August 9th marks the 150th anniversary of the Virginia battle called Cedar Mountain, also known as Slaughter’s Mountain – named after a man who owned a prominent home at this location.
As McClellan languished on the York River, Robert E. Lee released Stonewall Jackson to the critical rail junction at Gordonsville, VA. Union General John Pope – having been granted command of the new Army of Virginia on June 26th – sent General Nathaniel Banks’ corps to capture the same railway prize.
The two forces tangled at Cedar Mountain, seven miles south of Culpeper. The early portion of the battle featured a prolonged artillery duel that even involved Jackson himself firing upon the Federals. As Banks launched an attack at 5:00 p.m. that saw early success, Jackson personally rallied a counterattack driving back the Union. The Confederates were also successful in flanking the Yankee’s retreat. Leading this effort on the Southern left was North Carolina Brigadier General Lawrence O’Bryan Branch – who in September will be one of three Confederate generals who perish at Antietam.
Cedar Mountain marked the switch of the battlefront in the east away from the area of Richmond, ultimately through Virginia to the outskirts of Washington for a second time on the fields of Manassas.
Come back in a day or two and I’ll have a first-hand account from Abner Doubleday on his experiences during these days and leading to 2nd Bull Run.