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[15]

This remarkable historical document requires some explanation to any one except a Virginian of the past generation. When ‘The Mother of States’ decided to secede from the Union and join her fortunes with the Southern Confederacy, Governor Letcher called to his assistance, as a special council of war. Commodore Matthew F. Maury, Lieutenant-Governor Robert L. Montague, Hon. Thomas S. Haymond and General Francis H. Smith. (Captain R. B. Pegram was afterward added to the board, or council.) These patriotic citizens performed all functions incidental to placing the Virginia volunteers in the field. These troops were subsequently mustered into the Confederate army, forming the nucleus of the Army of Northern Virginia. A condensed retrospect of existing conditions in the United States is necessary to show what led to the state of affairs alluded to by General Smith in the letter that heads this article.

It is the testimony of every one of the historians of the Civil war that both armies which met on the field of Manassas were little better than armed mobs, lacking in organization, discipline, experience; in fact, in all that goes to the making of that most complex of living machines. In the North the cry ‘On to Richmond’ was raised by the enthusiastic people, and despite the advice of such experienced soldiers as Generals Winfield Scott and McDowell, ardent congressmen, learned editors and patriotic contractors urged the Army of the Potomac to action.

Congress had issued a call for half a million three-year men, and the volunteers massed at the camps near Washington with amazing alacrity. The soldiers who had volunteered for three months being near the end of their enlistment, were preparing to return to their homes. Thus that experienced general, McDowell, took the field with an army without a staff, commissariat, or organization in any department. With all these drawbacks to contend against, McDowell fixed on July 9, 1861, for an excellently devised move against the Confederates under Beauregard, but on account of lack of transportation, the advance commenced on the 16th. The commander of the Army of the Potomac expected the co-operation of General Patterson, who, with 18,000 men, was ordered to observe and attack the Confederates under Joseph E. Johnston, then holding Harper's Ferry.

General Beauregard had been terribly busy for weeks in licking into shape the motley Confederate organizations as they arrived from Richmond on Manassas plains. Many of these soldiers brought

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