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Prospects were entertained of a speedy raising of the blockade, the disappointment of which, at a later day, drove the Con federacy to other expedients of revenue, in a war tax, &c.; but, at the time of the comparison of the financial condition of the two governments, the Confederate currency was accounted quite as good as gold, as the cotton and tobacco once in the market would afford the Southern government the instant means to discharge every cent of its indebtedness.
The Federal Congress commenced its work in a spirit that cssentially tended to revolutionize the political system and ideas of the North itself. It not only voted to Mr. Lincoln the men and supplies he asked for, but the first days of its session were signalized by a resolution to gag all propositions looking towards peace, or any thing else than a prosecution of the war; by another, to approve the acts done by the President without constitutional authority, including his suspension of the habeas corpus; and by the introduction of a bill to confiscate the prop
; erty of “rebels."
The pages of history do not afford a commensurate instance of the wide opposition in the social and political directions of two nations who had so long lived in political union and intercourse as the North and the South. While the latter was daily becoming more conservative and more attached to existing institutions,* the North was as rapidly growing discontented, restless, radical, and revolutionary. The people of the North had passed the stage of pure Democracy, and inaugurated military despotism. They, in effect, had changed their form of government, while vainly attempting to preserve their territorial ascendency. They charged the South with attempting revolution, when it was only fighting for independence; while they, themselves, actually perpetrated revolution rather than forego the advantages of a partial and iniquitous Union. The South, in the midst of a war of independence—a war waged not to destroy, but to preserve existing institutions—was recurring to the past, and proposing to revive conservative ideas rather than to run into new and rash experiments.
* A type of the conservatism of the Southern revolution—its attachment to the past—was vividly displayed in the adoption of its national ensign, a blue union with a circle of stars, and longitudinal bars, red, white, and red, in place of “the stripes” of the flag of the old government. The present Confederate flag was balloted for in the Provisional Congress, and was selected by a majority of votes out of four different models. At the time of the early session of Congress at Montgomery, the popular sentiment was almost unanimous, and very urgent, that the main features of the old Federal Constitution should be copied into the new government, and that to follow out and give expression to this idea, the flag should be as close a copy as possible of the Federal ensign. A resolution was introduced in the Provisional Congress to the effect that the flag should be as little different as possible from that of the Federal government; which resolution was vigorously opposed by Mr. Miles, of South Caro lina, who was then chairman of the Flag Committee. The design recommended by Mr. Miles, but voted down, has since been adopted as the battle flag of Generals Johnston and Beauregard. It is a blue saltier (or Maltese cross), with inner rows of stars, on a red field-the emblem of the saltier (saltere, to reap) being appropriately that of progress and power. The two other competing designs, from which our present flag was selected, were, one, an almost eract reproduction of the Federal stars and stripes, the only variation being that of a blue stripe, and the other a simple blue circle or rim, on a red field The consideration that determined the selection of the present flag was its Limilarity to that of the old government.
The war had already developed one great moral fact in the North of paramount interest. It was the entire willingness of the people to surrender their constitutional liberties to any government that wonld gratify their political passions.
This peculiarity of the condition of Northern society, was more significant of its disintegration and revolutionary destiny than all the other circumstances and consequences of the wai combined, in loss of trade, prostration of commerce, and poverty and hunger of the people. It was the corruption of the public virtue. The love of constitutional liberty was degraded to political hatreds. While these were gratified, the Northern people were willing to surrender their liberties to their panderers at Washington. Without protest, without opposition, in silent submission, or even in expressions stimulating and encouraging the despot who stript them of their rights, to still further ex. cesses, they had seen every vestige of constitutional liberty swept away, while they imagined that their greed of resentment towards the South was to be satisfied to its fill. They had seen the liberties of the people strangled, even in States remaining in the Union. They had seen the writ of habeas corpus denied, not only by the minions of Abraham Lincoln in Maryland, but by the commanding officers of Forts Hamilton and Lafayette. They had seen, not only the rights of free speech, but the sanctity even of private correspondence, violated by the seizure of dispatches in their own telegraph offices. They had seen the law of the drum-head not only established in Baltimore, but measures to subvert their own municipal liberties inaugurated by a system of military police for the whole Federal Union. They had suffered without protestation these monstrous viola tions of the Constitution under which they professed to live. They bad not only suffered, but had indorsed them. They had not only done this, but they had applauded in this government of Abraham Lincoln violations of honor, morality, and truth, more infamous than excesses of authority.
