under General Joseph E. Johnston
, at Harper's Ferry
Hence General Beauregard
's determination to hold it at all hazards; and he began, without delay, to throw up works around it, so as to make it a depot of supplies and a point d'appui
for ulterior operations.
But it was with great difficulty that, at this period, work on the fortifications could be procured from the troops, as most of their time was necessarily taken up with drills, and manual labor was in itself no light task for them, composed, as the commands generally were, of young men of good position at home, who had responded to the first call of the country, many of them having come with no small amount of luggage and even with body-servants.
Their answer to company officers was, that they were there to fight, and not to handle the pick and shovel.
Appreciating such a feeling in men of their position, new to arduous duties of that kind, and wishing to avoid whatever might at that moment cause disaffection, General Beauregard
abstained from employing them on any but the most essential works, and procured, as far as possible, negro labor, which was furnished at his call, by the comparatively small number of slave-owners of the Piedmont
region of Virginia
, with great readiness.
As soon as new regiments arrived they were armed and equipped as well as the means at hand allowed, and at once drilled and organized into brigades.
This organization of an army, out of troops for the most part wholly undisciplined, in the presence of an enemy composed of a well-trained militia, superior in numbers and thoroughly appointed, whose threatened advance was expected at every moment, apart from being in itself a difficult and anxious task, was beset with obstacles resulting from the narrow methods, slowness, and, in some respects, unaccountable mismanagement, of the authorities at Richmond
's attention was at once seriously turned to those two important staff departments, the Quartermaster
's and Commissary
's, which, he thought, could never be too closely attended to. ‘An army’—he was wont to say—‘without means of transportation and sustenance is like a ship at sea without spars or canvas, and with famine on board.’
His first step was to order the collection of wagons and twenty-five days rations for about twenty thousand men. To this end his chief quartermaster, Major Cabell
, and his chief commissary, Captain Fowle
, who was well