THE SECOND BATTLE OF BULL RUN
John Pope, Major-General, U.S.A.
EARLY in June, 1862, I was in command of the army corps known as the "Army of the Mississippi," which formed the left wing of the army engaged in operations against Corinth, Miss., commanded by General Halleck. A few days after Corinth was evacuated I went to St. Louis on a short leave of absence from my command, and while there I received a telegram from Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, requesting me to come to Washington immediately. I at once communicated the fact to General Halleck by telegraph, and received a reply from him strongly objecting to my leaving the army which was under his command. I quite concurred with him both as to his objections to my going to Washington for public reasons and as to the unadvisability of such a step on personal considerations. I was obliged, however, to go, and I went accordingly, but with great reluctance and against the urgent protests of my friends in St. Louis, and subsequently of many friends in the Army of the West.
When I reached Washington the President was absent at West Point, but I reported in person to Secretary Stanton. I had never seen him before, and his peculiar appearance and manners made a vivid impression on me. He was short and stout. His long beard, which hung over his breast, was slightly tinged with gray even at that time, and he had the appearance of a man who had lost much sleep and was tired both in body and mind. Certainly, With his large eye-glasses and rather disheveled appearance, his presence was not imposing. Although he was very kind and civil to me, his manner was abrupt and his speech short and rather dictatorial. He entered at once on the business in hand, seemingly without the least idea that any one should object to, or be reluctant to agree to, his views and purposes. He was surprised, and, it seemed to me, not well pleased, that I did not assent to his plans with effusion; but went on to unfold them in the seeming certainty that they must be submitted to. He informed me that the purpose was to unite McDowell, Frťmont, and Banks, all three of whom were my seniors in rank, and to place me in general command. These armies were scattered over the northern part of Virginia, with little or no communication or concert of action with one another; Frťmont and Banks being at Middletown, in the Shenandoah Valley, and McDowell's corps widely separated, King's division at Fredericksburg, and Ricketts's at and beyond Manassas Junction.
The general purpose at that time was to demonstrate with the army toward Gordonsville and Charlottesville and draw off as much as possible of the force in front of General McClellan, who then occupied the line of the Chickahominy, and to distract the attention of the enemy in his front so as to reduce as far as practicable the resistance opposed to his advance on Richmond.
It became apparent to me at once that the duty to be assigned to me was in the nature of a forlorn-hope, and my position was still further embarrassed by the fact that I was called from another army and a different field of duty to command an army of which the corps commanders were all my seniors in rank. I therefore strongly urged that I be not placed in such a position, but be permitted to return to my command in the West, to which I was greatly attached and with which I had been closely identified in several successful operations on the Mississippi. It was not difficult to forecast the delicate and embarrassing position in which I should be placed, nor the almost certainly disagreeable, if not unfortunate, issue of such organization for such a purpose.
It would be tedious to relate the conversations between the President, the Secretary of War, and myself on this subject. Sufficient to say that I was finally informed that the public interests required my assignment to this command, and that it was my duty to submit cheerfully. An order from the War Department was accordingly issued organizing the Army of Virginia, to consist of the army corps of McDowell, Banks, and Frťmont, and placing me in command.
One result of this order was the very natural protest of General Frťmont against being placed under the command of his junior in rank, and his request to be relieved from the command of his corps.^^
^^This request was complied with, and on the 29th of June, 1862, General Franz Sigel assumed command of the First Corps.---EDITORS.
It was equally natural that the subordinate officers and the enlisted men of those corps should have been ill-pleased at the seeming affront to their own officers, involved in calling an officer strange to them and to the country in which they were operating, and to the character of the service in which they were engaged, to supersede well-known and trusted officers who had been with them from the beginning, and whose reputation was so closely identified with their own. How far this feeling prevailed among them, and how it influenced their actions, if it did so at all, I am not able to tell; but it is only proper for me to say (and it is a pleasure as well as a duty to say it) that Generals McDowell and Banks never exhibited to me the slightest feeling on the subject either in their conversation or acts. Indeed, I think it would be hard to find officers more faithful to their duty or more deeply interested in the success of the army. To General McDowell especially is due my gratitude for his zeal and fidelity in what was and ought to have been considered a common cause, the success of the Union Army.
Knowing very well the difficulties and embarrassments certain to arise from all these sources, and the almost hopeless character of the service demanded of me, I, nevertheless, felt obliged, in deference to the wish of the President and Secretary of War, to submit; but I entered on this command with great reluctance and serious forebodings.
On the 27th of June, accordingly, I assumed command of the Army of Virginia, which consisted of the three corps above named, which numbered as follows: Frťmont's corps, 11,500; Banks's corps, 8000, and McDowell's corps, 18,500,---in all, 38,000 men. ^^ The cavalry numbered about 5000' but most of it was badly organized and armed, and in poor condition for service. These forces were scattered over a wide district of country, not within supporting
^^ On the 27th of June, according to the "Official Records," the strength of the Army of Virginia appears to have been about as follows: Head- quarters, 200; Sigel's corps (Frťmont's), 13,200; Banks's, 12,100; McDowell's, 19,300; cavalry, 5800. Total of the three army corps, 44,600, or 6600 more than General Pope's estimate : Aggregate, 50,600, or 7600 more than General Pope's estimate. On the 31st of July the consolidated report showed 46,858 "effectives." An error in the report of Banks's corps reduced this aggregate to 40,358. After the battle of Cedar Mountain, and when he had been reenforced by Reno (7000), Pope estimated his force at barely 40,000. With this force were 25 field-batteries numbering about 150 guns.---EDITORS.
distance of one another, and some of the brigades and divisions were badly organized and in a more or less demoralized condition. This was especially the case in the army corps of General Frťmont, as shown in the report of General Sigel which was sent me when he had assumed command of it.
My first object was, therefore, to bring the three corps of the army together, or near enough together to be within supporting distance of one another, and to put them in as efficient a condition for active service as was possible With the time and means at my disposal. When I assumed this command, the troops under General Stonewall Jackson had retired from the valley of the Shenandoah to Richmond, so there was not at that time any force of the enemy of any consequence within several days' march of my command. I accordingly sent orders to General Sigel to move forward, cross the Shenandoah at Front Royal, and, pursuing the west side of the Blue Ridge to Luray, and then crossing it at Thornton's Gap, take post at Sperryville. At the same time I directed General Banks to cross the Shenandoah at Front Royal and proceed by way of Chester Gap to Little Washington. Ricketts's division of McDowell's corps, then at and beyond Manassas Junction, was ordered to move forward to Waterloo Bridge, where the turnpike from Warrenton to Sperryville crosses the Rappahannock, there known as Hedgman's River. In deference to the wishes of the Government, and much against my opinion, King's division of the same corps was kept at Fredericksburg. The wide separation of this division from the main body of the army not only deprived me of its use when, as became plain afterward, it was much needed, but left us exposed to the constant danger that the enemy might interpose between us.
The partial concentration of the corps so near to the Blue Ridge and with open communications with the Shenandoah Valley seemed to me best to fulfill the object of covering that valley from any movements from the direction of Richmond with any force under my command. The position was one also which gave most favorable facilities for the intended operations toward Gordonsville and Charlottesville.
At the date of my orders for this concentration of the army under my command, * the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan occupied both banks of the Chickahominy, and it was hoped that his advance against Richmond, so long delayed, might be facilitated by vigorous use of the Army of Virginia.
During the preparation for the march of the corps of Banks and Sigel toward Sperryville and Little Washington, began the series of battles which preceded and attended the retreat of General McClellan from the Chickahominy toward Harrison's Landing.
When first General McClellan began to intimate by his dispatches that he designed making this retreat toward the James River, I suggested to the President the impolicy of such a movement, and the serious consequences
* The President's order constituting the Army of Virginia is dated June 26th. On that day the second of the Seven Days' battles referred to in the next paragraph began with Lee's attack on McClellan's right near Mechanicsville. General Pope took command on the 27th; on that day was fought the battle of Gaines's Mill, and the march to the James began that night.---EDITORS.
that would be likely to result from it ; I urged upon him that he send orders to General McClellan, if he were unable to maintain his position on the Chickahominy, and were pushed by superior forces of the enemy, to mass his whole force on the north side of that stream, even at the risk of losing some of his material of war, and endeavor to retire in the direction of Hanover Court House, but in no event to retreat farther south than the White House on the Pamunkey River. I told the President that by the movement to the James River the whole army of the enemy would be interposed between General McClellan and myself, and that they would then be able to strike in either direction as might seem most advantageous to them; that this movement would leave entirely unprotected, except so far as the small force under my command could protect it, the whole region in front of Washington, and that it would therefore be impossible to send him any of my troops without putting it in the power of the enemy to exchange Richmond for Washington; that to them the loss of Richmond would be comparatively a small loss, while to us the loss of Washington would be almost a fatal blow. I was so impressed with these opinions that I several times urged them upon the attention of the President and the Secretary of War.
The soundness of these views can be easily tested by subsequent facts. The enemy actually did choose between the danger of losing Richmond and the chance of capturing Washington. * Stonewall Jackson's corps was detached from Lee's army confronting McClellan at Harrison's Landing early in July, and on the 19th of that month was concentrated at Gordonsville in my front; while Stuart's cavalry division, detached from Lee's army about the same time, was at or near Fredericksburg watching our movements from that direction. On the 13th of August Longstreet's whole corps was dispatched to join Jackson at Gordonsville, to which place he had fallen back from Cedar Mountain, and the head of Longstreet's corps had joined Jackson at that place on August 15th. These forces were commanded by Lee in person, who was at Gordonsville on that day. The first troops of the Army of the Potomac which left Harrison's Landing moved out from that place on August 14th, ^^^ at which date there was nothing of Lee's army' except D. H. Hill's corps, left in front of McClellan or near to him. Hill's corps could have opposed but little effective resistance to the advance of the Army of the Potomac upon Richmond.
* General Lee says in his report dated April 18th, 1863:
"To meet the advance of the latter [Pope] . . . General Jackson. with his own and Ewell's divisions, was ordered to proceed toward Gordonsville on July 13th. Upon reaching that vicinity he ascertained that the force under General Pope was superior to his own, but the uncertainty that then surrounded the designs of McClellan rendered it inexpedient to reenforce him from the army at Richmond. . . . Assistance was promised should the progress of General Pope put it in our power to strike an effectual blow without withdrawing the troops too long from the defense of the capital. The army at Westover [Harrison's Landing]. continuing to manifest no intention of resuming active operations. and General Pope's advance having reached the Rapidan, General A, P. Hill, with his division, was ordered on July 27th to join General Jackson. At the same time, in order to keep McClellan stationary. or, if possible, to cause him to withdraw, General D. H. Hill. commanding south of James River, was directed to threaten his communications."
And in his report, dated June 8th, 1863:
"The victory at Cedar Run [August 9th] effectually checked the progress of the enemy for the time, hut it soon became apparent that his army was being largely increased. The corps of Major-General Burnside from North Carolina, which had reached Fredericksburg August 4th and 5th]. 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 was believed to have 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 attack from that quarter would be to reenforce General Jackson and advance upon General Pope." EDITORS.
^^^ On the 30th of July General Halleck ordered General McClellan to send away his sick as rapidly as possible. On the 3d of August General Halleck tel determined to withdraw your army from the Peninsula to Aquia Creek. You will take immediate measures to effect this. . . . Your material and transportation should be removed first." General McClellan protested against the movement, as did Generals Dix, Burnside, and Sumner. General Halleck replied to General McClellan that he saw no alternative. "There is no change of plans." "I . . . have taken the responsibility . . . and am to risk my reputation on it."
The movement of the sick began at once. Between the 1st of August, when the order was received, and the 16th, when the evacuation of . Harrison's Landing was completed, 14,159 were sent away, many of them unnecessarily to the North. The first troops arrived at Aquia within seven days, and the last of the infantry within 26 days, after the receipt of the order.
(The original movement of the Army of the Potomac, from Alexandria to Fort Monroe, had taken 37 days, and Mr. Tucker, who had superintended its transport, said of it: "I confidently submit that for economy and celerity this expedition is without a parallel on record.")
In the terms of General Halleck's order of August 3d, there were to be transported first the 14,159 sick; next all the material of the army, and the transportation, embracing 3100 wagons, 350 ambulances, 13,000 horses and mules; then 89,407 officers and men, 360 guns, and 13,000 artillery and cavalry horses, together with the baggage and stores in use; but in order to hasten the movement this routine was not rigidly observed, and the movement of Peck's division (ordered to move last) of 7581 men and 10 guns was countermanded by General Halleck.---EDITORS.
It seems clear, then, that the views expressed to the President and Secretary of War, as heretofore set forth, were sound, and that the enemy had left McClellan to work his will on Richmond, while they pushed forward against the small army under my command and to the capture of Washington. This movement of Lee was, in my opinion, in accordance with true military principle, and was the natural result of McClellan's retreat to Harrison's Landing, which completely separated the Army of the Potomac from the Army of Virginia and left the entire force of the enemy interposed between them.
