Although mismanaged and costly, Jackson would later claim this small battle as his greatest fight, snatching victory from certain defeat. Historian's would credit Jackson with far greater feats, but Jackson's own thoughts show the significance he placed on this hard fought and costly battle. The next day, the battle victors buried the dead in an oppressive heat that was broken late in the afternoon by rain. A day later, Jackson was on the move again. Outnumbered, with additional Union forces coming, Jackson retreated. In the meantime, the remaining Union troops under McClellan had been recalled from the tip of the Virginia peninsula. This allowed Lee to abandon his defense of Richmond, and concentrate his full Army of Northern Virginia on Pope. It was his plan to meet Pope and defeat him before McClellan's Army could reinforce him. Longstreet's Corps was ordered to march. By the 15th of August, Lee had his entire Army, approximately 55M men, massed around Gordonsville. Only a few miles away, on the Cedar Mountain battlefield, sat Pope's Army, approximately the same size. But with additional corps from McClellan's 90M man Army on the way, Lee knew he had to act quickly if he was to defeat Pope. On the afternoon of the 15th, Hill's men were on the move again. Learning that Lee had his full force a few miles away, Pope pulled his men back across the Rappahanack River. Jackson hoped to swing around and strike the Union right flank. But by the time his main force reached it, the Rappahanack was flooding, trapping two of his lead brigades on the other side.

While the flooded river kept the two armies at bay for a few days, it did fall just in time for Jackson's two brigades to escape two advancing corps under Sigel and Banks. Lee knew he was fast losing his opportunity to do battle with Pope before reinforcements from McClellan's forces joined him. On the 24th he met with his generals. His plan - for Jackson to swing around the Union right flank and attack Pope from the rear, while Longstreet masked this movement from the front. On the 25th, Jackson's Corps was on the move again. Shortly after sunrise on the 27th, in one of the war's greatest flanking movements, Jackson's Corps arrived at Manassas Junction, completely behind Pope's Amy. In 36 hours, his nearly 24M men had marched 54 miles completely around Pope. With Pope's Army now numbering nearly 75M men to his south, between him and the rest of Lee's Army, and two more federal corps just 30 miles northeast defending Washington DC, and more of McClellan's force enroute, Jackson's was in a very dangerous position. Longstreet was enroute, following Jackson's path, but his arrival would not be for a few days.

Meanwhile, investigating why his telegraph lines had gone dead, Pope learned that Jackson's Army was behind him in Manassas Junction. Realizing that Lee's Army was now split, Pope felt he could destroy Jackson before Longstreet joined him, whom his cavalry had advised was now moving also. On the 27th, as Jackson's men plundered his supplies at Manassas Junction, Pope issued orders for his men, intending to wedge in between Jackson's and Longstreet's Corps and destroy them individually. During the day after some probing by small Union elements, Jackson decided to find some ground he could defend against the expected attack by Pope. At one in the morning of the 28th, he had his corps on the move again toward some high ground behind Groveton, Virginia called Stony Ridge, near Sudley Springs. If Longstreet held to the original plan he would arrive very close to this position, the next day.

For the Union Army, the next day would be total confusion. Having decided to march on Manassas Junction and take Jackson head on, Pope's forces abandoned their position at Gainesville, only five miles from where Jackson was now positioning himself. Arriving later to find Jackson gone, the only intelligence Pope could obtain was that Hill's men had been seen marching due north to Centerville. His corps was then put in pursuit, assuming it was Jackson's entire force. But in fact, Hill's division was taking the long route to Jackson's position. Due north to Centerville, then back southwest to Sudley Springs.

The only Union division left in Gainesville, immediately marched due northeast along the Warrenton Turnpike, the fastest route to reach Centerville. Five miles later, this division stumbled onto Jackson's entire force, who quickly attacked him. Learning of Jackson's location that evening, Pope wrongly assumed that Jackson was now retreating westward in an effort to join up with Longstreet, who had been momentarily stalled during the day by Union forces under Rickett, but was now only 10 miles from Jackson's forces. By the morning of the 29th, with his Army spread from Centerville, south to Bristoe Station, Pope's Army was moving toward Jackson. The closest, under Union General Franz Sigel, and John Reynolds, were ordered to attack at daybreak.

During that same night Jackson was preparing for an attack. For 3000 yards along an old railroad bed running in front of a ridge, Jackson's Corps formed. Most concerning to him was the left flank, held by Gregg, Thomas and Field, with Archer, Pender, and Branch stacked behind them in support. Here the treeline came up right to his line, with an open field to the left. Jackson had more to be concerned about than even he was aware of. In a severe blunder on Hill's part, an area about 125 years wide was left unmanned between Gregg's South Carolinian's and Thomas' Georgian's. Worst yet, the area in front of this gap was naturally protected by a chasm that blocked approaching Union soldiers from view. This would play a key factor in the upcoming battle.

