July 23, 2012 – Prince William Forest National Park and Manassas National Battlefield

We decided to have a change of pace and went walking in Prince William Forest National Park.  It is a very nice park that is about 25 miles from Washington DC.  Much to our delight we ran into a deer and her fawn.

 

We also went to the Manassas National Battlefield, the site of two major Civil War battles: the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, and the Second Battle of Bull Run which was fought between August 28 and August 30, 1862.   It was here that Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson acquired his nickname “Stonewall.”   We found out it was given to him by a general from South Carolina.  The third picture shows the Stone House which served as a hospital during both battles.  This is the original house and there are pictures of it from 1862 that look like they could have been taken today.  The last picture illustrates just how costly the Civil War was.

History Lesson Warning — skip to the pictures if you do not want to read it

First Battle of Bull Run (Union name) or First Battle of Manassas (Confederate name)

Just months after the start of the war at Fort Sumter, the Northern public clamored for a march against the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, which they expected to bring an early end to the rebellion. Yielding to political pressure, Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell led his unseasoned Union Army across Bull Run against the equally inexperienced Confederate Army of Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard camped near Manassas Junction.  McDowell’s ambitious plan for a surprise flank attack on the Confederate left was poorly executed by his officers and men; nevertheless, the Confederates, who had been planning to attack the Union left flank, found themselves at an initial disadvantage.

Confederate reinforcements under Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston arrived from the Shenandoah Valley by railroad and the course of the battle quickly changed. A brigade of Virginians under a relatively unknown colonel from the Thomas J. Jackson, stood their ground and Jackson received his famous nickname, “Stonewall Jackson”.   The Confederates then launched a strong counterattack, and as the Union troops began withdrawing under fire, many panicked and it turned into a rout as McDowell’s men frantically ran without order in the direction of Washington, D.C.  Both armies were sobered by the fierce fighting and many casualties, and realized the war was going to be much longer and bloodier than either had anticipated.

Second Battle of Bull Run or Second Battle of Manassas

The Second Battle of Bull Run or Second Manassas was fought August 28–30, 1862, as part of the Civil War. It was the culmination of an offensive campaign waged by COnfederate Gen. Robert E Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia against Union Maj. Ge. John Pope’s Amy of Virgina.

Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson captured the Union supply depot at Manassas Junction, threatening Pope’s line of communications with Washington, D. C.  Withdrawing a few miles to the northwest, Jackson took up defensive positions on Stony Ridge. On August 28, 1862, Jackson attacked a Union column just east of Gainesville, at Brawner’s Farm, resulting in a stalemate. On that same day, the wing of Lee’s army commanded by Maj. Gen.James Longstreet broke through light Union resistance in the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap and approached the battlefield.

Pope became convinced that he had trapped Jackson and concentrated the bulk of his army against him. On August 29, Pope launched a series of assaults against Jackson’s position along an unfinished railroad grade. The attacks were repulsed with heavy casualties on both sides. At noon, Longstreet arrived on the field from Thoroughfare Gap and took position on Jackson’s right flank. On August 30, Pope renewed his attacks, seemingly unaware that Longstreet was on the field. When massed Confederate artillery devastated a Union assault by Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter’s V Corps, Longstreet’s wing of 25,000 men in five divisions counterattacked in the largest, simultaneous mass assault of the war.  The Union left flank was crushed and the army was driven back to Bull Run. Only an effective Union rearguard action prevented a replay of the First Manassas disaster. Popes retreated to Centreville.

Union casualties were about 10,000 killed and wounded out of 62,000 engaged; the Confederates lost about 1,300 killed and 7,000 wounded out of 50,000. As the Union Army concentrated on Centreville, Lee planned his next move. He sent Jackson on another flanking march in an attempt to interpose his army between Pope and Washington. Pope countered the move and the two forces clashed a final time at the Battle of Chantilly on September 1.  Lee immediately began his next campaign on September 3, when the vanguard of the Army of Northern Virginia crossed the Potomac River, marching toward a fateful encounter with the Army of the Potomac in the Maryland Campaign and the Battle of Antietam.

 

 

 

 

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