeman's Ford. After a short but spirited engagement, the enemy was driven precipitately over the river with heavy loss. General Jackson attempted to cross at Warrenton Springs Ford, but was interrupted by a heavy rain which caused the river to rise so rapidly as to be impassable for infantry and artillery, and he withdrew the troops that had reached the opposite side. General Stuart, who had been directed to cut the railroad in rear of General Pope's army, crossed the Rappahannock on the morning of the 22d, about six miles above the Springs, with parts of Lee's and Robertson's brigades. He reached Catlet's Station that night, but was prevented destroying the railroad bridge there by the same storm that arrested Jackson's movements. He captured more than three hundred prisoners, Including a number of officers. Apprehensive of the effect of the rain upon the streams, he recrossed the Rappahannock at Warrenton Springs. The rise of the river, rendering the lower fords impassable, enabled the enemy to concentrate his main body opposite General Jackson, and on the 24th Longstreet was ordered by General Lee to proceed to his support. Although retarded by the swollen condition of Hazel River and other tributaries of the Rappahannock, he reached Jeffersonton in the afternoon. General Jackson's command lay between that place and the Spring's Ford, and a warm cannonade was progressing between the batteries of General A. P. Hill's division and those in his front. The enemy was massed between Warrenton and the Springs, and guarded the fords of the Rappahannock as far above as Waterloo.
The army of General McClellan had left Westover, and a part had marched to join General Pope. It was reported that the rest would soon follow. The greater part of the army of General Cox had also been withdrawn from the Kanawha Valley for the same purpose. Two brigades of D. H. Hill's division, under General Ripley, had already been ordered from Richmond, and the remainder were to follow; also, Mc-Laws's division, two brigades under General Walker, and Hampton's cavalry brigade. In pursuance of the plan of Operations now determined upon, Jackson was directed on the 25th to cross above Waterloo and move around the enemy's right, so as to strike the Orange and Alex-andria Railroad in his rear. Longstreet, in the meantime, was to divert his attention by threatening him in front, and to follow Jackson as soon as the latter should be sufficiently advanced.
General Jackson crossed the Rappahannock on the 25th, about four miles above Waterloo, and after sunset on the 26th reached the railroad at Bristoe Station. At Gainesville he was joined by General Stuart, with the brigades of Robertson and Fitzhugh Lee, who continued with him during his operations and effectually guarded both his flanks.
General Jackson was now between the large army of General Pope and Washington City, without having encountered any considerable force. At Bristoe two trains of cars were captured and a few prisoners taken. Determining, notwithstanding the darkness of the night and the long and arduous march of the day, to capture the depot of the enemy at Manassas Junction, about seven miles distant, General Trimble volunteered to proceed at once to that place with the Twenty-first North Carolina and the Twenty-first Georgia Regiments. The offer was accepted, and, to render success more certain, General Stuart was directed to accompany the expedition with part of his cavalry. About midnight the place was taken with little difficulty. Eight pieces of artillery, with their horses, ammunition, and equipment's were captured; more than three hundred prisoners, one hundred seventy-five horses besides those belonging to the artillery, two hundred new tents, and immense quantities of commissary and quartermaster's stores, fell into our hands.
Ewell's division, with the Fifth Virginia Cavalry under Colonel Rosser, were left at Bristoe Station, and the rest of the command arrived at the junction early on the 27th. Soon a considerable force of the enemy, under Brigadier General Taylor of New Jersey, approached from the direction of Alexandria, and pushed forward boldly to recover the stores. After a sharp engagement he was routed and driven back, leaving his killed and wounded on the field. The troops remained at Manassas Junction during the day, and supplied themselves with everything they required. In the afternoon two brigades advanced against General Ewell at Bristoe, from the direction of Warrenton Junction but were broken and repulsed. Their place was soon supplied with fresh troops, but it was apparent that the commander had now become aware of the situation of affairs and had turned upon General Jackson with his whole force. General Ewell, perceiving the strength of the column, withdrew and rejoined General Jackson, having first destroyed the railroad bridge over Broad Run. The enemy halted at Bristoe. General Jackson, having a much inferior force to General Pope, retired from Manassas Junction and took a position west of the turnpike road from Warrenton to Alexandria, where he could more readily unite with the approaching column of Longstreet. Having supplied the wants of his troops, he was compelled, through lack of transportation, to destroy the rest of the captured 'property. Many thousand pounds of bacon, a thousand barrels of corned beef, two thousand barrels of salt pork, and two thousand barrels of flour, besides other property of great value, were burned.