The retreat of General McClellan to Harrison's Landing was, however, continued to the end. During these six days of anxiety and apprehension Mr. Lincoln spent much of his time in the office of the Secretary of War, most of that time reclining on a sofa or lounge. The Secretary of War was always with him, and from time to time his Cabinet officers came in. Mr. Lincoln himself appeared much depressed and wearied, though occasionally, while waiting for telegrams, he would break into some humorous remark, which seemed rather a protest against his despondent manner than any genuine expression of enjoyment. He spoke no unkind word of any one, and appeared to be anxious himself to bear all the burden of the situation; and when the final result was reported he rose With a sorrowful face and left the War Department.
A day or two after General McClellan reached the James River I was called before the President and his Cabinet to consult upon means and movements to relieve him. I do not know that it would be proper even at this day for me to state what occurred or what was said during this consultation, except so far as I was myself directly concerned. General McClellan was calling for reŽnforcements, and stating that "much over rather than under one hundred thousand men"ore he could resume operations against Richmond. I had not under my command one-half that force.
I stated to the President and Cabinet that I stood ready to undertake any movement, however hazardous, to relieve the Army of the Potomac. Some suggestions which seemed to me impracticable were made, and much was said which under the circumstances will not bear repetition.
I stated that only on one condition would I be willing to involve the army under my command in direct operations against the enemy to relieve the Army of the Potomac. That condition was, that such peremptory orders be given to General McClellan, and in addition such measures taken in advance as would render it certain that he would make a vigorous attack on the enemy with his whole force the moment he heard that I was engaged.
In face of the extraordinary difficulties which existed and the terrible responsibility about to be thrown on me, I considered it my duty to state plainly to the President that I could not risk the destruction of my army in such a movement as was suggested if it were left to the discretion of General McClellan or any one else to withhold the vigorous use of his whole force when my attack was made.
The whole plan of campaign for the army under my command was necessarily changed by the movement of the Army of the Potomac to Harrison's Landing. A day or two after General McClellan had reached his position on James River I addressed him a letter stating to him my position, the disposition of the troops under my command, and what was required of them, and requesting him in all good faith and earnestness to write me freely and fully his views, and to suggest to me any measures which he thought desirable to enable me to cooperate with him, and offering to render any assistance in my power to the operations of the army under his command. I stated to him that I was very anxious to assist him in his operations, and that I would undertake any labor or run any risk for that purpose. I therefore requested him to feel no hesitation in communicating freely with me, as he might rest assured that any suggestions he made would meet all respect and consideration from me, and that, so far as was within my power, I would carry out his wishes with all energy and all the means at my command. In reply to this communication I received a letter from General McClellan very general in its terms and proposing nothing toward the accomplishment of the purpose I suggested.
It became very apparent, therefore, considering the situation in which the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Virginia were placed in relation to each other and the absolute necessity of harmonious and prompt cooperation between them, that some military superior both of General McClellan and myself should be placed in general command of all the operations in Virginia, with power to enforce joint action between the two armies within that field of operations. General Halleck was accordingly called to Washington and assigned to the command-in-chief of the army,* though Mr. Stanton was opposed to it and used some pretty strong language to me concerning General Halleck and my action in the matter. They, however, established friendly relations soon after General Halleck assumed command.
The reasons which induced me, in the first instance, to ask to be relieved from the command of the Army of Virginia, as heretofore set forth, were greatly intensified by the retreat of General McClellan to James River and the bitter feelings and controversies which it occasioned, and I again requested the President to relieve me from the command and permit me to return to the West. The utter impossibility of sending General McClellan anything like the reŽnforcements he asked for, the extreme danger to Washington involved in sending him even a fraction of the small force under my command, and the glaring necessity of concentrating these two armies in some judicious manner and as rapidly as possible, resulted in a determination to withdraw the Army of the Potomac from the James River and unite it with the Army of Virginia. The question of the command of these armies when united was never discussed in my presence, if at all, and I left Washington with the natural impression that when this junction was accomplished General Halleck would himself assume the command in the field. Under the changed condition of things brought about by General McClellan's retreat to James River, and
* The first step toward calling General Halleck to Washington appears in the President's telegram of July 2d asking if he could not come "for a flying visit." On the 6th, Governor Sprague was sent to him at Corinth, on a confidential mission, arriving there on the 10th. Meanwhile the President had visited General McClellan and received from his hands the Harrison's Ear letter. On the 11th, General Halleck was appointed General-in-chief. Mr. Chase says in his diary (see "Life and Public Services of S. P. Chase," by J. W. Schuckers, p. 447) that he and Mr. Stanton "proposed to the President to send Pope to the James and give [Ormsby M.] Mitchel the command of the front of Washington. . . . The President was not prepared for anything so decisive, and sent for Halleck and made him Commander-in-chief." Secretary Welles says ("Lincoln and Seward," p. 191): "Pope also . . . uniting with Stanton and General Scott in advising that McClellan should be superseded and Halleck placed in charge of military affairs at Washington."--- EDITORS.
the purpose to withdraw his army and unite it with that under my command, the campaign of the Army of Virginia was limited to the following objects:
1. To cover the approaches to Washington from any enemy advancing from the direction of Richmond, and to oppose and delay its advance to the last extremity, so as to give all the time possible for the Withdrawal of the Army of the Potomac from the James River.
2. If no heavy forces of the enemy moved north, to operate on their lines of communication with Gordonsville and Charlottesville, so as to force Lee to make heavy detachments from his force at Richmond and facilitate to that extent the withdrawal of the Army of the Potomac.
Halleck was of the opinion that the junction of the two armies could be made on the line of the Rappahannock, and my orders to hold fast to my communications with Fredericksburg, through which place McClellan's army was to make its junction With the Army of Virginia, were repeated positively.
The decision of the enemy to move north with the bulk of his army was promptly made and vigorously carried out, so that it became apparent, even before General McClellan began to embark his army, that the line of the Rappahannock was too far to the front. That fact, however, was not realized by Halleck until too late for any change which could be effectively executed.
Such was the organization of the Army of Virginia, and such its objects and the difficulties with which it was embarrassed from the very beginning. This rather long preface appears to me to be essential to any sufficient understanding of the second battle of Bull Run, and why and how it was fought. It is also necessary - as a reply to a statement industriously circulated at the time and repeated again and again for obvious purposes, until no doubt it is generally believed, that I had set out to capture Richmond with a force sufficient for the purpose, and that the falling back from the Rapidan was unexpected by the Government, and a great disappointment to it. The whole campaign was, and perhaps is yet, misunderstood because of the false impressions created by this statement.
NOTE ON THE BATTLE OF CEDAR MOUNTAIN:
On the 13th of July. the regular command of Jackson, consisting of the divisions of Ewell and Winder, marched from Mechanicsville, on the Chickahominy, under orders to dispute the advance of Pope's army south of the Rapidan. The column reached Gordonsville on the 19th, and Jackson, on learning that Pope's forces outnumbered his own, remained inactive until reenforced early in August by the division of A. P, Hill, Pope was now on the Upper Rappahannock, with the corps of Banks and Sigel, the former at Culpeper, the latter at Sperryville. The outposts of infantry and cavalry under Generals S. W. Crawford and George D. Bayard were along the Rapidan, covering the approaches to Culpeper and Sperryville [see map, p. 450]. On the 8th Bayard's pickets discovered the enemy crossing at Barnett's Ford in large force, and retired along the Orange Court House road toward Culpeper.
Jackson's object was to strike Banks at Culpeper before the latter could be reenforced. On Jackson's approach, Pope ordered Banks's corps forward to Cedar Mountain, about eight miles beyond Culpeper, where it arrived in detachments, being in hand by noon of the 9th, in two divisions, numbering about 8000 men, under Generals C. C. Augur and A. S. Williams. General J. B. Ricketts's division, of McDowell's corps, was coming up as support. The Confederate divisions of Generals C. S. Winder and R. S. Ewell were now disposed along the northern base of the mountain. the brigades of General I. R. Trimble, Colonel H. Forno, and General J. A. Early, of Ewell's division, on the right, with those of General W. B. Taliaferro and Lieutenant-Colonel T. S. Garnett, of Winder's division, on the left, and Winder's "Stonewall" brigade, under Colonel C. A. Ronald, in reserve. The brigades of Generals L. O'B. Branch, J. L. Archer. and E. C, Thomas, of A. P. Hill's division, were within call, the entire command under Jackson on ring at least 20,000. The Confederates opened the battle, sending forward Early and Taliaferro at 3 o'clock, but moving with caution.
Banks's line was formed in the valley of Cedar Run, and over- lapped the Confederate left. Geary and Prince, advancing, encountered Early and Taliaferro on the broad cultivated plateau south of the Culpeper mad, while Crawford closed in from the north on the enemy's left. The advantage was with Banks. At 6 o'clock the battle was at its height: Garnett struck the flank of Crawford and the fresh brigade of Hill's division were led against Prince and Geary, The extreme right of Banks's line, the brigade of General G. H. Gordon (Williams's division), now charged up to the point where Crawford had gone in, and General G. S. Greene's brigade (Augur's division) moved to the aid of Prince and Geary. Meanwhile, Banks's artillery having been forced back by the guns on the mountain-sides, Ewell threw forward his brigades on the right, Thomas (Hill's division) came forward into the gap between Early and Forno, and the battle was decided by the repulse everywhere of Banks's troops. The last charge was made by Bayard's cavalry on the extreme Union right. The advance of Branch bought fresh muskets against Bayard. and the successes of Jackson all along the line closed the day. After dark Banks withdrew to his first position north of Cedar Creek and was there met by Ricketts's division and by General Pope in person.
The journal of General L. O'B. Branch, written August 13th, contains the following description of the battle: "General Jackson came to me and told me his left was beaten and broken, and the enemy was turning him and he wished me to advance. I was already in line of battle and instantly gave the order, 'Forward, march.' I had not gone 100, yards through the woods before we met the celebrated Stonewall Brigade, utterly muted and fleeing as fast as they could run. After proceeding a short distance farther we met the enemy pursuing. My brigade opened upon them and quickly drove the enemy back from the woods into a large field. Following up to the edge of the field, I came in view of large bodies of the enemy, and having a very fine position, I opened upon them with great effect. The enemy's cavalry. attempted to charge us in two columns, but the fire soon broke them and sent them fleeing across the field in every direction. The infantry then retreated also. Advancing into the field, I halted near the middle of it, in doubt which direction to take. Just at that moment General Jackson came riding up from my rear alone. I reported my brigade as being solid. and asked for orders. My men recognized him and raised a terrific shout as he made along the line with his hat off. He evidently knew how to appreciate a brigade that had gone through a hot battle and was then following the retreating enemy without having broken its line of battle, and remained with me . . . . until the pursuit ceased."
General S. W. Crawford gives this account of the flank movement attempted by his brigade: "Onward these regiments charged, driving the enemy's infantry back through the wood beyond. . . . But the reserves of the enemy were at once brought up and them upon the broken ranks. The field-officers had all been killed. wounded, or taken prisoners: the support I looked for did not arrive, and my gallant men, broken, decimated by that fearful fire, that unequal contest, fell back again across the space, leaving most of their number upon the field." Crawford's brigade lost 494 killed or wounded, and 373 missing, out of a total of 1767 engaged.---EDITORS.
Under the orders heretofore referred to, the concentration of the three corps Of the Army of Virginia (except King's division of McDowell's corps) was completed, Sigel's corps being at Sperryville, Banks's at Little Washington, and Ricketts's division of McDowell's corps at Waterloo Bridge. I assumed the command in person July 29th, 1862.
As this paper is mainly concerned with the second battle of Bull Run, I shall not recount any of the military operations beyond the Rappahannock, nor give any account of the battle of Cedar Mountain and the skirmishes which followed.
It is only necessary to say that the course of these operations made it plain enough that the Rappahannock was too far to the front, and that the movements of Lee were too rapid and those of McClellan too slow to make it possible, with the small force I had, to hold that line, or to keep open communication with Fredericksburg without being turned on my right flank by Lee's whole army and cut off altogether from Washington.
On the 21st of August, being then at Rappahannock Station, my little army confronted by nearly the whole force under General Lee, which had compelled the retreat of McClellan to Harrison's Landing, I was positively assured that two days more would see me largely enough reŽnforced by the Army of the Potomac to be not only secure, but to assume the offensive against Lee, and I was instructed to hold on "and fight like the devil."
