Tuesday, December 8, 2015

19th Virginia Infantry: Battle of Second Manassas

Continued from 19th Virginia Infantry:  Seven Days Battles

After the collapse of General George B. McClellan's Peninsula Campiagn, Abraham Lincoln appointed Gen. John Pope commander of the newly formed Army of Virginia. Pope had a twofold mission: 1) protect Washington, DC, and the Shenandoah Valley and 2) draw Confederate forces away from McClellan by moving troops to Gordonsville.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee perceived McClellan posed no further threat to Richmond and began to draw troops out of the defensive perimeter around the city. He observed the Union army was split into two forces many miles apart and unable to support each other. Lee decided to destroy Pope before turning back to McClellan. He organized his army into two corps. General James Longstreet commanded the "right wing," and General General "Stonewall" Jackson, the "left wing." General J. E. B. Stuart commanded the cavalry and was attached to Jackson. Pickett's brigade was part of Kemper's division., which was attached to Longstreet's corps.

While all this planning was underway, the 19th Virginia Infantry enjoyed six weeks of rest and recruit training near Richmond. All that ended on 13 August as Longstreet began moving the men and supplies under his command to Gordonsville.

Richmond, Virginia; image courtesy of the National Park Service

The 19th Virginia Infantry, part of the Virginia regimental series, describes the move:

"...upon detraining at Gordonsville, the 19th Virginia camped near Bowler's Mill in Louisa County. Three days later, Longstreet's troops left Gordonsville; four days later they crossed the Rapidan at Raccoon Ford and moved toward the south bank of the Rappahannock River, where the men rested for a few days. By August 28, the Confederates had crossed the Rappahannock at Hinston's Mill Ford, passed the western slope of Carter's Mountain and arrived at Thoroughfare Gap in the Bull Run mountains. Early on 29 August Longstreet marched his corps east through Thoroughfare Gap. At Gainesville the men turned left and moved northeast along the Warrenton Pike. After a short march, Longstreet established a position to the right of Jackson's corps and the road."

What the regimental history did not reveal was there was a short battle at Thoroughfare Gap when Longstreet's vanguard encountered Union troops. Longstreet's men took the Gap, marched through and were able to successfully link up with Stonewall Jackson the next day. If they had not, the outcome of the Battle of Second Manassas would have been very different.

Currier and Ives lithograph of the Battle of Second Manassas; image
courtesy of Wikipedia

That battle had been underway since 28 August with Jackson's corps bearing the brunt. Initial elements of General Longstreet's corps arrived shortly after noon on 29 August and were in place to Jackson's right. The final elements arrived at 3:00 a.m. on 30 August. Longstreet began his counterattack at 4:00 p.m. The objective would be Henry House Hill, scene of a turning point in the Battle of First Manassas. Kemper's division, which included the 19th Virginia Infantry, was in the center of Longstreet's line. Initially the were opposed by two Union brigades.

Longstreet's line advanced nearly 2 miles across ground containing ridges, streams and heavy woods. Yet they swept all before them. Union general Pope ordered a general retreat at 8:00 p.m. Exhausted, the Confederate troops did not pursue them. The 19th Virginia Infantry lost approximately 100 men, though the Jennings men -- Charles and John T. Jennings -- were uninjured.

To be continued...

Jennings, Charles E. (my great grandfather), Private, Co. H; enlisted 1 March 1862 at Amherst courthouse; Present until detailed 18 May 1863 to General Hospital in Lynchburg on surgeon's certificate; absent there through last roll August 1864.

Jennings, Daniel R. (my first cousin three times removed), Corporal, Co. H; enlisted 15 April 1861 at Amherst Courthouse; age 20, farmer; Private to 4th Corporal by August 1863; 4 Corporal to 3rd Corporal by October 1863; 3rd Corporal to 2nd Corporal by February 1864; Present until wounded at Ganes Mill on 27 June 1862; returned, wounded in action at Gettysburg on 3 July 1863; sent to Lynchburg Hospital; absent, detailed on government work, dropped as non-commissioned officer from 16 April 1865. Surrendered at Appomattox, pension in 1910.

Jennings, John T. (my great grand uncle), Private, Co. H; enlisted 15 April 1861 at Amherst Courthouse, age 23, farmer; present through last roll 31 December 1863.

Jennings, Leroy P.  (my first cousin three times removed), Corporal, Co. I; enlisted 29 April 1861 at Buffalo Springs; age 19, farmer; Private to 3rd Corporal by August 1863; 3rd Corporal to 2nd Corporal by October 1863; Present till wounded at Gaines Mill on 27 June 1862; returned; wounded in action and taken prisoner of war on 3 July 1863 at Gettysburg; gunshot in right lung; paroled at General Hospital West's Building in Baltimore on 25 September 1863; returned to duty by February 1864; through last roll August 1864.

Jennings, Samuel H. (my first cousin three times removed), Private, Co. H; enlisted 15 April 1861 at Amherst courthouse; age 24, farmer; Present until discharged discharged on 12 September 1861 by order of General Beauregard, surgeon's certificate, listed disease was smallpox. Pension 1900.

19th Virginia Infantry: Seven Days Battles
19th Virginia Infantry: Peninsula Campaign
Mapping the 19th Virginia Infantry: January-August 1862
19th Virginia Infantry: First Winter Camp
Mapping the 19th Virginia Infantry: 1861
19th Virginia Infantry: First Blood at Manassas
A Lover, Not a Fighter

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