A Confederate column marching eastward to Groveton by way of Haymarket would expose its right flank to an attack from Warrenton and must guard itself accordingly. Cavalry was needed for this purpose, and as Lee had none, he had to improvise them. Fortunately, during the early morning, a detached cavalry company rode into the lines at Thoroughfare Gap. Lee took this company, collected all available mounted men from the different commands, placed them under Stuart's quartermaster, Major Samuel H. Hairston, who happened to be with the infantry, and sent them off, 150 strong, to ascertain if any Federals were still in the vicinity of Warrenton.1
Before Hairston could set out, the infantry were on the road. Hood's division was in advance, and picked Texas riflemen acted as skirmishers. Contact was soon established with the rearguard of the Federals who had held the gap the night before, but they fled fast and soon disappeared altogether.2 The steady tramp of Longstreet's regiments was uninterrupted. The dust was thick and the air already hot by the time Haymarket was reached and passed. A pleasant rolling country, half pastoral, half agricultural, was opening before the army. From high points a wide and inspiring panorama was spread out. At intervals green forests cut off the view.
p318 Soon, on the left, in the edge of a wood, horsemen were seen. Lee's staff turned their glasses on them to ascertain whether they were friends or foes. There was a moment's scrutiny, and then the breeze rippled the blue cross against the red field of the flag the troops were carrying. The cavalry at the same moment decided that the marching column was Longstreet's and they started for it. As their leader galloped ahead, his flowing beard and familiar garb identified him as Stuart.
"Well, General, Lee inquired, the instant Stuart had ridden up and had exchanged greetings, "what of Jackson?"
"He has fallen back from Manassas," Stuart answered, "and is holding the enemy at bay at Sudley's Ford."
"We must hurry on and help him," said Lee. "Is there no path by which we may move our tired men and get them out of the heat and dust?"
There was no other road. Stuart had to advise that the infantry keep to the main highway till Gainesville was reached and then turn to the left into the Warrenton-Gainesville-Centreville turnpike.3 This would bring Longstreet to Jackson's right flank.
The arrival of the cavalry was most reassuring, because it could guard the exposed right of Longstreet's column from sudden attack based on Warrenton. The infantry were halted in the road so that the cavalry might cross to the south for this purpose. Refreshed by the rest this pause afforded them, the regiments took up the march and soon were close to Gainesville. The sound of desultory artillery fire had beaten an uncertain accompaniment to the ramp of the troops for several miles, and now it swelled in faster time. The pace grew swifter, the banter died away.4 Lee's mind was busy. How strong was the enemy, and how disposed? Was Jackson's line secure? Could contact be established easily? Had the Army of Northern Virginia won the race to Pope? If not, how much of McClellan's army was with the general whose headquarters were "in the saddle"? Lee had not p319 intended to bring his campaign of manoeuvre to an issue, but there, ahead of him, Jackson was waging a defensive battle. Or was there a prospect of victory, beyond the ridge where the smoke was rising?
As Lee pondered, the head of the column reached Gainesville. The Manassas Gap Railway and the road followed by the army continued to the southeast; the Warrenton-Gainesville-Centreville turnpike ran to the northeast, like the course of an arrow in still air. The leading regiment of Hood's division turned to the left into the turnpike,5 and Jackson, who had been watching the advance, rode out for a moment and spoke to Hood.6 The time, which was subsequently disputed in the trial of Fitz-John Porter, was around 10:30, perhaps a little earlier.
Lee came up shortly thereafter and established his headquarters on a little hill about •400 yards south of the turnpike in rear of the ground where Hood's men were quietly forming their line of battle. He sat down on a stump to await reconnaissance.7 Presently there galloped up from the left a solitary courier, sent by General William E. Starke, to ascertain whether the troops who were taking position with so much composure were Federals or the long-awaited divisions of Longstreet. The courier paused only long enough to make sure and then he returned as fast as spurs could force his jaded horse toward the waiting and weary captors of Manassas. "It's Longstreet," he cried joyously, so that every listening ear caught the words. A mighty cheer went up, and Jackson's men knew for the first time that the worst danger was past, that Army of Northern Virginia was united again.8
Jackson's "foot-cavalry" had reason both to rejoice and to be proud, for their performance from the time Lee had heard of their arrival at Bristoe Station and at Manassas had been almost as splendid as their march to Pope's rear. On the morning of the 27th, after Trimble and Stuart had seized the base at Manassas Junction, Hill's and Jackson's divisions had marched to that p320 point, leaving Ewell at Bristoe, to dispute the Federal pursuit and, ere retiring, to burn the railroad bridge over Broad Run. Taylor's Federal brigade had come up from Alexandria and had attacked near Manassas Junction in the belief that it was encountering only a raiding party. Jackson had tried to save the New Jersey troops from slaughter by demanding their surrender, but they had rushed on and had been wrecked.9 Unhindered thereafter, Jackson's men had sacked the immense stores. Many had found clothing and shoes; others, feasting freely, had thought only to supply the inner man.10 All had been allowed to help themselves, because as Jackson had only his ambulances with him, there had been no hope of removing much of the plunder.11 While the men of Hill and of Taliaferro12 had been thus pleasantly engaged, Ewell had been holding off a threatening attack at Bristoe Station.13
During the night of August 27‑28, Taliaferro had marched to a new position, northwest of Manassas; the rearguard had destroyed the base and •two miles of loaded freight-cars;14 and then, after Ewell had broken off the fight at Bristoe, first Hill and then he had moved to join Taliaferro.15 Jackson had most admirably chosen his new position. Moving to the northwest, he had occupied a long ridge at Groveton, where he would be able to withdraw to Thoroughfare Gap, or north of Bull Run Mountains if hard pressed, yet where he commanded a long sweep of the Gainesville-Centreville turnpike, in case an unwary foe should move across his front.
In seeking to locate Jackson, Pope had lost much time in mistaken manoeuvres.16 Jackson, waiting quietly, had let Pope wear out his men at hide-and‑seek, until the late afternoon of the 28th when he had hurled his right wing, 8000 men, against King's division, which he had assumed to be the flank guard of a passing army corps.17
p321 The enemy had resisted with great stubbornness and had not been driven off the field until 9 o'clock on the evening of August 28. Jackson's loss had been heavy and had included two of his three division commanders, Ewell and Taliaferro. Ewell had lost a leg and would be absent for months. Taliaferro's wounds were not serious,18 though they temporarily incapacitated him. The vigil of the night had been relieved, despite these losses, by the knowledge that the rest of the army was near at hand. The cannonading at Thoroughfare Gap had been heard on Jackson's lines.19
On the morning of the 29th, Jackson had found the Federals farther to his left, interposed between him and Washington. He had slightly changed position to conform, and had drawn his line along and close to the cut of the so‑called "unfinished railroad," which was an excavated grade intended to give the Manassas Gap Railroad direct connection with Alexandria, instead of by way of Manassas Junction.20 Jackson's division, now under Brigadier General Starke, had been placed on the right, where Longstreet was expected to join him. Ewell's division, commanded by Brigadier General A. R. Lawton, had been put in the centre, and Hill had been given the left, the post of greatest danger. These dispositions had been made and two vigorous artillery exchanges had occurred, when word had been passed down the line that Longstreet had come up. The whole operation, from the start at Warrenton Springs Ford to the moment of Lee's arrival on the scene, had been conducted on Jackson's part without a serious mistake of any sort. His troops were weary and were sadly deficient in senior officers, but their spirit was high, and when they saw their old comrades of the Seven Days file into position, they turned again defiantly to the enemy, who was massing on the front as Longstreet came up.21
p322 Longstreet's line was formed promptly. Hood's division was placed perpendicular to the turnpike, with its left close to the right of Jackson's line. Evans was in immediate support. Three brigades under Wilcox were put in rear of Hood's left, and three others under Kemper were behind Hood's right. D. R. Jones's division was sent to the right of Hood, where his flank rested on the Manassas Gap Railroad.22 It was an admirable position in which to meet an attack, though not quite so good for hurling quickly the full weight of the army in assault. Communication from one flank to the other was open. With Jackson extending to the northeast, along the unfinished railroad, Longstreet's line was shaping itself southward. The whole front formed an angle of approximately 160 degrees, strongest at the apex, which was near the Gainesville-Centreville road, looking east.
