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Stonewall Jackson And The American Civil War by G. F. R. Henderson

Part 11 out of 19

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relied on; their estimate of numbers was always vague, and it would
be exceedingly difficult to make sure that the force at Culpeper had
not been strongly reinforced. It was quite on the cards that the
whole of Pope's army might reach that point in the course of the next
day, and in that case the Confederates would be compelled to retreat,
followed by a superior army, across two bridgeless rivers.

Nevertheless, the consideration of these contingencies had no effect
on Jackson's purpose. The odds, he decided, were in his favour; and
the defeat of Pope's army in detail, with all the consequences that
might follow, was worth risking much to bring about. It was still
possible that Pope might delay his concentration; it was still
possible that an opportunity might present itself; and, as he had
done at Winchester in March, when threatened by a force sevenfold
stronger than his own, he resolved to look for that opportunity
before he renounced his enterprise.

August 9.

In speed and caution lay the only chance of success. The start on the
9th was early. Hill, anxious to redeem his shortcomings, marched long
before daylight, and soon caught up with Ewell and Winder. Half of
the cavalry covered the advance; the remainder, screening the left
flank, scouted west and in the direction of Madison Court House. Two
brigades of infantry, Gregg's and Lawton's, were left in rear to
guard the trains, for the Federal horsemen threatened danger, and the
army, disembarrassed of the supply waggons, pressed forward across
the Rapidan. Pushing the Federal cavalry before them, the troops
reached Robertson River. The enemy's squadrons, already worn out by
incessant reconnaissance and picket duty, were unable to dispute the
passage, and forming a single column, the three divisions crossed the
Locustdale Ford. Climbing the northern bank, the high-road to
Culpeper, white with dust, lay before them, and to their right front,
little more than two miles distant, a long wooded ridge, bearing the
ominous name of Slaughter Mountain, rose boldly from the plain.

Ewell's division led the march, and shortly before noon, as the
troops swept past the western base of Slaughter Mountain, it was
reported that the Federal cavalry, massed in some strength, had come
to a halt a mile or two north, on the bank of a small stream called
Cedar Run.

The Confederate guns opened, and the hostile cavalry fell back; but
from a distant undulation a Federal battery came into action, and the
squadrons, supported by this fire, returned to their old position.
Although Cedar Run was distant seven miles from Culpeper, it was
evident, from the attitude of the cavalry, that the enemy was
inclined to make a stand, and that in all probability Banks' army
corps was in support.* (* This was the case. Banks had reached
Culpeper on the 8th. On the same day his advanced brigade was sent
forward to Cedar Run, and was followed by the rest of the army corps
on the 9th.) Early's brigade, forming the advanced guard which had
halted in a wood by the roadside, was now ordered forward. Deploying
to the right of the highway, it drove in the enemy's vedettes, and
came out on the open ground which overlooks the stream. Across the
shallow valley, covered with the high stalks and broad leaves of
Indian corn, rose a loftier ridge, twelve hundred yards distant, and
from more than one point batteries opened on the Confederate scouts.
The regiments of the advanced guard were immediately withdrawn to the
reverse slope of the ridge, and Jackson galloped forward to the mound
of the guns. His dispositions had been quickly made. A large force of
artillery was ordered to come into action on either flank of the
advanced guard. Ewell's division was ordered to the right, taking
post on the northern face of Slaughter Mountain; Winder was ordered
to the left, and Hill, as soon as he came up, was to form the
reserve, in rear of Winder. These movements took time. The
Confederate column, 20,000 infantry and fifteen batteries, must have
occupied more than seven miles of road; it would consequently take
over two hours for the whole force to deploy for battle.

2.45 P.M.

Before three o'clock, however, the first line was formed. On the
right of the advanced guard, near a clump of cedars, were eight guns,
and on Slaughter Mountain eight more. Along the high-road to the left
six guns of Winder's division were soon afterwards deployed,
reinforced by four of Hill's. These twenty-six pieces, nearly the
whole of the long-range ordnance which the Confederates possessed,
were turned on the opposing batteries, and for nearly two hours the
artillery thundered across the valley. The infantry, meanwhile,
awaiting Hill's arrival, had come into line. Ewell's brigades,
Trimble's, and the Louisianians (commanded by Colonel Forno) had
halted in the woods on the extreme right, at the base of the
mountain, threatening the enemy's flank. Winder had come up on the
left, and had posted the Stonewall Brigade in rear of his guns;
Campbell's brigade, under Lieutenant-Colonel Garnett, was stationed
in front, west, and Taliaferro's brigade east, of the road. The
10,000 men of the Light Division, however, were still some distance
to the rear, and the position was hardly secure against a
counterstroke. The left of the line extended along a skirt of
woodland, which ran at right angles to the road, overlooking a
wheat-field but lately reaped, on the further side of which, and
three hundred yards distant, was dense wood. This point was the most
vulnerable, for there was no support at hand, and a great tract of
forest stretched away westward, where cavalry was useless, but
through which it was quite possible that infantry might force its
way. Jackson ordered Colonel Garnett, commanding the brigade on this
flank, "to look well to his left, and to ask his divisional commander
for reinforcements." The brigadier sent a staff officer and an
orderly to reconnoitre the forest to the left, and two officers were
dispatched to secure the much-needed support.

But at this juncture General Winder was mortally wounded by a shell;
there was some delay in issuing orders, and before the weak place in
the line could be strengthened the storm broke. The enemy's
batteries, five in number, although the concentrated fire of the
Confederates had compelled them to change position, had not yet been
silenced. No large force of Federal infantry had as yet appeared;
skirmishers only had pushed forward through the corn; but the
presence of so many guns was a clear indication that a strong force
was not far off, and Jackson had no intention of attacking a position
which had not yet been reconnoitred until his rear division had
closed up, and the hostile artillery had lost its sting.

5 P.M.

About five o'clock, however, General Banks, although his whole force,
including Bayard's cavalry, did not exceed 9000 officers and men,* (*
3500 of Banks' army corps had been left at Winchester, and his sick
were numerous.) and Ricketts' division, in support, was four miles
distant, gave orders for a general attack.* (* Banks had received an
order from Pope which might certainly be understood to mean that he
should take the offensive if the enemy approached.--Report of
Committee of Congress volume 3 page 45.) Two brigades, crossing the
rise which formed the Federal position, bore down on the Confederate
centre, and strove to cross the stream. Early was hard pressed, but,
Taliaferro's brigade advancing on his left, he held his own; and on
the highroad, raked by a Confederate gun, the enemy was unable to
push forward. But within the wood to the left, at the very point
where Jackson had advised precaution, the line of defence was broken
through. On the edge of the timber commanding the wheatfield only two
Confederate regiments were posted, some 500 men all told, and the 1st
Virginia, on the extreme left, was completely isolated. The Stonewall
Brigade, which should have been placed in second line behind them,
had not yet received its orders; it was more than a half-mile
distant, in rear of Winder's artillery, and hidden from the first
line by the trees and undergrowth. Beyond the wheat-field 1500
Federals, covered by a line of skirmishers, had formed up in the
wood. Emerging from the covert with fixed bayonets and colours
flying, their long line, overlapping the Confederate left, moved
steadily across the three hundred yards of open ground. The shocks of
corn, and some ragged patches of scrub timber, gave cover to the
skirmishers, but in the closed ranks behind the accurate fire of the
Southern riflemen made fearful ravages. Still the enemy pressed
forward; the skirmishers darted from bush to bush; the regiments on
the right swung round, enveloping the Confederate line; and the 1st
Virginia, despite the entreaties of its officers, broke and
scattered.* (* O.R. volume 12 part 2 page 201.) Assailed in front
from the field and in flank from the forest, the men would stand no
longer, and flying back through the woodland, left the way open to
the very rear of the position. The 42nd Virginia, outflanked in turn,
was compelled to give ground; and the Federals, without waiting to
reform, swept rapidly through the wood, and bore down upon the flank
of Taliaferro's brigade and Winder's batteries.

And now occurred a scene of terrible confusion. So swift was the
onslaught that the first warning received by the Confederates on the
highroad was a sudden storm of musketry, the loud cheers of the
enemy, and the rush of fugitives from the forest. Attacked
simultaneously in front, flank and rear, with the guns and limbers
entangled among the infantry, Winder's division was subjected to an
ordeal of which it was without experience. The batteries, by
Jackson's order, were at once withdrawn, and not a gun was lost. The
infantry, however, did not escape so lightly. The Federals,
emboldened by the flight of the artillery, charged forward with
reckless courage. Every regimental commander in Garnett's brigade was
either killed or wounded. Taliaferro's brigade was driven back, and
Early's left was broken. Some regiments attempted to change front,
others retreated in disorder. Scattered groups, plying butt and
bayonet, endeavoured to stay the rout. Officers rushed into the
melee, and called upon those at hand to follow. Men were captured and
recaptured, and, for a few moments, the blue and grey were mingled in
close conflict amid the smoke. But the isolated efforts of the
Confederates were of no avail. The first line was irretrievably
broken; the troops were mingled in a tumultuous mass, through which
the shells tore shrieking; the enemy's bayonets were surging forward
on every side, and his well-served batteries, firing over the heads
of their own infantry, played heavily on the road. But fortunately
for the Virginians the Federal right wing was unsupported; and
although the Light Division was still at some distance from the
field, the Stonewall Brigade was already advancing. Breaking through
the rout to the left of the highroad, these five staunch regiments,
undismayed by the disaster, opened a heavy fire. The Federals,
although still superior in numbers at the decisive point, had lost
all order in their successful charge; to meet this fresh onset they
halted and drew together, and then Jackson, with wonderful energy,
restored the battle.

Sending orders for Ewell and A.P. Hill to attack at once, he galloped
forward, unattended by either staff officer or orderly, and found
himself in the midst of his own men, his soldiers of the Valley, no
longer presenting the stubborn front of Bull Run or Kernstown, but an
ungovernable mob, breaking rapidly to the rear, and on the very verge
of panic. Drawing his sword, for the first time in the war, his voice
pealed high above the din; the troops caught the familiar accents,
instinct with resolution, and the presence of their own general acted
like a spell. "Rally, men," he shouted, "and follow me!" Taliaferro,
riding up to him, emphatically insisted that the midst of the melee
was no place for the leader of an army. He looked a little surprised,
but with his invariable ejaculation of "Good, good," turned slowly to
the rear. The impulse, however, had already been given to the
Confederate troops. With a wild yell the remnant of the 21st Virginia
rushed forward to the front, and received the pursuers with a sudden
volley. The officers of other regiments, inspired by the example of
their commander, bore the colours forward, and the men, catching the
enthusiasm of the moment, followed in the path of the 21st. The
Federals recoiled. Taliaferro and Early, reforming their brigades,
again advanced upon the right; and Jackson, his front once more
established, turned his attention to the counterstroke he had already

Ewell was ordered to attack the Federal left. Branch, leading the
Light Division, was sent forward to support the Stonewall Brigade,
and Lane to charge down the highroad. Thomas was to give aid to
Early. Archer and Pender, following Branch, were to outflank the
enemy's right, and Field and Stafford were to follow as third line.

Ewell was unable to advance at once, for the Confederate batteries on
Slaughter Mountain swept the whole field, and it was some time before
they could be induced to cease fire. But on the left the mass of
fresh troops, directed on the critical point, exerted a decisive
influence. The Federal regiments, broken and exhausted, were driven
back into the wood and across the wheat-field by the charge of the
Stonewall Brigade. Still they were not yet done with. Before Hill's
troops could come into action, Jackson's old regiments, as they
advanced into the open, were attacked in front and threatened on the
flank. The 4th and 27th Virginia were immediately thrown back to meet
the more pressing danger, forming to the left within the wood; but
assailed in the confusion of rapid movement, they gave way and
scattered through the thickets. But the rift in the line was rapidly
closed up. Jackson, riding in front of the Light Division, and urging
the men to hold their fire and use their bayonets, rallied the 27th
and led them to the front; while Branch's regiments, opening their
ranks for the fugitives to pass through, and pressing forward with
unbroken line, drove back the Northern skirmishers, and moving into
the wheatfield engaged their main body in the opposite wood.


Lane, meanwhile, was advancing astride the road; Archer and Pender,
in accordance with Jackson's orders, were sweeping round through the
forest, and Field and Stafford were in rear of Branch. A fresh
brigade had come up to sustain the defeated Federals; but gallantly
as they fought, the Northerners could make no head against
overwhelming numbers. Outflanked to both right and left, for Early
and Ewell were now moving forward, they began to yield. Jackson rode
forward to the wheat-field, and just at this moment Banks made a
despairing effort to extricate his infantry. Two squadrons, hitherto
concealed by the woods, appeared suddenly on the road, and, deploying
into two lines, charged full against the Confederate centre. The
skirmishers were ridden down; but the troops in rear stood firm, and
several companies, running to a fence along the highway, poured a
devastating fire into the mass of horsemen. Out of 174 officers and
men only 71 rode back.* (* O.R. volume 12 part 2 page 141.)

