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Chapter 12: reflections on the victory.

Mr. Davis continued:

The victory of Manassas was certainly extraordinary, not only on account of the disparity of our numbers and the inferiority of our arms, but also because of many other disadvantages under which we labored. We had no disciplined troops, and, though our citizens were generally skilled in the use of small-arms, which, with their high pride and courage, might compensate for the want of training while in position, these inadequately substituted military instruction when manoeuvres had to be performed under fire, and could not make the old-fashioned musket equal to the long-range, new-model muskets with which the enemy was supplied. The disparity in artillery was still greater, both in the number and kinds of guns; but, thanks to the skill and cool courage of the Rev. Captain W. N. Pendleton, his battery of light, smooth-bore guns, manned principally by the youths whose rector he had been, proved more effective in battle than the long-range rifle-guns of the enemy. The [115] character of the ground brought the forces into close contact, and the ricochet of the round balls carried havoc into the columns of the enemy, while the bolts of their rifle-guns, if they missed their object, penetrated harmlessly into the ground.

The field was very extensive, broken, and wooded. The senior general had so recently arrived that he had no opportunity minutely to learn the ground, and the troops he brought were both unacquainted with the field and with those with whom they had to co-operate. To all this must be added the disturbing fact that the plan of battle, as originally designed, was entirely changed by the movement of the enemy on our extreme left, instead of right and centre, as anticipated. The operations, therefore, had to be conducted against the plan of the enemy, instead of on that which our generals had prepared and explained to their subordinate commanders. The promptitude with which the troops moved, and the readiness with which our generals modified their preconceived plans to meet the necessities as they were developed, entitled them to the commendation so liberally bestowed at the time by their countrymen at large.

General Johnston had been previously promoted to the highest grade in our army, and I deemed it but a fitting reward for the [116] services rendered by General Beauregard that he should be promoted to the same grade, to which accordingly I promoted him at once.

I have related how, in riding over the field of Manassas, I encountered a Federal soldier of whom it was said that, although he might have retreated in safety with the Federal army, he had remained within our lines to nurse a wounded Confederate officer, and that I ordered that in consideration of his humanity he should not be treated as a prisoner of war. After the conference of the 22d, and because of it, I decided to return to Richmond and employ all the power of my office to increase the strength of the army, so as the better to enable it to meet the public need, whether in offensive — defensive or purely defensive operations, as opportunity should offer for the one, or the renewal of invasion require for the other.

A short time subsequent to my return, a message was brought to me, from the prison, to the effect that a non-commissioned officer, captured at Manassas, claimed to have a promise of protection from me. The name given was Hulbert, of Connecticut. I had forgotten the name he gave when I saw him; but, believing that I would recognize the person who had attended to Colonel Gardner, and to whom only such a promise had been [117] given, the officer in charge was directed to send him to me. When he came I had no doubt of his identity, and explained to him that I had directed that he should not be treated as a prisoner, but that, in the multitude of those wearing the same uniform as his, some neglect or mistake had arisen, for which I was very sorry, and that he should be immediately released and sent down the river to the neighborhood of Fortress Monroe, where he would be among his own people. He then told me that he had a sister residing a few miles in the country, whom he would be very glad to visit. Permission was given him to do so, and a time fixed at which he was to report for transportation; and so he left, with manifestations of thankfulness for the kindness with which he had been treated. In due time a newspaper was received, containing an account of his escape, and how he lingered about the suburbs of Richmond and made drawings of the surrounding fortifications. The treachery was as great as if his drawings had been valuable, which they could not have been, as we had only then commenced the detached works which were designed as a system of defences for Richmond.

The following letter, written by a Virginia soldier, illustrates the kindness of manner which characterized Mr. Davis toward all [118] subordinates. He was approachable by all, even to the lowest in rank. The latter is given in illustration.

On Monday, July 22, 1861, the day after the first battle of Manassas, it was raining very hard; President Davis, Beauregard, and Johnston were holding a council of war in a tent. A young Mr. Fauntleroy, of my company, asked me to go with him on a little matter of business, not telling me what it was. He took me in the direction of the Moss mansion, and upon reaching the arched gateway we were confronted by a sentinel who promptly halted us. Fauntleroy remonstrated, telling the sentinel that he must see President Davis; the sentinel refused, as President Davis was holding a council of war. Directly President Davis came out of the tent, Fauntleroy and myself were then allowed to pass. We reached there almost simultaneously with the President-he was half-way up the steps: Fauntleroy hailed him, with, “Is that President Davis?” and he, in his inimitably bland way replied: “ Yes, sir,” and added, “ walk up, gentlemen, out of the rain.” We declined with thanks, and Fauntleroy then told him that he was T. K. Fauntleroy, of Clarke County, Virginia, and wanted a commission in the regular Confederate army. President Davis asked him if he was any [119] relation to Colonel Fauntleroy of the United States army; he replied that he was his uncle.

The President told him he was really glad to meet him, and that if he lived to go back to Richmond, he would send him a commission; to which Fauntleroy replied: “Can I rely upon you, Mr. President ” I was dumfounded, but the President was equal to the occasion, and in a manner that no man on earth could imitate or use, quietly and gently said, “ You can.” I can never forget it.

A month afterward, when we were in camp near Fairfax Court-House, one morning, a courier came up to where we were, bearing a commission to T. Kinloch Fauntleroy, as lieutenant in the regular Confederate army; and I need not add that he was the happiest man I ever saw ...

Joseph H. Shepard.

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