Jackson's Raid Around Pope
W.B. Taliaferro, Major-General, C.S.A.
ON the morning of the 25th of August, 1862, Stonewall Jackson, with Ewell's and A. P. Hill's divisions and his own old division under my command, marched northward from Jeffersonton, Virginia, to cut Pope's communications and destroy his supplies. Quartermasters and commissaries, with their forage and subsistence stores, were left behind, their white tilted wagons parked conspicuously. The impedimenta which usually embarrass and delay a marching column had been reduced to a few ambulances and a limited ordnance train; three days' meager rations had been cooked and stowed away in haversacks and pockets; and tin cans and an occasional frying-pan constituted the entire camp-equipage. The men had rested and dried off, and as they marched out they exulted with the inspiration of the balmy summer atmosphere and the refreshing breezes which swept down from the Blue Mountains.
No man save one in that corps, whatever may have been his rank, knew our destination. The men said of Jackson that his piety expressed itself in obeying the injunction, "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." No intelligence of intended Confederate movements ever reached the enemy by any slip of his. The orders to his division chiefs were like this: "March to a cross-road; a staff-officer there will inform you which fork to take ; and so to the next fork, where you will find a courier with a sealed direction pointing out the road."
This extreme reticence was very uncomfortable and annoying to his subordinate commanders, and was sometimes carried too far; but it was the real secret of the reputation for ubiquity which he acquired, and which was so well expressed by General McClellan in one of his dispatches: "I am afraid of Jackson; he will turn up where least expected."
Naturally our destination was supposed to be Waterloo Bridge, there to force the passage of the river; but the road leading to Waterloo was passed and the northward march continued. The Rappahannock (locally the Hedgeman) is here confined in narrow limits by bold hills and rocky cliffs, and some miles above the bridge there is a road through these crossing the river at Hinson's Mills. The picturesque surroundings of the ford at this place and the cool bath into which the men plunged were not the less enjoyed because of the unexpected absence of opposition by the enemy; and after the inevitable delay which accompanies any crossing of a watercourse by an army, Jackson's corps stood on the same side of the river with the entire Federal army.
After crossing, Colonel Thomas T. Munford's 2d Virginia Cavalry picketed the roads leading in the direction of the enemy, whose whole force, now confronting Longstreet alone, was massed within lines drawn from Warrenton and Waterloo on the north to the Orange and Alexandria Railroad (now called the Midland) on the south. But Jackson's course was not directed toward the enemy: We were marching toward the lower Valley of Virginia, with our destination shrouded in mystery.
From the crossing at Hinson's Mills, Jackson's course still took the same direction---through the little village of Orlean, along the base of a small mountain which crops up in Fauquier County, and on to the little town of Salem' where his "foot cavalry'" after a march of over twenty-six miles on a midsummer's day, rested for the night. At dawn on the 26th the route was resumed---this day at right angles with the direction of that of the preceding, and now, with faces set to the sunrise, the troops advanced toward the Bull Run Mountains, which loomed up across the pathway.
Thoroughfare Gap, of this range, is the outlet by which the Manassas Gap Railroad, passing from the Shenandoah Valley, penetrates the last mountain obstruction on its way to tide-water. Marching along the graded bed of this road, between the spurs and cliffs which rise on either side, and refreshed by the cooler atmosphere of the mountain elevation, the Confederate troops poured through the narrow pathway and streamed down into the plain below. Used to scanty diet, they had early learned the art of supplementing their slender commissariat, and the tempting corn-fields along which they passed were made to pay tribute.
At Gainesville, on the Warrenton and Alexandria turnpike, we were overtaken by Stuart, who, with Fitz Lee's and Robertson's brigades, had crossed the Rappahannock that morning and pursued nearly the same route with Jackson; and our subsequent movements were greatly aided and influenced by the admirable manner in which the cavalry was employed by Stuart and his accomplished officers.