I accordingly held on till the 26th of August, when, finding myself to be outflanked on my right by the main body of Lee's army, while Jackson's corps having passed Salem and Rectortown the day before were in rapid march in the direction of Gainesville and Manassas Junction, and seeing that none of the reŽnforcements promised me were likely to arrive, I determined to abandon the line of the Rappahannock and communications with Fredericksburg, and concentrate my whole force in the direction of Warrenton and Gainesville, to cover the Warrenton pike, and still to confront the enemy rapidly marching to my right.^
Stonewall Jackson's movement on Manassas Junction was plainly seen and promptly reported, and I notified General Halleck of it. He informed me on the 23d of August that heavy reŽnforcements would begin to arrive at Warrenton Junction on the next day (24th), and as my orders still held me to the Rappahannock I naturally supposed that these troops would be hurried forward to me with all speed. Franklin's corps especially, I asked, should be sent rapidly to Gainesville. I also telegraphed Colonel Herman Haupt, chief of railway transportation, to direct one of the strongest divisions coming forward, and to be at Warrenton Junction on the 24th, to be put in the works at Manassas Junction. A cavalry force had been sent forward to observe the Thoroughfare Gap early on the morning of the 26th, but nothing was heard from it.^^
On the night of August 26th Jackson's advance, having passed Thoroughfare Gap, struck the Orange and Alexandria railroad at Manassas Junction, and made it plain to me that all of the reŽnforcements and movements of the troops promised me had altogether failed.^^^ Had Franklin been even at Centreville, or had Cox's and Sturgis's divisions been as far west as Bull Run on that day, the movement of Jackson on Manassas Junction would not have been practicable.
As Jackson's movement on Manassas Junction marks the beginning of the second battle of Bull Run, it is essential to a clear understanding of subsequent operations to give the positions of the army under my command on the night of August 26th, as also the movements and operations of the enemy as far as we knew them.
^ Reynolds's division of Porter's corps, having arrived at Aquia on August 13th and 20th, joined General Pope on the 22d, and was assigned to McDowell's corps. General Porter reported to General Burnside (who lad arrived at Aquia on August 5th with about 12,000 men from North Carolina) for orders on the 21st. Being pushed out toward the Upper Rappahannock to connect with Reno, his advance under Morell, on the 24th, found Reno and Reynolds gone; no troops of General Pope's were to be seen or heard of (except one company of cavalry, afterward discovered, which had been left to guard Kelly's ford), nor were any orders from General Pope or any information as to his whereabouts received by General Porter or General Burnside until the 26th. So far as appears, no information of this movement was communicated to General Halleck. On the 24th, in reply to General McClellan's inquiry from Falmouth, 9:40 P. M., "Please inform me exactly where General Pope's troops are. . . . Up to what point is the Orange and Alexandria railroad now available? Where are the enemy in force?" General Halleck telegraphed: "You ask me for information which I cannot give. I do not know either where General Pope is or where the enemy in force is. These are matters which I have all day been most anxious to ascertain."-- EDITORS.
^^ General Pope's orders of the 25th disposed his troops on the line of the Rappahannock, from Waterloo to Kelly's Ford, as for an advance toward the Rapidan. Reno was ordered back to Kelly's Ford to resume communication with the forces under Burnside at Falmouth.--- EDITORS.
^^^ The first information appears to lave been received in a communication between the telegraph operators at Pope's headquarters and at Manassas Junction, dated 8:20 P. M., on August 26th. From this time until the 30th all direct communication between General Pope and Washington remained cut off, and nothing was heard of him except via Falmouth.--- EDITORS.
From the 18th until the night of the 26th of August the troops had been marching and fighting almost continuously. As was to be expected under such circumstances, the effective force had been greatly diminished by death, by wounds, by sickness, and by fatigue.*
Heintzelman's corps, which had come up from Alexandria, was at Warrenton Junction, and numbered, as he reported to me, less than eight thousand men, ** but it was without wagons, without artillery, without horses even for the field-officers, and with only forty rounds of ammunition to the man. The corps of General F. J. Porter consisted of about ten thousand men, and was by far the freshest if not the best in the army. He had made very short and deliberate marches from Fredericksburg, and his advance division, mainly troops of the regular army under Sykes, had arrived at Warrenton Junction by eleven o'clock on the morning of the 27th, Morell's division of the same corps arriving later in the same day.
I saw General F. J. Porter at Warrenton Junction about 11 o'clock on the morning of the 27th. Sykes's division of his corps was encamped near; Morell's was expected in a few hours. I had seen General Porter at West Point while we were both cadets, but I think I never had an acquaintance with him there, nor do I think I ever met him afterward in the service except for about five minutes in Philadelphia in 1861, when I called at his office for a pass, which was then required to go to Washington via Annapolis. This, I think, was the first and only time I ever met him previous to the meeting at Warrenton Junction. He had so high a reputation in the army and for services since the out-break of the war, that I was not only curious to see him, but was exceedingly glad that he had joined the army under my command with a corps which I knew to be one of the most effective in the service. This feeling was so strong that I expressed it warmly and on several occasions. He appeared to me a most gentlemanlike man, of a soldierly and striking appearance.
* August 18th, skirmishes at Rapidan Station and on Clark's Mountain, near Orange Court House; 20th, skirmishes at Raccoon Ford, Stevensburg, Brandy Station, Rappahannock Station, and near Kelly's Ford; 21st, skirmishes along the Rappahannock, at Kelly's, Beverly (or Cunning- ham's), and Freeman's Fords; 22d, actions at Freeman's Ford and Hazel River, and skirmishes along the Rappahannock; 23d, engagement at Rappahannock Station, action at Beverly Ford, and skirmish at Fant's Ford, 23d and 24th, actions at Sulphur (or Warrenton) Springs; 24th and 25th, actions at Waterloo Bridge; 25th, skirmish at Sulphur Springs; 26th, skirmishes at Bristoe Station, Bull Run Bridge, Gainesville, Haymarket, Manassas Junction, and Sulphur Springs.---EDITORS.
** Heintzelman's infantry (effectives) numbered 15,011 on the 10th of August, and the full corps, replenished by six new regiments, reported 16,000 for duty September 10th. There are no intermediate reports.---EDITORS.
conversation with him, as I was engaged, as he was, in writing telegrams. He seemed to me to exhibit a listlessness and indifference not quite natural under the circumstances, which, however, it is not unusual for men to assume in the midst of dangers and difficulties, merely to impress one with their superior coolness.
The troops were disposed as follows: McDowell's corps and Sigel's corps were at Warrenton under general command of General McDowell, with Banks's corps at Fayetteville as a reserve. Reno's corps was directed upon the Warrenton turnpike to take post three miles east of Warrenton. Porter's corps was near Bealeton Station moving slowly toward Warrenton Junction; Heintzelman at Warrenton Junction, with very small means to move in any direction.
Up to this time I had been placed by the positive orders of General Halleck much in the position of a man tied by one leg and fighting With a person much his physical superior and free to move in any direction. The following telegrams will explain exactly the situation as heretofore indicated:
"August 25th, 1862.
Your dispatch just received. Of course I shall be ready to recross the Rappahannock at a moment's notice. You will see from the positions taken that such army corps is on the best roads across the river. You wished forty-eight hours to assemble the forces from the Peninsula behind the Rappahannock, and four days have passed without the enemy yet being permitted to cross. I don't think he is yet ready to do so. In ordinarily dry weather the Rappahannock can be crossed almost anywhere, and these crossing-places are best protected by concentrating at central positions to strike at any force which attempts to cross. I had clearly understood that you wished to unite our whole forces before a forward movement was begun, and that I must take care to keep united with Burnside on my left, so that no movement to separate us could be made. This withdrew me lower down the Rappahannock than I wished to come. I am not acquainted with your views, as you seem to suppose, and would be glad to know them so far as my own position and operations are concerned. I understood you clearly that, at all hazards, I was to prevent the enemy from passing the Rappahannock. This I have done, and shall do. I don't like to be on the defensive if I can help it, but must be so as long as I am tied to Burnside's forces, not yet wholly arrived at Fredericksburg. Please let me know, if it can be done, what is to be my own command, and if I am to act independently against the enemy. I certainly understood that, as soon as the whole of our forces were concentrated, you designed to take command in person, and that, when everything was ready, we were to move forward in concert. I judge from the tone of your dispatch that you are dissatisfied with something. Unless I know what it is, of course I can't correct it. The troops arriving here come in fragments. Am I to assign them to brigades and corps? I would suppose not, as several of the new regiments coming have been assigned to army corps directly from your office. In case I commence offensive operations I must know what forces I am to take and what you wish left, and what connection must be kept up with Burnside. It has been my purpose to conform my operations to your plans, yet I was not informed when McClellan evacuated Harrison's Landing, so that I might know what to expect in that direction; and when I say these things in no complaining spirit I think that you know well that I am anxious to do everything to advance your plans of campaign. I understood that this army was to maintain the line of the Rappahannock until all the forces from the Peninsula had united behind that river. I have done so. I understood distinctly that I was not to hazard anything except for this purpose, as delay was what was wanted.
The enemy this morning has pushed a considerable infantry force up opposite Waterloo Bridge, and is planting batteries, and long lines of his infantry are moving up from Jeffersonville Springs. His whole force, as far as can be ascertained, is massed in front of me, from railroad crossing of Rappahannock around to Waterloo Bridge, their main body being opposite Sulphur Springs.
JOHN POPE, Major-General
"U. S. MILITARY TELEGRAPH.
(Received Aug. 26th, 1862, from War Dep't, 11 : 45 A. M.)
Not the slightest dissatisfaction has been felt in regard to your operations on the Rappahannock. The main object has been accomplished in getting up troops from the Peninsula, although they have been greatly delayed by storms. Moreover, the telegraph has been interrupted, leaving us for a time ignorant of the progress of the evacuation. . . . If possible to attack the enemy in flank, do so, but the main object now is to ascertain his position. Make cavalry excursions for that purpose, especially toward Front Royal, if possible to get in his rear, pursue with vigor.
H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief"
The movements of the enemy toward my right forced me either to abandon the line of the Rappahannock and the communications with Fredericksburg, or to risk the loss of my army and the almost certain loss of Washington. Of course between these two alternatives I could not hesitate in a choice. I considered it my duty, at whatever sacrifice to my army and myself, to retard, as far as I could, the movement of the enemy toward Washington, until I was certain that the Army of the Potomac had reached Alexandria.
The movement of Jackson presented the only opportunity which had offered to gain any success over the superior forces of the enemy. I determined, therefore, on the morning of the 27th of August to abandon the line of the Rappahannock and throw my whole force in the direction of Gainesville and Manassas Junction, to crush any force of the enemy that had passed through Thoroughfare Gap, and to interpose between Lee's army and Bull Run. Having the interior line of operations, and the enemy at Manassas being inferior in force, it appeared to me, and still so appears, that with even ordinary promptness and energy we might feel sure of success.
In the meantime heavy forces of the enemy still confronted us at Waterloo Bridge, * while his main body continued its march toward our right, following the course of Hedgman's River (the Upper Rappahannock). I accordingly sent orders, early on the 27th of August, to General McDowell to move rapidly on Gainesville by the Warrenton pike with his own corps, reŽnforced by Reynolds's division and Sigel's corps. I directed Reno, followed by Kearny's division of Heintzelman's corps, to move on Greenwich, so as to reach there
* On the afternoon of August 26th, Longstreet's corps moved to Hinson's Mill Ford, six miles above, leaving R. H. Anderson's division (about 6000 effectives) at Waterloo Bridge.----EDITORS.
that night, to report thence at once to General McDowell, and to support him in operations against the enemy which were expected near Gainesville. With Hooker's division of Heintzelman's corps I moved along the railroad toward Manassas Junction, to reopen our communications and to be in position to cooperate with the forces along the Warrenton pike.
On the afternoon of that day a severe engagement took place between Hooker's division and Ewell's division of Jackson's corps, near Bristoe Station, on the railroad. Ewell was driven back along the railroad, but at dark still confronted Hooker along the banks of Broad Run. The loss in this action was about three hundred killed and wounded on each side. Ewell left his dead, many of his wounded, and some of his baggage on the field. ^^
I had not seen Hooker for many years, and I remembered him as a very handsome young man, with florid complexion and fair hair, and with a figure agile and graceful. As I saw him that afternoon on his white horse riding in rear of his line of battle, and close up to it, with the excitement of battle in his eyes, and that gallant and chivalric appearance which he always presented under fire, I was struck with admiration. As a corps commander, with his whole force operating under his own eye, it is much to he doubted whether Hooker had a superior in the army.
The railroad had been torn up and the bridges burned in several places just west of Bristoe Station. I therefore directed General Banks, who had reached Warrenton Junction, to cover the railroad trains at that place until General Porter marched, and then to run back the trains toward Manassas as
^^ This engagement is known as Kettle Run. The Confederate force consisted of Early's brigade, with two regiments of Forno's, two of Lawton's, and Brown's and Johnson's batteries. After disputing Hooker's advance for some hours, Ewell withdrew under fire.--EDITORS.
far as he could and rebuild the railroad bridges. Captain Merrill of the Engineers was also directed to repair the railroad track and bridges toward Bristoe. This work was done by that accomplished officer as far east as Kettle Run on the 27th, and the trains were run back to that point next morning.
At dark on the 27th Hooker informed me that his ammunition was nearly exhausted, only five rounds to the man being on hand. Before this time it had become apparent that Jackson, with his whole force, was south of the Warrenton pike and in the immediate neighborhood of Manassas Junction.
McDowell reached his position at Gainesville during the night of the 27th, and Kearny and Reno theirs at Greenwich. It was clear on that night that we had completely interposed between Jackson and the enemy's main body, which was still west of the Bull Run range, and in the vicinity of White Plains.