6.30 P.M.

This brilliant but useless exploit brought no respite to the
Federals. Archer and Pender had turned their right; Ewell was
pressing forward against their left, scaling the ridge on which their
batteries had been posted; Early and Lane were pressing back their
centre, and their guns had already limbered up. Jackson, galloping to
the front, was received with the cheers of his victorious troops. In
every quarter of the field the enemy was in full retreat, and as
darkness began to fall the whole Confederate line crossed Cedar Run
and swept up the slopes beyond. Every yard of ground bore witness to
the severity of the fighting. The slaughter had been very heavy.
Within ninety minutes 3000 men had fallen. The woods were a shambles,
and among the corn the dead lay thick. Scores of prisoners
surrendered themselves, and hundreds of discarded muskets bore
witness to the demoralisation of the Northerners. Nevertheless, the
pursuit was slow. The impetuosity of the Confederates, eager to
complete their triumph, was checked with a firm hand. The infantry
were ordered to reform before they entered the dense forest which lay
between them and Culpeper. The guns, unable to cross Cedar Run except
by the road, were brought over in a single column, and two fresh
brigades, Field's and Stafford's, which had not yet fired a shot,
were brought forward as advanced guard. Although Jackson had been
careful to bring guides who knew the woodland tracks, there was need
for prudence. The light was failing; the cavalry could find no space
to act; and, above all, the whereabouts of Pope's main body was still
uncertain. The Federals had fought with fine courage. Their resolute
attack, pressed home with extraordinary dash, had rolled up the
choicest of the Valley regiments. And yet it was evident that only a
small portion of the Northern army had been engaged. The stirring
incidents of the battle had been crowded into a short space of time.
It was five o'clock when the Federals left their covert. An hour and
a half later they had abandoned the field. Their precipitate retreat,
the absence of a strong rear-guard, were sure tokens that every
regiment had been employed in the attack, and it was soon discovered
by the Confederate soldiers that these regiments were old opponents
of the Valley army. The men who had surprised and outflanked
Jackson's old division were the same men that had been surprised at
Front Royal and outflanked at Winchester. But Banks' army corps
formed only a third part of Pope's army. Sigel and McDowell were
still to be accounted for.

It was possible, however, that no more formidable enemies than the
troops already defeated would be found between Cedar Run and
Culpeper, and Jackson, intent upon securing that strategic point
before morning,* (* Report. O.R. volume 12 part 2 page 184.) pushed
steadily forward. Of the seven miles that intervened between the
battle-field and the Court House only one-and-a-half had been passed,
when the scouts brought information that the enemy was in position a
few hundred yards to the front. A battery was immediately sent
forward to develop the situation. The moon was full, and on the far
side of the glade where the advanced guard, acting under Jackson's
orders, had halted and deployed, a strong line of fire marked the
hostile front. Once more the woodland avenues reverberated to the
crash of musketry, and when the guns opened a portion of the Federal
line was seen flying in disorder. Pope himself had arrived upon the
scene, but surprised by the sudden salvo of Jackson's guns, he was
constrained to do what he had never done in the West--to turn his
back upon the enemy, and seek a safer position. Yet despite the
disappearance of the staff the Union artillery made a vigorous reply.
Two batteries, hidden by the timber, concentrated on the four guns of
the advanced guard, and about the same moment the Confederate cavalry
on the extreme right reported that they had captured prisoners
belonging to Sigel's army corps. "Believing it imprudent," says
Jackson, "to continue to move forward during the darkness, I ordered
a halt for the night."

August 10.

Further information appears to have come to hand after midnight; and
early the next morning General Stuart, who had arrived on a tour of
inspection, having been placed in charge of the cavalry, ascertained
beyond all question that the greater part of Pope's army had come up.
The Confederates were ordered to withdraw, and before noon nearly the
whole force had regained their old position on Cedar Run. They were
not followed, save by the Federal cavalry; and for two days they
remained in position, ready to receive attack. The enemy, however,
gave no sign of aggressive intentions.

August 11.

On the morning of the 11th a flag of truce was received, and Pope was
permitted to bury the dead which had not already been interred. The
same night, his wounded, his prisoners, and the captured arms having
already been removed, Jackson returned to his old camps near

August 12.

His position on Cedar Run, tactically strong, was strategically
unsound. The intelligence he had obtained was substantially correct.
With the exception of five regiments of McDowell's cavalry, only
Banks' army corps had been engaged at Cedar Run. But during the
evening both Sigel and McDowell had reached the field, and it was
their troops which had checked the Confederate pursuit. In fact, on
the morning of the 10th, Pope, besides 5000 cavalry, had 22,000 fresh
troops in addition to those which had been defeated, and which he
estimated at 5000 effectives, wherewith to bar the way to Culpeper.
McDowell's second division, 10,000 strong, on the march from
Fredericksburg, was not more than twenty mites east of Slaughter

In front, therefore, Jackson was confronted by superior numbers. At
the least estimate, 32,000 men were posted beyond Cedar Run, and
10,000 under King were coming up from Fredericksburg. Nor was a
preponderance of numbers the only obstacle with which Jackson had to
deal. A direct attack on Pope was impossible, but a turning movement,
by way of James City, might have found him unprepared, or a swift
advance might have crushed King. But for the execution of either
manoeuvre a large force of cavalry was absolutely essential. By this
means alone could the march be concealed and a surprise effected. In
view, however, of the superior strength of the Federal horsemen such
a project was unfeasible, and retreat was manifestly the only
alternative. Nevertheless, it was not till he was assured that no
further opportunity would be given him that Jackson evacuated his
position. For two days he remained on Cedar Run, within two miles of
the Federal outposts, defying his enemy to battle. If an attack on
the Federals promised nothing but defeat, it was not so sure that
Pope with 27,000 infantry, of whom a considerable number had just
tasted defeat, would be able to oust Jackson with 22,000 from a
position which the latter had selected; and it was not till King's
approach gave the Federals an overwhelming superiority that the
Confederates withdrew behind the Rapidan.

With sublime audacity, as soon as his enemy had disappeared, Pope
claimed the battle of Cedar Run as a Federal success. Carried away by
enthusiasm he ventured to forecast the future. "It is safe to
predict," he declared in a general order, "that this is only the
first of a series of victories which shall make the Army of Virginia
famous in the land." That such language, however, was the natural
result of intense relief at Jackson's retreat may be inferred from
his telegrams, which, unfortunately for his reputation, have been
preserved in the archives of Washington. Nor was his attitude on the
10th and 11th that of a victorious commander. For two days he never
stirred from his position. He informed Halleck that the enemy was in
very superior force, that Stuart and Longstreet had joined Jackson,
and while the Confederates were withdrawing he was telegraphing that
he would certainly be attacked the next morning.

Halleck's reply to Pope's final dispatch, which congratulated the
defeated army corps on a "hard-earned but brilliant success," must
have astonished Banks and his hapless troops. They might indeed be
fairly considered to have "covered themselves with glory."* (* O.R.
volume 12 part 2 page 135.) 9000 men, of which only 7000 were
infantry, had given an enemy of more than double their strength a
hard fight. They had broken some of the best troops in the
Confederate army, under their most famous leader; and if they had
been overwhelmed by numbers, they had at least fought to the last
man. Jackson himself bore witness to the vigour of their onslaught,
to their "temporary triumph," and to the "impetuous valour" of their
cavalry. The Federal defeat was more honourable than many victories.
But that it was a crushing defeat can hardly be disputed. The two
divisions which had been engaged were completely shattered, and Pope
reported that they were no longer fit for service. The casualties
amongst the infantry amounted to a third of the total strength. Of
the brigade that had driven in the Confederate left the 28th New York
lost the whole of its company officers; the 5th Connecticut 17
officers out of 20, and the 10th Maine had 170 killed or wounded. In
two brigades nearly every field-officer and every adjutant was struck
down. The 2nd Massachusetts, employed in the last effort to hold back
Jackson's counterstroke, lost 16 officers out of 28, and 147 men out
of 451. The Ohio regiments, which had been with Shields at Kernstown
and Port Republic, and had crossed Cedar Run opposite the Confederate
centre, were handled even more roughly. The 5th lost 118 men out of
275, the 7th 10 officers out of 14, and 170 men out of 293. Two
generals were wounded and one captured. 400 prisoners, three stand of
colours, 5000 rifles and one gun were taken by the Southerners, and,
including those suffered by Sigel and McDowell in the night action,
the sum of losses reached 2380. The Confederates by no means came off
scatheless. General Winder died upon the field; and the two brigades
that stood the brunt of the attack, together with Early's, suffered
heavily. But the number of killed and wounded amounted to no more
than 1314, and many of the brigades had few losses to report. The
spirit of the Valley troops was hardly to be tamed by such punishment
as this. Nevertheless, Northern historians have not hesitated to rank
Cedar Run as a battle unfavourable to the Confederates. Swinton
declares that Jackson undertook the pursuit of Banks, "under the
impression that he had gained a victory."* (* I may here express my
regret that in the first edition I should have classed Mr. Ropes
amongst the adverse critics of Jackson's operations at this period.
How I came to fall into the error I cannot explain. I should
certainly have remembered that Mr. Ropes' writings are distinguished
as much by impartiality as by ability.) Southern writers, on the
other hand, have classed Cedar Run amongst the most brilliant
achievements of the war, and an unbiassed investigation goes far to
support their view.

During the first week in August Jackson, protecting the Virginia
Central Railroad, was confronted by a much superior force. He could
expect no further reinforcements, for McClellan was still near
Richmond, and according to the latest information was actually
advancing. On the 7th he heard that Pope also was moving forward from
Hazel Run, and had pushed a portion of his army as far as Culpeper.
In face of the overwhelming strength of the Federal cavalry it was
impossible, if he occupied a defensive position, that he could
protect the railroad; for while their infantry and artillery held him
in front, their swarming squadrons would operate at their leisure on
either flank. Nor could a defensive position have been long
maintained. There were no natural obstacles, neither river nor
mountains, to protect Jackson's flanks; and the railroad--his line of
supply--would have been parallel to his front. In a vigorous
offensive, then, should opportunity offer, lay his best chance of
success. That opportunity was offered by the unsupported advance of
the Federal detachment under Banks. It is true that Jackson hoped to
achieve more than the defeat of this comparatively small force. If he
could have seized Culpeper he might have been able to deal with
Pope's army in detail; he saw before him another Valley campaign, and
he was fully justified in believing that victory on the Rapidan would
bring McClellan back to Washington.

His anticipations were not altogether realised. He crushed the
detachment immediately opposed to him, but he failed to seize
Culpeper, and McClellan had already been ordered, although this was
unknown to the Confederates, to evacuate the Peninsula. But it cannot
be fairly said that his enterprise was therefore useless.
Strategically it was a fine conception. The audacity of his manoeuvre
was not the least of its merits. For an army of 24,000 men, weak in
cavalry, to advance against an army of 47,000, including 5000
horsemen, was the very height of daring. But it was the daring of
profound calculation. As it was, Jackson ran little risk. He
succeeded in his immediate object. He crushed Pope's advanced guard,
and he retreated unmolested, bearing with him the prisoners, the
colours, and the arms which he had captured. If he did not succeed in
occupying Culpeper, it was not his fault. Fortune was against him. On
the very day that he had moved forward Pope had done the same. Banks
and McDowell were at Culpeper on the 8th, and Sigel received orders
to move the same day.

Nevertheless the expedition was far from barren in result. If Jackson
failed to defeat Pope altogether, he at least singed his beard. It
was well worth the loss of 1300 men to have destroyed two whole
divisions under the very eyes of the general commanding a superior
army. A few days later Pope was to feel the want of these gallant
regiments,* (* So late as August 28, Pope reported that Banks' troops
were much demoralised. O.R. volume 12 part 3 page 653.) and the
confidence of his troops in their commander was much shaken.
Moreover, the blow was felt at Washington. There was no more talk of
occupying Gordonsville. Pope was still full of ardour. But Halleck
forbade him to advance further than the Rapidan, where Burnside would
reinforce him; and McClellan was ordered to hasten the departure of
his troops from the Peninsula.