Hood's batteries, which had taken position immediately upon arrival, were now strengthened by some of Longstreet's already famous companies of the Washington Artillery. Their brisk and well-directed fire quickly caused the enemy to shift his line opposite Jackson's right.23 As Anderson's division, which had followed Longstreet from Warrenton Springs Ford, was known to be close enough to share in any general engagement, Lee had at hand all the troops he could hope to put into action, whereas troops arriving from McClellan might so strengthen Pope that he could seize the initiative. Lee's martial instinct and his military judgment alike told him that the thing to do was to attack at once. He so informed Longstreet.24 But "Old Pete" was not satisfied. He believed, as Maurice has aptly said, that the recipe for victory was to manoeuvre the army into a position where the enemy would have to attack disadvantageously,25 and he asked for time in which to examine the ground more fully and to ascertain what force was gathering on his right.26 Reluctantly Lee consented. Longstreet rode off to the southeast, near the flank of Jones's division, and climbed an eminence there.27 Lee waited. The artillery duel continued. The Federals seemed to be moving away to concentrate against Jackson's left.28
After a while, Longstreet returned. He was full of misgiving. p323 The Federals extended far to the south of the turnpike, he said. The terrain was not inviting. Besides, there was no telling what force the enemy might be bringing up from the direction of Manassas Junction. An attack might send the Confederate right flank squarely into a strong Federal column.29 Lee was disappointed. It would be possible, he said, to send troops beyond the Federal left and to seize the strong ground of which Longstreet spoke.
As the two debated, a message arrived from General Stuart, who was on reconnaissance down the road leading from Gainesville to Manassas. Stuart said that a column was approaching from that direction. Another force, reckoned as a full army corps, was advancing on the road from Bristoe to Sudley Springs, and if not halted would strike Longstreet's flank. He had an excellent artillery position, Stuart stated, and was having men drag the road from Gainesville toward the Federals, to raise a dust and create an impression that troops were moving out to meet the Federals, but if the ground was to be held, reinforcements had to be dispatched to that quarter immediately.30
Wilcox's three brigades were at once ordered to move from the centre, in rear of Hood's left, around to the right of Jones.31 Longstreet hurried off to see the situation for himself and to dispose Wilcox's men as they came up on the right. Again Lee had to wait. As he studied the woods and ridges in front of him, while the artillery still thundered on the centre and the dust-clouds rose from the direction of Bristoe and Manassas to the southeast, Jackson rode up, weary and dishevelled. It was the first time Lee had seen him since they had ended their memorable council at Jeffersonton on the afternoon of the 25th, and their brief conversation must have been of Jackson's march, of his battle with King on the 28th, and of the ominous movement of the Federals to his left flank. As they talked, Longstreet returned. This time he was somewhat reassured. The force opposite his right was hardly left enough as yet to threaten his flank, he said, but there was more dust down the road toward Manassas. Further troops might be moving in that direction.32
p324 "Hadn't we better move our line forward?" Lee asked, with the deference it had become his habit to show his division commanders, especially Longstreet, in all matters of tactics on the field of battle.
"I think not," Longstreet answered cautiously; "we had better wait until we hear more from Stuart about the force he has reported moving against us from Manassas."
Jackson said nothing.33 Lee hesitated to order an attack where the man who was to deliver it was opposed to it, so he unwillingly consented to await developments a while longer. Jackson rode off, for the fire from the left of his line was growing in volume. Soon Stuart arrived, to confirm what Longstreet had said of a movement up the road from Manassas.34 The troops that were coming up were almost certainly Porter's corps. Pope's command was being reinforced still further by the Army of the Potomac — dark news! The last lap of the race to Pope was being run on the field of battle. Lee determined now to ascertain the facts for himself. Leaving Stuart at headquarters, he made a personal reconnaissance. This satisfied him that the Confederate line outflanked the Federals, whose numbers did not seem to exceed 10,000.35 After an hour, he rode back to the hill. His first inquiry was for Stuart.
"Here I am, General," Stuart answered instantly, rising from the ground where he had been sleeping calmly throughout the whole of his chief's absence.
"I want you to send a message to your troops over on the left to send a few more cavalry over to the right."
"I would better go myself," said Stuart, and he rode off singing loudly his favorite "Jine the cavalry."36
For the third time Lee declared himself for an attack. He believed that a drive along the Gainesville-Centreville turnpike would certainly dislodge the force on the right at the same time that it would relieve Jackson, whose troops were now furiously engaged on the extreme left. Longstreet was obdurate. The day was nearly done, "Old Pete" argued. An advance would get p325 nowhere and might have disastrous. It would be far better to make a reconnaissance later in the evening. Then, if an opening were found, the whole army could be thrown against the enemy. Lee hesitated. Judgment and consideration for the opinion of his subordinate were at odds. At length, though unconvinced, he assented. His decision was reached after far too little deliberation and probably was expressed in a very few words, but the moment was an important one in the military career of Lee, important less in its effect on the outcome of the battle than in its bearing on Lee's future relations with Longstreet. In all the operations since Lee had taken command of the Army of Northern Virginia he had not shown any of the excessive consideration for the feelings of others that he had exhibited in West Virginia in his dealings with General Loring; now it appeared again. The seeds of much of the disaster at Gettysburg were sown in that instant — when Lee yielded to Longstreet and Longstreet discovered that he would.
The roar from the left now told of such a battle as even the Army of Northern Virginia had seldom fought. Hill, on Jackson's left flank, had his six brigades in a double line from right to left as follows: Field, Thomas, and Gregg in front, with Branch, Pender, and Archer in support. They were along or close to the cut of the unfinished railroad,39 on ground where the artillery could do little to protect the infantry or to drive back the enemy. Gregg's South Carolinians, on the extreme left, occupied "a small, rocky, wooded knoll, with the railroad cut on the east and north fronts, and a cleared field to the northwest."40 Against this line, now swinging to the right and now to the left, Pope threw his troops in successive charges from 3 o'clock p326 until 6.41 On some parts of the front the ammunition was exhausted after the second Federal assault, and the men had to meet the enemy with the bayonet.42 On Thomas's front the enemy gained the cut and was driven back from it.43 Gregg, with the cartridge-boxes of his men empty, sent word to his division commander: "Tell General Hill that my ammunition is exhausted, but that I will hold my position with the bayonet."44 And when the Federal general, Cuvier Grover, threw his men into the gap in the line between Thomas and Gregg, in what a philosophical colonel styled "the consummation of the grand debate between Massachusetts and South Carolina,"45 Gregg rallied them for a last stand. Weary and deaf, he walked up and down his thinned line with an old Revolutionary scimitar in his hand. "Let us die here, my men," he said, "let us die here!" The enemy was across the railroad cut, and the survivors of the regiments that had fought in the swamp at Gaines's Mill were preparing to meet them with steel, when there was a shout behind them. Thinking that they were surrounded, they turned in dread — and saw the familiar gray of Early's brigades and a part of Lawton's, comparatively fresh.46 There was a brief, wild encounter; then the Federals were repulsed once more and were forced to retreat beyond the line of the unfinished railroad.47
Of all this, Lee could see nothing, but as he received no call for assistance from Jackson, he knew that all was well. About sunset, Hood was sent forward along the turnpike to make the reconnaissance that Longstreet had favored. He had not gone far before he encountered a Federal force advancing to attack him. A quick, fierce clash occurred in gathering darkness. Wilcox was hurried to support Hood's left, and Hunton, with a brigade of Kemper's, formed on the right of Hood.48 Together they swept on into the Federal positions and were engulfed by twilight.
