Doc. 3.--Wm. H. Russell's letters — on the battle of Bull Run.
Washington, July 19, 1861.The army of the North is fairly moving at last, and all the contending voices of lawyers and disputants will speedily be silenced by the noise of the cannon. Let no one suppose that the war will be decided in one or two battles, or conclude from any present successes of the Federalists that they will not meet with stern opposition as they advance. The Confederates uniformly declared to me after their failure to take either Faneuil Hall or the Capitol, they would wait in Virginia and “entice” the Federalists into certain mysterious traps, where they would be “destroyed to a man.” There is great reliance placed on “masked batteries” in this war, and the country is favorable to their employment; but nothing can prove more completely the unsteady character of the troops than the reliance which is placed on the effects of such works, and, indeed, there is reason to think that there have been panics on both sides — at Great Bethel as well as at Laurel Hill. The telegraph is faster than the post, and all the lucubrations of to-day may be falsified by the deeds of to-morrow. The Senate and Congress are sitting in the Capitol within the very hearing of the guns, and the sight of the smoke of the conflict which is now raging in Virginia. Senators and Congressmen are engaged in disputations and speeches, while soldiers are working out the problem in their own way, and it is within the range of possibility that a disastrous battle may place the capital in the hands of the Confederates; and the news which has just come in that the latter have passed Bull Run, a small river which flows into the Potomac, below Alexandria, crossing the railroad from that place, is a proof that Fairfax Court-House was abandoned for a reason. It is stated that the Confederates have been repulsed by the 69th (Irish) Regiment and the 79th (Scotch) New York Volunteers, and as soon as this letter has been posted I shall proceed to the field (for the campaign has now fairly commenced) and ascertain the facts. If the Confederates force the left of McDowell's army, they will obtain possession of the line to Alexandria, and may endanger Washington itself. The design of Beauregard may have been to effect this very object while he engaged the bulk of the Federalists at Manassas Junction, which you must not confound with Manassas Gap. The reports of guns were heard this morning in the direction of the Junction, and it is probable that McDowell, advancing from Centreville, has met the enemy, prepared to dispute his passage. There are some stories in town to the effect that Gen. Tyler has met with a severe check on the right, but the advance of McDowell was very cautious, and he would not let his troops fall into the ambuscades against which they have been especially forewarned. Let speculation, which to-morrow's news must outstrip, cease here, and let us examine the composition of the forces actually engaged with the Confederates. The head of the naval and military forces of the United States is the President, in theory and in the practice of appointments; but Lieut.-Gen. Winfield Scott is “Commander-in-chief” of the United States Army. His staff consists of Lieut.-Col. E. D. Townsend, Assistant Adjutant-General, Chief of the Staff; Col. H. Van Renssellaer, A. D. C. (Volunteer;) Lieut.-Col. George W. Cullum, United States Engineer, A. D. C.; Lieut.-Col. Edward Wright, United States Cavalry, A. D. C.; Lieut.-Col. Schuyler Hamilton, Military Secretary. The subjoined general order gives the organization of the standard of the several divisions of the army under Brig.-Gen. McDowell, now advancing into Virginia from the lines opposite Washington.1 Some changes have been made since this order was published, and the corps has been strengthened by the accession of two regular field-batteries. The effective strength of the infantry, under McDowell, may be taken at 30,000, and there are about sixty field-pieces at his disposal, and a force of about ten squadrons of cavalry.2 The division under Gen. Patterson is about 22,000 strong, and has three batteries of artillery attached to it; and Gen. Mansfield, who commands the army of Washington and the reserve watching the Capitol, has under him a corps of 16,000 men almost exclusively volunteers; Gen. McDowell has also left a strong guard in his intrenchments along the right bank of the Potomac, guarding the bridges and covering the roads to Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church. The division in military occupation of Maryland under Gen. Banks, most of which is concentrated in and around Baltimore, consists of 7,400 men, with some field-guns. The corps at Fortress Monroe and Hampton, under Gen. Butler, is 11,000 strong, with two field batteries, some guns of position, and the fortress itself in hand. Gen. Lyon, who is operating in Missouri with marked success, has about 6,500 men. Gen. Prentiss at Cairo commands a division of 6,000 men and two field-batteries. There are beside these forces many regiments organized and actually in the field. The army under the command of Gen. Beauregard at Manassas Junction is estimated at 60,000, but that must include the reserves, and! a portion of the force in the intrenchments along the road to Richmond, in the immediate neighborhood of which there is a corps of 15,000 men. At Norfolk there are 18,000 or 20,000, at Acquia Creek 8,000 to 9,000, and Johnston's corps is estimated at 10,000, swollen by the debris of the defeated column. The