previous next
[116] asked whether General Johnston had sent such an order, replied that he gave it on his own responsibility. Longstreet claimed an equal right of responsibility, and was in the act of renewing the order to fire, when Bonham rode up and asked that the batteries should not open. As he was in command, that settled the question; and, as night was then at hand, the golden opportunity for completing the victory by following up the rout of the Federal army was lost. Longstreet continues:
Soon there came an order for the brigades to withdraw and return to their positions behind the run. General Bonham marched his brigade back, but, thinking that there was a mistake somewhere, I remained in position until the order was renewed, about 10 o'clock p. m. . . . My brigade crossed and recrossed the run six times during the day and night.

It was afterward learned that some one, seeing Jones' brigade recrossing the run from an advance under earlier orders, mistook it for Federal troops crossing at Mc-Lean's ford, as previously stated, and rushed and reported to headquarters a Federal advance, and staff officers took the responsibility of revoking the orders of the commanding generals for the pursuit of the enemy.

There has been not only well-nigh endless discussion, but crimination and recrimination, as well as excuses, regarding the responsibility for not following up the retreating Federal army after it had been so discomfited in the battle of the 21st. It appears to rest mainly upon General Johnston and President Davis, their excuses being the exhausted condition of the Confederate army, the lack of transportation, and the want of provisions. Longstreet, in his Memoirs, says:

The supplies of subsistence, ammunition and forage, passed as we marched through the enemy's camps toward Centreville, seemed ample to carry the Confederate army on to Washington. Had the fight been continued to that point, the troops, in their high hopes, would have marched in terrible effectiveness against the demoralized Federals. Gaining confidence and vigor in their march, they could well have reached the capital with the ranks of McDowell's men. The brigade (Longstreet's) at Blackburn's ford, five regiments, those at McLean's and Mitchell's fords, all quite fresh, could have been reinforced by all the cavalry and most of the artillery, comparatively fresh, and later by the brigades of Holmes, Ewell and Early. This favorable aspect for fruitful results was all sacrificed through the assumed authority of staff officers, who, upon false reports, gave countermand to the orders of their chiefs.

The medical director of Jackson's brigade, Dr. Hunter McGuire, says in a recent memorial:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Jackson (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Centreville (Maryland, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
James Longstreet (4)
J. E. Johnston (2)
M. L. Bonham (2)
Hunter McGuire (1)
Irvin McDowell (1)
D. R. Jones (1)
T. H. Holmes (1)
R. S. Ewell (1)
J. A. Early (1)
Jefferson Davis (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: