Battle of Second Manassas: Official Report of Lieut. General Thomas J. Jackson
April 27, 1863
Lt. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson created this official report for the Second Manassas campaign of 1862 just days before the Army of Northern Virginia would enter into combat against a revitalized Union Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Chancellorsville would be Jackson's last battle.
During the Second Manassas campaign, Robert E. Lee had detached Jackson and his Second Corps shortly after the conclusion of the successful Seven Days Campaign outside Richmond, Va. After engaging John Pope's Army of Virginia at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Jackson's forces, supported by JEB Stuart's cavalry, would surge into Northern Virginia on a lightning campaign to cut off Pope's supply lines. Reaching Manassas Junction, Jackson's forces would gorge themselves on captured Union stores and then set light to all that they could not carry. Jackson's aggressive moves into the Union rear had done much to unnerve the Union forces in Virginia, but his movements also left him vulnerable to the Union army, now reassembling south of Washington DC.
Jackson, awaiting the arrival of James Longstreet's First Corps and the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia, hunkers down along an unused railroad bed at the old Bull Run battlefield. It is here that Jackson's outnumbered forces will be engaged by John Pope's army. Jackson's forces will be heavily pressed, but will hold on long enough for Longstreet's forces to deliver a devastating flank attack. [Note that in Jackson's report the Battle of Second Manassas is often referred to as the Battle of Groveton.]
Shortly after the Battle of Second Manassas, Jackson's forces will be engaged once more at the Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly) on September 1, 1862. The successful repulse of several Union attacks brings to an end this memorable campaign.
HDQRS. SECOND CORPS,
ARMY OF NORTHERN VA.,
April 27, 1863.
Brig. Gen. R. H. CHILTON,
A. A. and I. G., Hdqrs. Dept. Northern Virginia.
General: I have the honor herewith to submit to you a report of the operations of my command from August 15 to September 5, 1862, embracing the several engagements of Manassas Junction, Bristoe Station, Ox Hill, and so much of the battle of Groveton(on August 28, 29, and 30) as was fought by the troops under my command: On August 15, in obedience to instructions from the commanding General, I left my encampment, near Gordonsville, and, passing Orange Court-House, encamped in the evening near Mount Pisgah Church, where I remained until the 20th, when, in accordance with my instructions, while General Longstreet was crossing the Rapidan at Raccoon Ford, I crossed the same river at Somerville Ford. The command en. camped for the night near Stevensburg.
My command at this time comprised Ewell's, A. P. Hill's, and Jackson's divisions. Ewell's was composed of the brigades of Generals Lawton, Early, Hays (Colonel Forno commanding), and Trimble, with the batteries of William D. Brown, W. F. Dement, J. W. Latimer, W. L Baithis, and L E D'Aquin A P Hill's division was composed of the brigades of Generals Branch, Gregg, Field, Pender, Archer, and Colonel Thomas, with the batteries of C. M. Braxton. H. G. Latham, W. G. Crenshaw, D. G. Mcintosh, Greenlee Davidson, and W. J. Pegram. Jackson's division, commanded by Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro, was composed of Winder's brigade, Colonel Baylor commanding; Colonel Campbell's brigade, Maj. John Seddon commanding; Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro's brigade, Col. A. G. Taliaferro commanding, and Starke's brigade, with the batteries of Brockenbrough, [George W.] Wooding, W. T. Poague, Joseph Carpenter, W. H. Caskie, and Charles I. Raine.
Major-General Stuart, with his cavalry, co-operated during the expedition, and I shall more than once have to acknowledge my obligations for the valuable and efficient aid which he rendered.
