Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 25, 1863 (Sunday): Battle at Wapping Heights

Manassas Gap

July 24, 1863-8 p. m.
(Received, via Warrenton, July 25, 4. 10 p. m.)
Major-General HALLECK,
General-in Chief:
     I last night telegraphed you that, after driving the enemy through Manassas Gap, the head of the army, consisting of the Third Corps, had reached within a few miles of Front Royal at sunset, and was in the presence of a considerable force of the enemy, with batteries in position. Prisoners taken belonged to the several corps of the Confederate Army, and reliable intelligence was obtained of the arrival of Ewell's corps from Winchester at the close of the engagement. It was not until late in the evening that the army debouched from the pass sufficiently to deploy any larger force than the Third Corps, though this corps was followed immediately by the Fifth and Second. During the night, the Twelfth and two divisions of the Sixth were ordered up, and it was my intention, as reported to you, to attack with my whole force, in the hope of separating the force of the enemy and capturing such portions as had not reached the passes. I regret to inform you that, on advancing this morning at daylight, the enemy had again disappeared, declining battle, and though an immediate advance was made and Front Royal occupied, nothing was seen of him but a rear guard of cavalry with a battery of artillery. I then ascertained that for two days he had been retreating with great celerity principally through Strasburg and Luray, sending through Chester Gap sufficient force to cover his flank and hold me in check in my advance through Manassas Gap. As evidence of the hurried manner in which the enemy's retreat was conducted, is the fact of his abandoning some 80 wounded in Front Royal without any supplies. My cavalry have been employed in harassing the enemy, having captured numerous prisoners and several herds of cattle and sheep. Finding the enemy entirely beyond my reach, I have withdrawn the army from Front Royal, through Manassas Gap, and shall concentrate it in the vicinity of Warrenton and Warrenton Junction for supplies and to establish a base of communication. The losses in yesterday's engagement are reported to amount to some 200 killed and wounded, * among the latter General Spinola. The enemy is believe to have gone Culpeper, and probably beyond.

      GEO. G. MEADE,

WASHINGTON, D. C., July 25, 1863-12. 30 p. m.
Major-General MEADE, Army of the Potomac:
    Your telegram of 10 p. m., 23d, is just received - the first communication from you for four or five days. The Quartermaster's and Commissary Departments have been prepared to send forward supplies, but were uncertain of the position of your army. Every possible effort has been made to send remounts to your cavalry, but the destruction of horses is enormous. Every serviceable horse in the country occupied should be impressed. They only serve for guerrillas.

    H. W. HALLECK,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 1, Pages 98-99.

On July 23, Meade ordered the III Corps, under Maj. Gen. William. H. French to cut off the retreating Confederate columns at Front Royal by forcing passage through Manassas Gap.  At first light, French began slowly pushing Walker’s Confederate brigade (Anderson’s division) back into the gap. About 4:30 pm, a strong Union attack drove Walker’s men until they were reinforced by Rodes’s division and artillery. By dusk, the poorly coordinated Union attacks were abandoned. During the night, Confederate forces withdrew into the Luray Valley. On July 24, the Union army occupied Front Royal, but Lee’s army was safely beyond pursuit (NPS).  This is also know as the Battle of Wapping Heights and the fighting occurred near Linden, east of Front Royal.

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