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Second Battle of Bull Run
The Second Battle of Bull Run, known as the Second Battle of Manassas in the South, was fought August 30, 1862, as the major battle in the Northern Virginia Campaign of the American Civil War. It began with an attack by Confederate forces on a Federal column near sunset on August 28, 1862.
On June 26, 1862, the Army of Virginia was formed under the command of Major General John Pope. Maneuvering following the Battle of Cedar Mountain on August 9 brought the armies to positions across the Rappahannock River. On August 22, Robert E. Lee received information that Pope expected to be reinforced from the Virginia Peninsula within five days, bringing his forces to 130,000 men. Facing 75,000 men to his 55,000, Lee decided to split his forces and send half on a wide flanking movement.
On August 25, Confederate forces under Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson began a sweeping march around the right of Pope's army, crossing the Rappahannock at Hinson's Mill Ford and reaching Salem (now Marshall) on the Manassas Gap Railroad during the evening. Turning his column eastward, he resumed his march in the morning and crossed Bull Run Mountain at Thoroughfare Gap and reached Gainesville in the late afternoon, where cavalry forces under Major General J.E.B. Stuart joined the column. With evening approaching, the head of Jackson's column cut the Orange and Alexandria Railroad at Bristoe Station, four miles west of the Union supply depot at Manassas Junction. During the night, Jackson's forces marched to the junction and seized the supply depot.
On August 27, Pope moved to intercept Jackson from the southwest, while Henry W. Halleck, the Union general-in-chief in Washington, D.C., directed Federal forces in Alexandria to move against Manassas Junction and Gainesville from the east. During the morning Jackson's forces fended off the advance of Union forces northeast of the junction near Bull Run Bridge on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Meanwhile at Bristoe Station, Jackson's rearguard under Major General Richard S. Ewell held off Pope's advance forces under Major General Joseph Hooker until late in the afternoon. With Pope's army approaching from the west, Jackson decided to destroy the remaining supplies in Manassas Junction and to withdraw his command northward during the night to the site of the previous year's battle of First Bull Run.
The engagement began as a Federal column, under Jackson's observation near Brawner Farm , moved along the Warrenton Turnpike . In an effort to prevent Pope from moving into a strong defensive position around Centreville, Jackson risked being overwhelmed before James Longstreet could join him. Jackson ordered an attack on the exposed left flank of the column and, in his words, "The conflict here was fierce and sanguinary." The fighting continued until approximately 9 p.m. (some sources say midnight), at which point the Union withdrew from the field. Losses were heavy on both sides.
Pope believed he had trapped Jackson and sought to capture him before he could be reinforced by Longstreet. Pope's dispatch sent on the evening of the 28th to General Kearney stated, in part, "General McDowell has intercepted the retreat of the enemy and is now in his front.... Unless he can escape by by-paths leading to the north to-night, he must be captured."
Jackson had initiated the conflict with the goal of holding Pope in the area until Longstreet arrived with the remainder of the Army of Northern Virginia. Jackson formed his line of battle near Warrenton Turnpike, generally along the excavation for an unfinished railroad line.
Beginning about 10 a.m., the Union forces launched a series of assaults against Jackson's position. The fighting was intense and casualties were heavy on both sides. The battle continued until Federal forces withdrew.
Longstreet's corps arrived on the field at approximately 11 a.m. and took up positions on Jackson's right. His arrival apparently went unnoticed by Pope until late in the afternoon when a portion of Longstreet's command repulsed a Union advance.
Early that morning, Jackson's troops pulled back from forward positions gained while repulsing the assaults. Pope viewed this as evidence of a retreat and, although he was now aware that Longstreet had joined Jackson, was determined to push forward. His order was, "The ... forces will be immediately thrown forward in pursuit of the enemy, and press him vigorously during the whole day...."
Following skirmishing throughout the day, Pope moved against Jackson's position in force at about 3 p.m. Jackson described the assault, "In a few moments our entire line was engaged in a fierce and sanguinary struggle with the enemy. As one line was repulsed another took its place and pressed forward as if determined by force of numbers and fury of assault to drive us from our positions."
While the Union forces were engaged with Jackson, Lee ordered Longstreet forward. Longstreet's forces, consisting of 28,000 troops, led by John B. Hood's brigades, drove forward and crushed the Union left flank as Jackson repulsed the assault. The Union forces were driven from the field in disorder.
In Jackson's words, "As Longstreet pressed upon the right the Federal advance was checked, and soon a general advance of my whole line was ordered. Eagerly and fiercely did each brigade press forward, exhibiting in parts of the field scenes of close encounter and murderous strife not witnessed often in the turmoil of battle. The Federals gave way before our troops, fell back in disorder, and fled precipitately, leaving their dead and wounded on the field."
Reports from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion:
- Report of Lieut. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson, C.S. Army, Commanding Second Corps, Battle of Second Manassas, dated April 27, 1863.
- Report of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army, Commanding Army of Northern Virginia, Battle of Second Manassas
- Report of Lieut. Gen. James Longstreet, C. S. Army, commanding First Corps, of the Battles of Groveton and Manassas dated October 10 1862.
- The Army Under Pope, John Codman Ropes, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1901.
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