Early on the morning of the 21st the command left its encampment and moved in the direction of Beverly Ford, on the Rappahannock, General Taliaferro's command in the lead. On approaching the ford the enemy was seen on the opposite bank. Batteries of that division, under the direction of Major Shumaker, chief of artillery, were placed in position, which, after a short resistance (as reported by General Taliaferro), silenced the enemy's guns and dispersed his infantry. Major-General Stuart had crossed with a portion of his cavalry, supported by some pieces of artillery, and after skirmishing with the enemy a few hours, taking some prisoners and arms, returned with the information that the Federal forces were moving in strength upon his position and were close at hand. The enemy soon appeared on the opposite bank, and an animated firing was opened and, to a considerable extent, kept up across the river for the rest of the day between the Federal artillery and the batteries of Taliaferro's command.
On the following morning (22nd) the three divisions continued their march up the bank of the Rappahannock, General Ewell in the advance, and crossed Hazel River, one of its tributaries, at Wellford's Mill, near which General Trimble was left with his brigade to protect the flank of our wagon train from the enemy, who was moving up the north side of the Rappahannock simultaneously with the advance of our troops on the south side. About 12 m. a small party surprised part of the train and captured some ambulances and mules, which were, however, soon recovered and some prisoners taken, who gave information that a more considerable Federal force had crossed the river.
About 4 p.m. General Trimble, supported by General Hood (who was the advance of Longstreet's command), had a sharp engagement with his force, in which, after gallantly charging and taking a number of prisoners, they drove the residue with severe loss across the river, under the protection of the guns of the main body of the Federal Army on the opposite side. In the mean time the command passed Freeman's Ford, which it found strongly guarded, and moved on to a point opposite the Fauquier White Sulphur Springs, where we found the bridge destroyed and other evidence that the enemy was in close proximity.
In the afternoon of the 22nd the Thirteenth Georgia Colonel M. Douglass, Brown's and Dement's batteries of four guns each, and Early's brigade, crossing over, took possession of the Springs and adjacent heights, and taking some prisoners and incurring some risk from the rain and sudden rise of the water, which for a few hours cut off communication with the main body. In this critical situation the skill and presence of mind of General Early was favorably displayed. It was deemed advisable not to attempt a passage at that point, but to proceed higher up the river. By dawn on the morning of the 24th General Early, by means of a temporary bridge which had been constructed for his relief, had his troops and artillery safely on the southern side.
On the 24th there was a fierce cannonade between General Hill's artillery and that of the enemy across the river. In the mean time General Stuart, who had preceded me, crossed the Rappahannock, striking the enemy in his rear, making his brilliant night attack upon his camp at Catlett's Station, capturing many prisoners, personal baggage of General Pope, and his dispatch book, containing information of value to us in this expedition. In the evening we moved near Jeffersonton.
Pursuing the instructions of the commanding general. I left Jeffersonton on the morning of the 25th to throw my command between Washington City and the army of General Pope and to break up his railroad communication with the Federal capital. Taking the route by Amissville, crossing Hedgeman River (one of the tributaries of the Rappahannock) at Henson's Mill, and moving via Orleans, we reached the vicinity of Salem after a severe day's march, and bivouacked there for the night.
On the next day (26th) the march was continued, diverging to the right at Salem, crossing the Bull Run Mountain through Thoroughfare Gap, and passing Gainesville, reached Bristoe Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, after sunset. At Gainesville I was joined by General Stuart, who, after leaving the vicinity of Waterloo Bridge about 2 a.m., had by a rapid march come up in time to render all needful assistance. He kept upon my right flank during the residue of the day. My command was now in rear of General Pope's army, separating it from the Federal capital and its base of supply.
As we approached Bristoe Station the sound of cars coining from the direction of Warrenton Junction was heard, and General Ewell divided his force so as to take simultaneous possession of two points of the railroad. Colonel T. T. Munford, with the Second Virginia Cavalry, co-operated in this movement. Two trains of cars and some prisoners were captured, the largest portion of the small Federal force at that point making its escape.
