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

Part 12 out of 19

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struck up a merry quickstep. On the open fields to the left, bathed
in sunshine, there was not a sign of life. The whitewashed cottages,
surrounded by green orchards, which stood upon the slopes, were
lonely and untenanted, and on the edge of the distant wood, still and
drooping in the heat, was neither stir nor motion. The troops trudged
steadily forward through the dust; regiment after regiment
disappeared in the deep copse which stands west of Groveton, and far
to the rear the road was still crowded with men and guns. Jackson's
time had come.

Two Confederate batteries, trotting forward from the wood, deployed
upon the ridge. The range was soon found, and the effect was
instantaneous. But the confusion in the Northern ranks was soon
checked; the troops found cover inside the bank which lined the road,
and two batteries, one with the advanced guard and one from the
centre of the column, wheeling into the fields to the left, came
quickly into action. About the same moment Bradley Johnson became
engaged with the skirmishers near Groveton.

The Confederate infantry, still hidden by the rolling ground, was
forming for attack, when a Federal brigade, led by General Gibbon,
rapidly deploying on the slopes, moved forward against the guns. It
was Stuart's horse-artillery, so the Northerners believed, which had
fired on the column, and a bold attack would soon drive back the
cavalry. But as Gibbon's regiments came forward the Southern
skirmishers, lying in front of the batteries, sprang to their feet
and opened with rapid volleys; and then the grey line of battle,
rising suddenly into view, bore down upon the astonished foe.
Taliaferro, on the right, seized a small farmhouse near Gainesville,
and occupied the orchard; the Stonewall Brigade advanced upon his
left, and Lawton and Trimble prolonged the front towards the Douglass
House. But the Western farmers of Gibbon's brigade were made of
stubborn stuff. The Wisconsin regiments held their ground with
unflinching courage. Both flanks were protected by artillery, and
strong reinforcements were coming up. The advanced guard was
gradually falling back from Groveton; the rear brigades were hurrying
forward up the road. The two Confederate batteries, overpowered by
superior metal, had been compelled to shift position; only a section
of Stuart's horse-artillery under Captain Pelham had come to their
assistance, and the battle was confined to a frontal attack at the
closest range. In many places the lines approached within a hundred
yards, the men standing in the open and blazing fiercely in each
other's faces. Here and there, as fresh regiments came up on either
side, the grey or the blue gave way for a few short paces; but the
gaps were quickly filled, and the wave once more surged forward over
the piles of dead. Men fell like leaves in autumn. Ewell was struck
down and Taliaferro, and many of their field officers, and still the
Federals held their ground. Night was settling on the field, and
although the gallant Pelham, the boy soldier, brought a gun into
action within seventy paces of Gibbon's line, yet the front of fire,
flashing redly through the gloom, neither receded nor advanced. A
flank attack on either side would have turned the scale, but the
fight was destined to end as it had begun. The Federal commander,
ignorant of the enemy's strength, and reaching the field when the
fight was hottest, was reluctant to engage his last reserves. Jackson
had ordered Early and Forno, moving through the wood west of the
Douglass House, to turn the enemy's right; but within the thickets
ran the deep cuttings and high embankments of the unfinished
railroad; and the regiments, bewildered in the darkness, were unable
to advance. Meanwhile the fight to the front had gradually died away.
The Federals, outflanked upon the left, and far outnumbered, had
slowly retreated to the road. The Confederates had been too roughly
handled to pursue.

The reports of the engagement at Groveton are singularly meagre.
Preceded and followed by events of still greater moment, it never
attracted the attention it deserved. On the side of the Union 2800
men were engaged, on the side of the Southerners 4500, and for more
than an hour and a half the lines of infantry were engaged at the
very closest quarters. The rifled guns of the Federals undoubtedly
gave them a marked advantage. But the men who faced each other that
August evening fought with a gallantry that has seldom been
surpassed. The Federals, surprised and unsupported, bore away the
honours. The Western brigade, commanded by General Gibbon, displayed
a coolness and a steadfastness worthy of the soldiers of Albuera. Out
of 2000 men the four Wisconsin and Indiana regiments lost 750, and
were still unconquered. The three regiments which supported them,
although it was their first battle, lost nearly half their number,
and the casualties must have reached a total of 1100. The Confederate
losses were even greater. Ewell, who was shot down in the first line,
and lay long on the field, lost 725 out of 3000. The Stonewall
Brigade, which had by this time dwindled to 600 muskets, lost over
200, including five field officers; the 21st Georgia, of Trimble's
brigade, 178 men out of 242; and it is probable that the Valley army
on this day was diminished by more than 1200 stout soldiers. The fall
of Ewell was a terrible disaster. Zealous and indefatigable, a stern
fighter and beloved by his men, he was the most able and the most
loyal of Jackson's generals. Taliaferro, peculiarly acceptable to his
Virginia regiments as a Virginian himself, had risen from the rank of
colonel to the command of a division, and his spurs had been well
won. The battle of Groveton left gaps in Jackson's ranks which it was
hard to fill, and although the men might well feel proud of their
stubborn fight, they could hardly boast of a brilliant victory.

Strategically, however, the engagement was decisive. Jackson had
brought on the fight with the view of drawing the whole Federal army
on himself, and he was completely successful. The centre, marching on
the Stone Bridge from Manassas Junction, heard the thunder of the
cannon and turned westward; and before nightfall A.P. Hill's
artillery became engaged with Sigel's advanced guard. Pope himself,
who received the intelligence of the engagement at 9.20 P.M.,
immediately issued orders for an attack on Jackson the next morning,
in which the troops who had already reached Centreville were to take
part. "McDowell," ran the order, "has intercepted the retreat of the
enemy, Sigel is immediately in his front, and I see no possibility of
his escape."

But Pope, full of the idea that Jackson had been stopped in
attempting to retreat through Thoroughfare Gap, altogether
misunderstood the situation. He was badly informed. He did not know
even the position of his own troops. His divisions, scattered over a
wide extent of country, harassed by Stuart's cavalry, and ignorant of
the topography, had lost all touch with the Commander-in-Chief.
Important dispatches had been captured. Messages and orders were slow
in arriving, if they arrived at all. Even the generals were at a loss
to find either the Commander-in-Chief or the right road. McDowell had
ridden from Gainesville to Manassas in order to consult with Pope,
but Pope had gone to Centreville. McDowell thereupon set out to
rejoin his troops, but lost his way in the forest and went back to
Manassas. From Ricketts Pope received no information whatever.* (*
Ricketts' report would have been transmitted through McDowell, under
whose command he was, and as McDowell was not to be found, it
naturally went astray.) He was not aware that after a long skirmish
at Thoroughfare Gap, Longstreet had opened the pass by sending his
brigades over the mountains on either hand, threatening both flanks
of the Federals, and compelling them to retire. He was not aware that
King's division, so far from intercepting Jackson's retreat, had
abandoned the field of Groveton at 1 A.M., and, finding its position
untenable in face of superior numbers, had fallen back on Manassas;
or that Ricketts, who had by this time reached Gainesville, had in
consequence continued his retreat in the same direction.

Seldom have the baneful effects of dispersion been more strikingly
illustrated, and the difficulty, under such circumstances, of keeping
the troops in the hand of the Commander-in-Chief. On the morning of
the 28th Pope had ordered his army to march in three columns on
Manassas, one column starting from Warrenton Junction, one from
Greenwich, and one from Buckland Mills, the roads which they were to
follow being at their furthest point no more than seven miles apart.
And yet at dawn on the 29th he was absolutely ignorant of the
whereabouts of McDowell's army corps; he was but vaguely informed of
what had happened during the day; and while part of his army was at
Bald Hill, another part was at Centreville, seven miles north-east,
and a third at Manassas and at Bristoe, from seven to twelve miles
south-east. Nor could the staff be held to blame for the absence of
communication between the columns. In peace it is an easy matter to
assume that a message sent to a destination seven miles distant by a
highroad or even country lanes arrives in good time. Seven miles in
peace are very short. In war, in the neighbourhood of the enemy, they
are very long. In peace, roads are easy to find. In war, it is the
exception that they are found, even when messengers are provided with
good maps and the country is thickly populated; and it is from war
that the soldier's trade is to be learned.

Jackson's army corps bivouacked in the position they had held when
the fierce musketry of Groveton died away. It was not till long after
daybreak on the 29th that his cavalry patrols discovered that King's
troops had disappeared, and that Longstreet's advanced guard was
already through Thoroughfare Gap. Nor was it till the sun was high
that Lee learned the events of the previous evening, and these threw
only a faint light on the general situation. But had either the
Commander-in-Chief or his lieutenant, on the night of the 28th, known
the true state of affairs, they would have had reason to congratulate
themselves on the success of the plan which had been hatched on the
Rappahannock. They had anticipated that should Jackson's movement on
Manassas prove successful, Pope would not only fall back, but that he
would fall back in all the confusion which arises from a hastily
conceived plan and hastily executed manoeuvres. They had expected
that in his hurried retreat his army corps would lose touch and
cohesion; that divisions would become isolated; that the care of his
impedimenta, suddenly turned in a new direction, would embarrass
every movement; and that the general himself would become demoralised.

The orders and counter-orders, the marches and counter-marches of
August 28, and the consequent dispersion of the Federal army, are
sufficient in themselves to prove the deep insight into war possessed
by the Confederate leaders.

Nevertheless, the risk bred of separation which, in order to achieve
great results, they had deliberately accepted had not yet passed
away. Longstreet had indeed cleared the pass, and the Federals who
guarded it had retreated; but the main body of the Confederate army
had still twelve miles to march before it could reach Jackson, and
Jackson was confronted by superior numbers. On the plateau of Bull
Run, little more than two miles from the field of Groveton, were
encamped over 20,000 Federals, with the main number at Manassas. At
Centreville, a seven miles' march, were 18,000; and at Bristoe
Station, about the same distance, 11,000.

It was thus possible for Pope to hurl a superior force against
Jackson before Lee could intervene; and although it would have been
sounder strategy, on the part of the Federal commander, to have
concentrated towards Centreville, and have there awaited
reinforcements, now fast coming up, he had some reason for believing
that he might still, unaided, deal with the enemy in detail. The high
virtue of patience was not his. Ambition, anxiety to retrieve his
reputation, already blemished by his enforced retreat, the thought
that he might be superseded by McClellan, whose operations in the
Peninsula he had contemptuously criticised, all urged him forward. An
unsuccessful general who feels instinctively that his command is
slipping from him, and who sees in victory the only hope of retaining
it, seldom listens to the voice of prudence.

August 29.

So on the morning of the 29th Jackson had to do with an enemy who had
resolved to overwhelm him by weight of numbers. Nor could he expect
immediate help. The Federal cavalry still stood between Stuart and
Thoroughfare Gap, and not only was Jackson unaware that Longstreet
had broken through, but he was unaware whether he could break
through. In any case, it would be several hours before he could
receive support, and for that space of time his three divisions, worn
with long marching and the fierce fight of the previous evening,
would have to hold their own unaided. The outlook, to all appearance,
was anything but bright. But on the opposite hills, where the
Federals were now forming in line of battle, the Valley soldiers had
already given proof of their stubborn qualities on the defensive. The
sight of their baptismal battle-field and the memories of Bull Run
must have gone far to nerve the hearts of the Stonewall regiments,
and in preparing once more to justify their proud title the troops
were aided by their leader's quick eye for a position. While it was
still dark the divisions which had been engaged at Groveton took
ground to their left, and passing north of the hamlet, deployed on
the right of A.P. Hill. The long, flat-topped ridge, covered with
scattered copses and rough undergrowth, which stands north of the
Warrenton-Centreville road, commands the approaches from the south
and east, and some five hundred yards below the crest ran the
unfinished railroad.

