Tuesday, August 28, 2012

4pm: Yanks hold at Thoroughfare against half Reb army


Stony Ridge

Less than a mile north of the Warrenton Turnpike [US 29], with a nearly unimpeded view of it, lay Jackson’s three divisions in wait behind the unfinished railroad. A messenger arrived from Lee that Thoroughfare Gap was clear of Union troops and that Longstreet would join him in the morning. Satisfied, Jackson found a fence post to his liking and sat down to take a nap. Near the end of the hour, he was woken by an aid, who reported a Union division marching up the Turnpike towards Centreville.

Thoroughfare Gap

In the very uncleared Gap, the battle raged on.

G.T. Anderson formed up his brigade and made a counterattack against Ricketts’ lead brigade:
Having thus formed my line and advanced my skirmishers to the front, I ordered the line to advance, which was done in the most gallant manner, the men climbing the rough mountain-side on their hands and knees to reach the enemy, occupying the crest of the hill, and delivering a murderous fire in their faces as they made the perilous ascent. From the nature of the ground and the impenetrable thickets of laurel and brush none of the regiments except the First Georgia obtained a favorable position, but the regulars succeeded in getting a good position and inflicted a very severe chastisement on the superior force of the enemy. Captain Patton brought down 5 with his pistol, killing 3 of them.
Meanwhile Ricketts had managed to get his artillery into action, giving his men an advantage over the Confederates that Anderson failed to remember a few months later when he wrote his report. The epicenter of the struggle was Chapman’s Mill in the Gap, which Confederate sharpshooters had taken over and refused to be dislodged from.

Longstreet, meanwhile, was faced with a difficult situation. The Gap must be cleared, but Ricketts’s men could hold the narrow entrance indefinitely, with their artillery. Forfeiting the planned rest, he sent his men into action almost as soon as they came up. A second of Neighbor Jones’ brigades climbed the side of the mountain to the right of Anderson, while another brigade of a different division attempted to scale the mountain to the left of Anderson, guided (not very well) by the local Mr. Beverley, future owner of Chapman’s Mill.

Perhaps more promisingly, Longstreet ordered the division of Cadmus Wilcox south to the Hopewell Gap with Anderson’s useless artillery.


Jeb Stuart’s cavalry had been split and split and split again over the course of the previous days. But when General Order No. 10 had been captured, he had asked Jackson for permission to ride towards Haymarket to “do what I could with the two fragments of brigades I still had.”
I proceeded to [Haymarket], capturing a detachment of the enemy en route. Approaching the place by a by-path, I saw indications of a large force there prepared for attack. About this time I could see the fight going on at Thoroughfare Gap, where Longstreet had his progress disputed by the enemy, and it was to establish communication with him that I was anxious to make this march. I sent a trust man with the dispatch to the right of Hay Market [sic]. I kept up a brisk skirmish with the enemy without any result until in the afternoon…


Phil Kearny’s division arrived at the head of their huge line to find only a few cavalry vedettes. Jackson, Pope decided when the message reached him, must be falling back by Sudley Springs Ford and the Warrenton Turnpike [US 29]. Ordering Kearny to secure Centreville for the night, Pope set up his headquarters for the night near Blackburn Ford. He ordered Hooker and Reno to bivouac for the night along the road between Manassas Junction and Centreville, and sent the chronically late Franz Sigel with his corps north to the old battlefield.

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