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CHAPTER VIII.

JULY-AUGUST, 1861.

STATE OF THE ARMY AFTER BULL RUNITS DISAPPEARANCE FROM THE FIELD

A NEW ARMY TO BE RAISEDGREATNESS OF THE TASK-MC CLELLAN SUM

MONED TO THE CAPITAL TO TAKE CHIEF COMMAND-BANKS AND FREMONTTHE LATTER SENT TO ST. LOUIS—THE ENEMY'S OUTPOSTS IN SIGHT OF THE

CAPITAL RISING OF THE NORTH-LYON ADVANCES ON MCCULLOCH-KEN

TUCKY VOTES TO REMAIN IN THE UNION-FREMONT IN ST. LOUIS-BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK AND DEATH OF LYON-RETREAT OF THE UNION ARMY-PUB

LIC FEELING ON THE DEATH OF LYON--DIABOLICAL SPIRIT OF THE SOUTILERN

CLERGY.

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IE forces of a great nation were probably never in a

more chaotic state than ours, immediately after the battle of Bull Run. The time of many of the soldiers was out just before it occurred; and Patterson explained his tardy action in regard to Johnston on the ground that some of his regiments refused to fight because the term of their enlistment had expired. McDowell; in his official report, said, that in a few days he would have been compelled to discharge ten thousand men, and that on the very eve of the battle, the Fourth Pennsylvania regiment of volunteers and the battery of the New York Eighth militia refused to remain a day longer. All appeals to their patriotism were in vain, —they insisted on their discharge that night, and the “nex: morning when the army moved forward into battle, these troops moved to the rear to the sound of the enemy's can: non."

If such disinclination to serve was exhibited on the eve of a battle, in which it was confidently believed we should be victorious, it is easy to imagine what would be the feeling of the troops after an overwhelming defeat. The chaos which a totally demoralized army presents, though

124

MCCLELLAN TAKES COMMAND

originally composed of the best materials, is a lamentable sight; but that of one made up of such newly-created soldiers as these, was a fearful spectacle. The consciousness that their time of service was nearly expired, took away all sense of responsibility. There were, of course, some noble exceptions, but the mass of these seventy-five thousand men became a disorganized mob. It was to disappear from sight, and a new army to be raised in its place, equipped, drilled, and prepared for the field.

The task before the government was herculean ; and even Napoleon would have stood aghast at it. To raise and fit, in three months, for the field an army of half a million of men, without, at least, the skeleton of a veteran army on which to build as a base, was a work of frightful magnitude. It was evident that Scott's age and infirmities rendered him unequal to it. A younger man, in the prime of life, with a constitution of iron and a will to match, was needed. It was fortunate for the nation that the

young

General who had won such renown in Western Virginia was the first full major-general in the regular army after Scott, and hence must, from seniority of rank, occupy his place. It was still more fortunate that to his natural executive ability and military experience he had added a knowledge obtained in the Crimea, in the war between Russia, France and England.

McClellan was summoned at once to the Capital, where he arrived on the 26th of July, In the mean time, General Banks was transferred to the command of Patterson's division, on the upper Potomac. About this time, also, Fremont, the second major-general, who had returned from Europe in June with arms for the government, being appointed over the western department, including Illinois and all the states west of the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains, departed for St. Louis, to take command. Of these three appointments, the first two were unanimously applauded, while by

WASHINGTON THREATENED.

125

a portion of the people the latter was looked upon as a mere political act, which would result badly. One thing, at least, may be said of it; that it was putting an untried man in a place where there was already one who had shown his admirable fitness for it. Had Lyon been put in command, at least of Missouri, we might have been saved many

defeats and losses. Innumerable and hazardous experiments in the way of appointments were unavoidable in the sudden and gigantic civil war into which we had been precipitated; it was therefore a very unwise act to make any unnecessary

ones.

McClellan immediately entered on his work like one who fully understood the difficulties before him. Washington, at the time, presented a deplorable spectacle.

