Battle of Cedar Mountain
August 9, 1862

Vexed by Pope's move on Culpeper Court House and that officer's alarming proclamations against Southern civilians, Robert E. Lee quickly dispatched Jackson to Gordonsville with the grave order: "I want Pope to be suppressed."

Outnumbered by Pope's forces, Jackson looked for an opportunity to strike. Pope unwittingly divided his army along the Rapidan River. Jackson then advanced hoping to isolate a portion of Pope's army near Culpeper. Although he had been reinforced by Major General A.P. Hill's large "Light Division," Jackson plans almost immediately went awry, and he could make little headway. Hampered by poor roads and problematic orders, Jackson vented his frustrations on A.P. Hill, sparking the most celebrated feud in the history of Lee's lieutenants. [Read Hill's Official Report]

Pressing forward on August 9, 1862, Jackson's troops tramped on the main road to Culpeper in brutally hot weather. The exhausted Confederates encountered Union cavalry blocking the road near Cedar Run. Confederate Brigadier General Jubal A. Early hastily formed a line of infantry and artillery perpendicular to the road with the right of the Southern line anchored on the shoulder of Cedar (or Slaughter's) Mountain. Confederate artillery firing from the mountain as well as from a small wooded knoll known afterward as the Cedars, and from a gate where the Crittenden House lane met the main road, dueled with Union artillery posted on the Mitchell Station Road. One Confederate thought the gunnery was "the prettiest artillery duel ever witnessed during the war." During the spectacular but inconclusive shelling both Stonewall Jackson and division commander Brigadier General Charles S. Winder tried their hand as gunners. Confederates soon carried Winder off the battlefield mortally wounded when a Northern shell tore away his side.

The battle entered its most furious phase shortly after 5 p.m. when the Federal commander on the field. Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, launched two attacks against the Confederate line. Union infantry waded through a cornfield heading for the Southern guns at the Cedars, while a second group of Northerners advanced toward the guns planted by the Gate.

Although outnumbered by Jackson's troops, Brigadier general Samuel W. Crawford's Unionists struck Jackson's loosely-knit line near the Gate. Crawford shattered Jackson's left after a desperate hand-to-hand combat that one veteran remembered as "unsurpassed for ferocity by any other engagement during the war." The Federals in the cornfield under Brigadier General Christopher C. Augur billowed out of the corn near the guns by the Cedars.

The Confederate guns at the Gate, and the Cedars retreated while much of their infantry support fled from the Union onslaught. Defying fire from three sides, Jackson brandished his "sword" and a battle flag, and banked on his name to rally the troops. Jackson rode into the center of the storm waving his sword with the scabbard still tightly rusted to it. One witness wrote later, "the escape of Jackson from death was miraculous. He was in the thickest of the combat, at very long range."

Jackson rallied and stiffened the resistance there just as Hill's division arrived. The Forty-ninth was assigned a position on a range of hills, from which a favorable view of the enemy's position was obtained and well did the Forty-ninth use the advantage thus obtained. An almost uninterrupted volley of musketry was poured into the enemy's ranks until the ammunition was exhausted. Eagerly did the men grasp the proffered cartouch boxes, which some of the officers took from the killed and wounded, nor did the regiment move from its position until darkness had ended the contest, although for nearly an hour it had stood with bayonets fixed, and not a single cartridge in their boxes. Early in the action, Lieutenant Colonel Manning, who had nobly led the men into the fight, fell seriously wounded from the effects of which he died on 9 SEP 1862. Captain Wilcox of Company B. another gallant officer, here fell mortally wounded. The name and gallant deeds of these two officers, will ever live in the memories of their surviving comrades. The Light Division opened ranks, allowing their whipped comrades to fall back, then attacked with a vigor that threw back the Union advance which had so nearly swamped Jackson's left.

Hill's division, Thomas' brigade among them, routed and pursued the Federals beyond twilight. When Jackson at last called off the pursuit, within six miles of Pope's main force at Culpeper, Union losses had amounted to 2381, Confederate to 1276. In his report on the battle at Cedar Mountain, Hill mentioned Thomas' Georgians prominently.

"Thomas formed his line of battle along a fence bordering a cornfield, through which the enemy were advancing. After a short contest here, the enemy was hurled back. . . . The enemy had now been driven from every part of the field, but made an attempt to retrieve his fortunes by a cavalry charge. . . . Much credit is due Thomas' brigade for the admirable manner in which it acted under very discouraging circumstances."

Jackson's 22,000 Confederates came dangerously close to defeat at the hands of the Banks' inferior but aggressive force of about 12,000 Federals. Cedar Mountain was the only battle in which Stonewall Jackson attempted to draw his sword and lead his troops by example. Swayed by his personal involvement, Jackson later asserted that Cedar Mountain was "the most successful of his exploits," but a study of the facts shows that Jackson's army was indeed rescued by the arrival of Hill's troops.

Two days after the battle Jackson withdrew to meet Robert E. Lee, and begin the campaign leading to the battle of Second Manassas and the demise of John Pope. Once joined with Lee, Stonewall Jackson never again directed a campaign as an independent commander.

Article on the Battle of Cedar Mountain

Source: NPS Website.