t would seem that in this war of the People it was decreed there should arise no imperial presence to become the central figure and cynosure of men's eyes Napoleon, in an outburst of haughty eloquence, exclaims that in the great armies of history the Commander was every thing.
It was not, says he, the Roman army that conquered Gaul, but Caesar; it was not the Carthaginian army that made Rome tremble at her gates, but Hannibal; it was not the Macedonian army that marched to the Indus, but Alexander; it was not the Prussian army that defended Prussia for seven years against the three most powerful States of Europe, but Frederick.
This proud apotheosis has no application for the Army of the Potomac.
And one must think —seeing it never had a great, and generally had mediocre commanders—it was that it might be said, that whatever it won it owed not to genius, but bought with its blood.
I must now add, that it would be to fail to draw some of the most important lessons furnished by t
the northern side of the stream, he opened an artillery fire with two twenty-pounder rifle-guns, which had the effect of first developing and afterwards silencing the enemy's battery near the ford.
Thus far he had not exceeded his instructions; but he got it into his head that the enemy would run whenever seriously menaced; and he declared that the great man of the war would be the man that got to Manassas, and he meant to go through that night.
My authority for this statement is Colonel Alexander, of the Corps of Engineers, then engineer on Tyler's staff. His notion of the method of executing this project was to file his brigade down to the stream, draw it up parallel to the other shore, and open an unmeaning fusilade.
Barnard: The Battle of Bull Run, p. 49. While engaged in this foolery, a force crossed the stream from the other side, and striking his left flank (the Twelfth New York), disrupted it completely.
This admonished General Tyler to defer his intended visit to Ma
upper one was half adrift.
When the head of Sumner's column, composed of Sedgwick's division, reached it, the rough logs forming the corduroy approaches over the swamp were mostly afloat, and were only kept from drifting off by the stumps of trees to which they were fastened.
The portion over the body of the stream was suspended from the trunks of trees by ropes, on the doubtful staunchness of which depended the possibility of making the passage.
The possibility of crossing, says Colonel Alexander of the engineers, was doubted by all present, including General Sumner himself.
As the solid column of infantry entered upon the bridge, it swayed to and fro to the angry flood below or the living freight above, settling down and grasping the solid stumps by which it was made secure, as the line advanced.
Once filled with men, however, it was safe till the corps had crossed; it then soon became impassable.
The Peninsular Campaign: Atlantic Monthly, March, 1864.