In consequence of Hooker's report, and the weakness of the small division which he commanded, and to strengthen my right wing moving in the direction of Manassas, I sent orders to Porter at dark, which reached him at 9 P. M., to move forward from Warrenton Junction at 1 A. M. night, and to report to me at Bristoe Station by daylight next morning (August 28th).
There were but two courses left to Jackson by this sudden movement of the army. He could not retrace his steps through Gainesville, as that place was occupied by McDowell with a force equal if not superior to his own. To retreat through Centreville would carry him still farther away from the main body of Lee's army. It was possible, however, to mass his whole force at Manassas Junction and assail our right (Hooker's division), which had fought a severe battle that afternoon, and was almost out of ammunition. Jackson, with A. P. Hill's division, retired through Centreville. Thinking it altogether within the probabilities that he might adopt the other alternative, I sent the orders above mentioned to General Porter. He neither obeyed them nor attempted to obey them * but afterward gave as a reason for not doing so that his men were tired, the night was too dark to march, and that there was a wagon train on the road toward Bristoe. The distance was nine miles along the railroad track, with a wagon road on each side of it most of the way; but his corps did not reach Bristoe Station until 10:30 o'clock next morning, six hours after daylight; and the moment he found that the enemy had left our front he asked to halt and rest his corps. Of his first reason for not complying with my orders, it is only necessary to say that Sykes's division had reached Warrenton Junction at 11 o'clock on the morning of the 27th, and had been in camp all day. Morell's division arrived later in the day at Warrenton Junction, and would have been in camp for at least eight hours before the time it was ordered to march. The marches of these two divisions from Fredericksburg had been extremely deliberate, and involved but little more exercise than is needed for good health. The diaries of these marches make
*Porter marched about 3 A. M., instead of at 1, as ordered. The leading brigade lit candles to look for the road. On the Confederate side Colonel Henry Forno, 5th Louisiana, reports: "After 12 o'clock at night of the 27th, the brigade was put in motion with orders to follow General Early, but owing to the darkness I was unable to find him." Two orders addressed by Pope at Bristoe to McDowell at Gainesville fell into the hands of A. P. Hill, at Centreville. Some of the Confederates (Jackson, Trimble, and Stuart) mention the darkness of the night of the 26th; and General McDowell lost his way from this cause on the night of the 28th.---EDITORS.
Porter's claim of fatigue ridiculous. To compare the condition of this corps and its marches with those of any of the troops of the Army of Virginia is a sufficient answer to such a pretext. The im- possibility of marching on account of the darkness of that night finds its best answer in the fact that nearly every other division of the army, and the whole of Jackson's corps, marched during the greater part of the night in the immediate vicinity of Porter's corps, and from nearly every point of the compass. The plea of darkness and of the obstruction of a wagon train along the road will strike our armies with some surprise in the light of their subsequent experience of night marches. The railroad track itself was clear and entirely practicable for the march of infantry. According to the testimony of Colonel Myers, quartermaster in charge of the train, the train was drawn off the roads and parked after dark that night; and even if this had not been the case, it is not necessary to tell any officer who served in the war that the infantry advance could easily have pushed the wagons off the road to make way for the artillery. Colonel Myers also testified that he could have gone on with his train that night, and that he drew off the road and parked his train for rest and because of the action of Hooker's division in his front, and not because he was prevented from continuing his march by darkness or other obstacles.
At 9 o'clock on the night of the 27th, satisfied of Jackson's position, I sent orders to General McDowell at Gainesville to push forward at the earliest dawn of day upon Manassas Junction, resting his right on the Manassas Gap Railroad and extending his left to the east. I directed General Reno at the same time to march from Greenwich, also direct on Manassas Junction, and Kearny to move from the same place upon Bristoe Station. This move of Kearny was to strengthen my right at Bristoe and unite the two divisions of Heintzelman's corps. ^
Jackson began to evacuate Manassas Junction during the night of the 27th and marched toward Centreville and other points of the Warrenton pike west of that place, and by 11 o'clock next morning was at and beyond Centreville and north of the Warrenton pike.^^ I arrived at Manassas Junction shortly after the last of Jackson's force had moved off, and immediately pushed forward
^ General Pope's orders of the 27th for the movements of the 28th directed his whole army upon Manassas. Full information of these dispositions reached General A. P. Hill early the next morning, through the captured orders.--- EDITORS.
^^ At this time Jackson's command was concentrated near Groveton. General Pope says in his report: " I reached Manassas Junction ... about 12 o'clock ... less than an hour after Jackson, in person, had retired." Jackson was, however, on the old "battle-field of Manassas" at 8 A. M., as appears from the order of that date to A. P. Hill, and about noon when he sent orders to Taliaferro to attack the Federal troops (evidently Reynolds), supposed to be marching on Centreville, but actually moving from Gainesville to Manassas under Pope's first orders. Jackson says: "My command had hardly concentrated north of the turnpike before the enemy's advance reached the vicinity of Grove- ton from the direction of Warrenton." In the above sketch, Meade's brigade and Cooper's battery are seen deploying for action.--- EDITORS.
Hooker, Kearny, and Reno upon Centreville, * and sent orders to Porter to come forward to Manassas Junction. I also wrote McDowell the situation and directed him to call back to Gainesville any part of his force which had moved in the direction of Manassas Junction, and march upon Centreville along the Warrenton pike with the whole force under his command to intercept the retreat of Jackson toward Thoroughfare Gap. With King's division in advance, McDowell, marching toward Centreville, encountered late in the afternoon the advance of Jackson's corps retreating toward Thoroughfare Gap.** Late in the afternoon, also, Kearny drove the rear-guard of Jackson
* At 1:20 or 2 P. M. Pope repeated his orders sent " a few minutes ago " to McDowell to march toward Gum Springs, distant 20 miles in the direction of Aldie Gap. The note sent " a few minutes ago," reached McDowell at 3: 15 P. M. The orders to march on Centreville were dated 4: 15 P. M., McDowell appears to have received the second while preparing to execute the first.---EDITORS.
** Jackson says: "Dispositions were promptly made to attack the enemy, based upon the idea that he would continue to press forward upon the turnpike toward Alexandria; but as he did not appear to advance in force, and there was reason to believe that his main body was leaving the road and inclining toward Manassas Junction, my command was advanced through fire woods, leaving Groveton on the left, until it reached a commanding position near Brawner's house. By this time it was sunset; but as his column appeared to be moving by, with its flank exposed, I determined to attack at once, which was vigorously done by divisions of Taliaferro and Ewell."---EDITORS.
out of Centreville and occupied that place with his advance beyond it toward Gainesville. A very severe engagement occurred between King's division and Jackson's forces near the village of Groveton on the Warrenton pike, which was terminated by the darkness, both parties maintaining their ground. * The conduct of this division in this severe engagement was admirable, and reflects the utmost credit both upon its commanders and the men under their command. That this division was not reŽnforced by Reynolds | and Sigel ^ seems unaccountable. The reason given, though it is not satisfactory, was the fact that General McDowell had left the command just before it encountered the enemy, and had gone toward Manassas Junction, where he supposed me to be, in order to give me some information about the immediate country in which we were operating, and with which, of course, he was much more familiar from former experience than I could be. ^^ I had
* King's division (which had not been at Gainesville on the night of the 27th, but near Buckland Mills, and was consequently near the Warrenton pike instead of at Manassas, when, by General Pope's 4:15 P. M. order, the army was directed upon Centreville instead of upon Manassas) en- countered Jackson's forces in position as stated in the preceding note about 5 :30 P. M. Gibbon's brigade, with two regiments of Doubleday's (the 56th Pennsylvania and 76th New York), contended against Taliaferro's division and two brigades (Lawton's and Trimble's) of Ewell's division. General Jackson says:
"The batteries of Wooding, Poague, and Carpenter were placed in position in front of Starke's brigade, and above the village of Groveton, and, firing over the heads of our skirmishers, poured a heavy fire of shot and shell upon the enemy. This was responded to by a very heavy fire from the enemy, forcing our batteries to select another position. By this time Taliaferro's command, with Lawton's and Trimble's brigades on his left, was advanced from the woods to the open field, and was now moving in gallant style until it reached an orchard on the right of our line and was less than 100 yards from a large force of the enemy. The conflict here was fierce and sanguinary. Although largely reenforced, the Federals did not attempt to advance, but maintained their ground with obstinate determination. Both lines stood exposed to the discharges of musketry and artillery until about 2 o'clock, when the enemy slowly fell back, yielding the field to our troops. The loss on both sides was heavy. and among our wounded were Major- General Ewell and Brigadier-General Taliaferro."
Gibbon's brigade lost 133 killed, 539 wounded, 79 missing, total, 751, " or considerably over one- third of the command." King held his ground until 1 A, M, on the 29th, when, being without rapport, without communication with either of the generals in command over him, and without orders since those of 4:15 P. M., he marched to Manassas Junction.---EDITORS.
| Reynolds, ordered to march en echelon on King's right, was moving toward Manassas (see note to picture, p. 468), when, at 5 P. M., be received McDowell's order, based on Pope's of 4:15, to march on Centreville. He turned off at Bethlehem Church and took the Sudley Springs road toward the Warrenton pike. General Reynolds says:
"About this time heavy cannonading was heard both to our front and left, the former supposed to be from Sigel's corps, and the latter from King's division, which had taken the Warrenton pike from Gainesville. I sent word to the column to hasten its march, and proceeded to the left at once ,myself in the direction of the firing, arriving on the field just before dark, and found that Gibbon's brigade, of King's division, was engaged with the enemy, with Doubleday's and Patrick's brigades in the vicinity. After the firing ceased I saw General King, who, determining to maintain his position, I left about 9 o'clock P, M. to return to my division, promising to bring it up ready in the morning to his support. Before leaving, however. I heard the division moving o& and I learned from General Hatch that it was moving by Gainesville toward Manassas. I then returned to my own division, which I reached at daylight." EDITORS.
^ Sigel was ordered to move at 2:45 A. M. and to march en echelon on Reynolds's right. His advance appears to have reached Manassas about noon. He states that during the afternoon he was ordered by General Pope to march by New Market on Centreville, and arrived on the field of the First Bull Run, near the henry house , too late to take part in King's engagement.--- EDITORS.
^^ According to General McDowell, this was "after putting these divisions in motion (under the 4:15 P, M, order) and going with Reynolds's division to near Manassas"; and in compliance with General Pope's request of 1:20 or 2 P. M., viz., "Give me your views fully; you know the country much better than I do..' General McDowell found Reynolds at daybreak on the 29th.--- EDITORS.
left Manassas Junction, however, for Centreville. Hearing the sound of the guns indicating King's engagement with the enemy, McDowell set off to rejoin his command, but lost his way, and I first heard of him next morning at Manassas Junction. As his troops did not know of his absence, there was no one to give orders to Sigel and Reynolds.
The engagement of King's division was reported to me about 10 o'clock at night near Centreville. I felt sure then, and so stated, that there was no escape for Jackson. On the west of him were McDowell's corps (I did not then know that he had detached Ricketts *, Sigel's corps, and Reynolds's division, all under command of McDowell. On the east of him, and with the advance of Kearny nearly in contact with him on the Warrenton pike, were the corps of Reno and Heintzelman. Porter was supposed to be at Manassas Junction, where he ought to have been on that afternoon.
I sent orders to McDowell (supposing him to be with his command), and also direct to General King, ^^^ several times during that night and once by his own staff-officer, to hold his ground at all hazards, to prevent the retreat of Jackson toward Lee, and that at daylight our whole force from Centreville and Manassas would assail him from the east, and he would be crushed between us. I sent orders also to General Kearny at Centreville to move forward cautiously that night along the Warrenton pike; to drive in the pickets of the enemy, and to keep as closely as possible in contact with him during the night, resting his left on the Warrenton pike and throwing his right to the north, if practicable, as far as the Little River pike, and at daylight next morning to assault vigorously with his right advance, and that Hooker and Reno would certainly be with him shortly after daylight. I sent orders to General Porter, who I supposed was at Manassas Junction, to move upon Centreville at dawn, stating to him the position of our forces, and that a severe battle would be fought that morning (the 29th).
With Jackson at or near Groveton, with McDowell on the west, and the rest of the army on the east of him, while Lee, with the mass of his army, was still west of Thoroughfare Gap, the situation for us was certainly as favorable as the most sanguine person could desire, and the prospect of crushing Jackson, sandwiched between such forces, were certainly excellent. There is no doubt, had General McDowell been with his command when King's division of his corps became engaged with the enemy, he would have brought forward to its support both Sigel and Reynolds, and the result would have been to hold the ground west of Jackson at least until morning brought against him also the forces moving from the direction of Centreville.
* In the exercise of his discretion McDowell, then commanding two corps, sent Ricketts to Thoroughfare Gap on the morning of the 28th, to delay Longstreet's advance, notwithstanding General Pope's orders to move on Manassas with his whole command. But for this, the movement on Manassas as ordered in the morning, as well as the movement on Centreville as ordered in the afternoon, would have left no troops except Buford's broken down cavalry between Longstreet and Jackson, or between Longstreet and Pope's left.---EDITORS.
