Second Battle of Bull Run
(or Second Manassas)
Eastern Theater, Second Bull Run Campaign
Pope now believes he has Jackson surrounded on three sides and decides to drive his attacks head-on into Jackson’s fortified line. Meanwhile, Jackson receives a note from Gen. Lee, telling him that Longstreet’s corps has cleared Thoroughfare Gap, and will be on the field by evening. Jackson decides to stay in his position until Longstreet can come up.
Morning Prelude: The Union troops are in confusion. Porter has conflicting orders telling him to march in two directions at once. Gen. McDowell is missing, and no one has seen him since early yesterday; in fact, he is trying to find Pope. When he finds Pope, he finds that Pope has been parcelling out McDowell’s divisions to other commanders, and so McDowell has not men to command—and then spends part of the morning wrangling with Gen. Porter and others to get his troops back. This halts Porter long enough that he does not advance to where Pope wanted him.
1. Attack on Rebel left flank: Pope orders Gen. Sigel to deploy his divisions to attack Jackson’s left flank, close to Bull Run Creek, with Gen. Kearney’s division to support. Sigel half-heartedly prepares for the assault: getting his troops into position takes all morning, and it does not go forward until nearly 1:00 P.M. He sends Gen. Carl Schurz’s two brigades of mostly German-speaking troops up the Manassas-Sudley Springs Road, and they strike the Confederates of A.P. Hill’s Light Division: Georgians under Thomas and South Carolinians under Gregg. Schurz reforms and attacks again, but Philip Kearney’s division does not move to support his right flank—so Schurz falls back again.
2. Milroy attacks the center: Then, at Jackson’s center, Gen. Robert Milroy pushes only two regiments into a gap in the Rebel line, but they are unable to stay there without support. Gen. Schenk, supported by Reynold’s division, is to attack Jackson’s right flank, but has not moved close enough yet. Pope arrives on the battlefield and is dismayed to find his troops in disarray, and the attacks not coordinated.
3. Longstreet deploys on the Confederate right: By this time, Longstreet’s troops are arriving on the field, and Stuart’s cavalry guides his division into positions pre-selected by Jackson. Hood’s division lines up on Jackson’s right, and then next in line come the divisions of Kemper and Jones and Wilcox. Gen. Lee is urging Longstreet to make his attack right away, but Longstreet’s scouts report the positions of Schenk and Reynolds in his front, as well as McDowell and Porter further south, and he counsels Lee to let him wait until the Federals make a move first. Lee agrees.
4. Confusion on the Federal left: Rebel cavalry attacks the column of Porter and McDowell as it toils up the road to Manassas Junction. As the Yankees are halted, they receive a badly-written order from Pope in which he expects (but does not say) that they should advance and attack what is supposed to be Jackson’s right on Stony Ridge. Porter sees plenty of evidence that there are Rebel troops massing on his left, and he is loath to march across their front. McDowell receives a report from Gen. Buford’s cavalary that at least 17 regiments of Confederate infantry have passed through Gainesville earlier that morning, but this information is not passed on to Pope until later in the night.
5. Pope tries to coordinate attacks on the right and left: Gen. Pope assumes that Porter and McDowell are going forward to smash Jackson’s right, and so—as a diversion—he orders forward just one brigade under Gen. Grover to charge into the left of Jackson’s line. Grover’s spirited bayonet charge hits a gap in the Rebel line, but once again Gen. Kearney does not advance as ordered to support this attack. Pender’s Rebels counterattack and drive Grover back with heavy losses. Pope sends a written order for Porter to attack, but this message does not arrive until after 6:30 PM. Reynolds’ division of McDowell’s Corps advances, but encounters Longstreet’s advance troops; upon reporting this to Pope, the commanding general chides Reynolds and believes Reynolds has only bumped into Porter’s men by accident. Pope arranges another diversion, and again orders Kearney to attack Jackson’s left, which Kearney finally does. With ten regiments, Kearney leads his men forward against Gregg’s South Carolinians, who are out of ammunition and exhausted. In the nick of time, the brigades of Early (Virginians) and Lawrence O’Bryan Branch (North Carolinians) counterattack and blunt the Federal attack. Kearney withdraws.
Meanwhile, McDowell has finally regained control of his scattered divisions and begins sending them to the center to help with the attacks. Lee’s scouts see this movement, seeing the Yankees veering away from Longstreet’s flank, and urges Longstreet to attack, but the latter argues that it is too close to dark—but he does send forward Hood’s troops, which encounter Hatch’s division in the gathering dark and fight to a standstill.
Conclusion to Day 1: At this point, Gen. Pope has it in his mind that Jackson is retreating. Finally convinced that Longstreet is indeed on the field, Pope assumes that they are there to cover Jackson’s retreat. Darkness settles over the field, and Pope is no more enlightened as to the intentions of the Confederates than he was the day before. Jackson, although with brigade commanders Forno, Field, and Trimble wounded, has clearly come out with a victory—so far.
But out on the Federal left flank is Longstreet, lined up with four divisions, and Pope unaware and unbelieving.
—Union Surgeon Alfred L. Castleman, writes his journal:
—John Beauchamp Jones, clerk with the Confederate War Department, notes in his diary:
—George Templeton Strong writes in his journal:
Still these brilliant, dashing, successful raids or forays of rebel cavalry within our lines. They have penetrated to Manassas, destroying supply trains and capturing guns, taking us by surprise. Are our generals traitors or imbecile? why does the Rebellion enjoy the monopoly of audacity and enterprise? Were I a general, even I, poor little feeble, myopic, flaccid effeminate George T. Strong, I think I could do better than this. . . .
—Mrs. Judith White McGuire of Richmond, tells of a meeting with an old Lynchburg neighbor, and of the old lady’s fervor in the Southern cause:
|Private Thomas Greene, Confederate, killed at Second Manassas on August 29|