p328 It was late when Hood came back to Lee and Longstreet and reported that he had advanced so far that he could not distinguish bluecoat from gray. He advocated a withdrawal to his original line. More than that, he had made, at Longstreet's instance, as careful a study as possible of the enemy's position. His conclusion was disconcerting, almost disheartening. The ground held by the enemy was very strong, he said. An attack the next morning would be dangerous. General Wilcox, who made a separate report, was of the same opinion.49 By Lee's order, Hood immediately began to withdraw. On the way out he met R. H. Anderson's division, which had completed the long march as rearguard from Warrenton Springs Ford, and, undirected, had pushed forward almost into the enemy's lines.50
The information supplied by Hood and Wilcox threw Lee back on his original plan to avoid a general engagement and to rely on manoeuvre in forcing Pope from northern Virginia. He sent off a dispatch to the President, recounting what had happened,51 and then he retired to a little cabin •some 400 yards to the left of the turnpike, •about three-quarters of a mile behind Hood's lines, there to await the returning sun.
Day broke clear and bright on the morning of the fateful 30th of August,52 and in a stillness that did not suggest a renewal of the enemy's attacks. On some parts of the line scarcely a gun was fired as the sun began to climb upward, while the hungry men stirred in the nearby cornfields to find for themselves the rations the commissary could not supply.53 Lee was satisfied that if the enemy dared to attack, he would be repulsed in two hours,54 but such slight movements as could be observed from headquarters, which were re-established on the ridge where they had been located on the previous evening, suggested a withdrawal rather than an assault. The feeling spread that the enemy might escape.55 When Lee sat down to write an early-morning dispatch to the President, his mind was not on an offensive battle but on the possibility of further manoeuvres to clear the enemy from p329 fruitful northern Virginia. "My dispatches," he said, "will have informed you of the march of this portion of the army. Its progress has been necessarily slow, having a large and superior force on its flank; narrow and rough roads to travel, and the difficulties of obtaining forage and provisions to contend with. It has so far advanced in safety and has succeeded in deceiving the enemy as to its object. The movement has, as far as I am able to judge, drawn the enemy from the Rappahannock frontier and caused him to concentrate his troops between Manassas and Centreville. My desire has been to avoid a general engagement, being the weaker force, and by maneuvering to relieve the portion of the country referred to. I think if not overpowered we shall be able to relieve other portions of the country, as it seems to be the purpose of the enemy to collect his strength here. . . ."56
By the oddest chance, and in the most ironical contrast, General Pope a few minutes before had telegraphed to General Halleck his appraisal of the situation. "We fought a terrific battle here yesterday," he reported. ". . . We have lost not less than 8000 men killed and wounded, but from the appearance of the land the enemy lost at least two to one. . . . The news just reaches me from the front that the enemy is retreating towards the mountains. . . ."57
About 8 o'clock the enemy's batteries opened a slow fire, but this caused no apprehension. For at dawn, Stephen D. Lee's battalion of reserve artillery, eighteen guns, had come up and had taken the position occupied by the Washington Artillery on the 29th — a ridge near the centre and somewhat in advance of the infantry, •a quarter of a mile in length and facing open ground in front for a distance of •about 2000 yards.58 "You are just where I wanted you," General Lee said to the alert young colonel, "stay there."59 With these guns so advantageously placed to support the batteries attached to the infantry commands, Lee felt that he had little to fear in an artillery engagement, even from the superior ordnance of the Federals, though his ammunition was so low that he had to urge economy in its expenditure.60
p330 The fire kept up for about an hour; then it died away in a silence more profound than before.61 Lee began to formulate the details of the next move in his campaign of manoeuvre. Studying the map, he decided that if the Federals made no assault during the day he would demonstrate along the line in the afternoon, then slip across Bull Run in the vicinity of Sudley Springs after nightfall, and endeavor once again to get in Pope's rear.62
Straining ears heard the distant rumbling of artillery wheels about noon, and anxious eyes ere long saw rising clouds of dust on the left.63 General Stuart reported that from a perch in a great walnut tree, one of his men could see the Federals gradually massing in three heavy lines opposite Jackson.64 Perhaps Pope intended to attack, after all! Couriers were dispatched to put the troops on the alert. Jackson joined Lee and Longstreet at headquarters. Stuart was summoned and came up quickly.65 Over the field there passed the expectancy that always lights the eyes of the brave and makes them look to their arms ere "the long roll" is sounded and the grim "Fall in" is shouted. Preparations were complete, the generals reported. D. R. Jones had been advanced slightly on the right66 and Jackson had sheltered his men in the woods northwest of the railroad cut,67 both to rest them and to mystify the Federals. Unless still more of McClellan's troops had come up during the night to swell Pope's numbers to invincible odds, Lee had only to fear that the army would run out of ammunition or that Jackson's thinned regiments would be overborne.68
Jackson returned to his command. Longstreet still had some doubt whether the Federal army really would take the offensive, so he went off toward Hood's position to prepare for the demonstration intended to precede the movement that was to be made to Sudley Springs that night,69 in case the Federals did not attack. Stuart galloped away to make his dispositions. As Lee, at headquarters, p331 waited and watched, there arrived an unexpected visitor in the person of General Pendleton. He was sick and travel-worn, but along with dispatches from President Davis he brought the good news that the rest of the reserve artillery was on the march to Lee and that D. H. Hill's division was at Rapidan Station. On the next move, whatever it might be, Lee would have reinforcements. That meant much.70 He sent General Pendleton off to rest and turned to ascertain the meaning of the fire that was now rolling heavily from Jackson's front.
The Federals had begun a new attack.71 At first it was heaviest on Jackson's right. Opposite the second brigade of Jackson's old division, the enemy got so close to the cut that opposing flags were only •ten yards apart. When the ammunition of the Confederates was exhausted, they took up rocks from the embankment and beat back the enemy with these. One officer, having no arms with him, fought throughout with stones. For half an hour the battle raged here;72 then it appeared to be directed chiefly against the left flank, as on the previous afternoon.
