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But there were to be three stages in the battle of Manassas. We have already described two: the enemy's flank movement and momentary victory, and the contest for the plateau. The third was now to occur ; and the enemy was to make his last attempt to retrieve the fortune of the day. His broken line was rapidly rallied. He had re-formed to renew the battle, extending his right with a still wider sweep to turn the Confederate left. It was a grand spectacle, as this crescent outline of battle developed itself, and threw forward on the broad, gentle slopes of the ridge occupied by it clouds of skirmishers; while as far as the eye could reach, masses of infantry and carefully-preserved cavalry stretched through the woods and fields.
But while the Federals rallied their broken line, under shelter of fresh brigades, and prepared for the renewal of the struggle, telegraph signals from the hills warned Gen. Beauregard to "look out for the enemy's advance on the left." At the distance of more than a mile, a column of men was approaching. At their head was a flag which could not be distinguished; and, even with the aid of a strong glass, Gen. Beauregard was unable to determine whether it was the Federal flag, or the Confederate flag-that of the Stripes or that of the Bars. "At this moment," said Gen. Beauregard, in speaking afterwards of the occurrence, "I must confess my heart failed me. I came, reluctantly, to the conclusion that, after all our efforts, we should at last be compelled to leave to the enemy the hard-fought and bloody-field. I again took the glass to examine the flag of the approaching column; but my anxious inquiry was unproductive of result-I could not tell to which army the waving banner belonged. At this time all the members of my staff were absent, having been despatched with orders to various points. The only person with me was the gallant officer who has recently distinguished himself by a brilliant feat of arms-General, then Colonel, Evans. To him I communicated my doubts and my fears. I told him that I feared the approaching force was in reality Patterson's division; that, if such was the case, I would be compelled to fall back upon our reserves, and postpone, until the next day, a continuation of the engagement."
Turning to Col. Evans, the anxious commander directed him to proceed to Gen. Johnston, and request him to have his reserves collected in readiness to support and protect a retreat. Col. Evans had proceeded but a little way. Both officers fixed one final, intense gaze upon the advancing flag. A happy gust of wind shook out its folds, and Gen. Beauregard recognized the Stars and Bars of the Confederate banner! At this moment an orderly came dashing forward. "Col. Evans," exclaimed Beauregard, his face lighting up, "ride forward, and order General Kirby Smith to hurry up his command, and strike them on the flank and rear!"
THE BATTLE OF MANASSAS.
It was the arrival of Kirby Smith with a portion of Johnston's army left in the Shenandoah Valley, which had been anxiously expected during the day; and now cheer after cheer from regiment to regiment announced his welcome. As the train approached Manassas with some two thousand infantry, mainly of Elzey's brigade, Gen. Smith knew, by the sounds of firing, that a great struggle was in progress, and, having stopped the engine, he had formed his men, and was advancing rapidly through the fields. He was directed to move on the Federal left and centre. At the same time, Early's brigade, which had just come up, was ordered to throw itself upon the right flank of the enemy. The two movements were made almost simultaneously, while Gen. Beauregard himself led the charge in front. The combined attack was too much for the enemy. The fact was that his troops had already been demoralized by the former experiences of the day; and his last grand and formidable array broke and crumbled into pieces under the first pressure of the assault. A momentary resistance was made on a rising ground in the vicinity of what was known as the Chinn House. As the battle surged here, it looked like an island around which flames were gathering in all directions. The enemy was appalled. He had no fresh troops to rely on; his cannon were being taken at every turn; lines were no sooner formed than the Confederates broke them again; they gave way from the longcontested hill; the day was now plainly and irretrievably lost.
As the enemy was forced over the ridge or narrow plateau, his former array scattered into flight, spreading each moment, until the fields were soon covered with the black swarms of flying soldiers. But into this general and confused rout a singular panic penetrated, as by a stroke of lightning, and rifted the flying army into masses of mad and screaming fugitives. As the retreat approached Cub Run bridge, a shot from Kemper's battery took effect upon the horses of a team that was crossing; the wagon was overturned in the centre of the bridge, and the passage obstructed; and at once, at this point of confusion, the Confederates commenced to play their artillery upon the train carriages and artillery wagons, reducing them to ruins. Hundreds of flying soldiers were involved in the common heap of destruction; they dashed down the hill in heedless. and headlong confusion; the main passage of retreat was choked; and for miles the panic spread, flying teams and wagons confusing and dismembering every corps, while hosts of troops, all detached from their regiments, were mingled in one disorderly rout. Vehicles tumbled against each other; riderless horses gallopped at random; the roar of the flight was heard for miles through clouds of dust; and as the black volume of fugitives became denser, new terrours would seize it, which called for agonizing efforts at extrication, in which horses trampled on men, and great wheels of artillery crushed out the lives of those who fell beneath them.
