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Mississippi Valley, in absolute security from all foreign attack, and territorially central.
The Confederates having determined on the transfer of their seat of government to Richmond, the
Opening of the Con
federate Congress in necessary preparations were completed, and their Congress opened its first session in that city on the 20th of July, 1861.
WASHINGTON AND RICHMOND.
THE ATTEMPTED SEIZURE OF THE CAPITAL AND MEXICANIZA
TION OF THE REPUBLIC. BATTLE OF BULL RUN.
The Confederate authorities concentrated troops at Manassas for the purpose of capturing Washington and Mexicanizing the republic. Lincoln was compelled, by their encroachments upon him, to invade Virginia, and to construct fortifications for the defense of Washington.
He was constrained to use the three-months' men, obtained by the proclamation,
to attack the Confederates on the line of Bull Run.
THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN. The South was dissatisfied that its great victory
was not crowned by the capture of Washington.
Political interpretation of the battle.
WHEN the news of the fall of Fort Sumter reached Montgomery, the Confederate Secretary of
War, Mr. Walker, declared: "No man can foretell the events of the war now inaugu rated; but this I will venture to predict, that the Confederate flag will, before the 1st of May, float over the dome of the Capitol at Washington."
That minister had reasons for his prophecy. He knew and engage in plots that "a formidable organization had existed for that purpose. all the winter in Baltimore, and in the counties adjacent to Washington, having for its object the capture of that city, the seizure of the government officers, and the inauguration of a provisional government in the interests of the South. The conspirators expected by this step to obtain control of the Army, Navy, and Treasury. Their forces were under the orders of two leading Southern men—one from Texas, who was subsequently slain in battle; the other from Virginia."
In a speech delivered at Atlanta, Alexander H. Ste
The Confederates expect to seize Washington,
phens declared that, "if Maryland secedes, the District of Columbia falls to her by reversionary right, as Sumter fell to South Carolina. When we have that right we will demand the surrender of Washington just as we did in other cases, and will enforce our demand at every haz ard and at whatever cost."
PROPOSED CAPTURE OF WASHINGTON.
This desperate scheme, originally plotted in secrecy, was soon publicly hailed with transport. In all directions the Southern newspapers urged that it should be instantly carried into effect. They declared that it was the unanimous resolution of the Southern raised for its cap- people, and that President Davis would soon march an army through North Carolina and Virginia to Washington. They recommended volunteers to hold themselves in readiness to join the expedition.
An army to be
Accordingly, as soon as Virginia had resolved to join the Confederacy, and had placed her military resources at its command, the most strenuous exertions were made to accomplish this great object.
Troops from all parts of the South were hurried to Manassas Junction, a point on the railroad between Washington and Richmond, where a branch comes in from the Shenandoah Valley. It was no especial prevision of military science which led to the selection of that position. It was no perception that the Confederacy must be first defended at its outworks, for, so far from supposing that it would be put into a state of siege, the universal belief was that the war on which it was entering was to be an expedition of invasion, an of fensive movement against the North. Manassas Junction was selected, not because it covered Richmond, but because it threatened Washington. It is about thirty miles from the latter city.
Troops concentrated at Manassas.
This important point secured, the next step would have been the occupation of Arlington Heights, which over
look Washington, and command it. Could
Batteries to be con
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.
PROPOSED CAPTURE OF WASHINGTON.
troops were concen
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 insignificant 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 there would be a battle, but not a
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.
DEFENSE OF WASHINGTON.
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 paramount duty.
It was thought that
months would be enough.
It was in accordance with these ideas of a sharp and conclusive strife that President Lincoln had, enlistment 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 underreluctant 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.
The government is
but the Confeder
But, though he was thus circumspectly unwilling to 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