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Battle of Thoroughfare Gap

Date:    August 28, 1862
Result:    Confederate Victory 
Troops Engaged:    5,000 US; 25,000 CS 
Casualties:    75 US; 25 CS

On August 26, after Lee divided his Confederate army, Jackson moved his forces through Thoroughfare Gap, a pass through the Bull Run Mountains, and into position near the old Manassas battlefield. Two days later, General James Longstreet was moving eastward to join Jackson, but found the Gap held by General James Ricketts’ Union division. Longstreet’s staff officer Moxley Sorrel described the terrain: “This is a mountain gorge, not long, but narrow, rocky, and precipitous. It was capable of stubborn defense. Its echoes were wonderful — a gun fired in its depths gave forth roars fit to bring down the skies.”  Ricketts’ men put up a fierce fight.

Heavy fire erupted from sharpshooters defending the Gap from the six and-one-half-story Chapman’s Mill (now Chapman’s/Beverley Mill), and one Federal regiment threatened to take position on Pond Mountain. To counter this threat, Longstreet ordered Colonel Henry Benning’s men to climb Pond Mountain and flank Ricketts’ left. He also ordered Colonel Evander Law’s troops to cross Mother Leathercoat Mountain, to the north of the Gap, and flank the Union right. Together, these two advances ensured Ricketts’ withdrawal and Longstreet’s safe passage through Thoroughfare Gap.  The next day, Longstreet successfully united with Jackson, already engaged in the Second Battle of Manassas, and their combined forces achieved a signal victory against Pope’s army.


THOROUGHFARE GAP TODAY

Nestled in the Bull Run Mountains between Mother Leathercoat Mountain and Pond Mountain, Thoroughfare Gap remains true to its name as water, road, and rail still pass through there today. The Manassas Gap Railroad (now Norfolk Southern) and Broad Run creek still inhabit the Gap, but the old road was replaced with Route 55 and I-66. Chapman’s/Beverley Mill stands nearby, watching over the Gap much as it did during the battle.

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