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Manassas Campaign – American Civil War

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By the beginning of the summer of 1861, two field armies of the Confederation were in Northern Virginia. General Beauregard commanded the Potomac Army, which defended the Manassas railway junction, and General Johnston commanded the Shenandoah Army, which was stationed near Harpers Ferry, covering the Shenandoah Valley. The Manassas-Gap railway connected these two armies. In June and July, General Beauregard proposed to President Davis an invasion plan for Maryland, but Davis rejected these proposals, citing the fact that the Confederation did not have the resources for such an offensive.

Major-General Irwin McDowell commanded the federal army around Washington and Alexandria, who believed that his poorly trained army was not yet ready for difficult maneuvers and for this reason the offensive was undesirable neither now nor in the near future. But federal commander Winfield Scott demanded that he submit a plan of attack on Manassas, and on June 24, McDowell drew up this plan. He decided that the Southerners had 35,000 people at Manassas and 10,000 more under Richmond, and decided that he would need 30,000 people and 10,000 reserves for the offensive.

The first campaign in the Shenandoah Valley

General Patterson’s army stood at Chambersburg, building up strength and preparing for an offensive. The army numbered about 18,000 people, and Johnston in Harpers Ferry had only about 7,000. On June 13, Johnston learned that 2,000 people, allegedly the vanguard of McClellan’s army, had come to Romney. Johnston was sent there to intercept the 13th Virginia Regiment of Colonel E.P.Hill and the 10th Virginia Regiment of Colonel Gibbons. Hill was also ordered to take with him the 3rd Tennessee Regiment of Colonel Vaughn, who had just arrived in Winchester. With these forces, Hill should, if possible, slow down the federal attack on Winchester.

Patterson’s offensive on Hagerstown and the Romney offensive forced Johnston to leave Harpers Ferry. On June 13 and 14, all valuables were taken to Winchester and the bridges across the Potomac were destroyed. Harpers Ferry arsenal equipment was taken to Winchester, from there to Starstberg, and from there to Richmond. On the morning of June 15, the Southerners left the Harpers Ferry along the Berryville Road and camped three miles from Charlestown. On the morning of June 16, it became known that Patterson’s vanguards crossed the Potomac from Williamsport and were moving to Martinsburg. Johnston decided to lead an army at Bunker Hill to prevent the armies of Patterson and McClellan from joining. But for this he needed a guide, but while he was looking for him, he received a letter from Richmond, allowing him to leave Harpers Ferry and go to Winchester. Then he was recommended to retreat to the gorges of the Blue Ridge and take up defensive positions on the passes. In the case of extremes, he was allowed to abandon the Shenandoah Valley and leave to join up with the army of Beauregard near Manassas.

June 16 at 09:00 Johnston turned down the camp, went through Bunker Hill and camped at Mill Creek. On June 17, his army took up a position at a convenient height for defense near Martinsburg. But at noon, news came that Patterson was back for Potomac. This happened because the Wallace squad in Romney requested gains due to the approach of the Hill regiments, and Patterson sent him an additional five infantry regiments. Johnston continued to retreat to Winchester, where he camped 3 miles from the city on the Martinsburg Road, but left Stewart’s cavalry pickets on the banks of the Potomac.

Meanwhile, new regiments arrived at Johnston’s disposal and he gradually, by the beginning of July, formed four brigades: 1) Jackson’s Virginia brigade, 2) Bartow’s Djordian brigade, 3) Bernard Bee’s brigade and 4) Arnold Elsie’s brigade. The 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment and the 33rd Virginia Infantry Regiment were left without brigade submission. As of June 30, 1861, these forces numbered 10,654 men, of which 10,000 were infantrymen, 334 cavalrymen and 278 gunners.

Meanwhile, there were rumors that Patterson was preparing to cross the Potomac again. The Jackson Brigade was sent to Martinsburg to cover cavalry pickets and help take the property of the Baltimore-Ohio railroad from Martinsburg. Jackson was also ordered to destroy the infrastructure of this railway. On June 22, a letter came from the president: he wrote that Patterson could launch an offensive through Blue Ridge on Lisberg and further to Manassas on the flank of the Beauregard army, and in this case Johnston must attack him on the flank and try to defeat Patterson.