Jackson's tactics have been criticised as severely as his strategy.
Because his first line was broken it is asserted that he narrowly
escaped a serious defeat, and that had the two forces been equally
matched Banks would have won a decisive victory. This is hardly sound
criticism. In the first place, Jackson was perfectly well aware that
the two forces were not equally matched. If he had had no more men
than Banks, would he have disposed his forces as he did? He would
scarcely have occupied the same extent of ground with 9000 men that
he did with 20,000. His actual front, when Banks attacked, was two
miles long. With smaller numbers he would have occupied a smaller
front, and would have retained a sufficient force in reserve. In the
second place, it is generally possible for an inferior force, if it
puts every man into the fighting-line, to win some measure of
success. But such success, as was shown at Kernstown, can seldom be
more than temporary; and if the enemy makes good use of his reserves
must end in defeat.

So far from Jackson's tactics being indifferent, it is very easy to
show that they were exactly the contrary. Immediately he came upon
the field he sent Ewell to occupy Slaughter Mountain, a mile distant
from his line of march; and the huge hill, with batteries planted on
its commanding terraces, not only secured his flank, but formed a
strong pivot for his attack on the Federal right. The preliminary
operations were conducted with due deliberation. There was no rushing
forward to the attack while the enemy's strength was still uncertain.
The ridge occupied by the enemy, so far as possible, was thoroughly
reconnoitred, and every rifled gun was at once brought up. The
artillery positions were well selected, for, notwithstanding their
superiority of ordnance, the Federal batteries suffered far more
heavily than the Confederates. The one weak point was the extreme
left, and to this point Jackson in person directed the attention of
his subordinates. "Had reinforcements," says Colonel Garnett, who
commanded the troops that first gave way, "momentarily expected,
arrived ten minutes sooner no disaster would have happened."* (* O.R.
volume 12 part 2 page 201.) That the point was not strengthened, that
the Stonewall Brigade was not posted in second line behind the 1st
Virginia, and that only a staff officer and an orderly were sent to
patrol the forest to the westward, instead of several companies of
infantry, was in no way due to the general-in-chief.

Nor was the position of A.P. Hill's division, which, in conjunction
with the Stonewall Brigade, averted the disaster and won the victory,
a fortuitous circumstance. Before the attack began it had been
directed to this point, and the strong counterstroke which was made
by these fresh troops was exactly the manoeuvre which the situation
demanded. At the time it was ordered the Confederate left and centre
were hard pressed. The Stonewall Brigade had checked the troops which
had issued from the forest, but the whole Confederate line was
shaken. The normal, though less brilliant, course would have been to
have re-established the front, and not till that had been done to
have ventured on the counter-stroke. Jackson, with that quick
intuition which is possessed by few, saw and seized his opportunity
while the Federals were still pressing the attack. One of Hill's
brigades was sent to support the centre, and, almost in the same
breath, six others, a mass of 7000 or 8000 men, were ordered to
attack the enemy's right, to outflank it, and to roll back his whole
line upon Ewell, who was instructed at the same moment to outflank
the left. Notwithstanding some delay in execution, Ewell's inability
to advance, and the charge of the Federal cavalry, this vigorous blow
changed the whole aspect of the battle within a short half-hour.
Conceived in a moment, in the midst of wild excitement and fierce
tumult, delivered with all the strength available, it cannot be
judged otherwise than as the mark of a great captain. Few battles,
indeed, bear the impress of a single personality more clearly than
Cedar Run. From the first cannon-shot of the advanced guard until the
last volley in the midnight forest, one will directed every movement.
The field was no small one. The fight was full of startling changes.
It was no methodical conflict, but a fierce struggle at close
quarters, the lines swaying to and fro, and the ground covered with
confused masses of men and guns, with flying batteries and broken
regiments. But the turmoil of battle found a master. The strong brain
was never clearer than when the storm raged most fiercely. Wherever
his presence was most needed there Jackson was seen, rallying the
fugitives, reinforcing the centre, directing the counterstroke, and
leading the pursuit. And he was well supported. His subordinate
generals carried out their orders to the letter. But every order
which bore upon the issue of the battle came from the lips of one man.

If Northern writers have overlooked the skill with which Jackson
controlled the fight, they have at the same time misunderstood his
action two days later. His retreat to Gordonsville has been
represented as a flight. He is said to have abandoned many wounded
and stragglers, and to have barely saved his baggage. In all this
there is not one word of truth. We have, indeed, the report of the
Federal officer who conducted the pursuit. "The flight of the enemy
after Saturday's fight was most precipitate and in great confusion.
His old camp was strewn with dead men, horses, and arms...A good many
(Federal) prisoners, wounded in Saturday's fight, were found almost
abandoned. Major Andrews, chief of artillery to General Jackson, was
found, badly wounded, at Crooked Run, in charge of an assistant
surgeon." It is hardly necessary to say that General Buford, the
officer thus reporting, had not been present at the battle. He had
been out off with his four regiments by the advance of the
Confederate cavalry, and had retired on Sperryville. He may
accordingly be excused for imagining that a retreat which had been
postponed for two days was precipitate. But dead men, dead horses,
and old arms which the Confederates had probably exchanged for those
which were captured, several wounded Federals, who had been prisoners
in the enemy's hands, and one wounded Confederate, a major of
horse-artillery and not a staff officer at all, are hardly evidences
of undue haste or great confusion. Moreover, in the list of
Confederate casualties only thirty-one men were put down as missing.

It is true that Jackson need not have retreated so far as
Gordonsville. He might have halted behind the Rapidan, where the
bluffs on the south bank overlook the level country to the north. But
Jackson's manoeuvres, whether in advance or retreat, were invariably
actuated by some definite purpose, and what that purpose was he
explains in his dispatches.* (* O.R. volume 12 part 2 page 185.) "I
remained in position until the night of the 11th, when I returned to
the vicinity of Gordonsville, in order to avoid being attacked by the
vastly superior force in front of me, and with the hope that by thus
falling back, General Pope would be induced to follow me until I
should be reinforced." That Pope, had he been left to his own
judgment, would have crossed the Rapidan is certain. "The enemy," he
reported, "has retreated to Gordonsville...I shall move forward on
Louisa Court House as soon as Burnside arrives." He was restrained,
however, by the more wary Halleck. "Beware of a snare," wrote the
Commander-in-Chief. "Feigned retreats are 'Secesh' tactics." How wise
was this warning, and what would have been the fate of Pope had he
recklessly crossed the Rapidan, the next chapter will reveal.


During the summer of 1862 the stirring events in the Western
hemisphere attracted universal attention. All eyes were fixed on
Richmond. The fierce fighting on the Chickahominy, and the defeat of
the invaders, excited Europe hardly less than it did the North. The
weekly mails were eagerly awaited. The newspapers devoted many
columns to narrative, criticism, and prediction. The strategy and
tactics of the rival armies were everywhere discussed, and the fact
that almost every single item of intelligence came from a Northern
source served only as a whet to curiosity. The vast territory
controlled by the Confederacy was so completely cut off from the
outer world that an atmosphere of mystery enveloped the efforts of
the defence. "The Southern States," it has been said, "stood in the
attitude of a beleaguered fortress. The war was in truth a great
siege; the fortress covered an area of more than 700,000 square
miles, and the lines of investment around it extended over more than
10,000 miles." Within the circle of Federal cannon and Federal
cruisers only the imagination could penetrate. At rare intervals some
daring blockade-runner brought a budget of Southern newspapers, or an
enterprising correspondent succeeded in transmitting a dispatch from
Richmond. But such glimpses of the situation within the cordon did
little more than tantalise. The news was generally belated, and had
often been long discounted by more recent events. Still, from
Northern sources alone, it was abundantly clear that the weaker of
the two belligerents was making a splendid struggle. Great names and
great achievements loomed large through the darkness. The war at the
outset, waged by ill-trained and ill-disciplined volunteers,
commanded by officers unknown to fame, had attracted small notice
from professional soldiers. After the Seven Days' battles it assumed
a new aspect. The men, despite their shortcomings, had displayed
undeniable courage, and the strategy which had relieved Richmond
recalled the master-strokes of Napoleon. It was evident that the
Southern army was led by men of brilliant ability, and the names of
Lee's lieutenants were on every tongue. Foremost amongst these was
Stonewall Jackson. Even the Northern newspapers made no scruple of
expressing their admiration, and the dispatches of their own generals
gave them constant opportunities of expatiating on his skill. During
the first weeks of August, the reports from the front, whether from
Winchester, from Fredericksburg, or from the Peninsula, betrayed the
fear and uneasiness he inspired. The overthrow of Pope's advanced
guard at Cedar Run, followed by the unaccountable disappearance of
the victorious army, was of a piece with the manoeuvres in the
Valley. What did this disappearance portend? Whither had the man of
mystery betaken himself? Where would the next blow fall? "I don't
like Jackson's movements," wrote McClellan to Halleck; "he will
suddenly appear when least expected." This misgiving found many
echoes. While Jackson was operating against Pope, McClellan had
successfully completed the evacuation of Harrison's Landing.
Embarking his sick, he marched his five army corps to Fortress
Monroe, observed by Lee's patrols, but otherwise unmolested. The
quiescence of the Confederates, however, brought no relief to the
North. Stocks fell fast, and the premium on gold rose to sixteen per
cent. For some days not a shot had been fired along the Rapidan.
Pope's army rested in its camps. Jackson had completely vanished. But
the silence at the front was not considered a reassuring symptom.

If the Confederates had allowed McClellan to escape, it was very
generally felt that they had done so only because they were preparing
to crush Pope before he could be reinforced. "It is the fear of this
operation," wrote the Times Special Correspondent in the Northern
States, "conducted by the redoubtable Stonewall Jackson, that has
filled New York with uneasy forebodings. Wall Street does not
ardently believe in the present good fortune or the future prospects
of the Republic."* (* The Times, September 4, 1862.)

Neither the knowledge which McClellan possessed of his old West Point
comrade, nor the instinct of the financiers, proved misleading.
Jackson had already made his plans. Even before he had lured Pope
forward to the Rapidan he had begun to plot his downfall. "When we
were marching back from Cedar Run," writes Major Hotchkiss, "and had
passed Orange Court House on our way to Gordonsville, the general,
who was riding in front of the staff, beckoned me to his aide. He at
once entered into conversation, and said that as soon as we got back
to camp he wished me to prepare maps of the whole country between
Gordonsville and Washington, adding that he required several
copies--I think five."

August 13.

This was about noon on Sunday, and as we were near camp I asked him
if the map was to be begun immediately, knowing his great antipathy
to doing anything on Sunday which was not a work of necessity. He
replied that it was important to "have it done at once."* (* Letter to
the author.)

August 14.

The next day, August 14, the exact position of the Federal army was
ascertained. The camps were north and east of Slaughter Mountain, and
Jackson instructed Captain Boswell, his chief engineer, who had lived
in the neighbourhood, to report on the best means of turning the
enemy's left flank and reaching Warrenton, thus intervening between
Pope and Washington, or between Pope and Aquia Creek. The line of
march recommended by Boswell led through Orange Court House to Pisgah
Church, and crossing the Rapidan at Somerville Ford, ran by Lime
Church and Stevensburg to Brandy Station.

August 15.

On the night of the 15th, after two days' rest, the three divisions
moved from Gordonsville to Pisgah Church, and there halted to await
reinforcements. These were already on their way. On the 13th General
Lee had learned that Burnside, who had already left the Peninsula for
Aquia Creek on the Potomac, was preparing to join Pope, and it was
reported by a deserter that part of McClellan's army had embarked on
the transports at Harrison's Landing. Inferring that the enemy had
relinquished all active operations in the Peninsula, and that Pope
would soon be reinforced by the Army of the Potomac, Lee resolved to
take the offensive without delay. The campaign which Jackson had
suggested more than a month before, when McClellan was still reeling
under the effects of his defeat, and Pope's army was not yet
organised, was now to be begun. The same evening the railway conveyed
Longstreet's advanced brigade to Gordonsville, and with the exception
of D.H. Hill's and McLaws' divisions, which remained to watch
McClellan, the whole army fled.

On the 15th Lee met his generals in council. The map drawn by Captain
Hotchkiss was produced, and the manoeuvre which had suggested itself
to Jackson was definitely ordered by the Commander-in-Chief. The
Valley army, at dawn on the 18th, was to cross the Rapidan at
Somerville Ford. Longstreet, preceded by Stuart, who was to cut the
Federal communications in rear of Culpeper Court House, was to make
the passage at Raccoon Ford. Jackson's cavalry was to cover the left
and front, and Anderson's division was to form a general reserve. The
movement was intended to be speedy. Only ambulances and ammunition
waggons were to follow the troops. Baggage and supply trains were to
be parked on the south side of the Rapidan, and the men were to carry
three days' cooked rations in their haversacks.

