U. S. CIVIL WAR
Introduction to First Manassas (July 21, 1861)
This was to be the major battle of the war. Both the North and South thought that a decisive victory at Manassas would cause the rapid collapse of the other side and a rapid end to the War. To the Southerners, the Federal troops* marching down the Warrenton Turnpike in Virginia, represented an invasion of their land. To the Northerners, the troops were being sent to put down a rebellion, to keep the Union intact, and to show the Rebel Leaders the hopelessness of their situation. Hadn't President Lincoln bent over backwards to assuage the differences over slavery? Surely with his reassurances and a sound whipping at Manassas, the South would come back to its senses and to the fold.
*At the battle of First Manassas, the two Confederate Armies were called the "The Army of the Potomac" (under Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard) and "The Army of the Shenandoah (under General Joseph E. Johnston). The Union army under Brigadier General Irvin McDowell was called "The Army of Northeastern Virginia". Oddly enought, later in the war, "The Army of the Potomac" would be a Union designation and the Confederate eastern army would be called the "Army of Northern Virginia".
Introduction to Second Manassas (August 28-30, 1862)
With Union Gen. George B. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac bogged down on the Virginia peninsula after the "Seven Days" battles, General John Pope was placed in charge of an army composed of scattered Union units in Northern Virginia. The new Union army was called "The Army of Virginia".
While McClellan was still on the Peninsula, Confederate General Robert E. Lee could not afford to uncover Richmond. So he sent Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's Corps (with additional units from James Longstreet's Corps) to confront the new Army.
Jackson and Pope clashed at Cedar Mountain with indecisive results, but the battle shifted fighting in Virginia from the Peninsula to Northern Virginia.
When Lee determined that McClellan was moving his army back to Northern Virginia via water, he ordered Longstreet and the rest of his army to join Jackson, in hopes that they could defeat Pope before McClellan's forces arrived.
August found both armies eyeing each other across the Rappahannock River in Northern Virginia. However, Lee could not afford to wait until McClellan arrived to support Pope. Accordingly, Lee sent Jackson far around the right flank of the Union army with the intention of destroying Pope's railroad supply lines at Manassas Junction.
When Pope found out that Jackson was at Manassas Junction, he felt that if he acted quickly, he could overwhelm Jackson's Corps before Lee and the remainder of his army (Longstreet's Corps), which were still at the Rappahannock river, could provide support. Then, with Jackson's Corps gone, he could concentrate on defeating the rest of Lee's army.
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