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1862 August 13: Battle of Cedar Mountain

August 14, 2012

Following is the major front-page news story from the August 13, 1862, Prescott Journal.  The Battle of Cedar Mountain, also known as Cedar Run, had just taken place on August 9, 1862, in Culpepper County, Virginia.  The engagement was the first battle of the Northern Virginia Campaign.  Union forces under General Nathaniel P. Banks attacked Confederate forces under General Stonewall Jackson.  Early in the battle it seemed like the Union was going to win, but a Confederate counterattack broke the Union lines and the Confederates won the day.  The entire battle was hindered by a severe heat wave over Virginia in early August.

L A T E S T   W A R   N E W S.

Banks Encounters Stonewall Jackson and Ewell.

THE ENEMY 40,000 OR 50,000.
A    F i e r c e    a n d    B l o o d y    Battle.

Loss 2,000 or 3,000.

Beyond Culpepper, Va, Aug. 10 }

[Tribune dispatch.]—A battle was fought yesterday between Banks and Stonewall Jackson.

Gen. Bayard, of McDowell’s corps [Irvin McDowell], with a cavalry brigade, had been engaged the day before in the advance near Rapidan River, skirmishing and maneuvering, and taking prisoners, and ending with a slight loss, baffling the efforts of a large force to surround and cut them off.

Yesterday morning he was engaged for some hours before Banks came up with four regiments, the 1st Pennsylvania, 1st Maine, 1st Rhode Island, delayed and embarrassed the enemy’s advance.

The rebels under Jackson and Ewell [Richard S. Ewell] had crossed the Rapidan in force, and their advance guard, 5,000 strong, was attacked by Banks yesterday afternoon about six miles south of Culpepper Court House.

From “Original Photographs Taken on the Battlefields During the Civil War” (see footnote 1)

The fight was almost wholly with artillery at first, but the infantry became engages about 6 o’clock and a determined and a most bloody contest ensued.—Banks’ right wing under Gen. Williams suffered severely.

The rebel position was in the woods while the troops which attacked them were obliged to cross open ground.  It was not until about 6 o’clock that it became evident that the rebels were attacking in force.  Previous to that , there had been rather desultory cannonading.  The whole rebel force suddenly attacked in overwhelming numbers at all points and nearly all their regiments had full ranks.

At half past seven o’clock Gen. Pope [John Pope] arrived on the field from Culpepper, accompanied by McDowell and part of McDowell’s corps.  The battle was substantially over and Banks holding the same ground he occupied at the beginning.

After the arrival of Gen. Pope, there was an artillery contest that lasted at intervals, till near 12 o’clock.  The night was unusually clear and moon fell.

From “Original Photographs Taken on the Battlefields During the Civil War” (see footnote 1)

The rebels planted a battery against McDowell’s centre where Gen. Pope and Gen. Banks were bringing most of them under fire.  The Generals and staff were so near the rebel lines that a sudden charge of rebel cavalry was made from the woods a quarter of a mile off with a view to capture them.  The attempt was repelled by a vigorous fire from McDowell’s troops, and the Generals and the staffs left the ground under a fierce fire from the rebels and their troops.  The fire of rebel batteries was afterwards silenced.  Pope arriving, he sent fresh troops to the front to take the place of Banks’ exhausted columns.  The enemy did not renew the attack except by artillery.

Banks was on the field through the action, and constantly under fire.  His handling of his troops and personal gallantry are highly praised by his officers.  The bravery and good conduct of troops were conspicuous during a large portion of the fight.  When overpowered by numbers some regiments retreated in disorder.  Col. Knight of the 46th Pennsylvania is dangerously wounded.  Lieut. Col. Selfrig is severely wounded.

From “Original Photographs Taken on the Battlefields During the Civil War” (see footnote 1)

Gen. Banks is rather severely hurt by an accident.  A cavalry trooper ran against him, striking him heavily on the side.  The 2d Massachusetts was in the hardest of the fight and suffered severely.  The 5th Connecticut, 25th Indiana, and 46th Pennsylvania are badly cut up.  Rebel Gen. Wilder2 was wounded.

Losses are very heavy on both sides—not less than 2,000 or 8,000 killed, wounded, and missing on each side.—Some prisoners are taken by both.  Jackson and Ewell were both present in battle.  Re-enforcements under Gen. A. P. Hill3 to the amount of 18,000 men reached the rebels last night at about the same that ours arrived.  Skirmishing in front is going on this morning, but troops on both sides are so much exhausted by fatigue and intense heat that no serious encounter is expected to-day.  No details have been officially received.

It is represented that Gens. Prince, Auger,and Geary4 were wounded.

1.  Original Photographs Taken on the Battlefields During the Civil War of the United States, by Mathew B. Brady and Alexander Gardner, Hartford, Conn.: [Edward Bailey Eaton], 1907; available in the UWRF University Archives and Area Research Center (E 468.7 .E14 1907).
2.  Confederate Brigadier General Charles S. Winder (1829-1862) was mortally wounded. He had been ill and was brought to the battlefield in an ambulance. While trying to direct his troops, he was struck by a fragment of an artillery shell and died a few hours later. Not mentioned in this article is Brigadier General William Booth Taliaferro (1822-1898), who took command of Winder’s division upon his death.
3.  Ambrose Powell Hill, Jr. (1825-1865), a career U.S. Army officer, joined the Confederacy and became one of Stonewall Jackson’s ablest subordinates.
4.  Union Brigadier Generals Henry Prince, Christopher C. Auger, and John W. Geary.

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