Battery Heights


Continue eastward on 29 by making a "U" turn at the first crossover, 300 feet west of the Brawner's Farm Road. Proceed .4 mile to a lane on the north side of the road bordered by a snake fence; turn in and park. This is Battery Heights. Read the signs provided by the Park Service, then walk halfway to the gun battery visible to the northeast. This area marks the eastern flank of Gibbon's force in the Brawner's Farm struggle.

Again on 28 August, between 1800 and 2400, General Gibbon had committed the 6th Wisconsin on his right. It moved right down to the northern edge of the ridge on which the Park Service guns now are located.

As remembered by members of the 6th Wisconsin,

the regiment advanced in line of battle across a field. Soon we heard a rip-rip, but did not fully realize the situation until the boys began to fall .... We finally reached the assignment ... and the old 6th gave a volley that awoke a cheer from the other three regiments and a corresponding yell from that other side.... From then on, for about 2½ hours, the fight was terrific. So near together was the fighting lines that by the flash of the muskets we could see the enemy distinctly and they us. We did not remember to have heard another order than the first given, except an occasional one from the officers, "Give them hell! boys, give them hell!" Major Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin described the scene: When Colonel Cutler shouted "March," every man scrambled up the bank and over the fence, in the face of shot and shell, with something of the feeling that one would hurry to save a friend from peril. My horse partook of the fierce excitement, and ran up the bank and leaped a fence like a squirrel. I could now see the men of the Second Wisconsin. They were under the concentrated fire of at least six times their own number of the enemy. Our regiment, five hundred and four men in ranks, pushed forward rapidly in perfect line of battle, field officers and Adjutant E. P. Brooks mounted and in their places, and colors advanced and flying in the breeze.

The regiment advanced without firing a shot, making a half wheel to the left in line of battle as accurately as if on the drill ground. Through that battle smoke into which we were advancing, I could see a blood red sun, sinking behind the hills. I can not account for our immunity from the fire of the enemy while on this advance. When at a short range, Colonel Cutler ordered the regiment to halt and fire. Our united fire did great execution. It seemed to throw the rebels into complete confusion and they fell back into the woods behind them. We now gave a loud and jubilant cheer throughout the whole line of our brigade. Our regiment was on low ground which, in the gathering darkness, gave us great advantage over the enemy, as they overshot our line. The other three regiments of the brigade were on higher ground than the enemy. There was space enough vacant between our regiment and the others for a thousand men. Colonel Cutler sat upon his horse near the colors at the center of the regiment. Lieut. Colonel Bragg was on the right and, being myself upon the left, I was in good position to observe the progress of the battle. It was quite dark when

Map, Manassas Battlefield, Battery Heights

the enemy's yelling columns again came forward, and they came with a rush. Our men on the left loaded and fired with the energy of madmen, and the sixth worked with an equal desperation. This stopped the rush of the enemy, and they halted and fired upon us their deadly musketry. During a few awful moments, I could see by the lurid light of the powder flashes, the whole of both lines. I saw a rebel mounted officer shot from his horse at the very front of their battle line. It was evident that we were being overpowered and that our men were giving ground. The two crowds, they could hardly be called lines, were within, it seemed to me, fifty yards of each other, and they were pouring musketry into each other as rapidly as men could load and shoot. Two of General Doubleday's regiments [56th Pennsylvania and 76th New York] now came suddenly into the gap on the left of our regiment, and they fired a crashing volley. Hurrah! They have come at the very nick of time. The low ground saved our regiments, as the enemy overshot us in the darkness.

Moving about along the woodline just to your west, the 76th New York and 56th Pennsylvania of Doubleday's Brigade were rushed on line between the 7th and 6th Wisconsin. But a few moments elapsed after entering the wood, before sharp and continuous musketry firing was heard very near, and up the hill hidden by the woods. A strange mounted officer came riding down through the woods, shouting——
"Come on! Come on! Quick! Quick!"
The Seventy-sixth was immediately in motion-over fences, through the bushes, around the trees, over logs-the bullets and shells tearing through the woods like a hail storm through a wheat field, on rushed the Regiment. Several of the men were killed and wounded before leaving the wood. After going about twenty rods, the Regiment emerged into an open field. Here was battle in real earnest.
Just at this juncture, as the rebels were preparing in great numbers in the woods beyond, for a charge upon our lines, the Seventy-sixth New York and Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania were ordered into line to fill a gap between the Sixth and Seventh Wisconsin.

During a lull in the action, a body of men was seen moving on the extreme left flank. As they came forward they shouted——

"Don't shoot your own men!"

At that distance it seemed doubtful whether they were friend or enemies, and it was not without much hesitation that the Colonel gave the order, "By the left oblique! Aim! Fire!"

No rebel of that column who escaped death, will ever forget that volley. It seemed like one gun. So well was it directed by our men, as could be judged by the immediate results, that there can be no doubt it very materially contributed to the repulse of this attempted flank attack.

The Regiment had been thoroughly drilled in firing and target practice, and it seemed as though every man took deadly aim, and brought down one or more of the enemy.

When the smoke cleared away a little, the few left of that mass of human beings who had so rapidly left the woods a few moments before, had disappeared, but the ground was literally covered with their dead and wounded. (as recalled by A. P. Smith, in 76th Regiment, New York Volunteers)

Campbell's Battery (B, 4th U.S.) had followed the 6th Wisconsin; it set up first north of the parking lot, then farther out on the ridge where the guns are located now.

Monroe's Battery (D, 1st Rhode Island Light) posted two guns west of the parking lot.

The 95th New York of Doubleday's Brigade provided security for the guns. It was joined by the 30th New York of Hatch's Brigade. Hatch's guns fired support east from near Groveton.

The fighting ended about 2000. After a conference, General King decided to withdraw about 0100, 29 August.

Activity in the area was renewed on 29 August as the Federals probed eastward in an effort to fix Jackson's force for what Pope hoped was a final blow.

On 29 August, about 0500, elements of Sigel's Corps attacked.

At 0900 Schenck's Division of Sigel's Corps reached this point as the left flank of Sigel's attack. Stahel's Brigade straddled the road while McClean's extended southward.

Reynold's Division moved overland from Conrad's (now the SR 234/1-66 intersection) in response to Sigel's request for support on that flank. Two brigades remained around the Lewis House (now where CR 622 goes over I-66). Meade's Brigade went forward with Cooper's Battery (B, 1st Pennsylvania Light). The battery moved east of the Brawner House with one regiment (4th Pennsylvania Reserves) in support. The remainder of the brigade skirmished westward in the direction of Pageland Lane as far as a line parallel to the Brawner Farm Lane.

At 1000 Stahel moved to a point north of the Stonewall Memory Gardens, along Dogan's Branch to be in a position to support Milroy's Brigade engaged farther north.

McClean's Brigade gradually pulled back closer to Groveton to conform with the new line.

At 1030 these changes required Meade to pull back from near Brawner's Farm to south of the turnpike. Seymour's Brigade of Reynold's Division moved up the Groveton Road and the Pike to relieve him, while Jackson's Brigade came overland from the Lewis House to come on line. Meade's Brigade then pulled back to the Lewis House.

Shortly thereafter, Reynolds learned of the large force coming in front of him and pulled all his units back to the Lewis House area.

Between 1200 and 1600, after the Federals had withdrawn, Hood's Division moved forward on both sides of the Pike to the eastern edge of the woods just west of the parking lot. Colonel E. M. Law, brigade commander, said,

I was ordered by Brigadier General Hood. ... to form the brigade in line of battle to the left of the turnpike and almost at right angles with it, the right resting on the road and the left connecting with Gen. Jackson , s line. The Texas Brigade had been previously formed on the right of the road, its left joining my right. With a strong line of riflemen in front, which drove the enemy's skirmishers as it advanced, the brigade moved forward accompanied by Gens Longstreet and Hood until it reached a commanding position about 3/41S of a mile from Dogan's House. Hood later launched a night attack from here that will be described at the next stop.

Later during the day Law moved forward to the east side of the Stonewall Memory Gardens when Federal guns farther east all withdrew for ammunition resupply.

On 30 August, about 1530, Porter's heavy attack could be seen clearly from here .6 to .8 miles to the northeast. Confederate guns in this area (the Dixie Artillery and other batteries on Douglas Heights beyond Brawner's House) effectively shattered it. General Cadmus Wilcox observed the Federal attack on Jackson's line from here.

About 3:30 p.m. the enemy's infantry were seen emerging from a wood upon an open field in line of battle, the wood and field being in front of Jackson's extreme right and to the left and near Featherston's Brigade, this is a field about 500 yards wide and terminating 150 yards from Jackson's line, the ground here rising rather steeply for a short distance and then level to the railroad, behind the embankment of which at this point were Jackson's men. Seeing this advance of the enemy, I repaired at once to the interval between Pryor's and Featherston's Brigades. From this point there was an excellent view of the field and not more than 400 yards distant. The first line of the enemy advanced in fine style across the open field. There was but little to oppose them. They were fired upon by our pickets and skirmishers, but they continued to advance, and, ascending the rise above referred to, came within full view of Jackson's line, and were here received with a terrific fire of musketry at short range. They hesitated for an instant, recoiling slightly, and then advanced to near the embankment. Twice did I see this line advance and retire, exposed to a close and deadly fire of musketry. Seeing a second line issuing from the woods upon the field, I was in the act of ordering a battery to be placed in position to fire upon them when a battery was directed by the major-general commanding to fire upon them, this battery being near the turnpike in an excellent and commanding position. The fire of the battery was most opportunely delivered upon this advancing line of the enemy. They were caught in the open field. The effect of every shot could be seen. A rapid fire of shot, shell, and spherical case, delivered with admirable precision, checked their advance. As the shells and spherical case would burst over in front and near them their ranks would break, hesitate and scatter. This artillery fire alone broke regiment after regiment and drove them back into the woods. Jackson asked for assistance, and Longstreet decided artillery would be the fastest solution. Colonel S. D. Lee's battalion of 9 smooth bores and 9 rifles was on the north side of the ridge between here and the Brawner Farm. Lee said that, beginning about 1600, with these 18 guns a continuous fire was kept up on the enemy during his attack.... His reserves moved twice out of the woods to the support of the attacking columns and twice were they repulsed by the artillery and driven back to the woods. After the reserves failed to reach the front or attacking columns they were repulsed and endeavored to rally in the open field, but the range of every part of the field was obtained, and a few discharges broke them in confusion and sent them back to the woods ... two batteries of the enemy were firing on us, but generally overshot us. General Longstreet, as noted above, also directed Chapman's Battery (Dixie Artillery) onto the ground here. Chapman reported, we moved instantly, and at a gallop, soon reached the point ... on the left of the turnpike, 50 or 100 yards from it. . . . We went into position where . . . indicated and commenced firing at a heavily massed body of infantry on our left, not more than 400 yards distant.... I fired from this position until their ranks were broken and driven back.