During the night of August 27th Taliaferro's division crossed the turnpike near Groveton and halted on the west side, near the battlefield o) f July 21, 1861, where it was joined on the 28th by the divisions of Hill and Ewell. During the afternoon the enemy, approaching from the direction of Warrenton down the turnpike toward Alexandria, exposed his left flank, and General Jackson determined to attack him. A fierce and sanguinary conflict ensued which continued until about 9 P. M., when he slowly fell back and left us in possession of the field. The loss on both sides was heavy. On the next morning (the 29th) the enemy had taken a position to interpose his army between General Jackson and Alexandria, and about 10 A. M. opened with artillery upon the right of Jackson's line. The troops of the latter were disposed ill rear of Groveton, along the line of the unfinished branch of the Mannassas Gap Railroad, and extending from a point a short distance west of the turnpike toward Sudley Mill-Jackson's division under Brigadier General Starke being on the right, Ewell's under General Lawton in the center, and A. P. Hill on the left. The attacking columns were evidently concentrating on Jackson with the design of overwhelming him before the arrival of Longstreet. This latter officer left his position opposite Warrenton Springs on the 26th and marched to join Jackson. On the 28th, arriving at Thoroughfare Gap, he found the enemy prepared to dispute his progress. Holding the eastern extremity of the pass with a large force, the enemy directed a heavy fire of artillery upon the road leading to it and upon the sides of the mountain. An attempt was made to turn his right, but before our troops reached their destination he advanced to the attack, and, being vigorously repulsed, withdrew to his position at the eastern end of the Gap, keeping up an active fire of artillery until dark. He then retreated. On the morning of the 29th Longstreet's command resumed its march, the sound of cannon at Manassas announcing that Jackson was already engaged. The head of the column came upon the field in rear of the enemy's left, which had already opened with artillery upon Jackson's right, as above stated. Longstreet immediately placed some of his batteries in position, but before he could complete his disposition to attack the force before him, it withdrew to another part of the field. He then took position on the right of Jackson, Hood's two brigades, supported by Evans, being deployed across the turnpike and
-at right angles to it. These troops were supported on the left by three brigades under General Wilcox, and by a like force on the right under General Kemper. D. R. Jones's division formed the extreme right of the line, resting on the Manassas Gap Railroad. The cavalry guarded our right and left flanks, that on the right being under General Stuart in person. After the arrival of Longstreet the enemy changed his position and began to concentrate opposite Jackson's left, opening a brisk -artillery fire, which was responded to by some of A. P. Hill's batteries.
Soon afterward General Stuart reported the approach of a large force from the direction of Bristoe Station, threatening Longstreet's right.
But no serious attack was made, and, after firing a few shots, that force withdrew. Meanwhile a large column advanced to assail the left of Jackson's position, occupied by the division of General A. P. Hill. The attack was received by his troops with their accustomed steadiness, and the battle raged with great fury. The enemy was repeatedly repulsed, but again pressed on the attack with fresh troops. Once he succeeded in penetrating an interval between General Gregg's brigade on the extreme left and that of General Thomas, but was quickly driven back with great slaughter by the Fourteenth South Carolina Regiment, then in reserve, and the Forty-ninth Georgia of Thomas's brigade. The contest was close and obstinate; the combatants sometimes delivered their fire at a few paces. General Gregg, who was most exposed, was reinforced by Hays's brigade under Colonel Forno. Gregg had successfully and most gallantly resisted the attack until the ammunition of his brigade was exhausted and all his field officers but two killed or wounded. The reinforcement was of like high tempered steel, and together in -band-to-hand fight they held their post until they were relieved, after several hours of severe fighting, by Early's brigade and the Eighth Louisiana Regiment. General Early drove the enemy back with heavy-loss, and pursued about two hundred yards beyond the line of battle, when he was recalled to the position on the railroad where Thomas, Pender, and Archer had firmly held their ground against every attack. While the battle was raging on Jackson's left, Hood and Evans were ordered by Longstreet to advance, but before the order could be obeyed, Hood was himself attacked, and his command became at once warmly engaged. The enemy was repulsed by Hood after a severe contest, and fell back, closely followed by our troops.