Lee turned to his signal officer, Captain J. L. Bartlett, who had established his station near headquarters, and had him flag to Jackson, •two miles off, "What is the result of the movements on your left?" Presently the answer came back: "So far, the enemy appear to be trying to get possession of a piece of woods to withdraw out of our sight."73
But "Old Jack" was wrong. Quickly the Federals returned in force that made their first assault seem as nothing more than a skirmish. Hill's men, fighting hard, began to waver at one point in the line, and Jackson quickly sent word to Longstreet and Lee, asking for reinforcements.74 Lee immediately forwarded an order to Longstreet to hurry a division to Jackson. Longstreet received this message while standing on high ground near the centre, whence he could see the left flank of the Federals who were then renewing their assault on Jackson's right at the same time they were pounding his left. As the Federal left was within easy artillery range of his guns, Longstreet reasoned that a well-directed p332 fire would break up the attack before he could possibly march a division to Jackson's relief. He had noticed, as he had ridden up, that the battery commanders, with instincts surer in this case than his own, had been anticipating an order to advance and had their horses harnessed and the men standing to the guns. It now took him only a minute to send an aide dashing back to bring up these batteries. Samuel Chapman's company, the first to arrive, went quickly into action; Captain Robert Boyce followed; Captain James Reilly's six-gun battery swept up with foam-covered horses. Stephen D. Lee's eighteen guns were ready.75
Across the road, at his field headquarters, Lee was waiting. All around him officers were aquiver, but the General did not move a muscle. As some wagons passed to the front, he turned to a subordinate and said calmly, "I observe that some of those mules are without shoes. I wish you would see to it that all of the animals are shod at once." A moment later he heard the loud crash of Longstreet's guns. The expression of his face did not change in the slightest.76 Taking the fire to mean that Longstreet had probably decided on some other measure of relief than the dispatch of reinforcements, Lee sent Longstreet word that if he saw anything better to do than to reinforce Jackson, he should do it.77 Perceiving soon the effect of Longstreet's fire, Lee signalled Jackson: "Do you still want reinforcements?"78 and, as the Federal flank began to melt away, he saw that a great opportunity had come. Instantly he seized it: Let R. H. Anderson move from reserve to support Longstreet; order Longstreet to attack at once with his full force; pass the word to right and to left for a general assault; throw every man in his army against Pope. Quick action would engulf the whole of the Federal left and left-centre.79
As the lines prepared to move forward, the answer to Lee's signal came back from Jackson, half an hour after it had been sent. "No," Jackson said, he did not need reinforcements, "the p333 enemy are giving way."80 Hill's men had rallied; Pender and Brockenbrough had been advanced; the Federals had been repulsed in their front.81
Longstreet had anticipated the order to attack; his lines were about to move forward when Lee's messenger reached him.82 The battle smoke drifted back to headquarters; the roar of the guns shook the hills. There was victory in the air. "General Longstreet is advancing," Lee signalled Jackson; "look out for and protect his left flank,"83 for Longstreet's left would have to advance almost across the front of Jackson's right, unless Jackson could advance simultaneously.
Were the troops all round — A. P. Hill there on Jackson's left, Early in the centre, and then Jackson's division? On Longstreet's line, did Wilcox, next Jackson's right, understand what was expected of him? Was Hood on the right of Wilcox, with Evans and R. H. Anderson in support? Was Kemper, with three brigades, flanking Hood and D. R. Jones, properly disposed on the extreme right?
Northeast for Longstreet's right; east for the troops on his left; Jackson's direction would be east and southeast. What if there was a measure of convergence between left and right, apt to cause piling-up of the troops nearest the centre along the Gainesville-Centreville turnpike? It was a small matter compared with the possibilities that the break on Pope's right-centre presented. A general advance on the ridges occupied by the Federals might hurl the foe back to the famous old stone bridge across Bull Run, with the prospect of a confused slaughter there. Forward, then!
RUINS OF THE "STONE BRIDGE" ACROSS BULL RUN
After this photograph was taken in March, 1862, the bridge was rebuilt
but was destroyed on the night of August 30, 1862, by the Federal army to delay pursuit.
The assault began with far greater precision than at Gaines's Mill or at Malvern Hill. Instead of the wasteful attacks in detail, nearly the whole of the right went forward simultaneously. The spearhead, as on June 27, was the Texas brigade, vigorously supported by Law, then by Evans and later by R. H. Anderson. Hood met the Federals within •150 yards of his position.84 Very soon the resistance was stiff and the field confused. Jackson's division did not come up promptly. The advance of Longstreet's left was exposed to an enfilading fire from batteries that had been p334 placed in front of Jackson's right. Time was lost in silencing these guns,85 though Lee hurried orders to Jackson to hasten this advance. In the face of this opposition, Wilcox was directed to move his brigade to the right to support Hood.86 On Wilcox's departure, Featherston,º who was slow in starting,87 and Pryor, who commanded the third of Wilcox's brigades, became bewildered and ere long drifted to the left, where they fought under Jackson. Off on the right of Longstreet, G. T. Anderson faced a very heavy fire88 and lacked the support of Drayton's brigade, which was held up, without authority, on a false report from the cavalry that the enemy were moving to turn the extreme Confederate right flank.89
Despite these checks and complications, the line swept one. "The easy rounded ridges," General Sorrel later wrote, "ran at right angles to the turnpike, and over these infantry and artillery poured in pursuit. The artillery would gallop furiously to the nearest ridge, limber to the front, deliver a few rounds until the enemy was out of range, and then gallop again to the next ridge."90 Far in front, the Fifth Texas saw nothing of Kemper's supporting column on its right,91 but it did not relax its pace. The color-bearer, Private Jimmy Harris, insisted on rushing ahead, waving the flag, until he was •sixty or seventy yards in front of the line; then he would halt, turn toward his comrades and shout, "Come on." When he was shot down, another man seized the colors, only to fall within 200 paces. Than a captain took the standard and bore it onward, to pass it at length into the hands of a private who seemed to have a charmed life.92 Hood's men were well blown when they halted at the Chinn house, near which Toombs, on the right, was troubled by a persistent enfilading battery.93 But Dick Anderson was up now and mingled his men with Hood's in a continued pursuit.94 Jackson's thinned line was moving, also; the enemy was in general retreat except where stubbornly resisting at strong points opposite the Confederate right.
But the end of the pursuit had to come before the objective was p335 reached. Scattered by their advance of more than •a mile and a half, weakened by losses and confused by strange ground, Longstreet's men were overtaken by darkness as they approached the ridge of the Henry house. The sky had become overcast. Visibility was low. A storm was threatened. There was danger that a farther advance would throw Federal and Confederate so close together that the Southerners would fire into their own ranks. The Fifth Texas "slipped the bridle," as Hood put it,95 and made a last wild attack, but gradually the infantry became disengaged or were halted, and only the artillery, firing blindly, kept up the sound of battle. Through a rain that soon began to fall, the Federals surged back across Young's Branch and the Stone Bridge at Bull Run, protected in their flight by a few regiments that held the hill of the Henry house with magnificent resolution.96
Lee had not been able to remain at headquarters, in the unparticipating rear, while his troops were making the most triumphant advance their banners had ever shone upon. When the infantry had started, he had followed fast with his officers, and during the time when Longstreet's left had been exposed to an enfilade, he would have ridden straight into the fire had not "Old Pete," after pleading in vain for Lee to turn back, guided him under cover of a cross-ravine. Freed after a short time from the protesting voice of Longstreet, Lee had ridden forward over the dead-strewn field, before the merciful darkness had hidden any of its horrors. He had reached the most advanced artillery position just after the order to "cease firing" had been given, and from the crest of the ridge, astride Traveller, he studied the ground in front with his binoculars. •Not fifteen feet from him was a silent gun.
"General," said Captain Mason of the staff, when Lee at last dropped his glasses, "here is some one who wants to speak to you."
Lee looked and saw a powder-blackened gunner, his sponge staff in his hand. Ever since he had been asked for a chew of tobacco by the raw private in western Virginia, he had been accustomed to receive all manner of complaints and requests at unexpected places from unknown members of the voluntary association known as the Army of Northern Virginia; so there was p336 no surprise in his voice when he said, "Well, my man, what can I do for you?"
