Manassas National Battlefield Park

John Pope

From the Peninsula to Maryland: Pope's role in the summer of 1862

Photograph of John Pope
John Pope
Library of Congress

Quick Facts

Union major general, commander at the Second Battle of Manassas
Place of Birth:
Lousiville, KY
Date of Birth
March 16, 1822
Place of Death:
Sandusky, OH
Date of Death
September 23, 1892
Place of Burial:
St. Louis, MO
Cemetery Name
Bellefontaine Cemtery

After Lee succeeded in stopping McClellan's push toward Richmond and sending the Army of the Potomac retreating toward Washington, he turned his attention to John Pope's Army of Virginia.

Pope had been ordered east in June to take command of the newly formed Army of Virginia following his success in Missouri. Pope's mission was to wage war directly on the people of Northern Virginia, and he succeeded in devastating the region between Culpeper and the railroad junction at Manassas.

He took command with pompous arrogance, declaring to his new men that,
"I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies... Success and glory are in
the advance, disaster and shame lurk in the rear. Let us act on this understanding, and it is safe to predict that your
banners shall be inscribed with many a glorious deed and that your names will be dear to your countrymen forever.

This bravado was tested on the fields of the Second Battle of Bull Run where Pope was soundly defeated by Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at the end of August 1862.

After this defeat the Army of Virginia was folded into George McClellan's Army of Potomac, and Pope was reassigned to the Department of the Northwest in Minnesota where he spent the remainder of the war pursuing renegade Plains Indians.

The decision to pull all Union forces back to Washington also provided Lee with the opportunity to move north into Maryland in early September.