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Pope Concentrates Behind the Rapidan

Maj. Gen. Pope
Maj. Gen. John Pope, in command of the Federal Army, Second Battle of Manassas.
Courtesy National Archives.

The failure of Fremont, Banks, and McDowell in the Shenandoah Valley convinced President Lincoln of the desirability of consolidating their armies under a single head. By order of June 26 the "Army of Virginia" was created, and Maj. Gen. John Pope, who had won recent successes in the West, was given the command. Shortly thereafter, Gen. Henry W. Halleck was recalled from the West to be made general in chief of the Federal armies.

To Pope was entrusted the responsibility for covering Washington, protecting the Shenandoah Valley, and so operating against the Con federate communications at Gordonsville and Charlottesville as to draw off heavy detachments from Richmond, thereby relieving the pressure on McClellan. On July 14, Pope ordered an advance on Gordonsville. Lee, anticipating the movement, had ordered Jackson to this point the day before.

On August 7, Jackson, having been reinforced by A. P. Hill, moved toward Culpeper in the hope of capturing the town and using it in a series of operations against Pope. Two days later he fell upon Banks at Cedar Mountain in a sharp but indecisive encounter.

Lee now learned that McClellan had been ordered to evacuate the Peninsula and reinforce Pope. Appreciating the necessity of striking Pope before he could be joined by such heavy reinforcements, Lee moved with Longstreet's corps to reinforce Jackson. Pope's force now numbered about 47,000 effectives, while Lee had approximately 55,000.

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