Our Country's Fiery Ordeal

A blog about the American Civil War, written and maintained by historian Daniel J. Vermilya, author of The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (History Press, 2014) and James Garfield and the Civil War (History Press, 2015)

Dedicated to my great-great-great grandfather, Private Ellwood Rodebaugh, Company D, 106th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, killed at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862.

"And may an Overuling Providence continue to cause good to come out of evil, justice to be done to all men where injustice has long prevailed, and finally, peace, quiet, and harmony to come out of this terrible confrontation and our country's fiery ordeal." -- Albert Champlin, 105th Ohio, Diary entry of June 19, 1864 (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

2nd Manassas 150th, Aug 28-30, 1862

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the final and climactic day of the Battle of Second Manassas. Yesterday, I had the fortune of traveling to the Manassas battlefield to do some hiking and take in a few ranger programs. My day consisted of spending a few hours on the trails around the Brawner Farm and in the famed Unfinished Railroad Cut. I went on a couple Ranger programs, and I must say that Ranger Hank Elliott's battle walk of the action in the late afternoon and early evening of the 29th, covering the Confederate brigade of Maxcy Gregg and the Union division of Phil Kearney, was an outstanding program. Very well done.

In many ways, Second Manassas was the battle which set the stage for the fight at Antietam just a few weeks later. The terrible defeat of John Pope and the Army of Virginia gave enormous strength and momentum to Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. The Confederate victory at Second Manassas emboldened Lee to move north into Maryland, creating a moment of opportunity for the Confederacy and a moment of crisis for the Union. The fighting in Maryland would feature many of the same troops from Second Manassas. Nearly all of Lee's army was the same, and out of the amalgamation of forces which McClellan took into Maryland, over 50% of the divisinos in his army were present at Second Manassas or were involved in the campaign. It always amazes me to think that, for example, some of the Union soldiers moving south in the Cornfield at Antietam were the same troops who were hit by Stonewall Jackson at Brawner's Farm on the evening of August 28th, on the eve of Second Manassas, in what could be called the first day of the battle there. Barely two and a half weeks separated these two climactic battles. In fact, that makes the Union victory at Antietam all the more remarkable, considering the terrible defeat many of those soldiers had suffered just two and a half weeks prior, as 1st Corps artillery officer Charles Wainwright pointed out.

Anyways, my goal here isn't to provide a full history of the battle. You can certainly find far more qualified historians for that than myself. I am not nearly as familiar with the action at Second Manassas as I am with the Maryland Campaign. Today, I simply wanted to post to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the final day of the terrible fight at Manassas. Overall, there were over 22,000 casualties during that several day fight. 150 years ago today, John Pope would continue to slam into Jackson's lines along the Unfinished Railroad Cut, and late in the day, James Longstreet would launch his destructive assault into the Federal flank, sweeping across Chinn Ridge and driving the Federals from the plains of Manassas for the second time in two years.

Gun on Battery Heights, signifying the location of Battery B, 4th US Artillery

5th New York monument

Small US flag at the 5th New York monument

Federal artillery position

Small US flag next to the 14th Brooklyn monument

14th Brooklyn monument

The fields near the Deep Cut in the Unfinished Railroad at Manassas

The fields near the Deep Cut in the Unfinished Railroad at Manassas

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