The battle continued until 9 P. M., the foe retreating until he reached a strong position, which he held with a large force. Our troops remained in their advanced position until early next morning, when they were withdrawn to their first line. One piece of artillery, several stands of colors, and a number of prisoners were captured. Our loss was severe. On the morning of the 30th the enemy again advanced, and skirmishing began along the line. The troops of Jackson and Longstreet maintained their position of the previous day. At noon the firing of the batteries ceased, and all was quiet for some hours.
About 3 P. M. the enemy, having massed his troops in front of General Jackson, advanced against his position in strong force. His front line pushed forward until it was engaged at close quarters by Jackson's troop, when its progress was checked and a fierce and bloody struggle ensued. A second and third line of great strength moved up to support the first, but in doing SO came within easy range of a position a little in advance of Longstreet's left. He immediately ordered up two batteries, and, two others being thrown forward about the same time by Colonel S. D. Lee, the Supporting lines were broken, and fell back in confusion under their well-directed and destructive fire. Their repeated efforts to rally were unavailing, and Jackson's troops, being thus relieved from the pressure of Overwhelming numbers, began to press steadily forward, driving everything before them. The enemy retreated in confusion, suffering severely from our artillery, which advanced as he retired. General Longstreet, anticipating the order for a general advance, now threw his whole command against the center and left. The whole line swept steadily on, driving the Opponents with great carnage from each successive position, until 10 P. M., when darkness put an end to the battle and the pursuit.
The obscurity of the night and the uncertainty of the fords of Bull Run rendered it necessary to suspend operations until morning, when the cavalry, being pushed forward, discovered that the retreat had continued to the Strong position of Centreville, about four miles beyond Bull Run. The prevalence of a heavy rain, which began during the night, threatened to render Bull Run impassable, and to impede our movements. Longstreet remained on the battlefield to engage attention and to protect parties for the burial of the dead and the removal of the wounded, while Jackson proceeded by Sudley's Ford to the Little River turnpike to turn the enemy's right and intercept his retreat to Washing. ton. Jackson's progress was retarded by the inclemency of the weather and the fatigue of his troops. He reached the turnpike in the evening, and the next day (September 1st) advanced by that road toward Fairfax Court House. The enemy in the meantime was falling back rapidly toward Washington, and had thrown a strong force to Germantown, on the Little River turnpike, to cover his line of retreat from Centreville. The advance of Jackson encountered him at Ox Hill, near Germantown, about 5 P. M. Line of battle was at once formed, and two brigades were thrown forward to attack and ascertain the strength of the position. A cold and drenching rainstorm drove in the faces of our troops as they advanced and gallantly engaged. They were subsequently supported, and the conflict was obstinately maintained until dark, when the enemy retreated, having lost two genera] officers, one of whom-Major General Kearney was left dead on the field. Longstreet's command arrived after the action was over, and the next morning it was found that the retreat had been so rapid that the attempt to intercept was abandoned.
The proximity of the fortifications around Alexandria and Washington was enough to prevent further pursuit. Our army rested during the 2nd near Chantilly, the retreating foe being followed only by our cavalry, who continued to harass him until he reached the shelter of his entrenchments.
In the series of engagements on the plains of Manassas more than seven thousand prisoners were taken, in addition to about two thousand wounded left in our hands. Thirty pieces of artillery, upward of twenty thousand stands of small arms, numerous colors, and a large amount of stores, besides those taken by General Jackson at Manassas Junction, were captured.
Major General Pope in his report says: The whole force that I had at Centreville, as reported to me by the corps commanders, on the morning of the 1st of September was as follows: McDowell's corps, 10,000 men; Sigel's corps, about 7,000; Heintzelman's corps, about 6,000; Reno's, 6,000; Banks's, 5,000; Somners, 11,000; Porter's, 10,000; Franklin's, 8,000 in all, 63,000 men. The small fraction of 20,500 men was all of the 91,000 veteran troops from Harrison's Landing which ever drew trigger under my command.
Our losses in the engagement at Manassas Plains were considerable.
The number killed was 1,090; wounded, 6,154-total, 7,244. The loss of the enemy in killed, wounded, and missing was estimated between 15,000 and 20,000.