Page images




vania, which lost about fifty men. Longstreet was held in check for a while; but when, from his superior force, he sent out flanking parties (a strong one to Hopewell Gap), Ricketts yielded to necessity and fled toward Gainesville, rapidly followed early the next morning® by his antagonist.

Pope's advantage was lost on the morning of the 29th. His army was scattered and somewhat confused, while the chances for a junction of Jackson and Longstreet momentarily increased. King had been compelled to abandon the Warrenton pike, and had fallen back to Manassas Junction, to which point Ricketts had also hastened. This left the way open for a speedy embrace of the two Confederate leaders, and the advance of Lee's entire army. Pope perceived it, and endeavored to regain what was lost by ordering Sigel, supported by Reynolds, to advance from Groveton and attack Jackson in the wooded heights near, at dawn, while he should get the remainder of his force well in hand. He ordered Heintzelman to push forward from Centreville with the divisions of Hooker and Kearney toward Gainesville, to be followed by Reno, who was to attack promptly and heavily, while Porter, with his own corps and King's division, was to move upon tho road to Gainesville from Manassas, for the purpose of turning Jackson's flank at the junction of that highway and the Warrenton pike, and to fall heavily upon his rear.

Jackson, who now commanded the Warrenton road, by which Lee was approaching, had determined to maintain his advantageous position at all hazards until relief should come. His troops were posted along the cut and grading of an unfinished railway, his right resting on the Warrenton pike, and his left near Sudley's Mill. The greater portion of his troops were under shelter of thick woods a little in the rear.

Sigel, with the division of Carl Schurz on his right, that of Schenck on his left, and Milroy in the center, advanced to attack at five o'clock in the morning, and at seven a furious battle was begun. Until ten

August 29. o'clock Sigel steadily gained ground, in the face of a destructive storm of missiles, when it became evident that Jackson had been re-enforced, and was assuming the offensive. It was so. Longstreet, with the vanguard of Lee's whole army, which had been streaming through Thoroughfare Gap all the morning, unopposed, had reached the field of action. Yet, against inevitably increasing odds, the Nationals maintained the sanguinary struggle until near noon, when Kearney's division arrived on the field by the Sudley Springs road, and took position on Sigel's right. At the same time Reno came up by the Gainesville road to the support of the center, and Reynolds, with the Pennsylvania Reserves, placed himself on the extreme left. Hooker arrived by the Sudley road at two in the afternoon, to the relief







of Schurz and Milroy, who had been fighting since morning without tasting food, and had almost expended their ammunition.

At noon the Nationals outnumbered the Confederates, and from that time until half-past four o'clock the battle assumed the aspect of a series of severe skirmishes. Then Pope ordered Porter into action, with directions to attack and attempt to turn the Confederate right, which he supposed to be that of Jackson's troops; and soon afterward Heintzelman and Reno were ordered to assail their left and front in support of Porter's movement. But that movement was not made, in consequence, Porter says, of not receiving the order until dusk; so the brunt of battle fell upon Heintzelman and

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Reno. It was desperate and gallant on both sides. Grover's brigade of Hooker's division penetrated two of Jackson's lines by a bayonet charge, and after a severe hand to hand struggle got possession of the railway embankment on the Confederate left, but at the cost of thirty per cent. of

1 This is a view of the monument on the battle-held near Groveton, as it appeared when the writer visited and sketched it, early in June, 1866, with his traveling companions, Messrs. Dreer oud Greble. We rode out from Manassas Junction in an ambulance early in the inorning, and went over the battle-ground of Bull's Rnn, visiting the monument near the site of Mrs. Henry's house (see pages 591 and 603, volume I.), and, following the

line of the retreat of the National troops, went down to the Warrenton turnpike, and westward to Groveton, a hamlet of a few dilapidated bouses, on the slope of a hill. We passed through a lane near the ruins of Mrs. Henry Dogan's stone house, which remained as the shot and shell had left it after the battle. Pope's cannon were brought to bear npo: it to drive out Confederate sharp-shooters. Ascending a hill through open fields, we soon reached the monument, from whi We had a fine view of the country over which the battles of July 21, 1861, and the close of August, 1862, were fought. On the monument (which was built by the samne hands, and of the same material as that near the site of the Henry house, see page 607, volume I.) was this inscription : " IN MEMORY OF THE PATRIOTS WHO FELL AT GROVETOS, AUGUST 28, 29, AND 30, 1862." We are looking toward Manassas Junction, the place of which is indicated by the two birds. The single bird to the right indicates

Groveton. Returning, we passed near Chinn's house, MRS. DOGAN'S HOUSE AT GROVETON.

in which Colonel Broadhead, wounded in this vicinity,

died; also the Pittsylvania house, and the store-house of Mr. Mathews, wentioned in the account of the battle of Bull's Run, in volume I. - These were among the few houses in that region which had survived the war.





its force. Kearney, meanwhile, had struck Jackson's left at the point occupied by A. P. Hill, doubled his flank upon his center, and assisted Hooker in holding the railway intrencnment for a time. This was a critical moment for the Confederates, for their ammunition was nearly exhausted, and Jackson's left had been driven back nearly a mile.

