Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2nd Battle of Bull Run - largest battle - ultimate defeat

Manassas Battlefield - August 28, 29 & 30, 1862 - 2nd Battle of Bull Run

Most history lessons we all learned in school talk about the Battle of Bull Run during the Civil War. However, most historians and textbooks teach about the first battle, practically ignoring the second battle the following year on the same grounds.

From what we learned today on the battlefield, the second battle was 5 times the size of the first battle and covered many more miles of ground. The devastation and casualties were unimaginable to everyone. There were over 22,000 dead and wounded soldiers - about 14,000 Union and 8,000 Confederate. The dead and dying were laying over miles of the battle field, some units found wounded and dead soldiers the next day when they traveled some of the same routes during the second day of battle. Every house and barn in the area housed the wounded, waiting for wagons to cart them 7 miles away to the Fairfax Train Station where they were tended by surgeons and then moved on the train to Washington.

Once again, George's regiment experienced total defeat by Stonewall Jackson and Robert E Lee's troops. This battle was the deciding battle that reinforced the Confederates belief they would win the war and made Jackson a legend and household name.

Jeff and I received some invaluable information and suggestions from the Ranger on site at the museum. He was able to point out to us precisely where George W. Ordner's regiment was during the days of battle. Then we were able to follow the paths and be in approximately the same places he walked and ferociously fought.
George's Regiment fought in brutal hand-to-hand combat along the
Unfinished Railroad (blue boxes); on the road across  from Dogan's Ridge along the
Groveton Road and in the very center of the decisive battle on Henry Hill.
(Map from theBattlefield marker, I added the Blue markers to my photograph)
We didn't get many photos of the area today, (we had to visit the Apple store to get Jeff's phone fixed before they closed) but plan on walking the areas and getting more photos before we leave in a few days. We did manage to purchase several exceptional books by Jim Hennesey, the premiere historian about this battle. From these books, I will be able to recreate George's movements hour by hour during these days of battle. All from first hand accounts, or primary resources. Will take a lot of time, but invaluable for writing his story.

We know from official documents that George was wounded during this battle. It is no wonder, the fighting that he saw and participated in was some of the fiercest on the fields. I believe this is where he was shot in his right shoulder, it most likely was either during the fight along the railroad embankments or the top of Henry Hill. We probably will never know for sure where, but if wounded on Henry Hill he may have been tended in either the Hill house, the Robinson house or the Stone house on the corner.

There were thousands of soldiers who lost their lives on these grounds...we truly were walking on "hallowed ground" today. I am grateful for the preservation of this battlefield almost exactly what it would have looked like 150 years ago so that Jeff and I could walk in my great-great-grandfather's footsteps and attempt to experience the battle from his perspective.

1 comment:

  1. War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.