Late in the afternoon Ewell's division, preceded by Munford's cavalry, reached the Orange and Alexandria Railroad at Bristoe Station, the other two divisions being halted for the night a little short of that point. Munford, with his cavalry, dashed upon the station, dispersed a party of the same arm, and had a sharp skirmish with a company of infantry who took shelter in the houses; but he failed to stop a train which sped recklessly past, throwing aside the obstructions he had placed upon the track and effecting its escape. General Henry Forno's (Hays's) brigade, of General Ewell's division, however, quickly reŽnforcing him, two other trains and several prisoners were captured.
Wearied, as they were, with a march of over thirty miles, Jackson determined, nevertheless, to tax still further the powers of endurance of his men. At Manassas Junction was established a vast depot of quartermaster's, commissary, and ordnance stores; and it was also a "city of refuge" for many runaway negroes of all ages and of both sexes. The extent of the defenses, and of the force detailed for its protection, could not be known; but as it was far in the rear of the Federal army, not very distant from Alexandria, and directly on the line of communication and reŽnforcement, it was not probable that any large force had been detached for its protection. General Stonewall Jackson's habit in the valley had been to make enforced requisitions upon the Federal commissaries for his subsistence supplies; and the tempting opportunity of continuing this policy and rationing his hungry command, as well as inflicting almost irreparable loss upon the enemy, was not to be neglected. General Trimble volunteered to execute the enterprise with five hundred men, and his offer was readily accepted; but "to increase the prospect of success," Stuart, with a portion of his cavalry, was ordered to cooperate with him. The enemy were not taken by surprise, and opened with their artillery upon the first intimation of attack, but their cannon were taken at the point of the bayonet, and without the loss of a man killed, and with but fifteen wounded, the immense stores, eight guns, and three hundred prisoners fell into our hands. ^ Early next morning A. P. Hill's division and mine were moved to the Junction, Ewell's remaining at Bristoe.
Our troops at Manassas had barely been placed in position before a gallant effort was made by General Taylor, with a New Jersey brigade, to drive off the supposed raiding party and recapture the stores; but, rushing upon overwhelming numbers, he lost his own life, two hundred prisoners, and the train that had transported them from Alexandria. The railroad bridge over Bull Run was destroyed, severing communication with Alexandria, the roads were picketed, and Fitz Lee's cavalry pushed forward as far as Fairfax Court House on the turnpike and Burke's Station on the railroad. The long march of over fifty-six miles in two days entitled Jackson's men to a holiday, and the day of rest at Manassas Junction was fully enjoyed. There was no
^ The guns captured at Manassas Junction appear to have belonged to the 11th New York battery, Captain Albert A. von Puttkammer, who lost 6 guns; one section of Battery C, 1st New York Artillery, Lieutenant Samuel R. James, 2 guns. Part of one company of the 12th Pennsylvania Cavalry, which had been driven in from Bristoe, was captured. Captain von Puttkammer saved two of his guns and presently fell in with the advance of the 2d New York Heavy Artillery, Colonel Gustav Waagner (about 600 strong), which had been hurried forward from Washington. These forces, later in the morning, had a brief contest with Branch's brigade, moving on Union Mills at the lead of A. P. Hill's division. Waagner's force was soon driven off, and in his retreat was harried by Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry from Centreville to Fairfax, where they met the 14th Massachusetts regiment (1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery), Col. W. B. Greene, which had also been ordered forward. Colonel L. B. Pierce, 12th Pennsylvania Cavalry, was ill and in the hospital at Manassas; the rest of his regiment had been sent toward White Plains, and a portion of it seems to have encountered the advance of Stuart's cavalry at Hay Market and Gainesville; "the remains" of this regiment, as General McClellan describes them, were reunited near Alexandria. Shortly after driving off Waagner's force, A. P. Hill's advance met and overpowered Taylor's New Jersey brigade of Slocum's division supported by part of Scammon's brigade of the Kanawha division. Taylor and Scammon were hurrying forward from Washington.--- EDITORS.
lack or stint of good cheer, in the way of edibles, canned meats to caramels.
