Page images

was really less critical than that of the Federals, for relief was at hand.

Their line of battle, in fact, had scarcely disappeared from the open field, when dense clouds of dust, rising from the direction of the railroad, indicated the arrival of fresh troops, and from their position on the hill the exhausted Union soldiers could perceive long and wellordered infantry columns hurrying up in the rebel rear. Instantly it was surmised that Patterson had come to their assistance, and as the word passed from mouth to mouth, the men gave vent to cheering. Their surprise and consternation can be imagined, when they heard still louder cheers breaking out along the whole rebel front, followed by a sharp fire from the woods on their right, which rapidly extended to their rear. So far from Patterson coming to aid them, that General had never budged from his position, and the troops, whose appearance had called forth such demonstrations of enthusiasm, were the remaining brigade of Johnston, under General Kirby Smith, which arrived in time to turn the scale of battle in favor of the Confederates.

The effect upon the Federal troops was disastrous in the extreme. The first line recoiled before the fire of the enemy, and, confused by the shots and shouts issuing from the woods, and by vague apprehensions of untold numbers environing them and cutting off escape, became panic-stricken, and fell into disorder. The example was contagious. Regiment after regiment broke and retired in confusion down the hill, the panic momentarily increasing, until the greater part of the but recently victorious army had become a mass of fugitives, rushing pellmell across the Warrenton Turnpike to the fords at which they had crossed in the morning, and deaf or indifferent to the commands of their officers. The battalion of regulars, of all the organizations on the field, alone retreated in good order. The best of the militia or volunteer regiments showed more or less confusion, though not all of them exhibited the same unseemly haste in getting away. As the fugitives approached Bull Run, the miscellaneous crowd of teamsters and civilians on the other side, who had not crossed the stream, caught the infection and started in the direction of Washington, notwithstanding the enemy was several miles distant, and full ten thousand fresh Federal troops, who had not participated in the battle, were in readiness to withstand his attack. But the enemy, whether too much exhausted himself, or intimidated by what General Johnston called the (6 apparent firmness " of the Federal reserves, made no attempt to pursue his advantage, and beyond the sending of a few squadrons of cavalry to harass the retreat, contented himself with driving the Federal troops from the field. By nightfall the latter had all regained their encampments at Centreville, although a steady stream of fagitives poured onward during the night through Fairfax Court-House to the Potomac. After a few hours' rest, the retreat was continued, and on the evening of the 23d the beaten army had regained the shelter of the fortifications of Washington. Such was the lax discipline then prevalent, that for several days afterwards the city was filled with stragglers, who were only by degrees gathered up and sent to their


The Federal loss, according to the official reports, was four hundred and eighty-one killed, one thousand and eleven wounded, and twelve hundred and sixteen missing; the casualties being almost exclusively confined to the troops which crossed Bull Run. Twenty-three pieces of artillery were abandoned during the retreat, including the batteries of Ricketts and Griffin, which, through loss of horses, fell into the enemy's hands at the commencement of the panic. But so inefficient was the pursuit, that several pieces abandoned on the north side of Bull Run were on the succeeding day brought safely off the field. A vast amount of material of war was also left on the field. It is worthy of notice, as an exceptional occurrence during the war, that the Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment of volunteers, and a battery attached to the Eighth New York militia, demanded their discharge, to which they were entitled, on the eve of the battle, and moved away, in the scornful language of General McDowell, "to the sound of the enemy's cannon.' Other regiments, whose terms of service had also expired, cheerfully volunteered to remain until the issue of the battle should be determined. The rebel loss, as stated by General Johnston, was three hundred and seventy-eight killed, fourteen hundred and eightynine wounded, and thirty missing. On the Federal side, Colonel Cameron, of the Seventy-ninth New York Volunteers, a brother of the Secretary of War, was killed, Colonels Hunter and Heintzelman wounded, and Colonels Corcoran and Wilcox, and Captain Ricketts, of Ricketts's battery, were taken prisoners. The rebel Generals Bee and Bartow were killed, and Kirby Smith wounded. Having recovered from the exhaustion of the conflict, the rebels followed the retreating army at a respectful distance, and thenceforth, for many months, practically invested the southern side of the National Capital.