Learning that the enemy had collected at Manassas Junction, a station about 7 miles distant, stores of great value, I deemed it important that no time should be lost in securing them. Notwithstanding the darkness of the night and the fatiguing march, which would since dawn be over 30 miles before reaching the Junction, Brigadier-General Trimble volunteered to proceed there forthwith with the Twenty first North Carolina, Lieutenant-Colonel S. Fulton commanding, and the Twenty-first Georgia, Major T. C. Glover commanding--in all about 500 men--and capture the place. I accepted the gallant offer and gave him orders to move without delay. In order to increase the prospect of success Major-General Stuart, with a portion of his cavalry, was subsequently directed to move forward, and, as the ranking officer, to take command of the expedition. The duty was cheerfully undertaken by all who were assigned to it and most promptly and successfully executed. Notwithstanding the Federal fire of musketry and artillery our infantry dispersed the troops placed there for the defense of the place, and captured 8 guns, with 72 horses, equipments, and ammunition complete, immense supplies of commissary and quartermaster's stores, upward of 200 new tents; and General Trimble also reports the capture of over 300 prisoners and 175 horses, exclusive of those belonging to the artillery, besides recovering over 200 negroes.
The next morning the divisions under command of Generals Hill and Taliaferro moved to Manassas Junction, the division of General Ewell remaining at Bristoe Station. About a mile before reaching the Junction Colonel, W. S. H. Baylor encountered and dispersed a regiment of Federal cavalry. Soon after the advance of the troops from Bristoe Station reached the Junction they were fired upon by a distant battery of the enemy posted in the direction of the battle-field of Manassas. This artillery was soon driven off, and retreated in the direction of Centreville. Soon after a considerable body of Federal infantry, under Brigadier-General Taylor, of New Jersey, came in sight, having, it is believed, that morning left Alexandria in the cars, and boldly pushed forward to recover the position and stores which had been lost the previous night. The advance was made with great spirit and determination and under a leader worthy of a better cause. Assailed by the batteries of Poague and Carpenter and some of General Hill's division, and apparently seeing that there was danger of its retreat being cut off by our other troops if it continued to move forward, it soon commenced retreating, and being subjected to a heavy fire from our batteries was soon routed, leaving its killed and wounded upon the field. Several brigades of General Hill's division pressed forward in pursuit. In this conflict the Federal commander, General Taylor, was mortally wounded. Our loss was small.
In the afternoon of the same day heavy columns of the enemy were seen approaching Bristoe Station from the direction of Warrenton Junction and on the right of the railroad. General Ewell promptly made his dispositions to meet them. So soon as the enemy came within range the batteries of his division opened upon them from their several positions, as did also the Sixth and Eighth Louisiana and Sixtieth Georgia Regiments. By this combined fire two columns of the enemy, of not less than a brigade each, were driven back; but fresh columns soon supplied their places, and it was obvious that the enemy was advancing in heavy force. General Ewell's instructions were, if hard pressed, to fall back and join the main command at Manassas Junction, and orders were accordingly given for the withdrawal of his forces north of Broad Run. At the moment of issuing this order a portion of the troops were actively engaged and the enemy advancing, and yet the withdrawal of the infantry and artillery was conducted with perfect order, General Early closing up the rear. The Federals halted near Bristoe Station, and General Ewell moved without further molestation, Colonel Munford, of the Second, and Colonel T. L. Rosser, of the Fifth, Virginia Cavalry bringing up his rear to Manassas. The destruction of the railroad bridge across Broad Run was intrusted to Lieutenant (now Captain) J. K. Boswell, of the Engineer Corps, under whose superintendence the duty was promptly and efficiently executed. Orders were given to supply the troops with rations and other articles which they could properly make subservient to their use from the captured property. It was vast in quantity and of great value, comprising 50,000 pounds of bacon, 1,000 barrels of corned beef, 2,000 barrels of salt pork, 2,000 barrels of flour, quartermaster's, ordnance, and sutler's stores deposited in buildings and filling two trains of cars. Having appropriated all that we could use, and unwilling that the residue should again fall into the hands of the enemy, who took possession of the place next day, orders were given to destroy all that remained after supplying the immediate wants of the army. This was done during the night. General Taliaferro moved his division that night across to the Warrenton and Alexandria turnpike, pursuing the road to Sudley's Mill, and crossing the turnpike in the vicinity of Groveton, halted near the battle-field of July 21, 1861. Ewell's and Hill's divisions joined Jackson's on the 28th.