Behind the deep cuttings and high embankments the Confederate
fighting-line was strongly placed. The left, lightly thrown back,
rested on a rocky spur near Bull Run, commanding Sudley Springs Ford
and the road to Aldie Gap. The front extended for a mile and
three-quarters south-west. Early, with two brigades and a battery,
occupied a wooded knoll where the unfinished railroad crosses the
highroad, protecting the right rear, and stretching a hand to
The infantry and artillery were thus disposed:--


Left.--A.P. Hill's Division. First and Second line: Three brigades.
(Field, Thomas, Gregg.) Third line: Three brigades. (Branch, Pender,

Centre.--Two brigades of Ewell's Division (now commanded by Lawton).
(Trimble's and Lawton's.)

Right.--Taliaferro's Division (now commanded by Stark). First and
Second line: Two brigades. Third line: Two brigades.

Force detached on the right: Two brigades of Ewell's Division (Early
and Forno), and one battery.


16 guns behind the left, 24 guns behind the right centre: On the
ridge, five hundred yards in rear of the fighting-line.

The flanks were secured by Stuart. A portion of the cavalry was
placed at Haymarket to communicate as soon as possible with
Longstreet. A regiment was pushed out towards Manassas, and on the
left bank of Bull Run Fitzhugh Lee's brigade watched the approaches
from Centreville and the north. Jackson's strength, deducting the
losses of the previous day, and the numerous stragglers left behind
during his forced marches, can hardly have exceeded 18,000 muskets,
supported by 40 guns, all that there was room for, and some 2500
cavalry. These numbers, however, were ample for the defence of the
position which had been selected. Excluding the detached force on the
extreme right, the line occupied was three thousand yards in length,
and to every yard of this line there were more than five muskets, so
that half the force could be retained in third line or reserve. The
position was thus strongly held and strong by nature. The embankments
formed stout parapets, the cuttings deep ditches.

Before the right and the right centre the green pastures, shorn for
thirteen hundred yards of all obstacles save a few solitary cottages,
sloped almost imperceptibly to the brook which is called Young's
Branch. The left centre and left, however, were shut in by a belt of
timber, from four hundred to six hundred yards in width, which we may
call the Groveton wood. This belt closed in upon, and at one point
crossed, the railroad, and, as regards the field of fire, it was the
weakest point. In another respect, however, it was the strongest, for
the defenders were screened by the trees from the enemy's artillery.
The rocky hill on the left, facing north-east, was a point of
vantage, for an open corn-field lay between it and Bull Run. Within
the position, behind the copses and undulations, there was ample
cover for all troops not employed on the fighting-line; and from the
ridge in rear the general could view the field from commanding ground.

5.15 A.M.

Shortly after 5 A.M., while the Confederates were still taking up
their positions, the Federal columns were seen moving down the
heights near the Henry House. Jackson had ridden round his lines, and
ordering Early to throw forward two regiments east of the turnpike,
had then moved to the great battery forming in rear of his right
centre. His orders had already been issued. The troops were merely to
hold their ground, no general counterstroke was intended, and the
divisional commanders were to confine themselves to repulsing the
attack. The time for a strong offensive return had not yet come.

The enemy advanced slowly in imposing masses. Shortly after seven
o'clock, hidden to some extent by the woods, four divisions of
infantry deployed in several lines at the foot of the Henry Hill, and
their skirmishers became engaged with the Confederate pickets. At the
same moment three batteries came into action on a rise north-east of
Groveton, opposite the Confederate centre, and Sigel, supported by
Reynolds, prepared to carry out his instructions, and hold Jackson
until the remainder of Pope's army should arrive upon the field. At
the end of July, Sigel's army corps had numbered 13,000 men. Allowing
for stragglers and for casualties on the Rappahannock, where it had
been several times engaged, it must still have mustered 11,000. It
was accompanied by ten batteries, and Reynolds' division was composed
of 8000 infantry and four batteries. The attack was thus no stronger
than the defence, and as the Federal artillery positions were
restricted by the woods, there could be little doubt of the result.
In other respects, moreover, the combatants were not evenly matched.
Reynolds' Pennsylvanians were fine troops, already seasoned in the
battles on the Peninsula, and commanded by such officers as Meade and
Seymour. But Sigel, who had been an officer in the Baden army, had
succeeded Fremont, and his corps was composed of those same Germans
whom Ewell had used so hardly at Cross Keys. Many of them were old
soldiers, who had borne arms in Europe; but the stern discipline and
trained officers of conscript armies were lacking in America, and the
Confederate volunteers had little respect for these foreign levies.
Nor were Sigel's dispositions a brilliant example of offensive
tactics. His three divisions, Schurz', Schenck's, and Steinwehr's,
supported by Milroy's independent brigade, advanced to the attack
along a wide front. Schurz, with two brigades, moving into the
Groveton wood, assailed the Confederate left, while Milroy and
Schenck advanced over the open meadows which lay in front of the
right. Steinwehr was in reserve, and Reynolds, somewhat to the rear,
moved forward on the extreme left. The line was more than two miles
long; the artillery, hampered by the ground, could render but small
assistance; and at no single point were the troops disposed in
sufficient depth to break through the front of the defence. The
attack, too, was piecemeal. Advancing through the wood, Schurz'
division was at once met by a sharp counterstroke, delivered by the
left brigade (Gregg's South Carolina) of A.P. Hill's division, which
drove the two Federal brigades apart. Reinforcements were sent in by
Milroy, who had been checked on the open ground by the heavy fire of
Jackson's guns, and the Germans rallied; but, after some hard
fighting, a fresh counterstroke, in which Thomas' brigade took part,
drove them in disorder from the wood; and the South Carolinians,
following to the edge, poured heavy volleys into their retreating
masses. Schenck, meanwhile, deterred by the batteries on Jackson's
right, had remained inactive; the Federal artillery, such as had been
brought into action, had produced no effect; Reynolds, who had a
difficult march, had not yet come into action; and in order to
support the broken troops Schenck was now ordered to close in upon
the right. But the opportunity had already passed.

10.15 A.M.

It was now 10.30 A.M., and Jackson had long since learned that Lee
was near at hand. Longstreet's advanced guard had passed through
Gainesville, and the main body was closing up. Not only had time been
gained, but two brigades alone had proved sufficient to hold the
enemy at arm's length, and the rough counterstrokes had disconcerted
the order of attack. A fresh Federal force, however, was already
approaching. The troops from Centreville, comprising the divisions of
Hooker, Kearney, and Reno, 17,000 or 18,000 men, were hurrying over
the Stone Bridge; and a second and more vigorous attack was now to be
withstood. Sigel, too, was still capable of further effort. Bringing
up Steinwehr's division, and demanding reinforcements from Reno, he
threw his whole force against the Confederate front. Schenck,
however, still exposed to the fire of the massed artillery, was
unable to advance, and Milroy in the centre was hurled back. But
through the wood the attack was vigorously pressed, and the fight
raged fiercely at close quarters along the railway. Between Gregg's
and Thomas' brigades a gap of over a hundred yards, as the men closed
in upon the centre, had gradually opened. Opposite the gap was a deep
cutting, and the Federals, covered by the wood, massed here
unobserved in heavy force. Attack from this quarter was unexpected,
and for a moment Hill's first line was in jeopardy. Gregg, however,
had still a regiment in second line, and throwing it quickly forward
he drove the enemy across the railroad. Then Hill, bringing up Branch
from the third line, sent this fresh brigade to Gregg's support, and
cleared the front.

The Germans had now been finally disposed of. But although Longstreet
had arrived upon the ground, and was deploying in the woods on
Jackson's right, thus relieving Early, who at once marched to support
the centre, Jackson's men had not yet finished with the enemy. Pope
had now taken over command; and besides the troops from Centreville,
who had already reached the field, McDowell and Porter, with 27,000
men, were coming up from Manassas, and Reynolds had not yet been
engaged. But it is one thing to assemble large numbers on the
battle-field, another to give them the right direction.

In the direction of Gainesville high woods and rolling ridges had
concealed Longstreet's approach, and the Federal patrols had been
everywhere held in check by Stuart's squadrons. In ignorance,
therefore, that the whole Confederate army was concentrated before
him, Pope, anticipating an easy victory, determined to sweep Jackson
from the field. But it was first necessary to relieve Sigel.
Kearney's division had already deployed on the extreme right of the
Federal line, resting on Bull Run. Hooker was on the left of Kearney
and a brigade of Reno's on the left of Hooker. While Sigel assembled
his shattered forces, these 10,000 fresh troops, led by some of the
best officers of the Army of the Potomac, were ordered to advance
against A.P. Hill. Reynolds, under the impression that he was
fighting Jackson, was already in collision with Longstreet's
advanced-guard; and McDowell and Porter, marching along the railway
from Manassas, might be expected to strike the Confederate right rear
at any moment. It was then with good hope of victory that Pope rode
along his line and explained the situation to his generals.


1 P.M.

But the fresh attack was made with no better concert than those which
preceded it. Kearney, on the right, near Bull Run, was held at bay by
Jackson's guns, and Hooker and Reno advanced alone.

As the Federals moved forward the grey skirmishers fell back through
the Groveton wood, and scarcely had they reached the railroad before
the long blue lines came crashing through the undergrowth. Hill's
riflemen, lying down to load, and rising only to fire, poured in
their deadly volleys at point-blank range. The storm of bullets,
shredding leaves and twigs, stripped the trees of their verdure, and
the long dry grass, ignited by the powder sparks, burst into flames
between the opposing lines. But neither flames nor musketry availed
to stop Hooker's onset. Bayonets flashed through the smoke, and a
gallant rush placed the stormers on the embankment. The Confederates
reeled back in confusion, and men crowded round the colours to
protect them. But assistance was at hand. A fierce yell and a heavy
volley, and the regiments of the second line surged forward, driving
back the intruders, and closing the breach. Yet the Federal ranks
reformed; the wood rang with cheers, and a fresh brigade advanced to
the assault. Again the parapet was carried; again the Southern
bayonets cleared the front. Hooker's leading brigade, abandoning the
edge of the wood, had already given ground. Reno's regiments,
suffering fearful slaughter, with difficulty maintained their place;
and Hill, calling once more upon his reserves, sent in Pender to the
counterstroke. Passing by the right of Thomas, who, with Field, had
borne the brunt of the last attack, Pender crossed the railroad, and
charged into the wood. Many of the men in the fighting-line joined in
the onward movement. The Federals were borne back; the brigades in
rear were swept away by the tide of fugitives; the wood was cleared,
and a battery near by was deserted by the gunners.

Then Pender, received with a heavy artillery fire from the opposite
heights, moved boldly forward across the open. But the counterstroke
had been pushed too far. The line faltered; hostile infantry appeared
on either flank, and as the Confederates fell back to the railroad,
the enemy came forward in pursuit. Grover's brigade of Hooker's
division had hitherto been held in reserve, sheltered by a roll of
the land opposite that portion of the front which was held by Thomas.

3 P.M.

It was now directed to attack. "Move slowly forward," were the orders
which Grover gave to his command, "until the enemy opens fire. Then
advance rapidly, give them one volley, and then the bayonet." The
five regiments moved steadily through the wood in a single line. When
they reached the edge they saw immediately before them the red earth
of the embankment, at this point ten feet high and lined with
riflemen. There was a crash of fire, a swift rush through the rolling
smoke, and the Federals, crossing the parapet, swept all before them.
Hill's second line received them with a scattered fire, turned in
confusion, and fled back upon the guns. Then beckoned victory to him
who had held his reserves in hand. Jackson had seen the charge, and
Forno's Louisianians, with a regiment of Lawton's, had already been
sent forward with the bayonet.

In close order the counterstroke came on. The thinned ranks of the
Federals could oppose no resolute resistance. Fighting they fell
back, first to the embankment, where for a few moments they held
their own, and then to the wood. But without supports it was
impossible to rally. Johnson's and Starke's brigades swept down upon
their flank, the Louisianians, supported by Field and Archer, against
their front, and in twenty minutes, with a loss of one-fourth his
numbers, Grover in his turn was driven beyond the Warrenton turnpike.

