As the Confederate troops had yet no uniform proper, it was necessary that they should be distinguished from the enemy by some clearly visible mark. To meet this requirement, a few days after his arrival in camp General Beauregard asked that his men should be provided with colored scarfs, to be worn, in battle, from the shoulder to the waist, suggesting that a call on the ladies of Richmond would no doubt secure their prompt supply, as the scarfs might be made of any material of the proper shade. As many of the regiments were then without Confederate colors, and the blue and the gray uniforms were common to the North and the South, the importance of this matter, particularly in the event of flank and rear attacks, was urged again upon the President, at a later period. Although the expedient was as simple as the need was great, the demand was complied with only after a long delay, and then with so imperfect a contrivance—a sort of rosette, to be pinned on the arm or breast—that on the field of Manassas, in the critical moment, the troops themselves were confused as to identity; and when the rout was in full tide the pursuit was more than once checked because of the difficulty of distinguishing friends from foes. During this period a thorough secret-service communication was maintained between Washington and the Confederate headquarters at Manassas, whereby trustworthy private information was received through cipher despatches, while regular files of all the important Northern journals reached our lines in the same way; those from New York, particularly, rendering unconscious assistance to our cause.
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