August 31, 1862, The New York Herald
The news of late from the seat of war has been of such a conflicting character, on account of the expulsion of all correspondents from the army, that we have hardly known what reports to credit. Not until yesterday was any light thrown upon the subject. It came in the first despatch from General Pope to General Halleck, and dated Manassas Junction, August 28, ten P. M. Now we have some of the details of the important events of the last few days. On the 26th inst., General Pope discovered that the enemy was turning his right towards Manassas, and as the division he had ordered to take post there two days before had not yet arrived from Alexandria, he immediately broke up his camps at Warrenton Junction and Warrenton, and marched rapidly back in three columns.
It appears he directed General McDowell, with his own and General Sigel’s corps, and General Reno’s division, to March upon Gainesville by the Warrenton and Alexandria pike, General Reno’s and one division of Gen. Heintzelman’s to march on Greenwich, and with General Porter’s corps and General Hooker’s division he marched back to Manassas Junction.
General Pope ordered General McDowell to interpose between the forces of the enemy that had passed down to Manassas through Gainesville and their main body that was moving down from White Plains through Thoroughfare Gap. All these orders were successfully carried out. General Longstreet, who had passed through the Gap, was driven back to the west side. Our troops sent to Greenwich were for the purpose of supporting General McDowell, in case he encountered the enemy in too great force. The division of General Hooker, on the march to Manassas, came upon the enemy near Kettle run on the afternoon of Wednesday, the 27th , and, after a sharp fight, routed them completely, killing and wounding three hundred, and obtaining possession of all their camps, baggage and many stand of arms.
On Thursday morning, the 28th, the command moved forward rapidly to Manassas Junction, which General Jackson had evacuated three hours before. His retreat was by Centreville, taking the turnpike towards Warrenton, where he met the forces of Generals McDowell and Sigel, six miles west of Centreville late in the afternoon. A severe fight took place, which only terminated when it became too dark. Our forces succeeded in driving the enemy at all points, and there the battle ended. He says Heintzelman’s corps will move on the enemy at daylight from Centreville, and that he does not see how the enemy is to escape without heavy loss. He further reports the capture of one thousand prisoners, many arms and one piece of artillery.
The advices received yesterday indicate that the programme was carried out. He opened the battle early on the morning of the 29th, and on the old battle field of Bull Run, with the combined forces of the enemy, which lasted with great fury from daylight until after dark, by which time the enemy were driven from the field, which our forces now occupy.
His despatch says further that our troops were too much exhausted to push the enemy, but he would be at them again as soon as General Fitz John Porter’s corps moved up from Manassas.
He further adds that the enemy were still in his front, but badly beaten; that they had lost not less than 16,000 men, and that our loss was not less than 9,000, or one-half the enemy.
It appears that the enemy stood strictly on the defensive, and every attack had been made by the Union forces, who behaved splendidly.
He says that the enthusiasm of our troops was greatly increased by the fact of the battle being fought on the old battle ground of Bull run, and closes the report by saying that the news had just reached him from the front that the enemy was retreating toward the mountains, and that if was his intention to go forward at once to see; that he had made great captures, but was not able them to form an idea of their extent.
A despatch received late last evening says that the battle was renewed yesterday morning, and had continued during the day; the thunder of artillery could be distinctly heard in Washington, but the result had not been learned.
From these despatches we have reliable news of the operations of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday last, the 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th inst. We appear to have fought three battles, the first on the 27th, being a successful affair, in which the enemy were routed with the loss of three hundred killed and wounded, and their camp, baggage and many stand of arms. The second occurred on the 28th, and only ceased on account of darkness. This fight is reported as severe, but a successful one for us, for the enemy being repulsed at all points, we virtually held possession of the field and were victorious.
Both of these sink into insignificance, however, in comparison with the battle of the 29th, which lasted from daylight until dark, and against the combined forces of the enemy. It appears to have been, from the official despatch, by far the most sanguinary of the war, and closes with a victory on our side, we holding the battle field.
That the loss on our side is over estimated we hope, but fear the numbers cannot be less when consider the numbers engaged and the ferocity with which both sides fought. Our army knew they were in the position to wipe out, and forever, the disgrace of the first Bull Run, and on the same ground; they have done so, and most nobly. Opposed to them were the flower of the rebel army, commanded by the pet generals of Jeff. Davis; but they have been whipped, badly whipped, by our invincible Army of Virginia, and the demoralization that must attend the rebels will, we are confident, now render the road to Richmond comparatively easy.
General Pope has accomplished the achievement of this war, and earned for himself the proud title of victor of the second battle of Bull Run, whereby the disgrace attending the Union forces in the first battle has been forever blotted out. It has been the crowning act to his successes since the war began, and stamps him as one of the first generals of the age, not only by fighting the battle and gaining the victory, but by out-manoeuvring the rebels at all points, commanded as they were by Lee, Jackson, Longstreet and other generals, who were acknowledged second to none in military reputation.
The movements of the coming week will be watched with intense anxiety; on them, and their success or defeat, depend in a great measure the result of this war. We have confidence, great confidence in our military leaders and we look for operations shortly by our army that will astonish the world and prove the immense superiority of the forces of the Union.