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Second Manassas, 150 years ago
ANY COACH knows that team play
Second Manassas (also called the Second Battle of Bull Run) and the events leading up to it put the finest talents and strengths of the Confederate Army on display. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's Valley Campaign in the spring of 1862 was "so daring and skillful that it is still studied today in most military schools around the world," notes historian James Robertson Jr. Jackson's army, nicknamed the "foot cavalry" for its swift marches, covered 600 miles in 48 days, defeated three separate Union armies, and kept 60,000 troops from joining Union Gen. George McClellan in his attempt to take Richmond.
That was, of course, the federal army's goal: capture the Rebel capital. McClellan, having moved up the peninsula from Hampton Roads, had 100,000 men within a day's march of Richmond, but Gen. Robert E. Lee was holding him off.
To help the federal effort, President Lincoln ordered a new army led by Gen. John Pope to move from Washington down the Piedmont of Virginia and approach Richmond from that direction. Pope, who had operated in the West, immediately displayed his colors by denigrating the Eastern troops in the name of "inspiring" them. He was, noted Union Gen. FitzJohn Porter, "what the military world has long known, an Ass."
Pope moved down the Piedmont as far south as Gordonsville, at which point Lee made a bold and daring decision: Sensing that McClellan would not press farther toward Richmond, the Confederate commander dispatched Jackson to counter Pope. In dividing his army, Lee hoped to conquer.
Jackson rebuffed Pope at the Battle of Cedar Mountain near Culpeper on Aug. 9, pushing the Union army back north in a series of skirmishes along the western reaches of the Rappahannock River. Then Jackson cut to the west, disappearing behind the Blue Ridge Mountains before moving back east through Thoroughfare Gap. Outflanking Pope, Jackson marched his men 50 miles in two days, through Bristoe Station to Manassas, where they raided the huge federal supply depot, taking what they could and burning the rest.