Four divisions, Schurz', Steinwehr's, Hooker's, and Reno's, had been
hurled in succession against Jackson's front. Their losses had been
enormous. Grover's brigade had lost 461 out of 2000, of which one
regiment, 288 strong, accounted for 6 officers and 106 men; three
regiments of Reno's lost 530; and it is probable that more than 4000
men had fallen in the wood which lay in front of Hill's brigades.

The fighting, however, had not been without effect on the
Confederates. The charges to which they had been exposed, impetuous
as they were, were doubtless less trying than a sustained attack,
pressed on by continuous waves of fresh troops, and allowing the
defence no breathing space. Such steady pressure, always increasing
in strength, saps the morale more rapidly than a series of fierce
assaults, delivered at wide intervals of time. But such pressure
implies on the part of the assailant an accumulation of superior
force, and this accumulation the enemy's generals had not attempted
to provide. In none of the four attacks which had shivered against
Hill's front had the strength of the assailants been greater than
that of his own division; and to the tremendous weight of such a
stroke as had won the battles of Gaines' Mill or Cedar Run, to the
closely combined advance of overwhelming numbers, Jackson's men had
not yet been subjected.

The battle, nevertheless, had been fiercely contested, and the strain
of constant vigilance and close-range fighting had told on the Light
Division. The Federal skirmishers, boldly advancing as Pender's men
fell back, had once more filled the wood, and their venomous fire
allowed the defenders no leisure for repose.* (* "The Federal
sharpshooters at this time," says Colonel McCrady, of the Light
Division, "held possession of the wood, and kept up a deadly fire of
single shots whenever any one of us was exposed. Every lieutenant who
had to change position did so at the risk of his life. What was my
horror, during an interval in the attack, to see General Jackson
himself walking quickly down the railroad cut, examining our
position, and calmly looking into the wood that concealed the enemy!
Strange to say, he was not molested." Southern Historical Society
Papers volume 13 page 27.) Ammunition had already given out; many of
the men had but two or three cartridges remaining, and the volunteers
who ran the gauntlet to procure fresh supplies were many of them shot
down. Moreover, nine hours' fighting, much of it at close range, had
piled the corpses thick upon the railroad, and the ranks of Hill's
brigades were terribly attenuated. The second line had already been
brought up to fill the gaps, and every brigade had been heavily

4 P.M.

It was about four o'clock, and for a short space the pressure on the
Confederate lines relaxed. The continuous roar of the artillery
dwindled to a fitful cannonade; and along the edge of the wood,
drooping under the heat, where the foliage was white with the dust of
battle, the skirmishers let their rifles cool. But the Valley
soldiers knew that their respite would be short. The Federal masses
were still marching and counter-marching on the opposite hills; from
the forest beyond long columns streamed steadily to the front, and
near the Warrenton turnpike fresh batteries were coming into action.

Pope had ordered Kearney and Reno to make a fresh attack. The former,
one of the most dashing officers in the Federal army, disposed his
division in two lines. Reno, in the same formation, deployed upon
Kearney's right, and with their flank resting on Bull Run the five
brigades went forward to the charge. The Confederate batteries,
posted on the ridge in rear, swept the open ground along the stream;
but, regardless of their fire, the Federals came rapidly to close
quarters, and seized the railroad.

4.30 P.M.

When Hill saw this formidable storm bursting on his lines he felt
that the supreme moment had arrived. Would Gregg, on whose front the
division of Reno was bearing down, be able to hold his own? That
gallant soldier, although more than one half of his command lay dead
or wounded, replied, in answer to his chief's enquiry, that his
ammunition was almost expended, but that he had still the bayonet.
Nevertheless, the pressure was too heavy for his wearied troops. Foot
by foot they were forced back, and, at the same moment, Thomas,
Field, and Branch, still fighting desperately, were compelled to
yield their ground. Hill, anxiously looking for succour, had already
called on Early. The enemy, swarming across the railroad, had
penetrated to a point three hundred yards within the Confederate
position. But the grey line was not yet shattered. The men of the
Light Division, though borne backwards by the rush, still faced
towards the foe; and Early's brigade, supported by two regiments of
Lawton's division, advanced with levelled bayonets, drove through the
tumult, and opposed a solid line to the crowd of Federals.

Once more the fresh reserve, thrown in at the propitious moment,
swept back numbers far superior to itself. Once more order prevailed
over disorder, and the cold steel asserted its supremacy. The
strength of the assailants was already spent. The wave receded more
swiftly than it had risen, and through the copses and across the
railroad the Confederates drove their exhausted foe. General Hill had
instructed Early that he was not to pass beyond the original front;
but it was impossible to restrain the troops, and not till they had
advanced several hundred yards was the brigade halted and brought

5.15 P.M.

The counterstroke was as completely successful as those that had
preceded it. Early's losses were comparatively slight, those
inflicted on the enemy very heavy, and Hill's brigades were finally
relieved. Pope abandoned all further efforts to crush Jackson. Five
assaults had failed. 30,000 infantry had charged in vain through the
fatal wood; and of the 8000 Federal casualties reported on this day,
by far the larger proportion was due to the deadly fire and dashing
counterstrokes of Jackson's infantry.

While Pope was hurling division after division against the
Confederate left, Lee, with Longstreet at his side, observed the
conflict from Stuart's Hill, the wooded eminence which stands
south-west of Groveton. On this wing, though a mile distant from
Jackson's battle, both Federals and Confederates were in force. At
least one half of Pope's army had gradually assembled on this flank.
Here were Reynolds and McDowell, and on the Manassas road stood two
divisions under Porter.

Within the woods on Stuart's Hill, with the cavalry on his flank,
Longstreet had deployed his whole force, with the exception of
Anderson, who had not yet passed Thoroughfare Gap. But although both
Pope and Lee were anxious to engage, neither could bring their
subordinates to the point. Pope had sent vague instructions to Porter
and McDowell, and when at Length he had substituted a definite order
it was not only late in arriving, but the generals found that it was
based on an absolutely incorrect view of the situation. The Federal
commander had no knowledge that Longstreet, with 25,000 men, was
already in position beyond his left. So close lay the Confederates
that under the impression that Stuart's Hill was still untenanted, he
desired Porter to move across it and envelop Jackson's right. Porter,
suspecting that the main body of the Southern army was before him,
declined to risk his 10,000 men until he had reported the true state
of affairs. A peremptory reply to attack at once was received at
6.30, but it was then too late to intervene.

Nor had Lee been more successful in developing a counterstroke.
Longstreet, with a complacency it is difficult to understand, has
related how he opposed the wishes of the Commander-in-Chief. Three
times Lee urged him forward. The first time he rode to the front to
reconnoitre, and found that the position, in his own words, was not
inviting. Again Lee insisted that the enemy's left might be turned.
While the question was under discussion, a heavy force (Porter and
McDowell) was reported advancing from Manassas Junction. No attack
followed, however, and Lee repeated his instructions. Longstreet was
still unwilling. A large portion of the Federal force on the Manassas
road now marched northward to join Pope, and Lee, for the last time,
bade Longstreet attack towards Groveton. "I suggested," says the
latter, "that the day being far spent, it might be as well to advance
before night on a forced reconnaissance, get our troops into the most
favourable positions, and have all things ready for battle the next
morning." To this General Lee reluctantly gave consent, and orders
were given for an advance to be pursued under cover of night, until
the main position could be carefully examined. It so happened that an
order to advance was issued on the other side at the same time, so
that the encounter was something of a surprise on both sides.* (*
Battles and Leaders volume 2 page 519.) Hood, with his two Texan
brigades, led the Confederates, and King's division, now commanded by
Hatch, met him on the slopes of Stuart's Hill. Although the Federals,
since 1 A.M. the same morning, had marched to Manassas and back
again, the fight was spirited. Hood, however, was strongly supported,
and the Texans pushed forward a mile and a half in front of the
position they had held since noon. Longstreet had now full leisure to
make his reconnaissance. The ground to which the enemy had retreated
was very strong. He believed it strongly manned, and an hour after
midnight Hood's brigades were ordered to withdraw.

The firing, even of the skirmishers, had long since died away on the
opposite flank. The battle was over, and the Valley army had been
once more victorious. But when Jackson's staff gathered round him in
the bivouac, "their triumph," says Dabney, "bore a solemn hue." Their
great task had been accomplished, and Pope's army, harassed,
starving, and bewildered, had been brought to bay. But their energies
were worn down. The incessant marching, by day and night, the
suspense of the past week, the fierce strife of the day that had just
closed, pressed heavily on the whole force. Many of the bravest were
gone. Trimble, that stout soldier, was severely wounded, Field and
Forno had fallen, and in Gregg's brigade alone 40 officers were dead
or wounded. Doctor McGuire, fresh from the ghastly spectacle of the
silent battle-field, said, "General, this day has been won by nothing
but stark and stern fighting." "No," replied Jackson, very quietly,
"it has been won by nothing but the blessing and protection of
Providence." And in this attitude of acknowledgment general and
soldiers were as one. When the pickets had been posted, and night had
fallen on the forest, officers and men, gathered together round their
chaplains, made such preparations for the morrow's battle as did the
host of King Harry on the eve of Agincourt.


Students of war will note with interest the tactical details of the
passage of the Rappahannock by the Army of Northern Virginia.

August 21.


In position behind the river from Kelly's Ford to Freeman's Ford.
Tete de pont covering the railway bridge, occupied by a brigade.


Longstreet to Kelly's Ford.
Jackson to Beverley Ford.
Stuart to above Beverley Ford.

Constant skirmishing and artillery fire.

August 22.


In position from Kelly's Ford to Freeman's Ford.
Bayard's cavalry brigade on right flank.
Buford's cavalry brigade at Rappahannock Station.


Jackson to Sulphur Springs. Early crosses the river.
Longstreet to Beverley Ford and railway.

Constant skirmishing and artillery fire.

August 23.


Pope abandons tete de pont and burns railway bridge.
Sigel moves against Early, but his advance is repulsed.
Army to a position about Warrenton, with detachments along the river,
and a strong force at Kelly's Ford.


Early moves north to Great Run, and is reinforced by Lawton.
Stuart to Catlett's Station.
Longstreet demonstrates against railway bridge.

August 24.


Buford's and Bayard's cavalry to Waterloo.
Army to Waterloo and Sulphur Springs.


Jackson in the evening retires to Jefferson, and is relieved after
dark opposite Sulphur Springs and Waterloo by Longstreet.
Anderson relieves Longstreet on the railway.

Constant skirmishing and artillery fire all along the line.

August 25.


Pope extends his left down the river to Kelly's Ford, determining to
receive attack at Warrenton should the Confederates cross.


Jackson moves north and crosses the river at Hinson's Mills.
Longstreet demonstrates at Waterloo, and Anderson at the Sulphur

August 26.


A reconnaissance in force, owing to bad staff arrangements, comes to
nothing. At nightfall the whole army is ordered to concentrate at


2 A.M. Stuart follows Jackson.
Late in the afternoon, Longstreet, having been relieved by Anderson,
marches to Hinson's Mills.
Jackson captures Manassas Junction.

Skirmishing all day along the Rappahannock.

August 27.


7 A.M. Hooker's division from Warrenton Junction to Bristoe Station.
8.30 A.M. Army ordered to concentrate at Gainesville, Buckland Mills,
and Greenwich. Porter and Banks at Warrenton Junction.
3 P.M. Action at Bristoe Station.
6.30 P.M. Pope arrives at Bristoe Station.
Army ordered to march to Manassas Junction at dawn.


Jackson at Manassas Junction.
Longstreet to White Plains.


During the night of August 30 the long line of camp-fires on the
heights above Bull Run, and the frequent skirmishes along the picket
line, told General Lee that his enemy had no intention of falling
back behind the stream. And when morning broke the Federal troops
were observed upon every ridge.

August 30.