"Why, General," said the cannoneer in aggrieved and familiar tones, "don't you know me?"
It was Robert.97
p337 Headquarters for the night were established in an open field, and a fire of boards was lighted for the reading of dispatches. These were unanimous in asserting a victory on every part of the field. Lee's spirits rose and his gratitude to God increased as the good news continued to come in, especially when the commanders were able to report that though many a good man had fallen, the losses of the day had not been excessive. Presently Hood rode up, weary and proud. Lee greeted him cordially. What, he asked, had become of the enemy? Hood answered enthusiastically that Pope's army had been driven across Bull Run almost at the double-quick. It had been a beautiful sight, he said, to see the Confederate battle flags dancing after the retreating Federals.
"God forbid," said Lee, "I should ever live to see our colors moving in the opposite direction."98
Colonel Long came after a full reconnaissance and told how the Federals had vanished.99 Stuart wrote that Robertson's cavalry had pursued the foe across Bull Run,100 while Fitz Lee had been scouting as far in the enemy's rear as Fairfax Courthouse. Stuart was anxious to get permission to organize a night attack with the help of Armistead's brigade of infantry, which had been acting with him, but Lee would not approve.
In this atmosphere, Lee sat down to compose his victory dispatch that would have to be carried all the way back to Rapidan before it could be telegraphed to Richmond and announced to the anxious Southern people. Here is what he wrote:
Groveton, 30 Aug. 10 o'clock P.M.
Presdt Davis: This Army today achieved on the plains of Manassas a signal victory over combined forces of Genls. McClellan and Pope. On the 28th and 29th each wing under Genls. Longstreet and Jackson repulsed with valour attacks made on them separately. We mourn the loss of our gallant dead in every conflict yet our gratitude to Almighty God for his mercies rises higher and higher each day, to Him and to the valour of our troops a nation's gratitude is due.
R. E. Lee.101
p338 When a short night's rest ended with daylight on August 31, the rain was still falling, a sharp wind was blowing, all the roads except the turnpike were heavy with mud, and Bull Run, rising fast, was in danger of becoming impassable.102 Although Lee was satisfied with the results of the previous day's fighting, he said little103 and he did not minimize the difficulties that still confronted him. The stone bridge was down. Pursuit would be slow, if possible at all. Reports indicated that the enemy was at Centreville, doubtless in the works the Confederates had labored the previous winter to render impregnable.104 Worse still, Fitz Lee wrote that Franklin's and Sumner's corps, from McClellan's army, together with Sturgis's and Cox's divisions, had arrived at Centreville.105 Pope had not been defeated a day too soon. Even now, heavy odds had to be faced by an army that was at this time almost without provisions,106 and incapable of sustained action until the commissary could find food. This paralyzing shortage of food was, perhaps, the most serious condition of all, for even the Army of Northern Virginia travelled on its belly. The caissons and ordnance train, moreover, were almost empty.
Clad in rubber overalls and with a rubber poncho over his shoulders, Lee rode out early on a short reconnaissance across Bull Run accompanied by Jackson, to see the situation at first hand.107 Soon he came under fire of the enemy'sº pickets. Pope evidently was still close at hand. Returning, Lee was satisfied that his only possible course was to continue to manoeuvre and, if possible, once more to interpose his army between Pope and Washington or so to threaten Pope's flank as to force him into a further retreat. Lee explained this to Longstreet and to Jackson and gave his orders for the day: Jackson, being nearest the exposed flank of the enemy, was to take his entire command and cross Bull Run at Sudley Springs. He was to move north until he struck the Little River turnpike. Then he was to turn southeast again. If all went well, this would put Jackson on the enemy's line of retreat and would force the evacuation of Centreville. To aid Jackson, Stuart and his cavalry, supported by a brigade of infantry, were to pass over Bull p339 Run and create a diversion. Longstreet was to remain on the battlefield, looking after the wounded and burying the dead, until Jackson had a good start. Then Longstreet was to follow, and D. H. Hill, when he arrived from the South, was to complete the gruesome work Longstreet left unfinished.108 The plan was as simple as it was bold, and it appealed to Jackson. "Good," said he, when Lee had finished, and without another word, he set out to put his part in execution.109
Later in the day, after Jackson left, and while Longstreet was preparing to place some of his units in line of march, Lee again rode over a section of the field. He was with his staff when he came upon a sergeant of the 16th Mississippi, who had been into the woods to relieve a dead Federal of a pair of Northern shoes, wherewith to cover his bare feet.
Lee hailed him: "What are you doing here, sir," he said, "away from your command?"
The sergeant, who had no idea of the identity of his inquisitor, answered gamely: "That's none of your business, by God."
"You are a straggler, sir, and deserve the severest punishment."
"It's a damned lie, sir," the sergeant returned hotly. "I only left my regiment a few minutes ago to hunt me a pair of shoes. I went through all the fight yesterday, and that's more than you can say; for where were you yesterday when General Stuart wanted your damned cavalry to charge the Yankees after we put 'em to running? You were lying back in the pine thickets and couldn't be found; but today, when there's no danger, you come out and charge other men with straggling, damn you."
Lee had to laugh, and, finding no ready answer, rode subdued on his way. He probably did not hear one of his officers ask the sergeant if he knew to whom he was talking. "To a cowardly Virginia cavalryman," the offended N. C. O. stoutly answered.
"No, sir, that was General Lee."
"Ho‑o‑what? General Lee, did you say?"
"And his staff?"
p340 "Scissors to grind, I'm a goner!" and with no more ado, he started running down the road as fast as he could.110
The "cowardly Virginia cavalryman" rode on, ere long, to Stewart's farm111 and dismounted in a thick wood to make some dispositions. He was standing by Traveller, with the reins on the animal's neck. Suddenly a cry was raised, "Yankee cavalry!" Traveller started at the sudden commotion, and Lee stepped forward to catch the bridle. As he did so he tripped in his long overalls and fell forward. He caught himself on both hands and was up in an instant, but it was soon apparent that he was hurt. The scare of Union cavalry proving unfounded, the nearest surgeon was sent for. He found a small bone broken in one hand and the other hand badly sprained. Both had to be put in splints and treated with a liniment.112 As this of course kept Lee from riding, he had, much against his will, to enter an ambulance. Reports that Lee had been wounded in battle spread quickly and, in the North, were coupled with fictitious accounts of how it had happened.113
To the injured General, as he waited for Jackson's rear to clear the muddy road for Longstreet's advance, General Pope sent a message asking for a truce. Lee consented that the Federal ambulances should enter the lines to remove the wounded but he would not agree to a suspension of hostilities.114 At 2 P.M., he set Longstreet in motion115 and left his old headquarters. A band cheerfully saluted him with the strains of "Dixie."116
The road the army had to follow to Sudley Springs on Bull Run was narrow and muddy. Progress was almost as slow as on that wet 2d of July when the same troops had fought through equally tenacious mud in their effort to overtake McClellan's retreat from Malvern Hill. Night found Longstreet not yet across Bull Run. Jackson was on the Little River turnpike with his front p341 toward Fairfax Courthouse, but his weary men had not been able to move fast enough to get in rear of Pope.117 Stuart had been hovering on the enemy's flank and had employed his horse artillery against a wagon train that crowded the road of the enemy's retreat, but he had accomplished no substantial result.118 In a word, the exhaustion of the hungry men and the condition of the roads cost Lee virtually the whole advantage he had hoped to gain on the critical first day after the victory.
