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1862 September 3: Northwest Wisconsin Reads About the 2nd Battle of Bull Run

September 3, 2012

The September 3, 1862, issue of The Prescott Journal ran a report on the front page about the Second Battle of Bull Run—or Second Manassas.  The battle had taken place less than a week earlier, on August 28-30 (Thursday-Saturday), in Prince William County, Virginia.  It was part of the Northern Virginia Campaign.

This report was also published in the September 3, 1862, issue of The Hudson North Star.

W  A  R     N  E  W  S  !

ANOTHER BATTLE!

A PANIC AND FLIGHT.
The Battle to be Renewed.
Geneneral [sic] Banks Cut Off.
Rebels 20,000 or 30,000 Strong.1

NEW YORK, Sept. 1.

Tribune’s extra, of this morning, contains a Washington letter, dated Sunday forenoon, with the following details:

Nothing later than Pope’s [John Pope] dispatch of Saturday had been received by the government this morning.

Distant firing was heard on Saturday afternoon and later in the evening.

A courier arrived at Halleck’s [Henry W. Halleck] headquarters this morning with the news that Pope had fallen back to Centreville.

A staff officer from the battle field at five, Saturday afternoon, states that the battle commenced on Thursday forenoon, and that Sigel’s [Franz Sigel] corps engaged a rebel cavalry brigade on the road from Warrentown, and drove them back, the battle lasting till 9:30 in the evening.  This fight was with Jackson’s [Stonewall Jackson] rear guard, whose force was estimated at 30,000.

Friday morning Jackson undoubtedly formed a junction with Longstreet [James Longstreet].

Sherman’s [William Tecumseh Sherman] battery opened the battle on Friday morning.

Milroy’s [Robert H. Milroy] brigade had the advance, and Sigel formed a line of battle with Schurz [Carl Schurz] on the right, Schenck [Robert C. Schenck] on the left, and Steinwehr2 on the center.

The rebels were gradually forced back till one o’clock, P. M.  They then suddenly and fiercely charged bayonets, foricng [sic] Milroy back.  Schenck sent a brigade forward, but both were driven back.

Milroy’s command was so badly cut up that he could not gather a regiment.

Schurz and Steinwehr were holding their own in the woods on the left of Schenck.

Isaac Stevens, from “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War” (see footnote 5)

Heavy masses of rebels appeared, and Stevens’3 and Reynolds’4division were sent up, and all were driven back.  The result of Friday’s fighting was, we drove the rebels about two miles, then they being heavily re-enforced recovered a mile, and our troops rested at night a mile in advance of their morning position.

On Saturday the battle was more general.  Heintzelman [Samuel P. Heintzelman], Porter [Fitz John Porter], McDowell [Irvin McDowell], and Banks [Nathaniel P. Banks] were engaged.  Sigel’s force being kept as a reserve.  Heintzelman commenced the attack, with Porter in the center.

The advance of the battle was checked by immense masses of rebel infantry, and his troops stood up with unparalled [sic] heroism for over an hour exposed to enfilading fire of grape and canister.

The ground was strewn with the fallen ranks of the dying and dead.  Finally they broke, falling back in great disorder, which caused a panic in the reserve, large numbers joining in the retreat.  The rebels rapidly advanced their batteries, pouring in a storm of shot and shell.  Our right wing was completely beaten.  McDowell advanced to their support, endeavoring to hold the center, but his movements were anticipated, and both he and Sigel were enveloped by the rebels and outnumbered at all points.—Then Sigel shone out, bringing up his brigade successfully to their position, holding them in front, while the fugitives poured by.

Large bodies of McDowell’s troops retreated in great disorder across Bull Run.

At five o’clock, P. M., the battle was going against us.  The last reserves were ordered up to retrieve the day ;  but along the Coutreville road artillery, infantry, wagons and cavalry were confusedly falling to the rear.  Our right, however, remained comparatively firm, preventing the enemy from following up his advantage, and at 8 o’clock Bull Run stream was crossed by rebels troubling us only by a few shells.  We were falling back to Centreville.

William Franklin, from “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War” (see footnote 5)

Franklin’s6 corps was between Stone Bridge and Centreville and Sumner’s [Edwin V. Sumner] corps between Centreville and Fairfax Court House, pressing on with great speed to the assistance of Pope.

The day was probably adverse to us, but the battle was to be renewed on Sunday morning with heavy re-enforcements.

It is believed the whole rebel army under Lee has re-enforced Jackson by way of Thoroughfare Gap, or by Aldie Gap.

The above account was gleaned by the Tribune correspondent, from Capt. Fish.7

1.  The Confederate strength was 50,000 to the Union’s 62,000.
2.  Adolph von Steinwehr (1822-1877) was a German-born military officer who emigrated to the U.S. in 1854. At the start of the Civil War, Steinwehr raised the 29th New York Infantry, which consisted primarily of other German immigrants, and he commanded the regiment at the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861. A year later Steinwehr was in command of the 2nd Division (including the 29th N.Y.) in Sigel’s I Corps, which was assigned to Pope’s Army of Virginia.
3.  Isaac Ingalls Stevens (1818-1862) graduated from West Point and served in the Mexican War and the Corps of Engineers. He was the first territorial governor of Washington (1853-1857) and surveyed a northern transcontinental railroad route while traveling across the the country to take up his position. He then served as  delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from Washington Territory (1857-1861) before becoming a brigadier general in the Civil War. He will be killed in the Battle of Chantilly, immediately following the Second Battle of Bull Run, on September 1, 1862.
4.  John Fulton Reynolds (1820-1863) graduated from West Point and was a career military officer who served in the Mexican War and the Utah War. At the Second Battle of Bull Run, Reynolds was in command of the Pennsylvania Reserves Division. On the second day of the Second Battle of Bull Run, Reynolds led his men in a last-ditch stand on Henry House Hill, which allowed the rest of the Union Army time to retreat in a more orderly fashion. In 1863, Reynolds will play a key role in committing the Army of the Potomac to the Battle of Gettysburg and will be killed at the start of the battle.
5.  Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War, by Alfred H. Guernsey and Henry M. Alden, Chicago: McDonnell, 1866-68; available in the UWRF Archives (E 468.7 .G87 1866).
6.  William Buel Franklin (1823-1903) graduated first in his class from West Point and was a career military officer, serving in the Mexican War. He constructed lighthouses on the Atlantic Coast and in 1859 took over as the engineer supervising the construction of the U.S. Capitol dome. In the Civil War, he rose to the rank of a corps commander in the Army of the Potomac, fighting in several notable early battles in the Eastern Theater. Franklin, a staunch supporter of General McClellan, fell victim to the political intrigue that swept the Union Army and he will resign in early 1863. In 1864 he will be reassigned to corps command in the Department of the Gulf and will be wounded at the Battle of Mansfield, a disability that will limit his army career.
7.  Possibly Ross A. Fish, captain of Company E, 32 New York Infantry.

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