In 1862, as an indication as to the strength of the Union, especially at the time, even with the disaster having endured by the Army of the Potomac, a new Union army, the Army of Virginia, had been organised during McClellan's slow march up the Peninsular.
Second Manassas by David AtwellFormed from a mix of new recruits and divisions stripped from McClellan's original plans for his campaign on Richmond, it numbered 77 000 troops by the time it took its first steps on its march towards Richmond. Lincoln, although not having complete faith in its commander, General John Pope, nevertheless did not originally envisaged the Army of Virginia to do anything other than defend the Union capital. But now, with the Army of the Potomac under siege, and Pope declaring he shall be victorious, Lincoln had few choices other than allow Pope to attack, hoping that Richmond may indeed fall, whilst the Confederate army was busy with the trapped Army of the Potomac.
Lee, however, saw it coming, thanks mostly to Union newspapers reporting the boasts of General Pope. Consequentially, by late July 1862, a mere three weeks after the Seven Days Battles, Lee had started slipping out divisions, from around the battlelines surrounding Harrison's Landing, back to positions covering Richmond from a northern approach. Still, not everything went to plan as Pope actually managed to get a step on Lee's preparations by moving earlier than Lee predicted. Consequentially, a number of skirmishes commenced, between Jackson's units, now organised under the banner of CSA II Corps, which culminated at the Battle of Cedar Mountain on 9 August. Although it was a Confederate victory, it was far from a convincing one as evident by, even though the Union retreated, Jackson was in no position to pursue.A Chapter from Action Jackson 1862
Mind, it was not that Lee wanted Jackson to pursue the Union force at this point in time, as Lee had no idea whether McCellan, with a still a sizeable force of some 53 000 troops, would take advantage of the moves by Pope, break out of the Harrison's Landing parameter, and once more march on Richmond. As a result, Lee kept Longstreet's newly organised CSA I Corps in place, for as long as possible, until he was convinced McClellan was content to remain in place. This meant, though, that Jackson, with only 24 000 troops, had to face off an army three times his number. Lee, in other words, was playing for time.
Time, however, was more so running out for Pope rather than for Lee, as Lee had finally decided to leave a small force behind under Magruder, watching McClellan, whilst moving the great bulk of Longstreet's Corps north to join up with Jackson. Meanwhile, and unbeknown to Lee, McClellan had actually organised an evacuation to take place not much later around 30 August. Still that did not now matter to Lee, as countering Pope was his main objective.
Alas for Pope, he would help Lee in his own defeat at the Battle of Second Manassas. Having rapidly advanced south initially, after the Battle of Cedar Mountain, he became overly cautious akin to McClellan. This may have seemed prudent at the time, considering the recent fate of the Army of the Potomac, but in this case it ensured Lee was given the precious time he needed to get his plans developed and put into motion. So once again, with a Union army holding their positions, waiting for a frontal attack, Lee simply moved around its right flank and attacked where Pope never expected him to do so. At first the Confederate plans seemed to be working, but then Pope, for all his faults, more or less realised the danger: or to put it more accurately, it should be said, some of his subordinates realised the danger but Pope eventually listened. Thus, having dug in along the Rappahannock expecting a frontal assault, a long series of mobile battles instead resulted, on the Union's right flank, as the Union Army of Virginia commenced a retreat in a race to get to Manassas Junction before the Confederates.
Alas for the Union Army of Virginia, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia would not let them get away that easy. Instead a huge battle took place at Manassas, which would dwarf the first one that took place there just over a year before. Although the Confederates were outnumbered, as they only had about 55 000 soldiers against 77 000 Union troops, on this particular occasion it mattered not, for on the day of battle, 29 August 1862, the Union positions were haphazard, poorly organised, and several units were still arriving on the battlefield. Meanwhile the Confederates had fully deployed and overlapped both flanks of the Union battleline.
Thus when the Confederates attacked at around 10 AM, even though the Union centre managed to repulse the morning attacks, it was a completely different story on the flanks. In both instances, the Union was in trouble from the start. Jackson's attacks, though, were soon stopped by stubborn Union resistance around the Stone House, but Longstreet's attacks on the other flank simply drove the few Union defenders into a panic. This panic was soon turned into a total rout as Stuart's cavalry got involved with the attack. Within a hour, Longstreet's Corps, lead by Kemper's division, had swung around behind the Union centre, and were soon attacking the rear of the Union positions at the Stone House. In doing so, the vast majority of the Union Army of Virginia, including its commanding general, had been surrounded. They would not last out the day.
Read the whole story of Action Jackson 1862 - Stonewall's Foot Cavalry Wins The Day on the Changing the Times web site