Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson narrowly defeats a Union force led by General John Pope at Cedar Mountain, Virginia.
Jackson had moved north in July 1862 after it became clear that the primary Union force in the east, General George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, was not going to attack Richmond, Virginia. McClellan was camped on the James Peninsula southeast of Richmond, where General Robert E. Lee stopped him at the Seven Days’ Battles in late June. Frustrated with McClellan’s lack of action, President Abraham Lincoln began shifting troops from the peninsula to Pope’s newly formed Army of Virginia, which was operating near Washington, D.C.
Jackson, who was sent north by Lee to counter the growing Yankee presence in northern Virginia, fell on part of Pope’s force at Cedar Mountain on August 9. Despite being severely outnumbered, Pope’s army dealt Jackson a near-humiliating defeat. Jackson attacked in the afternoon, but a fierce Union counterattack, led by General Nathaniel Banks, almost broke Jackson’s line. The arrival of Confederate General Ambrose P. Hill provided Jackson with enough troops to launch another assault that evening. That attack drove the Federals from the field, and only nightfall prevented a complete rout of the Yankees.
Union losses totaled 2,300 out of 8,000. The Confederates suffered 1,300 casualties out of 18,000. But the battle was nearly a disaster; Jackson miscalculated, and the Confederates almost lost to an army half their size.