that retreat on his part was simple ruin.
He must repulse the enemy assailing him then and there, or be destroyed; for no force that Stone
might now send to his relief could be brought up in time to save him.
The Ball's Bluff
tragedy, grossly misrepresented as it was in Rebel bulletins and exulting narratives, tended to confirm and extend the vain-glorious delusion which was already sapping the foundations, if not of Rebel strength, at least of Rebel energy.
officially reported that he had fought and beaten 8,000 men,commanded by Gen. Stone
--his troops using the musket alone; while the Unionists employed artillery, and fired on him with long-range guns from the Maryland
and that his brigade had driven “an enemy four times their
number from the soil of Virginia
, killing and taking prisoners a greater number than our whole force engaged.”
These fables were repeated in general orders, with the necessary effect of inflating the whole Confederate people with an inordinate conceit of their own prowess, and misleading them into an intense contempt for Yankee cowardice and inefficiency.
The natural consequences of this delusive swagger were evinced in the encounters of the ensuing Spring.
On the other hand, Ball's Bluff dispelled, though at a terrible cost, some of the aspersions which had been sedulously propagated with regard to the spirit and morale
of the Union
rank and file.
Whoever asked of any champion of the prevailing strategy why our armies stood idle, and as if paralyzed, in the presence of inferior forces of Rebels, were assured, in a confidential whisper, that our men had been so demoralized and spirit-broken by their rout at Bull Run
, that there was no fight in them — that a whole brigade would take to their heels at the sight of a Rebel regiment advancing to the charge.
Ball's Bluff repelled and dissipated this unworthy calumny — by showing that our soldiers, though most unskillfully handled, precipitated into needless perils, entrapped, surrounded, hopeless, had still the courage to fight and the manhood to die.
A. M., of Dec. 20th, Gen. E. O. C. Ord
, commanding the 3d Pennsylvania brigade, in pursuance of orders from Gen. George A. McCall
, commanding the division holding the right of Gen. McClellan
's army, moved forward from Camp Pierpont toward Dranesville
, Loudoun County, Va.
, instructed to drive back the enemy's pickets, procure a supply of forage, and capture,