The Civil War Connections Blog

Battle of Cedar Mountain Pt. 1

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the good ol’ blog! Today’s blog is a two-parter, and today’s tidbit about me is: my family has two dogs, and when my Mom goes out of town it falls to my brother and I to do all the dogly duties. This normally isn’t a problem, but it gets a bit depressing when the dogs fail to show us the same level of affection that they usually show our mom.

“Where’s Mom? When’s she coming back?” – Our dog Toolie, every second of every day for the next week.


150 years ago yesterday, a very important event happened: Union General Pope and Confederate General Jackson’s forces met in battle at a place called Cedar Mountain or Cedar Run. This battle would be the opening blow in the 1862 Northern Virginia Campaign, and to use my “dominos” analogy, it was the fall of the first domino. So began another cycle of destruction that would culminate in the battle of 2nd Manassas.

So… it begins.


Remember my map from the post on the Early August Dominos? Well despite how it looks on that map, Pope’s army was NOT clotted together in a simple solid blue bar, as the map would have you believe.  It was actually spread out into several units covering a large area. One of Pope’s units was a small corps under the command of General Banks, and it was a little too far south for its own good. Jackson had beaten Banks in his Valley campaign, and he saw a chance to wipe out Banks’ division-sized corps before Pope could react. He marched his men as quickly as he could up towards Banks’ position seven miles south of Culpepper, and when Pope heard Jackson was advancing he ordered reinforcements sent to Banks. It seemed that Cedar Run would soon be the focus of a large-scale confrontation!

Jackson rushing to set up at the start of the battle.


Here’s the problem: when Jackson reached Cedar Run around noon only two of his three divisions were available! General Ewell commanded one division, Jackson himself and a General Winder commanded a second division, and the third division under General A.P. Hill was late as all get out due to a miscommunication over marching orders. Hill’s division was bigger than the other two, but Jackson realized he couldn’t wait for Hill and resolved to attack anyway. But as his two divisions rushed to get in their positions, General Banks did something completely unexpected… he attacked Jackson!

It’s hard to tell from this angle, but those little grey Jackson Blocks are not ready at all.


Interestingly, General Banks was also suffering from reinforcement problems and miscommunication. A division under General Ricketts was on its way, but would not arrive for some time. Also, Banks’ orders from Pope were verbal, not handwritten, so they were badly misinterpreted: Pope wanted Banks to hold his position and wait for Ricketts, the courier delivering the orders thought Pope wanted Banks to wait for Ricketts and then attack, and Banks thought he was ordered to attack with Ricketts arriving later as reinforcements! So when General Banks lead his division-sized corps against Jackson, he was not only messing up Pope’s plans. He was also attacking without any reinforcements or a proper understanding of the enemy’s strength.

Sounds like he’s leading his men into one of these…


Ok folks, I’m going to work on the second blog post now. Hopefully I’ll have it up before the day is done! If not, tune in next week for the exciting climax and resolution of the battle!