United States Armies in the East

The Federal Department of the Rappahannock was created April 4, 1862, to consist of Virginia “east of the Blue Ridge and west of the Potomac River, the Fredericksburg and Richmond Railroad, including the District of Columbia and the country between the Potomac and the Petuxent Rivers.”

The First Corps was detached from the Army of the Potomac and used as the core of troops for the department. Its commander, Irvin McDowell, was promoted to Major General and given command of the department.

The experiment of having several military departments trying to cooperate to cover Washington and the Potomac River against the aggressive and mobile Confederate Army of the Valley under “Stonewall” Jackson was unsuccessful. On June 26 the department was merged into the Army of Virginia under Major General John Pope as its 2nd Corps.

Brigadier General Irvin McDowell (pictured as a major general)

Major General Irvin McDowell

Organization of Forces of the Department of the Rappahannock

April 1862May 1862June 1862

Timeline of the Department of the Rappahannock
April 4 The Department of the Rappahannock was created from the Department of the Potomac, consisting of the Valley of Virginia, the Counties of Washington and Allegheny in Maryland and such parts of Virginia “as may be covered by the army in its operations.”  The 1st Corps of the Army of the Potomac was transferred to the department.
May 10 Shields’ Division was transferred from the Department of the Shenandoah
May 16 Ord’s Division was transferred to the Department from the Defenses of Washington
May 30 Shields recaptured Front Royal
June 2 Shields’ and Ords’ Divisions pursued Jackson up the Luray Valley
June 9 Jackson defeated Shields at Port Republic
June 21 Shields crossed the Blue Ridge to rejoin McDowell
June 26 The Department was merged into Major General John Pope’s Army of Virginia as its Second Army Corps