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[215]

President Lincoln was fully alive to the need of meeting this popular demand. The special session of Congress was soon to begin, and to it the new administration must look, not only to ratify what had been done, but to authorize a large increase of the military force, and heavy loans for coming expenses of the war. On June 29, therefore, he called his cabinet and principal military officers to a council of war at the Executive Mansion, to discuss a more formidable campaign than had yet been planned. General Scott was opposed to such an undertaking at that time. He preferred waiting until autumn, meanwhile organizing and drilling a large army, with which to move down the Mississippi and end the war with a final battle at New Orleans. Aside from the obvious military objections to this course, such a procrastination, in the present irritation of the public temper, was not to be thought of; and the old general gracefully waived his preference and contributed his best judgment to the perfecting of an immediate campaign into Virginia.

The Confederate forces in Virginia had been gathered by the orders of General Lee into a defensive position at Manassas Junction; where a railroad from Richmond and another from Harper's Ferry come together. Here General Beauregard, who had organized and conducted the Sumter bombardment, had command of a total of about twenty-five thousand men which he was drilling. The Junction was fortified with some slight field-works and fifteen heavy guns, supported by a garrison of two thousand; while the main body was camped in a line of seven miles' length behind Bull Run, a winding, sluggish stream flowing southeasterly toward the Potomac. The distance was about thirty-two miles southwest of Washington. Another Confederate force of about ten thousand, under General J. E.

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