Ox Hill/Chantilly

Jamieva

Captain
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Joined
Feb 7, 2006
Location
Midlothian, VA
Almost done reading David Welker's book on this little action. Unfortunately basically all of this battlefield is gone. It is in a very dense suburban area just outside of DC. I know it well my wife's sister and her family live within about 5 miles of the small park they have left with the 2 markers for Stephens and Kearny.

The book is a good read. Stephens is a plum example of a high ranking officer being somewhere on the battlefield he had no business being and it cost him his life. Leading up to the battle he is a division commander, but Jesse Reno had been sick for a while so Stephens was the de facto corps commander. The day of the battle, Stephens formulates the union attack plan. Reno shows up at the last moment, hears the plan and basically defers to his subordinate. Reno doesn't perform any corps command level duties throughout the day. Stephens in this role decides to go forward with his old regiment, grad the battle flag to try and rally them, and you can imagine that result. He's killed almost instantly leading a surge forward. He had no business being in that position. But, as Welker points out, that is a man not thinking, he's just reacting.

Kearny as has been talked about on CWT in other places, rides into the Confederate lines and instead of surrendering he tries to make a bolt for it and is shot dead. Welker does a great deal of Kearny's life story. It is quite fascinating to read. Is there a biography out of Kearny?

Side note....any Longstreet detractors....you know who you are :smile: Longstreet is supposed to be moving in supporting distance of Jackson's movement, but he's at least a 1/2 day march behind. Jackson was ripe for the picking if Pope had a better idea what was going on. Also, Pope was a world class liar when talking to Halleck. He wanted no part of fighting after 2nd Manassas, but didn't want to be the commander to order a retreat to DC, so he is trying to cajole Halleck into ordering it.


 

Carronade

Captain
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
Outstanding graphic! I had not known much about Chantilly either. I had had the impression that the Confederates (Hill) attacked and suffered a repulse.

I'm puzzled by Stevens' aggressiveness. Did he not realize how much stronger Jackson's force was? I could see probing to see what he was up against, but at some point the odds must have become apparent. Stevens' mission was to hold the Confederates off from Pope's line of retreat, and he could expect reinforcements both from Pope's army and from the AofP corps marching up from Washington.

It could happen that a desperate attack was necessary to hold off the enemy, but that doesn't seem to have been the situation here. No doubt some of our friends know more about this battle.

I've always been struck by Lee's determination to seek a decisive victory. Many generals would have been content to have defeated a superior force and set it into retreat. Lee saw the chance to cut off and destroy Pope's army before it could consolidate with the troops returning from the Peninsula, and once again took the risk of dividing his forces to try to accomplish it.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Almost done reading David Welker's book on this little action. Unfortunately basically all of this battlefield is gone. It is in a very dense suburban area just outside of DC. I know it well my wife's sister and her family live within about 5 miles of the small park they have left with the 2 markers for Stephens and Kearny.

The book is a good read. Stephens is a plum example of a high ranking officer being somewhere on the battlefield he had no business being and it cost him his life. Leading up to the battle he is a division commander, but Jesse Reno had been sick for a while so Stephens was the de facto corps commander. The day of the battle, Stephens formulates the union attack plan. Reno shows up at the last moment, hears the plan and basically defers to his subordinate. Reno doesn't perform any corps command level duties throughout the day. Stephens in this role decides to go forward with his old regiment, grad the battle flag to try and rally them, and you can imagine that result. He's killed almost instantly leading a surge forward. He had no business being in that position. But, as Welker points out, that is a man not thinking, he's just reacting.

Kearny as has been talked about on CWT in other places, rides into the Confederate lines and instead of surrendering he tries to make a bolt for it and is shot dead. Welker does a great deal of Kearny's life story. It is quite fascinating to read. Is there a biography out of Kearny?

Side note....any Longstreet detractors....you know who you are :smile: Longstreet is supposed to be moving in supporting distance of Jackson's movement, but he's at least a 1/2 day march behind. Jackson was ripe for the picking if Pope had a better idea what was going on. Also, Pope was a world class liar when talking to Halleck. He wanted no part of fighting after 2nd Manassas, but didn't want to be the commander to order a retreat to DC, so he is trying to cajole Halleck into ordering it.


