of the Northerners is that “the enemy appeared upon the left flank between us and our way of retreat.”
A panic then seized the Federal
We have looked through the different narratives in vain for any probable cause of this terror, but the word “cavalry” appears so frequently that we must suppose that a body of Southern horsemen did appear somewhere, though the country is obviously not well suited to the action of that force.
From the same description of the battle we quote as follows: “The rebel cavalry, having completely circumvented our left, charged in upon a number of wounded and stragglers.”
Then followed the scene which has been sufficiently described in these columns.
On the whole, the newspapers which have come from the North
within the last few days are most interesting.
The tone in which the calamity is discussed is, we think, very creditable to the people of the Northern States
; and, strange to say, it has not increased, but, as far as one can judge, has lessened the bitterness toward the Southerners.--London Times
, August 10.
We have as yet no detailed official account of the battle at Bull Run
; but the additional information received during the last few days all tends to show that the earliest accounts of the engagement published were not only inaccurate, but, so far as the defeat of the North
was concerned, absurdly exaggerated.
This was perfectly natural, as the narratives were those of sutlers and civilians, who saw and knew nothing of the action except the retreat, and who appear to have formed their estimate of the Northern
army and its behavior in the field from the hurried flight and terrified exclamations of a mere panic-stricken mob of camp-followers.
Even these accounts, however, were sufficient to convict the wholesale sentence--“that 75,000 American patriots fled for twenty miles in agony of fear” --of being a wanton and malignant fiction.
That any English journal of position and influence should be capable of making such a statement in a tone of mockery and exultation, is a humiliation and disgrace to the press of this country.
Such writing proves that, notwithstanding our boasted superiority over the journals on the other side of the Atlantic
, an English organ of opinion may occasionally equal in rancorous scorn, selfish passion, and vulgar prejudice, the worst rowdy hacks of the lowest New York prints.
Instead of 75,000 Northern troops having been engaged in the action at Bull Run
, it appears that not half that number were present, and their gallant behavior in the field is attested, not only by the facts, but by the explicit testimony of their enemies.
Success in such an enterprise would probably have been, even to trained troops, almost impossible; and Gen. Scott
is reported to have reproached himself for allowing the attack to have been made so soon — prematurely, in fact.
But, once begun, the struggle was obstinately maintained by troops half fasting and worn out by a twelve hours march.
An official despatch to Richmond
from the Confederate
camp, says that the Northern
troops on the left fought so valiantly and pressed the Southern
forces under Gen. Johnston
so severely, that the issue seemed doubtful.
“It was here,” the same despatch states, “that Col. Bartow
's Georgian regiment was posted, which was so terribly cut up that a large body of our troops from the centre was sent at a critical moment to the left's assistance, and turned the tide of the battle.”
When at length obliged to retire, it is evident that the Northern
troops soon fell into disorder.
But this, so far from being inexplicable, is only what might naturally be expected under the special circumstances of the case.
The army was composed of volunteers, and however well such troops may fight, it is the most difficult achievement in the world to bring them from the field in good order.
And most probably, which ever army had been compelled to retire, would soon have fallen into confusion, and converted the retreat into a rout.
The confusion of the retreat is, no doubt, a lesson to volunteers which ought not to be forgotten either in this country or America
But the fact that the Southern
army failed to follow up its advantage, proves that the retreat of the Federal
army was not, as it has been unjustly represented, the flight of cowards.
The nine hours fighting had evidently inspired the Southern
troops with a respect for Northern valor.
But however imperfect our knowledge of this first great collision may be, we may predict some of its results with tolerable certainty.
It will put an end to hollow and deceptive schemes of compromise.
The grand controversy between the North
and the South
has at length reached the point it has been for years past gradually approaching — the ultima ratio
of force; and the sword having now been drawn in earnest, it must be fought out. The defeat of the Federal
forces in this first great encounter, will, however, in evitably tend to protract the war, and the delay will work to the advantage of the North
The Federal States are in character, position, and means, far better able to sustain a protracted contest, than the secessionists.
The reverse they have experienced will but rouse their latent energy, and develop their ample resources, moral and material.
It will help to give to the national struggle of the North
the depth and seriousness it ought to possess.
It will do this by bringing clearly out, and keeping prominently in view, the profounder motives and nobler issues — in a word, the whole moral significance — of the conflict.
We cannot for a moment regret this.
Whatever may have been the immediate occasion of the actual appeal to arms, the real causes and objects of this war are of supreme gravity and importance.
The Federal States are, in fact, fighting for the very elements and essence of social order, civic prosperity, and national life.
The revolted States pretend, indeed, according to Mr. Stephens