The Confederate leader, eager as he had been to force the battle to
an issue on the previous afternoon, had now abandoned all idea of
attack. The respite which the enemy had gained might have altogether
changed the situation. It was possible that the Federals had been
largely reinforced. Pope and McClellan had been given time, and the
hours of the night might have been utilised to bring up the remainder
of the Army of the Potomac. Lee resolved, therefore, to await events.
The Federal position was strong; their masses were well concentrated;
there was ample space, on the ridges beyond Young's Branch, for the
deployment of their numerous artillery, and it would be difficult to
outflank them. Moreover, a contingent of fresh troops from Richmond,
the divisions of D.H. Hill, McLaws, and Walker, together with
Hampton's brigade of cavalry, and part of the reserve artillery,
20,350 men in all, had crossed the Rappahannock.*

(* D.H. Hill 7000
McLaws 6850
Walker 4000
Hampton 1500
Artillery 1000
Total: 20,350

Until this force should join him he determined to postpone further
manoeuvres, and to rest his army. But he was not without hope that
Pope might assume the initiative and move down from the heights on
which his columns were already forming. Aware of the sanguine and
impatient temper of his adversary, confident in the morale of his
troops, and in the strength of his position, he foresaw that an
opportunity might offer for an overwhelming counterstroke.


Meanwhile, the Confederate divisions, still hidden in the woods, lay
quietly on their arms. Few changes were made in the dispositions of
the previous day. Jackson, despite his losses, had made no demand for
reinforcements; and the only direct support afforded him was a
battery of eighteen guns, drawn from the battalion of Colonel S.D.
Lee, and established on the high ground west of the Douglass House,
at right angles to his line of battle. These guns, pointing
north-east, overlooked the wide tract of undulating meadow which lay
in front of the Stonewall and Lawton's divisions, and they commanded
a field of fire over a mile long. The left of the battery was not far
distant from the guns on Jackson's right, and the whole of the open
space was thus exposed to the cross-fire of a formidable artillery.

To the right of the batteries, Stuart's Hill was strongly occupied by
Longstreet, with Anderson's division as general reserve; and this
wing of the Confederate army was gradually wheeled up, but always
under cover, until it was almost perpendicular to the line of the
unfinished railroad. The strength of Lee's army at the battle of
Manassas was hardly more than 50,000 of all arms. Jackson's command
had been reduced by battle and forced marches to 17,000 men.
Longstreet mustered 30,000, and the cavalry 2500.

(* Hood's Texans had a hymn which graphically expressed this truism:--

"The race is not to him that's got
The longest legs to run,
Nor the battle to those people
That shoot the biggest gun.")

But numbers are of less importance than the confidence of the men in
their ability to conquer,* and the spirit of the Confederates had
been raised to the highest pitch. The keen critics in Longstreet's
ranks, although they had taken no part in the Manassas raid, or in
the battles of August 28 and 29, fully appreciated the daring
strategy which had brought them within two short marches of
Washington. The junction of the two wings, in the very presence of
the enemy, after many days of separation, was a manoeuvre after their
own hearts. The passage of Thoroughfare Gap revealed the difficulties
which had attended the operations, and the manner in which the enemy
had been outwitted appealed with peculiar force to their quick
intelligence. Their trust in Lee was higher than ever; and the story
of Jackson's march, of the capture of Manassas, of the repulse of
Pope's army, if it increased their contempt for the enemy, inspired
them with an enthusiastic determination to emulate the achievements
of their comrades. The soldiers of the Valley army, who, unaided by a
single bayonet, had withstood the five successive assaults which had
been launched against their position, were supremely indifferent, now
Longstreet was in line, to whatever the enemy might attempt. It was
noticed that notwithstanding the heavy losses they had experienced
Jackson's troops were never more light-hearted than on the morning of
August 30. Cartridge-boxes had been replenished, rations had been
issued, and for several hours the men had been called on neither to
march nor fight. As they lay in the woods, and the pickets, firing on
the enemy's patrols, kept up a constant skirmish to the front, the
laugh and jest ran down the ranks, and the unfortunate Pope, who had
only seen "the backs of his enemies," served as whetstone for their

By the troops who had revelled in the spoils of Winchester Banks had
been dubbed "Old Jack's Commissary General." By universal
acclamation, after the Manassas foray, Pope was promoted to the same
distinction; and had it been possible to penetrate to the Federal
headquarters, the mirth of those ragged privates would hardly have
diminished. Pope was in an excellent humour, conversing affably with
his staff, and viewing with pride the martial aspect of his massed
divisions. Nearly his whole force was concentrated on the hills
around him, and Porter, who had been called up from the Manassas
road, was already marching northwards through the woods.

10.15 P.M.

Banks still was absent at Bristoe Station, in charge of the trains
and stores which had been removed from Warrenton; but, shortly after
ten o'clock, 65,000 men, with eight-and-twenty batteries, were at
Pope's disposal. He had determined to give battle, although Franklin
and Sumner, who had already reached Alexandria, had not yet joined
him; and he anticipated an easy triumph. He was labouring, however,
under an extraordinary delusion. The retreat of Hood's brigades the
preceding night, after their reconnaissance, had induced him to
believe that Jackson had been defeated, and he had reported to
Halleck at daybreak; "We fought a terrific battle here yesterday with
the combined forces of the enemy, which lasted with continuous fury
from daylight until dark, by which time the enemy was driven from the
field, which we now occupy. The enemy is still in our front, but
badly used up. We lost not less than 8000 men killed and wounded, but
from the appearance of the field the enemy lost at least two to one.
The news has just reached me from the front that the enemy is
retreating towards the mountains."

If, in these days of long-range weapons, Napoleon's dictum still
stands good, that the general who is ignorant of his enemy's strength
and dispositions is ignorant of his trade, then of all generals Pope
was surely the most incompetent. At ten o'clock on the morning of
August 30, and for many months afterwards, despite his statement that
he had fought "the combined forces of the enemy" on the previous day,
he was still under the impression, so skilfully were the Confederate
troops concealed, that Longstreet had not yet joined Jackson, and
that the latter was gradually falling back on Thoroughfare Gap. His
patrols had reported that the enemy's cavalry had been withdrawn from
the left bank of Bull Run. A small reconnaissance in force, sent to
test Jackson's strength, had ascertained that the extreme left was
not so far forward as it had been yesterday; while two of the Federal
generals, reconnoitring beyond the turnpike, observed only a few
skirmishers. On these negative reports Pope based his decision to
seize the ridge which was held by Jackson. Yet the woods along the
unfinished railroad had not been examined, and the information from
other sources was of a different colour and more positive. Buford's
cavalry had reported on the evening of the 29th that a large force
had passed through Thoroughfare Gap. Porter declared that the enemy
was in great strength on the Manassas road. Reynolds, who had been in
close contact with Longstreet since the previous afternoon, reported
that Stuart's Hill was strongly occupied. Ricketts, moreover, who had
fought Longstreet for many hours at Thoroughfare Gap, was actually
present on the field. But Pope, who had made up his mind that the
enemy ought to retreat, and that therefore he must retreat, refused
credence to any report whatever which ran counter to these
preconceived ideas.

12 noon.

Without making the slightest attempt to verify, by personal
observation, the conclusions at which his subordinates had arrived,
at midday, to the dismay of his best officers, his army being now in
position, he issued orders for his troops to be "immediately thrown
forward in pursuit of the enemy, and to press him vigorously."

Porter and Reynolds formed the left of the Federal army. These
generals, alive to the necessity of examining the woods, deployed a
strong skirmish line before them as they formed for action. Further
evidence of Pope's hallucination was at once forthcoming. The moment
Reynolds moved forward against Stuart's Hill he found his front
overlapped by long lines of infantry, and, riding back, he informed
Pope that in so doing he had had to run the gauntlet of skirmishers
who threatened his rear. Porter, too, pushing his reconnaissance
across the meadows west of Groveton, drew the fire of several
batteries. But at this juncture, unfortunately for the Federals, a
Union prisoner, recaptured from Jackson, declared that he had "heard
the rebel officers say that their army was retiring to unite with
Longstreet." So positively did the indications before him contradict
this statement, that Porter, on sending the man to Pope, wrote: "In
duty bound I send him, but I regard him as either a fool or
designedly released to give a wrong impression. No faith should be
put in what he says." If Jackson employed this man to delude his
enemy, the ruse was eminently successful. Porter received the reply:
"General Pope believes that soldier, and directs you to attack;"
Reynolds was dismissed with a message that cavalry would be sent to
verify his report; and McDowell was ordered to put in the divisions
of Hatch and Ricketts on Porter's right.

During the whole morning the attention of the Confederates had been
directed to the Groveton wood. Beyond the timber rose the hill
north-east, and on this hill three or four Federal batteries had come
into action at an early hour, firing at intervals across the meadows.
The Confederate guns, save when the enemy's skirmishers approached
too close, hardly deigned to reply, reserving their ammunition for
warmer work. That such work was to come was hardly doubtful. Troops
had been constantly in motion near the hostile batteries, and the
thickets below were evidently full of men.

12.15 P.M.

Shortly after noon the enemy's skirmishers became aggressive,
swarming over the meadows, and into the wood which had seen such
heavy slaughter in the fight of yesterday. As Jackson's pickets,
extended over a wide front, gave slowly back, his guns opened in
earnest, and shell and shrapnel flew fast over the open space. The
strong force of skirmishers betrayed the presence of a line of battle
not far in rear, and ignoring the fire of the artillery, the
Confederate batteries concentrated on the covert behind which they
knew the enemy's masses were forming for attack. But, except the
pickets, not a single man of either the Stonewall or Lawton's
division was permitted to expose himself. A few companies held the
railroad, the remainder were carefully concealed. The storm was not
long in breaking. Jackson had just ridden along his lines, examining
with his own eyes the stir in the Groveton wood, when, in rear of the
skirmishers, advancing over the highroad, appeared the serried ranks
of the line of battle. 20,000 bayonets, on a front which extended
from Groveton to near Bull Run, swept forward against his front;
40,000, formed in dense masses on the slopes in rear, stood in
readiness to support them; and numerous batteries, coming into action
on every rising ground, covered the advance with a heavy fire.

Pope, standing on a knoll near the Stone House, saw victory within
his grasp. The Confederate guns had been pointed out to his troops as
the objective of the attack. Unsupported, as he believed, save by the
scattered groups of skirmishers who were already retreating to the
railroad, and assailed in front and flank, these batteries, he
expected, would soon be flying to the rear, and the Federal army, in
possession of the high ground, would then sweep down in heavy columns
towards Thoroughfare Gap. Suddenly his hopes fell. Porter's masses,
stretching far to right and left, had already passed the Dogan House;
Hatch was entering the Groveton wood; Ricketts was moving forward
along Bull Run, and the way seemed clear before them; when loud and
clear above the roar of the artillery rang out the Confederate
bugles, and along the whole length of the ridge beyond the railroad
long lines of infantry, streaming forward from the woods, ran down to
the embankment. "The effect," said an officer who witnessed this
unexpected apparition, "was not unlike flushing a covey of quails."

Instead of the small rear-guard which Pope had thought to crush by
sheer force of overwhelming numbers, the whole of the Stonewall
division, with Lawton on the left, stood across Porter's path.

Reynolds, south of the turnpike, and confronting Longstreet, was
immediately ordered to fall back and support the attack, and two
small brigades, Warren's and Alexander's, were left alone on the
Federal left. Pope had committed his last and his worst blunder.
Sigel with two divisions was in rear of Porter, and for Sigel's
assistance Porter had already asked. But Pope, still under the
delusion that Longstreet was not yet up, preferred rather to weaken
his left than grant the request of a subordinate.

Under such a leader the courage of the troops, however vehement, was
of no avail, and in Porter's attack the soldiers displayed a courage
to which the Confederates paid a willing tribute. Morell's division,
with the two brigades abreast, arrayed in three lines, advanced
across the meadows. Hatch's division, in still deeper formation,
pushed through the wood on Morell's right. Nearer Bull Run were two
brigades of Ricketts; and to Morell's left rear the division of
regulars moved forward under Sykes.

30th, 1862.)

