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PUBLIC EXPECTATION-POSITION OF THE FORCES IN FRONT OF WASHINGTON
APPOINTMENT OF GENERALS-OCCUPATION OF ALEXANDRIA - MURDER OF
COLONEL ELLSWORTH-EFFECT ON THE NORTH-FIGHT AT BIG BETIIEL
FEELING OF THE PEOPLE RESPECTING IT-CAPTAIN LYON AT ST. LOUIS---REFUSES TO OBEY THE PUBLIC COMMISSIONERS OF THE CITY-TAKES THE ENTIRE FORCE OF GOVERNOR JACKSON AND GENERAL PRICE, PRISONERS-IIIS TROOPS MOBBED—PURSUES JACKSON-FIGHT AT BOONEVILLE-GENERAL
HARNEYHIS VACILLATING COURSE-MCCLELLAN MADE MAJOR-GENERAL AND SENT TO WESTERN VIRGINIA-HIS PAST CAREER --IARPER'S FERRY EVACUATED-CONCENTRATION OF THE REBELS AT MANASSAS JUNCTION--FIGHT AT
QUESTION OF FUGITIVE SLAVES-CAPTURE OF THE FIRST REBEL PRIVATEER
SAVANNAH-THE PRIVATEER SUMTER AT SEA.
YHE uncertainty and chaos into which civil war always
throws a country, especially one with a democratic form of government, occasioned at this time but little concerz cith the great body of the people; for they confidently believed the great battle to be close at hand which would at once settle the controversy and restore the supremacy of the
Hence all eyes were turned to the Potomac, for it was evident that the first serious collision must take place in front of Washington. From the Chesapeake to Edward's Ferry, twenty-five or thirty miles above the Capital, the southern confederacy was resolved to defend the sacred soil of Virginia," as it was called, from invasion. In the mean time, the appointment of brigadier and major-generals became an every day occurrence, and although it was not governed by political considerations alone, these controlled it fir too much at first.
MURDER OF ELLSWORTH.
It soon became apparent that Alexandria, a few miles from Washington, must be occupied, in order to secure the safety of the Capital. So on the 24th of May, about 1 o'clock, A. M., General Mansfield, with the Seventh New York regiment, left their camp at Washington, and proceeded to the Alexandria bridge. Another force, at the same time, passed the. Chain bridge, a few miles above Washington, and took possession of the Loudon and Hampshire railroad, capturing two trains and several hundred passengers. Other regiments took part in this general movement into Virginia, making in all some thirteen thousand men. A part of this forcethe regiment of Fire Zouaves of New York, proceeded in steamers direct to Alexandria. About five o'clock in the morning Colonel Ellsworth, the Zouave commander, landed in good order, and marched forward in double-quick, driving the rebels before him. One company was immediately detailed to destroy the railroad track leading to Richmond, while Colonel Ellsworth with the remainder proceeded to the telegraph office to cut the wires. On his way through the street, he caught sight of a large secession flag flying from the top of the Marshall House kept by a person named Jackson. He immediately turned and entered the hell, and meeting a man asked, “Who put that flag up?" The man answered, "I don't know; I ann a boarder here." The colonel then with a lieutenant, the chaplain, and four privates, proceeded to the top of the house and cut down the flag. As they were coming down stairs, preceded by private Brownell, they met the man they had just before accosted, standing in the hall with a double-barreled gun in his hand. Instantly leveling it, he fired. Both barrels were discharged at once, lodging their contents in the body of Colonel Ellsworth. He was at the time rolling up the flag. Suddenly falling forward on his face, with the exclamation, “My God!” he instantly expired. Private Brownell, quickly leveling his musket, sent
a bullet crashing through the skull of the murderer. In about ten minutes a company arrived, and making a litter of their muskets carried their dead commander aboard the boat.
The death of this gallant young officer produced the profoundest sensation throughout the north. It was the first great sacrifice on the altar of freedom, and his remains were/escorted with great honor to his friends in the state of New York.
