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Historic America

Action at Mathias Point, King George, Virginia

Visit the scene of an early Medal of Honor winner and where the first U.S. Naval officer was killed in the Civil War.

The Engagement at Mathias Point was fought on Thursday, June 27, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Commander James H. Ward and Confederate forces commanded by Colonel Daniel Ruggles and Colonel John M. Brockenbrough in King George County, Virginia during the American Civil War.

Since Virginia declared its intention to secede in early May 1861, the Union Navy had been enforcing a blockade of its ports. It attempted to close the Chesapeake Bay to maritime traffic, and open up the Potomac River to Union ships, which was vital to securing Washington, DC. Virginia, for its part, erected batteries at strategic points along the shoreline to keep Union ships away.

At the end of May, the Union Potomac Flotilla failed to silence a Confederate shore battery near Aquia Landing on the Potomac River. Nearly a month later, Flotilla Commander James H. Ward sought to clear Mathias Point of Confederate skirmishers, who were using the woods as cover to harass passing ships with small arms fire. He was determined to keep the river open from Washington, DC to the Chesapeake Bay.

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Historic America

Northern Virginia Campaign – Battle of Thoroughfare Gap

Fought between Union and Confederate forces 160 years ago on August 28, 1862, the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap (aka Chapman’s Mill) in Fauquier and Prince William Counties, Virginia played a small but consequential role in ensuring Confederate victory in the Northern Virginia Campaign. Union Maj. Gen. John Pope missed an opportunity to isolate half of Robert E. Lee’s army and crush his legendary corps commander Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. 

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.

By late August 1862, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, 50,000 strong, squared off against Union Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia, 51,000 strong, 40 miles from Washington, DC. Lee outmaneuvered Pope, sending Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s wing around Pope’s flank to destroy his supply depot at Manassas Junction. Confederate Maj. Gen. James Longstreet followed with the rest of the army. To reach Jackson, Longstreet had to pass through Thoroughfare Gap in the Bull Run Mountains.

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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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Historic America

Northern Virginia Campaign – First Battle of Rappahannock Station

Fought between Union and Confederate forces 160 years ago on August 23, 1862, the skirmish at Rappahannock Station along the Rappahannock River in Culpeper County, Virginia was a brief but dramatic episode in the American Civil War. Though casualties were light and its role in the larger Northern Virginia Campaign was inconsequential, it was among the longest artillery duels of the war.

Fought 160 years ago, 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 August 1862, Maj. Gen. John Pope’s 51,000-man Union Army of Virginia, consisting of three infantry corps commanded by Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel, Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, and Maj. Gen Irvin McDowell, withdrew behind the Rappahannock River along his main supply route, the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, and waited for reinforcements.  

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Historic America

Northern Virginia Campaign – Skirmish at Freeman’s Ford

Fought between Union and Confederate forces 160 years ago on August 22, 1862, the skirmish at Freeman’s Ford along the Rappahannock River in Culpeper County, Virginia was a brief and seldom-remembered episode in American Civil War history. Its role in the larger Northern Virginia Campaign was inconsequential, but it was no less harrowing for the men exposed to enemy fire than any other engagement.

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 August 1862, Maj. Gen. John Pope’s 51,000-man Union Army of Virginia, consisting of three infantry corps commanded by Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel, Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, and Maj. Gen Irvin McDowell, withdrew behind the Rappahannock River along his main supply route, the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, and waited for reinforcements. 

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Historic America

Northern Virginia Campaign: Visiting the Battlefields

Fought between the Union Army of Virginia and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia 160 years ago in the summer 1862, the Northern Virginia Campaign is widely considered to be Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s most successful military campaign. The Second Battle of Bull Run (aka Second Manassas) was its culminating and most famous battle, but the two armies fought over a half dozen skirmishes and minor battles over the course of four weeks. 

Only a few of these battlefields are preserved and open to the public. Many are simply marked with a roadside sign or nothing at all. The four parks that preserve and interpret battles from the Northern Virginia Campaign are Cedar Mountain Battlefield in Culpeper County, Manassas National Battlefield Park and Battlefield Heritage Park in Prince William County, and Ox Hill Battlefield Park in Fairfax.

Cedar Mountain Battlefield, at 9465 General Winder Road (off James Madison Highway) in Culpeper County, Virginia, is open daily from dawn to dusk. Cedar Mountain is an excellent example of private organizations coming together to preserve a historic site. Beginning in 1998, the American Battlefield Trust and Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield have acquired and preserved 498 acres. 

Categories
Historic America

Northern Virginia Campaign – Battle of Cedar Mountain

Fought between Union and Confederate forces 160 years ago on August 9, 1862, the Battle of Cedar Mountain (aka Slaughter’s Mountain) was a brief but bloody affair in Culpeper County, Virginia. The battle touched off the Northern Virginia Campaign, widely considered to be Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s most successful military campaign. 

The Northern Virginia Campaign 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 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.”