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GENERAL MCDOWELL'S PLAN OF ATTACK.
THE FEDERAL ARMY AT CENTREVILLE-GENERAL MCDOWELL'S PLAN OF ATTACK-THE DIVISIONS OF GENERALS TYLER, HUNTER AND HEINTZELMAN-THEIR SEVERAL DUTIES—THE MARCH FROM CENTREVILLE-INTERESTING SPECTACLE-GENERAL TYLER FIRST REACHES THE BATTLE-FIELD-HE COMMENCES THE ENGAGEMENT-MOVEMENTS OF GENERALS HUNTER AND HEINTZELMAN-THE GALLANT SIXTY-NINTH NEW YORK-THE ENGAGEMENT BECOMES GENERAL-VIGOROUS CANNONADING-THE REBELS GRADUALLY OVERPOWERED-THE FEDERALS VICTORIOUS AT MID-DAY-REBEL ADMISSIONS TO THAT EFFECT-GENERAL JOHNSTON'S TROOPS FROM WINCHESTER ARRIVE ON THE BATTLE-FIELD-THEY REVERSE THE TIDE OF VICTORY-SUDDEN PANIC IN THE FEDERAL ARMY-A GENERAL RETREAT ENSUES-INCIDENTS OF THE FLIGHT--INDIVIDUAL INSTANCES OF HEROISM-RESULTS OF THE BATTLE -FAILURE OF THE REBEL COMMANDERS TO IMPROVE THEIR VICTORY-ULTIMATE CONSEQUENCES.
It was on Sunday, July 21st, 1861, that the memorable battle of Manassas, the most decisive and desperate which had yet occurred on the American continent, took place. The Federal Army during the preceding day and night reposed at Centreville, about seven miles distant from the scene of conflict. It was placed under the command of General Irwin McDowell-an officer who had received a military education at West Point, had distinguished himself during the Mexican war, had been rapidly promoted from rank to rank, had invariably conducted himself with gallantry and heroism, and who was worthy of the important trust which was on this occasion conferred upon him.
The plan of attack which this officer devised, and purposed to execute, was, in the opinion of those most competent to judge, an admirable one. The army was separated into three divisions, which were ordered to advance to the position of the enemy by three routes. Two of these movements were to be genuine assaults; the third was to be a feint for the purpose of distracting the attention of the foe. The division of General Tyler was directed to march forward by the Warrington road, and to cross Bull Run a mile and a half to the right. This division comprised the first and second Ohio, and the second New York regiments under General Schenck; the sixty-ninth, seventy-ninth, and thirteenth of New York, with the second Wisconsin regiments. Three efficient batteries-those of Carlisle, Ayres, and Rickett-accompanied them. The second road was taken by General Hunter, on the extreme right, who commanded the eighth and fourteenth New York regiments, a battalion of the second, third and eighth regular infantry, a number of artillery, the first and second Ohio, the seventy-first New York, two New Hampshire regiments, and the powerful Rhode Island battery. The third route was to be taken by the division of General Heintzelman, comprising the fourth and fifth
Massachusetts and the first Minnesota regiments, the second, fourth and fifth Maine, and the second Vermont regiments, supported by cavalry and artillery. General Hunter's orders were to pass a small stream called Cub Run; to turn to the right, then to the north, to pass the upper ford of Bull Run; then, marching southward, to attack the enemy in the rear. General Heintzelman was directed to cross Bull Run at the lower ford, and there attack the Rebels when they were being driven before the advancing lines of Hunter. The reserve, under Colonel Miles, was posted at Centreville, numbering six thousand men. The actual number of troops who marched to the attack of the Rebels at Manassas was about twentythree thousand. The duty assigned to Hunter and to Heintzelman was to drive the enemy from the right and from the rear upon the force of General Tyler on the left; so that, hemmed in between the three bodies, their defeat might be more certainly and efficiently accomplished.
General McDowell had at first intended to commence the march from Centreville on Saturday afternoon, July 20th, and orders had actually been given to that effect. But it was discovered at the moment of starting, that a deficiency of heavy ammunition existed, and that a large supply must first be obtained from Fairfax. This process rendered a short delay necessary, and then it was determined to postpone the advance until the following day. Accordingly, at half-past two o'clock on Sunday morning, the command was given to strike the tents and to commence the march.
Soon the vast multitude began to move forward. The scene which was then presented to the view of an observer was one of imposing magnificence, and of solemn, martial splendor. The moon shone brightly and serenely in the distant heavens, which were spangled with myriads of sparkling gems; while the immense assemblage of human beings, swarming over many a hill and vale, hurried forward with eager tread toward the field of blood. The mellow light of the dim luminaries served only to add the charm of a mystic and mysterious grandeur to the spectacle. The solemn silence of the Sabbath morn was broken by the rumbling sound of the artillery, by the confused tread of horses, and of men, intermingled with the occasional echo of the stern word of command, or the gladsome voices of laughter and song. General McDowell and his staff accompanied the central column of General Tyler's command.
At length the clearer light of the early dawn spread over the face of the earth. Then, after a short interval, the sun appeared in full effulgence in the rosy east; and as he commenced to mount the azure heavens, the head of General Tyler's column reached the eminence, from which the first distant view of the position of the enemy could be obtained. Seldom had a fairer, calmer, or lovelier scene been presented to the charmed eye of the enthusiastic admirer of nature, than that which the wide sweep of country before them exhibited, soon to be torn and riven by the impetuous rush of infantry and cavalry, by the terrific discharges of the artillery