1862: The End of Conciliation in the East

This entry is part 4 of 18 in the series The Hard Hand of War

Map of US with divisionsWhile 1861 same several attempts to settle the war without shedding an ocean of blood, 1862 would see the gradual descent of the war into a bitter conflict on both sides. In order to understand this period we’ll look at the war from various perspectives. This post will cover the Eastern Theater.

After the First Battle of Manassas, or Bull Run as the losing Union side named it, both sides began a gradual feeling-out process that was the antithesis of the later total war waged by both sides. The reality of First Manassas convinced both sides that their armies were no more than armed mobs. Both armies were deficient in training, leadership and even uniforms.

Both sides had uniforms that in some cases caused confusion on the battlefield. There were Confederate units with blue uniforms and Union units with a sort of blue/gray uniform. Some of the uniforms were garish and impractical like the Zouave uniforms worn by units on both sides. Even the early Confederate battle flags caused confusion because of their similarity to Old Glory.

Both armies in the Eastern Theater spent the fall and winter reorganizing, training and equipping their troops. In the Western Theater there were tentative probes down the Mississippi River and into Kentucky which had tried to remain neutral.

Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant would make his first major foray from his base at Cairo, Illinois on November 7, 1861. The Battle of Belmont would see a limited clash of arms on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River with limited aims and a small loss of life.

In the Eastern Theater there were several engagements at the edges of the conflict but Maj. Gen. George McClellan refused to be pushed into major combat before he felt that his massive Army of the Potomac was ready to advance. By the end of 1861, McClellan had fortified Washington into one of the most defended cities in the world with 48 forts, 480 guns and 7,200 artillerymen.

The Army of the Potomac, McClellan’s chosen weapon of “shock and awe” had grown to over 190,000 men, the largest army ever assembled on the North American continent. It was was considered by far the most colossal military unit the world had seen in modern historical times. But McClellan wanted more. He envisioned an army of 273,000 with 600 guns to “crush the rebels in one campaign.”

McClellan continually overestimated the numbers of enemy troops that were facing him in the Washington area. On August 8, believing that the Confederates had over 100,000 troops facing him (in contrast to the 35,000 they actually deployed at Bull Run a few weeks earlier), he declared a state of emergency in the capital.

By August 19, he estimated 150,000 enemy to his front. McClellan’s future campaigns would be strongly influenced by the overblown enemy strength estimates of his secret service chief, detective Allan Pinkerton, but in August 1861, these estimates were entirely McClellan’s own.

The result was a level of extreme caution that sapped the initiative of McClellan’s army and caused great condemnation by his government. Historian and biographer Stephen W. Sears has called McClellan’s actions “essentially sound” if he had been as outnumbered as he believed, but McClellan in fact rarely had less than a two-to-one advantage over his opponents in 1861 and 1862. That fall, for example, Confederate forces ranged from 35,000 to 60,000, whereas the Army of the Potomac in September numbered 122,000 men; in early December 170,000; by year end, 192,000.

Eventually after much debate and arguments between McClellan and the Lincoln government, the Army of the Potomac was transported to the tip of the Peninsula where they began a slow advance northwest to their ultimate goal of Richmond. From the siege of Yorktown to Malvern Hill, McClellan and first, Joseph E. Johnston and then Robert E. Lee slugged it out over a four-month period. Eventually, the Confederates deflected the huge Union army from its goal.

While McClellan was left idle at Harrison’s Landing, Lee turned and thrashed Maj. Gen. John Pope at Second Manassas. He then turned north and headed into Maryland where Lee and McClellan met in the bloodiest one-day battle of the war at Antietam. After a bloodletting that caused almost 23,000 casualties, McClellan was relieved of command and replaced by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside.

With the departure of McClellan the war in the Eastern Theater began a slide to total war. Burnside’s first major battle was at Frederickburg on the Rappahannock River. The Union artillery preparation for the crossing of the river would destroy a large part of the town.

Union cavalry units were sent into the Virginia countryside to seize food and fodder thus denying it to the Confederates. This would establish a pattern for both armies to prey upon the civilian populations. The Confederate cavalry would do the same in Maryland and later Pennsylvania.


Upcoming local Civil War events

Upcoming local Civil War events


Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 10:39 pm, Sat Jun 25, 2011.

By Carrie Ann Knauer, Times Staff Writer 

What: Abraham Lincoln: A Lasting Peace

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: The Basilica, 333 S. Seton Ave., Emmitsburg

With: Written in honor of Lincoln’s 200th birthday, this moving piece merges song and narration from Lincoln’s speeches in a moving and educational event.

