Battles & Leaders of the Civil War: General John Pope at the Second Battle of Bull Run
by John Pope
John Pope (March 16, 1822 September 23, 1892) was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War. He had a brief but successful career in the Western Theater, but he is best known for his disastrous defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas) against Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. Pope's success in the West inspired the Lincoln administration to bring him to the troubled Eastern Theater to lead the newly formed Army of Virginia. He initially alienated many of his officers and men by publicly denigrating their record in comparison to his Western command. He launched an offensive against the Confederate army of General Robert E. Lee, in which he fell prey to a strategic turning movement into his rear areas by Stonewall Jackson. At Second Bull Run, he concentrated his attention on attacking Jackson while the other Confederate corps, under General James Longstreet, executed a devastating assault into his flank, routing his army. Pope went on to blame his defeat by accusing General Fitz John Porter of disobeying his orders, leading to a court martial that cashiered Porter out of the Army. Porter would be exonerated in 1879, causing much public embarrassment for Pope. Following Manassas, Pope was banished far from the Eastern Theater to Minnesota, where he commanded U.S. Forces in the Dakota War of 1862. After the war, Pope wrote an account of the campaign that became part of the well known Battles & Leaders of the Civil War series. It discusses his decisions and actions, mostly as an attempt to explain and justify the resulting Confederate victory and to hold himself above the fray. Pope ends his account by explaining that the reasons the Confederates were so victorious were still largely unknown to the country.
- Charles River Editors, January 2012
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