« PreviousContinue »
It is curious to observe with what insolent confidence the North had anticipated a crowning triumph of its arms on the field of Manassas, even when the air around Washington was burdened with the signals of its defeat. The North did not tolerate the idea of defeat. On the very day of the battle, Washington was gay with exultation and triumph over an imagined victory. At thirty minutes past twelve o'clock, the Washington Star published a dispatch, declaring that it had learned from parties just from Fairfax county, that the firing had stopped; and added, "we trust the fact means a surrender of the rebels, and do not see how it can mean aught else." At a later hour of the afternoon, a dispatch was received at the War Department, from Major-gen. Pope, announcing a brilliant victory in a decisive battle with the Confederate forces on the old Bull Run battle-field. It was stated that he had defeated the Confederate army, and was driving it in discomfiture before him. This dispatch had a magical effect. The War Department, contrary to its usual custom, not only permitted, but officially authorized the publication of the dispatch. Citizens of every grade, of both sexes and of all ages, were seen in groups around the corners, and in the places of public resort, speculating upon the particulars and the consequences of the decisive victory reported. The triumph of the Federal arms was apparently shown to be more complete by reason of the announcement that Gen. Stonewall Jackson, with sixteen thousand of his troops, had been cut off and captured.
It was at this point of exultation that another dispatch was received from Gen. Pope, stating that the uncertain tide of battle had unfortunately turned against the Federal army, and that he had been compelled to abandon the battle-field during the evening. The revulsion was great; the untimely hallelujahs were interrupted, and the population of Washington, from its hasty and indecent exultations of the morning, was soon to be converted into a panic-stricken community, trembling for its own safety.
Indeed, the victory achieved by the Confederates was far more serious than the most lively alarm in Washington could at first imagine. The next morning after the battle, the last feeble resistance of the Federals at Centreville was broken. The finishing stroke was given by the Confederates under Gen.
A. P. Hill, who, on the first of September (Monday), encountered a large body of the enemy at Germantown, a small village in Fairfax county, near the main road leading from Centreville to Fairfax Court-house. The enemy, it appears, had succeeded in rallying a sufficient number of their routed troops at the point named, to make another show of opposition to the advance of the victorious Confederates on their territory. On Sunday, the pursuit of Pope's army was commenced and pressed with vigor on the Fairfax Court-house road, and on Monday morning at daylight the enemy was discovered drawn up in line of battle across the road, their right extending to the village of Germantown. Gen. Hill immediately ordered the attack, and after a brief but hotly contested fight, the enemy withdrew. During the night, the enemy fell back to Fairfax Court-house and abandoned his position at Centreville. The next day, about noon, he evacuated Fairfax Court-house, taking the road to Alexandria and Washington.
Thus were realized the full and glorious results of the second victory of Manassas; thus were completed the great objects of the brilliant summer campaign of 1862 in Virginia; and thus, for a second time, on the famous borders of the Potomac, the gates were thrown wide open to the invasion of the North, and to new fields of enterprise for the victorious armies of the South.
The rapid change in the fortunes of the Confederacy, and the sharp contrast between its late forlorn situation and what were now the brilliant promises of the future, were animating and suggestive topics.
Little more than three months had elapsed since the columns of a hostile army were debouching on the plains near Richmond, when the evacuation of the city and a further retreat of the Confederate army were believed by nearly all official persons the most prudent and politic steps that the government could take under the circumstances. Little more than three months had elapsed since our armies were retreating weak and disorganized before the overwhelming force of the enemy, yielding to them the sea-coast, the mines, the manufacturing power, the grain fields, and even entire States of the Confederacy. Now we were advancing with increased numbers, improved organization, renewed courage, and the prestige of victory, upon an enemy defeated and disheartened.