Morell's attack was directed against Jackson's right. In the centre
of the Federal line a mounted officer, whose gallant bearing lived
long in the memories of the Stonewall division, rode out in front of
the column, and, drawing his sabre, led the advance over the rolling
grass-land. The Confederate batteries, with a terrible cross-fire,
swept the Northern ranks from end to end. The volley of the infantry,
lying behind their parapet, struck them full in face. But the horse
and his rider lived through it all. The men followed close, charging
swiftly up the slope, and then the leader, putting his horse straight
at the embankment, stood for a moment on the top. The daring feat was
seen by the whole Confederate line, and a yell went up from the men
along the railroad, "Don't kill him! don't kill him!" But while the
cry went up horse and rider fell in one limp mass across the
earthwork, and the gallant Northerner was dragged under shelter by
his generous foes.

With such men as this to show the way what soldiers would be
backward? As the Russians followed Skobeleff's grey up the bloody
slopes of Plevna, so the Federals followed the bright chestnut of
this unknown hero, and not till the colours waved within thirty paces
of the parapet did the charge falter. But, despite the supports that
came thronging up, Jackson's soldiers, covered by the earthwork,
opposed a resistance which no mere frontal attack could break. Three
times, as the lines in rear merged with the first, the Federal
officers brought their men forward to the assault, and three times
were they hurled back, leaving hundreds of their number dead and
wounded on the blood-soaked turf. One regiment of the Stonewall
division, posted in a copse beyond the railroad, was driven in; but
others, when cartridges failed them, had recourse, like the Guards at
Inkermann, to the stones which lay along the railway-bed; and with
these strange weapons, backed up by the bayonet, more than one
desperate effort was repulsed. In arresting Garnett after Kernstown,
because when his ammunition was exhausted he had abandoned his
position, Jackson had lost a good general, but he had taught his
soldiers a useful lesson. So long as the cold steel was left to them,
and their flanks were safe, they knew that their indomitable leader
expected them to hold their ground, and right gallantly they
responded. For over thirty minutes the battle raged along the front
at the closest range. Opposite a deep cutting the colours of a
Federal regiment, for nearly half an hour, rose and fell, as bearer
after bearer was shot down, within ten yards of the muzzles of the
Confederate rifles, and after the fight a hundred dead Northerners
were found where the flag had been so gallantly upheld.

Hill, meanwhile, was heavily engaged with Hatch. Every brigade, with
the exception of Gregg's, had been thrown into the fighting-line; and
so hardly were they pressed, that Jackson, turning to his signallers,
demanded reinforcements from his colleague. Longstreet, in response
to the call, ordered two more batteries to join Colonel Stephen Lee;
and Morell's division, penned in that deadly cockpit between Stuart's
Hill and the Groveton wood, shattered by musketry in front and by
artillery at short range in flank, fell back across the meadows.
Hatch soon followed suit, and Jackson's artillery, which during the
fight at close quarters had turned its fire on the supports, launched
a storm of shell on the defeated Federals. Some batteries were
ordered to change position so as to rake their lines; and the
Stonewall Division, reinforced by a brigade of Hill's, was sent
forward to the counter-attack. At every step the losses of the
Federals increased, and the shattered divisions, passing through two
regiments of regulars, which had been sent forward to support them,
sought shelter in the woods. Then Porter and Hatch, under cover of
their artillery, withdrew their infantry. Ricketts had fallen back
before his troops arrived within decisive range. Under the impression
that he was about to pursue a retreating enemy, he had found on
advancing, instead of a thin screen of skirmishers, a line of battle,
strongly established, and backed by batteries to which he was unable
to reply. Against such odds attack would only have increased the


It was after four o'clock. Three hours of daylight yet remained, time
enough still to secure a victory. But the Federal army was in no
condition to renew the attack. Worn with long marches, deprived of
their supplies, and oppressed by the consciousness that they were
ill-led, both officers and men had lost all confidence. Every single
division on the field had been engaged, and every single division had
been beaten back. For four days, according to General Pope, they had
been following a flying foe. "We were sent forward," reported a
regimental commander with quiet sarcasm, "to pursue the enemy, who
was said to be retreating; we found the enemy, but did not see them

Nor, had there been a larger reserve in hand, would a further advance
have been permitted. The Stonewall division, although Porter's
regiments were breaking up before its onset, had been ordered to fall
back before it became exposed to the full sweep of the Federal guns.
But the woods to the south, where Longstreet's divisions had been
lying for so many hours, were already alive with bayonets. The grey
skirmishers, extending far beyond Pope's left, were moving rapidly
down the slopes of Stuart's Hill, and the fire of the artillery,
massed on the ridge in rear, was increasing every moment in
intensity. The Federals, just now advancing in pursuit, were suddenly
thrown on the defensive; and the hand of a great captain snatched
control of the battle from the grasp of Pope.

As Porter reeled back from Jackson's front, Lee had seen his
opportunity. The whole army was ordered to advance to the attack.
Longstreet, prepared since dawn for the counterstroke, had moved
before the message reached him, and the exulting yells of his
soldiers were now resounding through the forest. Jackson was desired
to cover Longstreet's left; and sending Starke and Lawton across the
meadows, strewn with the bloody debris of Porter's onslaught, he
instructed Hill to advance en echelon with his left "refused."
Anticipating the order, the commander of the Light Division was
already sweeping through the Groveton wood.

The Federal gunners, striving valiantly to cover the retreat of their
shattered infantry, met the advance of the Southerners with a rapid
fire. Pope and McDowell exerted themselves to throw a strong force on
to the heights above Bull Run; and the two brigades upon the left,
Warren's and Alexander's, already overlapped, made a gallant effort
to gain time for the occupation of the new position.

But the counterstroke of Lee was not to be withstood by a few
regiments of infantry. The field of Bull Run had seen many examples
of the attack as executed by indifferent tacticians. At the first
battle isolated brigades had advanced at wide intervals of time. At
the second battle the Federals had assaulted by successive divisions.
Out of 50,000 infantry, no more than 20,000 had been simultaneously
engaged, and when a partial success had been achieved there were no
supports at hand to complete the victory. When the Confederates came
forward it was in other fashion; and those who had the wit to
understand were now to learn the difference between mediocrity and
genius, between the half-measures of the one and the resolution of
the other. Lee's order for the advance embraced his whole army. Every
regiment, every battery, and every squadron was employed. No reserves
save the artillery were retained upon the ridge, but wave after wave
of bayonets followed closely on the fighting-line. To drive the
attack forward by a quick succession of reinforcements, to push it
home by weight of numbers, to pile blow on blow, to keep the defender
occupied along his whole front, and to provide for retreat, should
retreat be necessary, not by throwing in fresh troops, but by leaving
the enemy so crippled that he would be powerless to pursue--such were
the tactics of the Confederate leader.

The field was still covered with Porter's and Hatch's disordered
masses when Lee's strong array advanced, and the sight was
magnificent. As far as the eye could reach the long grey lines of
infantry, with the crimson of the colours gleaming like blood in the
evening sun, swept with ordered ranks across the Groveton valley.
Batteries galloped furiously to the front; far away to the right
fluttered the guidons of Stuart's squadrons, and over all the massed
artillery maintained a tremendous fire. The men drew fresh vigour
from this powerful combination. The enthusiasm of the troops was as
intense as their excitement. With great difficulty, it is related,
were the gunners restrained from joining in the charge, and the
officers of the staff could scarcely resist the impulse to throw
themselves with their victorious comrades upon the retreating foe.

The advance was made in the following order:

Wilcox' division, north of the turnpike, connected with Jackson's
right. Then came Evans, facing the two brigades which formed the
Federal left, and extending across the turnpike. Behind Evans came
Anderson on the left and Kemper on the right. Then, in prolongation
of Kemper's line, but at some interval, marched the division of D.R.
Jones, flanked by Stuart's cavalry, and on the further wing,
extending towards Bull Run, were Starke, Lawton, and A.P. Hill.
50,000 men, including the cavalry, were thus deployed over a front of
four miles; each division was formed in at least two lines; and in
the centre, where Anderson and Kemper supported Evans, were no less
than eight brigades one in rear of the other.

The Federal advanced line, behind which the troops which had been
engaged in the last attack were slowly rallying, extended from the
Groveton wood to a low hill, south of the turnpike and east of the
village. This hill was quickly carried by Hood's brigade of Evans's
division. The two regiments which defended it, rapidly outflanked,
and assailed by overwhelming numbers, were routed with the loss of
nearly half their muster. Jackson's attack through the Groveton wood
was equally successful, but on the ridge in rear were posted the
regulars under Sykes; and, further east, on Buck Hill, had assembled
the remnants of four divisions.

Outflanked by the capture of the hill upon their left, and fiercely
assailed in front, Sykes's well-disciplined regiments, formed in
lines of columns and covered by a rear-guard of skirmishers, retired
steadily under the tremendous fire, preserving their formation, and
falling back slowly across Young's Branch. Then Jackson, reforming
his troops along the Sudley road, and swinging round to the left,
moved swiftly against Buck Hill. Here, in addition to the infantry,
were posted three Union batteries, and the artillery made a desperate
endeavour to stay the counterstroke.

But nothing could withstand the vehement charge of the Valley
soldiers. "They came on," says the correspondent of a Northern
journal, "like demons emerging from the earth." The crests of the
ridges blazed with musketry, and Hill's infantry, advancing in the
very teeth of the canister, captured six guns at the bayonet's point.
Once more Jackson reformed his lines; and, as twilight came down upon
the battle-field, from position after position, in the direction of
the Stone Bridge, the division of Stevens, Ricketts, Kearney, and
Hooker, were gradually pushed back.

On the Henry Hill, the key of the Federal position, a fierce conflict
was meanwhile raging. From the high ground to the south Longstreet
had driven back several brigades which, in support of the artillery,
Sigel and McDowell had massed upon Bald Hill. But this position had
not been occupied without a protracted struggle. Longstreet's first
line, advancing with over-impetuosity, had outstripped the second;
and before it could be supported was compelled to give ground under
the enemy's fire, one of the brigades losing 62 officers and 560 men.
Anderson and Kemper were then brought up; the flank of the defenders
was turned; a counterstroke was beaten back, ridge after ridge was
mastered, the edge of every wood was stormed; and as the sun set
behind the mountains Bald Hill was carried. During this fierce action
the division of D.R. Jones, leaving the Chinn House to the left, had
advanced against the Henry Hill.

6 P.M.

On the very ground which Jackson had held in his first battle the
best troops of the Federal army were rapidly assembling. Here were
Sykes' regulars and Reynolds' Pennsylvanians; where the woods
permitted batteries had been established; and Porter's Fifth Army
Corps, who at Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill had proved such stubborn
fighters, opposed a strong front once more to their persistent foes.

Despite the rapid fire of the artillery the Southerners swept forward
with unabated vigour. But as the attack was pressed the resistance of
the Federals grew more stubborn, and before long the Confederate
formation lost its strength. The lines in rear had been called up.
The assistance of the strong centre had been required to rout the
defenders of Bald Hill; and although Anderson and Wilcox pressed
forward on his left, Jones had not sufficient strength to storm the
enemy's last position. Moreover, the Confederate artillery had been
unable to follow the infantry over the broken ground; the cavalry,
confronted by Buford's squadrons and embarrassed by the woods, could
lend no active aid, and the Federals, defeated as they were, had not
yet lost all heart. Whatever their guns could do, in so close a
country, to relieve the infantry had been accomplished; and the
infantry, though continually outflanked, held together with
unflinching courage. Stragglers there were, and stragglers in such
large numbers that Bayard's cavalry brigade had been ordered to the
rear to drive them back; but the majority of the men, hardened by
months of discipline and constant battle, remained staunch to the
colours. The conviction that the battle was lost was no longer a
signal for "the thinking bayonets" to make certain of their
individual safety; and the regulars, for the second time on the same
field, provided a strong nucleus of resistance.

