Northern Virginia Campaign

Battle of Cedar Mountain in the Northern Virginia Campaign by Currier & Ives, 1862.

Battle of Cedar Mountain in the Northern Virginia Campaign by Currier & Ives, 1862.

The Northern Virginia Campaign, also known as the Second Bull Run Campaign and Second Manassas Campaign, was a series of battles fought in Virginia during August and September 1862 in the Eastern Theater of the Civil War. Confederate General Robert E. Lee followed up his successes of the Seven Days Battles in the Peninsula Campaign by moving north toward Washington, D.C., and defeating Major General John Pope and his Army of Virginia.

Arrival of Generall McDowells Corps at Cedar Mountain, Virginia.

Arrival of Generall McDowells Corps at Cedar Mountain, Virginia.

Cedar Mountain (August 9, 1862) – Also called the Battle of Slaughter’s Mountain or Battle of  Cedar Run, this large conflict occurred in Culpeper County. Union Major General John Pope was placed in command of Virginia’s newly constituted Army on June 26, 1862. Confederate General Robert E. Lee responded to Pope’s dispositions by dispatching Major General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson with 14,000 men to Gordonsville in July. General Ambrose P. Hill’s division later reinforced Jackson. In early August, Pope marched his forces south into Culpeper County to capture the rail junction at Gordonsville. On August 9th, General Jackson and Major General Nathaniel Banks’s corps tangled at Cedar Mountain, with the Federals gaining an early advantage. A Confederate counterattack led by General Hill repulsed the Federals and won the day. Confederate General William Winder was killed. This battle shifted fighting in Virginia from the Peninsula to Northern Virginia, giving Lee the initiative. The Confederate victory resulted in an estimated 1,307 Confederate casualties and 1,400 Union casualties.

Rappahannock Station I (August 22-25, 1862) – Also known as the Battle of Waterloo Bridge, White Sulphur Springs, Lee Springs, or Freeman’s Ford, these skirmishes took place over four days, occurred in Culpeper and Fauquier Counties. In early August, General Robert E. Lee determined that Union Major General George B. McClellan’s army was being withdrawn from the Peninsula to reinforce General John Pope. He sent General James Longstreet from Richmond to join Major General Thomas J. Jackson’s wing near Gordonsville and arrived to take command on August 15th. On August 20-21, Pope withdrew to the line of the Rappahannock River. On August 23rd, Confederate Brigadier General J.E.B Stuart’s cavalry made a daring raid on Pope’s headquarters at Catlett Station, showing that the Union right flank was vulnerable to a turning movement. Over the next several days, from August 22nd to the 25th, the two armies fought a series of minor actions along the Rappahannock River, including Waterloo Bridge, Lee Springs, Freeman’s Ford, and Sulphur Springs resulting in a few hundred casualties. Together, these skirmishes primed Pope’s army along the river, while Jackson’s wing marched via Thoroughfare Gap to capture Bristoe Station and destroy Federal supplies at Manassas Junction, far in the rear of Pope’s army. The inconclusive battles resulted in estimated total casualties of 225.

Federal soldiers at a Confederate fortification at Manassas, Virginia

Federal soldiers at a Confederate fortification at Manassas, Virginia

Manassas Station Operations (August 25-27,1862) – This raid included the operations known as Bristoe Station, Kettle Run, Bull Run Bridge, or Union Mills. Taking place in Prince William County, Virginia, as part of the Northern Virginia Campaign of the Civil War. On the evening of August 26th, after passing around Union General Pope’s right flank via Thoroughfare Gap, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson’s wing of the army struck the Orange & Alexandria Railroad at Bristoe Station and before daybreak on August 27th and marched to capture and destroy the massive Union supply depot at Manassas Junction. This surprise movement forced General John Pope into an abrupt retreat from his defensive line along the Rappahannock River. On August 27th, General Jackson routed a Union brigade near Union Mills (Bull Run Bridge), inflicting several hundred casualties and mortally wounding Union Brigadier General G.W. Taylor. Confederate General Richard Ewell’s Division fought a brisk rearguard action against Union General Joseph Hooker’s division at Kettle Run, resulting in about 600 casualties and holding back Union forces until dark. During the night of August 27-28, General Jackson marched his divisions north to the First Manassas battlefield, where he took position behind an unfinished railroad grade. The Confederate victory resulted in estimated Union casualties of 400-450 and 173 Confederate.