railways from the South are open to the Confederates, and they can collect their troops  rapidly, so that it is not at all beyond the reach of probability that they can collect 150,000 or 160,000 men in Virginia, if that number is not now actually in the State. In cavalry they have a superiority, but the country is not favorable for their operations till the armies approach Richmond. In field-artillery they are not so well provided as the Federalists. They have, however, a great number of heavy batteries and guns of position at their disposal. Food is plentiful in their camps; the harvest is coming in. In general equipments and ammunition the Federalists have a considerable advantage. In discipline there is not much difference, perhaps, in the bulk of the volunteers on both sides, but the United States forces have the benefit of the example and presence of the regular army, the privates of which have remained faithful to the Government. If we are to judge from what may be seen in Washington, there are mauvais sujets in abundance among the United States troops. The various foreign ministers have been so much persecuted by soldiers coming to their houses and asking for help, that sentries were ordered to be put at their doors. Lord Lyons, however, did not acquiesce in the propriety of the step, and in lieu of that means of defence against demands for money, a document called “a safeguard” has been furnished to the domestics at the various legations, in which applicants are informed that they are liable to the penalty of death for making such solicitations. Gen. McDowell writes in his despatch from Fairfax Court-House: “I am distressed to have to report excesses by our troops. The excitement of the men found vent in burning and pillaging, which, however soon checked, distressed us all greatly.” What will take place at the close of a hardly contested action in the front of populous towns and villages? The vast majority of the soldiers are very well-behaved, but it will require severe punishment to deter the evil-disposed from indulging in all the license of war. The energy displayed in furnishing the great army in the field with transport and ambulances is very great, and I have been surprised to see the rapidity with which wagons and excellent field hospitals and sick carts have been constructed and forwarded by the contractors. The corps in Virginia under McDowell may be considered fit to make a campaign in all respects so far as those essentials are concerned, and the Government is rapidly purchasing horses and mules which are not inferior to those used in any army in the world. These few lines must suffice till the despatch of the mall on Wednesday. July 22..--I sit down to give an account — not of the action yesterday, but of what I saw with my own eyes, hitherto not often deceived, and of what I heard with my own ears, which in this country are not so much to be trusted. Let me, however, express an opinion as to the affair of yesterday. In the first place, the repulse of the Federalists, decided as it was, might have had no serious effects whatever beyond the mere failure — which politically was of greater consequence than it was in a military sense — but for the disgraceful conduct of the troops. The retreat on their lines at Centreville seems to have ended in a cowardly rout — a miserable, causeless panic. Such scandalous behavior on the part of soldiers I should have considered impossible, as with some experience of camps and armies I have never even in alarms among camp-followers seen the like of it. How far the disorganization of the troops extended, I know not; but it was complete in the instance of more than one regiment. Washington this morning is crowded with soldiers without officers, who have fled from Centreville, and with “three months men,” who are going home from the face of the enemy on the expiration of their term of enlistment. The streets, in spite of the rain, are crowded by people with anxious faces, and groups of wavering politicians are assembled at the corners, in the hotel passages, and the bars. If, in the present state of the troops, the Confederates were to make a march across the Potomac above Washington, turning the works at Arlington, the Capitol might fall into their hands. Delay may place that event out of the range of probability. The North will, no doubt, recover the shock. Hitherto she has only said, “Go and fight for the Union.” The South has exclaimed, “Let us fight for our rights.” The North must put its best men into the battle, or she will inevitably fail before the energy, the personal hatred, and the superior fighting powers of her antagonist. In my letters, as in my conversation, I have endeavored to show that the task which the Unionists have set themselves is one of no ordinary difficulty; but in the state of arrogance and supercilious confidence, either real or affected to conceal a sense of weakness, one might as well have preached to the pyramid of Cheops. Indeed, one may form some notion of the condition of the public mind by observing that journals conducted avowedly by men of disgraceful personal character — the be-whipped, and be-kicked, and unrecognized pariahs of society in New York — are, nevertheless, in the very midst of repulse and defeat, permitted to indulge in ridiculous rhodomontade toward the nations of Europe, and to move our laughter by impotently malignant attacks on “our rotten old monarchy,” while the stones of their bran-new Republic are tumbling about their ears. It will be amusing to observe the change