August 11, 2019
A 2019 BGES Day of History Program
With McClellan huddled along the James River under the cover of his gunboats, Robert E. Lee deployed his Valley army back to Gordonsville, Virginia, to dispose of the controversial and bombastic Union general John Pope. Pope had been brought from the West in an effort to harmonize the discouraged elements of several bodies of Union troops that had been thoroughly bamboozled months earlier by Jackson’s aggressive marching in the Shenandoah Valley. Although his reputation had suffered by poor performance during the Seven Days’ Campaign, he was back in his element–until he ran into Union forces just outside Culpeper. Displaying poor tactical sense, Jackson was on the verge of losing the battle until fortune smiled upon him. A checkered victory checked Pope’s advance, and the initiative soon passed back to the Confederate chieftain. This is a great battle for a day-long tour, so check your schedule.
Greg Mertz is the Supervisory Historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, where he has trained and managed the hundreds of permanent, seasonal, intern, and volunteer staff members performing interpretive services at the park. His 38-year career with the National Park Service began at Gettysburg National Military Park, and his first permanent job with the agency was at the Eisenhower National Historic Site. He has written four feature articles for Blue and Gray Magazine, and his book, Attack at Daylight and Whip Them: The Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862, will be released in the “Emerging Civil War” series in 2019. Greg is the founding president of the Rappahannock Valley Civil War Round Table and is a past vice-president of the Brandy Station Foundation.