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Scott Patchan’s The Second Battle at Manassas, A Campaign Study

A BGES Civil War Field University Program

September 5-9, 2018

With Scott Patchan from Warrenton, VA

The Union advantage in manpower was evident early in the Civil War and after the success of Major General Stonewall Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign, Lincoln determined to consolidate forces in and around Washington and the Shenandoah Valley. The creation of the Army of Virginia brought Major General John Pope from the west where he had enjoyed military success against slim competition. Pope was brash and a braggart who Robert E. Lee labeled a miscreant and one who must be suppressed.

Lee had assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia and was also commander of the Eastern Department. The activation of Pope’s army near Manassas demanded he dispose of them once he had pushed McClellan away from Richmond. After receiving intelligence of Federal intentions to reinforce Pope rather than McClellan, Lee quickly sent Stonewall Jackson away from his army near Richmond to check Pope’s advance. He would later follow with the remainder of his army.

This is the story of Lee at his best– a man moving with confidence against a foe not as skilled or militarily aware as he was. This campaign will show you how Lee did it from inception to destruction of Pope’s army on the hills around Judith Henry’s wrecked house.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

6 PM: Arrive at the headquarters hotel for registration and to meet your fellow students. Scott will be waiting and, after we have pizza and drinks, distribute the reading books and maps, he will provide a 90 minute introductory lecture (with a break) on the Second Manassas Campaign. While Lee’s efforts around Richmond eliminated a severe threat from the steps of the capital, Lee’s success here terrorized the north and established Lee as a man larger and more talented than anyone he opposed.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

8 AM: We are ready to ride–Lee has moved against a real threat to the Piedmont of Virginia and his supply line on the Virginia Central Railroad. We will meet Jackson’s arrival, sent to counter Pope’s invading forces. We will discuss Pope’s movements and Jackson’s reactions. We are reminded of the nature of the pious Jackson by visiting Gordonsville Presbyterian Church where Jackson feel asleep during a Sunday sermon–the pew is still there. We will then tour Gordonsville to give you a feel for the proximity of the Virginia Central Railroad and the imminent threat against Lee’s supply line. We will then advance to Orange where Jackson’s cavalry under Grumble Jones met the soon to be legendary John Buford in a brief but bloody engagement. Jackson soon moved against Pope and we will follow his movement northward and will close the day with a detailed interpretation of the battle of Cedar Mountain–tactically mismanaged but strategically effective in checking Pope’s advance. Lunch is provided. Dinner is on your own.

Friday, September 7, 2018

8 AM: Cedar Mountain caused the Federal commander to fall back where he temporarily backed against himself against the fork of the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers. Today we will focus on the arrival of Lee and Longstreet to bring the full force of available Confederates to bear on the Union army. We will discuss Lee’s plans to crush the misplaced Pope against the river the Federal commander had failed to cross. However, the plans misfired and Pope escaped to the other side of the Rappahannock leaving Lee to contemplate new ways to get at the blustery Pope.

As Lee planned Pope’s demise, the Federals began to be reinforced with troops arriving from McClellan’s army that was being withdrawn from the Peninsula. We will visit several sites along the river to show options that Lee had culminating with the meeting of Lee, Jackson and Longstreet at Jeffersonton. It was at this meeting that Lee ordered Jackson to not only turn Pope’s position but instructed him to get on Pope’s vulnerable supply line near Manassas Junction. We will finish the day retracing the flank march to Thoroughfare Gap. Pope saw it but thought Jackson was returning to the valley–he would soon find out he was wrong. Lunch will be provided. Dinner is on your own.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

8:00 AM We are headed to downtown Manassas and the railroad depot, still active today. We will describe the initial cut of the rail line at Bristoe Station and then the limitless and disorderly destruction and looting of the rich Federal supply base.