On June 30, Patterson took Hagerstown along with his entire army and marched on Virginia in two columns: one intended to cross the Potomac at Dam No. 4, and the second by Williamsport. Both were to meet in Hinesville. However, it was possible to cross the Potomac at the dam, therefore, as a result, on July 2 the whole army passed the Potomac at Williamsport, heading from there to Martinsburg. The Negley Brigade was allocated to guard the right flank. At 07:30, Stuart’s cavalry reported to Jackson about the offensive of the enemy and he sent forward the 5th Virginia Infantry Regiment, which entered into a firefight with the enemy and there was a small battle at Hooks-Ran, which was the first battle in the Shenandoah Valley and the first battle in Thomas’s career Jackson Subsequently, for this battle, Jackson received the rank of brigadier general, and Stewart – the rank of colonel.

At sunset on July 2, Johnston sent his army from Winchester to the north and met Jackson’s brigade in Darksville on the morning of July 3. The army turned into battle formation, waiting for the offensive and the attack of the federal army, and stood in this position for 4 days. But Patterson occupied the Martinsburg and did not advance further. Johnston found it unprofitable to attack him in Martinsburg, so he took his entire army – about 9,000 people – to Winchester.

The Shenandoah Army stood at Winchester for about two weeks. During this time, her brigades were slightly reinforced, for example, the 33rd Virginia regiment was added to the Jackson brigade, and the 6th North Carolina regiment was added to the Bernard Bi brigade. a new brigade was formed, 5-5, led by Edmund Kirby Smith ( 8th , 9th, 10th, 11th Alabama and 19th Mississippi regiments).

July 15, Patterson made from Martinsburg on Bunker Hill, and July 17, moved to the Winchester road. Watching his maneuvers, Johnston decided that Patterson was going to pass through Berryville and find himself between the armies of Johnston and Beauregard, thereby blocking Johnston in the valley. On July 18, at 01:00, Johnston learned from General Cooper that McDowell’s army was attacking Manassas, and half an hour later a telegram came from Beauregard asking for help. Johnston decided that his army in the valley would be no more useful than in Manassas, however, he thought about how best to act: to attack Patterson or to slip out of the valley unnoticed. The second method was considered the fastest and safest. At 09:00, Stewart told Johnston that Patterson was standing at Smithfield at a safe distance from the road to Manassas. Then Johnston ordered to leave all patients (about 1,700 people) in Winchester under the protection of the local militia, and Stewart ordered to block all the way to Patterson’s army and not allow any news to leak to the enemy until nightfall, and to retreat through Ashby Gap at night. (Stewart completed the assignment so well that Paterson did not recognize anything until July 12).

At noon on July 18, Johnston’s army left Winchester. Jackson’s team was in the forefront. Johnston, accustomed to the rapid marches of the regular army, was very disappointed with the pace of the volunteers and almost despaired of arriving in Manassas on time. To save the day, he sent Whiting, a major in the engineering troops, to the Piedmont station to search for trains. At sunset, the Jackson Brigade arrived in Paris, on the passes of the Blue Ridge Mountain Range. By morning, the whole army of Johnston had gone beyond the ridge.

Meanwhile, Patterson remained in Martinsburg. As early as July 8, he conceived an offensive against Winchester, gathered a military council, but for various reasons his brigadier generals considered such an offensive too dangerous. It was decided that the army should be taken to Shepherdstown or Harpers Ferry, from where it can effectively threaten Johnston. On July 12, Patterson wrote to Washington that he was worried about the security of his position, especially since the defeat of his army in the valley would affect all other fronts. On the same day, he learned that General McClellan had defeated the enemy under Rich-Mountin, but still remained in the opinion that his army could not take risks.

On June 16, Patterson led the army to Bunker Hill, but found that his army was at the end of his service. At any moment his regiments could lay down their arms and go home, and he thought it was impossible to advance in this position. On July 18, Patterson sent three messages to Washington saying that he was keeping Johnston in Winchester, despite his superior strength. On July 21, he said that Johnston’s army had left Winchester, but he could not pursue it because his regiments had expired service.


Davis, William C. Battle of the Civil War
Detzel, David. Dooneybrook: The Battle of Bull Run
Gimbel, Gary. “The End of Innocence: The Battle of Falling Waters”

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