As the opposing armies of the war now stood, the South had causes for congratulation and pride such, perhaps, as no other people ever had in similar circumstances. The North had a population of twenty-three millions against eight millions serving the South, and of these eight millions nearly three millions were African slaves. The white population of New York and Pennsylvania was greater than that of the Confederate States. Manufacturing establishments of all descriptions rendered the North a self-sustaining people for all the requirements of peace or war, and, with these advantages, they retained those of an unrestricted commerce with foreign nations. The North had all the ports of the world open to its ships; it had furnaces, foundries, and workshops; its manufacturing resources, compared with those of the South, were as five hundred to one; the great marts of Europe were open to it for supplies of arms and stores; there was nothing of material resource, nothing of the apparatus of conquest that was not within its reach.
The South, on the other hand, with only a few insignificant manufactories of arms and materials of war, textile fabrics, leather, &c., had been cut off by an encircling blockade for fifteen months from all those supplies upon which she had depended from the North and from Europe, in the way of arms, munitions of war, clothing, medicines, and many of the essentials of subsistence. The South was without the vestige of a navy, except a straggling ship or two, while that of the North in this war was equal to a land force of three or four hundred thousand men. The South was pearly exhausted of the commonest articles of food, while the Northern States had a superabundance of all the essentials and luxuries of life. The Northern troops, en masse, were better armed, equipped, and subsisted than those of any other nation, while those of the South were armed with all sorts of weapons-good, bad, and indifferent-clothed in rags and fed upon half rations.
The result of all this immense and boasted superiority on the part of the North, coupled with the most immense exertions, was that the South remained unconquered. The result was humiliating enough to the warlike reputation of the North. It had not been separated from its feeble adversary by seas or mountains, but only by a geographical line; nature had not
interfered to protect the weak from the strong. Three "grand armies" had advanced against Richmond; and yet not only was the South more invincible in spirit than ever, but her armies of brave and ragged men were already advancing upon the Northern borders, and threatening, at least so far as to alarm their enemy, the invasion of Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the occupation of the Northern capital.
Rescue of Virginia from the Invader.-Gen. Loring's Campaign in the Kanawha Valley. A Novel Theatre of the War.-Gen. Lee's Passage of the Potomac.-His Plans.-Disposition of our Forces.-McClellan again at the Head of the Yankee Army.-THE Battle of Boonsboro'.-The Capture of Harper's FERRY.-Its Fruits. -THE BATTLE OF SHARPSBURG.-Great Superiority of the Enemy's Numbers.-Fury of the Battle.-The Bridge of Antietam.-A Drawn Battle.-Spectacles of Carnage.— The Unburied Dead.- Gen. Lee retires into Virginia.-McClellan's Pretence of Victory. The Affair of Shepherdstown.-Charges against McClellan.-His Disgrace. -Review of the Maryland Campaign.—Misrepresentations of Gen. Lee's Objects.His Retreat.-Comment of the New York "Tribune."-The Cold Reception of the Confederates in Maryland.-Excuses for the Timidity of the Marylanders.-What was accomplished by the Summer Campaign of 1862.-The Outburst of Applause in Europe. Tribute from the London "Times."-Public Opinion in England.-Distinction between the People and the Government.-The Mask of England.-OUR FOREIGN RELATIONS IN THE WAR.-An Historical Parallel of Secession.-Two Remarks on the "Neutrality" of Europe.-The Yankee Blockade and the Treaty of Paris.-The Confederate Privateers.-Temper of the South.-Fruits of the Blockade.
THE close of the summer found the long-harassed soil of Virginia cleared of the footsteps of the invader. The glorious victory of Manassas was followed by other propitious events in this State of lesser importance, but which went to complete the general result of her freedom from the thraldom of the Yankee.
In the early part of September the campaign of Gen. Loring in the valley of the Kanawha was consummated by a vigorous attack on the enemy at Fayette Court-house, and the occupation of Charlestown by our troops. On the 10th of that month we advanced upon the enemy's front at Fayette Court-house, while a portion of our forces made a detour over the mountain so as to attack him in the rear. The fighting continued from noon until night, our artillery attacking desperately in front; and the enemy took advantage of the darkness to effect his escape, not, however, without leaving his trains in our hands.
The Yankees made a stand at Cotton Hill, seven miles further on. A few hours' fighting dislodged them, and we pursued on to Kanawha Falls, where they again made a stand; but a few hours' contest made us again masters of the field, with more than a million dollars' worth of stores and some prisoners.