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Springs, and descending the opposite bank. Heintzelman was to follow Hunter as far as the defended ford, a mile above the bridge, and there await his arrival on the other side; both Tyler and Heintzelman to co-operate with Hunter. Miles's division and Richardson's brigade of Tyler's were ordered to “ threaten the Blackburn Ford, and remain in reserve at Centreville.”
The head of Hunter's column, having crossed unopposed, took the road toward Manassas. For the first mile thick woods were on his left quite to the Run, and on his right woods alternating with fields; then came a more open country, rolling and cultivated, down to the Warrenton road. Soon after Burnside's advance reached this cleared space the enemy opened fire, the Rhode Island and New Hampshire men sustaining the attack until Porter's regulars and a regiment sent across the stream by Heintzelman came up, when, after a sharp engagement, their assailants were driven south of the Warrenton road and across Young's Branch, running at the foot of a hill, over which the Sudley Springs road continued. The brigades of Sherman and Keyes were now at hand, with the remainder of Heintzelman's division; the Stone bridge and the pike were freed, and under close pursuit the enemy retired up the slopes and into the woods. A large part of his force was still miles away. The fighting had begun at half-past 10 o'clock. Noting well the position now gained, but little after noon, and bearing in mind McDowell's objective point, what remained but to move rapidly on Gainesville? Instead, there was a pause. Beauregard, hurrying his distant troops hither, made good use of the time. Forming his lines, he recovered by a gallant charge the ground lost south of the Warrenton pike, not far from Groveton, and occupied heights on his left, overlooking the road farther west. Assailed and driven back, he again advanced; and thus long and hotly the conflict raged. Here was the vital point of battle. In three successive charges the Confederates were repulsed. Previously their front ranks had been “driven nearly a mile and a half”; it was now after 3 o'clock, and “it was supposed by us all,” wrote McDowell, “that the [third] repulse was final.” The enemy “was driven entirely from the hill, and so far beyond it as not to be in sight, and all were certain the day was ours.”
But the enemy had had full time to gather his forces, including the last installment from Winchester — Johnston himself and most of his army having arrived before the fight began. To destroy the Manassas railway “ near Gainesville ” matters little now, were it possible. Patterson lamentably failed to detain his adversary as expected; Patterson and his men count for nothing to-day. McDowell's crowning opportunity was lost. While his men refreshed themselves, the enemy stole quietly through the woods and beyond his right, then suddenly, with deadly volleys and terrific yells, assailed his flank. In confusion and panic the broken phalanxes fled down the slope and along the pike by which they came. McDowell tried to rally them far to the rear, using his reserves to guard the fugitives from annihilating pursuit. A defensive line was formed along the Centreville ridge. Toward this barrier the tidal wave swept resistlessly on. Despite the barrier, all night a
throng was on its way to the old camping-ground, or beyond. *
Next day, “ Blue Monday,” in a pouring rain, with little respite from dawn to dark, blue-bloused men were continually arriving, dazed and weary, in Washington. “Rally the army and save the capital!” had been the last message of a favorite staff officer to the LieutenantGeneral at midnight. At noon Congress gathered in dismal session. On motion of Mr. Crittenden, the House, with but two ("radical") dissenting votes, resolved:
That the present deplorable civil war has been forced upon the country by the Disunionists of the Southern States now in revolt against the Constitutional Government, and in arms around the Capital; that in this National emergency Congress, banishing all feeling of mere passion or resentment, will recollect only its duty to the whole country; that this war is not waged on our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of the States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to preserve the Union, with all the dignities, equality and rights of the several States unimpaired; and that as soon as these objects are accomplished the war ought to cease.
To such a culminating epoch had four months of Lincoln's administration come.
During these months we have seen the President busily occupied with changes in the civil service; with the complications at Charleston and Pensacola, and with
* The numbers actually engaged on each side in the Battle of Bull Run (or Manassas) were nearly the same—about 18,000. The Union losses were: 481 killed, 1,411 wounded, 1,216 prisoners, and 28 gunis; Confederate losses: 387 killed, 1,582 wounded.
the organization and equipment of military and naval forces. He was also anxious about the attitude of foreign governments, and gave careful attention to the diplomatic instructions sent out by the Secretary of State. The burdensome daily pressure for personal interviews had continued with little abatement, and to callers of whatever condition he was amiably indulgent always.
Society also had claims, which were not neglected by the lady of the White House, though in local circles at the outset there was scant complacency toward the “Republican court.” There was no lack of sneers, in fact, or of disparaging inventions. The foreign legations were mostly in sympathy with the prevailing tone. To Mr. Russell, of the London Times, who had dined at the White House early in April, some of the lady residents used great freedom of speech. He noted in his diary, when just starting for the South, April 12th:
Some ladies said to me that when I came back I would find some nice people in Washington, and that the railsplitter and his wife, the Sewards, and all the rest of them, would be driven to the place where they ought to be: “Varina Davis is a lady, at all events, not like the other. We can't put up with such people as these.”
The same correspondent and diarist, after returning from the South, had ridden out towards Manassas to get a glimpse of the battle he was to describe, but was so late that he met only retreating soldiers miles from the field. Shut up in his room on Monday, writing his impressions of the Union disaster for the information of Europe, he made this entry in his diary (July 22d):
Why Beauregard does not come I know not, nor can I well guess. I have been expecting every hour since noon to hear his cannon. Here is a golden opportunity. If the Confederates do not grasp that which will never come again on such terms, it stamps them with mediocrity.
The repulse and rout of McDowell's army became definitely known throughout the land on Monday. Everywhere the next news was dreaded, lest it should be that the capital was taken and the Government dispersed. But hour after hour, day after day, wore on without a further move of the enemy than resuming his outposts at Centreville and other points occupied before the battle. On the Union side consternation, exasperation, determination, quickly followed each other in the popular mind. Causes of the failure were discussed; there were grumblings about the soldiers, their officers, and the Government; yet there is no lack of examples as bad on the part of the best soldiers, even veterans, the most capable Generals, the most skillful and trustworthy rulers. Experience was educating both soldiers and commanders. A year or two later such tardiness of preparation and movement as preceded this battle, such halts and delays as there were at the very turning point and moment, would have been deemed inexcusable. The President, believing McDowell unfortunate rather than incapable, remanded him to a less responsible position, with consoling assurances of continued confidence. Patterson was less easily forgiven by the people. His successor in the department was Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks, whose place at Bal- : timore was assigned to Major-General John A. Dix — that Secretary of the Treasury who, during the late winter of discontent, had telegraphed to an officer of his department at the South: “If any man attempts to haul down the flag, shoot him on the spot!"