^^^ But see Captain Charles King's denial on page 495.--- EDITORS.
To my great disappointment and surprise, however, I learned toward daylight the next morning (the 29th) that King's division had fallen back toward Manassas Junction, and that neither Sigel nor Reynolds had been engaged or had gone to the support of King. The route toward Thoroughfare Gap had thus been left open by the wholly unexpected retreat of King's division, due to the fact that he was not supported by Sigel and Reynolds, and an immediate change was necessary in the disposition of the troops under my command. Sigel and Reynolds were near Groveton, almost in contact with Jackson; Ricketts had fallen back toward Bristoe from Thoroughfare Gap, after offering (as might have been expected) ineffectual resistance to the passage of the Bull Run range by very superior forces; King had fallen back to Manassas Junction; Porter was at Manassas Junction or near there; Reno * and Hooker near Centreville; Kearny at Centreville and beyond toward Groveton; Jackson near Groveton with his whole corps; Lee with the main army of the enemy, except three brigades of Longstreet which had passed Hopewell Gap, north of Thoroughfare Gap.
The field of battle was practically limited to the space between the old railroad grade from Sudley to Gainesville if prolonged across the Warrenton pike and the Sudley Springs road east of it. The railroad grade indicates almost exactly the line occupied by Jackson's force, our own line confronting it from left to right.
The ridge which bounded the valley of Dawkins's Branch on the west, and on which were the Hampton Cole and Monroe houses, offered from the Monroe house a full view of the field of battle from right to left, and the Monroe house being on the crest of the ridge overlooked and completely commanded the approach to Jackson's right by the Warrenton turnpike. To the result of the battle this ridge was of the last importance, and, if seized and held by noon, would absolutely have prevented any reŽnforcement of Jackson's right from the direction of Gainesville. The northern slope of this ridge was held by our troops near the Douglass house, near which, also, the right of Jackson's line rested. The advance of Porter's corps at Dawkins's Branch was less than a mile and a half from the Monroe house, and the road in his front was one of several which converged on that point.
The whole field was free from obstacles to movement of troops and nearly so to manoeuvres, with only a few eminences, and these of a nature to have been seized and easily held by our troops even against very superior numbers. The ground was gently undulating and the water-courses insignificant, while the intersecting system of roads and lanes afforded easy communication with all parts of the field, it would be difficult to find anywhere in Virginia a more perfect field of battle than that on which the second battle of Bull Run was fought.
About daylight, therefore, on the 29th of August, almost immediately after I received information of the withdrawal of King's division toward Manassas Junction, I sent orders to General Sigel, in the vicinity of Groveton, to attack
* Reno appears not to have been at Centreville at this time, since General Pope's headquarters "near Bull Run" were between him and Centreville at 3 A. M. on the 20th.---EDITORS.
the enemy vigorously at daylight and bring him to a stand if possible. * He was to be supported by Reynolds's division. I instructed Heintzelman ^ to push forward from Centreville toward Gainesville on the Warrenton pike at the earliest dawn with the divisions of Kearny and Hooker, and gave orders also to Reno with his corps to follow closely in their rear. They were directed to use all speed, and as soon as they came up with the enemy to establish communication with Sigel, and to attack vigorously and promptly. I also sent orders to General Porter^^ at Manassas Junction to move forward rapidly with his own corps and King's division of McDowell's corps, which was there also, upon Gainesville by the direct route from Manassas Junction to that place. I urged him to make all possible speed, with the purpose that he should come up with the enemy or connect himself with the left of our line near where the Warrenton pike is crossed by the road from Manassas Junction to Gainesville.
Shortly after sending this order I received a note from General McDowell, whom I had not been able to find during the night of the 28th, dated Manassas Junction, requesting that King's division be not taken from his command. I immediately sent a joint order, addressed to Generals McDowell and Porter, ** repeating the instructions to move forward with their commands toward Gainesville, and informing them of the position and movements of Sigel and Heintzelman.
* These orders to Sigel are not found in the "Official Records," but they correspond with the orders given to Kearny and Heintzelman at 9:50 and 10 P.M., On the 28th. General Sigel says he received them during the night, made his preparations at night, and " formed in order of battle at daybreak." Such of the subordinate reports as mention the time, as well as the reports of Generals McDowell and Reynolds, tend to confirm General Sigel's statement.--- EDITORS.
^ These orders to Heintzelman are dated 10 P. M., August 28th; similar orders to Kearny direct are dated 9:50 P. M.--- EDITORS.
^^ At 3 A. M. on the 29th, General Pope ordered Porter, then at Bristoe, to "move upon Centreville at the first dawn of day." In the order of the 29th to Porter, "Push forward with your corps and King's division, which you will take with you upon Gainesville," the hour is not noted, but General Pope testified on the Porter court-martial that be sent it between 8 and 9 A. M. Porter appears to lave received it about 9:30.--- EDITORS.
** This joint order refers to the one just cited as having been sent " an hour and a half ago," under which Porter was marching toward Gainesville when McDowell joined him near Manassas Junction. After receiving the joint order, General McDowell again joined Porter, at the front, and showed him a dispatch just received from Ruford, dated 9:30 A. M., and addressed to Ricketts. It appears to have escaped notice that the dispatch was forwarded by Ricketts to McDowell at 11:30 A. M., which fixes the time of the meeting between Generals McDowell and Porter at the front as after 11:30.---EDITORS.
Sigel attacked the enemy at daylight on the morning of the 29th about a mile east of Groveton, where he was joined by the divisions of Hooker and Kearny. Jackson fell back, ^ but was so closely pressed by these forces that he was obliged to make a stand. He accordingly took up his position along and behind the old railroad embankment extending along his entire front, with his left near Sudley Springs and his right just south of the Warrenton pike. His batteries, some of them of heavy caliber, were posted behind the ridges in the open ground, while the mass of his troops were sheltered by woods and the railroad embankment.
I arrived on the field from Centreville about noon, and found the opposing forces confronting each other, both considerably cut up by the severe action in which they had been engaged since daylight. Heintzelman's corps (the divisions of Hooker and Kearny) occupied the right of our line toward Sudley Springs. Sigel was on his left, with his line extending a short distance south of the Warrenton pike, the division of Schenck occupying the high ground to the left (south) of the pike. The extreme left was held by Reynolds. Reno's corps had reached the field and the most of it had been pushed forward into action, leaving four regiments in reserve behind the center of in reserve the line of battle. Immediately after I reached the ground, General Sigel reported to me that his line was weak, that the divisions of Schurz and Steinwehr were much cut up and ought to be drawn back from the front. I informed him that this was impossible, as there were no troops to replace them, and that he must hold his ground; that I would not immediately push his troops again into action, as the l and Porter were moving forward on the road from Manassas Junction to Gainesville, and must very soon be in position to fall upon the enemy's right flank and possibly on his rear. I rode along the front of our line and gave the same information to Heintzelman and Reno. I shall not soon forget the bright and confident face and the alert and hearty manner of that most accomplished and loyal soldier, General J. L. Reno. From first to last in this campaign he was always cheerful and ready; anxious to anticipate if possible, and prompt to execute with all his might, the orders he received. He was short in stature and upright in person, and with a face and manner so bright and engaging at all times, but most especially noticeable in the fury of battle, that it was both a pleasure
^ Not mentioned by Jackson or any of the subordinate commanders of either army. Jackson appears to have received the attack in position as stated by General Pope in the next sentence.---- EDITORS.
and a comfort to see him. In his death, two weeks afterward, during the battle of South Mountain, when he led his troops with his usual gallantry and daring, the Government lost one of its best and most promising officers. Had he lived to see the end of the war, he would undoubtedly have attained one of the highest, if not the very highest position in the army. His superior abilities were unquestioned, and if he lacked one single element that goes to make a perfect soldier, certainly it was not discovered before his death.
The troops were permitted to rest for a time, and to resupply themselves with ammunition. From 1:30 to 4 o'clock P. M. very severe conflicts occurred repeatedly all along the line, and there was a continuous roar of artillery and small-arms, with scarcely an intermission. About two o'clock in the afternoon three discharges of artillery were heard on the extreme left of our line or right of the enemy's, and I for the moment, and naturally, believed that Porter and McDowell had reached their positions and were engaged with the enemy. I heard only three shots, and as nothing followed I was at a loss to know what had become of these corps, or what was delaying them, as before this hour they should have been, even With ordinary marching, well up on our left. Shortly afterward I received information that McDowell's corps was advancing to join the left of our line by the Sudley Springs road, and would probably be up within two hours [about 4 P. M.---EDITORS]. At 4:30 o'clock I sent a peremptory order to General Porter, who was at or near Dawkins's Branch, about four or five miles distant from my headquarters, to push forward at once into action on the enemy's right, and if possible on his rear, stating to him generally the condition of things on the field in front of me. At 5:30 o'clock, when General Porter should have been going into action in compliance with this order, I directed Heintzelman and Reno to attack the enemy's left. The attack was made promptly and with vigor and persistence, and the left of the enemy was doubled back toward his center. After a severe and bloody action of an hour Kearny forced the position on the left of the enemy and occupied the field of battle there.
By this time General McDowell had arrived on the field, and I pushed his corps, supported by Reynolds, forward at once into action along the Warrenton pike toward the enemy's right, then said to be falling back. This attack along the pike was made by King's division near sunset; but, as Porter made no movement whatever toward the field, Longstreet, who was pushing to the front, was able to extend his lines beyond King's left with impunity, and King's attack did not accomplish what was expected, in view of the anticipated attack which Porter was ordered to make, and should have been making at the same time.
From 5 o'clock in the day until some time after dark the fighting all along our lines was severe and bloody, and our losses were very heavy. To show clearly the character of the battle o the 29th, I embody extracts from the official reports of General Lee, of General T. J. Jackson, and of Longstreet and Hill, who commanded the enemy's forces on that day. I choose the reports of the officers commanding against us for several reasons, but especially to show Longstreet's movements and operations on the afternoon of the 29th of August, when, it is alleged, he was held in check by Porter. General Lee says:
... "Generals Jones and Wilcox bivouacked that night [28th] east of the mountain; and on the morning of the 29th the whole command resumed the march, the sound of cannon at Manassas announcing that Jackson was already engaged. Longstreet entered the turnpike near Gainesville, and, moving down toward Groveton, the head of his column came upon the field in rear of the enemy's left, which had already opened with artillery upon Jackson's right, as previously described. He immediately placed some of his batteries in position, but before he could complete his dispositions to attack, the enemy withdrew; not, however, without loss from our artillery. Longstreet took position on the right of Jackson, Hood's two brigades, supported by Evans, being deployed across the turnpike, at right angles to it. These troops were supported on the left by three brigades under General Wilcox, and by a light 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 with effect by some of General A. P. Hill's batteries. Colonel Walton placed a part of his artillery upon a commanding position between the lines of Generals Jackson and Longstreet, by order of the latter, and engaged the enemy vigorously for several hours. Soon afterward General Stuart reported the approach of a large force from the direction of Bristoe. Station, threatening Longstreet's right. The brigades under General Wilcox were sent to reenforce General Jones, but no serious attack was made, and after firing a few shots the enemy withdrew. While this demonstration was being made on our right, a large force 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 to 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 14th South Carolina regiment, then in reserve, and the 49th Georgia, of Thomas's brigade. The contest was close and obstinate: the combatants sometimes delivering their fire at ten paces. General Gregg, who was most exposed, was reenforced by Hays's brigade under Colonel Forno, and successfully and gallantly resisted the attacks of the enemy) until, the ammunition of his brigade being exhausted, and all his field-officers but two killed or wounded, it was relieved, after several hours of severe fighting, by Early's brigade and the 8th 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 of the railroad where Thomas, Pender, and Archer had firmly held their ground against every attack. While the battle was raging on Jackson's left, General Longstreet ordered Hood and Evans to advance, but before the order could be obeyed Hood was himself attacked, and his command at once became warmly engaged. General Wilcox was recalled from the right and ordered to advance on Hood's left, and one of Kemper's brigades, under Colonel Hunton, moved forward on his right. 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 enemy retreating until he reached a strong position, which he held with a large force. The darkness of the night put a stop to the engagement, and our troops remained in their advanced position until early next morning, when they were withdrawn from their first line. One piece of artillery, several stands of colors, and a number of prisoners were captured. Our loss was severe in this engagement; Brigadier-Generals Field and Trimble, and Colonel Forno, commanding Hays's brigade, were severely wounded, and several other valuable officers killed or disabled whose names are mentioned in the accompanying reports."
