Ok welcome back to the good ol’ blog folks! Now where were we? Ah, yes – General Banks had just launched a sudden attack against the Confederates! General Jackson wasn’t quite ready, but his forces had been preparing to attack all morning and were now in position. As the Union advanced from their defensive position and surged across Cedar Run, the Confederates moved forward to meet them.But as they began to advance, the Confederate General Winder was struck down by cannon fire! His entire division, the whole left flank of Jackson’s army, was suddenly paralyzed by the lost of their commander – and that’s when the Union hit them.
The Union attack stalled on the Confederate right, where many of General Ewell’s men were fighting. However, Winder’s leaderless division on the Confederate left was quickly crushed under the weight of Banks’ advance. With the Confederate left shattered, the Union men really got their dander up and redoubled their efforts against Ewell, who soon began falling back himself. As Jackson saw his army start to rout, he rode forward amongst his fleeing troops and tried to rally them – he grabbed a flag and tried to pull out his sword, but his sword had rusted into his scabbard from disuse!
Did that stop him? Of course not! He brandished his sword anyway, scabbard and all, and successfully prevented his army from routing. A good thing too, because just then General A.P. Hill arrived on the battlefield with his entire division, energized and ready for a fight. The Union attackers, on the other hand, were at their high water mark for the day. They had already smashed one Confederate division and pushed back a second one, but their ammo was running low and they were tired. And now, instead of seeing Jackson’s army routing, they saw a whole new division of reinforcements arrive and join Jackson’s now-rallied men! They continued their attack, but a quick look behind them showed no Union reinforcements anywhere in sight.
Soon, Hill’s men had replaced Winder’s destroyed division, and together they halted the Union advance. Ewell then brought the rest of his men off the mountain and wheeled around, caving the Union’s left flank. The Union men, exhausted and overwhelmed, broke. They retreated back across Cedar Run as darkness fell, and as General Ricketts arrived on the field to reinforce Banks the Confederates broke off their pursuit. Both sides were completely exhausted, low or out of ammo, and had casualties to look to.
The battle is best described as a draw. On one hand, Jackson’s advance towards Culpepper had been halted, meaning the Union could theoretically see it as a net gain. On the other, Jackson’s intention of destroying Banks’s forces was for all intents and purposes successful, even though it was Banks who had attacked. Over the next few days, both sides rested. The Confederates policed the casualties and scavenged the battlefield for equipment, while Pope arrived with the rest of his army. After two days of rest and recuperation Jackson withdrew back to his base near Gordonsville, where he would meet up with General Lee. The first domino had fallen with a resounding crack, and Lee was ready to let them keep on going. Tune in next week for more Civil War stuff, and have a great weekend! Be sure to catch the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics on Sunday!