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[164] had too much good sense to share the delusions entertained by those around him, regarding the qualities of his soldiers.

The Richmond government displayed extraordinary activity in its efforts to place in the field forces superior to those that McDowell had at his disposal. On the 1st of June, Beauregard, who since the capture of Sumter had become, too soon for his own reputation, the favorite general of the South, was placed in command of the so-called department of Alexandria, comprising all the tract of country between Richmond and Washington. He found a little army already assembled at Manassas Junction. On the same day shots were exchanged for the first time between the two parties on the soil of Virginia. A detachment of regular Federal cavalry proceeded as far as the village of Fairfax Courthouse, west of Alexandria, and dislodged a post of the enemy from it, while a few Confederate guns drove off a Union vessel which was trying to effect a landing at Acquia Creek; this latter point, situated on the right bank of the Lower Potomac, is the head of a line of railway leading direct to Richmond through Fredericksburg.

The two armies felt thenceforth sufficiently strong to defend the positions they had chosen, but neither was yet in a condition to assume the offensive. It was a little more to the westward, in West Virginia, that the first serious engagements were to take place. This district, as we have stated, had remained loyal to the Union, and had refused to submit to the ordinance of separation which had been voted by the State convention. The Richmond authorities could not tolerate this secession in opposition to that which they had just proclaimed. It would have been to belie the pretended unanimity of the South. Reinforcements were sent across the Alleghanies to their few partisans, who had already taken up arms, and the militia troops of Virginia made a movement to seize the only railway in that part of the country, the line of the Baltimore and Ohio, which was of great service to the Federals in maintaining communications between Pennsylvania and the Central States. This was more than sufficient to rouse the latter and justify their intervention. General McClellan, who was employing his rare organizing talents in forming an army on the borders of the Ohio, ordered the occupation of the little town

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