It was not only at Cub Run bridge that the retreat had been choked. Fugitive thousands rushed across Bull Run by the various fords, and horse, foot, artillery, wagons, and ambulances were entangled in inextricable confusion. Clouds of smoke and dust marked the roads of retreat, and rolled over the dark green landscape in the distance. Where the roads were blocked, some of the troops took to the fields and woods, throwing away their arms and accoutrements; and from the black mass of the rout might be seen now and then a darting line of figures in which panicstricken men and riderless horses separated from the larger bodies, and fled wildly through the country. Even the sick and wounded were dragged from ambulances; red-legged Zouaves took their places; men in uniform mounted horses cut out of carts and wagons. Never was there such a heterogeneous crowd on a race-course. Soldiers, in every style of costume; ladies, who had come with opera-glasses to survey the battle; members of Congress and governors of States, who had come with champagne and after-dinner speeches to celebrate a Federal victory; editors, special correspondents, telegraph operators, surgeons, paymasters, parsons -all were running for dear life-disordered, dusty, powder-blackened, screaming or breathless in the almost mortal agonies of terrour.
For three miles stretched this terrible diorama of rout and confusion, actually without the pursuit or pressure of any enemy upon it! The Confederates had not attempted an active pursuit. The only demonstration of the kind consisted of a dash by a few of Stuart's and Beckham's cavalry, in the first stages of the retreat, and a few discharges of artillery at Centreville, where the Confederates had taken a gun in position. The cry of “cavalry” was raised, when not a Confederate horseman was within miles of the panic-stricken fugitives, who did not abate their mad struggle to escape from themselves, or cease their screams of rage and fright, even after they had passed Centreville, and were heading for the waters of the distant Potomac.
Over this route of retreat, now thronged with scenes of horrour, there had passed in the morning of the same day a grand army, flushed with the hopes of victory, with unstained banners in the wind, and with gay trappings and bright bayonets glistening through the green forests of Virginia. A few hours later, and it returns an indescribable rout-a shapeless, morbid mass of bones, sinews, wood and iron, throwing off here and there its nebula of fugitives, or choking roads, bridges, and every avenue of retreat; halting, struggling, and thrilling with convulsions at each beat of artillery that sounded in the far distance, and told to the calm mind that the Confederates had rested on their victory.
It was not until the sight of the Potomac greeted the fugitives that their terrours were at all moderated. Even then they were not fully assured of safety, or entirely dispossessed of panic. At Alexandria, the
THE BATTLE OF MANASSAS.
rush of troops upon the decks of the river boats nearly sunk them. At Washington the railroad depot had to be put under strong guard to keep off the fugitives, who struggled to get on the Northern trains. They were yet anxious to put a greater distance between themselves and the terrible army, whose vanguard, flushed with victory and intent upon planting its flag on the Northern capitol, they aready imagined on the banks of the Potomac, within sight of their prize, and within reach of their revenge.
But the Confederates did not advance. The victorious army did not move out of the defensive lines of Bull Run. It is true, that within the limits of the battle-field, they had accomplished a great success and accumulated the visible fruits of a brilliant victory. They had not only defeated the Grand Army of the North, but they had dispersed and demoralized it to such an extent, as to put it, as it were, out of existence. With an entire loss in killed and wounded of 1,852 men, they had inflicted a loss upon the enemy which Gen. Beauregard estimated at 4,500, in killed, wounded, and prisoners; they had taken twenty-eight pieces of artillery and five thousand small arms; and they had captured nearly all of the enemy's colours. But the Confederates showed no capacity to understand the extent of their fortunes, or to use the unparalleled opportunties they had so bravely won. At any time within two weeks after the battle, Washington might have fallen into their hands, and been taken almost as an unresisting prey. Patterson had only ten thousand men before the battle. His army, like the greater part of McDowell's, was composed of three months' men, who refused to re-enlist, and left for their homes in thousands. The formidable hosts that had been assembled at Washington were fast melting away, some slain, many wounded, more by desertion, and yet more by the ending of their terms of enlistment and their persistent refusal to re-enter the service. On the Maryland side, Washington was then very inadequately defended by fortifications. The Potomac was fordable above Washington, and a way open to Georgetown heights, along which an army might have advanced without a prospect of successful resistance. It needed but a march of little more than twenty miles to crown the victory of Manassas with the glorious prize of the enemy's capital.
But the South was to have its first and severest lesson of lost opportunity. For months its victorious and largest army was to remain inactive, pluming itself on past success, and giving to the North not only time. to repair its loss, but to put nearly half a million of new men in the field, to fit out four extensive armadas, to open new theatres of the war, to perfect its "Anaconda Plan," and to surround the Confederacy with armies and navies whose operations extended from the Atlantic border to the western tributaries of the Mississippi.
THE VICTORY OF MANASSAS, A MISFORTUNE FOR THE CONFEDERATES.-RELAXATION IN RICH-
THE victory of Manassas proved the greatest misfortune that could have befallen the Confederacy. It was taken by the Southern public as the end of the war, or, at least, as its decisive event. Nor was this merely a