Thrown into the woods along the Sudley-Manassas road, five battalions
of the United States army held the extreme left, the most critical
point of the Federal line, until the second brigade relieved them. To
their right Meade and his Pennsylvanians held fast against Anderson
and Wilcox; and although six guns fell into the hands of the
Confederate infantry, and four of Longstreet's batteries, which had
accompanied the cavalry, were now raking their left, Pope's soldiers,
as twilight descended upon the field, redeemed as far as soldiers
could the errors of their general. Stuart, on the right flank of the
Confederate line, charged down the opposing cavalry* and crossed Bull
Run at Lewis' Ford; (* This was one of the most brilliant cavalry
fights of the war. Colonel Munford, of the 2nd Virginia, finding the
enemy advancing, formed line and charged, the impetuosity of the
attack carrying his regiment through the enemy's first line, with
whom his men were thoroughly intermingled in hand-to-hand conflict.
The Federals, however, who had advanced at a trot, in four successive
lines, were far superior in numbers; but the 7th and 12th Virginia
rapidly came up, and the charge of the 12th, constituting as it were
a last reserve, drove the enemy from the field. The Confederates lost
5 killed and 40 wounded. Munford himself, and the commander of the
First Michigan (Union) cavalry were both wounded by sabre-cuts, the
latter mortally. 300 Federals were taken prisoners, 19 killed, and 80
wounded. Sabre, carbine, and revolver were freely used.) but the dark
masses on the Henry Hill, increased every moment by troops ascending
from the valley, still held fast, with no hope indeed of victory, but
with a stern determination to maintain their ground. Had the hill
been lost, nothing could have saved Pope's army. The crest commanded
the crossings of Bull Run. The Stone Bridge, the main point of
passage, was not more than a mile northward, within the range of
artillery, and Jackson was already in possession of the Matthew Hill,
not fourteen hundred yards from the road by which the troops must
pass in their retreat.

7.30 P.M.

The night, however, put an end to the battle. Even the Valley
soldiers were constrained to halt. It was impossible in the obscurity
to distinguish friend from foe. The Confederate lines presented a
broken front, here pushed forward, and here drawn back; divisions,
brigades, and regiments had intermingled; and the thick woods,
intervening at frequent intervals, rendered combination
impracticable. During the darkness, which was accompanied by heavy
rain, the Federals quietly withdrew, leaving thousands of wounded on
the field, and morning found them in position on the heights of
Centreville, four miles beyond Bull Run.

Pope, with an audacity which disaster was powerless to tame, reported
to Halleck that, on the whole, the results of the battle were
favourable to the Federal army. "The enemy," he wrote, "largely
reinforced, assailed our position early to-day. We held our ground
firmly until 6 o'clock P.M., when the enemy, massing very heavy
forces on our left, forced that wing back about half a mile. At dark
we held that position. Under all the circumstances, with horses and
men having been two days without food, and the enemy greatly
outnumbering us, I thought it best to move back to this place at
dark. The movement has been made in perfect order and without loss.
The battle was most furious for hours without cessation, and the
losses on both sides very heavy. The enemy is badly whipped, and we
shall do well enough. Do not be uneasy. We will hold our own here."

Pope's actions, however, were invariably at variance with Pope's
words. At 6 P.M. he had ordered Franklin, who was approaching Bull
Run from Alexandria with 10,000 fresh troops, to occupy with his own
command and whatever other troops he could collect, the
fortifications round Centreville, and hold them "to the last
extremity." Banks, still at Bristoe Station, was told to destroy all
the supplies of which he was in charge, as well as the railway, and
to march on Centreville; while 30 guns and more than 2000 wounded
were left upon the field. Nor were Pope's anticipations as to the
future to be fulfilled. The position at Centrevile was strong. The
intrenchments constructed by the Confederates during the winter of
1861 were still standing. Halleck had forwarded supplies; there was
ammunition in abundance, and 20,000 infantry under Franklin and
Sumner--for the latter also had come up from Washington--more than
compensated for the casualties of the battle. But formidable
earthworks, against generals who dare manoeuvre, are often a mere
trap for the unwary.

August 31.

Before daylight Stuart and his troopers were in the saddle; and,
picking up many stragglers as they marched, came within range of the
guns at Centreville. Lee, accompanied by Jackson, having reconnoitred
the position, determined to move once more upon the Federal rear.
Longstreet remained on the battle-field to engage the attention of
the enemy and cover the removal of the wounded; while Jackson,
crossing not by the Stone Bridge, but by Sudley Ford, was entrusted
with the work of forcing Pope from his strong position.

The weather was inclement, the roads were quagmires, and the men were
in no condition to make forced marches. Yet before nightfall Jackson
had pushed ten miles through the mud, halting near Pleasant Valley,
on the Little River turnpike, five miles north-west of Centreville.
During the afternoon Longstreet, throwing a brigade across Bull Run
to keep the enemy on the qui vive, followed the same route. Of these
movements Pope received no warning, and Jackson's proclivity for
flank manoeuvres had evidently made no impression on him, for, in
blissful unconsciousness that his line of retreat was already
threatened, he ordered all waggons to be unloaded at Centreville, and
to return to Fairfax Station for forage and rations.

September 1.

But on the morning of September 1, although his whole army, including
Banks, was closely concentrated behind strong intrenchments, Pope had
conceived a suspicion that he would find it difficult to fulfil his
promise to Halleck that "he would hold on." The previous night Stuart
had been active towards his right and rear, capturing his
reconnoitring parties, and shelling his trains. Before noon suspicion
became certainty. Either stragglers or the country people reported
that Jackson was moving down the Little River turnpike, and
Centreville was at once evacuated, the troops marching to a new
position round Fairfax Court House.

Jackson, meanwhile, covered by the cavalry, was advancing to
Chantilly--a fine old mansion which the Federals had gutted--with the
intention of seizing a position whence he could command the road. The
day was sombre, and a tempest was gathering in the mountains. Late in
the afternoon, Stuart's patrols near Ox Hill were driven in by
hostile infantry, the thick woods preventing the scouts from
ascertaining the strength or dispositions of the Federal force.
Jackson at once ordered two brigades of Hill's to feel the enemy. The
remainder of the Light Division took ground to the right, followed by
Lawton; Starke's division held the turnpike, and Stuart was sent
towards Fairfax Court House to ascertain whether the Federal main
body was retreating or advancing.

Reno, who had been ordered to protect Pope's flank, came briskly
forward, and Hill's advanced guard was soon brought to a standstill.
Three fresh brigades were rapidly deployed; as the enemy pressed the
attack a fourth was sent in, and the Northerners fell back with the
loss of a general and many men. Lawton's first line became engaged at
the same time, and Reno, now reinforced by Kearney, made a vigorous
effort to hold the Confederates in check. Hays' brigade of Lawton's
division, commanded by an inexperienced officer, was caught while
"clubbed" during a change of formation, and driven back in disorder;
and Trimble's brigade, now reduced to a handful, became involved in
the confusion. But a vigorous charge of the second line restored the
battle. The Federals were beginning to give way. General Kearney,
riding through the murky twilight into the Confederate lines, was
shot by a skirmisher. The hostile lines were within short range, and
the advent of a reserve on either side would have probably ended the
engagement. But the rain was now falling in torrents; heavy peals of
thunder, crashing through the forest, drowned the discharges of the
two guns which Jackson had brought up through the woods, and the red
flash of musketry paled before the vivid lightning. Much of the
ammunition was rendered useless, the men were unable to discharge
their pieces, and the fierce wind lashed the rain in the faces of the
Confederates. The night grew darker and the tempest fiercer; and as
if by mutual consent the opposing lines drew gradually apart.* (* It
was at this time, probably, that Jackson received a message from a
brigade commander, reporting that his cartridges were so wet that he
feared he could not maintain his position. "Tell him," was the quick
reply, "to hold his ground; if his guns will not go off, neither will
the enemy's.")

On the side of the Confederates only half the force had been engaged.
Starke's division never came into action, and of Hill's and Lawton's
there were still brigades in reserve. 500 men were killed or wounded;
but although the three Federal divisions are reported to have lost
1000, they had held their ground, and Jackson was thwarted in his
design. Pope's trains and his whole army reached Fairfax Court House
without further disaster. But the persistent attacks of his
indefatigable foe had broken down his resolution. He had intended, he
told Halleck, when Jackson's march down the Little River turnpike was
first announced, to attack the Confederates the next day, or
"certainly the day after."

September 2.

The action at Chantilly, however, induced a more prudent mood; and,
on the morning of the 2nd, he reported that "there was an intense
idea among the troops that they must get behind the intrenchments [of
Alexandria]; that there was an undoubted purpose, on the part of the
enemy, to keep on slowly turning his position so as to come in on the
right, and that the forces under his command were unable to prevent
him doing so in the open field. Halleck must decide what was to be
done." The reply was prompt, Pope was to bring his forces, "as best
he could," under the shelter of the heavy guns.

Whatever might be the truth as regards the troops, there could be no
question but that the general was demoralised; and, preceded by
thousands of stragglers, the army fell back without further delay to
the Potomac. It was not followed except by Stuart. "It was found,"
says Lee, in his official dispatch, "that the enemy had conducted his
retreat so rapidly that the attempt to interfere with him was
abandoned. The proximity of the fortifications around Alexandria and
Washington rendered further pursuit useless."

On the same day General McClellan was entrusted with the defence of
Washington, and Pope, permitted to resign, was soon afterwards
relegated to an obscure command against the Indians of the
North-west. His errors had been flagrant. He can hardly be charged
with want of energy, but his energy was spasmodic; on the field of
battle he was strangely indolent, and yet he distrusted the reports
of others. But more fatal than his neglect of personal reconnaissance
was his power of self-deception. He was absolutely incapable of
putting himself in his enemy's place, and time after time he acted on
the supposition that Lee and Jackson would do exactly what he most
wished them to do. When his supplies were destroyed, he concentrated
at Manassas Junction, convinced that Jackson would remain to be
overwhelmed. When he found Jackson near Sudley Springs, and
Thoroughfare Gap open, he rushed forward to attack him, convinced
that Longstreet could not be up for eight-and-forty hours. When he
sought shelter at Centreville, he told Halleck not to be uneasy,
convinced that Lee would knock his head against his fortified
position. Before the engagement at Chantilly he had made up his mind
to attack the enemy the next morning. A few hours later he reported
that his troops were utterly untrustworthy, although 20,000 of them,
under Franklin and Sumner, had not yet seen the enemy. In other
respects his want of prudence had thwarted his best endeavours. His
cavalry at the beginning of the campaign was effectively employed.
But so extravagant were his demands on the mounted arm, that before
the battle of Manassas half his regiments were dismounted. It is true
that the troopers were still indifferent horsemen and bad
horse-masters, but it was the fault of the commander that the
unfortunate animals had no rest, that brigades were sent to do the
work of patrols, and that little heed was paid to the physical wants
of man and beast. As a tactician Pope was incapable. As a strategist
he lacked imagination, except in his dispatches. His horizon was
limited, and he measured the capacity of his adversaries by his own.
He was familiar with the campaign in the Valley, with the operations
in the Peninsula, and Cedar Run should have enlightened him as to
Jackson's daring. But he had no conception that his adversaries would
cheerfully accept great risks to achieve great ends; he had never
dreamt of a general who would deliberately divide his army, or of one
who would make fifty-six miles in two marches.

Lee, with his extraordinary insight into character, had played on
Pope as he had played on McClellan, and his strategy was justified by
success. In the space of three weeks he had carried the war from the
James to the Potomac. With an army that at no time exceeded 55,000
men he had driven 80,000 into the fortifications of Washington.* (*
Sumner and Franklin had become involved in Pope's retreat.) He had
captured 30 guns, 7000 prisoners, 20,000 rifles, and many stand of
colours; he had killed or wounded 13,500 Federals, destroyed supplies
and material of enormous value; and all this with a loss to the
Confederates of 10,000 officers and men.

