enemy, but for the purpose of making a reconnoissance—of affording assistance to our wounded, and of collecting ‘all the arms, ammunition, and abandoned stores, subsistence, and baggage,’ that could be found ‘on the road in our front towards Centreville
,’ and on other roads by which the enemy had retreated towards the stone bridge and Sudley's Mills.
Whoever reads the order here referred to cannot fail to see, from its very phraseology, that it conveys no such meaning as Mr. Davis
is pleased to ascribe to it. For the order required that General Bonham
should take with him ‘a vast amount of transportation,’ which, of itself, would have impeded the pursuit.
And Mr. Davis
acknowledges that ‘the 22d, the day after the battle, was spent in following up the line of the retreating foe, and collecting the large supplies of arms, of ammunition, and other military stores.’1
Nor must it be forgotten that, at the time mentioned by Mr. Davis
, General Johnston
was already in actual command of our united forces, and that General Beauregard
had, therefore, no authority to issue any such orders.
Strange, indeed, would it have been that the general second in command should have sent his troops, or part of his troops, in pursuit of the enemy, when he knew that his superior in rank had expressed strong opposition to any immediate advance on our part, and had declared it utterly impracticable.
Just then, General Johnston
was correct in his judgment.
Our troops—even those that had taken no part in the battle—were more or less exhausted by marches and countermarches, and our cavalry was evidently too insignificant in number to admit of any serious hope of an effectual pursuit that night, or even the next morning.
Another obstacle, of no minor importance, intervened, which was sufficient of itself to cut short all idea of then following the routed Federal army.
On the evening of the 21st, at about nine o'clock, the heavens began to assume a threatening appearance, and, a few hours later, a heavy rain fell, which lasted unremittingly throughout the whole of the succeeding day. Meanwhile, our troops were without provisions, and had no means of transportation.
The railroad bridge across Bull Run
had been destroyed, too, and its reconstruction was indispensable to open the way for a farther advance, which, thus deferred, could no longer