King's division of McDowell's corps had come into action about sunset, and boldly advanced beyond the general line of the Nationals, but was soon brought to a stand. Heavy re-enforcements, composed of a fresh division of Longstreet's corps, had come to the aid of Jackson. Among them was Hood's famous Texan brigade. By these and McLaws' Louisianians, Kearney's regiments, most in advance, were driven back with the loss of a gun, four flags, and one hundred men made prisoners; but soon afterward darkness put an end to the struggle. Porter, on receiving Pope's order at twi. light, made a disposition for attack, but it was too late. So ended THE BATTLE OF GROVETON, with a loss of not less than seven thousand men on each side.'

Pope's entire army (excepting Banks's force at Bristow's Station) and a part of McClellan's was in the action just recorded. Fasting, sickness, and marches, and the casualties in battle, liad greatly reduced the number of his effective inen. It was estimated at only about forty thousand on the night of the battle of Groveton. It had failed to accomplish the intentions of its commander in keeping Lee and Jackson apart and destroying the latter, and it was now decidedly the weaker party, for Lee's army had just become a powerful unit. Prudence counseled a retreat across Bull's Run, and even to the defenses of Washington, but Pope resolved to try the issue of another battle on the morrow, and so his troops rested on their arms that night. For this determination he had not sufficient warrant. He had received no re-enforcements or supplies since the 26th, and had no positive assurance that any would be sent. He confidently expected rations and forage from McClellan at Alexandria, who was to supply them, but it was not until the morning of the 30th, when it was too late to retreat and perilous to stand still, that he received the disheartening information, that seemed like a cruel mockery, that rations and forage would be “ loaded into the available wagons

"Reports of Generals Pope and Lee, and their subordinate commanders. Pope, in his report, severely censured Porter, saying, “Ilis force look no part whatever in the action; but were suffered by him to lie on their arms within sight and sound of the battle during the whole day. So far as I know," he said, "he maile no effort whatever to comply with my orders, or to take any part in the action;" and declared that had he obeyed his orders, the whole or a greater part of Jackson's force might have been crushed or captured. “I believe," he said—" in fact I am positive-that at five o'clock on the afternoon of the 29th, General Porter had in his front no considerable force of the enemy." He sail he believed at the time of the battle, and when he wrote his report (January, 1563), that it was an easy matter for Porter “to have turned the right flank of Jackson, and to have fallen in his rear," and that a decisive victory for the Nationals inight have been gained before Jackson could have been joined by any of the forces of Longstreet.

In his report, l'ope says that Longstrect did not reach the right of Jackson until about sunset, and he supposed Jackson's right to be the extreme «f that wing of the Confederate Army. He was mistaken. According to fair inferences drawn from Lee's report (Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, i. 23, 24), and the positive statements of other commanders of that arıny engaged in the action, contained in volume II., Longstreet had position on Jackson's right as early as noon that dar, and if Porter had received the order at the time Pope thought he diel, itis very doubtful whether he could have carried it out successfully. Porter says, as we have observed in the text, that he did not receive the order until dusk, when it was too late to execute it. Nearly the whole of Longstreet's corps had been directly in front of him for several hours when Pope's order reached hinn.

His men were greatly fatigued by the intense l:bors of the fortnight preceding. For two days they had eaten but little. The cavalry and artillery horses had been ten days in harness and two days without fool.



[ocr errors]


and cars so soon as he should send a cavalry escort for the train !--a thing utterly impossible.'

Pope saw that he had no alternative. He must fight. So he put his line in V shape early the next morning, pivoting on the Warrenton pike. Reynolds occupied the left leg, Porter, Sigel, and Reno the right, and Heintzelman was posted on the extreme right. Pope had resolved to attack Lee's left, and at the same time the latter had made disposition during the night to attack Pope's left. Lee's movements for that purpose, in which he withdrew some of his troops from ground he had occupied the previous evening, gave Pope the impression that his foe was retreating along the Warrenton pike, and he was not undeceived until ten o'clock the next day. Meanwhile he had telegraphed to Washington the joyful tidings that the Confederates

retreating to the mountains.” Under this impression he ordered McDowell to follow with three corps, Porter's in the advance, along the Warrenton pike, and attack the fugitives, and Heintzelman and Reno, supported by Ricketts' division, were directed to assail and turn the Confederate left.

