Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Battle of 2nd Manassas – Day 2

Jackson was successful in luring John Pope into battle by his attack at Brawner Farm. On the morning of August 29th, Pope brought his army up to the old fields of Manassas and prepared to attack Jackson. He had received news of Longstreet's advance, however, he did not act on that information. He missed his opportunity to keep Lee's army divided. Jackson was positioned along an unfinished railroad cut, with A. P. Hill on the left, Lawton in the center and Starke on the right. Pope planned for Sigel to strike the Confederate left and Porter the right. However, the assaults were uncoordinated. Sigel attacked along a wide front but was unable to break through A. P. Hill and Lawton's line. Pope's order to Porter and McDowell on the left was not given clearly, for it did not specifically order an attack. Porter was deceived by Stuart's cavalry into thinking that Longstreet had already arrived, and when Pope finally gave a peremptory to attack, the aide carrying the message got lost.

Sigel launched four attacks on Jackson throughout the day, but they were not followed up with the forces necessary to break through. Jackson's men fought hard in defense of the railroad cut. When they were pushed back, they responded by charging in counterattacks which drove back the Federals. An attack by Grover's brigade struck a gap in the Confederate line between Thomas and Gregg. In the confused wooded section along A. P. Hill's section of the line, Grover at first gained some success, but Pender's brigade moved forward and threw him back. One Confederate soldier vividly remembered the fighting:
[W]e remained at the railroad, and, after a short halt, the announcement 'Here they come!' was heard. A line of battle marched out of the far end of the east wood into the field, halted, dressed the line, and moved forward. They were allowed to come within about one hundred yards of us, when we opened fire. We could see them stagger, halt, stand a short time, break, and run. At this this time another line made its appearance, coming from the same point. It came a little nearer. They too broke and ran. Still another line came nearer, broke and ran. The whole field seemed to be full of Yankees and some of them advanced nearly to the railroad. We went over the bank at them, the remainder of the brigade following our example.
Longstreet's men finally arrived and came into position at around 1 PM. His corps was placed almost at right angles to Jackson's line, the two lines meeting at Brawner's Farm. Lee wished to make an attack on the Federals, but Longstreet convinced him to wait until the next day. The bloody day finally came to an end, with Lee's army reunited, and unbroken by Federal attacks.


Jim Yuill said...

Thanks! A good example of the difficulty of communication back then.

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