of tone, for we can afford to observe and to be amused at the same time. On Saturday night I resolved to proceed to Gen. McDowell's army, as it was obvious to me that the repulse at Bull Run and the orders of the General directed against the excesses of his soldiery indicated serious defects in his army — not more serious, however, than I had reason to believe existed. How to get out was the  difficulty. The rumors of great disaster and repulse had spread through the city. The livery stable keepers, with one exception, refused to send out horses to the scene of action — at least the exception told me so. Senators and Congressmen were going to make a day of it, and all the vehicles and horses that could be procured were in requisition for the scene of action. This curiosity was aroused by the story that McDowell had been actually ordered to make an attack on Manassas, and that Gen. Scott had given him till 12 o'clock to be master of Beauregard's lines. If Gen. Scott ordered the attack at all, I venture to say he was merely the mouthpiece of the more violent civilians of the Government, who mistake intensity of feeling for military strength. The consequences of the little skirmish at Bull Run, ending in the repulse of the Federalists, were much exaggerated, and their losses were put down at any figures the fancy of the individual item who was speaking suggested. “I can assure you, sir, that the troops had 1,500 killed and wounded; I know it.” I went off to the Headquarters, and there Gen. Scott's Aid informed me that Gen. McDowell's official report gave 6 killed and 37 wounded. The livery keepers stuck to the 1,500 or 2,000. The greater the number hors de combat, the higher the tariff for the hire of quadrupeds. All I could do was to get a kind of cabriolet, with a seat in front for the driver, to which a pole was affixed for two horses, at a Derby-day price, a strong led horse, which Indian experiences have induced me always to rely upon in the neighborhood of uncertain fighting. I had to enter into an agreement with the owner to pay him for horses and buggy if they were “captured or injured by the enemy,” and though I smiled at his precautions, they proved not quite unreasonable. The master made no provision for indemnity in the case of injury to the driver, or the colored boy who rode the saddle-horse. When I spoke with officers at Gen. Scott's Headquarters of the expedition, it struck me they were not at all sanguine about the result of the day, and one of them said as much as induced me to think he would advise me to remain in the city, if he did not take it for granted it was part of my duty to go to the scene of action. An English gentleman who accompanied me was strongly dissuaded from going by a colonel of cavalry on the staff, because, he said, “the troops are green, and no one can tell what may happen.” But my friend got his pass from Gen. Scott, who was taking the whole affair of Bull Run and the pressure of the morrow's work with perfect calm, and we started on Sunday morning--not so early as we ought, perhaps, which was none of my fault — for Centreville, distant about 25 miles south-west of Washington. I purposed starting in the beautiful moonlight, so as to arrive at McDowell's camp in the early dawn; but the aides could not or would not give us the countersign over the Long Bridge, and without it no one could get across until after 5 o'clock in the morning. When McDowell moved away, he took so many of the troops about Arlington that the camps and forts are rather denuded of men. I do not give, as may be observed, the names of regiments, unless in special cases--first, because they possess little interest, I conceive, for those in Europe who read these letters; and secondly, because there is an exceedingly complex system — at least to a foreigner — of nomenclature in the forces, and one may make a mistake between a regiment of volunteers and a regiment of State militia of the same number, or even of regulars in the lower figures. The soldiers lounging about the forts and over the Long Bridge across the Potomac were an exceedingly unkempt, “loafing” set of fellows, who handled their firelocks like pitchforks and spades, and I doubt if some of those who read or tried to read our papers could understand them, as they certainly did not speak English. The Americans possess excellent working materials, however, and I have had occasion repeatedly to remark the rapidity and skill with which they construct earthworks. At the Virginia side of the Long Bridge there is now a very strong tete de pont, supported by the regular redoubt on the hill over the road. These works did not appear to be strongly held, but it is possible men were in the tents near at hand, deserted though they seemed, and at all events reinforcements could be speedily poured in if necessary. The long and weary way was varied by different pickets along the road, and by the examination of our papers and passes at different points. But the country looked vacant, in spite of crops of Indian corn, for the houses were shut up, and the few indigenous people whom we met looked most blackly under their brows at the supposed abolitionists. This portion of Virginia is well wooded, and undulating in heavy, regular waves of field and forest; but the roads are deeply cut, and filled with loose stones, very disagreeable to ride or drive over. The houses are of wood, with the usual negro huts adjoining them, and the specimens of the race which I saw were well-dressed, and not ill-looking. On turning into one of the