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PROPOSED CAPTURE OF WASHINGTON.
Batteries to be con
look Washington, and command it. Could structed on Arling this have been accomplished, and Lincoln expelled before the fourth of July, the day on which Congress was summoned to meet, the nation would have been Mexicanized, and European recognition of the Confederate authorities as the de facto government of the United States, or recognition of the separation and independence of the Confederacy probably insured.
If Washington was to be retained, or rather preserved -for the Confederate authorities had no intention of holding it as their permanent capital, which obviously must be in a more central position in the South—there was no time to be lost. Already their outposts were occupying the heights, and their engineers selecting suitable positions for batteries.
But if Southern soldiers had been pressing forward to Meanwhile national Manassas, Northern soldiers had been presstrating in Washing ing forward to Washington. As we have related, on the first note of alarm the militia of Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts had quickly found their way to the capital. They were merely the advance-guard of a vast body making ready to concentrate at the threatened point. Soon there was no danger that the republic would have to endure the ignominy of having its capital seized by the coup de main of an insig nificant band of conspirators, headed by a desperado; its capture could be accomplished now only by the rush of a large and formidable mass.
At this moment the opinions of both contending par ties was that the difference between them would be quickly settled. They saw that there would inevitably be a battle, but no one had risen to the belief that there would be a war. It was universally supposed by each that the overthrow of its antagonist in the struggle at hand would be an end
Expectation that would be a battle, but not a
DEFENSE OF WASHINGTON.
of the strife. No one as yet comprehended that that would be attained only after many years, by the absolute military exhaustion of whichever should prove to be the weaker.
But, even at this early stage, one of the cardinal conditions of the contest had become obvious. The defense of Washington was instinctively recognized by the loyal Atlantic States. as their incumbent duty, just as the forcing open of the Mississippi became the battle-object of the Northwest. And this the safety of the metropolis-was never lost sight of in all the subsequent changing fortunes of the war. All the great movements of the Army of the Potomac were predicated on an absolute recognition of that condition.
The defense of Washington becomes a parámount duty.
It was in accordance with these ideas of a sharp and conclusive strife that President Lincoln had,
It was thought that enlistment
onment for three as we have seen, on April 15th, called forth
seventy-five thousand of the militia for a period of three months, unless sooner discharged. A force was thus speedily made available for the protection of the seat of government; but not without the utmost reluctance was any thing beyond that under
The government is
stant to invade taken. Lincoln was unwilling to be the first to cross what had now apparently be come the boundary-line; he did not wish to incur the responsibility of invading Virginia.
But, though he was thus circumspectly unwilling to
but the Confeder-:
press upon his antagonist, his antagonist ates very willing to manifested no such unwillingness to press
invade the North.
upon him. From his residence, the White House, Lincoln might see the Confederate flag flying on the other side of the Potomac: with his field-glass he might observe Confederate engineers busy selecting suitable points for the establishment of batteries to expel
him from the city. There was truth in what he so solemnly remarked subsequently: "I have not controlled events, but events have controlled me;" and accordingly now he found himself compelled to invade in self-defense to in- Virginia. If he failed to do that, he must be driven ignominiously from Washington.
INVASION OF VIRGINIA.
On the night of May 23d national troops were thereThe national troops fore thrown across the Potomac into Vircross the Potomac, ginia. They took possession of the city of Alexandria, on the Potomac, nine miles below Washing
Without delay, earthworks were constructed on Arand defenses for the lington Heights and in the vicinity, and the city thrown up. capital made safe from the Confederate troops threatening it at Manassas Junction. The command of the forces thus thrown into Virginia was given McDowell assigned to General McDowell. General Scott, the to the command. commander-in-chief, was too old and infirm to take the field himself, and, from the patriotic motive of setting an example of loyalty, was unwilling to resign his position to another. In this determination he was sustained by many political aspirants, who supposed that in case of his brilliant military success he would not stand in their way for the next presidency.
In taking possession of Alexandria, an incident occurred which at the time gave rise to a deep sensation. Such sad events, however, became common enough in the Border States before the summer was over. A Confederate flag had been seen from the President's residence in Washington flying over an inn, the Marshall House, kept by a person of the name of Jackson. This flag Colonel Ellsworth, of the New York Fire Zouave regiment, accompanied by three or four of his soldiers, removed, and, on coming down the stairs of the house, was shot by Jackson, who was him
The tragedy at Al-
CHAP. XL.] THE CONFEDERATES AT MANASSAS.
self instantly killed by one of Ellsworth's companions. The colonel's body was carried to the President's house, where funeral services were performed, Mr. Lincoln himself being one of the mourners. Throughout the South Jackson was regarded as a patriotic martyr who had lost his life in the defense of his fireside.
Batteries were constructed by the Confederates on the Virginia bank of the Potomac below Alex
blockade the Po- andria, and small affrays were continually occurring between them and the national shipping on the river. Eventually these works proved to be not only a troublesome inconvenience, but also a public indignity. They kept the river approaches to Washington under blockade.
The term for which the three-months' troops had enNecessity of using gaged would end about the close of July. the three-months A clamor had arisen in the North that something should be done to obtain an advantage from the large army which, at so much expense, been collected, before it should spontaneously dissolve. It was of course impossible to permit that to take place while the Confederates still remained intrenched and untouched at Manassas. The passive resistance of the troops in Washington was not enough. Unless something more were done, the enemy had only to bide his time quietly in his camp, and when the national army had dispersed by the limitation of its own enlistments, to move forward and take possession of the coveted city.
That the conflict would end in "three months or sooner" was already discovered to be a delusion. Evidently the essential thing to be done
and of paralyzing the Confederates at Manassas.
could not be accomplished by an idle encampment round Washington. A vigorous blow must be struck at the force which lay at Manassas. That force;
gathered for the capture of Washington, must be dispersed before Washington could be considered safe. In addition to this paramount consideration, there were others of serious weight which called for such active operations. The Confederate Congress was to assemble in Richmond on the 20th of July. It was necessary to avoid the national discredit that must arise from the undisturbed organization of an insurgent government in its newly-selected capital.
FORCES ON EACH SIDE.
The force under McDowell in front of Washington was about 45,000 men. It extended from Alexandria to the Chain Bridge. At Martinsburg, toward the northwest, there were 18,000 more, under the command of Patterson.
On the other hand, the Confederates had a force of 20,000, under the command of Beauregard, strength of the Con- near Manassas. Considering this as the cen
tre of their army, their right rested on the
THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN.
Potomac below Alexandria, and held the batteries that were blockading the river. Their left, about 8000 strong,