« PreviousContinue »
lost his life in an attack on the obstructions at Matthias Point. The hope and purpose of capturing Washington and subjugating Maryland were clearly shown by the procedure of the Rebels, and not without reason, when we remember their military preparations during a whole year, and the advantages given them by the Administration just closed.
Baltimore, in which there had been, since the 19th of April, constant conspiracies in aid of the rebellion, and which was relied on by the Rebel leaders for important aid in the general scheme of extending their military sway northward to Mason and Dixon's line, had been occupied by Gen. Butler on the 14th of May. Strong works thrown up on Federal Hill, and else. where, as well as Fort Mellenry, now held the conspirators in check, and their designs were cffectually overthrown before Butler's transfer to the new Department of Virginia, a few days later. This Department originally embraced Eastern Virginia to the summit of the Blue Ridge, and the States of North Carolina and South Carolina. Gen. N. P. Banks succeeded to the command at Baltimore, and continued the vigorous measures of his predecessor.
On the 15th of July, Gen. Patterson's army advanced, occupying Bunker Hill, and the Rebel force under J. E. Johnston fell back on Winchester. Patterson was expected at least to occupy the attention of the Rebels, to whose force his own actually was, as believed at the time in Washington, largely superior. Almost simultaneously with this “demonstration" in the Valley, Gen. McDowell issued an order (July 16th) distributing his troops into divisions, and took up the line of march toward Fairfax Court House. This place his advance column occupied on the following day, without resistance. His entire effective force was not far from 50,000 men: the First Division under command of Gen. Daniel Tyler, of Connecticut; the Second under Col. David Hunter, of the Army; the Third under Col. S. P. Heintzelman, of the Army; the Fourth under Gen. Theodore Runyon, of New Jersey, and the Fifth under Col. D. S. Miles, of the Army. The two last divisions were intended to act as the Reserve.
On the 18th, Patterson's force, instead of attacking Johnston
at Winchester, was moved on Charlestown—a step which all critics, judging after the event, will agree to have been unfortunate, in consequence of which no effectual coöperation with the Manassas movement was rendered. On the same day, (Thursday) McDowell resumed his march in the direction of Centreville, aud a premature engagement was brought on at Blackburn's Ford, by a portion of Gen. Tyler's division. The slight repulse which followed ended an immediate advance, and detained the army, inactive, at and near Centreville, for the next two days.
The plan of battle, as now seen in the published order of Gen. McDowell, for Sunday the 21st, was a good one, but the cxecution of some of its details was imperfect, and the delay of troops in moving to the scene of action prepared the way the final disaster, through the arrival of Rebel reënforcements from Johnston, whom Patterson had failed to occupy as ordered. The immediate purpose of giving battle at this time, was to force the enemy from his position commanding the Warrenton road, and to destroy the railroad from Manassas to the Valley of Virginia, preventing communication with the large Rebel force in the latter locality.
The stream named Bull Run passes in a southeasterly direction through the ravine at the foot of the slope beyond Centreville. Three roads lead from the latter place to the South and West—one nearly due south, crossing Bull Run at Blackburn's Ford; a second due west toward Groveton, over the Stone Bridge ; and a third, about midway between these two, at an angle of forty-five degrees, to cach, extending more directly to Newmarket, (near Manassas Junction), where Beauregard, commanding the Rebel forces, had his headquarters. This last road is known as the Warrenton turnpike. Beyond the run are the Manassas Plains, extending for miles, mostly an open country, like a Western prairie. On the rolling ground near the stream the woods are dense, and there are occasional groves farther away. The Rebel lines extended for a distance of six to ten miles along the right bank of Bull Run, from near Blackburn's Ford to the Stone Bridge, and beyond the Groveton road. The Rebel lines were two or three miles distant, at
the nearest point, from Newmarket, and visible from the headquarters of Beauregard. The number of his men, on Sunday morning, is believed to have been about forty thousand in line, with fifteen or twenty thousand in reserve, exclusive of reën. forcements arriving during the day.
A large portion of Johnston's forces had previously reached Manassas Junction, and that General was present in person, but waiving his seniority of rank, allowed Beauregard to conduct the engagement, his dispositions having already been made.