Such was the famous battle of Bull Run, of which more absurd misstatements have been circulated than of almost any other conflict of modern times, and the result of which filled the rebels with an idea of their invincibility and a contempt for their enemy, for which they were subsequently destined to pay dear. Abroad it was considered to have settled the superiority of Southern over Northern soldiers, and at once the Confederacy acquired a prestige of no little value, besides gaining hosts of aristocratic admirers. That the defeat was more the result of an untoward and disgraceful accident than of any special skill or bravery of the enemy, must have been sufficiently apparent from our description. The Federal troops, fighting under many disadvantages, were uniformly successful until demoralized by their sudden panic; and the vigor with which they pushed the enemy may be seen in the rebel lists of killed and wounded, and in the utter failure of the latter to pursue the beaten army. Too many instances are on record of causeless panics among veteran troops to single out this occurrence for special opprobrium, and criticism may better deal with those causes which paved the way for a disastrous defeat of our arms. Two of these only need be mentioned here: the numerous delays experienced from the inception of the campaign to its close, and the failure of Patterson to prevent Johnston from going to the assistance of Beauregard. Had the battle been fought a day or even a few

hours earlier, it might have had a very different issue, and the war, which was protracted through four years, have been ended practically in a single campaign. Or, on the other hand, the Federals, elated by a first success, might have precipitated themselves upon Richmond, and been overwhelmed by superior forces, too far from their Capital to receive succor. The lessons derived from the defeat were salutary, though bitter. It was perceived that short terms of enlistment, imperfect organization or discipline, and hastily formed and ill-digested plans of campaign were sources of weakness rather than of strength, and from that hour commenced that systematic organization of the army which has recently brought the American Union before the world as a military power of the first importance. This may be claimed as the legitimate result of the defeat of Bull Run, the completeness and unexpectedness of which created a degree of consternation never to be forgotten by those who witnessed its effects.


Missouri.-Capture of State Troops.-Booneville.-Carthage.-Shenandoah Valley.Patterson Crosses the Potomac.-Bunker Hill-Campaign in Western Virginia.Philippi.-Laurel Hill.-Rich Mountain.-Beverly.-Western Virginia cleared of Rebels.-McClellan transferred to the Potomac.

THE reply of Governor Jackson, of Missouri, to the requisition of the Secretary of War upon the States for troops, was, that the "requisi tion is illegal, unconstitutional, revolutionary, inhuman, diabolical, and cannot be complied with." The Governer, however, assembled, April 25th, a force of eight hundred men, under General Frost, at Camp Jackson, on the outskirts of St. Louis, ostensibly to preserve order in the State. Under these circumstances, the arsenal at St. Louis was conceived to be in danger; and, with a view of saving the public property, Governor Yates, of Illinois, who held a requisition from the Secretary of War for ten thousand stand of arms which it was difficult to serve, put it in the hands of Captain John H. Stokes, of the army, who, by a daring operation, carried off the arms described in the order, and a large stock besides, and landed them at Springfield, Illinois. On the 10th of May, Captain Lyon, in command of the Union forces, with F. P. Blair, Jr., Colonel of the First Missouri Volunteers, and a member of Congress, marched to attack Frost's force with six thousand men. Captain Lyon summoned General Frost to surrender his force, as hostile to the Government of the United States." Finding himself overpowered, Frost surrendered, and, having refused a release on the terms offered them, on the ground that they had already taken the oath of allegiance, and to repeat it would be to admit that they had been in rebellion, the whole force, consisting of fifty officers and six hundred and thirty-nine privates, were marched as prisoners to the arsenal. On their way, a mob pressed upon the guard, who were


