|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.
Organization of Forces of the Department of the Rappahannock
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|