Stonewall Jackson the enemy, broken down the bridges behind them, and destroyed their enormous reserve supplies. But this, which might have been accomplished by a raiding party, was by no means the only object of his enterprise; the object was beyond that--to deliver a stunning blow upon his adversary, if possible without hazard to himself. His plans, no doubt conditionally discussed With General Lee before he started on the expedition, we determined Without hesitation at Manassas. He could throw himself north of Bull Run and await the coming of Pope,--- who he believed would retreat along the line of the railroad and turn- pike'---thus taking the chances of holding him in check until Longstreet came in to crush him from behind. The conditions of the problem were these: he must place himself on the enemy's flank, so as to avoid the full shock of his whole force if Longstreet should be delayed and at the same time where he could himself strike effectively; he must remain within reach of Longstreet, in order to insure a more speedy concentration; and he must seek some point from which, in the event that Longstreet's advance should be barred, he might aid in removing the obstacle, or, in case of necessity, withdraw his corps and reunite it with the rest of the army behind the Bull Run Mountains.
The point that satisfied these requirements was west of Bull Run and north of the Warrenton turnpike, and within striking distance of Aldie Gap as the line of retreat. That position Jackson determined to occupy, and there was nothing to prevent or disconcert his plans. A glance at the map will show that Jackson was really master of the situation---that neither General Lee nor himself had forced his command into a trap, but, on the contrary, he was at that time not even menaced; and if he had been, the gateways of retreat were wide open. His march had been made with such celerity, his flanks guarded with such consummate skill, that he was in no hurry to execute those tactical movements which he recognized as essential to his safety and to the delivery of his heaviest blows. On one flank, Fitz Lee was as near to Alexandria as to Manassas Junction; and, on the other, Munford and Rosser were in advance of Bristoe. Jackson was resting--- as a man full of life and vigor, ready to start into action at the first touch---but he rested in the consciousness of security. The Federal commander, around whose flank and rear fourteen brigades of infantry, two of cavalry, and eighteen light batteries had passed, was also resting---but in profound ignorance. On the 26th he ordered Heintzelman "to send a regiment" from Warrenton to Manassas, "to repair the Wires and protect the railroad." Aroused, however, on the evening of the 27th, to some appreciation of the condition of affairs, he sent one division (Hooker's) of Heintzelman's corps to Bristoe, which attacked the brigades of Lawton, Early, and Forno (Hays's) of Ewell's division, who successively retired, as they had been directed to do, with little loss, upon the main body at Manassas Junction.
At his leisure, Jackson now proceeded to execute his projected movements. A, P, Hill was ordered to Centreville, Ewell to cross Bull Run at Blackburn's Ford and follow the stream to the stone bridge, and my division by the Sudley road, to the left of the other routes, to the vicinity of Sudley Mills, north of the Warrenton pike' where the whole command was to be concentrated. The immense accumulation of stores and the captured trains were set on fire about midnight and destroyed^^ [see p. 511]; and at night the troops took up their march, Jackson accompanying his old division then under my command. The night was starlit but moonless, and a slight mist or haze which settled about the earth made it difficult to distinguish objects at any distance. Still, little
^^ None of the Federal reports mention seeing the light of this great fire or that at Union Mills on the same night.---EDITORS.
encumbered by baggage, and with roads free from the blockade of trains, the march was made without serious impediment or difficulty. The enemy was again deceived. A. P. Hill's march to Centreville was mistaken for that of the whole command ; Jackson was supposed to be between Bull Run and Washington; and now, instead of a regiment, the whole Federal army was ordered to concentrate on Manassas for the pursuit.
Early on the morning of the 28th, Colonel Bradley T. Johnson, commanding a brigade of my division, was ordered down the Warrenton road toward Gainesville, with directions to picket the roads converging upon the turnpike near that place. Stuart had already placed a small cavalry force on this road and north of it, at Hay Market. Johnson, holding Groveton as his reserve, picketed the road as directed, pushed Captain George R. Gaither's troop of cavalry, which he found on picket, still farther on in the direction of Warrenton, and made dispositions to prevent surprise, and to check, if necessary, any advance of the enemy.
Ewell's division having now come up and united with the troops of my command, Jackson determined to rest and await further developments.