The attempt to execute this movement developed a fearful state of affairs for the National army. As Butterfield's division moved up the hill near Groveton, the eminence near the edge of the woods suddenly and unexpectedly swarmed with the Confederates, who, instead of retreating, had been massing under cover of the forest in preparation for an offensive movement. They at once opened a fierce fire of shot, shell, and bullet on the Nationals, and at the same time clouds of dust on the left indicated that the foe, in great numbers, were making a flank movement in that direction. To meet this peril McDowell ordered Reynolds to leave Porter's left, and hasten to the assistance of Schenck and Milroy, on whom the threatened blow seemed about to fall. This exposed Porter's key-point, when Colonel G. K. Warren, without orders, moved up with his little brigade of a thousand men and took Reynolds's place. Ricketts, in the mean time, had hastened to the left, and the battle soon became very severe. Porter's


which had been made to recoil by the force of the first unexpected blow, was rallied, and performed special good service, especially Warren's gallant little band of volunteers, and a brigade of regulars under Colonel Buchanan. For a while victory seemed to incline to the Nationals, for Jackson's advanced line was steadily pushed back until about five o'clock in the afternoon. Then Longstreet turned the tide. He found a commanding point on Jackson's right, and with four batteries he poured a most destructive raking artillery fire upon the Nationals. Line after line was swept "ay, and very soon the whole left was put to flight. Jackson immediately advanced, and Longstreet moved in support by pushing his heavy columns against Pope's center. Hlood, with his two brigades, charged furiously upon Ricketts and Reynold:, followed by the divisions of Evans, R. II. Anderson, and Wilcox, supported by those of Kemper and Jones, and at the same time Lee's artillery was doing fearful execution on Pope's disordered infantry. Terrible was the struggle until dark, when it ceased. The National left had been pushed

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

? The letter was written by General Franklin by direction of General McClellan. "Such a letter," said Pope in his report, “when we were fighting the enemy, and Alexandria was swarining with troops, needs no comment."



a Aug. 30,


Aug. 31.

back a considerable distance, but though confused, it was unbroken; and it still held the Warrenton turnpike, by which alone Pope's army might safely retreat.

Pope had now no alternative but to fall back toward Washington. He issued an order to that effect at eight o'clock in the evening.“ The whole army was directed to withdraw during the night across Bull's Run to the heights of Centreville. This was done chiefly by way of the Stone Bridge;' the brigades of Meade and Seymour, and some other troops, covering the movement. The night was very dark, and Lee fortunately did not pursue; and in the morning Bull's Run once again divided the two great armies. So ended THE SECOND BATTLE OF Bull's Run.

Pope was joined at Centreville by the corps of Franklin and Sumner, making his force a little more than sixty thousand, and fully equal to that of Lee. The 31st was passed by the Nationals in comparative quiet, but a severe struggle was had on the following day. Lee was not disposed to attack his foe in his strong position at Centreville, so he sent Jackson on another flanking enterprise at an early hour of the morning of the 31st. Jackson took with him his own and Ewell's divisions, and with instructions to turn and assail Pope's right, he crossed Bull's Run at Sudley Ford, and pushed on to the Little River turnpike. There, turning to the right the following day, he marched down that highway toward Fairfax Court-Ilouse.

* Sept 1. Pope, in the mean time, suspecting this movement, had fallen back to positions covering Fairfax Court-House and Germantown, directed Sumner on the morning of the 1st of September to push forward two brigades toward the Little River pike, and ordered IIooker early in the afternoon to Fairfax Court-IIouse, in support of Sumner. Just before sunset Reno met Jackson's advance (Ewell and IIill) near Chantilly. A cold and drenching rain was falling, but it did not prevent an immediate engagement. Reno, with the remains of two divisions, was sharply attacked, when Hooker, McDowell, and Kearney came up to his assistance. The conflict was severe for a short time, when General Isaac J. Stevens, who was in command at the battle of Port Royal Ferry, now leading Reno's second division, ordered a charge, which he led in person, and was shot dead. His command fell back in disorder, and to some extent put the remainder of Reno's force in confusion. Seeing this, General Kearney advanced with his division and renewed the action, sending Birney's brigade to the fore front. A furious thunderstorm was then raging, which made the use of ammunition difficult; but, unheeding this, Kearney brought forward a battery and planted it in position himself. Then, perceiving a gap caused by the retirement of Stevens's force yet remaining, he pushed forward to reconnoiter, and was killed just within the Confederate lines. He, too, was shot dead just at sun

[ocr errors]

? See page 587, volume I.

? He ordered McDowell to move along the road to Fairfax Court-Ilonse as far as Dimcult Creek, and connect with Hooker's left ; Reno to Chantilly; IIeintzelman to take post on the road between Centreville and Fairfax, in the rear of Reno; Franklin to take position on McDowell's left and rear; and Sigel and Porter to unite with the right of Sumner, who was on the left of Heintzelman. Banks, who, with the wagon-train, had come on from Bristow Station, was ordered to pursue the old Braddock road in the direction of Alexandria

3 See pnge 128.

« PreviousContinue »