roads which leads to Fairfax Court-House, and to Centreville beyond it, the distant sound of cannon reached us. That must have been about 9 1/2, A. M. It never ceased all day; at least, whenever the rattle of the gig ceased, the booming of cannon rolled through the woods on our ears. One man said it began at 2 o'clock, but the pickets told us it had really become continuous about 7 1/2 or 8 o'clock. In a few minutes afterward, a body of men appeared on the road, with their backs toward Centreville, and their faces toward Alexandria. Their march was so disorderly that I could not have believed they were soldiers in an enemy's country — for Virginia hereabout is certainly so — but for their arms and uniform. It soon appeared that there was no less than an entire  regiment marching away, singly or in small knots of two or three, extending for some three or four miles along the road. A Babel of tongues rose from them, and they were all in good spirits, but with an air about them I could not understand. Dismounting at a stream where a group of thirsty men were drinking and halting in the shade, I asked an officer, “Where are your men going, sir?” “Well, we're going home, sir, I reckon, to Pennsylvania.” It was the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment, which was on its march, as I learned from the men. “I suppose there is severe work going on behind you, judging from the firing?” “Well, I reckon, sir, there is.” “We're going home,” he added after a pause, during which it occurred to him, perhaps, that the movement required explanation--“because the men's time is up. We have had three months of this work.” I proceeded on my way, ruminating on the feelings of a General who sees half a brigade walk quietly away on the very morning of an action, and on the frame of mind of the men, who would have shouted till they were hoarse about their beloved Union--possibly have hunted down any poor creature who expressed a belief that it was not the very quintessence of every thing great and good in government, and glorious and omnipotent in arms — coolly turning their backs on it when in its utmost peril, because the letter of their engagement bound them no further. Perhaps the 4th Pennsylvania were right, but let us hear no more of the excellence of three months service volunteers. And so we left them. The road was devious and difficult. There were few persons on their way, for most of the Senators and Congressmen were on before us. Some few commissariat wagons were overtaken at intervals. Wherever there was a house by the roadside, the negroes were listening to the firing. All at once a terrific object appeared in the wood above the trees — the dome of a church or public building, apparently suffering from the shocks of an earthquake, and heaving to and fro in the most violent manner. In much doubt we approached as well as the horses' minds would let us, and discovered that the strange thing was an inflated balloon attached to a car and wagon, which was on its way to enable Gen. McDowell to reconnoitre the position he was then engaged in attacking — just a day too late. The operators and attendants swore as horribly, as the warriors in Flanders, but they could not curse down the trees, and so the balloon seems likely to fall into the hands of the Confederates. About 11 o'clock we began to enter on the disputed territory which had just been abandoned by the Secessionists to the Federalists in front of Fairfax Court-House. It is not too much to say, that the works thrown up across the road were shams and make-believes, and that the Confederates never intended to occupy the position at all, but sought to lure on the Federalists to Manassas, where they were prepared to meet them. Had it been otherwise, the earthworks would have been of a different character, and the troops would have had regular camps and tents, instead of bivouac huts and branches of trees. Of course, the troops of the enemy did not wish to be cut off, and so they had cut down trees to place across the road, and put some field-pieces in their earthworks to command it. On no side could Richmond be so well defended. The Confederates had it much at heart to induce their enemy to come to the strongest place and attack them, and they succeeded in doing so. But, if the troops behaved as ill in other places as they did at Manassas, the Federalists could not have been successful in any attack whatever. In order that the preparations at Manassas may be understood, and that Gen. Beauregard, of whose character I gave some hint at Charleston, may be known at home as regards his fitness for his work, above all as an officer of artillery and of skill in working it in field or in position, let me insert a description of the place and of the man from a Southern paper:--