On Clark's Mountain, a high hill near Pisgah Church, Jackson had
established a signal station. The view from the summit embraced an
extensive landscape. The ravages of war had not yet effaced its
tranquil beauty, nor had the names of its bright rivers and thriving
villages become household words. It was still unknown to history, a
peaceful and pastoral district, remote from the beaten tracks of
trade and travel, and inhabited by a quiet and industrious people.
To-day there are few regions which boast sterner or more heroic
memories. To the right, rolling away in light and shadow for a score
of miles, is the great forest of Spotsylvania, within whose gloomy
depths lie the fields of Chancellorsville; where the breastworks of
the Wilderness can still be traced; and on the eastern verge of which
stand the grass-grown batteries of Fredericksburg. Northward, beyond
the woods which hide the Rapidan, the eye ranges over the wide and
fertile plains of Culpeper, with the green crest of Slaughter
Mountain overlooking Cedar Run, and the dim levels of Brandy Station,
the scene of the great cavalry battle,* (* June 9, 1863.) just
visible beyond. Far away to the north-east the faint outline of a
range of hills marks the source of Bull Run and the Manassas plateau,
and to the west, the long rampart of the Blue Ridge, softened by
distance, stands high above the Virginia plains.

August 17.

On the afternoon of August 17, Pope's forces seemed doomed to
inevitable destruction. The Confederate army, ready to advance the
next morning, was concentrated behind Clark's Mountain, and Lee and
Jackson, looking toward Culpeper, saw the promise of victory in the
careless attitude of the enemy. The day was hot and still. Round the
base of Slaughter Mountain, fifteen miles northward, clustered many
thousands of tents, and the blue smoke of the camp-fires rose
straight and thin in the sultry air. Regiments of infantry, just
discernible through the glare, were marching and countermarching in
various directions, and long waggon-trains were creeping slowly along
the dusty roads. Near at hand, rising above the tree-tops, the Union
colours showed that the outposts still held the river, and the flash
of steel at the end of some woodland vista betrayed the presence of
scouting party or vedette. But there were no symptoms of unusual
excitement, no sign of working parties, of reinforcements for the
advanced posts, of the construction of earthworks or abattis. Pope's
camps were scattered over a wide tract of country, his cavalry was
idle, and it seemed absolutely certain that he was unconscious of the
near neighbourhood of the Confederate army.

The inference was correct. The march to Pisgah Church had escaped
notice. The Federals were unaware that Lee had arrived at
Gordonsville, and they had as yet no reason to believe that there was
the smallest danger of attack.

Between Raccoon and Locustdale fords, and stretching back to Culpeper
Court House, 52,500 men--for Reno, with two divisions of Burnside's
army, 8000 strong, had arrived from Fredericksburg--were in camp and
bivouac. The front was protected by a river nearly a hundred yards
wide, of which every crossing was held by a detachment, and Pope had
reported that his position was so strong that it would be difficult
to drive him from it. But he had not made sufficient allowance for
the energy and ability of the Confederate leaders. His situation, in
reality, was one of extreme danger. In ordering Pope to the Rapidan,
and bidding him "fight like the devil'* (* O.R. volume 12 part 2 page
67. "It may have been fortunate for the Confederates," says
Longstreet, "that he was not instructed to fight like Jackson.")
until McClellan should come up, Halleck made the same fatal error as
Stanton, when he sent Shields up the Luray Valley in pursuit of
Jackson. He had put an inferior force within reach of an enemy who
held the interior lines, and had ordered two armies, separated by
several marches, to effect their concentration under the fire of the
enemy's guns. And if Pope's strategical position was bad, his
tactical position was even worse. His left, covering Raccoon and
Somerville Fords, was very weak. The main body of his army was massed
on the opposite flank, several miles distant, astride the direct road
from Gordonsville to Culpeper Court House, and he remained without
the least idea, so late as the morning of the 18th, that the whole
Confederate army was concentrated behind Clark's Mountain, within six
miles of his most vulnerable point. Aware that Jackson was based on
Gordonsville, he seems to have been convinced that if he advanced at
all, he would advance directly on Culpeper Court House; and the move
to Pisgah Church, which left Gordonsville unprotected, never entered
into his calculations. A sudden attack against his left was the last
contingency that he anticipated; and had the Confederates moved as
Lee intended, there can be no question but that the Federal army,
deprived of all supplies, cut off from Washington, and forced to
fight on ground where it was unprepared, would have been disastrously

But it was not to be. The design was thwarted by one of those petty
accidents which play so large a part in war. Stuart had been
instructed to lead the advance. The only brigade at his disposal had
not yet come up into line, but a message had been sent to appoint a
rendezvous, and it was expected to reach Verdiersville, five miles
from Raccoon Ford, on the night of the 17th. Stuart's message,
however, was not sufficiently explicit. Nothing was said of the
exigencies of the situation; and the brigadier, General Fitzhugh Lee,
not realising the importance of reaching Verdiersville on the 17th,
marched by a circuitous route in order to replenish his supplies. At
nightfall he was still absent, and the omission of a few words in a
simple order cost the Confederates dear. Moreover, Stuart himself,
who had ridden to Verdiersville with a small escort, narrowly escaped
capture. His plumed hat, with which the whole army was familiar, as
well as his adjutant-general and his dispatch-box, fell into the
hands of a Federal reconnoitring party; and among the papers brought
to Pope was found a letter from General Lee, disclosing the fact that
Jackson had been strongly reinforced.

In consequence of the absence of Fitzhugh Lee's brigade, the movement
was postponed until the morning of the 20th. The Commander-in-Chief
was of opinion that the horses, exhausted by their long march, would
require some rest before they were fit for the hard work he proposed
for them. Jackson, for once in opposition, urged that the movement
should go forward. His signal officer on Clark's Mountain reported
that the enemy was quiet, and even extending his right up stream. The
location of the Federal divisions had been already ascertained. The
cavalry was not required to get information. There was no need,
therefore, to wait till Fitzhugh Lee's brigade was fit for movement.
Jackson had, with his own command, a sufficient number of squadrons
to protect the front and flanks of the whole army; and the main
object was not to cut the enemy's communications, but to turn his
left and annihilate him. Pope was still isolated, still unconscious
of his danger, and the opportunity might never return.

The suggestion, however, was overruled, and "it was fortunate," says
one of Pope's generals, "that Jackson was not in command of the
Confederates on the night of August 17; for the superior force of the
enemy must have overwhelmed us, if we could not have escaped, and
escape on that night was impossible."* (* General George H. Gordon.
The Army of Virginia page 9.)

It is probable, however, that other causes induced General Lee to
hold his hand. There is good reason to believe that it was not only
the cavalry that was unprepared. The movement from Richmond had been
rapid, and both vehicles and supplies had been delayed. Nor were all
the generals so avaricious of time as Jackson. It was impossible, it
was urged, to move without some food in the waggons. Jackson replied
that the enemy had a large magazine at Brandy Station, which might
easily be captured, and that the intervening district promised an
abundance of ripening corn and green apples. It was decided, however,
that such fare, on which, it may be said, the Confederates learned
afterwards to subsist for many days in succession, was too meagre for
the work in hand. Jackson, runs the story, groaned so audibly when
Lee pronounced in favour of postponement, that Longstreet called the
attention of the Commander-in-Chief to his apparent disrespect.

August 18.

Be this as it may, had it been possible to adopt Jackson's advice,
the Federal army would have been caught in the execution of a
difficult manoeuvre. On the morning of the 18th, about the very hour
that the advance should have begun, Pope was informed by a spy that
the Confederate army was assembled behind Clark's Mountain and the
neighbouring hills; that the artillery horses were harnessed, and
that the troops were momentarily expecting orders to cross the river
and strike his rear. He at once made preparations for retreat. The
trains moved off to seek shelter behind the Rappahannock, and the
army followed, leaving the cavalry in position, and marching as

Reno by Stevensburg to Kelly's Ford.
Banks and McDowell by Culpeper Court House and Brandy Station to the
Rappahannock railway bridge.
Sigel by Rixeyville to Sulphur Springs.

August 19.

The march was slow and halts were frequent. The long lines of waggons
blocked every road, and on the morning of August 19 the troops were
still at some distance from the Rappahannock, in neither condition
nor formation to resist a resolute attack.

August 20.

The movement, however, was not discovered by the Confederates until
it had been more than four-and-twenty hours in progress. General Lee,
on August 19, had taken his stand on Clark's Mountain, but the
weather was unfavourable for observation. Late in the afternoon the
haze lifted, and almost at the same moment the remaining tents of the
Federal army, fifteen miles away to the north-west, suddenly vanished
from the landscape, and great clouds of dust, rising high above the
woods, left it no longer doubtful that Pope had taken the alarm. It
was too late to interfere, and the sun set on an army baffled of its
prey. In the Confederate councils there was some dismay, among the
troops much heart-burning. Every hour that was wasted brought nearer
the junction of Pope and McClellan, and the soldiers were well aware
that a most promising opportunity, which it was worth while living on
green corn and apples to secure, had been allowed to slip.
Nevertheless, the pursuit was prompt. By the light of the rising moon
the advanced guards plunged thigh-deep into the clear waters of the
Rapidan, and the whole army crossed by Raccoon and Somerville Fords.
Stuart, with Robertson's and Fitzhugh Lee's brigades, pressed forward
on the traces of the retreating foe. Near Brandy Station the Federal
cavalry made a stubborn stand. The Confederates, covering a wide
front, had become separated. Robertson had marched through
Stevensburg, Fitzhugh Lee on Kelly's Ford, an interval of six miles
dividing the two brigades; and when Robertson was met by Bayard's
squadrons, holding a skirt of woods with dismounted men, it was
several hours before a sufficient force could be assembled to force
the road. Towards evening two of Fitzhugh Lee's regiments came up,
and the Confederates were now concentrated in superior numbers. A
series of vigorous charges, delivered by successive regiments on a
front of fours, for the horsemen were confined to the road, hurried
the retreating Federals across the Rappahannock; but the presence of
infantry and guns near the railway bridge placed an effective barrier
in the way of further pursuit. Before nightfall Jackson's advanced
guard reached Brandy Station, after a march of twenty miles, and
Longstreet bivouacked near Kelly's Ford.

The Rappahannock, a broad and rapid stream, with banks high and
well-timbered, now rolled between the hostile armies. Pope, by his
timely retreat, had gained a position where he could be readily
reinforced, and although the river, in consequence of the long
drought, had much dwindled from its usual volume, his front was
perfectly secure.

The situation with which the Confederate commander had now to deal
was beset by difficulties. The delay from August 18 to August 20 had
been most unfortunate. The Federals were actually nearer Richmond
than the Army of Northern Virginia, and if McClellan, landing as
Burnside had done at Aquia Creek, were to move due south through
Fredericksburg, he would find the capital but feebly garrisoned. It
was more probable, however, that he would reinforce Pope, and Lee
held fast to his idea of crushing his enemies in detail. Aquia Creek
was only thirty-five miles' march from the Rappahannock, but the
disembarkation with horses, trains, and artillery must needs be a
lengthy process, and it might still be possible, by skilful and swift
manoeuvres, to redeem the time which had been already lost. But the
Federal position was very strong.

August 21.

Early on the 21st it was ascertained that Pope's whole army was
massed on the left bank of the Rappahannock, extending from Kelly's
Ford to Hazel Run, and that a powerful artillery crowned the
commanding bluffs. To turn the line of the river from the south was
hardly practicable. The Federal cavalry was vigilant, and Pope would
have quietly fallen back on Washington. A turning movement from the
north was more promising, and during the day Stuart, supported by
Jackson, made vigorous efforts to find a passage across the river.
Covered by a heavy fire of artillery, the squadrons drove in a
regiment and a battery holding Beverley Ford, and spread their
patrols over the country on the left bank. It was soon evident,
however, that the ground was unsuitable for attack, and Stuart,
menaced by a strong force of infantry, withdrew his troopers across
the stream. Nothing further was attempted. Jackson went into bivouac
near St. James's Church, and Longstreet closed in upon his right.

August 22.

The next morning, in accordance with Lee's orders to "seek a more
favourable place to cross higher up the river, and thus gain the
enemy's right," Jackson, still preceded by Stuart, and concealing his
march as far as possible in the woods, moved towards the fords near
Warrenton Springs. Longstreet, meanwhile, marched towards the bridge
at Rappahannock Station, where the enemy had established a
tete-de-pont, and bringing his guns into action at every opportunity,
made brisk demonstrations along the river.