Contact: 301-447-6606,


What: Gettysburg 148th National Civil War Battle Re-enactment

When: 8:30 a.m. to dusk July 1-3

Where: 965 Pumping Station Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325

With: Each day will include two exciting battles, field demonstrations, live mortar fire demonstrations, two activities tents with continuous living history programs, and a living history village with all-day activities. Visitors are invited to shop in “Sutler Row” where they will discover period-style clothing and wares or walk through the military camps to experience 1860s military life and talk to the living historians.

Contact: 717-338-1525, www.gettysburgreenact


What: Retreat through Williamsport

When: July 8-10

Where: Springfield Farm, Cushwa Basin River Bottom Park, Williamsport.

With: The “Retreat through Williamsport” is a living history event celebrating the events that occurred in Williamsport from July 4-14, 1863. The weekend-long event features re-enactors, historians, and speakers.

Contact: 301-223-7711,


What: Monocacy National Battlefield Commemorates 147th Anniversary

When: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. July 9 and 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. July 10

Where: Gambrill Farm, 4801 Urbana Pike, Frederick, 21704

With: The 147th anniversary of the “Battle That Saved Washington” will be commemorated on July 9-10. A living history encampment at the historic Gambrill Farm will feature artillery demonstrations as well as commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with programs depicting soldiers in a new unit, a debate on the question of Maryland succession, an open archaeological site, and book signings.

Contact: 301-662-3515,


What: Union Mills Civil War Encampment and Living History

When: July 16-17

Where: Union Mills Homestead, 3311 Littlestown Pike, Westminster

With: Union and Confederate troops camp along the Big Pipe Creek and relive some of the days following the Battle of Gettysburg. Drills and skirmishes will be performed.

Contact: 410-848-2288,


What: Commemoration of the Battle of Blackburn’s Ford

When: 7 p.m. July 18

Where: Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville, Va.

With: Commemoration of the fallen at Blackburn’s Ford and dedication of the replica Civil War winter quarters built at Bull Run Regional Park to interpret the role of this area during the Civil War.

Contact: 703-631-0550


What: 150th Civil War Commemoration – Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run

When: July 21-24

Where: Various locations in Manassas and Prince William, Va.

With: Spectators, re-enactors and other participants can be part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience recreating the first battle of the Civil War.

Contact: 703-396-7130,


What: The Military Bugle during the Civil War and the Origin of the Call Taps

When: 2-4 p.m. Aug. 27

Where: 3610 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax, Va.

With: Jari Villanueva, will demonstrate many of the bugle calls and explain their usage during the war. Villanueva, considered the foremost authority on “Taps,” will also discuss the origin of the famous call, performance practices, and the myths associated with it.

Contact: 703-591-0560,


What: Anniversary of the Potomac River Blockade 1861

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24-25

Where: 17674 Main Street, Dumfries, Va.

With: Join living historians as they camp at Freestone Point, the preserved site of the Confederate Gun Battery during the Blockade of the Potomac. Discover the story of the Battery and see artillery demonstrations, camp life, and talk to historians as they discuss the lives of the soldiers and the women and children left behind. Living history events are planned for Leesylvania State Park and Weems Botts Museum as well.

Contact: 703-792-4754, sites


What: McLean Civil War 150th Commemoration Event

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 22

Where: 1234 Ingleside Avenue, McLean, Va.

With: This Civil War 150th anniversary event is sponsored by McLean & Great Falls Celebrate Virginia. This will be an all-day affair with re-enactors, speakers, displays, music, and more detailing the impact the Civil War had on McLean and the surrounding area.

Contact: 703-356-8223,


What: Picketing the Potomac: Fort Frederick in the Civil War

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 5-6

Where: Fort Frederick State Park, 11100 Fort Frederick Road, Big Pool

With: Special event commemorating the 150th anniversary of Fort Frederick’s role in the American Civil War. Re-enactors will assemble to recreate what life was like along the Potomac during the American Civil War. During the event there will be living history and tactical demonstrations.