With the approach of Pope’s army from Warrenton, Jackson withdrew to the hills of the old Manassas battlefield where they found a splendid natural breastwork in and around the banks of an unfinished railroad cut. As Pope thrashed around looking for an enemy that had seemingly disappeared, Jackson made the decision to expose himself and his forces to the marching Federal columns. The remainder of the day will include a visit to Union Mill, site of an engagement and the Liberia House that was used as McDowell’s headquarters. This famous property was also visited by both Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln. In the afternoon we will discuss the fighting at Thoroughfare Gap and the bloody commencement of the second battle at Manassas by looking at the August 28th firefight at Brawner Farm. The day closes with a review of Jackson’s successful defense of the Railroad cut throughout the day of August 29th. Lunch and dinner are included.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Pope was soon in a vice and he didn’t realize it. Focused on Jackson he lost awareness of the location of Robert E. Lee and the wing under James Longstreet. Our 8 AM departure will let us spend plenty of time setting up Longstreet’s positioning and Fitz John Porter’s ill-fated and soon to be mischaracterized attack against Jackson’s position at the Deep Cut. Here out of ammunition Confederates hurled rocks at the attacking Federals who were broken by deadly enfilading fire from the accurate guns of Stephen D. Lee.

Pope’s fatal mistake was gathering momentum and under the deliberate preparation of James Longstreet a massive flank attack against a lightly held position soon allowed Longstreet to drive into Pope’s rear along Chinn Ridge and then onward to Henry House Hill. Fortunately Longstreet’s men ran out of steam and a heroic stand on Chinn Ridge prevented the total route and destruction of Pope’s forces. This was arguably Lee’s very best chance to win the war. The hilly terrain prevented an effective pursuit of Pope’s beaten army and we will finish the day and program with the rear guard pursuit and fight at Chantilly where the Union army lost both Issac Stevens and Phil Kearny–two excellent generals and hard fighters. Lee had changed the complexion of the war and had taken the offensive. He would soon enter Maryland confident that his battle proven troops would go on to even greater successes. A great campaign, great battlefield and decisive fighting. Well worth your time to come. Lunch is included.

About the Faculty:

Scott Patchan is at the top of a very short list of historians of any type who understand and can present northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. Not only is he the expert whose published works are the standard, he has very successfully moved into a lead role in his own right with his own style and engaging personality. Scott is not a so–called academic historian, but, you ignore him at peril to your reputation as a serious historian.

Hotel Information

This program will be headquartered at a hotel in or near Warrenton. It will be announced on this site. You can expect a rate around $105 per night plus tax. You will need ground transportation to reach the area.


The servicing airport is Washington Dulles (IAD). I believe if you fly in you will need a rental car. Amtrak goes into Culpeper and Manassas. I am not aware of any limo or shuttle services to Warrenton. Perhaps you can find a dirt cheap rental car on The program is easily accessed by car.

Key Publications and Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. We recommend the following books to enhance your preparation for this tour. has a program to support non profits IF YOU SIGN UP to support Blue and Gray Education Society (EIN 54-1720582) at AmazonSmile. When you sign up there rather than the normal Amazon site one half of one percent of your purchase price is provided to BGES as a donation from Amazon. This will apply not only on this purchase but others you may make at other times.

  • John Hennessey: Return to Bull Run. (the standard work on the campaign)
  • Scott Patchan, Second Manassas, Longstreet’s Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge
  • Matt Spruill, Decisions at Second Manassas, Fourteen Critical Decision that Defined the Battle


Registration includes four lunches, one dinner, a pizza party, a reading book with maps, the academic program, support of a professional historian & tour director and transportation appropriate to the registration which will be limited to two vans: 19 people. We will also provide snacks, bottled water and a limited selection of sodas.

10% of your registration fee is a tax deductible contribution to the BGES 25th Anniversary Capital Reserve Campaign.

Register for this program online using our secure Sutler’s Tent ecommerce site: Register for A Scott Patchan’s The Second Battle at Manassas.

Register by mail, or fax

Download a printable itinerary and registration form.