Mom and I at Dad's marker in Arlington

Mom and I at Dad’s marker in Arlington

Because my mom had a funeral to attend in Manassas, we decided to spend the day (7/13/15) and visit my dad’s grave in Arlington and take in Manassas Battlefield.
It was a damp day in Arlington, but we stopped to put stones on my dad’s headstone and spend a bit of time. Since I love Arlington, I had wanted my dad to be buried there, and because of his military service, we were able to arrange it. It has worked out well, since I have had the opportunity to visit almost every year since he’s been gone.

From Arlington, we headed to Manassas. Since this is one of the battles I teach (First and Second Bull Run for the northerners), and a battlefield I had not yet visited, I was excited to see what I could find.  We started in the visitor center, but had only a few hours before the funeral, so we skipped the movie and exhibits and decided to spend our time outside since the rain had stopped. When he found out I teach in Indiana, the ranger told us we had to head down to Brawner Farm to see where our Indiana boys had received their baptism by fire.

Brawny Farm

Brawner Farm

So, off to Brawner Farm we went. This was one of the locations involved in the Second Battle of Manassas. The regiment there was the 19th Indiana, lined up beside the boys of the 2nd, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin–known at this battle as the Black Hat Brigade. They were named such because their commander John Gibbon wanted them dressed, equipped, etc. like the regular army. Their uniforms consisted of black hats, long frock coats, and white gaiters. (Note: There were over 200 different uniforms at Manassas). This stylishly outfitted group later became known as the Iron Brigade when Antietam rolled around.

The 19th Indiana, however, showed their mettle here against the Stonewall Brigade. (This is where my loyalties become torn. Indiana has been my home for about 24 years, but Stonewall Jackson has been my favorite for about as long.) The 19th Indiana had a 60% casualty rate in this engagement. They were driven into woods at dark after being flanked by Jackson’s Virginia regiments. For 1 1/2 hours, the two groups had exchanged musket fire across about 100 yards. The day ended with Union casualties numbering 1025 and Confederates racking up 1200 on this first day of Second Manassas. They would continue to fight two more days!

Visitor Center at Manassas Battlefield

Visitor Center at Manassas Battlefield

We rushed back to catch the tour for First Manassas. The ranger explained that Lee’s goal here was to draw Pope into battle before McClellan could join him. So that we could understand some of the events here, our guide gave us the background on the men who would fight here.  Just after Ft. Sumter, on April 15, Lincoln had 20,000 men in his current army and requested 75,000 soldiers for a 90 day enlistment. By that time, Jefferson Davis had already raised 60,000 troops, and, starting in February after the states seceded, trained them for his new nation, and had requested 100,000 men  for a year enlistment. Definitely a different perspective on how events would transpire.

By May of 1861, Davis had requested another 400,000 troops and had 200,000 answer the call within 30 days. He had to turn 200,000 away because he didn’t have enough guns and uniforms yet.

Memorial to Soldiers

Memorial to Soldiers

By the time soldiers arrive at Manassas, there are roughly 280,000 Confederates against 160,000 Union, many of whom were militia–some untrained and most with no discipline.
Because of Lincoln’s 90 day enlistments, he knew he had only 90 days to score a big victory and convince those troops to stay. He chose Manassas Junction because it was the junction of two railroads–the Orange and Alexandria Railroad and the Manassas Gap Railroad. One went towards Richmond and one towards the Shenandoah Valley. Definitely a strategic way to win!
On the downside for the Union, Manassas Junction was only 25 miles from Washington D.C.! This was usually a 20-22 hour trip, but Jackson’s men marched 35 miles on foot in around twelve hours, a feat (ha!) which earned them the nickname Jackson’s foot cavalry.

Artillery

Artillery

The ranger then shared about some of the Union officers. Irvin McDowell had been promoted to General, an interesting choice since he had only led 12 people before. Now, he gets to command 35,000 volunteers including a regiment each of marines, army, and artillery with the rest militia and volunteer. McDowell expressed concern to Lincoln about the lack of training his men had. Lincoln replied, “You’re all green together.” Lincoln knew he only had 90 days, so he didn’t have time to wait until these men were trained, but it does make me more sympathetic to all McClellan’s training for which he’s been sharply criticized. As it stood, Lincoln had reason to be concerned: Some soldiers in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey artillery got to day 91 and went home. That’s exactly what Lincoln had been worried about.

Approaching the Henry House

Approaching the Henry House

Another General, Robert Patterson (Not to be confused with Robert Pattinson) led the Army of the Shenandoah and 18,000 men to Winchester to meet Joseph Johnston who led an army of 11,000 Confederates. Patterson’s sole job was to hold Johnston. P.G.T Beauregard heard that the Union army was headed for him at Manasses and that Patterson was headed to Richmond from Confederate spy Rose Greenhow and turned all the info he learned over to Jefferson Davis who passed in on to Johnston. Johnson, outnumbered, thought he couldn’t leave to help reinforce Beauregard. He said he needed a miracle to get out. His miracle came through Patterson’s ignorance.