Captain Gaither had the good fortune to capture a courier conveying a dispatch from General McDowell to Generals Sigel and Reynolds, which revealed General Pope's intention of concentrating on Manassas Junction, Sigel being ordered to march on that point from Gainesville, with his right resting on the Manassas Gap Railroad; Reynolds' also from Gainesville, to keep his left on the Warrenton road; and King's division to move en ťchelon in support of the other two.
In the execution of this order, Reynolds's column struck Johnson's command; but after a short conflict, which was well sustained on both sides, the Federal commander, mistaking Johnson's force for a reconnoitering party, turned off to the right, on the road to Manassas. Johnson then, by order of General Stuart, took position, which he held for the rest of the day, north of the pike.
Johnson's messenger, bearing the captured order, found the Confederate headquarters established on the shady side of an old-fashioned worm fence, in the corners of which General Jackson and his two division commanders were profoundly sleeping after the fatigues of the preceding night, not withstanding the intense heat of that August day. There was not so much as an ambulance at those headquarters. The headquarters, train was back beyond the Rappahannock (at Jeffersonton), with servants, camp-equipage, and all the arrangements for cooking and serving food. All the property of the general the staff, and of the headquarters' bureau, was strapped to the pommels and cantles of the saddles, and these formed the pillows of their weary owners.
The captured dispatch aroused Jackson like an electric shock. He was essentially a man of action; he rarely, if ever, hesitated; he never asked advice; he did not seem to reflect, or reason out a purpose; but he leaped by instinct and not by the slower process of ordinary ratiocination to a conclusion, and then as rapidly undertook its execution. He called no council to discuss the situation disclosed by this communication, although his ranking officers were almost at his side; he asked no conference, no expression of opinion; he made no suggestion, but simply, without a word except to repeat the language of the dispatch, 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 with the first summons. There was nothing for them to do but to form, and take their pieces. 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, finding no enemy, were halted and rested, and the prospect of an engagement on that afternoon [the 28th] seemed to disappear with the lengthening shadows. The enemy did not come --- he could not be found --- the Warrenton pike, 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.
Ewell's division was in rear of mine, both lines fronting the turnpike. Beyond this road a pleasant farm-house, with shaded lawn and conspicuous dairy, invited the heated soldiers to its cool retreat and suggested tempting visions of milk and butter. Application was made by some of the men for permission to test the hospitality of the residents and the quality of their dairy products. They went and returned just as General Ewell happened to ride to the front. He heard their favorable report, and, laughingly suggesting that a canteen of buttermilk was a delicacy not to be despised on such an evening by the commander-in-chief himself, requested another party to procure for him the coveted luxury. As these men reached the farm-house a straggling party of the enemy, doubtless attracted by the same object, came in sight and made straight for what they supposed to be their comrades. A closer approach revealed the distinctive uniforms of enemies and brought about a brief but lively skirmish, from which both parties soon retired upon their respective friends---the Confederates, however, bearing off the spolia opima. General Ewell reaped the fruits of the contest, enjoyed his canteen of buttermilk.
Shortly after this, then late in the afternoon, the Federal columns were discovered passing, and the Confederate line, formed parallel to the turnpike, moved rapidly forward to the attack. There was no disposition on the part of the Federals to avoid the onset, but, on the contrary, they met us half-way.
It was a sanguinary field; none was better contested during the war. The Federal artillery was admirably served, and at one time the annihilation of our batteries seemed inevitable, so destructive was the fire; but the Confederate guns, although forced to retire and seek new positions, responded with a determination and pluck unshaken by the fiery tempest they had encountered.
A farm-house, an orchard, a few stacks of hay, and a rotten "worm" fence were the only cover afforded to the opposing lines of infantry; it was a stand-up combat, dogged and unflinching, in a field almost bare. There were no wounds from spent balls; the confronting lines looked into each other's faces at deadly range, less than one hundred yards apart, and they stood as immovable as the painted heroes in a battle-piece. There was cover of woods not very far in rear of the lines on both sides, and brave men--- with that instinct of self-preservation which is exhibited in the veteran soldier, who seizes every advantage of ground or obstacle---might have been justified in slowly seeking this shelter from the iron hail that smote them; but out in the sunlight, in the dying daylight, and under the stars, they stood, and although they could not advance, they would not retire. There was some discipline in this, but there was much more of true valor.
