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[120] had doubtless prevented McDowell from winning a victory on the 19th or 20th, but pursuit is a far less difficult business than attack. There was nothing to interfere with a forward movement. There were supplies along the railway, and if the mechanism for their distribution and the means for their carriage were wanting, the counties adjoining the Potomac were rich and fertile. Herds of bullocks were grazing in the pastures, and the barns of the farmers were loaded with grain. It was not a long supply train that was lacking, nor an experienced staff, nor even well-disciplined battalions; but a general who grasped the full meaning of victory, who understood how a defeated army, more especially of new troops, yields at a touch, and who above all, saw the necessity of giving the North no leisure to develop her immense resources. For three days Jackson impatiently awaited the order to advance, and his men were held ready with three days cooked rations in their haversacks. But his superiors gave no sign, and he was reluctantly compelled to abandon all hope of reaping the fruits of the victory.

When McClellan, summoned in hot haste from northwestern Virginia to avert further disaster, reached Washington, on the 26th of July, he rode around the city inspecting the existing conditions. Of these he wrote:

I found no preparations whatever for defense, not even to the extent of putting the troops in military positions. Not a regiment was properly encamped, not a single avenue of approach guarded. All was chaos, and the streets, hotels and bar-rooms were filled with drunken officers and men, absent from their regiments without leave —a perfect pandemonium. Many had even gone to their homes, their flight from Bull Run terminating in New York, or even New Hampshire and Maine. There was really nothing to prevent a small cavalry force from riding into the city. A determined attack would doubtless have carried Arlington heights and placed the city at the mercy of a battery of rifled guns. If the secessionists attached any value to the possession of Washington, they committed their greatest error in not following up the victory of Bull Run.

That same day, Secretary of War Stanton wrote:

The capture of Washington seems now to be inevitable; during the whole of Monday and Tuesday (July 22d and 23d) it might have been taken without resistance. The rout, overthrow, and demoralization of the whole army were complete.

Of the attitude of the Southern people after this great victory, which might have been decisive, Colonel Henderson says:

When the news of Bull Run reached Richmond, and through the crowds that thronged the streets passed the tidings of the victory, there was neither wild excitement nor uproarious joy. No bonfires lit the darkness of the night; no cannon thundered out salutes; the steeples were silent till the morrow, and then were heard only the solemn tones that called the people to prayer. It was resolved, on the day following the battle, by the Confederate Congress: ‘That we recognize the hand of the Most High God, the King of kings and ’

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