The rain had ceased falling on the morning of September 1, but the army was still hungry. Jackson's column, though covered by Stuart's cavalry, moved very slowly. Not until the late afternoon did it reach the vicinity of the friendly mansions of Chantilly, which Lee remembered with the affection of his boyhood days. It was then apparent that the enemy was fully aware of the threat to his flank and was prepared. At Jackson's order, Hill sent forward Branch's and Brockenbrough's119 brigades to feel out the enemy. The rest of Hill's division was placed on the right of the line, with Ewell's troops in the centre and Jackson's own division on the left. All these troops were on the right of the road, with the artillery massed on an eminence to the left. A heavy thunderstorm had set in as the troops had approached Chantilly,120 and as the two brigades went forward the rain beat in the men's faces, almost blinding them. The Federals met the attack with vigor. Massing on the flank and front of Branch, they drove him back on his supports, along with Brockenbrough; and when three more brigades of Hill's division were thrown into the battle, they, too, were roughly handled. The battle soon engulfed a part of Ewell's division in the midst of almost continuous thunder that drowned the roar of the guns.121 Night was falling before there was any wavering in the Federal line and even then it was darkness rather than defeat that led the enemy to withdraw slightly. Longstreet by this time had come up in support of Jackson, but as the battle had died away there was nothing for him to do.122 The rain, in p342 fact, was so heavy that the whole field was in confusion and the final withdrawal of the enemy was unobserved. A little later, scouting parties reported that the Federals were still in great strength a short distance down the road.
Lee himself had no part in this action, which sometimes is styled Chantilly and sometimes Ox Hill. He had established his headquarters in a left farm house where he had no more exciting experience than to be challenged by his own sentinel when he returned from a brief walk with Colonel Marshall.123 He had one sombre report, however: In the closing minutes of the fight, a Federal officer had unwittingly ridden into the Confederate lines and, when observed, had quickly turned his horse and had attempted to gallop off. He had fallen before the fire of some Confederates who later picked up his dead body and brought it into the lines. With the regret that soldiers always feel at the death of a brilliant and gallant foe, he was identified as Brigadier General Phil Kearny, commander of the First Division of Heintzelman's corps. When they told Lee of the incident he must have had a sudden picture of the old days in Mexico, especially of the battle of Churubusco, when young Kearny had led his pursuing troopers under the very walls of Santa Anna's capital. Lee had the corpse prepared for burial, and the next day sent it into the lines with a brief note to General Pope: "The body of General Philip Kearny," he wrote, "was brought from the field last night, and he was reported dead. I send it forward under a flag of truce, thinking that possession of his remains may be a consolation to his family."124
When the skirmish line went forward later in the morning over the same road that the bearers of the flag followed, it was found that the enemy had evacuated his position both at Centreville and in front of Jackson. Stuart's cavalry went in pursuit, only to discover that the long Federal columns were moving steadily toward the Washington entrenchments, whither it would be futile to pursue them.125
About the hour Lee realized from these reports that this phase of his campaign of manoeuvre was at an end, President Davis was p343 sending to the Confederate Congress the recent dispatches from Lee, including the message written on the field of Second Manassas after the battle of the 30th. It had been received in Richmond on September 1,126 and its content was of course known ere this to the Congress, but there was pride and jubilation in Davis's closing sentence. "Too much praise," said he, "cannot be bestowed upon the skill and daring of the commanding general who conceived, or the valor and hardihood of the troops who executed, the brilliant movement whose result is now communicated."127
The words did not exaggerate the fact, nor did they even touch upon the contrast between the situation Mr. Davis described and that which had existed three months previous to the very day. On June 2, Lee's first full day in command of the Army of Northern Virginia, McClellan had been in front of Richmond, Jackson was being pursued up the Shenandoah Valley by three strong forces, western Virginia was completely in the hands of the Federals, and the North Carolina coast was overrun. Now, western Virginia was almost evacuated, Confederate cavalry were soon to cross into Ohio at Ravenswood,128 Winchester was about to be abandoned,129 the North Carolina coast was safe, and the wrecked Army of Virginia, together with most of the Army of the Potomac, was in full retreat on Washington. Despairing officials in the Federal capital had given orders to ship all movable government property to New York. The government clerks were called out to share in the anticipated defense of the city.130 Except for the troops at Norfolk and at Fort Monroe, the only Federals closer than •100 miles to Richmond were prisoners of war and men who were busily preparing to retreat from the base at Aquia Creek.131
This amazing transformation had been wrought at a time when the Confederates on other fronts had been able to do nothing to relieve the pressure on Virginia. It had been the work, and exclusively p344 the work, of the Army of Northern Virginia, with the assistance of such units as had been brought from the Carolinas and Georgia. And what the Army of Northern Virginia had executed, with numbers pitifully inferior to the combined strength of the forces it had confronted, General Lee had planned.
His operations had improved in excellence as they had developed. By every standard, Second Manassas was better than the Seven Days. Staff work was incomparably superior. The artillery had been more effectively employed. So had the cavalry. The intelligence service was much improved. The superiority of the tactics was attested by the relative losses. From the crossing of the Rapidan to the final pursuit of the Federals into the Washington defenses, Confederate casualties had been 9112,132 and an exceptionally large percentage of these were men but slightly wounded.133 Pope's casualties August 16 to September 2 were 14,462,134 including 4163 prisoners. The losses in the campaign thus were, roughly, four and a half Confederates to seven Federals. During the seven days they had been five Confederates to four Federals.
Like his tactics, Lee's strategy was better at Second Manassas than around Richmond. It was better because it was somewhat simpler, and, still more, because it placed responsibility in the hands of fewer men. There were no more attempts to bring six commands, under six semi-independent generals, together on the field of battle, as at Frayser's Farm. Divisions remained, as did divisional commanders, but the responsibility of executing Lee's strategical plan was placed on three men — Jackson, Longstreet, and Stuart.
This concentration of authority was one reason for success. Another reason was the excellent logistics. Lee's troop movements had been prompt and rapid. It will be remembered that Longstreet had left the Richmond front to reinforce Jackson before the Federals had evacuated any except the sick and wounded from Harrison's Landing. While the first units of Porter's corps were landing at Aquia Creek, the Army of Northern Virginia was crossing the Rapidan.135 Jackson was marching for Manassas as p345 Franklin was hunting for transportation and waiting for cavalry around Alexandria.136 Longstreet was in line of battle when Porter marched on the field on the 29th. The race to Pope had been won, but three days' delay in sending Longstreet from Richmond, or a wait of even twenty-four hours more in crossing the Rapidan might have made victory at Second Manassas impossible. On the other hand, greater speed in hurrying Franklin forward, cavalry or no cavalry, might have saved Pope. Delay in some stage of every campaign is of the very nature of war. The thrifty soldier saves by prompt starts and speedy moves the time he may later have to spend in delays he cannot avoid.
