2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
The Battle of 2nd Manassas - Saturday, August 30, 1862
Union Major General Fitz-John Porter's Assault

The field of General Fitz John Porter's Charge
 
After two fierce days of battle, Confederate Lieutenant General Thomas J. Jackson's men had nearly reached their limits of their considerable, battle hardened endurance. Union Major General John Pope, frustrated in his plans to roll up the perceived as vulnerable Confederate flank the day before, ordered Major General Fitz John Porter to initiate a massive frontal assault on Jackson's men whom he thought must now be retreating. Through these open fields they surged forward. On these fields, they suffered the shock and mayhem of a rain of shot and shell coming from Lt. General James Longstreet's artillery on Battery Heights. Although some of Stonewall Jackson's men were now hopelessly out of ammunition, their fighting spirit never wavered as they added to the punishment by to throwing rocks at the on-coming Federals.

Union General Fitz John PorterOld Pete, as General James Longstreet was known, described the use of his artillery to repel General Porter's attack. "At 3.30 o'clock in the afternoon I rode to the front for the purpose of completing arrangements for making a diversion in favor of a flank movement then under contemplation. Just after reaching my front line I received a message for re-enforcements for General Jackson, who was said to be severely pressed. From an eminence near by one portion of the enemy's masses attacking General Jackson were immediately within my view and in easy range of batteries in that position. It gave me an advantage that I had not expected to have, and I made haste to use it. Two batteries were ordered for the purpose, and one placed in position immediately and opened. Just as this fire began I received a message from the commanding general, informing me of General Jackson's condition and his wants. As it was evident that the attack against General Jackson could not be continued ten minutes under the fire of these batteries I made no movement with my troops. Before the second battery could be placed in position the enemy began to retire, and in less than ten minutes the ranks were broken and that portion of his army put to flight."

Groveton MonumentAs General Longstreet accurately foresaw, unable to sustain the assault, General Porter's men withdrew through that same shower of crushing iron through which they had so bravely advanced. Union General George Sykes, a division commander in General Porter's 5th Corps, spoke briefly of the assault. "Butterfield's attack was gallantly made and gallantly maintained until his troops were torn to pieces. My First Brigade, under Colonel R. C. Buchanan, U. S. Army, moved to his aid, relieved him, and became furiously engaged...The enemy, posted in a railroad excavation, was as secure as earthen embankments could make him, and as our troops emerged from the woods they were met by withering volleys, that decimated their ranks. Their own fire was almost harmless against a sheltered foe." [5] Union Brigadier General John Hatch would say of this part of the battle, "...the conflict at this point was one of the most bloody of the whole war." [5]

Groveton Union Veterans MonumentBefore this phase of the battle subsided however, General Irvin McDowell, commander of the Union forces at the Battle of First Manassas, ordered Brigadier General John Reynolds to move his Pennsylvania Reserves from the currently unengaged Union left, south of the Warrenton Turnpike and west of Chinn Ridge, to the support of Porter's men. This rendered the Federal left flank dangerously undermanned in the face of Longstreet's wing, allowing for the thunderous Confederate flanking assault Generals Lee and Longstreet would send crashing down on the few New York regiments remaining on that part of the field.

The image of the monument pictured just above shows the cover of trees prior to the US National Park Services' recent efforts (Fall & Winter of 2008) to restore the battlefield to its 1860s appearance. These trees did not exist at the time of the battle as can be seen from the circa 1865 image to the right. Union veterans positioned the monument on the open ground near the top of the rise at the position where they approached Jackson's men in that portion of the Deep Cut. In the picture shown at the beginning of this page, the monument can be seen at the end of the long clearing at the top of the rise in ground. That image was taken in December of 2008 during the process of tree clearing mentioned above.

Battle of Groveton - August 30 1862