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[119]

Early the next morning, from Fairfax Court House, he again wired:

Many of the volunteers did not wait for authority to proceed to the Potomac, but left on their own decision. They are now pouring through this place in a state of utter disorganization. They could not be prepared for action by to-morrow morning even were they willing. I learn from prisoners that we are to be pressed here tonight and to-morrow morning, as the enemy's force is very large and they are elated. I think we heard cannon on our rear guard. I think now, as all of my commanders thought at Centreville, there is no alternative but to fall back to the Potomac, and I shall proceed to do so with as much regularity as possible.

Of McDowell himself, Fry, his adjutant-general, wrote: ‘When the unfortunate commander dismounted at Arlington next forenoon in a soaking rain, after thirty-two hours in the saddle, his disastrous campaign of six days was closed. The first martial effervescence of the country was over. The three months men went home, and the three months chapter of the war ended—with the South triumphant and confident, the North disappointed but determined.’

Blenker remained in position at Centreville, as rear guard, until about midnight, when he was ordered to fall back on Washington. He reported that the retreat of ‘great numbers of flying soldiers continued until 9 o'clock in the evening, the great majority in wild confusion, but few in collected bodies.’ He mentioned that he was several times attacked by squadrons of Confederate cavalry, before he left Centreville.

Walt Whitman, a noted Northern writer, says:1

The defeated troops commenced pouring into Washington, over the long bridge, at daylight on Monday, 22d—a day drizzling all through with rain. The Saturday and Sunday of the battle (the 20th and 21st) had been parched and hot to an extreme. . . . But the hour, the day, the night passed; and whatever returns, an hour, a day, a night like that can never again return. The President, recovering himself, begins that very night—sternly, rapidly sets about the task of reorganizing his forces, and placing himself in position for future and surer work . . . . He endured that hour, that day, bitterer than gall—indeed a crucifixion day—but it did not conquer him—he unflinchingly stemmed it and resolved to lift himself and the Union out of it.

Colonel Henderson, of the British Staff college, in his life of Stonewall Jackson, says:

Before twenty-four hours had passed reinforcements had increased the strength of Johnston's army to 40,000. Want of organization

1 In his volume, ‘Specimen Days and Collect’

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