A battle at Groveton costs the ANV dearly one year later.
The three day battle of 2nd Manassas opened tonight, the 28th August, in 1862.
It would prove the culmination of a splendid three week campaign to oust a Federal army of 50000 from deep in Virginia and lead to an unsuccessful invasion of Maryland in September. Its instigator was the great Southern General Lee.
There were to be consequences for the later Gettysburg battle fought in July of 1863.
Pope thought he had trapped Jackson’s fabled Corps and was preparing, in his arrogant manner, to finish him off. He ignored signs that Lee’s other, larger, Corps was nearby. The trap would be a Southern one.
The battle opened early evening with the advance of one unit, the 2nd Wisconsin, of the soon to be famous Black Hats Brigade. This 430 man Regiment was caught in flank by 800 men of Jackson’s Stonewall Brigade of Virginians. But did not flee, instead stood their ground. Their Brigade commander, an Artillery officer, John Gibbon fed the rest of his 2100 man Brigade into the melee, until they faced 6000 men of Jackson’s Corps.
The action would result in this Western Brigade earning the nickname Iron Brigade.
Its units were the 2, 6, 7 Wisconsin and 19 Indiana. The Southern troops in Lee’s army would forever remember these men.
Two Southern Generals were wounded in today’s action. The senior was Major General Richard Stoddert Ewell. He had attended West Point and graduated in 1840, serving on the frontier. He had commanded a mixed State Brigade at 1st Manassas and was now Jackson’s senior Division commander and his right hand man. The wound was in the leg and was severe, requiring amputation. He would be out of the war for 10 months, missing Jackson’s fatal wounding at Chancellorsville in May of 1863.
He would return at the head of Jackson’s old Corps and despite an auspicious start to the Gettysburg campaign, fail terribly when most needed at Gettysburg.
Many said he was not the same man without his leg or Jackson’s leadership.
29th August 1862: The future and final commander of the Army of Potomac was involved in today’s first (proper) day of the 2nd Manassas battle. (Groveton is often considered a preliminary and separate battle.)
The man of whom i am talking is of course, George Gordon Meade. He was a profane West Point army career officer from Pennsylvania (although born in Spain) today commanding 5 Regiments of Pennsylvania Reserves. He received command of the Army just days before Gettysburg and was never replaced. Like other Union commanders today, he was unable to gain any headway against the forces to his front.
The reason he and other Brigade and Division commanders were not routing Jackson’s by now exhausted Corps was simple. Longstreet, commanding the other, larger half of Lee’s army was, by evening’s end, nearly all on the field. The numbers were now equal. Jackson had held against all attacks, despite appalling casualties in men and officers.
Pope, commanding, had erred and this day was to precede his first and final defeat commanding Eastern troops. Tomorrow, the 30th, would see the Northern army retreat in the face of Lee’s offensive.
North Virginia would soon be free of Union troops and the focus shift North.
Meade would soon receive his own Division as his fine Division commander, fellow Pennsylvanian, John Reynolds, is promoted to Corps. Unlike Meade, Gettysburg would be his last battle.
Apologies everyone: I feel my last post is a little muddled and not too clear. Hope you get the idea.
I am in no way blaming “Sleeping Beauty”, which happens to be on in the background.
I just think I got the perspective wrong.
I do hope to write a few lines about tomorrow’s more important fight, but no promises.
God only knows which Disney will be featuring!
30th August: Rapunzel.
In 1862 in Northern Virginia, however, Major General John Pope was about to get his long awaited comeuppance. Lee was ready to take the offensive against the man he had come to despise, for his over confident bombast and disregard and disrespect of Virginia and the men he had come east to command.
Not heeding his subordinates’ requests for caution, Pope tried once again to break Jackson’s battered Corps(one Brigade did break, but others plugged the gap). On the union far left were only two brigades of Infantry and they were to be assailed by ten times their number. Three Southern Divisions, Hood’s, Kemper’s and Jones’ crashed onto the field, making short work of the outnumbered Northern troops.
Pope did well to recognise the danger when it appeared and sent four Brigades from three different Divisions to hold at Henry House Hill on his left. Remember this was ground fought over 13 months ago, by much the same men and officers, although most were now promoted.
This time around there would be no rout. Understandably, there was much jubilation on the side of the Southerners and a great loss of morale on the Northern side. This sense of martial superiority, begun last Summer at 1st Manassas, was to continue and come to a head on the field of Gettysburg another Summer from now.