Lee's strategic plan succeeded, thirdly, because at nearly every stage of the campaign his reasoning from his evidence was sounder than his adversary's. He had not known when Heintzelman joined Pope,137 nor had he been aware that Franklin and Sumner were debarking at Alexandria for their advance to the support of Pope. In neither of these instances, as it happened, was his lack of information costly. As for the essential facts, he had drawn the right conclusion concerning the movement and destination of McClellan's army, and had been correct to the very day in his calculation of when Pope received his first substantial reinforcements from the Army of the Potomac.138 General Pope had not been so fortunate either in procuring news of the enemy's moves or in reading the mind of his opponent. His original plan had been to move to Gordonsville and Charlottesville and then to advance on Richmond from the west, but he had halted in a mistaken estimate of the strength of the troops Lee first sent to confront him. Not until August 18, it will be recalled, had he been aware of the threat against him. The import of the shift to the Confederate left had escaped him altogether. After he was relieved of command, on September 5, he professed that he had known all the while of Jackson's flank movement and had ignored it because he had relied on the promise of troops to protect Manassas;139 but his own correspondence shows that he had p346 believed the Confederates were marching to the Valley.140 When he had received accurate information of Jackson's position, sometime before noon on August 26,141 he had not drawn the proper inference. Apparently he had not learned of Longstreet's march to join Jackson until the 29th142 and his confused handling of his troops on the 27th and 28th had more than justified Lee's conservative observation that General Pope "did not appear to be aware of his situation."143 No blame could be attached to the personnel of Pope's army or to the divisions from McClellan. They had borne themselves well. "The Yankees fought as if in earnest," Lee's adjutant general wrote.144 The defeat, the withdrawal to Washington, and the temporary demoralization were essentially the result of Lee's good strategy, executed with rapidity.
Only three reasonable criticisms can be made of Lee's handling of operations from the time he reached Gordonsville until the Federals disappeared from his front on the morning of September 2. The first, that he should have crossed the Rapidan earlier than the 20th, is based on the valid assumption that if he had been able to catch Pope between the Rapidan and the Rappahannock, he could have destroyed him. But this criticism leaves out of account the shortage of provisions, a subject about which, unfortunately, there is little specific information. Insofar as this criticism is applied solely to the failure of the cavalry to concentrate on the 17th of August, it takes for granted that if Fitz Lee had come up, the movement across the Rapidan could have been launched on the morning of the 18th. The facts already cited make it doubtful whether the horses would have been in condition for pursuit. The only way of assuring the advance at any time prior to the 20th, with horses fit for long, hard marching, would have been to move Fitz Lee's cavalry from Hanover Courthouse not later than August 15, better still on August 14. This would not have p347 been justified by the information Lee had. Viewed in another light, Lee's consideration for his horses was rewarded. Stuart was able to keep his troopers in the field until Pope retreated on Washington. Pope's cavalry, though numerous, well led, and superior in every way to that which McClellan had commanded on the Peninsula, was so overridden that it was almost useless by August 30.
The second criticism is that Lee should have forced Longstreet to attack on the afternoon of August 29, instead of permitting him to delay until the 30th. Had Longstreet attacked successfully on the 29th, Lee would have been able to pursue on the 30th in clear weather, instead of having to encounter on the 31st a rain that paralyzed his army. The gain would have been substantial and might conceivably have resulted in very heavy losses to Pope. This criticism, to be sure, takes three things for granted: first, that an attack would certainly have been successful on the 29th, though Porter and McDowell were hovering on Lee's right flank; second, that the army would have been fresh enough on the 30th to pursue with vigor across Bull Run in the face of superior artillery; and, third, that the objections Longstreet raised to attacking on the 29th were of a sort that should have been overruled by the commanding general.145 All these points must be given due weight. Lee knew he was not omniscient and he did not believe he could be omnipresent. He held to his theory of the high command. Having put the army under the best officers at his disposal, he felt that on the field of battle he should trust their discretion. "You must know our circumstances," Lee told a German observer, Scheibert, "and see that my leading in battle would do more harm than good. It would be a bad thing if I could not then rely on my brigade and division commanders. I plan and work with all my might to bring the troops to the right place at the right time; with that I have done my duty. As soon as I order the troops forward into battle, I lay the fate of my army in the hands of God."146 This is a sound general rule. In the study of war it is p348 futile to canvass what cannot be decided, and for that reason it cannot positively be asserted that Lee should have given Longstreet a peremptory order to attack or would have been sure of a greater victory if he had. His yielding to Longstreet probably had a less disastrousº effect on the battle than on the mind of that officer; it cost little, perhaps, at Second Manassas but it cost much at Gettysburg. For it is a dire thing in war for a subordinate to believe that if he is stubborn enough in holding out against his superior's orders he can have his own way. There can be little doubt that after Second Manassas, Longstreet thought he could dominate Lee, and that added a new and indeterminable factor to the full execution of Lee's plans. On the other hand, Longstreet's judgment had been so good and his diligence had been so much above challenge during the Seven Days that Lee had acquired a high respect for him. As the wisdom of attacking on the afternoon of the 29th manifestly presented a close question, this respect for Longstreet's ability as a soldier undoubtedly weighed with Lee and saved his act from being mere weakness. Lee was more nearly justified in yielding to Longstreet at Second Manassas, after the Seven Days, than he could ever be after Second Manassas, when dissent had become a habit with Longstreet.
The third criticism is that Lee should have organized a prompt pursuit of Pope. In part, of course, the answer to this depends on the judgment one forms of the second criticism. If Lee should have compelled Longstreet to attack on the afternoon of the 29th, and if Longstreet had gained an advantage that afternoon without exhausting the army, then manifestly the whole of the army should have been moved in pursuit of Pope on the 30th. As it was, rapid pursuit on and after August 31 was impossible. The mud was paralyzing. Lee did not know, of course, that Franklin's and Sumner's corps, strong and fresh, were close at hand, but he did know that McClellan's army was coming up and he had every reason to assume that the Washington defenses were well-manned and strong.147 These circumstances and the hunger of his own men deterred him. Talking in 1870 with his cousin Cassius F. Lee, who lived near the fortifications on the south side of the p349 Potomac, General Lee said in explanation of his failure to pursue, "My men had nothing to eat." Pointing to Fort Wade, he went on, "I could not tell my men to take that fort when they had ahead nothing to eat for three days."148 To have moved a hungry army through the mud against heavy defenses, readily manned, would have been to flirt with ruin. Behind these facts, compelling in themselves, was the large consideration of the purpose of the campaign of which Second Manassas was the second and not the final phase. Manoeuvre, his prime aim, was still possible if the army kept the field, but manoeuvre would be impossible and starvation might threaten if the army were committed to a siege at a long distance from its base. Lee's thought was of the next manoeuvre, not of a bootless investment of Washington, as he saw the rearguard of Pope's army fade into the horizon on the morning of September 2.
1 This is an obscure incident, mentioned only in Major Hairston's report (O. R., 12, part 2, p753). None of the other reports of the cavalry commanders — they are not very numerous or very full — identify the company which Major Hairston said, "General Lee had halted at Thoroughfare and turned over to me when he ordered me to go on the expedition."
3 O. R., 12, part 2, p740. There is a conflict of testimony between Napier, op. cit., 127 and W. M. Owen, op. cit., 114, whether it was Stuart or General Beverly H. Robertson who met Lee, but as the two witnesses give almost precisely the same conversation, and as Stuart affirmed (O. R., 12, part 2, p736) that he met Lee, the version given in the text has been preferred.
4 Longstreet, 180; Marshall, 136.
6 Hood, 33.
7 Marshall, 137. Colonel Marshall took much pains at a later time to identify the exact location. A detail map was carefully studied by him at the Porter Inquiry and an "L", marking Lee's headquarters, inserted. See Proceedings and Report . . . in the Case of Fitz-John Porter, Washington, 1879, 3 vol. edition (cited hereafter as Porter Inquiry), 2, 933.
8 32 S. H. S. P., 85‑86; 130‑31.