Patterson contacted Winfield Scott for advice.  Patterson thinks Johnston has an army of 40,000. Johnston, however, had Jeb Stuart who knew exactly what Patterson had. Patterson told Winfield he needed to move back because he was facing superior force.

The Stone Bridge

The Stone Bridge

Scott  said, “Fine, Don’t lose Johnston.” But, the nervous Patterson moved back 7 miles instead of keeping Johnston in view. Johnston leaves immediately and takes troops by train–the first time trains were ever used to transport troops. During the battle, Union soldiers would hear trains bringing fresh troops all day long. This was a big factor in the Confederate victory!

Beauregard knew by the location of Bull Run Creek that there were only a few places to cross. He put 16,000 of his 22,000 men at various places to defend the fords where the Union would have to cross. Now, they were ready.

Confederate Colonel Nathan Evans was guarding the Stone Bridge, when he realized the forces coming were a diversion, so he sent most of his men to where McDowell was heading. He left 900 Confederates to try to stop the 13,000 Union troops coming at them. Understandably, they don’t last long.

The Henry House

The Henry House

McDowell makes a big mistake then. He stops giving orders for over an hour since Union troops are winning. This gave Jackson time to reorganize. At 2:00, McDowell commands to move the off the ridge and closer to the Henry House. This would move them into an ineffective position. His officers, Ricketts and Griffin were upset and argued with Barry, who refused to listen since McDowell had given orders. Because of this, they lost their distance advantage and had no infantry support. The Confederates had already realized that the Henry House would have been a great place for sharp shooters, so they’d taken it over. Inside the house was 84 year old Judith Henry, her children, and a slave girl. They had tried to leave previously but had gotten scared and refused. When sharp shooters continued to fire on the artillery men, Ricketts ordered the 2 northern most guns to turn and shoot house. The cannons open fired for 15 minutes. Judith Henry was mortally wounded and died 3 hours later. Her daughter Ellen got out with nothing but loss of hearing from the explosions, and Lucy, the slave girl also got wounded.

Judith Henry's and other Henry family graves

Judith Henry’s and other Henry family graves

The Confederates had retreated about 300 yards. Generals Bee and Bartow found their regiments were so shot up they couldn’t even find them in the chaos of men. Additionally, Bee’s men were panicking (Remember, this is their first battle.). Stonewall served as a rallying point for Bee, who would declare, “There stands Jackson like a Stonewall. Rally behind the Virginians.” Some soldiers wrote home that Bee was berating Jackson for not being involved, but this was most likely just jealousy that Jackson’s men were “fresh” (disregard that 35 mile hike in around 12 hours) and they’d been shot. Bee would later die trying to take cannons.

"Stonewall" Jackson--ha was actually in the treeline behind the statue when he got his name...

“Stonewall” Jackson–he was actually in the treeline behind the statue when he got his name…

Griffin then decides he wants to move his artillery without orders to engage the Confederates. Meanwhile, Sherman had 4 regiments waiting for orders. None came. Griffin gets his howitzers into position in order to flank Stonewall’s line without being seen. The Confederates are less than 200 yards away from the guns. Finally, the 33rd Virginia comes out of the tree line in their blue uniforms. Griffins had already fired two shots at the Confederate guns and turns to fire on the soldiers. Barry sees this take place from a distance. He orders Griffin to turn the guns back. When Griffin argues, Barry assures him that’s his infantry reinforcements. (Gun crews are unarmed.) Griffin finally turns his guns. The men in blue march within 50 paces and fire a volley, killing most of the gun crew. The rest run, and the guns are captured. Griffin will get wounded and captured and Johnston eventually lets his wife  visit him. He’s then sent to prison in  Richmond. After release (trade), Griffin comes back to Second Manassas as a general. He’ll end up dying in that engagement.

Attack on the guns

Attack on the guns

Seeing that the guns were captured, the 14th Brooklyn came to reinforce the guns. They charged, took back the guns, and chased the 33rd Virginia into the treeline. They made it halfway through the 2nd Virginia and were running through regiments causing havoc. Jackson ordered a counterattack. The 33rd and 2nd Virginia both have critical losses. Finally, the 14th is slowed down and has to retreat. If they had had infantry support, they could have possibly taken Jackson’s line. Jackson, realizing this, would refer to them as the red legged devils, due to the red pants of their uniform.

Our guide finished at the Stonewall Jackson statue. Most of the area around the statue saw brutal hand to hand combat. Eventually, Jackson will engage his whole regiment. Addressing them before they leave, he tells his men to use the bayonet and yell like furies. This will be the birthplace of the “Rebel yell.”

Confederate Cemetery

Confederate Cemetery

Jeb Stuart comes in at this point and starts the route. The Union army is exhausted and starts retreating back to Centreville. As they go, one gun flips over on the bridge and blocks it, leaving about 11 Union pieces to the Confederates.
Definitely great information!

After the funeral, we returned to get a few more pictures of areas important to the Second Manassas before heading for home. It was an incredible experience to see this battlefield!

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