Page images



bridge. Sherman's brigade, of Tyler's division, had crossed the river at a ford just above the stone bridge. On the other wing, Porter was coming down the Sudley Road. The Southern troops were flying in the utmost disorder up the slope in their rear. They had been resisting Sherman on their right, Burnside and Sykes at their centre, and Porter on their left, and these were all now conver ging upon them.


The left wing of the Confederates had thus been turned and routed. This constitutes the first phase phase of the battle. of the battle.

Close of the first

The Confederate generals aroused.

During the early morning Johnston and Beauregard had been occupied in preparing the attack they were intending to make on the national army, which they supposed was still encamped at Centreville. At about half past ten they had, however, discovered McDowell's movement. It therefore became necessary for them at once to abandon their intention. The heavy sound of guns informed them too clearly that their antagonist had seized the initiative, and that there was serious work on their left. Their line, which had been parallel to Bull Run from Union Mills Ford to the stone bridge, must be broken, to send re-enforcements to the endangered point. The issue was, that it was eventually brought round nearly to a right angle, and stood concentrated and parallel to the Warrenton Turnpike.

on the plateau.

Bull Run, a little below the stone bridge, receives a They make a stand creek-Young's Creek-coming from the west. It was down the northern slope of the valley in which this creek flows that the national troops had descended; it was up the opposite, or southern slope, that the Confederates had been driven. Between these slopes Young's Creek runs in a curve concave to the south, and on that side the slope, furrowed by ravines, and rising for a hundred feet or thereabouts, leads to a flat space or



plateau. This plateau is of an oblong form, a mile in length from northeast to southwest, and about half a mile in width. On its eastern and southern brow is a wood of pines; on its west the Sudley Road runs through a broad belt of oaks. There were three houses upon it, the most northerly being that of Robinson; the most southerly that of Lewis; and intermediate, and somewhat to the west, that of Henry.

And now occurred McDowell's fatal mistake. Thus far his success had been complete; it only remained for him to carry out the rest of his plan. In the opinion of a very great soldier, who was present, had he, instead of pursuing his flying enemy to the hill forest, in which they had taken refuge, simply moved beyond the range of their rifles to Manassas Dépôt, the victory would have been his. A stream of Confederate fugitives, momentarily increasing in number, and terrified that their flight would be intercepted, was already setting to that point.

Stonewall Jackson

the Confederates,

But Destiny would have it otherwise. Instead of striking at Manassas Dépôt, McDowell pursued stops the flight of his flying antagonists up the slope. When the broken Confederates gained the plateau, they there found General T. J. Jackson, who had just arrived; he had been posted behind Bee, with five regiments, and thus constituted a reserve. "They are beating us back," exclaimed Bee. "Well, sir," replied Jackson, "we will give them the bayonet." Bee rallied his men with “There's Jackson standing like a stone wall." "Stonewall Jackson!" shouted the soldiers. And from that moment the name he had thus received in a baptism of fire displaced that which had been given him in the baptism of water. Under that name he was ever after known, not only by his affectionate comrades, but by all who hold a brave soldier in honor.

McDowell's mistake.




The air had now become excessively hot under the midsummer and midday sun; clouds of red



stand fast on the dust rose from the slope as pursued and pursuers rushed up it; a fog of cannon smoke was already surging off the edge of the plateau. As the assailants attempted to make good their ground over the crest, they were received with a bitter but intermitting fire; at one moment the musketry lulled off to a pattering, and then rose to reverberating volleys again. It was nearly twelve o'clock when Johnston and Beauregard reached the plateau. They found upon it a force of about 7000 men, with thirteen guns. It was sheltered in the thicket of pines. The battle was apparently lost. Johnston rallied the shattered regiments on the right, Beauregard those on the left. It was none too soon that they hastened up the brigades of Holmes, Early, Bonham, Ewell, and the batteries of Pendleton and Albertis.

The Confederate strength on the plateau.


The second phase of the battle-the contest for the plateau-was now reached. Beauregard took command in the field, and Johnston stationed himself at the Lewis House, from which there was a good view. By the time the contest was renewed, they had upon the plateau about 10,000 men and twenty-two guns. By degrees the lower fords were stripped, Miles's demonstrations there being discovered to be a mere ruse, and every man who could be made available was hurried to the focus of the fight.

Opening of the second phase of the battle.

McDowell attempts


At this phase of the battle-preparatory to the attempt to carry the plateau-on the national side, to carry the post- Porter, of Hunter's division, was on the right, Franklin and Wilcox, of Heintzelman's, in the centre; with them were Griffin's, Ricketts's, and Arnold's batteries, and Sherman and Keyes, of Tyler's division, on the left. Howard's brigade, which had been de



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

A conflict

the batteries.

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 appeared no more as a regiment.


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.

Attack by the national left.

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

[ocr errors]


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. 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 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.


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



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

Flight of the panicstricken soldiers.


« PreviousContinue »