More on the So-Called “Army of Northeastern Virginia”

25 10 2008

You’ll notice in Col. Pratt’s report that he uses “Army N. E. Va” in the closing.  As I’ve discussed here and here, I’ve never been able to find any documentation creating or formally recognizing an Army of Northeastern Virginia.  Pratt’s report is one of only three references to such an organization in the Official Records.  The other two are Porter’s endorsement (dated August 19, 1861) of Burnside’s report, and Robert E. Lee’s reference to his own army in a September 3, 1862 letter to Jefferson Davis (OR, Series I, Volume XII/2, p 559).  Pratt’s report is exceptional in that it contains the first reference to the army that is contemporary to the battle, as the report is dated July 22.  Pratt was a judge before and after the war, so maybe he was predisposed to timely record keeping.  Or maybe he pre-dated the report.  I honestly don’t know.

I don’t want to belabor this point.  McDowell was in command of the Department of Northeastern Virginia, and the federal troops within that department.  But every reference I’ve found to the Army of Northeastern Virginia, with the exception of Pratt’s report, was written after McDowell’s army was broken up.  I can’t find any mention of the Army of Northeastern Virginia in the New York Times for 1861.





More on the Army of Northeastern Virginia

19 01 2007

In response to my post about the origin of the name Army of Northeastern Virginia, blogger David Woodbury commented:

It’s not much, but when A. Porter submitted Ambrose Burnside’s report, he refers to Burnside’s command as the Second Brigade, Second Division, Army of Northeastern Virginia. Series I, vol. 2, p. 395.

After a quick check of the OR’s, I responded:

As for the report of Porter: that’s Andrew Porter, First Brigade commander of Hunter’s Division who took over command of the division when Hunter was wounded. He does mention the name of the army, but this cover letter to Burnside’s report was not written until August 19, while Burnside’s report itself was sent from Hdqrs. Second Brigade, Second Division, Major [!!!] General McDowell’s Column and dated July 24. Porter’s own report on page 383 refers to the First Brigade, Second Division, of the Army. It was written on July 25. If anything, this probably supports the ex post facto origins of the Army of Northeastern Virginia.

David’s post last year about McDowell’s misspelled headstone played some role in feeding my interest in First Bull Run.  Thanks for that, David, and thanks for taking the time to comment here.





What’s in a Name?

12 01 2007

Interesting.  I’ve received not one comment regarding the misspelling of McDowell’s name on his headstone.

A note regarding the Union OOB:  I can’t find any documentation of the existence of a Union Army of Northeastern Virginia.  This is the name typically used for McDowell’s army at Bull Run.  The Department of Northeastern Virginia was created on 5/28/1861 from part of the Department of the East with boundaries enclosing Virginia east of the Allegheny Mountains and north of the James River with the exception of a sixty mile radius around Fort Monroe.  It was commanded by McDowell until 7/25/1861 when it was attached to the Military Division of the Potomac; it was merged with the Department of the Potomac on 8/17/1861 (see Eicher and Eicher, Civil War High Commands, p 837).  But none of the reports or correspondence from First Bull Run reference an Army of Northeastern Virginia – instead they refer to the Department or simply “McDowell’s Corps.”  The moniker appears to be an after the fact creation, and that is the story I’m sticking with unless you can prove otherwise!








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