On August 22, 1862, 160 years ago, Confederate cavalier Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart executed a daring nighttime raid behind enemy lines, looting Union Maj. Gen. John Pope’s headquarters train. The raid had wide ranging consequences for the Northern Virginia Campaign, setting the stage for one of the most complete Confederate victories of the war.
The Northern Virginia Campaign is widely considered to be Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s most successful military campaign. It culminated in the Second Battle of Bull Run, in which an entire Union army was nearly destroyed. This paved the way for Lee’s invasion of Maryland and the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day in American history. The Northern Virginia Campaign resulted in over 25,000 total casualties.
In July 1862, Maj. Gen. John Pope’s newly formed 51,000-man Union Army of Virginia began to consolidate across northern Virginia. After a bruising at the Battle of Cedar Mountain on August 9th, Pope withdrew his army behind the Rapidan River in Culpeper County. General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, informally divided into two “wings”, was camped around Gordonsville in Orange County.
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