Jackson's Daring Raid
(During the Civil War, two railroads—the Manassas Gap and the Orange and Alexandria—intersected here. Manassas Junction was strategically important to both the Union and the Confederacy as a supply depot and for military transportation. Two of the war's great battles were fought nearby. Diaries, letters, and newspaper articles documented the war's effects on civilians as well as the thousand of soldiers who passed through the junction.)
You are standing at the site of a massive Federal supply depot. On August 24, 1862, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee sent Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson and his forces on a sweeping march north and east around Union Gen. John Pope's right flank to cut the Federal supply line and force Pope out of his defenses. Lee followed with Gen. James Longstreet's command. A day and a half later, Jackson arrived at Briscoe Station, a few miles west of here on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, where he tore up the track, destroyed the bridge over Broad Run, and derailed two Federal supply trains. He then launched a night attack on Manassas Junction, capturing 300 Union prisoners and 200 railroad cars loaded with delicacies. His hungry men swarmed through this area, ate the fill, loaded their knapsacks, and burned all that remained. Learning that Pope was marching towards him, Jackson led his men to the Old Manassas battleground and took up a strong position to await Lee and Longstreet.
"Just imagine about 6000 men hungry and almost naked, let loose on some million dollars worth of biscuit, cheese, ham, bacon, messpork, coffee, sugar, tea, fruit, brandy, wine, whiskey, oysters; coats, pants, shirts, caps, boots, shoes, socks, blankets, tents, etc. etc. ... I saw the whole army become what appeared to me an ungovernable mob, drunk, some few with liquor but the others with excitement." —Chaplain James S. Sheeran, 14th Louisiana Infantry
"Twas a curious sight to see our ragged & famished men helping themselves to every imaginable article of luxury or necessity whether of clothing, food, or what not. ... We had been living on roasted corn since crossing Rappahannock, & we had not brought no new wagons so we could carry little away of the riches before us. But the men could eat for one meal at least, so they were marched up and as much of everything eatable served out as they could carry. To see a starving man eating lobster salad and drinking ... rhine wine, barefooted & in tatters was curious; the whole thing indescribable." —Lt. John H. Chamberlayne, Purcell Artillery