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[547] were, on either side, not far from 35,000. But the Rebels, who were somewhat the fewer at day-break, fought under the encouraging stimulus of a knowledge that every hour, as it passed, added to their strength; that each railroad train arriving at the Junction, brought fresh brigade after brigade to their support;1 and these, as they arrived, were hastened to that part of the field whereon their services could be most effective: while our men, who had been called to arms at 2 o'clock in the morning, and had generally thrown aside their knapsacks and haversacks to facilitate their movements, had been fourteen hours marching — some of them on the double-quick for miles — or fighting, and were utterly exhausted and faint with hunger and thirst; while not a single company had been added to their numbers. Some regiments fought badly, and had been demoralized and dispersed prior to the general catastrophe; but the great majority evinced a courage and devotion which, under favoring auspices, would have commanded victory. They gave way only when hope seemed dead — when the ever-increasing hosts of their foes not only outnumbered them in their front, but filled the woods on their right flank, exposing them to an enfilading fire, which they could not return with effect; and, their defeat once confessed, the confusion and panic of their flight are explained, not excused, by the fact that, owing to the long detour they had necessarily made in advancing to the attack, pursuant to the plan of battle, their line of retreat lay in part along the front of the foe, much of whose strength was actually nearer to Centerville than they were when the fortunes of the day turned against them.

The causes of this disaster, so shamefully misstated and perverted at the time, are now generally understood. No one could, at this day, repeat the misrepresentations that for the moment prevailed, without conscious, palpable guilt and ignominy. The true, controlling reasons of our defeat are, briefly, these:

I. The fundamental, fatal error on our side was that spirit of hesitation, of indecision, of calculated delay, of stolid obstruction, which guided2 our Military councils, scattering our

1 Mr. Julius Bing, on his return from captivity at Richmond, having been taken prisoner on the battle-field, after seeing and hearing all that he could on both sides, reports as follows:

Beauregard's force at Bull Run was 27,000; which was increased by 8,000 of Johnston's the day before, and by 5,000 more during the engagement. This statement is confirmed from an independent and trustworthy source.

2 The New York Times of July 26th contained a carefully prepared statement, by its Editor, of a conversation with Gen. Scott at his own dinner-table on the Tuesday before the battle; wherein Gen. Scott developed his conception of the strategy required for the overthrow of the Rebellion, as follows:

If the matter had been left to him, he said, he would have commenced by a perfect blockade of every Southern port on the Atlantic and on the Gulf Then he would have collected a large force at the capital for defensive purposes, and another large one on the Mississippi for offensive operations. The Summer months, during which it is madness to take troops south of St. Louis, should have been devoted to tactical instruction — and, with the first frosts of Autumn, he would have taken a column of 80,000 well-disciplined troops down the Mississippi — and taken every important point on that river, New Orleans included. It could have been done, he said, with greater ease, with less loss of life, and with far more important results, than would attend the marching of an army to Richmond. At eight points, the river would probably have been defended, and eight battles would have been necessary; but, in every one of them, success would have been made certain for us. The Mississippi and the Atlantic once ours, the Southern States would have been compelled, by the natural and inevitable pressure of events, to seek, by a return to the Union, escape from the ruin that would speedily overwhelm them, out of it. “This,” said he, “was my plan. But I am only a subordinate. It is my business to give advice when it is asked, and to obey orders when they are given. I shall do it. There are men in the Cabinet who know much more about war than I do, and who have far greater influence than I have in determining the plan of the campaign. There never was a more just and upright man than the President-never one who desired more sincerely to promote the best interest of the country. But there are men among his advisers who consult their own resentments far more than the dictates of wisdom and experience, and these men will probably decide the plan of the campaign. I shall do, or attempt, what-ever I am ordered to do. But they must not hold me responsible. If I am ordered to go to Richmond, I shall endeavor to do it. But I know perfectly well that they have no conception of the difficulties we shall encounter. I know the country — how admirably adapted it is for defense, and how resolutely and obstinately it will be defended. I would like nothing better than to take Richmond; now that it has been disgraced by becoming the capital of the Rebel Confederacy, I feel a resentment toward it, and should like nothing better than to scatter its Congress to the winds. But I have lived long enough to know that human resentment is a very bad foundation for public policy; and these gentlemen will live long enough to learn it also. I shall do what I am ordered. I shall fight when and where I am commanded. But, if I am compelled to fight before I am ready, they shall not hold me responsible. These gentlemen must take the responsibility of their acts, as I am willing to take that of mine. But they must not throw their responsibility upon my shoulders.”

