asked whether General Johnston
had sent such an order, replied that he gave it on his own responsibility.
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.
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.
, 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
's brigade, Dr. Hunter McGuire
, says in a recent memorial: