Second Manassas - Part 2
August 30, 1862
Supported by an artillery battery, McLean deployed his 1,200 man brigade in a line parallel to Chinn Ridge facing the Confederates advancing from the west. Since the modern woods to his front did not then exist, the Federals had a good field of fire. Because of this and enfilading artillery fire from the main Union position to the north on Dogan's Ridge, Hood's frontal attack could not take this formidable position. Subject to enfilading fire, Evans' brigade, joined by some of Hood's men, moved toward McLean's left flank, and skirmishing near the Chinn house forced McLean to refuse his flank.
Kemper's Division Attacks
Kemper's Confederate division was advancing south of the Chinn House but wheeled left to attack McLean's flank. Their new formation would be roughly parallel to the tree line on the left of the picture and the park service road on the right. Because of their maneuver, the three brigades, those of Corse, Hunton, and Jenkins were no longer in a single line, but rather in column one after the other. Advancing, Corse's brigade straddled the Chinn House and met Union fire at less than 50 yards from McLean's new line at the fence in the Chinn front yard. McLean had shifted his whole brigade to meet the threat, but facing overwhelming numbers, and with his right flank under attack, his men broke after a 10 minute fight, having lost around 400 men.
From Chinn Ruins
This is the view from near the Chinn Ruins. Note the cemetery on the far right, beyond which is Chinn Branch, and note the two snake fences, because we'll see more of them later. Around half an hour had expired by the time McLean had been pushed back, giving time for Pope and McDowell to order the brigades of Tower and Stiles onto Chinn Ridge.
Looking Along Chinn Ridge
Once a park service road, this trail now runs along the crest of Chinn Ridge. As mentioned earlier, McLean's original line had been roughly along this trail facing to the left, were Hood was repulsed. Evans, however, had moved more to McLean's left flank, near the Chinn House, obscured by the evergreens on the right of the picture. McLean had refused his flank to face the threat, then shifted whole his line in response to Kemper's arrival, but the fresh Confederate troops attacked successfully.
Tower's brigade was now arriving in the distance, near the group of trees visible just above where the trail disappears in the photo. Around 7,000 Yankees would be sent to Chinn Ridge.
From Leppien's Battery to Chinn Ruins
Leppien's battery unlimbered here, about 300 yards from the Chinn House, which is in the evergreens visible above the cannon's right wheel, and Tower's brigade deployed also. The snake fence in the distance is the same one seen in previous photos, only now from the other side. Threatened not only to their front, but also from Evans's brigade to their right and more Confederate troops to their left along Chinn Branch, Tower's Federals were also forced back for a distance, and Tower himself was hit. Leppien's Battery was abandoned, but more Union troops were on the way.
Looking to the Union Rear From the Area of Leppien's Battery
Stiles's brigade reinforced Tower's line while also moving to protect the left flank down near Chinn Branch. Hunton's and Jenkins's brigades entered the fight on the Confederate side but were repulsed.
The park service road on the right goes to the Manassas-Sudley Road, where a new Union line was being formed. On the left, it descends to Chinn Branch, then climbs Chinn Ridge to the area of the Chinn House. As we have seen, it was there that Kemper's Division had advanced into McLean's flank, toward the center of the picture. Addition Union troops then arrived on the ridge, and the fight continued to rage.
D.R. Jones's Division, made up of the brigades of Benning and G.T. Anderson, was the rightmost Confederate infantry division. Continuing beyond Chinn Ridge, these Confederates also wheeled left and advanced along the lower slopes of Bald Hill on the left half of the picture. Supported by artillery on the hill, and overlapping the Yankee line composed of Tower's and Stiles's men, the Confederates here were an important help in pushing the Federals back.
Back on Chinn Ridge, Tower's and Stiles's brigades, having lost around half their men, fell back a couple of hundred yards. Koltes's brigade then arrived and joined the Union line, with one lone regiment, the 41st NY, trying in vain to recapture the abandoned guns of Leppien's battery. This attack predictably failed and provoked the Confederates to attack once again, this time on the right of the Union line. Koltes was killed, and being flanked on their right as well as on their left in the area of Bald Hill and Chinn Branch, the Union line was doomed. Krzyzanowski's brigade arrived and reinforced the line, which fell back off of Chinn Ridge.
Summary Map of the Confederate Attack on Chinn Ridge
This map should help explain the confused action. Kemper's Division composed of the brigades of Corse, Hunton, and Jenkins had advanced beyond McLean's flank, then wheeled left in order to face north. A short time later, D.R. Jones's division composed of the brigades of Benning and G.T. Anderson, also wheeled left and began advancing along the lower slopes of Bald Hill.
McLean was shattered, but Union reinforcements in the form of Stiles, Tower, Koltes, and Krzyzanowski arrived. This is the action shown on the map. They all were eventually forced back, and in each case, the Union flank had been overlapped. But a new line was being established further east. Although the Federals had failed to keep Chinn Ridge, the fighting there had given the Federals an hour and a half to move troops to Henry House Hill and along the north-south Manassas-Sudley Road. Although no one accuses Pope of being a military genius, by now it was clear even to him that his army was in grave danger.
Roughly an hour of daylight was now left, and many of the Confederate troops on Chinn Ridge, specifically Kemper's Division and the brigades of Hood and Evans, were too exhausted and confused to continue the attack.
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