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[107]

The battle was considered by General Johnston of such trivial consequence that it is given but a few lines of mention in his report, and in his ‘Narrative’ he says it was but an affair of the rear guard with Longstreet only, for that Hill had but one regiment engaged, who stopped the Federal advance till the trains, delayed by the heavy rains, could get away; and then the retreat was continued just as intended and just as would have been had the action not occurred. The victory, therefore, such as it was, was with us, and although McClellan at the time reported quite otherwise, he was scarcely candid in doing so, for later he wrote: ‘Meanwhile the enemy's rear guard held the Williamsburg lines against our advance.’

Though barren of results military—for it caused no change in the plans of either general, except, perhaps, to delay the invaders in their advance and dispel a few delusions from their minds—it was, as said, a distinct triumph for the Confederates, and in this respect was of importance to them, for they thus drew the first blood in the grand campaign of 1862. It was a distinct check to McClellan's great advance upon Richmond, which he had boasted would be uninterrupted and triumphant. It was, in effect, the first clash of arms between these two powerful armies, after the long period of preparation and perfection since Manassas, the Southern necessarily of lesser numbers, as representing a section of the country so much smaller and with such poor makeshifts of arms and equipments and supplies as could be obtained in their agricultural country—so entirely barren of military resources that there was not within its borders when the war commenced a single cap machine or powder factory. But their soldiers were in deadly earnest, for every man felt the quarrel his own and that he was personally insulted and outraged by the mere presence of the invader within our borders, whose life it was his duty and his right to take. Thus they were enthusiasts, with nerves of iron and hearts of fire, to do and dare anything in defence of their home and native land.

The northern, with everything that money could buy in Europe and the whole North, and some parts of the Southern States as well, could furnish, with overwhelming numbers, being by far the larger portion of the country and with uninterrupted communication abroad, and inexhaustible sources whence to draw ceaseless supplies and recruits. It demonstrated, too, to our complete and growing satisfaction, that though the Federals were our superiors in numbers, resources, supplies and equipments, and, in fact, in everything but one that makes an army powerful, yet, lacking in this, we, in this


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McClellan (2)
James Longstreet (1)
Joseph E. Johnston (1)
D. H. Hill (1)
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1862 AD (1)
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