The Second Battle of Manassas: A Campaign Study
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
6:00 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, we will distribute the reading books and maps. Scott will then 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
8:00 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 fell 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, closing 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, and dinner is on your own.
Friday, September 7, 2018
8:00 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planned Pope’s demise, the Federals began to be reinforced with troops arriving from McClellan’s army that was being withdrawn from the Peninsula.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, and 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 also was 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 28 firefight at Brawner Farm. The day closes with a review of Jackson’s successful defense of the railroad cut throughout the day of August 29. Lunch and dinner are included.
Sunday, September 9, 2018
8:00 AM. 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.
Registration includes four lunches, one dinner, a pizza party, a reading book with maps, the academic program, support of a professional historian and tour director, and on-the-ground 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.
Ten percent of your registration fee is a tax-deductible contribution to the BGES 25th Anniversary Capital Reserve Campaign.
Register for this program using a secure PayPal link
We have a group of rooms blocked off for us at the Hampton Inn in Manassas. The address and phone number is: Hampton Inn Manassas | 7295 Williamson Blvd. | Manassas, VA 20109 | Phone: 703.369.1100. The room rate is $119.00 per night plus tax (13%). Breakfast is included.
You will have to call and make your reservations – ask for the Blue and Gray Education group. Please make sure to do it before 12 am on August 15, 2018. Otherwise after that date you will have to pay a higher rate.
The servicing airport is Washington Dulles (IAD). Amtrak goes into Culpeper and Manassas. The program is easily accessed by car. If you fly or train in, you will need a rental car. Perhaps you can find a dirt cheap rental car on www.priceline.com.
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. Amazon.com 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 will be 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 Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas (the standard work on the campaign). Available at AmazonSmile.
- Scott Patchan: Second Manassas, Longstreet’s Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge. Available at AmazonSmile.
- Matt Spruill: Decisions at Second Manassas, Fourteen Critical Decision that Defined the Battle. Available at AmazonSmile.