So much had he done for the South; for his own reputation he had done
more. If, as Moltke avers, the junction of two armies on the field of
battle is the highest achievement of military genius,* (* Tried by
this test alone Lee stands out as one of the greatest soldiers of all
times. Not only against Pope, but against McClellan at Gaines' Mill,
against Burnside at Fredericksburg, and against Hooker at
Chancellorsville, he succeeded in carrying out the operations of
which Moltke speaks; and in each case with the same result of
surprising his adversary. None knew better how to apply that great
principle of strategy, "to march divided but to fight concentrated.")
the campaign against Pope has seldom been surpassed; and the great
counterstroke at Manassas is sufficient in itself to make Lee's
reputation as a tactician. Salamanca was perhaps a more brilliant
example of the same manoeuvre, for at Salamanca Wellington had no
reason to anticipate that Marmont would blunder, and the mighty
stroke which beat 40,000 French in forty minutes was conceived in a
few moments. Nor does Manassas equal Austerlitz. No such subtle
manoeuvres were employed as those by which Napoleon induced the
Allies to lay bare their centre, and drew them blindly to their doom.
It was not due to the skill of Lee that Pope weakened his left at the
crisis of the battle.* (* It may be noticed, however, that the care
with which Longstreet's troops were kept concealed for more than
four-and-twenty hours had much to do with Pope's false manoeuvres.)
But in the rapidity with which the opportunity was seized, in the
combination of the three arms, and in the vigour of the blow,
Manassas is in no way inferior to Austerlitz or Salamanca. That the
result was less decisive was due to the greater difficulties of the
battle-field, to the stubborn resistance of the enemy, to the
obstacles in the way of rapid and connected movement, and to the
inexperience of the troops. Manassas was not, like Austerlitz and
Salamanca, won by veteran soldiers, commanded by trained officers,
perfect in drill and inured to discipline.

Lee's strategic manoeuvres were undoubtedly hazardous. But that an
antagonist of different calibre would have met them with condign
punishment is short-sighted criticism. Against an antagonist of
different calibre, against such generals as he was afterwards to
encounter, they would never have been attempted. "He studied his
adversary," says his Military Secretary, "knew his peculiarities, and
adapted himself to them. His own methods no one could foresee-he
varied them with every change in the commanders opposed to him. He
had one method with McClellan, another with Pope, another with
Hooker, another with Meade, and yet another with Grant." Nor was the
dangerous period of the Manassas campaign so protracted as might be
thought. Jackson marched north from Jefferson on August 25. On the
26th he reached Bristoe Station. Pope, during these two days, might
have thrown himself either on Longstreet or on Jackson. He did
neither, and on the morning of the 27th, when Jackson reached Sudley
Springs, the crisis had passed. Had the Federals blocked Thoroughfare
Gap that day, and prevented Longstreet's passage, Lee was still able
to concentrate without incurring defeat. Jackson, retreating by Aldie
Gap, would have joined Longstreet west of the mountains; Pope would
have escaped defeat, but the Confederates would have lost nothing.

Moreover, it is well to remember that the Confederate cavalry was in
every single respect, in leading, horsemanship, training, and
knowledge of the country, superior to the Federal. The whole
population, too, was staunchly Southern. It was always probable,
therefore, that information would be scarce in the Federal camps, and
that if some items did get through the cavalry screen, they would be
so late in reaching Pope's headquarters as to be practically useless.
There can be no question that Lee, in these operations, relied much
on the skill of Stuart. Stuart was given a free hand. Unlike Pope,
Lee issued few orders as to the disposition of his horsemen. He
merely explained the manoeuvres he was about to undertake, pointed
out where he wished the main body of the cavalry should be found, and
left all else to their commander. He had no need to tell Stuart that
he required information of the enemy, or to lay down the method by
which it was to be obtained. That was Stuart's normal duty, and right
well was it performed. How admirably the young cavalry general
co-operated with Jackson has already been described. The latter
suggested, the former executed, and the combination of the three
arms, during the whole of Jackson's operations against Pope, was as
close as when Ashby led his squadrons in the Valley.

Yet it was not on Stuart that fell, next to Lee, the honours of the
campaign. Brilliant as was the handling of the cavalry, impenetrable
the screen it formed, and ample the information it procured, the
breakdown of the Federal horse made the task comparatively simple.
Against adversaries whose chargers were so leg-weary that they could
hardly raise a trot it was easy to be bold. One of Stuart's
brigadiers would have probably done the work as well as Stuart
himself. But the handling of the Valley army, from the time it left
Jefferson on the 25th until Longstreet reached Gainesville on the
29th, demanded higher qualities than vigilance and activity.
Throughout the operations Jackson's endurance was the wonder of his
staff. He hardly slept. He was untiring in reconnaissance, in
examination of the country and in observation of the enemy, and no
detail of the march escaped his personal scrutiny. Fet his muscles
were much less hardly used than his brain. The intellectual problem
was more difficult than the physical. To march his army fifty-six
miles in two days was far simpler than to maintain it on Pope's flank
until Longstreet came into line. The direction of his marches, the
position of his bivouacs, the distribution of his three divisions,
were the outcome of long premeditation. On the night of the 25th he
disappeared into the darkness on the road to Salem leaving the
Federals under the conviction that he was making for the Valley. On
the 26th he moved on Bristoe Station, rather than on Manassas
Junction, foreseeing that he might be interrupted from the south-west
in his destruction of the stores. On the 27th he postponed his
departure till night had fallen, moving in three columns, of which
the column marching on Centreville, whither he desired that the enemy
should follow, was the last to move. Concentrating at Sudley Springs
on the 28th, he placed himself in the best position to hold Pope
fast, to combine with Longstreet, or to escape by Aldie Gap; and on
the 29th the ground he had selected for battle enabled him to hold
out against superior numbers.

Neither strategically nor tactically did he make a single mistake.
His attack on King's division at Groveton, on the evening of the
28th, was purely frontal, and his troops lost heavily. But he
believed King to be the flank-guard of a larger force, and under such
circumstances turning movements were over-hazardous. The woods, too,
prevented the deployment of his artillery; and the attack, in its
wider aspect, was eminently successful, for the aim was not to defeat
King, but to bring Pope back to a position where Lee could crush him.
On the 29th his dispositions were admirable. The battle is a fine
example of defensive tactics. The position, to use a familiar
illustration, "fitted the troops like a glove." It was of such
strength that, while the front was adequately manned, ample reserves
remained in rear. The left, the most dangerous flank, was secured by
Bull Run, and massed batteries gave protection to the right. The
distribution of the troops, the orders, and the amount of latitude
accorded to subordinate leaders, followed the best models. The front
was so apportioned that each brigadier on the fighting-line had his
own reserve, and each divisional general half his force in third
line. The orders indicated that counterstrokes were not to be pushed
so far as to involve the troops in an engagement with the enemy's
reserves, and the subordinate generals were encouraged, without
waiting for orders, and thus losing the occasion, to seize all
favourable opportunities for counterstroke. The methods employed by
Jackson were singularly like those of Wellington. A position was
selected which gave cover and concealment to the troops, and against
which the powerful artillery of a more numerous enemy was practically
useless. These were the characteristics of Vimiera, Busaco, Talavera,
and Waterloo. Nor did Jackson's orders differ from those of the great

The Duke's subordinates, when placed in position, acted on a
well-established rule. Within that position they had unlimited power.
They could defend the first line, or they could meet the enemy with a
counter-attack from a position in rear, and in both cases they could
pursue. But the pursuit was never to be carried beyond certain
defined limits. Moreover, Wellington's views as to the efficacy of
the counterstroke were identical with those of Jackson, and he had
the same predilection for cold steel. "If they attempt this point
again, Hill," were his orders to that general at Busaco, "give them a
volley and charge bayonets; but don't let your people follow them too

But it was neither wise strategy nor sound tactics which was the main
element in Pope's defeat; neither the strong effort of a powerful
brain, nor the judicious devolution of responsibility. A brilliant
military historian, more conversant perhaps with the War of Secession
than the wars of France, concludes his review of this campaign with a
reference to Jackson as "the Ney of the Confederate army."* (*
Swinton. Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac.) The allusion is
obvious. So long as the victories of Napoleon are remembered, the
name of his lieutenant will always be a synonym for heroic valour.
But the valour of Ney was of a different type from that of Jackson.
Ney's valour was animal, Jackson's was moral, and between the two
there is a vast distinction. Before the enemy, when his danger was
tangible, Ney had few rivals. But when the enemy was unseen and his
designs were doubtful, his resolution vanished. He was without
confidence in his own resources. He could not act without direct
orders, and he dreaded responsibility. At Bautzen his timidity ruined
Napoleon's combinations; in the campaign of Leipsic he showed himself
incapable of independent command; and he cannot be acquitted of
hesitation at Quatre Bras.

It was in the same circumstances that Ney's courage invariably gave
way that Jackson's courage shone with the brightest lustre. It might
appear that he had little cause for fear in the campaign of the
Second Manassas, that he had only to follow his instructions, and
that if he had failed his failure would have been visited upon Lee.
The instructions which he received, however, were not positive, but
contingent on events. If possible, he was to cut the railway, in
order to delay the reinforcements which Pope was expecting from
Alexandria; and then, should the enemy permit, he was to hold fast
east of the Bull Run Mountains until Lee came up. But he was to be
guided in everything by his own discretion. He was free to accept
battle or refuse it, to attack or to defend, to select his own line
of retreat, to move to any quarter of the compass that he pleased.
For three days, from the morning of August 26 to the morning of
August 29, he had complete control of the strategic situation; on his
movements were dependent the movements of the main army; the bringing
the enemy to bay and the choice of the field of battle were both in
his hands. And during those three days he was cut off from Lee and
Longstreet. The mountains, with their narrow passes, lay between;
and, surrounded by three times his number, he was abandoned entirely
to his own resources.

Throughout the operations he had been in unusually high spirits. The
peril and responsibility seemed to act as an elixir, and he threw off
much of his constraint. But as the day broke on August 29 he looked
long and earnestly in the direction of Thoroughfare Gap, and when a
messenger from Stuart brought the intelligence that Longstreet was
through the pass, he drew a long breath and uttered a sigh of
relief.* (* Letter from Dr. Hunter McGuire.) The period of suspense
was over, but even on that unyielding heart the weight of anxiety had
pressed with fearful force. For three days he had only received news
of the main army at long and uncertain intervals. For two of these
days his information of the enemy's movements was very small. While
he was marching to Bristoe Station, Pope, for all he knew, might have
been marching against Longstreet with his whole force. When he
attacked King on the 28th the Federals, in what strength he knew not,
still held Thoroughfare Gap; when he formed for action on the 29th he
was still ignorant of what had happened to the main body, and it was
on the bare chance that Longstreet would force the passage that he
accepted battle with far superior numbers.

It is not difficult to imagine how a general like Ney, placed in
Jackson's situation, would have trimmed and hesitated: how in his
march to Manassas, when he had crossed the mountains and left the Gap
behind him, he would have sent out reconnaissances in all directions,
halting his troops until he learned the coast was clear; how he would
have dashed at the Junction by the shortest route; how he would have
forced his weary troops northward when the enemy's approach was
reported; how, had he reached Sudley Springs, he would have hugged
the shelter of the woods and let King's division pass unmolested;
and, finally, when Pope's columns converged on his position, have
fallen back on Thoroughfare or Aldie. Nor would he have been greatly
to blame. Unless gifted with that moral fortitude which Napoleon
ranks higher than genius or experience, no general would have
succeeded in carrying Lee's design to a successful issue. In his
unhesitating march to Manassas Junction, in his deliberate sojourn
for four-and-twenty hours astride his enemy's communications, in his
daring challenge to Pope's whole army at Groveton, Jackson displayed
the indomitable courage characteristic of the greatest soldiers.