General Jackson in his report, dated April 27th, 1863, says:
... "My troops on this day were distributed along and in the vicinity of the cut of an unfinished railroad (intended as a part of the track to connect the Manassas road directly with Alexandria), stretching from the Warrenton turnpike in the direction of Sudley's Mill. It was mainly along the excavation of this unfinished road that my line of battle was formed on the 29th: Jackson's division, under Brigadier-General Starke, on the right; Ewell's division, under Brigadier-General Lawton, in the center; and Hill's division on the left. In the morning, about 10 o'clock, the Federal artillery opened with spirit and animation upon our right, which was soon replied to by the batteries of Poague, Carpenter, Dement, Brockenbrough, and Latimer, under Major [L. M.] Shumaker. This lasted for some time, when the enemy moved around more to our left, to another point of attack. His next effort was directed against our left. This was vigorously
(1) Both on Friday and Saturday afternoons there was desperate fighting about the railroad cut and embankment opposite, and to the right of the site of the battle monument. On Fri- day afternoon Grover's brigade, of Hooker's division, here charged Jackson's center before Kearny's successful and bloody charge on Jackson's left. Grover led 5 regiments, altogether about 1500 men, and in 20 minutes lost 486, or nearly one-third of his command. In his report, General Grover says:
"I rode over the field in front as far as the position of the enemy would admit. After rising the bill under which my command lay, an open field was entered, and from one edge of it gradually fell off in a slope to a valley, through which ran a railroad embankment. Beyond this embankment the forest continued, and the corresponding heights beyond were held by the enemy in force, supported by artillery. At 3 P. M. I received an order to advance in line of battle over this ground, pass the embankment, enter the edge of the woods beyond. and hold it. Dispositions for carrying out such orders were immediately made. Pieces were loaded, bayonets fixed, and instructions given for the line to move slowly upon the enemy until it felt his fire, then close upon him rapidly, fire one well-directed valley, and rely upon the bayonet to secure the position on the other side. We rapidly and firmly pressed upon the embankment, and here occurred a short, sharp and obstinate hand-to- hand conflict with bayonets and clubbed muskets. Many of the enemy were bayoneted in their tracks, others struck down with the butts of pieces, and onward pressed our line. In a few yards more it met a terrible are from a second line, which, in its turn, broke. The enemy's third line now bore down upon our thinned ranks in close order, and swept back the right center and a portion of our left. With the gallant 16th Massachusetts on our left I tried to turn his flank, but the breaking of our right and center and the weight of the enemy's lines caused the necessity of falling back, first to the embankment, and then to our first position, behind which we rallied to our colors." EDITORS.
repulsed by the batteries of Braxton, Crenshaw, and Pegram. About 2 o'clock P. M. the Federal infantry, in large force, advanced to the attack of our left, occupied by the division of General Hill. It pressed forward in defiance of our fatal and destructive fire with great determination, a portion of it crossing a deep cut in the railroad track, and penetrating in heavy force an interval of nearly 175 yards, which separated the right of Gregg's from the left of Thomas's brigade. For a short time Gregg's brigade, on the extreme left, was isolated from the main body of the command. But the 14th South Carolina regiment, then in reserve, with the 49th Georgia, left of Colonel Thomas, attacked the exultant enemy with vigor and drove them back across the railroad track with great slaughter." ...
General Longstreet says in his report, dated October 10th, 1862:
... " Early on the 29th [August] the columns [that had passed Thoroughfare and Hopewell Gaps] were united, and the advance to join General Jackson was resumed. The noise of battle was heard before we reached Gainesville. The march was quickened to the extent of our capacity. The excitement of battle seemed to give new life and strength to our jaded men, and the head of my column soon reached a position in rear of the enemy's left flank, and within easy cannon-shot.
"On approaching the field some of Brigadier-General Hood's batteries were ordered into position, and his division was deployed on the right and left of the turnpike, at right angles with it, and supported by Brigadier-General Evans's brigade. Before these batteries could open, the enemy discovered our movements and withdrew his left. Another battery (Captain Stribling's) was placed upon a commanding position to my right, which played upon the rear of the enemy's left and drove him entirely from that part of the field. He changed his front rapidly, so as to meet the advance of Hood and Evans.
"Three brigades, under General Wilcox, were thrown forward to the support of the left; and three others, under General Kemper, to the support of the right of these commands. General D. R. Jones's division was placed upon the Manassas Gap railroad to the right, and en echelon with regard to the last three brigades. Colonel Walton placed his batteries in a commanding position between my line and that of General Jackson, and engaged the enemy for several hours in a severe and successful artillery duel. At a late hour in the day Major-General Stuart reported the approach of the enemy in heavy columns against my extreme right. I withdrew General Wilcox, with his three brigades, from the left, and placed his command in position to support Jones in case of an attack against my right. After some few shots the enemy withdrew his forces, moving them around toward his front, and about 4 o'clock in the afternoon began to press forward against General Jackson's position. Wilcox's brigades were moved bask to their former position, and Hood's two brigades, supported by Evans, were quickly pressed forward to the attack. At the same time Wilcox's three brigades made a like advance, as also Hunton's brigade, of Kemper's command.
"These movements were executed with commendable zeal and ability. Hood, supported by Evans, made a gallant attack, driving the enemy back till 9 o'clock at night. One piece of artillery, several regimental standards, and a number of prisoners were taken. The enemy's entire force was found to be massed directly in my front, and in so strong a position that it was not deemed advisable to move on against his immediate front; so the troops were quietly withdrawn at 1 o'clock the following morning. The wheels of the captured piece were cut down, and it was left on the ground. The enemy seized that opportunity to claim a victory, and the Federal commander was so imprudent as to dispatch his Government, by telegraph, tidings to that effect. After withdrawing from the attack, my troops were placed in the line first occupied, and in the original order."
General A.P. Hill says in his report, dated February 25th, 1863:
... "Friday morning, in accordance with orders from General Jackson, I occupied the line of the unfinished railroad, my extreme left resting near Sudley Ford, my right near the point where the road strikes the open field, Gregg, Field, and Thomas in the front line; Gregg on the left and Field on the right; with Branch, Pender, and Archer as supports....
"The evident intention of the enemy this day was to turn our left and overwhelm Jackson's -- corps before Longstreet came up, and to accomplish this the most persistent and furious onsets were made, by column after column of infantry, accompanied by numerous batteries of artillery. Soon my reserves were all in, and up to 6 o'clock my division, assisted by the Louisiana brigade of General Hays, commanded by Colonel Forno, with a heroic courage and obstinacy almost beyond parallel, had met and repulsed six distinct and separate assaults, a portion of the time the majority of the men being without a cartridge....
"The enemy prepared for a last and determined attempt. Their serried masses, overwhelming superiority of numbers, and bold bearing made the chances of victory to tremble in the balance; my own division exhausted by seven hours, unremitted fighting, hardly one round per man remaining, and weakened in all things save its unconquerable spirit. Casting about for help, fortunately it was here reported to me that the brigades of Generals Lawton and Early were near by, and, sending to them, they promptly moved to my front at the most opportune moment, and this last charge met the same disastrous fate that had befallen those preceding. Having received an order from General Jackson to endeavor to avoid a general engagement, my commanders of brigades contented themselves with repulsing the enemy and following them up but a few hundred yards." General J.E.B. Stuart says in his report, dated February 28th, 1863:
... "I met with the head of General Longstreet's column between Hay Market and Gainesville, and there communicated to the commanding general General Jackson's position and the enemy's. I then passed the cavalry through the column so as to place it on Longstreet's right flank, and advanced directly toward Manassas, while the column kept directly down the pike to join General Jackson's right. I selected a fine position for a battery on the right, and one having been sent to me, I fired a few shots at the enemy's supposed position, which induced him to shift his position. General Robertson, who, with his command, was sent to reconnoiter farther down the road toward Manassas, reported the enemy in his front. Upon repairing to that front, I found that Rosier's regiment was engaged with the enemy to the left of the road, and Robertson's vedettes had found the enemy approaching from the direction of Bristoe Station toward Sudley. The prolongation of his line of march would have passed through my position, which was a very fine one for artillery as well as observation, and struck Longstreet in flank. I waited his approach long enough to ascertain that there was at least an army corps, at the same time keeping detachments of cavalry dragging brush down the road from the direction of Gainesville, so as to deceive the enemy,--- a ruse which Porter's report shows was successful, --- and notified the commanding general, then opposite me on the turnpike, that Longstreet's flank and rear were seriously threatened, and of the importance to us of the ridge I then held. Immediately upon the receipt of that intelligence, Jenkins's, Kemper's, and D. R. Jones's brigades, and several pieces of artillery were ordered to me by General Longstreet, and, being placed in position fronting Bristoe, awaited the enemy's advance. After exchanging a few shots with rifle-pieces this corps withdrew toward Manassas, leaving artillery and supports to hold the position until night. Brigadier-General Fitz Lee returned to the vicinity of Sudley, after a very successful expedition, of which his official report has not been received, and was instructed to coŲperate with Jackson's left. Late in the afternoon the artillery on this commanding ridge was, to an important degree, auxiliary to the attack upon the enemy, and Jenkins's brigade repulsed the enemy in handsome style at one volley, as they advanced across a corn-field. Thus the day ended, our lines having considerably advanced."
What would have been the effect of the application on the enemy's right at, or any time after, 4 o'clock that afternoon of ten or twelve thousand effective men who had not been in battle at all, I do not myself consider doubtful.
In this battle the Fifth Corps, under General F. J. Porter, took no part whatever, but remained all day in column, without even deploying into line of battle or making any effort in force to find out what was in their front. | That General Porter knew of the progress of the battle on his right, and that he believed the Union army was being defeated, is shown by his own dispatches to McDowell, several times repeated during the day. That subjoined will be sufficient:
GENERALS MCDOWELL AND KING:
I found it impossible to communicate by crossing the woods to Groveton. The enemy are in great force on this road, and as they appear to have driven our forces back, the fire of the enemy having advanced and ours retired, I have deter- mined to withdraw to Manassas. I have attempted to communicate with McDowell and Sigel, but my messengers have run into the enemy. They have gathered artillery, and cavalry and infantry, and the advancing masses of dust show the enemy coming in force. I am now going to the head of the column to see what is passing and how affairs are going, and I will communicate with you. Had you not better send your train back?
F.J. PORTER, Major-General.
Not the artillery only, but the volleys of musketry in this battle were also plainly heard on their right and front by the advance of Porter's troops much of the day. In consequence of his belief that the army on his right was being defeated, as stated in more than one of these dispatches, he informed General McDowell that he intended to retire to Manassas, and advised McDowell to send back his trains in the same direction.
For this action, or non-action, he has been on the one hand likened to Benedict Arnold, and on the other favorably compared with George Washington. I presume he would not accept the first position, and probably would hardly lay claim to the second. Certainly I have not the inclination, even had I the power, to assign him to either or to any position between the two; and if he were alone concerned in the question, I should make no comment at all on the subject at this day. Many others than himself and the result of a battle, however, are involved in it, and they do not permit silence when the second battle of Bull Run is discussed. Without going into the merits of the case, which has been obscured and confused by so many and such varied controversies, I shall confine myself to a bare statement of the facts as they are known to me personally, or communicated officially by officers of rank and standing, and by the official reports of both armies engaged in the battle. General Porter was tried by court-martial a few months after the battle and was cashiered. The reasons given by him at the time for his failure to go into action, or take any part in the battle, were: first, that he considered himself under General McDowell's orders, who told him that they were too far to
| For another account of Porter's action see "The Fitz John Porter Case," linked from the Battle of Second Manassas page
During the assault by Porter's corps and King's division, Jackson's forces were behind the unfinished railway. When that assault failed, the Unionists north of the turnpike were attacked by the brigades of Featherston and Pryor (of Wilcox, which were acting with some of Jackson's troops and with one brigade of Hood. Wilcox, with his own proper brigade, passed far to the right and fought his way to an advanced position, after Evans and D.R. Jones had compelled Sigel and McDowell to loosen their hold on and west of Bald Hill. .--- EDITORS.
the front for a battle; and, second, that the enemy was in such heavy force in his front that he would have been defeated had he attacked. General McDowell stated before the court-martial that, so far from saying that they were too far to the front for battle, he directed General Porter before leaving him to put his corps into the action where he was, and that he (McDowell) would move farther to the right and go into the battle there. Upon Porter remarking that he could not go in there without getting into a fight, McDowell replied, "I thought that was what we came here for."
General J. E. B. Stuart, who commanded the cavalry in Lee's army, tells in his official report above quoted precisely what was in General Porter's front, and what means he took to produce upon General Porter the impression that there were heavy forces in front of him and advancing toward him. General Porter certainly made no reconnaissance in force to ascertain whether or not there was a heavy force in his front; and Stuart's report makes it quite certain that, at the time referred to by him, Porter could easily have moved forward from Dawkins's Branch and seized the ridge on which are the Hampton Cole and Monroe houses, from which he would have had a complete view of the field from right to left. Not only this, but his occupation of that ridge would have connected him closely with our left and absolutely prevented Longstreet from forming on Jackson's right until he had dislodged Porter, which would have occupied him too long to have permitted the effective use of his troops for any other purpose, and certainly for the advance which he subsequently made against our left. Longstreet now asserts that he was in front of Porter with part of his corps at some indefinite hour of the day, variously fixed, but according to him by 11 o'clock in the morning, about the time that Porter's corps reached Dawkins's Branch. He further asserts, somewhat extravagantly, that if Porter had attacked he (Longstreet) would have annihilated him. He seems to have thought it a simple matter to annihilate an army corps of ten or twelve thousand men, much of which was composed of regular troops, but perhaps his statement to that effect would hardly be accepted by military men. If such an assertion made by a corps commander of one army is sufficient reason for a corps commander of the opposing army not to attack, even under orders to do so, it is hard to see how any general commanding an army could direct a battle at all; and certainly if such assertions as Longstreet's are considered reliable, there would have been no battle fought in our civil war, since they could easily have been had from either side in advance of any battle that was fought.