Thoroughfare Gap (August 28, 1862) – Also known as the Battle of Chapman’s Mill, this engagement took place in Fauquier and Prince William Counties. After skirmishing near Chapman’s Mill in Thoroughfare Gap, Brigadier General James Ricketts’s Union division was flanked by a Confederate column passing through Hopewell Gap several miles to the north by troops securing the high ground at Thoroughfare Gap. Ricketts retired, and Confederate General James Longstreet’s wing of the army marched through the gap to join Jackson. This seemingly inconsequential action virtually ensured Union Major General John Pope’s defeat during the battles of Aug. 29-30 because it allowed the two wings of General Robert E. Lee’s army to unite on the Manassas battlefield. Ricketts withdrew via Gainesville to Manassas Junction. The Confederate victory resulted in estimated total casualties of 100.

Second Battle of Bull Run by Currier & Ives

Second Battle of Bull Run by Currier & Ives

Manassas II (August 28-30, 1862) – Also called the Battle of Second Bull Run, Manassas Plains, Groveton, Gainesville, or Brawner’s Farm, this Confederate victory took place in Prince William County. To draw Union Major General John Pope’s army into battle, Confederate Major General Thomas J. Jackson ordered an attack on a Federal column that was passing across his front on the Warrenton Turnpike on August 28th. The fighting at Brawner Farm lasted several hours and resulted in a stalemate. General Pope became convinced that he had trapped Jackson and concentrated the bulk of his army against him. On August 29th, Pope launched a series of assaults against General Jackson’s position along an unfinished railroad grade. The attacks were repulsed, with heavy casualties on both sides. At noon, Confederate General James Longstreet arrived on the field from Thoroughfare Gap and took position on Jackson’s right flank.

On August 30th, General Pope renewed his attacks, seemingly unaware that Longstreet was on the field. When massed Confederate artillery devastated a Union assault by General Fitz John Porter, Longstreet’s wing of 28,000 men counterattacked in the Civil War’s largest, simultaneous mass assault. 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. General Pope’s retreat to Centreville was precipitous, nonetheless. The next day, General Robert E. Lee ordered his army in pursuit. This was the decisive battle of the Northern Virginia Campaign. The Confederate victory resulted in an estimated 13,830 Union casualties and 8,350 Confederate casualties.

General Kearney charge in the Battle of Chantilly, Virginia by Augustus Tholey.

General Kearney charge in the Battle of Chantilly, Virginia by Augustus Tholey.

Chantilly (September 1, 1862) – Also known as the Battle of Ox Hill, this engagement occurred in Fairfax County. Confederate Major General Thomas J. Jackson hoped to cut off the Union retreat from Bull Run from a wide flank march. On September 1st, beyond Chantilly Plantation on the Little River Turnpike near Ox Hill, Jackson sent his divisions against two Union divisions under Major General Isaac Stevens and Major General Phillip Kearny. Confederate attacks were stopped by fierce fighting during a severe thunderstorm. Union generals Stevens and Kearny were both killed. Recognizing that his army was still in danger at the Fairfax Courthouse, Major General John Pope ordered the retreat to continue to Washington. With Pope no longer a threat, General Robert E. Lee turned his army west and north to invade Maryland, initiating the Maryland Campaign and South Mountain and Antietam’s battles. Major General George B. McClellan assumed command of Union forces around Washington. Though the battle itself was inconclusive, it was considered a strategic Confederate victory. There were an estimated 1,300 Union casualties and 800 Confederate.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of America, updated May 2021.

Also See:

Campaigns of the Civil War

Civil War Main Page

Virginia Civil War Battles

Virginia Civil War Gallery

Sources:

Battlefields.org
National Park Service Battle Descriptions (no longer available online)
National Park Service Civil War
Wikipedia