My command had hardly concentrated north of the turnpike before the enemy's advance reached the vicinity of Groveton from the direction of Warrenton. General Stuart kept me advised of the general movements of the enemy, while Colonel Rosser, of the cavalry, with his command, and Col. Bradley T. Johnson, commanding Campbell's brigade, remained in front of the Federals and operated against their advance. Dispositions were promptly made to attack the enemy, based upon the idea that he would continue to press forward upon the turnpike toward Alexandria; but as he did not appear to advance in force, and there was reason to believe that his main body was leaving the road and inclining toward Manassas Junction, my command was advanced through the woods, leaving Groveton on the left, until it reached a commanding position near Brawner's house. By this time it was sunset; but as his column appeared to be moving by, with its flank exposed, I determined to attack at once, which was vigorously done by the divisions of Taliaferro and Ewell. The batteries of Weeding, Poague, and Carpenter were placed in position in front of Starke's brigade and above the village of Groveton, and, firing over the heads of our skirmishers, poured a heavy fire of shot and shell upon the enemy. This was responded to by a very heavy fire from the enemy, forcing our batteries to select another position. By this time Taliaferro's command, with Lawton's and Trimble's brigades on his left, was advanced from the woods to the open field, and was now moving in gallant style until it reached an orchard on the right of our line and was less than 100 yards from a large force of the enemy. The conflict here was fierce and sanguinary. Although largely re-enforced, the Federals did not attempt to advance, but maintained their ground with obstinate determination.
Both lines stood exposed to the discharges of musketry and artillery until about 9 o'clock, when the enemy slowly fell back, yielding the field to our troops.
The loss on both sides was heavy, and among our wounded were Major-General Ewell and Brigadier-General Taliaferro. The latter after a few months was able to resume his duties; the former, I regret to say, is still disabled by his wound, and the army thus deprived of his valuable services.
This obstinate resistance of the enemy appears to have been for the purpose of protecting the flank of his column until it should pass the position occupied by our troops. Owing to the difficulty of getting artillery through the woods I did not have as much of that arm as I desired at the opening of the engagement; but this want was met by Major Pelham, with the Stuart Horse Artillery, who dashed forward on my right and opened upon the enemy at a moment when his services were much needed.
Although the enemy moved off under cover of the night and left us in quiet possession of the field, he did not long permit us to remain inactive or in doubt as to his intention to renew the conflict.
The next morning (29th) I found that he had abandoned the ground occupied as the battle-field the evening before and had moved farther to the east and to my left, placing himself between my command and the Federal capital. My troops on this day were distributed along and in the vicinity of the cut of an unfinished railroad (intended as a part of the track to connect the Manassas road directly with Alexandria), stretching from the Warrenton turnpike in the direction of Sudley's Mill. It was mainly along the excavation of this unfinished road that my line of battle was formed on the 29th-- Jackson's division, under Brigadier-General Starke, on the right, Ewell's division, under Brigadier-General Lawton, in the center, and Hill's division on the left.
In the morning, about 10 o'clock, the Federal artillery opened with spirit and animation upon our right, which was soon replied to by the batteries of Poague, Carpenter, Dement, Brockenbrough, and Latimer, under Major [L. M.] Shumaker. This lasted for some time, when the enemy moved around more to our left to another point of attack. His next effort was directed against our left. This was vigorously repulsed by the batteries of Braxton, Crenshaw, and Pegram.