As suggested in the first volume, it is too often overlooked, by
those who study the history of campaign, that war is the province of
uncertainty. The reader has the whole theatre of war displayed before
him. He notes the exact disposition of the opposing forces at each
hour of the campaign, and with this in his mind's eye he condemns or
approves the action of the commanders. In the action of the defeated
general he usually often sees much to blame; in the action of the
successful general but little to admire. But his judgment is not
based on a true foundation. He has ignored the fact that the
information at his disposal was not at the disposal of those he
criticises; and until he realises that both generals, to a greater or
less degree, must have been groping in the dark, he will neither make
just allowance for the errors of the one, nor appreciate the genius
of the other.

It is true that it is difficult in the extreme to ascertain how much
or how little those generals whose campaigns have become historical
knew of their enemy at any particular moment. For instance, in the
campaign before us, we are nowhere told whether Lee, when he sent
Jackson to Manassas Junction, was aware that a portion of McClellan's
army had been shipped to Alexandria in place of Aquia; or whether he
knew, on the second day of the battle of Manassas, that Pope had been
reinforced by two army corps from the Peninsula. He had certainly
captured Pope's dispatch book, and no doubt it threw much light on
the Federal plans, but we are not aware how far into the future this
light projected. We do know, however, that, in addition to this
correspondence, such knowledge as he had was derived from reports.
But reports are never entirely to be relied on; they are seldom full,
they are often false, and they are generally exaggerated. However
active the cavalry, however patriotic the inhabitants, no general is
ever possessed of accurate information of his enemy's dispositions,
unless the forces are very small, or the precautions to elude
observation very feeble. On August 28 Stuart's patrols covered the
whole country round Jackson's army, and during the whole day the
Federal columns were converging on Manassas. Sigel and Reynolds' four
divisions passed through Gainesville, not five miles from Sudley
Springs, and for a time were actually in contact with Jackson's
outposts; and yet Sigel and Reynolds mistook Jackson's outposts for
reconnoitring cavalry. Again, when King's single division, the
rear-guard of Pope's army, appeared upon the turnpike, Jackson
attacked it with the idea that it was the flank-guard of a much
larger force. Nor was this want of accurate intelligence due to lack
of vigilance or to the dense woods. As a matter of fact the
Confederates were more amply provided with information than is
usually the case in war, even in an open country and with experienced

But if, in the most favourable circumstances, a general is surrounded
by an atmosphere which has been most aptly named the fog of war, his
embarrassments are intensified tenfold when he commands a portion of
a divided army. Under ordinary conditions a general is at least fully
informed of the dispositions of his own forces. But when between two
widely separated columns a powerful enemy, capable of crushing each
in turn, intervenes; when the movements of that enemy are veiled in
obscurity; when anxiety has taken possession of the troops, and the
soldiers of either column, striving hopelessly to penetrate the
gloom, reflect on the fate that may have overtaken their comrades, on
the obstacles that may delay them, on the misunderstandings that may
have occurred--it is at such a crisis that the courage of their
leader is put to the severest test.

His situation has been compared to a man entering a dark room full of
assailants, never knowing when or whence a blow may be struck against
him. The illustration is inadequate. Not only has he to contend with
the promptings of his own instincts, but he has to contend with the
instincts and to sustain the resolution of his whole army. It is not
from the enemy he has most to fear. A time comes in all protracted
operations when the nervous energy of the best troops becomes
exhausted, when the most daring shrink from further sacrifice, when
the desire of self-preservation infects the stoutest veterans, and
the will of the mass opposes a tacit resistance to all further
effort. "Then," says Clausewitz, "the spark in the breast of the
commander must rekindle hope in the hearts of his men, and so long as
he is equal to this he remains their master. When his influence
ceases, and his own spirit is no longer strong enough to revive the
spirit of others, the masses, drawing him with them, sink into that
lower region of animal nature which recoils from danger and knows not
shame. Such are the obstacles which the brain and courage of the
military commander must overcome if he is to make his name
illustrious." And the obstacles are never more formidable than when
his troops see no sign of the support they have expected. Then, if he
still moves forward, although his peril increase at every step, to
the point of junction; if he declines the temptation, although
overwhelming numbers threaten him, of a safe line of retreat; if, as
did Jackson, he deliberately confronts and challenges the hostile
masses, then indeed does the soldier rise to the highest level of
moral energy.

Strongly does Napoleon inveigh against operations which entail the
division of an army into two columns unable to communicate; and
especially does he reprobate the strategy which places the point of
junction under the very beard of a concentrated enemy. Both of these
maxims Lee violated. The last because he knew Pope, the first because
he knew Jackson. It is rare indeed that such strategy succeeds. When
all has depended on a swift and unhesitating advance, generals
renowned for their ardent courage have wavered and turned aside.
Hasdrubal, divided from Hannibal by many miles and a Consular army,
fell back to the Metaurus, and Rome was saved. Two thousand years
later, Prince Frederick Charles, divided by a few marches and two
Austrian army corps from the Crown Prince, lingered so long upon the
leer that the supremacy of Prussia trembled in the balance. But the
character of the Virginian soldier was of loftier type. It has been
remarked that after Jackson's death Lee never again attempted those
great turning movements which had achieved his most brilliant
victories. Never again did he divide his army to unite it again on
the field of battle. The reason is not far to seek. There was now no
general in the Confederate army to whom he dared confide the charge
of the detached wing, and in possessing one such general he had been
more fortunate than Napoleon.* (* It is noteworthy that Moltke once,
at Koniggratz, carried out the operation referred to; Wellington
twice, at Vittoria and Toulouse; Napoleon, although he several times
attempted it, and, against inferior numbers, never, except at Ulm,
with complete success.)


September 1862.

The Confederate operations in Virginia during the spring and summer
of 1862 had been successful beyond expectation and almost beyond
precedent. Within six months two great armies had been defeated;
McClellan had been driven from the Peninsula, and Pope from the
Rappahannock. The villages of Virginia no longer swarmed with foreign
bayonets. The hostile camps had vanished from her inland counties.
Richmond was free from menace; and in the Valley of the Shenandoah
the harvest was gathered in without let or hindrance. Except at
Winchester and Martinsburg, where the garrisons, alarmed by the news
of Pope's defeat, were already preparing to withdraw; in the vicinity
of Norfolk, and at Fortress Monroe, the invaders had no foothold
within the boundaries of the State they had just now overrun; and
their demoralised masses, lying exhausted behind the fortifications
of Washington and Alexandria, were in no condition to resume the
offensive. The North had opened the campaign in the early spring with
the confident hope of capturing the rebel capital; before the summer
was over it was questionable whether it would be able to save its
own. Had the rival armies been equally matched in numbers and
equipment this result would have hardly been remarkable. The Federals
had had great difficulties to contend with--an unknown country, bad
roads, a hostile population, natural obstacles of formidable
character, statesmen ignorant of war, and generals at loggerheads
with the Administration. Yet so superior were their numbers, so ample
their resources, that even these disadvantages might have been
overcome had the strategy of the Southern leaders been less
admirable. Lee, Jackson, and Johnston had played the role of the
defender to perfection. No attempt had been made to hold the
frontier. Mobility and not earthwork was the weapon on which they had
relied. Richmond, the only fortress, had been used as a pivot of
operations, and not merely as a shelter for the army. The specious
expedient of pushing forward advanced guards to harass or delay the
enemy had been avoided; and thus no opportunity had been offered to
the invaders of dealing with the defence in detail, or of raising
their own morale by victory over isolated detachments. The generals
had declined battle until their forces were concentrated and the
enemy was divided. Nor had they fought except on ground of their own
choice. Johnston had refused to be drawn into decisive action until
McClellan became involved in the swamps of the Chickahominy. Jackson,
imitating like his superior the defensive strategy of Wellington and
Napoleon, had fallen back to a zone of manoeuvre south of the
Massanuttons. By retreating to the inaccessible fastness of Elk Run
Valley he had drawn Banks and Fremont up the Shenandoah, their lines
of communication growing longer and more vulnerable at every march,
and requiring daily more men to guard them. Then, rushing from his
stronghold, he had dealt his blows, clearing the Valley from end to
end, destroying the Federal magazines, and threatening Washington
itself; and when the overwhelming masses he had drawn on himself
sought to cut him off, he had selected his own battle-field, and
crushed the converging columns which his skill had kept apart. The
hapless Pope, too, had been handled in the same fashion as McClellan,
Banks, Shields, and Fremont. Jackson had lured him forward to the
Rapidan; and although his retreat had been speedy, Lee had completed
his defeat before he could be efficiently supported. But,
notwithstanding all that had been done, much yet remained to do.

It was doubtless within the bounds of probability that a second
attempt to invade Virginia would succeed no better than the first.
But it was by no means certain that the resolution of the North was
not sufficient to withstand a long series of disasters so long as the
war was confined to Southern territory; and, at the same time, it
might well be questioned whether the South could sustain, without
foreign aid, the protracted and exhausting process of a purely
defensive warfare. If her tactics, as well as her strategy, could be
confined to the defensive; that is, if her generals could await the
invaders in selected and prepared positions, and if no task more
difficult should devolve upon her troops than shooting down their
foes as they moved across the open to the assault of strong
intrenchments, then the hope might reasonably be entertained that she
might tire out the North. But the campaign, so far as it had
progressed, had shown, if indeed history had not already made it
sufficiently clear, that opportunities for such tactics were not
likely to occur. The Federal generals had consistently refused to run
their heads against earthworks. Their overwhelming numbers would
enable them to turn any position, however formidable; and the only
chance of success lay in keeping these numbers apart and in
preventing them from combining.

It was by strategic and tactical counterstrokes that the recent
victories had been won. Although it had awaited attack within its own
frontier, the Army of Northern Virginia had but small experience of
defensive warfare. With the exception of the actions round Yorktown,
of Cross Keys, and of the Second Manassas, the battles had been
entirely aggressive. The idea that a small army, opposed to one
vastly superior, cannot afford to attack because the attack is
costly, and that it must trust for success to favourable ground, had
been effectually dispelled. Lee and Jackson had taught the
Southerners that the secret of success lies not in strong positions,
but in the concentration, by means of skilful strategy, of superior
numbers on the field of battle. Their tactics had been essentially
offensive, and it is noteworthy that their victories had not been
dearly purchased. If we compare them with those of the British in the
Peninsula, we shall find that with no greater loss than Wellington
incurred in the defensive engagements of three years, 1810, 1811,
1812, the Confederates had attacked and routed armies far larger in
proportion than those which Wellington had merely repulsed.* (*
Wellington's losses in the battles of these three years were 33,000.
The Confederates lost 23,000 in the Valley and the Seven Days and
10,000 in the campaign against Pope. It is not to be understood,
however, that the Duke's strategy was less skilful or less audacious
than Lee's and Jackson's. During these three years his army, largely
composed of Portuguese and Spaniards, was incapable of offensive
tactics against his veteran enemies, and he was biding his time. It
was the inefficiency of his allies and the miserable support he
received from the English Government that prevented him, until 1813,
from adopting a bolder policy.)

But if they had shown that the best defence lies in a vigorous
offensive, their offensive had not yet been applied at the decisive
point. To make victory complete it is the sounder policy to carry the
war into hostile territory. A nation endures with comparative
equanimity defeat beyond its own borders. Pride and prestige may
suffer, but a high-spirited people will seldom be brought to the
point of making terms unless its army is annihilated in the heart of
its own country, unless the capital is occupied and the hideous
sufferings of war are brought directly home to the mass of the
population. A single victory on Northern soil, within easy reach of
Washington, was far more likely to bring about the independence of
the South than even a succession of victories in Virginia. It was
time, then, for a strategic counterstroke on a larger scale than had
hitherto been attempted. The opportunity was ripe. No great risk
would be incurred by crossing the Potomac. There was no question of
meeting a more powerful enemy. "The Federals, recruited by fresh
levies; would undoubtedly be numerically the stronger; and the
Confederate equipment, despite the large captures of guns and rifles,
was still deficient. But for deficiencies in numbers and in materiel
the higher morale and the more skilful leading would make ample
compensation. It might safely be inferred that the Northern soldiers

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