As Jackson had thought, the first movement by the Federal forces under Sigel, was an attempt to turn his left flank. This put Gregg's troops into action first, and their response to the assault, was to surprise the two German brigades, and charge them. On the Union left flank, Thomas and Field's men had a fire fight with 3 regiment's under Gen Birney, that proved to be mostly a waste of ammunition for both sides. By noon, Gregg was back in his position, the Union brigades had fallen back, and dead and wounded littered the ground.

Later that afternoon, Thomas right flank was skirmishing with elements of Joseph Carr's New Jersey troops, hidden in the trees. Movement was seen to the left, in the area in front of the gap between Thomas' and Gregg's brigades, and the 49th and 45th Georgia regiments prepared to meet them. Unknown to Thomas' Georgian's though, was that the troops approaching them were being led by West Point graduate Brigadier General Cuvier Grover. Grover realized that, while the modern rifles of the Civil War had made the old Napoleonic theory of bayonet charges ineffectual, the tree line being so close to the opposing Confederate line, afforded him an opportunity to make such a charge. His troops, including the 1st, 11th, and 16th Massachusetts, 2nd New Hampshire, and 26th Pennsylvania regiments, crept forward, their bayonets fixed. As they cleared the trees, only a few yards from the railroad excavation, Thomas' Georgian's rose from behind the railroad embankment and greeted them with a volley. Ducking behind the dirt to reload and escape the anticipated return volley, Thomas' Georgian's were suddenly astonished to hear the Yankee's charging at them. At such close range, few had time to reload, although many in the center regiment, the 45th, attempted to. But most, especially the 49th on the left, found themselves in the middle of the charging Union brigade before they had time to realize what was happening. Some surrendered, some feigned death where they lay, while other attempted to resist, and were killed or wounded. Most realized quickly they were being overwhelmed and retreated, as one 45th Georgia soldier remembered, at "triple quick time". Grover's men pushed onward, and in their pursuit of the fleeing Georgian's, lost their formations. Thomas lined up his second line of resistance, a regiment (either the 14th or 35th Georgia), and remnants of those who had fled the front lines the fastest. Meeting the onslaught, the Confederates lowered their rifles and fired. But the Union troops, as if convinced the entire war could be won solely on their forward movement, could not be stopped. They crashed into the Georgia line and after some hand to hand combat, these Georgian's too fell back.

Cuvier Grover

Maxcey Gregg

courtesy General Officers of the Civil War

While it seemed nothing could stop them, Grover realized his 1500 men could not defeat the entire Jackson Corps, and he needed support quickly. But none came. Pender to Thomas' rear, seeing the dire situation, sent his brigades forward to stop Grover's advance. Unsupported, and their forward momentum now checked, Grover's men put up a strong fight. Regiments now only yards apart, fired volleys into one another. Outnumbered, and their flanks under serious attack by Pender's men on the left, and Gregg's on the right, the 30 minute assault was checked and Grover's men streamed back to the shelter of the trees. They left behind them nearly 1/3 of their force, dead or wounded. Their departure was not a pleasant one. Recrossing the railroad cut they were hit with flanking fire and profane demands for surrender. Lt Henry Blake of the 11th Mass wrote of this battle "The rebel skirmishers were driven in upon their reserve behind the bank of an unfinished railroad. The awful volleys did not impede the storming party that pressed on over the bodies of the dead and dying; while the thousands of bullets which flew through the air seemed to create a breeze that made the leaves upon the trees rustle, and a shower of small boughs and twigs fell upon the ground. The railroad bank was gained, and the column, with cheers, passed over it and advanced over the groups of slain and mangled rebels who had rolled down the declivity when they had lost their strength. The second line was broken; scattered through the woods; and victory appeared to be certain, until the last support, that had rested upon their breasts on the ground, suddenly rose up and delivered a destructive volley, which forced the brigade, that had already lost more than one third of its number in killed and wounded, to retreat.

Compliments "Return to Bull Run" by John J Hennessy
(author's opinion, the best written book on Second Manassas)

Hot on their heels in pursuit was Pender's men. It was now the pursuer being pursued as Pender's North Carolinian's followed Grover's men into the woods. This was a risky move, because the woods were filled with Union regiments. The few that were met though, among them the 4th Maine, seemed to collapse quickly under the pressure of Grover's frightened men running through them, followed closely by the yelling forces of Pender. Some simply got out of the way themselves, and other regiments lined up perpendicular to the railroad cut, which allowed Pender's pursuit to continue. Finally breaking clear of the trees, Pender's men were turned back by the sight of superior Union forces bearing down on them, and Union artillery fire that raked them. Creeping back through the enemy infested woods, Pender's men made their way back to the Confederate line.