Late in the afternoon, after an attack on his rear-guard at Welford's
Mill had been repulsed by Trimble, reinforced by Hood, Jackson, under
a lowering sky, reached the ruined bridge at the Sulphur Springs.
Only a few of the enemy's cavalry had been descried, and he at once
made preparations to effect the passage of the Rappahannock. The 13th
Georgia dashed through the ford, and occupied the cottages of the
little watering-place. Early's brigade and two batteries crossed by
an old mill-dam, a mile below, and took post on the ridge beyond. But
heavy rain had begun to fall; the night was closing in; and the
river, swollen by the storms in the mountains, was already rising.
The difficulties of the passage increased every moment, and the main
body of the Valley army was ordered into bivouac on the western bank.
It was not, however, the darkness of the ford or the precarious
footing of the mill-dam that held Jackson back from reinforcing his
advanced guard, but the knowledge that these dangerous roadways would
soon be submerged by a raging torrent. Early was, indeed, in peril,
but it was better that one brigade should take its chance of escape
than that one half the column should be cut off from the remainder.

August 23.

Next morning the pioneers were ordered to repair the bridge, while
Longstreet, feinting strongly against the tete-de-pont, gave Pope
occupation. Early's troops, under cover of the woods, moved northward
to the protection of a creek named Great Run, and although the
Federal cavalry kept close watch upon him, no attack was made till
nightfall. This was easily beaten back; and Jackson, anxious to keep
the attention of the enemy fixed on this point, sent over another

August 24.

At dawn on the 24th, however, as the Federals were reported to be
advancing in force, the detachment was brought back to the
Confederate bank. The men had been for two days and a night without
food or shelter. It was in vain that Early, after the bridge had been
restored, had requested to be withdrawn. Jackson sent Lawton to
reinforce him with the curt message: "Tell General Early to hold his
position;" and although the generals grumbled at their isolation,
Pope was effectually deluded into the conviction that a serious
attack had been repulsed, and that no further attempt to turn his
right was to be immediately apprehended. The significance of
Jackson's action will be seen hereafter.

While Jackson was thus mystifying the enemy, both Longstreet and
Stuart had been hard at work. The former, after an artillery contest
of several hours' duration, had driven the enemy from his
tete-de-pont on the railway, and had burnt the bridge. The latter, on
the morning of the 22nd, had moved northward with the whole of the
cavalry, except two regiments, and had ridden round the Federal
right. Crossing the Rappahannock at Waterloo Bridge and Hart's Mills,
he marched eastward without meeting a single hostile scout, and as
evening fell the column of 1500 men and two pieces of artillery
clattered into Warrenton. The troopers dismounted in the streets. The
horses were fed and watered, and while the officers amused themselves
by registering their names, embellished with fantastic titles, at the
hotel, Stuart's staff, questioning the throng of women and old men,
elicited important information. None of the enemy's cavalry had been
seen in the vicinity for some days, and Pope's supply trains were
parked at Catlett's Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railway,
ten miles south-east. After an hour's rest the force moved on, and
passing through Auburn village was caught by the same storm that had
cut off Early. The narrow roads became running streams, and the
creeks which crossed the line of march soon rose to the horses'
withers. But this was the very condition of the elements most
favourable for the enterprise. The enemy's vedettes and patrols,
sheltering from the fury of the storm, were captured, one after
another, by the advanced guard, and the two brigades arrived at
Catlett's Station without the Federals receiving the least notice of
their approach.

A moment's halt, a short consultation, a silent movement forward, and
the astonished sentinels were overpowered. Beyond were the
encampments and the trains, guarded by 1500 infantry and 500
horsemen. The night was dark--the darkest, said Stuart, that he had
ever known. Without a guide concerted action seemed impossible. The
rain still fell in torrents, and the raiders, soaked to the skin,
could only grope aimlessly in the gloom. But just at this moment a
negro was captured who recognised Stuart, and who knew where Pope's
baggage and horses were to be found. He was told to lead the way, and
Colonel W. H. F. Lee, a son of the Commander-in-Chief, was ordered to
follow with his regiment. The guide led the column towards the
headquarter tents. "Then there mingled with the noise of the rain
upon the canvas and the roar of the wind in the forest the rushing
sound of many horsemen, of loud voices, and clashing sabres." One of
Pope's staff officers, together with the uniform and horses of the
Federal commander, his treasure chest, and his personal effects, fell
into the hands of the Confederates, and the greater part of the
enemy's troops, suddenly alarmed in the deep darkness, dispersed into
the woods. Another camp was quickly looted, and the 1st and 5th
Virginia Cavalry were sent across the railway, riding without
accident, notwithstanding the darkness, over a high embankment with
deep ditches on either side. But the Federal guards had now rallied
under cover, and the attack on the railway waggons had to be
abandoned. Another party had taken in hand the main object of the
expedition, the destruction of the railway bridge over Cedar Run. The
force which should have defended it was surprised and scattered. The
timbers, however, were by this time thoroughly saturated, and only a
few axes had been discovered. Some Federal skirmishers maintained a
heavy fire from the opposite bank, and it was impossible to complete
the work. The telegraph was more easily dealt with; and shortly
before daylight on the 23rd, carrying with him 300 prisoners,
including many officers, Stuart withdrew by the light of the blazing
camp, and after a march of sixty miles in six-and-twenty hours,
reached the Sulphur Springs before evening.

The most important result of this raid was the capture of Pope's
dispatch book, containing most detailed information as to his
strength, dispositions, and designs; referring to the reinforcements
he expected, and disclosing his belief that the line of the
Rappahannock was no longer tenable. But the enterprise had an
indirect it upon the enemy's calculations, which was not without
bearing on the campaign. Pope believed that Stuart's advance on
Catlett's Station had been made in connection with Jackson's attempt
to cross at Sulphur Springs; and the retreat of the cavalry, combined
with that of Early, seemed to indicate that the movement to turn his
right had been definitely abandoned.

The Federal commander was soon to be undeceived. Thrice had General
Lee been baulked. The enemy, who should have been annihilated on
August 19, had gained six days' respite. On the 20th he had placed
himself behind the Rappahannock. On the 22nd the rising waters
forbade Jackson's passage at the Sulphur Springs; and now, on the
afternoon of the 24th, the situation was still unchanged.
Disregarding Longstreet's demonstrations, Pope had marched northward,
keeping pace with Jackson, and his whole force was concentrated on
the great road which runs from the Sulphur Springs through Warrenton
and Gainesville to Washington and Alexandria. He had answered move by
countermove. Hitherto, except in permitting Early to recross the
river, he had made no mistake, and he had gained time. He had marched
over thirty miles, and executed complicated manoeuvres, without
offering the Confederates an opening. His position near the Sulphur
Springs was as strong as that which he had left on the lower reaches
near the railway bridge. Moreover, the correspondence in his dispatch
book disclosed the fact that a portion at least of McClellan's army
had landed at Aquia Creek, and was marching to Bealtown;* [* Between
August 21 and 25 Pope received the following reinforcements for the
Army of the Potomac, raising his strength to over 80,000 men:
Third Corps: Heintzleman (Hooker's Division, Kearney's Division)
Fifth Corps: Porter (Morell's Division, Sykes' Division) 10,000
Pennsylvania Reserves: Reynolds 8000] that a strong force, drawn from
the Kanawha Valley and elsewhere, was assembling at Washington; and
that 150,000 men might be concentrated within a few days on the
Rappahannock. Lee, on learning McClellan's destination, immediately
asked that the troops which had been retained at Richmond should be
sent to join him. Mr. Davis assented, but it was not till the request
had been repeated and time lost that the divisions of D.H. Hill and
McLaws', two brigades of infantry, under J.G. Walker, and Hampton's
cavalry brigade were ordered up. Yet these reinforcements only raised
Lee's numbers to 75,000 men, and they were from eighty to a hundred
miles distant by an indifferent railroad.

Nor was it possible to await their arrival. Instant action was
imperative. But what action was possible? A defensive attitude could
only result in the Confederate army being forced back by superior
strength; and retreat on Richmond would be difficult, for the
Federals held the interior lines. The offensive seemed out of the
question. Pope's position was more favourable than before. His army
was massed, and reinforcements were close at hand. His right flank
was well secured. The ford at Sulphur Springs and the Waterloo Bridge
were both in his possession; north of the Springs rose the Bull Run
Mountains, a range covered with thick forest, and crossed by few
roads; and his left was protected by the march of McClellan's army
corps from Aquia Creek. Even the genius of a Napoleon might well have
been baffled by the difficulties in the way of attack. But there were
men in the Confederate army to whom overwhelming numbers and strong
positions were merely obstacles to be overcome.

On August 24 Lee removed his headquarters to Jefferson, where Jackson
was already encamped, and on the same evening, with Pope's captured
correspondence before them, the two generals discussed the problem.
What occurred at this council of war was never made public. To use
Lee's words: "A plan of operations was determined on;" but by whom it
was suggested there is none to tell us. "Jackson was so reticent,"
writes Dr. McGuire, "that it was only by accident that we ever found
out what he proposed to do, and there is no staff officer living
(1897) who could throw any light on this matter. The day before we
started to march round Pope's army I saw Lee and Jackson conferring
together. Jackson--for him--was very much excited, drawing with the
toe of his boot a map in the sand, and gesticulating in a much more
earnest way than he was in the habit of doing. General Lee was simply
listening, and after Jackson had got through, he nodded his head, as
if acceding to some proposal. I believe, from what occurred
afterwards, that Jackson suggested the movement as it was made, but I
have no further proof than the incident I have just mentioned."* (*
Letter to the author.) It is only certain that we have record of few
enterprises of greater daring than that which was then decided on;
and no matter from whose brain it emanated, on Lee fell the burden of
the responsibility; on his shoulders, and on his alone, rested the
honour of the Confederate arms, the fate of Richmond, the
independence of the South; and if we may suppose, so consonant was
the design proposed with the strategy which Jackson had already
practised, that it was to him its inception was due, it is still to
Lee that we must assign the higher merit. It is easy to conceive. It
is less easy to execute. But to risk cause and country, name and
reputation, on a single throw, and to abide the issue with
unflinching heart, is the supreme exhibition of the soldier's

Lee's decision was to divide his army. Jackson, marching northwards,
was to cross the Bull Run Mountains at Thoroughfare Gap, ten miles as
the crow flies from the enemy's right, and strike the railway which
formed Pope's line of supply. The Federal commander, who would
meanwhile be held in play by Longstreet, would be compelled to fall
back in a north-easterly direction to save his communications, and
thus be drawn away from McClellan. Longstreet would then follow
Jackson, and it was hoped that the Federals, disconcerted by these
movements, might be attacked in detail or forced to fight at a
disadvantage. The risk, however, was very great.

An army of 55,000 men was about to march into a region occupied by
100,000,* (* Pope, 80,000; Washington and Aquia Creek, 20,000. Lee
was well aware, from the correspondence which Stuart had captured, if
indeed he had not already inferred it, that Pope had been strictly
enjoined to cover Washington, and that he was dependent on the
railway for supplies. There was not the slightest fear of his falling
back towards Aquia Creek to join McClellan.) who might easily be
reinforced to 150,000; and it was to march in two wings, separated
from each other by two days' march. If Pope were to receive early
warning of Jackson's march, he might hurl his whole force on one or
the other. Moreover, defeat, with both Pope and McClellan between the
Confederates and Richmond, spelt ruin and nothing less. But as Lee
said after the war, referring to the criticism evoked by manoeuvres,
in this as in other of his campaigns, which were daring even to
rashness, "Such criticism is obvious, but the disparity of force
between the contending forces rendered the risks unavoidable."* (*
The Army of Northern Virginia, Colonel Allan page 200.) In the
present case the only alternative was an immediate retreat; and
retreat, so long as the enemy was not fully concentrated, and there
was a chance of dealing with him in detail, was a measure which
neither Lee nor Jackson was ever willing to advise.

On the evening of the 24th Jackson began his preparations for the
most famous of his marches. His troops were quietly withdrawn from
before the Sulphur Springs, and Longstreet's division, unobserved by
the Federals, took their place. Captain Boswell was ordered to report
on the most direct and hidden route to Manassas Junction, and the
three divisions--Ewell's, Hill's, and the Stonewall, now commanded by
Taliaferro--assembled near Jefferson. Three days' cooked rations were
to be carried in the haversacks, and a herd of cattle, together with
the green corn standing in the fields, was relied upon for
subsistence until requisition could be made on the Federal magazines.
The troops marched light. Knapsacks were left behind. Tin cans and a
few frying-pans formed the only camp equipment, and many an officer's
outfit consisted of a few badly baked biscuits and a handful of salt.

