Volume XXVI Issue #2 • An Excerpt From:

The Battles of
Bristoe Station

by J. Michael Miller

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Note: All Blue & Gray feature articles are annotated.

View from the Confederate position during the 1862 action at Bristoe Station, Virginia, with the present train resting in the bed of the old Orange & Alexandria Railroad. Firing from here, Louisiana Tigers contested Joe Hooker’s advance across the “killing field” in the distance.

The Battles of Bristoe Station

by J. Michael Miller

“Suffice it to say (for your eyes alone) that more insolence, superciliousness, ignorance, and pretentiousness were never combined in one man. It can with truth be said of him that he had not a friend in his command from the smallest drummer boy to the highest general officer. All hated him.”1

These words were written by Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams in a private letter on September 8, 1862, shortly after the disastrous Battle of Second Manassas. Williams never meant his thoughts to be publicized, but they were a brutally honest appraisal of his commander, Maj. Gen. John Pope.
Pope explained the debacle at Manassas in a much different way. He felt betrayed by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan and the officers who remained loyal to him. These feelings focused on Maj. Gen. Fitz-John Porter. “Porter’s corps,” wrote Pope in 1863, “from unnecessary and unusual delays and frequent and flagrant disregard for my orders, took no part whatever except in the action on the 30th of August.”2

He also placed blame on the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac who had joined him, reporting on September 3, 1862, that “they are listless and dejected, and straggle in a manner which is distressing. Not more, certainly, than one half of those reported effective can ever be brought into action and even those that can be do not manifest the least spirit.”3

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