It was now late afternoon and many of the Union forces were just arriving on the scene. To the right, Longstreet's Corps had arrived and was positioning itself. Hill's men on the left of Jackson's line, had bore the brunt of the action so far. Gregg's brigade on the farthest left flank was badly beaten up, having lost approximately a third of its men. They had faced, and beaten back two separate large scale attacks, including the last by Grover, which hit them on their right flank. The Georgian's, of Thomas' brigade, were bloodied and shaken from the last surprise assault. Pender's men were exhausted and bruised from their defense from and assault on Grover's men.

Grover had pulled off a spectacular military feat, and with the proper support could have put Jackson's entire force in serious jeopardy. Hand to hand combat was rare during the Civil War, and this was one time the bayonet had proved worth more than the candleholder, it was mostly used for. Thanks to a lack of reinforcements, and the skill of Hill's men, the attack had been repelled. But the day still had much action to see, and Hill's men had little time to rest. Running desperately low on ammunition, some ventured over the railroad bern and searched amongst the Union dead and wounded.

To the right, a strong force smacked into the Confederate line, but skirmish fire was the only trouble Thomas' men endured as they returned to their original position at the rail line, scavenging for ammunition as they went. Pender's men had moved to the right of Thomas' regiment, who had moved to their left to protect the gap, but were soon advised Archer's men would relieve them.

It was now about 5 pm. Pender's men had moved back, and Archer was assembling his men to the right of Thomas' Georgians, when he noticed Federals in strength in his front. For some reason, Archer did not advise his troops, deciding instead to let them complete their formation. This would prove to be a serious mistake, as troops during manuevers were seriously vulnerable to attack. Opposing him, were division forces under Union General Phillip Kearney. Kearney was not about to wait for Archer to get set, and ordered Gen David Bell Birney to shift his 63rd Pennsylvanian's to his left, and called for a charge. Archer, caught off guard, successfully beat off the initial attack, but the issue was in doubt for a time. At about the same time, the 105th Pennsylvania and 3rd Michigan hit the extreme left flank of Gregg's men. Under heavy fire, Gregg's men fell back. As Gregg's left appeared to be crumbling, more forces appeared in front of Thomas' brigade and Gregg's right. In front of Gregg's forces advanced the 40th New York, and against Thomas came Birney's 101st New York and the 4th Maine, with the 20th Indiana behind them as support. The Maine regiment, having recovered from Pender's earlier charge, were looking for some pay back and had attached themselves to the far left of Kearney's forces.

Phillip Kearney

David Birney

courtesy General Officers of the Civil War

The advancing Union forces attacked and volley's from both sides ripped through the air. Gregg's forces, already suffering a severe shortage of manpower, and losing their left flank began to fall back gradually. Many, completely out of ammunition met their attackers with rocks. The Union forces made charge after charge. Thomas' men, now with their left flank exposed, also fell back, but successfully beat off one near breakthrough when the 49th Georgia rushed to their aide. The situation became serious on Gregg's far left flank as the onslaught threatened to break the line completely. A division from Branch's brigade was dispatched to help, but the question became, would they arrive in time. With Gregg's forces crumbling, in some places in a panic, and Thomas' men now slowly being pushed back, Kearney put in new forces against Thomas' right and Archer. Smashing into Archer's position, part of the brigade broke and the Union forces piled through the hole. Fearing that pushing in too far would expose his flanks, the Union regiment leader held his men at the railroad cut, and fired volley after volley into Archer's men. Branch, who had held his brigade in relief all day, now responded to the emergency. More division's were sent to Gregg's assistance, and two regiments were sent to bolster Archer's forces.

But the left continued to barely hold on under the repeated Union charges. Hill, seeing the seriousness of the situation, asked for help from Early. Jubal Early's Virginia troops had started the morning on Jackson's far right, but when Longstreet had moved in next to Jackson's forces, Early's men had been pulled back to act as reserve's. When he received the plea for assistance at about 5:30 pm, he quickly responded. With his seven division's, and picking up two additional on the way, he formed his brigade behind Gregg's, Thomas' and Archer's battle line, who were too busy fighting to notice them. At the command of forward, the nine regiments let out a Rebel yell, that frightened the embattled Confederate forces to their front as much as it worried their Union aggressors. Streaming through the three battered brigades, Early's men charged the Union aggressors. Running low on ammunition, having been in constant battle for nearly an hour, and with their ranks seriously depleted, Kearney's men could not handle this attack and fell back. In some places they moved back slowly and paid a heavy cost. In most though, it was running as fast as one could. Early's men followed the Union troops into the woods, but fell back to the railroad embankment, as darkness was falling and the woods were thick with Union regiments. One Georgia soldier, farther down Jackson's line, would later describe "Such a contest with rocks and butt ends of muskets I have never seen or read of before or since. The maddened men, the flying stones, the clubbed muskets, the shouts, yells, smoke, dust, din, and rattle of that scene passes description."("Two Boys in the Civil War and After" by WR & MB Houghton 1912)