In this fight there was no maneuvering, and very little tactics---it was a question of endurance, and both endured.
The loss was unusually heavy on both sides. On ours, both division commanders, Ewell and myself, were seriously wounded, and several field-officers were killed or wounded. Federal reports state that "more than one-third of their commanders were left dead or wounded on the field," while Confederate accounts claim that the enemy slowly fell back about 9 o'clock at night, but asserted that they did not retire until 1 o'clock. It was dark, and the Confederates did not advance, and it may be called a drawn battle as a tribute due by either side to the gallantry of the other.
Five of Jackson's brigades took part in the conflict, Lawton's and Trimble's of Ewell's, and Starke's, Taliaferro's, and Baylor's, of Jackson's old division. Early's, Forno's, and Johnson's brigades were not engaged, nor were any of the brigades of General A. P. Hill's division. The Federal troops encountered were those of King's division, and consisted of the brigade of Gibbon and two regiments of Doubleday's brigade. *
During our engagement at Groveton the white puffs in the air, seen away off to the Confederate right, and the sounds of sharp but distant explosions coming to our ears, foretold the passage of Thoroughfare Gap; and the next day, before noon, Longstreet's advance, under Hood, mingled their hurrahs with those of our men. ^^^^ The march and the manoeuvres of Jackson had been a success;^^^ the army was reunited, and ready, under its great head, to strike with both of its strong arms the blows he should direct.
* In this battle the right of the Confederate line was held by Taliaferro's brigade of Virginia and Alabama troops, commanded by Colonel Alexander G. Taliaferro, 23d Virginia; next on the left was Jackson's old brigade, all Virginians (lately commanded by General C. S. Winder, killed at Slaughter's [Cedar] Mountain),---officially designated as the "Stonewall," in honor of the steadiness and gallantry which it displayed on the same field [the First Bull Run] twelve months before, and which gained for their commander his well-known sobriquet,---now commanded by Colonel Baylor, 5th Virginia. Next came the Louisiana brigade, lately commanded by Colonel Stafford, and now by General William E. Starke, who took command about August. 19th, and who was killed three weeks afterward at Antietam; then the Georgia brigade, commanded by General Alexander R. Lawton; and upon the extreme left General I. R. Trimble's brigade of Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Alabama troops. The batteries engaged were those of Wooding, Poague, and Carpenter, much outnumbered by the Federal guns, but, toward the close of the contest, ably supplemented by two pieces brought to their support by the "boy-major" Pelham, of Stuart's Horse Artillery, already famous for his skill and gallantry. Jackson ordered up twenty additional guns, but before they could be brought night and fatigue had closed the contest.--- W.B.T.
^^^^ Jackson's force in this raid consisted of three divisions, as follows: Ewell's division, composed of the brigades of Lawton, Early, Hays (Forno commanding), and Trimble, with the batteries of Brown, Dement, Latimer, Balthis, and D'Aquin; Hill's division, of the brigades of Branch, Gregg, Field, Pender, Archer, and Thomas, with the batteries of Braxton, Latham, Crenshaw, McIntosh, Davidson, and Pegram; and Jackson's old division consisted of the brigades of Starke, Taliaferro (Col. A G. Taliaferro commanding), Winder (Col. Baylor commanding), and Campbell (Major John Seddon commanding), with the batterirough, Poague, Wooding, Carpenter, Caskie, and Raine. After the 26th, Colonel Bradley T. Johnson commanded Campbell's brigade. General Stuart, with the brigades of Fitz Lee and Robertson, coŲperated with Jackson.---W. B. T.
^^^ The results of Jackson's raid on Manassas Junction were reported by General R.E. Lee to be --- "eight pieces of artillery, with their horses and equipments, were taken. More than 300 prisoners, 175 horses, besides those belonging to the artillery, 200 new tents, and immense quantities of quartermaster's and commissary stores fell into our hands..... 50,000 pounds of bacon, 1000 barrels of corned beef, 2000 barrels of salt pork, and 2000 barrels of flour, besides other property of great value, were burned." --- EDITORS.
Source: Battles and Leaders of the Civil War
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