This is the substance and very nearly the language of a portion of Gen. Scott's conversation on the occasion referred to. It proves conclusively that he was opposed to the advance upon Richmond by way of Manassas, at that time.

Hon. Francis P. Blair, in a speech in the House (Aug. 1st, 1861), after repelling the false imputation that Gen. Scott had been constrained by the President (his only superior) to fight this battle prematurely, in opposition to the dictates of his own judgment, stated that

The President, after he had information that Gen. Johnston had escaped through the hands of Gen. Patterson and had joined Gen. Beauregard on Friday evening, went to Gen. Scott, and suggested the propriety of waiting until Patterson's corps could come up and reinforce the army that was then before Manassas; but, so firmly fixed was Gen. Scott's determination to attack the enemy then and there, that the President's suggestion was disregarded. The Secretary of War also returned from the field before the battle, and endeavored to induce Gen. Scott to send forward reinforcements; he urged it again and again; and finally succeeded in having five regiments sent, two of which reached Centerville before the retreat commenced.

Mr. Blair then took up the above statement of The Times, and thus dealt with it:

I do not believe that it was Gen. Scott's plan. I do not think he would promulgate his plan. I think, even, that, if such was his plan, gentlemen, without arrogating to themselves any superior military knowledge, might well dissent from it. I do not profess to have any knowledge of military matters at all; and yet I can say that any such plan as that would lead to a fatal disaster to our country, in the relations which it would bring about between the people of the Northern and Southern States; in the relations it would bring about between our Government and foreign governments, and between the Union men in tile Border States and their enemies. I think it would be a fatal mistake. I am well satisfied that it is not the plan of the Government, and will not be acted upon, whether Gen. Scott favors it or not. That is the plan which the Confederate troops and authorities are in favor of, and they have proceeded upon it. Their desire is to make the whole of this war within the Border States, and escape themselves scot free — not only free from Scott, but from all our other Generals. They wish to enjoy entire quietude, in order to raise their cotton, that they may hold it out to foreign nations as a bribe to break our blockade. That is their object and their heart's desire.

They wish, also, to intrench themselves within those Border States, where they can get plenty of subsistence, and wring a reluctant support from the Union men of those States. The counties of Alexandria and Fairfax gave an immense Union vote when the question was submitted to them; and, at the last vote upon the Ordinance of Secession, they would have given the same vote for the Union if they had not been restrained by the bayonets of the Confederate troops; for, in whatever part of Virginia they were free from the Confederate bayonets, they gave a majority of votes against Secession. The same was the case in Tennessee. Any such plan as that which The Times says is Gen. Scott's plan of carrying on the war would leave the unarmed Union men of the Border States and of the Southern States at the mercy of the armies of the Confederate States. It would leave the 25,000 majority in East Tennessee, the vast majority in Missouri, and everywhere else, at the mercy of the Rebels.

I say, further, that, if we remain idle for such a period of time, doing nothing upon the borders of these revolted States, however great an army we might possess, we should, by so doing, proclaim to the world that we were unable to enter those States and put down Rebellion; and the governments of Europe would make it a pretext for acknowledging the independence of those States.

It is manifest, therefore, that such important political considerations must enter largely into any plan of campaign; and no plan is admissible which, by its delays, destroys the business of the country, leaves the Union men of the Border States and their property a prey to the Rebels, and gives a pretext to foreign Powers to interfere for the purpose of forcing our blockade.

That the policy of “wait and get ready,” involved, in fact, a virtual admission of the independence of the Confederacy, while enabling the Rebels to crush out the last vestiges of Unionism in the South, as also to cover all the important points with impregnable fortifications, erected in good part by slave labor, is too obvious to need enforcement. It was the policy of all who wished to save the Union by surrendering at discretion to the Rebels, bidding them do what they pleased with the Constitution, the Government, the territories, so that they would but consent to endure us as fellow-countrymen.

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