The “Grand Amy' of the North.-General McDowell.—The Affair of Bull Kin
.. An Artillery Duel.—THE BATTLE OF MANABBAS." On to Richmond."-Scenery of the Battle-field.-Crises in the Battle.- Devoted Courage of the Confederates.—The Root, -How the News was received in Washington.-How it was received in the South.General Bee.-Colonel Bartow.-The Great Error.-General Johnston's Excuses for not advancing on Washington.-INOIDENTS OF THE MANASBAS BATTLE.
The month of July found confronting the lines of the Potomac two of the largest armies that this continent had ever seen. The confidence of the North in the numbers, spirit, and appointments of its “Grand Army" was insolent in the extreme. It was thought to be but an easy undertaking for it to march to Richmond, and plant the Stars and Stripes in Capitol Square. An advance was urged not only by the popular clamor of “On to Richmond," but by the pressure of extreme parties in Congress; and when it was fully resolved upon, the
, exhilaration was extreme, and the prospect of the occupation of Richmond in ten days was entertained with every variety of public joy.
Nothing had been left undone to complete the preparations of the Northern army. In numbers it was immense ; it was provided with the best artillery in the world; it comprised, besides its immense force of volunteers, all the regulars east of the Rocky Mountains, to the number of about ten thousand, collected since February, in the city of Washington, from Jefferson Barracks, from St. Louis, and from Fortress Monroe. Making all allowances for mistakes, we are warranted in saying that the Northern army consisted of at least fifty-five regiments of volunteers, eight companies of regular infantry, four of marines, nine of regular cavalry, and twelve batteries, forty-nine guns. This army was placed at the command of one who was acknowledged to be the greatest and most scientific general in the North-General McDowell. This officer had a reputation in the army of being a stoic philosopher—a reputation sought after by a certain number of West Point pupils.
General Beauregard was fully informed of the movements of
McDowell. The vaunting and audacious declaration of the enemy's purpose to force his position, and press on to Richinond, was met by firm and busy preparations for the crisis It was no mean crisis. It was to involve the first important shock of arms between two peoples who, from long seasons of peace and prosperity, had brought to the struggle more than ordinary resources and splendors of war.
The decisive battle was preceded by the important affair of Bull Run, a brief sketch of which, as a precursor to the events of the 21st of July, furnishes an intelligent introduction to the designs of the enemy, and alike to the complicated plan and glorious issue of the great battle that, through the sultry heate of a whole day, wrestled over the plains of Manassas.
Bull Run constitutes the northern boundary of that county which it divides from Fairfax; and on its memorable banks, about three miles to the northwest of the junction of the Manassas Gap with the Orange and Alexandria railroad, was fought the gallant action of the 18th of July. It is a smal, stream, running in this locality, nearly from west to east, to its confluence with the Occoquan River, about twelve miles from the Potomac, and draining a considerable scope of cowtry, from its source in Bull Run Mountain to within a short distance of the Potomac at Occoquan. Roads traverse and intersect the surrounding country in almost every direction. The banks of the stream are rocky and steep, but abound in long-used fords. At Mitchell's Ford, the stream is about equidistant between Centreville and Manassas, some six miles apart.
Anticipating the determination of the enemy to advance on Manassas, General Beauregard had withdrawn his advanced brigades within the lines of Bull Run. On the morning of the 17th of July our troops rested on Bull Run, from Union Mill's Ford to the Stone Bridge, a distance of about eight miles. The next morning the enemy assumed a threatening attitude. Appearing in heavy force in front of the position of General Bonham's brigade, which Leld the approaches Mitchell's Ford, the enemy, about the meridian, opened fire with several 20-pounder rifle guns from a hill over one and a half miles from Bull Run. At first, the firing of the enemy was at random; but, by half-past 12 P. m., he had obtained