The Second Battle of Bull Run


Who: Robert E Lee (Confederacy) vs John Pope (Union)

What: Confederate victory

Where: Prince William County, Virginia – the same ground as The First Battle of Bull Run in 1861

Why: After defeating McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, Lee moved north toward John Pope’s Army of Virginia

When: August 28-30, 1862

After defeating George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac in the Seven Days Battles, and the collapse of the Union Peninsula Campaign, Robert E Lee’s newly christened Army of Northern Virginia swung northwards to face John Pope, appointed commander of the Army of Virginia by Abraham Lincoln. Lee’s army was split into two wings, comprising around 55,000 men, commanded by the indefatigable Stonewall Jackson and James Longstreet. From August 22, the two armies fought minor engagements, until Jackson’s column, which had been sent north by Lee, engaged Pope’s army on August 28, resulting in a stalemate and convincing Pope he had Jackson trapped. On the morning of August 29 Pope ordered a series of assaults on Jackson’s position on Stony Ridge, assuming Jackson was attempting retreat, but Jackson’s men were in strong defensive positions, and waited for Lee and Longstreet’s reinforcement, which came in the afternoon. On August 30 Pope, apparently unaware Jackson had been reinforced and under the impression again the Confederates were retreating, ordered another assault, which was devastated by Confederate artillery and hurled back by Jackson’s line. James Longstreet, who had demurred at Lee’s order to attack the previous day, saying the time wasn’t right, then launched a mass counterattack with 28,000 men, the largest single assault of the war. Only a heroic rearguard action and delays from Jackson’s exhausted troops prevented a repeat of the ‘Great Skedaddle’ of First Manassas. Pope was swiftly removed from command, and Lee invaded the North on September 3, leading to the fateful Battle of Antietam.

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