Second Manassas - The Unfinished Railroad - August 29, 1862
American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Battle of Second Manassas
The Unfinished Railroad - August 29, 1862
In order to draw Pope’s army into battle, Jackson ordered an attack on a Federal column that was passing across his front on the Warrenton Turnpike on August 28. Pope took the bait. On August 29, the Union commander concentrated his forces and prepared to assault Jackson’s position along an unfinished railroad grade. In spite of being outnumbered, the Confederates were able to fend off Pope's early efforts—including an attack that briefly pierced A. P. Hill's line. Subsequent Federal attacks that afternoon were also repulsed with heavy casualties on both sides. At noon, Longstreet arrived on the field from Thoroughfare Gap and took position on Jackson’s right flank. The next day, Pope renewed his attacks, seemingly unaware that Longstreet was on the field. When massed Confederate artillery devastated a Union assault by Fitz John Porter’s command, Longstreet’s wing of 28,000 men counterattacked in the largest, simultaneous mass assault of the war. The Union left flank was crushed and the army driven back to Bull Run. Only an effective Union rearguard action prevented a replay of the First Manassas disaster. Pope’s retreat to Centreville was precipitous, nonetheless. The next day, Lee ordered his army in pursuit. This was the decisive battle of the Northern Virginia Campaign.