The First Battle of Rappahannock Station

The First Battle of Rappahannock Station, also variously known as Waterloo Bridge, White Sulphur Springs, Lee Springs, or Freeman’s Ford, took place from August 22–25, 1862, in Culpeper County and Fauquier County, Virginia, as part of the Northern Virginia Campaign of the Civil War.

In early August, Lee determined that George B. McClellan’s army was being withdrawn from the Virginia Peninsula to reinforce John Pope. He sent James Longstreet from Richmond to join Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s wing of the army near Gordonsville and arrived to take command himself on August 15. On August 20 and 21, Pope withdrew to the line of the Rappahannock River. On August 23, J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry made a daring raid on Pope’s headquarters at Catlett Station, showing that the Union right flank was vulnerable to a turning movement. Over the next several days, August 22–25, the two armies fought a series of minor actions along the Rappahannock River, including Waterloo Bridge, Lee Springs, Freeman’s Ford, and Sulphur Springs, resulting in a few hundred casualties. Together, these skirmishes primed Pope’s army along the river, while Jackson’s wing marched via Thoroughfare Gap to capture Bristoe Station and destroy Federal supplies at Manassas Junction, far in the rear of Pope’s army.