30 Aug 2018

Pope's Folly: Remembering the Battle of Second Manassas

Pope's Folly: Remembering the Battle of Second Manassas

“You are excited, young man; the people you see are General Porter’s command taking position on the right of the enemy.” Gen. John Pope, upon receiving a breathless report of movement by Confederate Gen. James Longstreet’s 28,000-man army.

156 years ago today, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army emerged victorious in what would be the decisive battle of the Second Manassas Campaign. The Battle of Second Manassas lasted three days, resulted in 22,177 casualties, and gave Lee the confidence to invade Maryland, leading to the bloodiest single-day battle in American history – at Sharpsburg less than one month later.

The campaign began because of a bold Confederate strategy to provoke the Union army. By late August, Lee’s trusted and highly capable wing commanders, Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson and Gen. James Longstreet, had brought Lee's army within 35 miles of the Union capital. On August 28, soon after covering 54 miles in 36 hours with his 24,000 men, Jackson ordered an attack on a passing Federal column to draw Union Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia into battle. Jackson’s attack that day resulted in a stalemate after hours of furious fighting, but it achieved the broader Confederate objective of convincing Pope that he was winning.

Through a full day of fighting on August 29, Pope maintained this misapprehension, launching a series of assaults against Jackson’s position, which were repulsed with heavy casualties on both sides. Longstreet’s wing arrived on the field around midday but the majority of his forces were held in reserve. 

General Pope spent the morning of August 30, in the words of one of his aides, “standing under a tree waiting for Jackson to retreat.” Despite repeated warnings from his subordinates, he refused to believe that Longstreet was forming to attack his left flank and renewed his own assaults that afternoon. When Confederate artillery devastated a Union assault by Gen. Fitz John Porter’s Fifth Corps, Longstreet’s wing of 28,000 men attacked in one of the largest simultaneous attacks of the war. The Union left flank was crushed and the army driven back to Bull Run. Only an effective Union rearguard action prevented a replay of the First Manassas disaster.

Whether from arrogance, mistrust, or wishful thinking, Pope’s army undoubtedly paid a high price for his fixation with destroying Jackson's force. In September, Pope was transferred to the Department of the Northwest, where he remained for the remainder of the war.

Second Manassas Battle App

This app is the perfect touring partner for your exploration of the Second Manassas battlefield. Our GPS-enabled application will guide you to all the historic spots on this 1862 Civil War battlefield, from the initial fighting at Brawner's Farm and the Unfinished Railroad to the sites where James Longstreet's Confederates smashed the Union left.

Tour Manassas Battlefield in Three Days

From the First Battle of Manassas to Robert E. Lee's last strategic offensive at Bristoe Station, the Manassas area has several battlefields, museums and historic sites to explore. Our three-day itinerary will help you prepare for your visit and maximize your time.

The Civil War In4: Battles of Manassas

Which Northern Virginia town, just 30 miles from Washington, D.C., was the namesake of two of the Civil War’s defining battles? Learn about the two Confederate victories that took place near Manassas Junction – on July 21, 1861, and August 28-30, 1862.

The Civil War In4: 1862

From coast to coast, 1862 delivered some high highs and some low lows for both the Union and the Confederacy. Our own Garry Adelman provides a brief overview of the major battles and key turning points of the Civil War that year.

Support the Field Trip Fund!

We started our Field Trip Fund because sometimes an experience is worth a thousand textbooks. But as demand grows, we’re forced to reject many applications because of lack of funds. Will you help send more students to the hallowed grounds where our nation’s history was shaped?

The Amazing Life of U.S. Grant

No American led a more eventful life than Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the United States and the Union army's most celebrated general. Historian Garry Adelman tells Grant’s fascinating story in this video made in partnership with Prager University.

4 Stars from Charity Navigator!

Strong financial health and a commitment to accountability and transparency have earned the American Battlefield Trust four stars – the highest possible rating – from Charity Navigator for the ninth year in a row. And we couldn’t have done it without your support!

American Battlefield Trust

No comments:

Post a Comment