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[386] and to reduce them to an orderly and consistent shape. Indeed, the rationale of few of the world's memorable battles has been fully comprehended or stated, except after years of calm reflection and diligent investigation by the historian, the statesman, and the strategist. It was sixteen years before the Romans acquired a wholesome knowledge of the strategy of Hannibal. The same period was scarcely adequate to instruct the Generals of Austria, Russia, England, and Prussia in regard to the secret of Napoleon's success. It need not be surprising then if the Confederate victory of the 21st long remain a dark, dreadful mystery to our enemies, and if numbers of our own people shall for some time entertain most fantastic and illogical notions concerning it. To one, however, who has been closely observing military operations on the Potomac for two months past, there is no reason why such a result, though so full of glory and so profoundly gratifying, should appear either surprising or mysterious.

I will not here recapitulate details which have been given you by telegraphic correspondents. I possess no facts of importance touching the actual battle beyond those which have been communicated to you through the telegraph. But information from that source is confined almost exclusively to a brief statement of results, leaving the reader to get at causes and consequences as best he may. The preliminaries of the present battle as well as its probable consequences are of the utmost interest, and to them I shall mainly address myself.

Two weeks ago it was evident that both Johnston and Patterson were influenced, in their manoeuvres, by considerations connected with the line of Manassas. Johnston desired to occupy Patterson in the Shenandoah valley, and Patterson desired to occupy Johnston in the same region. Each aimed to force the other into a position from which it would be impossible to extricate himself and participate in operations between Washington and Manassas Junction. In this game Patterson was out-generalled. Johnston excelled his antagonist alike in boldness and caution, in vigilance and activity. Keeping his communication with the Manassas line intact, he could not be deceived by Patterson's feint demonstrations, but just so soon as the latter had fallen back toward the Potomac, he set out at once, from Winchester, to join Gen. Beauregard's column near Manassas Junction, marching 18 miles to Strasburg, and proceeding thence, about 50 miles, by railroad. He arrived not an hour too soon, with 20 regiments. His men had one night to rest before waking to meet the bloodiest fury of the battle on the left of Stone Bridge.

I will not say that Gen. Johnston's presence was absolutely necessary to turn the scale in our favor. I firmly believe that General Beauregard's force was considerable enough, its disposition skilful enough, its defences strong enough, its men and officers determined enough, to administer a signal repulse to the entire mass of the largest army which General Scott was able to send against him from Washington. But it would have been by a victory bought at a terrible sacrifice of what the South should most assiduously economize, the precious lives of her noble defenders. As it was, one of the most brilliant victories of the age was achieved with a loss of life almost incredible, when the weight of the enemy's column and the length of the battle are considered. The enemy seemed to stake the issue of the day on turning shall our flank on the left. It was then that Johnston, after having baffled Patterson, as Blucher baffled Grouchy, did more than was done by Blucher at Waterloo. The centre led by Davis, the right commanded by Beauregard, did the rest. The enemy was exhausted, appalled, tumultuously routed by the inflexible resistance, the deadly fire, the terrible charges with which their attack was met. And yet but a small portion of our forces at and near Manassas Junction were actually engaged. Perhaps there were at no time as many as twenty thousand of them under fire or in sight of the enemy, while it is possible that double that number of the enemy's total army of about seventy thousand were brought into action.

It is rumored, and believed by many persons, that General Patterson and General Scott were on the field of battle. But neither, in my opinion, was present. It would certainly have been very strange in General Patterson to come upon the field without any portion of his command, and there is no reason for believing that any portion of his command was engaged in the battle or near at hand. As for General Scott, though the movement against General Beauregard may have been made according to his order, I doubt whether that order was given in accordance with his deliberate views of policy. Precipitated into the measure, as I believe, by the clamor of the politicians at Washington, and by the blood-thirsty rage of the Black Republican Press, he was quite willing to remain at a distance, and leave the immediate responsibility of failure, if the measure should fail, with his subordinate officers, while ready to appropriate the credit of success to himself if the measure should succeed.

It is not easy to believe that General Scott, if left to pursue his own plans, would stake the issue of a campaign on a battle fought under the circumstances of that of the 21st. Two months ago he committed a mistake in halting at Alexandria, after crossing the Potomac, instead of pushing forward briskly toward Richmond. But that mistake sprang from excess of prudence, and it is not reasonable to deduce from such a mistake another arising from the opposite fault of rashness. For rash it certainly was to attack General Beauregard on ground which he himself had selected and elaborately fortified. Political considerations must have prevailed over military considerations when General Scott consented to the attack, without

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