It seems pertinent to ask why General Longstreet did not annihilate Porter's corps during the day if it were so easily in his power to do so. It is also proper to suggest that it would have required a long time and all of his force to do this annihilating business on such a corps as Porter's; and in that case, what would have become of Jackson's right deprived of Longstreet's active support, which barely enabled Jackson to hold the ground that afternoon, Longstreet himself falling back at least a mile from our front at 1 o'clock that night after several hours of severe fighting?
I shall not discuss the various statements concerning the time of Longstreet's arrival on the field. That he may have been there in person at the hour he mentions is of course possible; hut that his corps was with him, that it was in line of battle at any such hour, or was in any such condition to fight as Porter was, can neither be truthfully asserted nor successfully maintained. Whatever Porter supposed to be Longstreet's position, however, in no respect touches his obligation to move forward under the circumstances and force Longstreet to develop what he really had, which he (Porter) certainly did not know and had taken no measures to know. The severe fighting on his right, which he heard and interpreted into a defeat for the Union army, did not permit him to rest idle on the field with his troops in column and with no sufficient effort even to find out anything of the field in front of him.
If a mere impression that the enemy is in heavy force and that an attack or further advance might be hazardous is a sufficient reason for a corps commander to keep out of a battle, raging in his hearing, especially when he thinks that his friends are being defeated, it is extremely difficult to see how any army commander would venture to engage in battle at all, unless he could ascertain in advance and keep himself acquainted during the day with the impressions of his corps commanders about the propriety of going into the battle. Certainly Porter did not know at that time that Longstreet was in his front, and his non-action was based on fancy, and not on any fact that he knew.
But wherever Longstreet was in the morning, it is certain that at 4 o'clock that day, or about 4 o'clock, according to his own official report, he withdrew the larger part of his force and advanced to Jackson's right flank to resist the last attack of the Union army on Jackson's line, and that for several hours he was engaged in a severe battle on our left, utterly ignoring Porter and presenting his right flank to Porter's attack during that whole time. He seems also to have entirely forgotten that he was "held in check," as he was good-natured enough to say he was years afterward. During these long hours General Porter still remained idle with his corps in column, and many of them lying on the ground, for ease of position probably, as they were not under fire.
Taking the enemy's own account of the battle that afternoon, which lasted several hours, and its result, it is not unreasonable to say that, if General Porter had attacked Longstreet's right With ten or twelve thousand men while the latter was thus engaged, the effect would have been conclusive. Porter's case is the first I have ever known, or that I find recorded in military history, in which the theory has been seriously put forth that the hero of a battle is the man who keeps out of it. With this theory in successful operation, war will be stripped of most of its terrors, and a pitched battle need not be much more dangerous to human life than a militia muster.
When the battle ceased on the 29th of August, we were in possession of the field on our right, and occupied on our left the position held early in the day, and had every right to claim a decided success. What that success might have been, if a corps of twelve thousand men who had not been in battle that day had been thrown against Longstreet's right while engaged in the severe fight that afternoon, I need not indicate. To say that General Porter's non- action during that whole day was wholly unexpected and disappointing, and that it provoked severe comment on all hands, is to state the facts mildly.
Every indication during the night of the 29th and up to 10 o'clock on the morning of the 30th pointed to the retreat of the enemy from our front. Paroled prisoners of our own army, taken on the evening of the 29th, who came into our lines on the morning of the 30th, reported the enemy retreating during the whole night in the direction of and along the Warrenton pike (a fact since confirmed by Longstreet's report).| Generals McDowell and Heintzelman, who reconnoitered the position held by the enemy's left on the evening of the 29th, also confirmed this statement. They reported to me the evacuation of these positions by the enemy, and that there was every indication of their retreat in the direction of Gainesville. On the morning of the 30th, as may be easily believed, our troops, who had been marching and fighting almost continuously for many days, were greatly exhausted. They had had little to eat for two days, and artillery and cavalry horses had been in harness and under the saddle for ten days, and had been almost out of forage for the last two days. It may be readily imagined how little these troops, after such severe labors and hardships, were in condition for further active marching and fighting. On the 28th I had telegraphed General Halleck our condition, and had begged of him to have rations and forage sent forward to us from Alexandria with all speed; but about daylight on the 30th I received a note from
| According to General Longstreet's and other Confederate reports, their troops withdrew at night to their line of battle of the day, occupying the same positions and in the same order. General Pope's orders for the 30th directed that the corps of McDowell, Heintzelman, and Porter, with the necessary cavalry, should move "forward in pursuit of the enemy," and "press him vigorously all day." The command of the pursuit was assigned to General McDowell.---EDITORS.
General Franklin, written by direction of General McClellan, informing me that rations and forage would be loaded into the available wagons and cars at Alexandria as soon as I should send back a cavalry escort to guard the trains. Such a letter, when we were fighting the enemy and when Alexandria was full of troops, needs no comment. Our cavalry was well-nigh broken down completely, and certainly we were in no condition to spare troops from the front, nor could they have gone to Alexandria and returned within the time by which we must have had provisions and forage or have fallen back toward supplies; nor am I able to understand of what use cavalry could be to guard railroad trains. It was not until I received this letter that I began to be hopeless of any successful issue to our operations; but I felt it to be my duty, notwithstanding the broken-down condition of the forces under my command, to hold my position. I had received no sort of information of any troops coming forward to reŽnforce me since the 24th, and did not expect on the morning of the 30th that any assistance would reach me from the direction of Washington, but I determined again to give battle to the enemy and delay as long as possible his farther advance toward Washington. I accordingly prepared to renew the engagement.
General Porter, with whose non-action of the day before I was naturally dissatisfied, had been peremptorily ordered that night to report to me in person with his corps, and arrived on the field early in the morning. His corps had been reŽnforced by Piatt's brigade of Sturgis's division, and was estimated to be about twelve thousand strong; but in some hitherto unexplained manner one brigade ^ of his (Porter's) corps had straggled off from the corps and appeared at Centreville during the day. With this straggling brigade was General Morell, commander of the division to which it belonged.
This brigade remained at Centreville all day, in sight and sound of the battle in which the corps to which it belonged was engaged, but made no move to join it or to approach the field of battle. On the contrary, the brigade commander made requisition for ten thousand pairs of shoes on one of my aides-de-camp who was at Centreville in charge of the headquarters train. The troops under General Sturgis and General A. Sanders Piatt had followed this brigade by a misunderstanding of the situation; but the moment they found themselves away from the battle these two officers, with true soldierly spirit, passed Morell and brought their commands to the field and into the battle, where they rendered gallant and distinguished services.
Between 12 and 2 o'clock during the day I advanced Porter's corps, supported by King's division of McDowell's corps, and supported also on their left by Sigel's corps and Reynolds's division, to attack the enemy along the Warrenton pike. At the same time the corps of Heintzelman and Reno on our right were directed to push forward to the left and front toward the pike and attack the enemy's left flank. For a time Ricketts's division of McDowell's corps was placed in support of this movement. I was obliged to assume the aggressive or to fall back, as from want of provisions I was not able to await an attack from the enemy or the result of any other movement he might make.
^ Griffin's brigade. Griffin testified that he was ordered by General Morell to follow Sykes, who was supposed to have gone to Centreville. Griffin moved thence toward the battle-field about 5 P. M. He found the road blocked, and the bridge over Cub Run broken.---EDITORS.
Every moment of delay increased the odds against us, and I therefore pushed forward the attack as rapidly as possible. Soon after Porter advanced to attack along the Warrenton pike and the assault was made by Heintzelman and Reno on the right, it became apparent that the enemy was massing his forces as fast as they arrived on the right of Jackson, and was moving forward to force our left. General McDowell was therefore directed to recall Ricketts's division from our right, and put it so as to strengthen our left thus threatened.
Porter's corps was repulsed after some severe fighting, and began to retire, and the enemy advancing to the assault, our whole line was soon furiously engaged. The main attack of the enemy was made against our left, but was met with stubborn resistance by the divisions of Schenck and Reynolds, and the brigade of Milroy, who were soon reŽnforced on the left by Ricketts's division. The action was severe for several hours, the enemy bringing up heavy reserves and pouring mass after mass of his troops on our left. He was able also to present at least an equal force all along our line of battle. Porter's corps was halted and reformed, and as soon as it was in condition it was pushed forward to the support of our left, where it rendered distinguished service, especially the brigade of regulars under Colonel (then Lieutenant-Colonel) Buchanan.
McLean's brigade of Schenck's division, which was posted in observation on our left flank, and in support of Reynolds, became exposed to the attack of the enemy on our left when Reynolds's division was drawn back to form line to support Porter's corps, then retiring from their attack, and it was fiercely assailed by Hood and Evans, in greatly superior force. This brigade was commanded in person by General Schenck, the division commander, and fought with supreme gallantry and tenacity. The enemy's attack was repulsed several times with severe loss, but he returned again and again to the assault.
It is needless for me to describe the appearance of a man so well known to the country as General R. C. Schenck. I have only to say that a more gallant and devoted soldier never lived, and to his presence and the fearless exposure of his person during these attacks is largely due the protracted resistance made by this brigade. He fell, badly wounded, in the front of his command, and his loss was deeply felt and had a marked effect on the final result in that part of the field.
Tower's brigade of Ricketts's division was pushed forward to his support, and the brigade was led by General Tower in person with conspicuous gallantry. The conduct of these two brigades and their commanders in plain view of our whole left was especially distinguished, and called forth hearty and enthusiastic cheers. Their example was of great service, and seemed to infuse new spirit into the troops that witnessed their intrepid conduct.
I have always considered it a misfortune to the country that in this action General Tower received a severe wound which disabled him from active service. He is a man of very superior abilities, zealous, and full of spirit and elan, and might easily have expected to serve his country in a much higher position than the one that he held on that field.
(1) Captain William H. Powell, of the 4th Regular Infantry, in a letter to "The Century," dated Fort Omaha, Nebraska, March 12th, 1885, thus describes the retreat upon Washington and McClellan's reception by his old army:
"The last volley had been fired, and as night fell upon us the division of regulars of Porter's corps was ordered to retire to Centreville. It had fought hard on the extreme left to preserve the line of retreat by the turnpike and the stone bridge. We were gloomy, despondent, and about 'tired out'; we had not had a change of clothing from the 14th to the 31st of August, and had been living in the words of the men, on 'salt horse,' 'hard-tack', and turnpike leading over the stone bridge, we came upon a group of mounted officers, one of whom wore a peculiar style of hat which had been seen on the field that day, and which had been the occasion of a great deal of comment in the ranks. As we passed these officers, the one with the peculiar hat called out in a loud voice: "What troops are these?" "The regulars," answered somebody. "Second Division, Fifth Corps," replied another. "God bless them! they saved the army," added the officer, solemnly. We learned that he was General Irvin McDowell.
As we neared the bridge we came upon confusion. Men singly and in detachments were mingled with sutlers' wagons, artillery, caissons, supply wagons, and ambulances, each striving to get ahead of the other. Vehicles rushed through organized bodies, and broke the columns into fragments. Little detachments gathered by the roadside, after crossing the bridge, crying out the numbers of their regiments as a guide to scattered comrades.
And what a night it was! Dark, gloomy, and beclouded by the volummes of smoke which had risen from the battle-field. To our disgust with the situation was added the discomfort of a steady rain setting in after nightfall. With many threats to reckless drivers, and through the untiring efforts of our officers, not knowing how, when or where we should meet the enemy again, we managed to preserve our organization intact, keeping out of the road as much as possible, in order to avoid mingling with others. In this way, we arrived at Centreville some time before midnight, and on the morning of the 31st of August we were placed in the old Confederate earth-works surrounding that village to await developments.
It was Sunday. The morning was cold and rainy; everything bore a look of sadness in unison with our feelings. All about were the disjecta membra of a shattered army; here were stragglers plodding through the mud, inquiring for their regiments little squads, just issuing from their shelterless bivouac on the wet ground; wagons wrecked and forlorn; half-formed regiments, part of the men with guns and part without; wanderers driven in by the patrols; while every one of you met had an unwashed, sleepy, downcast aspect, and looked as if he would like to hide his head somewhere from all the world.
