Organized on June 26, 1862, the Army of Virginia was defeated at the Battle of Bull Run II before it was discontinued on September 12, 1862.
Despite their stunning victory at the Battle of Bull Run I in July 1861, Confederate prospects were dim less than one year later. In the West, Ulysses S. Grant was having his way with Rebel defenders of vital river systems. In the East, George B. McClellan was inching his way up the Virginia Peninsula, threatening the Confederate capital at Richmond with the largest army ever assembled in North America. In addition, three Union forces in the Shenandoah area were poised to move south through the valley to support McClellan's invasion and hopefully to bring the American Civil War to a quick conclusion.
The main obstacle preventing the three Union armies in the Shenandoah from marching south to support McClellan's Peninsula Campaign was a small detachment of soldiers from the Valley District, Department of Northern Virginia, commanded by Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. In a classic exhibition of generalship, Jackson held the three Union armies at bay throughout the first half of 1862. By June, President Abraham Lincoln lost patience with the uncoordinated Federal setbacks in the Shenandoah. On June 26, 1862, the President ordered the consolidation of forces commanded by Major Generals John C. Frémont, Nathaniel Banks, and Irvin McDowell, and several smaller units in eastern Virginia to form the Army of Virginia. Lincoln appointed Major General John Pope to command the new army. The President's order was later codified by the War Department's General Orders No. 103, dated August 12, 1862.
Frémont, who was senior to Pope in grade, objected to the command structure and resigned in protest. Because many of the soldiers in Frémont's Corps were of German extraction, Lincoln named German-born, Major General Franz Sigel as Frémont's replacement.
Pope's immediate mission consisted of three key components:
- Aid McClellan's Peninsula Campaign by drawing troops away from Richmond, or at least prevent Jackson from reinforcing General Robert E. Lee's troops protecting the Confederate capital,
- Secure the Shenandoah Valley, and
- Protect Washington, DC from a Confederate assault.
By early July, the Army of Northern Virginia, under the leadership of Robert E. Lee, drove the Army of the Potomac away from the outskirts of Richmond and back down the Virginia Peninsula. McClellan's withdrawal enabled Lee to turn his attention to Pope's Army of Virginia.
Lee first sent Jackson north to intercept Nathaniel Bank's Corps of Pope's army, which was moving toward Gordonsville. At the Battle of Cedar Mountain (August 9, 1862), once again, Jackson's soldiers prevailed. On August 12, Lee sent General James Longstreet's Corps north to reinforce Jackson. By August 15, Lee followed with most of the remainder of the Army of Northern Virginia
Upon his arrival, Lee boldly sent Jackson and one half of the Rebel army on a march that outflanked Pope's right wing, capturing the Union supply depot at Manassas Junction, Virginia on August 27. With Jackson now positioned between the Union army and Washington, DC, Pope was forced to turn his attention away from Lee. Pope marched his army toward Manassas Junction and attacked Jackson on August 28, the first day of the Battle of Bull Run II. On the second day, Pope was convinced that he was close to crushing Jackson's forces and continued the attack. Unbeknownst to Pope, Longstreet's Corps began arriving near the battlefield to relieve Jackson. On August 30, at approximately 4 p.m., Longstreet's troops smashed into the left side of Pope's unsuspecting army. Although the surprised Federals did not turn and run toward Washington, as they had done during the Battle of Bull Run I, they were forced to retreat nonetheless. Fortunately for Pope, reinforcements from McClellan's Army of the Potomac approaching the battle site from Washington prevented the retreat from deteriorating into a disorganized rout. Lee halted the pursuit, knowing that he could ill-afford to engage the combined forces of two Federal armies. During the Battle of Bull Run II, the Army of Virginia suffered nearly 13,800 casualties, including 1,700 killed.
On September 7, 1862, one week after the second stinging Union defeat on the same ground near Manassas, the War Department issued General Orders, No. 128, reassigning Pope to command the Department of the Northwest, headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota. Less than one week after Pope was exiled into oblivion, the War Department issued General Orders, No. 129, on September 12, ending the existence of the Army of Virginia by merging its three corps with the Army of the Potomac.
Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiments that served with the Army of Virginia:
4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer
Infantry (3 years)
5th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (3 years)
7th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (3 years)
8th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (3 years)
11th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (3 years)
12th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (3 years)
23rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
25th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
28th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
29th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
30th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
32nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
36th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
55th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
61st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
66th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
73rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
75th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
82nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Ohio Volunteer Cavalry Regiments that served with the Army of Virginia:
1st Regiment Ohio Volunteer
6th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry
Ohio Volunteer Artillery Regiments that served with the Army of Virginia:
12th Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery Regiment
Cite this Entry
"Army of Virginia," Ohio Civil War Central, 2019, Ohio Civil War Central. 23 Aug 2019 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1317>
"Army of Virginia." (2019) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved August 23, 2019, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1317
- Abraham Lincoln
- Army of Northern Virginia
- Army of the Potomac (USA)
- Battle of Bull Run II
- Battle of Cedar Mountain
- Franz Sigel
- General Orders, No. 103 (U.S. War Department)
- General Orders, No. 12 (Headquarters of the Army)
- General Orders, No. 128 (U.S. War Department)
- General Orders, No. 129 (U.S. War Department)
- George B. McClellan
- James Longstreet
- John Pope
- Nathaniel P. Banks
- Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- Peninsula Campaign
- President Lincoln's Executive Order Constituting the Army of Virginia
- Robert E. Lee
- Ulysses S. Grant