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125

CHAP. XL.]

A

the

tached from Heintzelman in the morning, was upon the Run. Burnside had been withdrawn, his ammunition being exhausted. Schenck was ready to cross at the bridge. For the attack on the plateau there were 13,000 men and sixteen guns. They met with a fierce on the right, round resistance in forcing their way up the slope, but their right gained a footing on its western edge, Ricketts's and Griffin's batteries being in their front. There was a rise of ground southeast of the Henry House, which, if it could be seized, would enable them to enfilade the Confederate batteries: it was the key of the position. Five regiments, with Ricketts's and Griffin's batteries, attempted to carry it; but Ellsworth's Zouaves, who were supporting the batteries, mistaking an Alabama regiment for a national one, were broken by the fire they received, and ridden through by some cavalry. Their disorganization was so instant and complete that, though they continued to fight as individuals, they ap peared no more as a regiment.

THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN.

Other regiments were now ordered up to rescue the batteries, the horses of which had been killed; but, though thrice re-enforced, they were thrice compelled to retire. The battle now raged with alternate success.

While this was occurring on the right, McDowell's left was also attempting to carry the plateau. It encountered a very severe fire—so severe that the loss in Sherman's brigade was nearly one fourth of that of the whole army.

Keyes, who was on the extreme left, had forced his way up the slope and reached the Robinson House, but so furious was the resistance that he was compelled to fall back. He moved round the brow of the plateau until he reached its eastern edge, unsuccessfully endeavor. ing to regain his foothold upon it.

The crisis of the battle had come. It was determined

Attack by the national left.

[SECT. VII.

through Patterson's fault in permitting the escape of the Confederates from his front in Upper Virginia. Ricketts's and Griffin's batteries had been taken and retaken; the national troops had been swept from the plateau and had recovered their ground. The Confederates had brought all their troops within reach from the fords of Bull Run; the roar of the cannon was incessant. At that moment there rushed across the fields from Manassas 1700 fresh troops. They were Elzey's brigade, led by Kirby Smith, the last of the re-enforcements that had eluded Patterson in the valley. Hearing the noise of the battle, they had stopped the cars at the point nearest to the sound. In the supreme moment, they struck the national right full on its flank. Their cross-fire, added to the fire in front, was irresistible. A cry went through the national ranks, "Here's Johnston Rout of the national from the Valley!" Instantaneously McDow ell was driven from the plateau and headlong down the slope. It was not a repulse, but a rout.

army.

In vain McDowell tried to cover the retreat with his 800 regulars. Howard's brigade, and whatever was in the way of the fugitives, was swept off in their rush. The men threw away their arms and encumbrances as they fled toward Bull Run; but it was not until they converged to the bridge at Cub Run that the flight became a panic. A shell had burst among the teamsters' wagons, a caisson had been overturned, and the passage was stopped. Horses were cut from their traces; artillery was left Flight of the panic to be captured; soldiers, civilians, camp followers rushed, not only to Centreville, but beyond it to Washington, where they spread the most exaggerated reports of their disaster.

stricken soldiers.

And now the great error that General Scott had comScott's great mis- mitted was discovered when it was too late. He had a force at his disposal of nearly

take.

126

The crisis of the battle. Junction of Johnston's troops.

THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN.

CHAP. XL.] THE CONFEDERATES GAIN THE VICTORY.

eighty thousand men: he had divided it into three and thrown one of them unsustained on the enemy. Davis had left Richmond in the morning as soon as the telegraph informed him that the battle had begun. He reached Manassas Junction about four o'clock, with gloomy forebodings, for he encountered the Confederate fugitives from the national advance. He rode direct to the front, and telegraphed that night to the Confederate Congress:

Davis's telegram of victory to Richmond.

127

parts,

"Manassas Junction, Sunday night. “Night has closed upon a hard-fought field. Our forces were victorious. The enemy was routed, and fled precipitately, abandoning a large amount of arms, ammunition, knapsacks, and baggage. The ground was strewed for miles with those killed, and the farmhouses around were filled with wounded.