During the afternoon of September 1st, a council of war was held in the bivouac of the regular division, at which I noticed all the prominent generals of that army. It was a long one, and apparently not over-pleasant, if one might judge of it by the expressions on the faces of the officers when they separated. The information it developed, however, was that the enemy was between the Army of the Potomac and Washington: that Kearny was then engaged with him at Chantilly, and that we must fall back toward the defenses of the city. Dejection disappeared, activity took the place of immobility. and we were ready again to renew the contest. But who was to be our leader? and where were we to fight? Those were the questions that sprang to our lips. We had been ordered to keep our camp-fires burning brightly until 'tattoo': and then, after the rolls had been called, we stole away---out into a gloomy night, made more desolate by the glare of dying embers. Nothing occurred to disturb our march: we arrived at Fairfax Court House early on the morning of the 2d of September. At this point we were turned off on the road to Washington, and went into bivouac. Here all sorts of rumors reached us: but, tired out from the weary night march, our blankets were soon spread on the ground, and we enjoyed an afternoon and night of comparative repose.
"About 4 o'clock on the next afternoon, from a prominent point, we descried in the distance the dome of the Capitol. We would be there at least in time to defend it! Darkness came upon us and still we marched. As the night wore on, we found at each halt that it was more and more difficult to arouse the men from the sleep into which they would fall apparently as soon as they touched the ground. During one of these halts, while Colonel Buchanan, the brigade commander, was resting a little off the road, some distance in advance of the head of the column, it being starlight, two horsemen came down the road toward us. I thought I observed a familiar form, and, turning to Colonel Buchanan, said :
"Colonel, if I did not know that General McClellan had been relieved of all command, I should one of that party,' adding immediately, 'I do really believe it is he!'
"'Nonsense,' said the colonel: ' what would General McClellan be doing out in this lonely place, at this time of night, without an escort?'
"The two horsemen passed on to where the men of the column were lying, standing, or sitting, and were soon lost in the shadowy gloom.. But a few moments had elapsed, however, when Captain John D. Wilkins, of the sd infantry (now colonel of the 5th) came running toward Colonel Buchanan, crying out:
"Colonel ! Colonel ! General McClellan is here !' "The enlisted men caught the sound! Whoever was awake aroused his neighbor. Eyes were rubbed, and those tired fellows, as the news passed down the column, jumped to their feet, and sent up such a hurrah as the Army of the Potomac had never heard before. Shout upon shout went out into the stillness of the night: and as it was taken up along the road and repeated by regiment, brigade, division, and corps, we could hear the roar dying away in the distance. The effect of this man's presence upon the Army of the Potomac---in sunshine or rain, in darkness or in daylight, in victory or defeat ---was electrical, and too wonderful to make it worth while attempting to give a reason for it. Just two weeks from this time this defeated army, under the leadership of McClellan, won the battles of South Mountain and Antietam having marched ten days out of the two weeks in order to do it."
Reno's corps was withdrawn from out right center late in the afternoon and thrown into action on our left, where the assaults of the enemy were persistent and unintermitting. Notwithstanding the disadvantages under which we labored, our troops held their ground with the utmost firmness and obstinacy. The loss on both sides was heavy. By dark our left had been forced back half or three-fourths of a mile, but still remained firm and unbroken and still held the Warrenton pike on our rear, while our right was also driven back equally far, but in good order and without confusion. At dark the enemy took possession of the Sudley Springs road, and was in position to threaten our line of communication via stone bridge. After 6 o'clock in the evening I learned, accidentally, that Franklin's corps had arrived at a point about 4 miles east of Centreville, or 12 miles in our rear, and that it was only about 8000 strong.
The result of the battle of the 30th convinced me that we were no longer able to hold our position so far to the front, and so far away from the absolute necessaries of life, suffering, as were men and horses, from fatigue and hunger, and weakened by the heavy losses in battle. About 8 o'clock in the evening, therefore, I sent written orders to the corps commanders to withdraw leisurely to Centreville, and stated to them what route each should pursue and where they should take position at and near Centreville. General Reno, with his corps, was ordered to take post to cover this movement. The withdrawal was made slowly, quietly, and in good order, no attempt whatever being made by the enemy to obstruct our movement. A division of infantry, with its batteries, was posted to cover the crossing of Cub Run.
The exact losses in this battle I am unable to give, as the reports from corps commanders only indicated the aggregate losses since August 22d, but they were very heavy.
Before leaving the field I sent orders to General Banks, at Bristoe Station, where the railroad was broken, to destroy the cars and such of the stores as he could not take off in the wagon trains, and join me at Centreville. I had previously sent him instructions to bring off from Warrenton Junction and Bristoe Station all of the ammunition and all of the sick and wounded who could bear transportation, throwing personal baggage and property out of the regimental trains, if necessary, for the purpose.
At no time during the 29th, 30th, or 31st of August was the road between Bristoe and Centreville interrupted by the enemy. The orders will show conclusively that every arrangement was made in the minutest detail for the security of our wagon train and supplies; and General Banks's subsequent report to me is positive that none of the wagons or mules were lost. I mention this matter merely to answer the wholly unfounded statements made at the time, and repeated often since, of our loss of wagons, mules, and supplies.
I arrived personally at Centreville about 9 or 10 o'clock that night [the 30th]. The next morning the various corps were posted in the old intrenchments in and around Centreville, and ammunition trains and some supplies were brought up during the day and distributed. We spent that whole day resting the men and resupplying them With ammunition and provisions as far as our means permitted.
Franklin's corps arrived at Centreville late on the afternoon of the 30th; Sumner's the next day. What was then thought by the Government of our operations up to this time is shown in the subjoined dispatch:
WASHINGTON, AUGUST 31st, 1862. 11 A. M.
MY DEAR GENERAL: You have done nobly. Don't yield another inch if you can avoid it. All reserves are being sent forward.... I am doing all I can for you and your noble army. God bless you and it.
H. W. HALLECK, General-in-chief.
The enemy's cavalry appeared in front of Cub Run that morning, but made no attempt to attack. Our cavalry, under Buford and Bayard, was completely broken down, and both of these officers reported to me that not five horses to the company could be forced into a trot. No horses whatever had reached us for remounts since the beginning of operations. It was impracticable, therefore, to use the cavalry as cavalry to cover our front with pickets or to make reconnaissances of the enemy's front.
This paper would be incomplete indeed did it fail to contain some short, if entirely insufficient, tribute to that most gallant and loyal soldier, John Buford. I remember very well how surprised I was when I was first placed in command of the Army of Virginia that General Buford, then only a major in the inspector-general's department, reported to me for duty as inspector. I asked him how he could possibly remain in such a position while a great war was going on, and what objections he could have (if he had any) to being placed in a command in the field. He seemed hurt to think I could have even a doubt of his wish to take the field, and told me that he had tried to get a command, but was without influence enough to accomplish it. I went at once to the Secretary of War and begged him to have Major Buford appointed a brigadier-general of volunteers and ordered to report to me for service. The President was good enough to make the appointment, and certainly a better one was never made. Buford's coolness, his fine judgment, and his splendid courage were known of all men who had to do with him; but besides, and in addition to these high qualities, he acquired in a few months, through his presence and manner, an influence over men as remarkable as it was useful. His quiet dignity, covering a fiery spirit and a military sagacity as far-reaching as it was accurate, made him in the short period of his active service one of the most respected and trusted officers in the service. His bout by disease contracted during the months of active service and constant exposure, was widely lamented in the army.
On the morning of the 1st of September I directed General Sumner to push forward a reconnaissance toward Little River pike, which enters the Warrenton pike at Fairfax, with two brigades, to ascertain if the enemy was making any movement toward our right by that road. The enemy was found moving again slowly toward the right, heavy columns moving along the Little River pike in the direction of Fairfax. This movement had become so developed by the afternoon of that day, and was so evidently directed to turn our right, that I made the necessary disposition of troops to fight battle between the Little River pike and the road from Fairfax to Centreville. General Hooker was sent early in the afternoon to Fairfax Court House, and directed to concentrate all the troops in that vicinity and to push forward to Germantown with his advance. I instructed McDowell to move along the road from Centreville toward Fairfax Court House, as far as Difficult Creek, and to connect on his right with Hooker. Reno was directed to push forward north of the road to Centreville, and in the direction of Chantilly, toward the flank of the enemy's advance; Heintzelman's corps to support Reno. Just before sunset the enemy attacked us toward our right, but was met by Hooker, McDowell, and Reno, and by Kearny's division of Heintzelman's corps. A very severe action was fought in the midst of a terrific thunder-storm, and was only ended by the darkness. The enemy was driven back entirely from our front, and did not again renew his attack upon us.
In this short but severe action the army lost two officers of the highest capacity and distinction, whose death caused general lamentation in the army and country. The first was Major-General Philip Kearny, killed in advance of his division and while commanding it. There have been few such officers as Kearny in our own or any other army. In war he was an enthusiast, and he never seemed so such at home and so cheerful and confident as in battle. Tall and lithe in figure, with a most expressive and mobile countenance, and a manner which inspired confidence and zeal in all under his command, no one could fail to admire his c and his supreme courage. He seemed to think that it was his mission to make up the shortcomings of others, and in proportion as these shortcomings were made plain, his exertions and exposure were multiplied. He was a great and most accomplished soldier, and died as he would himself have wished to die, and as became his heroic character, at the head of his troops and in the front of the battle.
General Isaac I. Stevens, who was killed at the same time and nearly on the same ground, was an officer in many respects contrasted to Kearny. He was short and rather stout, with a swarthy complexion and very bright dark eyes. He was a man of very superior abilities and of marked skill and courage. His extreme political opinions before the war, ardently asserted, as was his habit in all matters which interested him, made it somewhat difficult for him to secure such a position in the army as one of his capacity might well have expected. The prejudice against him on this account was soon shown to be utterly groundless, for a more zealous and faithful officer never lived. His conduct in the battle in which he lost his life, and in every other operation of the campaign, was marked by high intelligence and the coolest courage, and his death in the front of battle ended too soon a career which would have placed him among the foremost officers of the war. As an officer of engineers before the war, and as Governor of, and delegate to Congress from Washington Territory, he was always a man of note, and possessed the abilities and the force to have commanded in time any position to which he might have aspired. The loss of these two officers was a heavy blow to the army, not so much perhaps because of their soldierly capacity as because of their well-known and unshakable fidelity to duty, and their entire loyalty to their comrades in arms.
On the morning of the 2d of September the army was posted behind Difficult Creek from Flint Hill to the Alexandria pike. The enemy disappeared from our front, moving toward the Upper Potomac with no attempt to force from position. And here the second battle of Bull Run may be said to terminate. On that day I received orders from General Halleck to take position in the intrenchments in front of Washington, with a view to reorganizing the army and eliminating such of the discordant elements in it as had largely caused the misfortunes of the latter part of that campaign.
The transactions at Alexandria and Washington City during these eventful days, as also at Centreville during part of them, are as closely connected with these battles, and had nearly as much to do with their results, as operations in the field; but they demand more space than is accorded to this article. The materials to write a complete account of these matters are at hand, and it is quite probable that the course of events may yet make their publication necessary.
There are other matters which, although not important, seem not out of place in this paper. A good deal of cheap wit has been expended upon a fanciful story that I published an order or wrote a letter or made a remark that my "headquarters would be in the saddle." It is an expression harmless and innocent enough, but it is even stated that it furnished General Lee with the basis for the only joke of his life. I think it due to army tradition, and to the comfort of those who have so often repeated this ancient joke in the days long before the civil war, that these later wits should not be allowed with impunity to poach on this well-tilled manor. This venerable joke I first heard when a cadet at West Point, and it was then told of that gallant soldier and gentleman, General W. J. Worth, and I presume it could be easily traced back to the Crusades and beyond. Certainly I never used this expression or wrote or dictated it, nor does any such expression occur in any order of mine; and as it was perhaps served its time and effected its purpose, it ought to be retired.
I thus conclude for the present this account of the second battle of Bull Run. The battle treated of, as well as the campaign which preceded it, have been, and no doubt still are, greatly misunderstood. Probably they will remain during this generation a matter of controversy, into which personal feeling and prejudice so largely enter that dispassionate judgment cannot now be looked for. I submit this article to the public judgment with all confidence that it will be fairly considered, and as just a judgment passed upon it as is possible at this time. I well understood, as does every military man, how difficult and how thankless was the task imposed on me, and I do not hesitate to say that I would gladly have avoided it if I could have done so consistent with duty.
To confront with a small army greatly superior forces, to fight battles without the hope of victory, but only to gain time by delaying the forward movement of the enemy, is a duty the most hazardous and the most difficult that can be imposed upon any general or any army. While such operations require the highest courage and endurance on the part of the troops, they are unlikely to be understood or appreciated, and the results, however successful in view of the object aimed at, have little in them to attract public commendation or applause.
At no time could I have hoped to fight a successful battle with the superior forces of the enemy which confronted me, and which were able at any time to outflank and bear my small army to the dust. It was only by constant movement, incessant watchfulness, and hazardous skirmishes and battles, that the forces under my command were saved from destruction, and that the enemy was embarrassed and delayed in his advance until the army of General McClellan was at length assembled for the defense of Washington.
I did hope that in the course of these operations the enemy might commit some imprudence, or leave some opening of which I could take such advantage as to gain at least a partial success. This opportunity was presented by the advance of Jackson on Manassas Junction; but although the best dispositions possible in my view were made, the object was frustrated by causes which could not have been foreseen, and which perhaps are not yet completely known to the country.
Source: Battles and Leaders of the Civil War
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