Contact: 301-842-2155

Reprinted from the Carroll County Times


Manassas (Bull Run) Commemoration Events

Manassas (Bull Run) Commemoration Events

Manassas was the site of two major battles and several smaller ones. This July the Prince William County, Virginia area will be host to a number of commemorative events honoring the Civil War battles and other events that took place there. Between now and the July 21-24 anniversary dozens of events are scheduled to take place. For a complete listing go to, and Here are details of the major events:

July 21-Free Day at Manassas National Battlefield, 6511 Sudley Road, Manassas, VA. Events include the opening ceremonies, hands-on demonstrations, 3-D photography, living history. Hours: 9:30 AM to 8 PM. Information available at

July 21-100th Anniversary of the National Jubilee of Peace. This moving event takes place at 4 PM at the Old Manassas Courthouse at the intersection of Grant and Lee Avenues. Parking is available at the Prince William Fairground with transfer provided free. This a free event. Information is available at

July 21-Sesquicentennial Concert. This event takes place at 8 PM at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, Virginia. Tickets range from $30 to $60 each. For more information either visit or call 703-993-7550 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 703-993-7550 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

July 21-24-Manassas Museum. Admission to the museum is free. There will be living history, military demonstrations, music and crafts. The museum is open from daily from 10 AM to 8 PM, except Sunday when the hours are 10 AM to 4 PM. The museum is located at 9101 Prince William Street, Manassas, Virginia. For further information visit or call 703-361-6599 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 703-361-6599 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

end_of_the_skype_highlightingJuly 21-24-Camp Manassas. This is a free event and is located at the Jennie Dean Historic Site, 9601 Wellington Road, Manassas, Virginia. There will be military encampments, horse training, soap-making, period games. Camp Manassas is open daily from 10 AM to 8 Pm, except Sunday when the hours are 10 AM to 4 PM. For further information visit or call 703-361-6599 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 703-361-6599 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

July 22-Manassas Civil War Parade. The parade is from 10 AM to 12 PM in Old Town Manassas. It is a free event. For further information visit or call 703-361-6599 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 703-361-6599 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

July 22-24 150th Anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas. Admission is $3 for a three-day pass. The events include battlefield tours, artillery demonstrations and a performance of the Quantico Marine Corps Band on July 23rd. Information can be found at Ticket information can be purchased at

July 23-24 Re-enactment of the First Battle of Manassas. This event is from 7 AM to 3 PM and takes place at the Pageland Farm, Gainesville, Virginia. Parking is at Jiffy Lube Live. Tickets are up to $24. Information can be found at or call 703-396-7130 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 703-396-7130 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

end_of_the_skype_highlightingJuly 23-24-Bristoe Station Battlefield Tours. Tours start at 10709 Bristow Road, Bristow, Virginia and run between 11 Am and 3 PM. Admission is $5 with children under 6 free. For information go to or call 703-792-5546 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 703-792-5546 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

July 23-Pringle House Confederate Field Hospital. First-person interpretive program from 6:30 PM to 8 PM at the Ben Lomond Historic Site, 10321 Sudley Manor Road, Manassas, Virginia. Admission is $15, under 6 free. This event has been deemed inappropriate for children under 11. For information go to or call 703-792-5546 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 703-792-5546 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

July 23-United Daughters of the Confederacy Wreath-Laying. This event is free and will take place from 2 PM to 4 PM at 9027 Center Street, Manassas, Virginia. For information visit or call 703-368-1873 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 703-368-1873 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

The following video is from the Prince William County Sesquicentennial Committee and features Ann Marie Maher, Executive Director of the Prince William & Manassas CVB.





Sullivan Ballou

Sullivan Ballou

Major Sullivan BallouIn the opening of Ken Burns’ Civil War we were introduced albeit briefly to Major Sullivan Ballou through a poignant letter that he wrote to his wife, Sarah. Sullivan Ballou was born in Smithfield, Rhode Island on March 28, 1829. He was orphaned at a young age and had to fend for himself. Despite this, he attended Brown University and the National Law School. He was admitted to the Rhode Island bar in 1853. Ballou was a major in the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry. He was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives and was eventually served as Speaker. He was a Republican and a staunch supporter of Abraham Lincoln. Ballou married Sarah Hunt Shumway on October 15, 1855. They had two sons, Edgar and William.

Sullivan Ballou volunteered for service with the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry. He also served as the Rhode Island militia’s judge advocate.

Here is a short excerpt from his final letter to his wife:

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the brightest day and in the darkest night—amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for me, for we shall meet again.

Sullivan Ballou and 93 of his men were killed at the First Battle of Bull Run (called Manassas by the Confederates) on July 28, 1861. He was leading his men from the front on a horse when a Confederate 6-pounder tore off his right leg. Evacuated to the hospital the rest of his leg was amputated. He died a week later and was buried in the yard of the nearby Sudley Church. Unfortunately, his grave Major Sullivan Ballou's gravestonewas dug up by Confederate troops who descecrated his body. His body was never recovered. Some charred bones and ash were re-buried in Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island. His wife who never remarried is buried next to him.

The letter was never mailed. It was found in his locker and was returned to Sarah by Governor William Sprague of Rhode Island.