It was noon when we arrived at Fairfax Court-House — a poor village of some 30 or 40 straggling wooden and brick houses, deriving its name from the building in which the Circuit Court of the county is held, I believe, and looking the reverse of flourishing — and one may remark, obiter, that the state of this part of Virginia cannot be very prosperous, inasmuch as there was not a village along the road up to this point, and no shops or depots, only one mill, one blacksmith and wheelwright. The village was held by a part of the reserve of McDowell's force, possibly 1,000 strong. The inhabitants were, if eyes spoke truth, secessionists to a man, woman and child, and even the negroes looked extra black, as if they did not care about being fought for. A short way beyond this village, Germantown, the scene of the recent excesses of the Federalists, afforded evidence in its blackened ruins that Gen. McDowell's censure was more than needed. Let me interpolate it, if it be only to show that Gen. Beauregard and his rival are at least equal in point of literary power as masters of the English tongue:Manassas Junction, Virginia, June 7, 1861.This place still continues the Headquarters of the army of the Potomac. There are many indications of an intended forward movement, the better to invite the enemy to an engagement, but the work of fortification still continues. By nature, the position is one of the strongest that could have been found in the whole State. About half-way between the eastern spur of the Blue Ridge and the Potomac, below Alexandria, it commands the whole country between so perfectly, that there is scarcely a possibility of its being turned. The right wing stretches off toward the head-waters of the Occoquan, through a wooded country, which is easily made impassable by the felling of trees. The left is a rolling table-land, easily commanded from the successive elevations, till you reach a country so rough and so rugged that it is a defence to itself. The key to the whole position, in fact, is precisely that point which Gen. Beauregard chose for his centre, and which he has fortified so strongly, that, in the opinion of military men, 5,000 men could there hold 20,000 at bay. The position, in fact, is fortified in part by nature herself. It is a succession of hills, nearly equidistant from each other, in front of which is a ravine so deep and so thickly wooded that it is passable only at two points, and those through gorges which 50 men can defend against a whole army. It was at one of these points that the Washington artillery (of New Orleans) were at first encamped, and though only half the battalion was then there, and we had only one company of infantry to support us, we slept as soundly under the protection of our guns as if we had been in a fort of the amplest dimensions. Of the fortifications superadded here by Gen. Beauregard to those of nature, it is, of course, not proper for me to speak. The general reader  in fact, will have a sufficiently precise idea of them by conceiving a line of forts some two miles in extent, zigzag in form, with angles, salients, bastions, casemates, and every thing that properly belongs to works of the kind. The strength and advantages of this position at Manassas are very much increased by the fact that 14 miles further on is a position of similar formation, while the country between is admirably adapted to the subsistence and intrenchment of troops in numbers as large as they can easily be manoeuvred on the real battle-field. Water is good and abundant, forage such as is everywhere found in the rich farming districts of Virginia, and the communication with all parts of the country easy. Here, overlooking an extensive plain, watered by mountain streams which ultimately find their way to the Potomac; and divided into verdant fields of wheat, and oats, and corn, pasture and meadow, are the Headquarters of the advanced forces of the army of the Potomac. They are South Carolinians, Louisianians, Alabamians, Mississippians, and Virginians, for the most part; the first two, singular enough, being in front, and that they will keep it, their friends at home may rest assured. Never have I seen a finer body of men — men who were more obedient to discipline, or breathed a more self-sacrificing patriotism. As might be expected from the skill with which he has chosen his position, and the system with which he encamps and moves his men, Gen. Beauregard is very popular here. I doubt if Napoleon himself had more the undivided confidence of his army. By nature, as also from a wise policy, he is very reticent. Not an individual here knows his plans or a single move of a regiment before it is made, and then only the colonel and his men know where it goes to. There is not a man here who can give any thing like a satisfactory answer how many men he has, or where his exact lines are. for the distance of 14 miles around, you see tents everywhere, and from them you can make a rough estimate of his men; but how many more are encamped on the by-roads and in the forests, none can tell. The new-comer, from what he sees at first glance, puts down the numbers at about 80,000 men; those who have been here longest estimate his force at 40,000, 50,000, and some even at 60,000 strong. And there is the same discrepancy as to the quantity of his artillery. So close does the general keep his affairs to himself, that his left hand hardly knows what his right hand doeth, and so jealous is he of this prerogative of a commanding officer, that I verily believe, if he suspected his coat of any acquaintance with the plans revolving within him, he would cast it off.