August 26.

Long before dawn the divisions were afoot. The men were hungry, and
their rest had been short; but they were old acquaintances of the
morning star, and to march while the east was still grey had become a
matter of routine. But as their guides led northward, and the sound
of the guns, opening along the Rappahannock, grew fainter and
fainter, a certain excitement began to pervade the column. Something
mysterious was in the air. What their movement portended not the
shrewdest of the soldiers could divine; but they recalled their
marches in the Valley and their inevitable results, and they knew
instinctively that a surprise on a still larger scale was in
contemplation. The thought was enough. Asking no questions, and full
of enthusiasm, they followed with quick step the leader in whom their
confidence had become so absolute. The flood had subsided on the
Upper Rappahannock, and the divisions forded it at Hinson's Mill,
unmolested and apparently unobserved. Without halting it pressed on,
Boswell with a small escort of cavalry leading the way. The march led
first by Amissville, thence north to Orleans, beyond Hedgeman's
River, and thence to Salem, a village on the Manassas Gap Railroad.
Where the roads diverged from the shortest line the troops took to
the fields. Guides were stationed by the advanced guard at each gap
and gate which marked the route. Every precaution was taken to
conceal the movement. The roads in the direction of the enemy were
watched by cavalry, and so far as possible the column was directed
through woods and valleys. The men, although they knew nothing of
their destination, whether Winchester, or Harper's Ferry, or even
Washington itself, strode on mile after mile, through field and ford,
in the fierce heat of the August noon, without question or complaint.
"Old Jack" had asked them to do their best, and that was enough to
command their most strenuous efforts.

Near the end of the day Jackson rode to the head of the leading
brigade, and complimented the officers on the fine condition of the
troops and the regularity of the march. They had made more than
twenty miles, and were still moving briskly, well closed up, and
without stragglers. Then, standing by the wayside, he watched his
army pass. The sun was setting, and the rays struck full on his
familiar face, brown with exposure, and his dusty uniform. Ewell's
division led the way, and when the men saw their general, they
prepared to salute him with their usual greeting. But as they began
to cheer he raised his hand to stop them, and the word passed down
the column, "Don't shout, boys, the Yankees will hear us;" and the
soldiers contented themselves with swinging their caps in mute
acclamation. When the next division passed a deeper flush spread over
Jackson's face. Here were the men he had so often led to triumph, the
men he had trained himself, the men of the Valley, of the First
Manassas, of Kernstown, and M'Dowell. The Stonewall regiments were
before him, and he was unable to restrain them; devotion such as
theirs was not to be silenced at such a moment, and the wild
battle-yell of his own brigade set his pulses tingling. For once a
breach of discipline was condoned. "It is of no use," said Jackson,
turning to his staff, "you see I can't stop them;" and then, with a
sudden access of intense pride in his gallant veterans, he added,
half to himself, "Who could fail to win battles with such men as

It was midnight before the column halted near Salem village, and the
men, wearied outright with their march of six-and-twenty miles, threw
themselves on the ground by the piles of muskets, without even
troubling to unroll their blankets. So far the movement had been
entirely successful. Not a Federal had been seen, and none appeared
during the warm midsummer night. Yet the soldiers were permitted
scant time for rest. Once more they were aroused while the stars were
bright; and, half awake, snatching what food they could, they
stumbled forward through the darkness.

August 26.

As the cool breath of the morning rose about them, the dark forests
of the Bull Run Mountains became gradually visible in the faint light
of the eastern sky, and the men at last discovered whither their
general was leading them. With the knowledge, which spread quickly
through the ranks, that they were making for the communications of
the boaster Pope, the regiments stepped out with renewed energy.
"There was no need for speech, no breath to spare if there had
been--only the shuffling tramp of marching feet, the rumbling of
wheels, the creak and clank of harness and accoutrements, with an
occasional order, uttered under the breath, and always the same:
"Close up, men! Close up!""* (* "Battles and Leaders volume 2 page

Through Thoroughfare Gap, a narrow gorge in the Bull Run range, with
high cliffs, covered with creepers and crowned with pines on either
hand, the column wound steadily upwards; and, gaining the higher
level, the troops looked down on the open country to the eastward.
Over a vast area of alternate field and forest, bounded by distant
uplands, the shadows of the clouds were slowly sailing. Issuing from
the mouth of the pass, and trending a little to the south-east, ran
the broad high-road, passing through two tiny hamlets, Haymarket and
Gainesville, and climbing by gentle gradients to a great bare
plateau, familiar to the soldiers of Bull Run under the name of
Manassas Plains. At Gainesville this road was crossed by another,
which, lost in dense woods, appeared once more on the open heights to
the far north-east, where the white buildings of Centreville
glistened in the sunshine. The second road was the Warrenton and
Alexandria highway, the direct line of communication between Pope's
army and Washington, and it is not difficult to divine the anxiety
with which it was scrutinised by Jackson. If his march had been
detected, a far superior force might already be moving to intercept
him. At any moment the news might come in that the Federal army was
rapidly approaching; and even were that not the case, it seemed
hardly possible that the Confederate column, betrayed by the dust,
could escape the observation of passing patrols or orderlies. But not
a solitary scout was visible; no movement was reported from the
direction of Warrenton; and the troops pressed on, further and
further round the Federal rear, further and further from Lee and
Longstreet. The cooked rations which they carried had been consumed
or thrown away; there was no time for the slaughter and distribution
of the cattle; but the men took tribute from the fields and orchards,
and green corn and green apples were all the morning meal that many
of them enjoyed. At Gainesville the column was joined by Stuart, who
had maintained a fierce artillery fight at Waterloo Bridge the
previous day; and then, slipping quietly away under cover of the
darkness, had marched at two in the morning to cover Jackson's flank.
The sun was high in the heavens, and still the enemy made no sign.
Munford's horsemen, forming the advanced guard, had long since
reached the Alexandria turnpike, sweeping up all before them, and
neither patrols nor orderlies had escaped to carry the news to

So the point of danger was safely passed, and thirteen miles in rear
of Pope's headquarters, right across the communications he had told
his troops to disregard, the long column swung swiftly forward in the
noonday heat. Not a sound, save the muffled roll of many wheels,
broke the stillness of the tranquil valley; only the great dust
cloud, rolling always eastward up the slopes of the Manassas plateau,
betrayed the presence of war.

Beyond Gainesville Jackson took the road which led to Bristoe
Station, some seven miles south of Manassas Junction. Neither the
success which had hitherto accompanied his movement, nor the
excitement incident on his situation, had overbalanced his judgment.
From Gainesville the Junction might have been reached in little more
than an hour's march; and prudence would have recommended a swift
dash at the supply depot, swift destruction, and swift escape. But it
was always possible that Pope might have been alarmed, and the
railroad from Warrenton Junction supplied him with the means of
throwing a strong force of infantry rapidly to his rear. In order to
obstruct such a movement Jackson had determined to seize Bristoe
Station. Here, breaking down the railway bridge over Broad Run, and
establishing his main body in an almost impregnable position behind
the stream, he could proceed at his leisure with the destruction of
the stores at Manassas Junction. The advantages promised by this
manoeuvre more than compensated for the increased length of the march.

The sun had not yet set when the advanced guard arrived within
striking distance of Bristoe Station. Munford's squadrons, still
leading the way, dashed upon the village. Ewell followed in hot
haste, and a large portion of the guard, consisting of two companies,
one of cavalry and one of infantry, was immediately captured. A train
returning empty from Warrenton Junction to Alexandria darted through
the station under a heavy fire.* (* The report received at Alexandria
from Manassas Junction ran as follows: "No. 6 train, engine
Secretary, was fired into at Bristoe by a party of cavalry, some 500
strong. They had piled ties on the track, but the engine threw them
off. Secretary is completely riddled by bullets.") The line was then
torn up, and two trains which followed in the same direction as the
first were thrown down a high embankment. A fourth, scenting danger
ahead, moved back before it reached the break in the road. The column
had now closed up, and it was already dark. The escape of the two
trains was most unfortunate. It would soon be known, both at
Alexandria and Warrenton, that Manassas Junction was in danger. The
troops had marched nearly five-and-twenty miles, but if the object of
the expedition was to be accomplished, further exertions were
absolutely necessary. Trimble, energetic as ever, volunteered with
two regiments, the 21st Georgia and 21st North Carolina, to move on
Manassas Junction. Stuart was placed in command, and without a
moment's delay the detachment moved northward through the woods. The
night was hot and moonless. The infantry moved in order of battle,
the skirmishers in advance; and pushing slowly forward over a broken
country, it was nearly midnight before they reached the Junction.
Half a mile from the depot their advance was greeted by a salvo of
shells. The Federal garrison, warned by the fugitives from Bristoe
Station, were on the alert; but so harmless was their fire that
Trimble's men swept on without a check. The two regiments, one on
either side of the railroad, halted within a hundred yards of the
Federal guns. The countersign was passed down the ranks, and the
bugles sounded the charge. The Northern gunners, without waiting for
the onset, fled through the darkness, and two batteries, each with
its full complement of guns and waggons, became the prize of the
Confederate infantry. Stuart, coming up on the flank, rode down the
fugitives. Over 300 prisoners were taken, and the remainder of the
garrison streamed northward through the deserted camps. The results
of this attack more than compensated for the exertions the troops had
undergone. Only 15 Confederates had been wounded, and the supplies on
which Pope's army, whether it was intended to move against Longstreet
or merely to hold the line of the Rappahannock, depended both for
food and ammunition were in Jackson's hands.

August 27.

The next morning Hill's and Taliaferro's divisions joined Trimble.
Ewell remained at Bristoe; cavalry patrols were sent out in every
direction, and Jackson, riding to Manassas, saw before him the reward
of his splendid march. Streets of warehouses, stored to overflowing,
had sprung up round the Junction. A line of freight cars, two miles
in length, stood upon the railway. Thousands of barrels, containing
flour, pork, and biscuit, covered the neighbouring fields. Brand-new
ambulances were packed in regular rows. Field-ovens, with the fires
still smouldering, and all the paraphernalia of a large bakery,
attracted the wondering gaze of the Confederate soldiery; while great
pyramids of shot and shell, piled with the symmetry of an arsenal,
testified to the profusion with which the enemy's artillery was

It was a strange commentary on war. Washington was but a long day's
march to the north; Warrenton, Pope's headquarters, but twelve miles
distant to the south-west; and along the Rappahannock, between
Jackson and Lee, stood the tents of a host which outnumbered the
whole Confederate army. No thought of danger had entered the minds of
those who selected Manassas Junction as the depot of the Federal
forces. Pope had been content to leave a small guard as a protection
against raiding cavalry. Halleck, concerned only with massing the
whole army on the Rappahannock, had used every effort to fill the
storehouses. If, he thought, there was one place in Virginia where
the Stars and Stripes might be displayed in full security, that place
was Manassas Junction; and here, as nowhere else, the wealth of the
North had been poured out with a prodigality such as had never been
seen in war. To feed, clothe, and equip the Union armies no
expenditure was deemed extravagant. For the comfort and well-being of
the individual soldier the purse-strings of the nation were freely
loosed. No demand, however preposterous, was disregarded. The markets
of Europe were called upon to supply the deficiencies of the States;
and if money could have effected the re-establishment of the Union,
the war would have already reached a triumphant issue. But the
Northern Government had yet to learn that the accumulation of men,
materiel, and supplies is not in itself sufficient for success. Money
alone cannot provide good generals, a trained staff, or an efficient
cavalry; and so on this August morning 20,000 ragged Confederates,
the soldiers of a country which ranked as the poorest of nations, had
marched right round the rear of the Federal army, and were now halted
in undisturbed possession of all that made that army an effective

Few generals have occupied a position so commanding as did Jackson on
the morning of August 27. His enemies would henceforward have to
dance while he piped. It was Jackson, and not Pope, who was to
dictate the movements of the Federal army. It was impossible that the
latter could now maintain its position on the Rappahannock, and Lee's
strategy had achieved its end. The capture of Manassas Junction,
however, was only the first step in the campaign. Pope, to restore
his communications with Alexandria, would be compelled to fall back;
but before he could be defeated the two Confederate wings must be
united, and the harder part of the work would devolve on Jackson. The
Federals, at Warrenton, were nearer by five miles to Thoroughfare
Gap, his shortest line of communication with Lee and Longstreet, than
he was himself. Washington held a large garrison, and the railway was
available for the transit of the troops. The fugitives from Manassas
must already have given the alarm, and at any moment the enemy might

If there were those in the Confederate ranks who considered the
manoeuvres of their leader overbold, their misgivings were soon

A train full of soldiers from Warrenton Junction put back on finding
Ewell in possession of Bristoe Station; but a more determined effort
was made from the direction of Alexandria. So early as seven o'clock
a brigade of infantry, accompanied by a battery, detrained on the
north bank of Bull Run, and advanced in battle order against the
Junction.* (* These troops were sent forward, without cavalry, by
order of General Halleck. O.R. volume 12 part 3 page 680. The Federal
Commander-in-Chief expected that the opposition would be slight. He
had evidently no suspicion of the length to which the daring of Lee
and Jackson might have carried them.) The Federals, unaware that the
depot was held in strength, expected to drive before them a few
squadrons of cavalry. But when several batteries opened a heavy fire,
and heavy columns advanced against their flanks, the men broke in
flight towards the bridge. The Confederate infantry followed rapidly,
and two Ohio regiments, which had just arrived from the Kanawha
Valley, were defeated with heavy loss. Fitzhugh Lee, who had fallen
back before the enemy's advance, was then ordered in pursuit. The
cars and railway bridge were destroyed; and during the day the
brigade followed the fugitives as far as Burke's Station, only twelve
miles from Alexandria.