Leaving part of the division under Miles—two brigades with two batteries—as a reserve at Centreville, together with Richardson's brigade, temporarily assigned to the same division, which was to threaten Blackburn's Ford, covered by the enemy's right, McDowell ordered Tyler's division to take position on the Warrenton road, menacing the Rebel center. To Hunter's division was intrusted the important work of turning the Rebel left, going to the right of the Groveton road, and crossing Bull Run above Sudley's Spring. This force was to be followed by Heintzelman's division, which was to cross lower down, after Hunter had effected his crossing and descended the right bank to a point nearly opposite, driving away any force that might be there to dispute the passage. These two divisions were the ones most actively engaged in the ensuing battle. The necessity of strongly guarding against the contingency of a Rebel movement to occupy Centreville, either by Blackburn's Ford or the Warrenton road, was strongly impressed on the mind of the Commanding General. This led to the detachment of one of Heintzelman's brigades, after the movement commenced, to be added to the force on our left. The event showed the wisdom of his action in protecting this position, which the Rebel General had deliberately planned to assail, if we may credit his report, written long afterward, and which, but for McDowell's precautions, might have been taken at the close of the battle, to the much more serious discomfiture of our army.
More time was consumed in getting the men in position, on the morning of the 21st, than had been anticipated.' Tyler opened with his artillery at half past six o'clock, eliciting no
was issued. To the leaders and people of the insurgent districts it was no light matter, as at once practically felt, to be deprived of this beneficent intervention of the Federal Government, maintained, as it always had been, in part, by a tax upon the correspondence of the Free States. This order marks the date of the first decisive step toward the enforcement of nonintercourse with the Rebel population, except as their territory might successively fall within the lines of our armies, now rapidly preparing for the field.
A great portion of the army which had been forming under the eye of Gen. McClellan, was to have its first employment, by direction of the President, in sustaining the loyal people of Western Virginia. The force sent into that region was to drive back the Rebel troops which had gone out to destroy the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and to subjugate that part of the State, in which a purpose to repudiate secession was already manifested. The order was issued by the General from his headquarters at Cincinnati on the 26th of May, and the First Virginia Regiment of volunteers, under Col. B. F. Kelly, was sent out from Bellaire on the Wheeling branch of the railroad, while the Fourteenth Ohio Regiment of volunteers, under Col. J. B. Steadman, advanced on the Parkersburg branch of the road, toward Grafton.
For several days after this movement commenced, Gen. McClellan remained at Cincinnati. Under the auspices of Gov. Magoffin and his Inspector-General, Simon 6. Buckner, a force was organizing in Kentucky, believed to be covertly intended for the Rebel service, and watched with apprehension by loyal people north of the Ohio. During the progress of Buckner's preparations he visited Cincinnati and had a protracted interview with Gen. McClellan, on the 8th of June. In an official report to Gov. Magoffin, made public on the 22d of that month, Buckner set forth in detail what he alleged as a formal agreement between McClellan and himself, the substance of which, after an engagement on the part of Kentucky to maintain “neutrality" between the “United States " and the “Southern States,” is contained in the following extract from that document:
Gen. McClellan stipulates that the territory of Kentucky shall be respected on the part of the United States, even though the Southern States should occupy it; but in the latter case he will call upon the authorities of Kentucky to remove the Southern forces from our territory. Should Kentucky fail to accomplish this object in a reasonable time, Gen. McClellan claims the same right of occupancy given to the Southern forces. I have stipulated, in that case, to advise him of the inability of Kentucky to comply with her obligations, and to invite him to dislodge the Southern forces. He stipulates that if he is successful in doing so, he will withdraw his forces from the territory of the State as soon as the Southern forces shall have been removed. This, he assures me, is the policy which he will adopt toward Kentucky.
That this interview took place, is an undisputed fact. That any compact of this nature was entered into, would seem incredible, without other evidence than Buckner's word of honor. But that Gen. McClellan, while commanding the Department of the Ohio, did nothing inconsistent with the alleged terms of agreement, must be conceded. Thus was one controlling purpose in his first appointment by the Governor of Ohio completely defeated. The occupation and defense of the southern bank of the river, near Cincinnati, was voluntarily abandoned—either by reason of this stipulation or without it-by the man specially chosen for that work. Near the same date, Gen. McClellan addressed a letter to the late Mr. Crittenden, expressing regret that some of Gen. Prentiss' men, in making an excursion down the Mississippi, on the 12th of June, had landed on the Kentucky shore and cut down and brought away a Secession flag which they saw flying at Columbus. He disclaimed all responsibility for this intrusion.
Thus cautious was the Commanding General to be no aggressor on the soil of any Slave State, and to wound the sensibilities of neither incipient Rebels nor “neutrals,” who were supporters of slave institutions. Even while sending a force to the aid of loyal Western Virginia, at the request of her people, he was careful to assure them:
Notwithstanding all that has been said by the traitors to induce you to believe that our advent among you will be signal