9 Fitz Lee, 187; Mrs. Jackson, 319; 2 B. and L., 529.
10 13 S. H. S. P., 12; 2 B. and L., 533.
11 2 B. and L., 529.
12 Brigadier General W. B. Taliaferro had commanded Jackson's old division after the death of Brigadier General Charles Winder at Cedar Run.
16 2 Henderson, 141‑42; Long, 196.
17 2 Henderson, 145. Jackson's own explanation of this attack (O. R., 12, part 2, pp644‑45) is not altogether clear. Henderson, loc. cit., interpreted it to mean that Jackson (p321)believed the enemy was moving by way of Manassas, instead along the turnpike toward Alexandria "and if Pope was to be fought in the open field before he could be reinforced by McClellan, he must be induced to retrace his steps."
19 Long, 195.
21 O. R., 12, part 2, pp645, 670. As illustrating the shortage of officers in Jackson's command, it may be noted that none of the brigades of Jackson's (Taliaferro's) division was under a general officer. One of them was commanded by a major (O. R., 12, part 2, p641). After General Trimble was wounded on the 29th, command of his brigade devolved temporarily on a captain (O. R., 12, part 2, p712).
24 Longstreet, 181; 2 B. and L., 519.
25 Maurice, 143.
26 2 B. and L., 519.
27 2 B. and L., 519.
29 2 B. and L., 519; Longstreet in 1 Porter Inquiry, 552.
32 Longstreet, 128.
33 W. M. Owen, 117.
34 Longstreet, 183.
35 Lee to Fitz John Porter, Oct. 31, 1867, and July n. d., 1870; 1 Porter Inquiry, pp510, 551.
36 2 B. and L., 525.
37 Longstreet, 183‑84.
38 An interesting question is raised by this shift: Would it have been better to make the proposed diversion on the right flank, rather than on the centre? The artillery could readily have held the centre; a diversion on the right would have clarified the obscure situation there and might have facilitated the advance on the 30th. But would it have led Pope to become alarmed for his right and so to strengthen it during the night of the 29th-30th as to outflank Longstreet on the 30th?
45 13 S. H. S. P., 30.
46 O. R., 12, part 2, pp680‑81. See also ibid., 684‑90 — one of the most thrilling battle-reports in the Official Records; dramatically revised in 13 S. H. S. P., 34‑35. Colonel Edward McCrady, Jr., who wrote this report and narrative, stated that the troops who relieved him were Fields's and Pender's brigades. Field filed no report and Pender's mentioned no such episode. Early's account makes it clear that he and Lawton were responsible.
49 Longstreet, 184.
51 Lee's Dispatches, 55.
52 McCabe, 224.
53 G. Wise, 96.
54 S. G. Welch: A Confederate Surgeon's Letters to His Wife (cited hereafter as Welch), 27.
55 2 B. and L., 520.
56 Lee's Dispatches, 56‑58.
59 6 S. H. S. P., 63; Royal W. Figg: Where Men Only Dare to Go (cited hereafter as Figg), 27‑28.
61 Long, 197.
62 Longstreet, 186.
63 G. Wise, 96.
65 1 von Borcke, 153.
66 Longstreet, 186.
67 Alexander, 212.
68 Some of Jackson's regiments had been almost wiped out by sickness, hard marching, and casualties. The 2d Virginia had carried only about 100 men into action on the 29th (O. R., 12, part 2, p659). The 4th Virginia had less than 100 left on the 30th (ibid., 662), and the 27th Virginia had only forty-five including officers (ibid., 663). All these regiments belonged to the "Stonewall Brigade."
69 Longstreet, 186.
71 The time is variously given at from 1 to 4 P.M., but the attack probably started in force about 3 o'clock.
74 6 S. H. S. P., 59; Longstreet, 186‑87.
76 G. T. Lee: "Reminiscences of General Robert E. Lee," in South Atlantic Quarterly, July, 1927, pp247‑48. Major Lee got this story from General R. F. Hoke, and understood that Hoke himself was an eye-witness, but as General Hoke was far around on the left, fighting with Lane's brigade, Hoke himself must have heard the incident from some one who was present. There seems no reason for doubting its substantial accuracy.
77 2 B. and L., 524.
85 Longstreet, 189.
90 Sorrel, 98.
93 O. R., 12, part 2, pp583‑84. Toombs, who had been put under arrest for withdrawing his troops from the Raccoon Ford road (see supra, p285), was restored to command by Longstreet on the battlefield.
94 Longstreet, 189.
95 Hood, 37.
96 Longstreet, 189‑90.
97 R. E. Lee, Jr., 76‑77.
98 Hood, 38.
99 Long, 199.
101 Lee's Dispatches, 59‑60.
102 Taylor's General Lee, 115; 1 von Borcke, 161; Longstreet, 191.
103 2 B. and L., 524.
104 Longstreet, 191.
106 Lee in 1870, quoted in R. E. Lee, Jr., 416.
107 1 von Borcke, 165.
108 Longstreet, 191.
110 "Personne" [F. G. de Fontaine]: Marginalia (cited hereafter as Marginalia), 86‑87. The time is fixed, approximately, by the fact that Lee was riding his horse and therefore had not received the injury that crippled his hands.
111 H. W. Thomas: History of the Doles-Cooke Brigade (cited hereafter as Thomas), 469.
112 Longstreet, 192; Sorrel, 103; Thomas, op. cit., 469, said that the injury was dressed by Surgeon N. S. Walker of the 44th Georgia, but the writer has been unable to verify this from available records.
113 Sorrel, 103.
116 2 B. and L., 527.
119 Colonel J. M. Brockenbrough of the 40th Virginia Infantry had succeeded on the 29th to the temporary command of the brigade of General Charles W. Field, who was severely wounded (O. R., 12, part 2, p671).
120 G. Wise, 105.
121 3 C. M. H., 333.
123 L. W. Hopkins: From Bull Run to Appomattox, 50.
126 1 R. W. C. D., 151.
127 O. R., 12, part 2, p615. Lee had been voted the thanks of the Confederate House of Representatives on Aug. 22 for his operations in front of Richmond; the senate had not acted (Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, vol. 2, pp234, 442, 443; vol. 5, p306).
138 Aug. 25: Lee's Dispatches, 52; O. R., 12, part 3, p651 ff.
143 Cooke, 117. When Pope thought Jackson was cornered, his self-confidence returned (see his dispatch of Aug. 29, quoted in the text, p329 supra). But when he was beaten and in retreat toward Washington, he plumbed the depths of despair. "Unless something can be done to restore tone to this army it will melt away before you know it," he telegraphed Halleck early on the morning of Sept. 2. ". . . The enemy is in very heavy force and must be stopped in some way. These forces under my command are not able to do so in the open field, and if again checked I fear the force will be useless afterwards" (O. R., 12, part 3, p797).
144 Taylor MSS., Aug. 31, 1863.
145 For a hostile summary of the case against Longstreet, see Early in 5 S. H. S. P., 275.
146 J. Scheibert: Der Bürgerkrieg in den Nordamerikanischen Staaten, 39. Cf. ibid., 181, quoting Lee: "I strive to make my plans as good as my human skill allows, but on the day of battle I lay the fate of my army in the hands of God; it is my generals' turn to perform their duty."
147 Some 27,000 Federals, ready for duty, were in and around Washington (O. R., 12, part 3, p781).
148 R. E. Lee, Jr., 416.
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
Robert E. Lee
(John's Military History)
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
if its URL has a total of one *asterisk.
If the URL has two **asterisks,
the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use.
If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 20 Aug 16