Compliments "Return to Bull Run" by John J Hennessy

Hill's men were devastated. Gregg's brigade, on the far right, was nearly non-existant. His casualties ran 3 to 1 of that of other Hill regiment's. Thomas', Branch's, and Archer's brigade had been hit hard so far. Field's was still in fighting order, and Pender's, having been in reserve during the last battle, was bloodied but in fair shape. But they had given as good as they got. The Union had paid for their last assault dearly. The 101st New York, that had faced Thomas' Georgian's, would suffer nearly 74% casualties. This would go down in the records as the third highest casualty percentile in one Union regiment during a single engagement. One member of this NY regiment, Private John Mahay, wounded in the charge, would suffer for over a year in a hospital. Walt Whitman, one of those that visited him in the hospital, wrote "One scene at his bedside will suffice for the agonies of nearly two years. The bladder had been perforated by a bullet going entirely through him. The water ran out of his eyes from the intense pain, and the muscles of his face were distorted, but he utter'd nothing except a low groan now and then. Poor Mahay, a mere boy in age, but old in misfortune. He never knew the love of parents, was placed in infancy in one of the New York charitable institutions, and subsequently bound out to a tyrannical master in Sullivan county, (the scars of whose cowhide and club remain'd yet on his back.) His wound here was a most disagreeable one, for he was a gentle, cleanly, and affectionate boy."

As dusk began to fall, Hill's men, now completely out of ammunition and running low on rocks, prayed for darkness to come. It finally did, and the fighting was silenced except for occasional firing by frightened skirmisher's, stuck out in the woods to warn of any attack.

Thomas' men got little sleep that night, as Hill rotated his forces, allowing them to visit the rear and restock their ammunition for the next day. Dead and wounded were thick, and men scurried into the darkness to pull moaning wounded to cover. The men of the 35th Georgia were becoming accustomed to the horrible sounds of the night on a battlefield. Wounded men moaned and cried out in pain, some pleding for assistance, while others, delirious from injuries, spoke softly in self conversation, trying to avoid the loneliness and horror of laying wounded amongst so many dead. Some comforted themselves by praying aloud, and others hummed old songs until they could sing no more. Young men wept, knowing their short life would soon be over. If these sounds weren't enough for those alive to endure, the woods crackled as Union troops were re-shuffled. Night attacks were extremely rare during the war, but the possibility kept the Confederate troops on alert late into the night.

The following morning, everything remained quiet except for sporadic fire from forward skirmisher's. It seemed as if their would be no further fighting, and Hill relieved some of his troops of the front line to got o the rear and eat. Amongst these were Archer's brigade on Thomas' right, and Early's left. Suddenly an attack was made on Early's men about 2 PM, and Archer's brigade rushed back to fill the void. This assault was followed by an even stronger assault on Jackson's right. Thomas' men were not involved in this engagement, as it raged to their right. This would be the final major Union assault. In one of quickest flip flop battles in Civil War history, the tide suddenly turned against Pope's Army, when Longstreet's Corps, whom Pope had seemingly forgotten about, decided to take the offensive. In what would follow during the remainder of the day, like a huge door opening, the entire Confederate Army would swing out and send Pope's Army running. Thomas' regiment's, would be one of the final brigades to join this chase, as Hill's position held the hinge to the door swinging out from their right.

For two days, Pope had slammed against the outnumbered Confederates in seemingly uncoordinated and unsupported attacks. On two occasions the previous day, he appeared to have let prime opportunities slip through his hands, when momentary breakthrough's had been made on the left against Hill's men. But the tenacious troops of the Light Division had held strong, and with support, had beaten off these attacks. Now a day later, Pope's Army was fleeing for its life. That night, in heavy rains, Lee's exhausted and victorious Army slept among the dead of what would be known as Second Manassas, or the Second Bull Run.

For further reading on Jackson's flanking movement, official reports of the Second Manassas battle, and Chantilly, visit here.

Thomas Jackson's Report

Manassas National Battlefield

35th Georgia Index