About 2 p.m. the Federal infantry in large force advanced to the attack of our left, occupied by the division of General Hill. It pressed forward, in defiance of our fatal and destructive fire, with great determination, a portion of it crossing a deep cut in the railroad track and penetrating in heavy force an interval or' nearly 175 yards, which separated the right of Gregg's from the left of Thomas' brigade. For a short time Gregg's brigade, on the extreme left, was isolated from the main body of the command; but the Fourteenth South Carolina Regiment, then in reserve, with the Forty-ninth Georgia, left of Colonel Thomas, attacked the exultant enemy with vigor, and drove them back across the railroad track with great slaughter. General McGowan reports that the opposing forces at one time delivered their volleys into each other at the distance of 10 paces. Assault after assault was made on the left, exhibiting on the part of the enemy great pertinacity and determination, but every advance was most successfully and gallantly driven back.
General Hill reports that six separate and distinct assaults were thus met and repulsed by Iris division, assisted by Hays' brigade, Colonel Forno commanding.
By this time the brigade of General Gregg, which from its position on the extreme left was most exposed to the enemy's attack, had nearly expended its ammunition. It had suffered severely in its men, and all its field officers except two were killed or wounded. About 4 o'clock it had been assisted by Hays' brigade (Colonel Forno). It was now retired to the rear to take some repose after seven hours of severe service, and General Early's brigade, of Ewell's division, with the Eighth Louisiana Regiment, took its place. On reaching his position General Early found that the enemy had obtained possession of the railroad and a piece of wood in front, there being at this point a deep cut, which furnished a strong defense. Moving through a field he advanced upon the enemy, drove them from the wood and railroad cut with great slaughter, and followed in pursuit some 200 yards; the Thirteenth Georgia at the same time advanced to the railroad and crossed with Early's brigade. As it was not desirable to bring on a general engagement that evening General Early was recalled to the railroad, where Thomas, Pender, and Archer had firmly maintained their positions during the day. Early kept Iris position there until the following morning.
Brigadier-General Field and Colonel Forno (commanding Hays' brigade) were severely wounded. Brigadier-General Trimble was also seriously wounded.
During the day a force of the enemy penetrated the wood in my rear, endangering the safety of my ambulances and train. Upon being advised of this by General Stuart I sent a body of infantry to drive them from the wood; but in the mean time the vigilant Pelham had unlimbered his battery and dispersed that portion of them which had reached the wood. At a later period Major [William] Patrick, of the cavalry, who was by General Stuart intrusted with guarding the train, was attacked, and although it was promptly and effectually repulsed, it was not without the loss of that intrepid officer, who fell in the attack while setting an example of gallantry to his men well worthy of imitation. During the day the commanding general arrived and also General Longstreet with his command.
On the following day (30th) my command occupied the ground and the divisions the same relative position to each other and to the field which they held the day before, forming the left wing of the army, General Longstreet's command forming the right, wing. A large quantity of artillery was posted upon a commanding eminence in t. he center. After some desultory skirmishing and heavy cannonading during the day the Federal infantry, about 4 o'clock in the evening, moved from under cover of the wood and advanced in several lines, first engaging the right, but soon extending its attack to the center and left. In a few moments our entire line was engaged in a fierce and sanguinary struggle with the enemy. As one line was repulsed another took its place and pressed forward as if determined by force of numbers and fury of assault to drive us from our positions. So impetuous and well sustained were these onsets as to induce me to send to the commanding general for re-enforcements, but the timely and gallant advance of General Longstreet on the right relieved my troops from the pressure of overwhelming numbers and gave to those brave men the chances of a more equal conflict. As Longstreet pressed upon the right the Federal advance was checked, and soon a general advance of my whole line was ordered. Eagerly and fiercely did each brigade press forward, exhibiting in parts of the field scenes of close encounter and murderous strife not witnessed often in the turmoil of battle. The Federals gave way before our troops, fell back in disorder, and fled precipitately, leaving their dead and wounded on the field. During their retreat the artillery opened with destructive power upon the fugitive masses. The infantry followed until darkness put an end to the pursuit.