Its bar-rooms and groggeries were filled with drinking officers and sol: diers, and the idea of military subordination seemed not to have entered the minds of either. In the mean time, the exultant enemy had pushed forward his outposts, till his flag flaunted defiantly within sight of the Capital. Thanks to the soldierly foresight of Scott, the works across the Poto. mac, which had called forth the sneers of men of the “ On to Richmond” school, saved us from the danger of a direct attack. He threatened, however, to pass the Potomac some twenty-five miles above and below, and precipitate Maryland, never too loyal and now ready for hostile action, into revolution. This had to be guarded against, while the collection, equipment, and organization of the vast army summoned to the field was going on.

The response of the north to the call made upon it for soldiers was without a parallel in the history of the world, and it was soon evident that more troops would be in the field than the act of Congress authorized. Camps of instruction were formed in various sections-regiments were collected and drilled in almost every Congressional district-

126

LYON SEEKS THE ENEMY,

camps dotted the peaceful farms on every side--flagg waved from almost every public and private building, and the drum beat from the rugged coasts of Maine to the far off shores of the Pacific. The north was rising in its majesty; and no one doubted, if the government was equal to the emergency, but that the disaster of Bull Run would soon be avenged, and the tide of success, which had from the first set against us, be reversed.

While McClellan was at work at the Capital, trying to restore order out of chaos, the fighting still went on in Missouri; and Cox and Rosecrans kept the field in western Virginia. In Missouri an important step' was taken for the Union, in the election, by the state convention, of Hamilton R. Gamble as Provisional Governor, in place of Jackson, who had joined the secessionists.

In the mean while, General Lyon was so occupied with the enemy that he seemed unaware of the various internal and external changes affecting the state. On the 2d of August, the day before Fremont reached Cairo, he advanced on a portion of McCulloch's army at Dug Springs, and offered battle. The enemy, however, retired, after receiving a stunning blow from a small body of cavalry that charged them with reckless daring.

It was a hot August day, and the troops suffered intolerably from thirst. The next morning the column moved on. Twenty-six miles beyond Springfield, finding himself short of provisions, his men exhausted, sick and sore, and his communication with Springfield threatened, Lyon resolved to retrace his steps to that place.

Kentucky, in the mean time, had held her election, an,? decided by an emphatic vote to stay in the Union. The announcement of the fact in the Capitol by Mr. Wickliffe, Member of Congress from that state, was received with the wildest enthusiasm. In our darkest days, that gallant state had cast her

FREMONT IN MISSOURI.

127

lot in with the free states, which was far more important to our success west than the winning of a great battle. At the very time this loyal son of Kentucky was proclaiming this cheering fact, John C. Breckenridge was being serenaded in Baltimore, on account of his secession views. On the same day General Magruder, in command of the rebel forces at, Hampton, near fortress Monroe, either in a drunken frenzy, or fearing an assault, marched out of the town, and then de. liberately applied the torch, burning it to the ground.

In the mean time, Fremont had arrived in St. Louis, and entered, it was said, with vigor on the difficult task assigned him. Whether his subsequent actions deserved condemnation or not, it is certain that the difficulties of his position were but little understood by the public.

On no other major-general, except, perhaps, McClellan, had fallen such a load as suddenly fell on him. Unaccustomed to a large command, without time to acquaint himself with the wants of his extensive department,---with an army to create, ---and a system to settle, he was thrown at once into the midst of battling armies, where the odds were against him. And yet, the very guns he needed were not within his department, even the harnesses for his teams not ready. Every thing was in chaos around him, while Pillow, with a large army, was reported to be at New Madrid, ready to march on St. Louis; and McCulloch and Price threatened with a vastly superior force to overwhelm Lyon at Springfield. Fremont may not have been the man for such an emergency, and it would have been difficult to find one that

He must have been capable of impossibilities. He had hardly time to look around him before the battle of Wilson's Creek rendered still more complicated the bewildering state of things into which he had been thrown. On the 1st of August, Lyon, then at Springfield, heard that McCulloch and Price, outnumbering his force four to one, were only some.

was.

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