Skirmishing between pickets, and collisions between small bodies of troops, in which the Unionists were almost invariably successful, kept the public feeling at fever heat, and inspired the north with unbounded confidence in its power to crush out the rebellion in a very short time. The first serious affair occurred at Big Bethel, near Fortress Monroe. In the early part of June, a few regiments under the command of General Pierce were sent by General Butler to occupy Newport News. From thence they proceeded to Little Bethel which they occupied, and then pushed on to Big Bethel Here they were met by the enemy intrenched behind works, and after a short action driven back with a loss in killed and wounded of some forty men.
The whole affair was badly managed-the regiments through mistake firing into each other-and had the enemy shown any energy the whole command would have been cut up. Lieutenant Greble of the regular service, and Major Winthrop, volunteer, and aid to General Butler, were among the killed. This disaster awoke a storm of indignation at the north. Defeat was a contingency never anticipated, and the most unsparing denunciations were visited on the heads of the supposed offend. ers. The newspapers now began to assume the control of military matters, and it was evident that the unreasonable demands of the public would ere long force the government into worse blunders.
In the mean time, Captain Lyon of the regular army, in
command of the arsenal in St. Louis, began to develop those military qualities which promised to make him one of the most prominent supporters of the government. In May, he refused to obey the order of the police commissioners of St. Louis to remove all the United States troops outside the grounds. Governor Jackson, with General Price, took the field against him, and established a camp at Jackson, near the city. Lyon, by a sudden movement, succeeded in surrounding it, and taking the whole force, six hundred and thirtynine, prisoners. A great mob followed the troops back to the camp, saluting them with yells and volleys of stones. One company, receiving orders to fire, poured a volley into the crowd, killing twenty, and wounding many more, which created the most intense excitement. Promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General, Lyon dealt his blows right and left with a vigor that showed he was determined to make short work with the rebels. Governor Jackson having taken position at Jefferson city, he moved against him there. The latter fled, burning and destroying bridges, railroads, and telegraphs in his retreat. Reaching Booneville, forty miles distant, and one of the strongest secession towns in the state, he made a stand, throwing up earthworks. Pushing on after him, Lyon landed four miles below the town, and after crossing several bluffs commenced ascending a slope a half a mile long, on the icp of which the enemy were posted in a strong position.
FIGHT AT BOONEVILLE.
Arriving within easy range, Captain Totten threw some nine-pounder shells into their ranks, while the infantry obliqued to the rigl.t and left, and commenced a deadly fire of musketry. The enemy, after a brisk but short fire, left: the lane in which they were posted, and chambering over a fence into a wheat field, again formed in line of battle,
and advanced some twenty steps towards the Unionists. The battle now fairly commenced, but Lyon, though he had some two thousand troops with line, owing to the nature of the ground, could not bring more than five hundred into action. He led the advancing column in person, cheering on the men. In twenty minutes the battle was over, and the enemy, flying in every direction, hastened in their retreat by the cannon balls that went ploughing through their disordered ranks.
A large quantity of stores fell into our hands with two secession flags. Leaving a small force in charge of the camp, : Lyon pushed on to Boone illo, and when near the town was met by a deputation of citizens bearing a flag of truce. The Union inhabitants received him with every demonstration of joy, and soon the Stars and Stripes waved above the place. Here he issued a proclamation, calling on the rebels to lay down their arms, and threatening with punishment those who refused.
General Harney was at this time commander in the Department of the West, as it was termed, and though his loyalty had been called in question, no evidence had been produced against him. It was evident, however, whether from aversion to shedding the blood of citizens, or from want of sympathy with the administration, he could not be relied upon in the prosecution of prompt and decided measures. Perhaps, however, at this time he was quite up to the administration. It did not seem so much averse to have others act with energy, as it was disinclined to assume responsibility of doing anything which would produce bloodshed.
After an attack of the mob on the Home Guards at St. Louis in May, in which several were killed, Harney issued a proclamation rather deprecatory than authoritative.
So in an agreement he afterwards made with General Price, the rebel Governor's right hand man, he showed a willingness to temporize with the rebels, which Lyon, with his greater sagacity,