After losing at the Second Battle of Manassas on August 30th 1862 Union Major General John Pope ordered his Army of Virginia to retreat. By the next morning it was becoming clear that Pope had lost control of his army and was afraid that another attack by Lee would destroy the army and leave Washington, DC unprotected. While Pope was trying to regroup his army, Confederate Major General Thomas J Stonewall Jackson began to move on Pope’s right flank. Jackson was moving for Germantown, Virginia where Pope’s only two routes into Washington were located, but his men were worn out and were moving slowly.
During the night Pope learned of the Confederate force that was advancing on him. He ordered the army to retreat from their location at Centerville to Washington. Pope sent out troops from several Corps to cover the roads they would be using to retreat. Jackson’s force reached Ox Hill near the Chantilly Plantation on the morning of September 1st 1862 were Confederate Cavalry spent the morning skirmishing with Union infantry and cavalry. About 3 pm Union Brigadier General Isaac Ingalls Stevens’ division arrived, and despite being outnumbered, attacked Confederate Brigadier General Alexander Robert Lawton’s division. Although the Union troops were initially successful; routing Confederate Colonel Henry Strong’s Brigade, they were shortly driven back by a counterattack made by Confederate Brigadier General Jubal Anderson Early. Stevens was killed during this attack.
About this time; around 5 pm, a thunderstorm hit the field limiting visibility and soaking ammunition. Union Major General Philip Kearny arrived in the storm and deployed on Steven’s left, ordering an attack by Brigadier General David Bell Birney, which stalled in hand to hand fighting with men of Confederate Major General Ambrose Powell Hill’s division. Kearny road into the Confederate lines and was killed as his other two brigades arrived on the field. Using these last two brigades as rear guard Birney withdrew, bringing the battle to an end. The Union Army withdrew during the night to Germantown and Fairfax Court House.