“Pursuit was continued along several routes toward Leesburg and Centreville until darkness covered the fugitives. We have captured several field batteries, stands of arms, and Union and State' flags. Too high praise can not be bestowed, whether for the skill of the principal officers or for the gallantry of all our troops. The battle was mainly fought on our left. Our force was 15,000; that of the enemy estimated at 35,000.

"JEFFERSON DAVIS."

army.

In this dispatch, Davis's estimate of the strength of his antagonist may possibly be excused, but not so his purposed falsification of his own force. He knew very well that it was nearly the double of what he affirmed. This Its evil effect on his deception speedily brought disaster. The Southern soldiery was confirmed in its su preme contempt for its antagonist. The troops left the army in crowds and returned to their homes, justly inferring that an inconsiderable force against such a cowardly enemy was all that would be needful to establish the Confederacy.

The Confederate loss in this battle was 378 killed, 1489 wounded. The national loss was 481 killed, 1011 wounded, and 1460 prisoners.

The battle losses.

128

GENERAL JOHNSTON'S JUSTIFICATION.

[SECT. VII.

Surprise and indignation were soon expressed in the South that the Confederate General Johnston made no energetic pursuit, and failed to enter Washington with the fugitives. He, however, himself subsequently (1867) published his reasons, which are substantially as follows: The pursuit was not continued because the Confederate cavalry, a very small force, was driven back by the solid resistance of the United States infantry. Its rear-guard was an entire division, which had not been engaged, and was twelve or fifteen times more numerous than our two little bodies of cavalry. Expectations and hopes of the capture of Washington were not expressed by military men who underJohnston's justifica- stood the state of affairs. A pursuit would tion of his conduct. have been fruitless: we could not have carried the intrenchments before Washington by assault, and had none of the means to besiege them. Our assault would have been repulsed, and the enemy, then the victorious party, would have resumed their march to Richmond. And if even we had captured the intrenchments, a river a mile wide lay between them and Washington, commanded by the heavy guns of a Federal fleet. We could not have brought 20,000 men to the banks of the Potomac. Our troops believed that their victory had established the independence of the South-that the war was ended, and their military obligations fulfilled. They therefore left the army in crowds to return to their homes. The exultation of victory cost us more than our antagonists lost by defeat. The Federal troops south of the Potomac were not a rabble. Mansfield's, Miles's, and Runyon's divisions, a larger force than we could have brought against them, had neither been beaten nor engaged; and the reports of the commanders of the brigades engaged show that they entered the intrenchments organized, except those who fled individually from the field. These

Dissatisfaction in the South that Washington was not taken.

CHAP. XL.]

129

latter undoubtedly gave an exaggerated idea of the rout to the people of Washington, as those from our ranks met by President Davis, before he reached Manassas, on his way to the field, convinced him that our army had been defeated. The failure of the subsequent invasions conducted by Lee proves that the Confederacy was too weak for offensive war.

It remains now to ascertain the political interpretation of the battle of Bull Run. In a military sense, it was a great victory for the Confederacy-a humiliation for the nation.

Political interpretation of the battle.

INTERPRETATION OF THE BATTLE.

But military movements are for the purpose of accomplishing political results. They receive their general, their true interpretation when the degree to which they have advanced their political intention is ascertained.

Feeling instinctively this truth, the Southern people were very far from being satisfied with their splendid victory. In the opinion of many of them, and, among others, of very high officials, Johnston, who commanded so brilliantly, had actually passed under a cloud. They were not satisfied with what had been done.

Here it is necessary for us to ask two questions: (1) What was the object which had brought the Confederates to Manassas? (2.) What was the intention of the national government in hurling its three-months' militiamen on the line of Bull Run before their term expired?

(1.) The seizure of Washington was at this period the great political object of the Confederate authorities. For that alone their army lay at Manassas, and had its outposts almost within sight of the Capitol. But the victory of Bull Run did not secure that result, and in this -the political, the true sense-the Confederate campaign was a failure.

II.—I

The object sought by each party.

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