This feeble attack appears to have convinced Jackson that his danger
was not pressing. It was evident that the enemy had as yet no idea of
his strength. Stuart's cavalry watched every road; Ewell held a
strong position on Broad Run, barring the direct approach from
Warrenton Junction, and it was determined to give the wearied
soldiers the remainder of the day for rest and pillage. It was
impossible to carry away even a tithe of the stores, and when an
issue of rations had been made, the bakery set working, and the
liquor placed under guard, the regiments were let loose on the
magazines. Such an opportunity occurs but seldom in the soldiers'
service, and the hungry Confederates were not the men to let it pass.
"Weak and haggard from their diet of green corn and apples, one can
well imagine," says Gordon, "with what surprise their eyes opened
upon the contents of the sutlers' stores, containing an amount and
variety of property such as they had never conceived. Then came a
storming charge of men rushing in a tumultuous mob over each other's
heads, under each other's feet, anywhere, everywhere, to satisfy a
craving stronger than a yearning for fame. There were no laggards in
that charge, and there was abundant evidence of the fruits of
victory. Men ragged and famished clutched tenaciously at whatever
came in their way, whether of clothing or food, of luxury or
necessity. Here a long yellow-haired, barefooted son of the South
claimed as prizes a toothbrush, a box of candles, a barrel of coffee;
while another, whose butternut homespun hung round him in tatters,
crammed himself with lobster salad, sardines, potted game and
sweetmeats, and washed them down with Rhenish wine. Nor was the outer
man neglected. From piles of new clothing the Southerners arrayed
themselves in the blue uniforms of the Federals. The naked were clad,
the barefooted were shod, and the sick provided with luxuries to
which they had long been strangers."* (* The Army of Virginia.
General George H. Gordon.)

The history of war records many extraordinary scenes, but there are
few more ludicrous than this wild revel at Manassas. Even the chagrin
of Northern writers gives way before the spectacle; and Jackson must
have smiled grimly when he thought of the maxim which Pope had
promulgated with such splendid confidence: "Let us study the probable
lines of retreat of our opponents, and leave our own to take care of

It was no time, however, to indulge in reflections on the irony of
fortune. All through the afternoon, while the sharp-set Confederates
were sweeping away the profits which the Northern sutlers had wrung
from Northern soldiers, Stuart's vigilant patrols sent in report on
report of the Federal movements. From Warrenton heavy columns were
hurrying over the great highroad to Gainesville, and from Warrenton
Junction a large force of all arms was marching direct on Bristoe.
There was news, too, from Lee. Despite the distance to be covered,
and the proximity of the enemy, a trooper of the Black Horse, a
regiment of young planters which now formed Jackson's Escort,
disguised as a countryman, made his way back from headquarters, and
Jackson learned that Longstreet, who had started the previous
evening, was following his own track by Orleans, Salem, and
Thoroughfare Gap.* (* "Up to the night of August 28 we received,"
says Longstreet, "reports from General Jackson at regular intervals,
assuring us of his successful operation, and of confidence in his
ability to baffle all efforts of the enemy, till we should reach
him." Battles and Leaders volume 2 page 517.) It was evident, then,
that the whole Federal army was in motion northwards, and that
Longstreet had crossed the Rappahannock. But Longstreet had many
miles to march and Thoroughfare Gap to pass before he could lend
assistance; and the movement of the enemy on Gainesville threatened
to intervene between the widely separated wings of the Confederate

It was no difficult matter for Jackson to decide on the course to be
adopted. There was but one thing to do, to retreat at once; and only
one line of escape still open, the roads leading north and north-west
from Manassas Junction. To remain at Manassas and await Lee's arrival
would have been to sacrifice his command. 20,000 men, even with the
protection of intrenchments, could hardly hope to hold the whole
Federal army at bay for two days; and it was always possible that
Pope, blocking Thoroughfare Gap with a portion of his force, might
delay Lee for even longer than two days. Nor did it recommend itself
to Jackson as sound strategy to move south, attack the Federal column
approaching Bristoe, and driving it from his path to escape past the
rear of the column moving to Gainesville. The exact position of the
Federal troops was far from clear. Large forces might be encountered
near the Rappahannock, and part of McClellan's army was known to be
marching westward from Aquia Creek. Moreover, such a movement would
have accentuated the separation of the Confederate wings, and a local
success over a portion of the hostile army would have been but a poor
substitute for the decisive victory which Lee hoped to win when his
whole force was once more concentrated.

About three in the afternoon the thunder of artillery was heard from
the direction of Bristoe. Ewell had sent a brigade along the railroad
to support some cavalry on reconnaissance, and to destroy a bridge
over Kettle Run. Hardly had the latter task been accomplished when a
strong column of Federal infantry emerged from the forest and
deployed for action. Hooker's division of 5,500 men, belonging to
McClellan's army, had joined Pope on the same day that Jackson had
crossed the Rappahannock, and had been dispatched northwards from
Warrenton Junction as soon as the news came in that Manassas Junction
had been captured. Hooker had been instructed to ascertain the
strength of the enemy at Manassas, for Pope was still under the
impression that the attack on his rear was nothing more than a
repetition of the raid on Catlett's Station. Striking the Confederate
outposts at Kettle Run, he deployed his troops in three lines and
pushed briskly forward. The batteries on both sides opened, and after
a hot skirmish of an hour's duration Ewell, who had orders not to
risk an engagement with superior forces, found that his flanks were
threatened. In accordance with his instructions he directed his three
brigades to retire in succession across Broad Run. This difficult
manoeuvre was accomplished with trifling loss, and Hooker,
ascertaining that Jackson's whole corps, estimated at 30,000 men, was
near at hand, advanced no further than the stream. Ewell fell back
slowly to the Junction; and shortly after midnight the three
Confederate divisions had disappeared into the darkness. The torch
had already been set to the captured stores; warehouses, trains,
camps, and hospitals were burning fiercely, and the dark figures of
Stuart's troopers, still urging on the work, passed to and fro amid
the flames. Of the value of property destroyed it is difficult to
arrive at an estimate. Jackson, in his official report, enumerates
the various items with an unction which he must have inherited from
some moss-trooping ancestor. Yet the actual quantity mattered little,
for the stores could be readily replaced. But the effect of their
destruction on the Federal operations was for the time being
overwhelming. And of this destruction Pope himself was a witness. The
fight with Ewell had just ceased, and the troops were going into
bivouac, when the Commander-in-Chief, anxious to ascertain with his
own eyes the extent of the danger to which he was exposed, reached
Bristoe Station. There, while the explosion of the piles of shells
resembled the noise of a great battle, from the ridge above Broad Run
he saw the sky to the north-east lurid with the blaze of a vast
conflagration; and there he learned for the first time that it was no
mere raid of cavalry, but Stonewall Jackson, with his whole army
corps, who stood between himself and Washington.

For the best part of three days the Union general had been completely
mystified. Jackson had left Jefferson on the 25th. But although his
march had been seen by the Federal signaller on the hills near
Waterloo Bridge,* (* Five messages were sent in between 8.45 A.M. and
11 A.M., but evidently reached headquarters much later. O.R. volume
12 part 3 pages 654-5.) and the exact strength of his force had been
reported, his destination had been unsuspected. When the column was
last seen it was moving northward from Orleans, but the darkness had
covered it, and the measure of prolonging the march to midnight bore
good fruit. For the best part of two days Jackson had vanished from
his enemy's view, to be found by Pope himself at Manassas Junction.*
(* There is a curious undated report on page 671, O.R. volume 12 part
3 from Colonel Duffie, a French officer in the Federal service, which
speaks of a column passing through Thoroughfare Gap; but, although
the compilers of the Records have placed it under the date August 26,
it seems evident, as this officer (see page 670) was at Rappahannock
Station on the 26th and 27th (O.R. volume 12 part. 3 page 688), that
the report refers to Longstreet's and not Jackson's troops, and was
written on August 28.) Nevertheless, although working in the dark,
the Federal commander, up to the moment he reached Bristoe Station,
had acted with sound judgment. He had inferred from the reports of
his signalmen that Jackson was marching to Front Royal on the
Shenandoah; but in order to clear up the situation, on the 26th Sigel
and McDowell were ordered to force the passage of the Rappahannock at
Waterloo Bridge and the Sulphur Springs, and obtain information of
the enemy's movements. Reno, at the same time, was to cross below the
railway bridge and make for Culpeper. The manoeuvres, however, were
not carried out as contemplated. Only McDowell advanced; and as Lee
had replaced Longstreet, who marched to Orleans the same afternoon,
by Anderson, but little was discovered.


It was evident, however, that the Confederates were trending steadily
northwards, and on the night of the 26th Pope ordered his 80,000
Federals to concentrate in the neighbourhood of Warrenton. Reports
had come in that hostile troops had passed through Salem, White
Plains, and Thoroughfare Gap.* (* O.R. volume 12 part 3 page 672.
Pope to Porter page 675. Pope to Halleck page 684.) But it seemed
improbable, both to Pope and McDowell, the second in command, that
more was meant by this than a flank attack on Warrenton. McDowell
expressed his opinion that a movement round the right wing in the
direction of Alexandria was far too hazardous for the enemy to
attempt. Pope appears to have acquiesced, and a line of battle near
Warrenton, with a strong reserve at Greenwich, to the right rear, was
then decided on. Franklin's army corps from the Peninsula, instead of
proceeding to Aquia Creek, was disembarking at Alexandria, and
Halleck had been requested to push these 10,000 men forward with all
speed to Gainesville. The Kanawha regiments had also reached
Washington, and Pope was under the impression that these too would be
sent to join him. He had therefore but little apprehension for his
rear. The one error of judgment into which both Pope and McDowell had
been betrayed was in not giving Lee due credit for audacity or
Jackson for energy. That Lee would dare to divide his army they had
never conceived; that Jackson would march fifty miles in two days and
place his single corps astride their communications was an idea which
had they thought of they would have instantly dismissed. Like the
Austrian generals when they first confronted Napoleon, they might
well have complained that their enemy broke every rule of the
military art; and like all generals who believe that war is a mere
matter of precedent, they found themselves egregiously deceived.

The capture of Manassas, to use Pope's own words, rendered his
position at Warrenton no longer tenable, and early on the 27th, the
army, instead of concentrating on Warrenton, was ordered to move to
Gainesville (from Gainesville it was easy to block Thoroughfare Gap);
Buford's cavalry brigade was thrown out towards White Plains to
observe Longstreet, and Hooker was dispatched to clear up the
situation at Manassas. This move, which was completed before
nightfall, could hardly have been improved upon. The whole Federal
army was now established on the direct line of communication between
Jackson and Lee, and although Jackson might still escape, the
Confederates had as yet gained no advantage beyond the destruction of
Pope's supplies. It seemed impossible that the two wings could
combine east of the Bull Run Mountains. But on the evening of the
27th, after the conclusion of the engagement at Bristoe Station, Pope
lost his head. The view he now took of the situation was absolutely
erroneous. Ewell's retreat before Hooker he interpreted as an easy
victory, which fully compensated for the loss of his magazines. He
imagined that Jackson had been surprised, and that no other course
was open to him than to take refuge in the intrenchments of Manassas
Junction and await Lee's arrival. Orders were at once issued for a
manoeuvre which should ensure the defeat of the presumptuous foe. The
Federal army corps, marching in three columns, were called up to
Manassas, a movement which would leave Thoroughfare Gap unguarded
save by Buford's cavalry. Some were to move at midnight, others "at
the very earliest blush of dawn." "We shall bag the whole crowd, if
they are prompt and expeditious,"* (* O.R. volume 12 part 2 page 72.)
said Pope, with a sad lapse from the poetical phraseology he had just

August 28.

