Today in History:

13 Series I Volume XII-II Serial 16 - Second Manassas Part II


across the Rappahannock on the night of the 17th and day of the 18th without loss of any kind, and one day in advance of Lee's proposed movement against me. The enemy immediately appeared in my front at Rappahannock Station and attempted to pass the river at that bridge and the numerous fords above and below, but without success.

The line of the Upper Rappahannock, which I had been ordered to hold, that the enemy might be delayed long enough in his advance upon Washington to enable the forces from the Peninsula to land and effect a junction with me, was very weak, as it could be crossed at almost any point above the railroad bridge by good fords. By constant vigilance and activity, and much severe fighting for there days, the enemy was gradually forced around from the railroad crossing to Waterloo Bridge, west of Warrenton.

Mean time my force had been much diminished by actual loss in battle and by fatigue and exposure, so that, although I had been joined by a detachment under General Reno and the other division of McDowell's corps, my force barely-numbered 40,000 men.

On the 22nd a heavy rain fell, which rendered the fords of the river impassable for twenty-four hours. As soon as I discovered this, I concentrated my forces and marched rapidly upon Sulphur Springs and Waterloo Bridge to drive back the forces of the enemy which had succeeded in crossing at those points. This was successfully done and the bridges destroyed.

I passed one day, or rather part of one, at Warrenton and beyond. The enemy still continued to move slowly around along the river, masking every ford with artillery and heavy forces of infantry, so that it was impossible for me to attack him, even with the greatly inferior forces under my command, without passing the river over fords strongly guarded in the face of very superior numbers.

The movement of Jackson toward White Plains and in the direction of Thoroughfare Gap while the main body of the enemy confronted me at Sulphur Springs and Waterloo Bridge was well known to me, but I relied confidently upon the forces which I had been assured would be sent from Alexandria, and one strong division of which I had ordered to take post in the works at Manassas Junction. I was entirely under the belief that these would be there, and it was not until I found my communications intercepted that I was undeceived. I knew that this movement was no raid, and that it was made by not less than 25,000 men under Jackson.

By this time the army corps of Heintzelman, about 10,000 strong, had reached Warrenton Junction, one division of it, I think, on the day of the raid; but they came without artillery, with only 40 rounds of ammunition to the man, without wagons, and even the field and general officers without horses.

Fitz John Porter also arrived at Bealeton Station, near Rappahannock, with one of his divisions (4,500 strong), while his other divisions were still at Barnett's and Kelly's Fords.

I directed that corps (about 8,500 strong) to concentrate immediately at Warrenton Junction, where Heintzelman already was. This was accomplished on the evening of the 26th. As soon as it became known to me that Jackson was on the railroad it became apparent that the Upper Rappahannock was no longer tenable. I could not detach a sufficient force to meet Jackson and at the same time attempt to confront the main body of the enemy. I accordingly at once evacuated Warrenton and Warrenton Junction, directing McDowell with his own corps and Sigel's and the division of Reynolds to march rapidly by the