mostly Germans, using the most opprobrious epithets, striking them, attacking them with stones, and finally firing at them. A few of the soldiers returned the fire, at first without injuring any one; but the provocations being increased, the captain of one of the companies gave the order to fire, and twenty-five of the by-standers were killed or wounded, some of them women and children. The next day, a large body of the German Home Guard passing up Walnut Street, were hooted and fired upon, and one soldier was killed. The head of the column turned and fired among the crowd, killing six men and wounding several others. Several of the killed were members of the regiment. These events caused an intense excitement in St. Louis, as well as at the capital of the State, where the legislature, which was in session, immediately passed a bill creating a military fund, by seizing all the money in the State treasury, including the educational funds, making a forced loan from the banks of five hundred thousand dollars, and issuing one million dollars in bonds, payable in one, two, and three years. The militia of the State, embracing every able-bodied man, were placed under the command of the Governor, and were required to take an oath to obey him alone. General Harney, who had been appointed commander of the Western Department, issued a proclamation the next day, declaring this bill a nullity. The General was, however, soon after, induced by Sterling Price, then in command of the State (rebel) forces, to enter into a delusive agreement for the maintenance of peace in the State. On the 30th of May, General Harney was relieved of his command, and Captain Lyon, who for his efficiency on the 10th had been commissioned a brigadier-general of volunteers, appointed his successor. On the 12th of June, Governor Jackson issued a proclamation, violently denouncing the United States Government, and calling for fifty thousand men to "repel invasion, and protect the lives, liberty, and property of the citizens of Missouri." "On the 13th, General Lyon left St. Louis, on a steamer, with fifteen hundred men, for Jefferson City. Governor Jackson fled, burning the bridges behind him to obstruct pursuit. General Lyon took possession of the capital and of the Government, and on the 17th issued a proclamation to the people of the State, assuring them of his intention to protect their liberties, persons, and property, to arrest and punish those who were traitors, and to uphold the United States Government in that State. Leaving Colonel Henry Boernstein in command, he departed for Booneville, in pursuit of Jackson.

The troops in Illinois and Missouri had gradually increased in numbers to about twenty thousand men, of whom, at this time, about eight thousand were stationed at Cairo, under the command of BrigadierGeneral B. M. Prentiss, and the remainder were at St. Louis and other points in Northern and Central Missouri. Of these troops, General Lyon took Colonel Blair's regiment (First Missouri Volunteers), two sections of Totten's battery (regulars), and a detachment of pioneers, in all about fifteen hundred men, and the necessary camp equipage, provisions, &c., for a long march. The rebels, under Governor Jackson and General Price, were at Booneville, where they had organized resistance. General Lyon landed four miles below the town, and

opened a cannonade upon the rebels, who, under cover of the wood, kept up a brisk fire upon the Federal troops. In order to draw them out, General Lyon ordered a hasty retreat. The ruse succeeded. The rebels ran out into a wheat-field, when General Lyon halted, faced about, and poured in such a fire of grape and musketry, that they dropped their arms and fled in all directions. A large number of prisoners, besides arms, ammunition, &c., were taken. It does not appear that the rebels had any commander. Price, being sick, left before the arrival of the Federal troops, and Governor Jackson was not in the field.

Colonel Boernstein issued a proclamation establishing a Provisional Government in Missouri, and called upon Union men to assist him. General Lyon, from his camp in Booneville, June 19th, also issued a proclamation for the people to return to their duty.

The enemy now concentrated in South-western Missouri, under Governor Jackson and Generals Rains and Price, to the number of several thousands; and on July 3d, at Brier Forks, seven miles from Carthage, they were met by Colonel Sigel with fifteen hundred men, who immediately gave them battle. The first onset resulted in the State troops being driven back some distance, and the officers ordered a retreat. The centre gave way, but, the order not being heard on the flanks, the advancing United States troops were in danger of being surrounded themselves, and fell back. They retreated slowly, keeping up the fight, and making fearful havoc with their artillery among the enemy's ranks.

At the crossing of Dry Fork our lines were very near being broken, when, by the timely arrival of two hundred Union men, they crossed, with a loss of but five killed and two mortally wounded. The battle continued, the United States troops alternately fighting and retreating until dark, when they reached Carthage, having crossed Buck Branch and Spring River. On the way, the fighting was all done with the artillery, Colonel Sigel retreating as soon as the enemy got into position, and playing on his advancing ranks. The retreat of the Federal forces, which were outnumbered about three to one, was conducted in a style worthy of veteran troops, and with as much coolness as if on a parade-ground, instead of a field of battle.

The loss of the Federal troops was thirteen killed and thirty-one wounded; that of the Confederates was estimated at two hundred killed and wounded. Colonel Sigel retreated in the direction of Springfield, where he met re-enforcements under Lyon, who assumed command. Meanwhile, by the following order, General Fremont had been assigned to an extensive command, of which Missouri formed a part:—


"The State of Illinois, and the States and Territories west of the Mississippi River, and on this side of the Rocky Mountains, including New Mexico, will in future constitute a separate military command, to be known as the 'Western Department,' under the command of Major-General Fremont, of the United States Army. Head-quarters at St. Louis. By order.

“L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General.”

« PreviousContinue »