Historic America

Northern Virginia Campaign – First Battle of Bristoe Station

Fought between Union and Confederate forces 160 years ago on August 26, 1862, the First Battle of Bristoe Station (aka Kettle Run) saw combat between New York’s ‘Excelsior Brigade’ and the ‘Louisiana Tigers’ along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad in Prince William County, Virginia. The Union victory lulled Union Maj. Gen. John Pope into a false sense of security, setting the stage for his overall defeat in the American Civil War’s Northern Virginia Campaign.

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 June 1862, President Abraham Lincoln pulled Union Maj. Gen. John Pope from the Western Theater to consolidate scattered Union forces across northern Virginia, to buy time for Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan to bring his defeated army back to Washington, DC. Pope boasted “I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies.” He called his new army the Army of Virginia.

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