And so, on the morning of the 28th, a Federal army once more set out
with the expectation of surrounding Jackson, to find once more that
the task was beyond their powers.

The march was slow. Pope made no movement from Bristoe Station until
Hooker had been reinforced by Kearney and Reno; McDowell, before he
turned east from Gainesville, was delayed by Sigel's trains, which
crossed his line of march, and it was not till noon that Hooker's
advanced guard halted amid the still smouldering ruins on the
Manassas plateau. The march had been undisturbed. The redoubts were
untenanted. The woods to the north were silent. A few grey-coated
vedettes watched the operations from far-distant ridges; a few
stragglers, overcome perhaps by their Gargantuan meal of the previous
evening, were picked up in the copses, but Jackson's divisions had
vanished from the earth.

Then came order and counter-order. Pope was completely bewildered. By
four o'clock, however, the news arrived that the railway at Burke's
Station, within twelve miles of Alexandria, had been cut, and that
the enemy was in force between that point and Centreville. On
Centreville, therefore, the whole army was now directed; Hooker,
Kearney, and Reno, forming the right wing, marched by Blackburn's
Ford, and were to be followed by Porter and Banks; Sigel and
Reynolds, forming the centre, took the road by New Market and the
Stone Bridge; McDowell (King's and Ricketts' divisions), forming the
left, was to pass through Gainesville and Groveton. But when the
right wing reached Centreville, Pope was still at fault. There were
traces of a marching column, but some small patrols of cavalry, who
retreated leisurely before the Federal advance, were the sole
evidence of the enemy's existence. Night was at hand, and as the
divisions he accompanied were directed to their bivouacs, Pope sought
in vain for the enemy he had believed so easy a prey.

Before his troops halted the knowledge came to him. Far away to the
south-west, where the great Groveton valley, backed by the wooded
mountains, lay green and beautiful, rose the dull booming of cannon,
swelling to a continuous roar; and as the weary soldiers, climbing
the slopes near Centreville, looked eagerly in the direction of the
sound, the rolling smoke of a fierce battle was distinctly visible
above the woods which bordered the Warrenton-Alexandria highway.
Across Bull Run, in the neighbourhood of Groveton, and still further
westward, where the cleft in the blue hills marked Thoroughfare Gap,
was seen the flash of distant guns. McDowell, marching northwards
through Gainesville, had evidently come into collision with the
enemy. Jackson was run to earth at last; and it was now clear that
while Pope had been moving northwards on Centreville, the
Confederates had been moving westward, and that they were once more
within reach of Lee. But by what means, Pope might well have asked,
had a whole army corps, with its batteries and waggons, passed
through the cordon which he had planned to throw around it, and
passed through as if gifted with the secret of invisibility?

The explanation was simple. While his enemies were watching the
midnight glare above Manassas, Jackson was moving north by three
roads; and before morning broke A.P. Hill was near Centreville, Ewell
had crossed Bull Run by Blackburn's Ford, and Taliaferro was north of
Bald Hill, with a brigade at Groveton, while Stuart's squadrons
formed a screen to front and flank. Then, as the Federals slowly
converged on Manassas, Hill and Ewell, marching unobserved along the
north bank of Bull Run, crossed the Stone Bridge; Taliaferro joined
them, and before Pope had found that his enemy had left the Junction,
the Confederates were in bivouac north of Groveton, hidden in the
woods, and recovering from the fatigue of their long night march.* (*
A.P. Hill had marched fourteen miles, Ewell fifteen, and Taliaferro,
with whom were the trains, from eight to ten.)

Jackson's arrangements for deceiving his enemy, for concealing his
line of retreat, and for drawing Pope northward on Centreville, had
been carefully thought out. The march from Manassas was no hasty
movement to the rear. Taliaferro, as soon as darkness fell, had moved
by New Market on Bald Hill. At 1 A.M. Ewell followed Hill to
Blackburn's Ford; but instead of continuing the march on Centrevile,
had crossed Bull Run, and moving up stream, had joined Taliaferro by
way of the Stone Bridge. Hill, leaving Centreville at 10 A.M.,
marched to the same rendezvous. Thus, while the attention of the
enemy was attracted to Centreville, Jackson's divisions were
concentrated in the woods beyond Bull Bun, some five or six miles
west. The position in which his troops were resting had been
skilfully selected. South of Sudley Springs, and north of the
Warrenton turnpike, it was within twelve miles of Thoroughfare Gap,
and a line of retreat, in case of emergency, as well as a line by
which Lee could join him, should Thoroughfare Gap be blocked, ran to
Aldie Gap, the northern pass of the Bull Run Mountains. Established
on his enemy's flank, he could avoid the full shock of his force
should Lee be delayed, or he could strike effectively himself; and it
was to retain the power of striking that he had not moved further
northward, and secured his front by camping beyond Catharpen Run. It
was essential that he should be prepared for offensive action. The
object with which he had marched upon Manassas had only been half
accomplished. Pope had been compelled to abandon the strong line of
the Rappahannock, but he had not yet been defeated; and if he were
not defeated, he would combine with McClellan, and advance in a few
days in overwhelming force. Lee looked for a battle with Pope before
he could be reinforced, and to achieve this end it was necessary that
the Federal commander should be prevented from retreating further;
that Jackson should hold him by the throat until Lee should come up
to administer the coup de grace.

It was with this purpose in his mind that Jackson had taken post near
Groveton, and he was now awaiting the information that should tell
him the time had come to strike. But, as already related, the march
of the Federals on Manassas was slow and toilsome. It was not till
the morning was well on that the brigade of Taliaferro's division
near Groveton, commanded by Colonel Bradley Johnson, was warned by
the cavalry that the enemy was moving through Gainesville in great
strength. A skirmish took place a mile or two north of that village,
and Johnson, finding himself menaced by far superior numbers, fell
back to the wood near the Douglass House. He was not followed. The
Union generals, Sigel and Reynolds, who had been ordered to Manassas
to "bag" Jackson, had received no word of his departure from the
Junction; and believing that Johnson's small force was composed only
of cavalry, they resumed the march which had been temporarily

The situation, however, was no clearer to the Confederates. The enemy
had disappeared in the great woods south-west of Groveton, and heavy
columns were still reported coming up from Gainesville. During the
afternoon, however, the cavalry captured a Federal courier, carrying
McDowell's orders for the movement of the left and centre, which had
been placed under his command, to Manassas Junction,* and this
important document was immediately forwarded to Jackson.

(* The order, dated 2 A.M., August 25, was to the following effect:--

1. Sigel's Corps to march from Gainesville to Manassas Junction, the
right resting on the Manassas railroad.

2. Reynolds to follow Sigel.

3. King to follow Reynolds.

4. Ricketts to follow King; but to halt at Thoroughfare Gap if the
enemy threatened the pass.

King was afterwards, while on the march, directed to Centreville by
the Warrenton-Alexandria road.)

"Johnson's messenger," says General Taliaferro, "found the
Confederate headquarters established on the shady side of an
old-fashioned worm-fence, in the corner of which General Jackson and
his division commanders were profoundly sleeping after the fatigues
of the preceding night, notwithstanding the intense heat of the
August day. There was not so much as an ambulance at headquarters.
The headquarters' train was back beyond the Rappahannock, at
Jefferson, with remounts, camp equipage, and all the arrangements for
cooking and serving food. All the property of the general, the staff,
and the headquarters' bureau was strapped to the pommels and cantels
of the saddles, and these formed the pillows of their weary owners.
The captured dispatch roused Jackson like an electric shock. He was
essentially a man of action. He rarely, if ever, hesitated. He never
asked advice. He called no council to discuss the situation disclosed
by this communication, although his ranking officers were almost at
his side. He asked no conference of opinion. He made no suggestion,
but simply, without a word, except to repeat the language of the
message, turned to me and said: "Move your division and attack the
enemy;" and to Ewell, "'Support the attack.'" The slumbering soldiers
sprang from the earth at the first murmur. They were sleeping almost
in ranks; and by the time the horses of their officers were saddled,
the long lines of infantry were moving to the anticipated

"The two divisions, after marching some distance to the north of the
turnpike, were halted and rested, and the prospect of an engagement
on that afternoon seemed to disappear with the lengthening shadows.
The enemy did not come. The Warrenton turnpike, along which it was
supposed he would march, was in view, but it was as free from Federal
soldiery as it had been two days before, when Jackson's men had
streamed along its highway."* (* Battles and Leaders volume 2 pages
507 and 508.)


Jackson, however, was better informed than his subordinate. Troops
were still moving through Gainesville, and, instead of turning off to
Manassas, were marching up the turnpike on which so many eyes were
turned from the neighbouring woods. King's division, while on the
march to Manassas, had been instructed to countermarch and make for
Centrevile, by Groveton and the Stone Bridge. Ricketts, who had been
ordered by McDowell to hold Thoroughfare Gap, was already engaged
with Longstreet's advanced guard, and of this Jackson was aware; for
Stuart, in position at Haymarket, three miles north of Gainesville,
had been skirmishing all day with the enemy's cavalry, and had been
in full view of the conflict at the Gap.* (* Longstreet had been
unable to march with the same speed as Jackson. Leaving Jefferson on
the afternoon of August 26, he did not reach Thoroughfare Gap until
"just before night" on August 28. He had been delayed for an hour at
White Plains by the Federal cavalry, and the trains of the army, such
as they were, may also have retarded him. In two days he covered only
thirty miles.)

Jackson, however, knew not that one division was all that was before
him. The Federal movements had covered so wide an extent of country,
and had been so well concealed by the forests, that it was hardly
possible for Stuart's patrols, enterprising as they were, to obtain
accurate information. Unaccustomed to such disjointed marches as were
now in progress across his front, Jackson believed that King's column
was the flank-guard of McDowell's army corps. But, although he had
been compelled to leave Hill near the Stone Bridge, in order to
protect his line of retreat on Aldie, he had still determined to
attack. The main idea which absorbed his thoughts is clear enough.
The Federal army, instead of moving direct from Warrenton on
Alexandria, as he had anticipated, had apparently taken the more
circuitous route by Manassas, 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. To do this, the surest means was a
resolute attack on King's division, despite the probability that it
might be strongly reinforced; and it is by no means unlikely that
Jackson deferred his attack until near sunset in order that, if
confronted by superior numbers, he might still be able to hold on
till nightfall, and obtain time for Longstreet to come up.

Within the wood due north of the Dogan House, through which ran an
unfinished railroad, Ewell's and Taliaferro's divisions, awaiting the
propitious moment for attack, were drawn up in order of battle. Eight
brigades, and three small batteries, which had been brought across
country with great difficulty, were present, and the remainder of the
artillery was not far distant.* (* Twenty pieces had been ordered to
the front soon after the infantry moved forward. The dense woods,
however, proved impenetrable to all but three horse-artillery guns,
and one of these was unable to keep up.) Taliaferro, on the right,
had two brigades (A. G. Taliaferro's and the Stonewall) in first
line; Starke was in second line, and Bradley Johnson near Groveton
village. Ewell, on the left, had placed Lawton and Trimble in front,
while Early and Forno formed a general reserve. This force numbered
in all about 8000 men, and even the skirmishers, thrown out well to
the front, were concealed by the undulations of the ground.

The Federal division commanded by General King, although unprovided
with cavalry and quite unsupported, was no unworthy enemy. It was
composed of four brigades of infantry, led by excellent officers, and
accompanied by four batteries. The total strength was 10,000 men. The
absence of horsemen, however, placed the Northerners at a
disadvantage from the outset.

The leading brigade was within a mile of Groveton, a hamlet of a few
houses at the foot of a long descent, and the advanced guard,
deployed as skirmishers, was searching the woods in front. On the
road in rear, with the batteries between the columns, came the three
remaining brigades--Gibbon's, Doubleday's, and Patrick's--in the
order named.

The wood in which the Confederates were drawn up was near a mile from
the highway, on a commanding ridge, overlooking a broad expanse of
open ground, which fell gently in successive undulations to the road.
The Federals were marching in absolute unconsciousness that the
enemy, whom the last reports had placed at Manassas, far away to the
right, was close at hand. No flank-guards had been thrown out.
General King was at Gainesville, sick, and a regimental band had just

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