Our loss was heavy; that of the enemy, as shown by the battle-field, of which we were in possession, much heavier. Among the losses was Colonel Baylor, commanding Winder's brigade, who fell in front of his brigade while nobly leading and cheering it on to the charge.
We captured eight pieces of artillery, with their caissons, and 6,520 small-arms were collected from the battle-field.
It being ascertained next morning that the Federal Army had retreated in the direction of Centreville, I was ordered by the commanding general to turn that position. crossing Bull Run at Sudley Ford thence pursuing a country road until we reached the Little River turnpike, which we followed in the direction of Fairfax Court-House until the troops halted for the night.
Early the next morning (September 1) we moved forward, and late in the evening, after reaching Ox Hill, came in contact with the enemy, who were in position on our right and front, covering his line of retreat from Centreville to Fairfax Court-House. Our line of battle was formed, General Hill's division on the right, Ewell's division, General Lawton commanding, in the center, and Jackson's division, General Starke commanding, on the left, all on the right of the turnpike road. Artillery was posted on an eminence to the left of the road. The brigades of Branch and Field, Col. [J. M.] Brockenbrough commanding the latter, were sent forward to feel and engage the enemy. A cold and drenching thunder-shower swept over the field at this time, striking directly into the faces of our troops. These two brigades gallantly engaged the enemy, but so severe was the fire in front and flank of Branch's brigade as to produce in it some disorder and falling back. The brigades of Gregg, Thomas, and Pender were then thrown into the fight. Soon a portion of Ewell's division became engaged. The conflict now raged with great fury, the enemy obstinately and desperately contesting the ground until their generals (Kearny and Stevens) fell in front of Thomas' brigade, after which they retired from the field. By the following morning the Federal Army had entirely disappeared from our view, and it soon appeared, by a report from General Stuart, that it had passed Fairfax Court-House and had moved in the direction of Washington City.
On September 3 we left Ox Hill, taking the road by Dranesville and Leesburg, and on the 4th bivouacked near the Big Spring between Leesburg and the Potomac.
The official reports of the casualties of my command in its operations from the Rappahannock to the Potomac will show a loss of 75 officers killed and 273 wounded 730 non-commissioned officers and privates killed, 3,274 wounded. and 35 missing, making a total loss of 4,387.
Col. S. Crutchfield, chief of artillery, discharged his duties well. The conduct of officers and men during the various engagements described was such as to entitle them to great praise. The wounded were skillfully cared for by medical director Dr. Hunter McGuire.
In the transmission of orders I was greatly assisted during the expedition by the following members of my staff: Col. A. Smead, assistant inspector-general; Maj. E. F. Paxton, acting assistant adjutant-general; Capt. R. E. Wilbourn, chief signal officer; First Lieut. H. K. Douglas, assistant inspector-general; First Lieut. J. G. Morrison, aide-de-camp, and Col. William L. Jackson, volunteer aide-decamp. Captain Wilbourn was so severely wounded at the battle of Groveton as to be unable to go farther with the army. The ordnance, quartermaster's, and commissary departments were well managed by their respective chiefs, Majs. G. H. Bier, J. A. Harman, and W. J. Hawks.
For further information respecting the detailed movements of troops and the conduct of individuals I would respectfully refer you to the accompanying reports. For these great and signal victories our sincere and humble thanks are due unto Almighty God. We should in all things acknowledge the hand of Him who reigns in heaven and rules among the armies of men. In view of the arduous labors and great privations the troops were called to endure and the isolated and perilous position which the command occupied while engaged with greatly-superior numbers of the enemy we can but express the grateful conviction of our mind that God was with us and gave to us the victory, and unto His holy name be the praise.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. J. JACKSON,