Welker's book is very good. Unfortunately there is no good modern biography of Kearney. One came out last Spring but based on a review of the portions accessible on-line it looks like mostly a hash of secondary sources, etc. Too bad because he was a very interesting character.
 

Andy Cardinal

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Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Location
Ohio
I think the fact that the battlefield is basically gone is one reason that it doesnt get as much attention as it deserves.

Often overlooked is Stuart's role in letting Pope know his rear was in danger on the night before. It allowed Pope to rush forces into the area. Not only Stephens and Kearney, but also a collection of mostly McDowell's corps placed under Hooker's command closer to tge main road to Washington. It's another example where Stuart's exhuberance may have done more harm than good.

Even still, I'm not sure how much of an opportunity there was for Lee to accomplish much that day, even without the thunderstorm. Jackson's corps moved at a relatively sluggish pace too. The men were obviously exhausted, on both sides.
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2016
Location
NH
Thoughts on the two generals killed at Chantilly, by staff officer (and member of the 79th NY) William Lusk:

I have lost my good friend, Genl Stevens, who has been sacrificed by little men who can poorly fill his place. Whenever anything desperate was to be performed, Stevens and Kearny were always selected, with this difference, though, that Stevens rarely was credited with what he did, while Kearny’s praises were properly published.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
I think the fact that the battlefield is basically gone is one reason that it doesnt get as much attention as it deserves.

Often overlooked is Stuart's role in letting Pope know his rear was in danger on the night before. It allowed Pope to rush forces into the area. Not only Stephens and Kearney, but also a collection of mostly McDowell's corps placed under Hooker's command closer to tge main road to Washington. It's another example where Stuart's exhuberance may have done more harm than good.

Even still, I'm not sure how much of an opportunity there was for Lee to accomplish much that day, even without the thunderstorm. Jackson's corps moved at a relatively sluggish pace too. The men were obviously exhausted, on both sides.
Also another (although relatively minor) example of Stonewall's tactical, shall we say, "unevenness". His follow up on Longstreet's devastating attack on August 30 also left something to be desired.
 

Jamieva

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
Location
Midlothian, VA
Outstanding graphic! I had not known much about Chantilly either. I had had the impression that the Confederates (Hill) attacked and suffered a repulse.

I'm puzzled by Stevens' aggressiveness. Did he not realize how much stronger Jackson's force was? I could see probing to see what he was up against, but at some point the odds must have become apparent. Stevens' mission was to hold the Confederates off from Pope's line of retreat, and he could expect reinforcements both from Pope's army and from the AofP corps marching up from Washington.

It could happen that a desperate attack was necessary to hold off the enemy, but that doesn't seem to have been the situation here. No doubt some of our friends know more about this battle.

I've always been struck by Lee's determination to seek a decisive victory. Many generals would have been content to have defeated a superior force and set it into retreat. Lee saw the chance to cut off and destroy Pope's army before it could consolidate with the troops returning from the Peninsula, and once again took the risk of dividing his forces to try to accomplish it.

Stevens knew he needed to slow Stonewall down and the best way to do that was to bite into him and keep him distracted there for as long as possible. I believe he knew support was coming but I don't recall if he had a timeline of when. What drove Stevens to be over aggressive was when he saw his old regiment getting mowed down, he just snapped and reacted and went forward to try to lead them himself.

Lee wanted another chance to totally destroy Pope before the rest of the AotP got to him, and Pope's army in its state at that time was ripe for the picking, and so was its commander. Pope wanted no part of another fight with Lee, although he was putting on a brave face in telegraph messages to Washington.
 

Jamieva

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
Location
Midlothian, VA
I think the fact that the battlefield is basically gone is one reason that it doesnt get as much attention as it deserves.

Often overlooked is Stuart's role in letting Pope know his rear was in danger on the night before. It allowed Pope to rush forces into the area. Not only Stephens and Kearney, but also a collection of mostly McDowell's corps placed under Hooker's command closer to tge main road to Washington. It's another example where Stuart's exhuberance may have done more harm than good.

Even still, I'm not sure how much of an opportunity there was for Lee to accomplish much that day, even without the thunderstorm. Jackson's corps moved at a relatively sluggish pace too. The men were obviously exhausted, on both sides.

Nothing says "hey we're sneaking around your army we're really not here" like lobbing a few shells in among your wagon train. Really dumb.
 
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