sufficient force, which may be attributed to the clamors of politicians, and newspapers like the New York Tribune; the negligence of General Patterson in not intercepting General Johnston at Winchester, and preventing him from joining Beauregard at Manassas; the want of an efficient force of artillery to answer their masked batteries; the inefficiency of many of the officers; the want of proper discipline among the volunteers, and the general panic which seized upon our forces in the latter part of the action. I have heard many stories of the bravery of some regiments and the inefficiency of others. But if we can make any such distinction, it is with the officers who commanded, and not with the men who obeyed. The material of our army is of an extraordinary character, and this disastrous battle has shown it; for the men who could fight double their numbers behind masked batteries for ten hours, in a country where water could not be found, under the torrid rays of a Southern summer sun, and make that fight a victory until their endurance had been overtasked, and the ranks of the enemy had been filled up by fresh men, are capable of any thing which may be demanded of the soldier. And this is the story of the battle of Manassas; this is the substance of every rumor — the logical result from every fact the contest furnishes. The general panic took place about 5 o'clock in the afternoon. There are a number of stories told as to the apparent reason for the precipitate flight of our troops; but, without stopping to relate them, or even to consider their manifest absurdity, I would simply say that it was caused by their utter exhaustion, and the terrible fire of masked batteries, which were taken by them, again and again, at the point of the bayonet, only to find, when taken, that others would open upon them. The reinforcements vastly strengthened the enemy, their fire was increased, and, before that fire, our men retreated. If they had been properly commanded, they might have retreated in good order, like the regulars under Major Sykes; but this, and the want of experience, gave rise to a panic, which soon swept every thing before it, and carried our army, like a tumultuous mob, from Manassas to Washington. The day was so closely contested, that when I arrived at Centreville from the field of battle, at five o'clock in the evening, it was with the impression that the conflict had either resulted in a drawn battle or in a dearly-bought victory. It was important that I should go to Fairfax in order to forward you my despatches, no communication existing between Washington city and Centreville. I had taken rooms in the only hotel of the place, and intended to have returned the same evening in order to complete my observations of the battle and follow the army in its further progress. At that time there were five regiments of volunteers as a reserve, and among them Colonel Max Einstein's Pennsylvania volunteers, the only distinctively Pennsylvania regiment any way concerned in the action. This body had been intended as a part of the advance, and with that impression its soldiers had left their quarters at the early hour of the morning when the movement commenced. There was a change in the programme, however, and they were instructed to remain at Centreville as a reserve regiment. They were stationed in a large field on the north of the town, and below the hill which commanded a view of the distant field of battle. I had the opportunity of paying them a few moments' visit. There was the greatest dissatisfaction among the men because of their inaction. The cannonading and musketry could be distinctly heard, couriers were constantly going to and from the field, the various reports of victory were constantly being repeated, but the day passed on into the afternoon, and no signal of advance was given. Some of the men were sleeping under the shade of the trees, a few were cleaning and preparing their muskets, others were writing letters home, and some, anxious and mortified, were actually weeping at the want of an opportunity to join in the fight. Col. Einstein was galloping hither and thither, anxiously awaiting the orders to march, and every minute scanning the horizon with his opera glass, in the hope of seeing the courier, which would signal him to victory. During the time of my brief stay, an aide arrived with an order to prepare for action. The command was given, and received with the most intense enthusiasm on the part of the men, who rent the air with repeated shouts. In less time than it takes to write these ten lines, they were in line, every man at his position, expecting the order to march. As I witnessed this spectacle, and recollected that in this regiment alone Pennsylvania was represented, I could not but feel proud of my State, and regret that her soldiers could not have taken part in the great events of this momentous day. As I have said, it was necessary that I should reach Fairfax at an early hour in the evening. Fairfax is about eight miles from Centreville, and is approached by a devious and rugged road running through a woody country, and traversing a succession of hills. It is a small sleepy town of the old Virginia style, and will be remembered as the scene of Lieut. Tompkins' brilliant cavalry charge in the early part of this campaign. It is situated in a valley, or rather on the brow of a gradually sloping hill, surrounded by a scenery which is somewhat monotonous, but certainly romantic and beautiful. The houses are small, and built like Virginia houses generally, with a view to comfort and aristocratic display. It was intended as the advanced post of governmental communication with Washington, wires having been extended that far to a telegraph station, which was operated by an officer of the Government. The tone of the people was certainly not one of friendship to the Union, although the presence of a fine regiment of Western volunteers
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Battle of Bull Run .
Doc . 4 .- N. Y. Tribune narrative.
Doc . 59 : a Virginian who is not a traitor: response of Lieut. Mayo , U. S. N. , to the proclamation of Gov. Letcher .
Doc . 65 -speech of Galusha A. Grow , on taking the Chair of the House of Representatives of the United States , July 4 .
Doc . 135 .- Virginia ordinance, prohibiting citizens of Virginia from holding office under the United States , passed July , 1861 .
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