The chimney stacks, being of brick, are the sole remains of the few good houses in the village. Here our driver made a mistake, which was the rather persisted in, that a colored chattel informed us we could get to Centreville by the route we were pursuing, instead of turning back to Germantown, as we should have done. Centreville was still seven miles ahead. The guns sounded, however, heavily from the valleys. Rising above the forest tops appeared the blue masses of the Alleghanies, and we knew Manassas was somewhere on an outlying open of the ridges, which reminded me in color and form of the hills around the valley of Baidar. A Virginian who came out of a cottage, and who was assuredly no descendant of Madame Esmond, told us that we were “going wrong right away.” There was, he admitted, a byroad somewhere to the left front, but people who had tried its depths had returned to Germantown with the conviction that it led to any place but Centreville. Our driver, however, wished to try “if there were no Seseshers about?” “What did you say?” quoth the Virginian. “I want to know if there are any Secessionists there.” “Secessionists!” (in a violent surprise, as if he had heard of them for the first time in his life.) “No, sir-ee, secessionists indeed!” And all this time Beauregard and Lee were pounding away on our left front, some six or seven miles off. The horses retraced their steps, the colored youth who bestrode my charger complaining that the mysterious arrangement which condemns his race to slavery was very much abraded by the action of that spirited quadruped, combined, or rather at variance with the callosities of the English saddle. From Germantown, onward by the right road, there was nothing very remarkable. At one place a group of soldiers were buying “Secession money” from some negroes, who looked as if they could afford to part with it as cheaply as men do who are dealing with other people's property. Buggies and wagons (Anglice, carriages) with cargoes of senators, were overtaken. The store cars became more numerous. At last Centreville appeared in sight — a few houses on our front, beyond which rose a bald hill — the slopes covered with bivouac huts, commissariat carts and horses, and the top crested with spectators of the fight. The road on each side was full of traces of Confederate camps; the houses were now all occupied by Federalists. In the rear of the hill was a strong body of infantry--two regiments of foreigners, mostly Germans, with a battery of light artillery. Our buggy was driven up to the top of the hill. The colored boy was despatched to the village to look for a place to shelter the horses while they were taking a much required feed, and to procure, if possible, a meal for himself and the driver. On the hill there were carriages and vehicles drawn up as if they were attending a small country race. They were afterwards engaged in a race of another kind. In one was a lady with an opera-glass; in and around and on others were legislators and politicians. There were also a few civilians on horseback, and on the slope of the hill a regiment had stacked arms, and was engaged in looking at and commenting on the battle below. The landscape in front was open to the sight as far as the ranges of the Alleghanies, which swept round from the right in blue mounds, the color of which softened into violet in the distance. On the left the view was circumscribed by a wood, which receded along the side of the hill on which we stood to the plain below. Between the base of the hill, which rose about 150 feet above the general level of the country, and the foot of the lowest and nearest elevation of the opposite Alleghanies, extended about five miles, as well as I could judge, of a densely wooded country, dotted at intervals with green fields and patches of cleared lands. It was marked by easy longitudinal undulations, indicated by the form of the forests which clothed them, and between two of the more considerable ran small streams, or “runs,” as they are denominated, from the right to the left. Close at hand a narrow road descended the hill, went straight into the forest, where it was visible now and then among the trees in cream-colored patches. This road was filled with commissariat wagons, the white tops of which were visible for two miles in our front. On our left front a gap in the lowest chain of the hills showed the gap of Manassas, and to the left and nearer to me lay the “Junction” of the same name, where the Alexandria Railway unites with the rail from the west of Virginia, and continues the route by rails of various denominations to Richmond. The scene was so peaceful, a man might well doubt the evidence of one's sense that a great contest was being played out below in bloodshed, or imagine, as Mr. Seward sometimes does, that it was a delusion when he wakes in the morning and finds there is civil war upon him. But the cannon spoke out loudly from the green bushes, and the plains below were mottled, so to speak, by puffs of smoke and by white rings from bursting shells and capricious howitzers. It was no review that was going on beneath us. The shells gave proof enough of that, though the rush of the shot could not be heard at the distance. Clouds of dust came up in regular lines through the tree-tops where infantry were acting, and now and then their wavering mists of light-blue smoke curled up, and the splutter of musketry broke through the booming of the guns. With the glass I could detect, now and then, the flash of arms through the dust-clouds in the open, but no one could tell to which side the troops who were moving belonged, and I could only judge from the smoke whether the guns were  fired toward or away from the hill. It was evident that the dust in the distance on our right extended beyond that which rose from the Federalists. The view toward the left, as I have said, was interrupted, but the firing was rather more heavy there than on the front or right flank, and a glade was pointed out in the forest as the beginning of Bull or Poole's Run, on the other side of which the Confederates were hid in force, though they had not made any specific reply to the shells thrown into their cover early in the morning. There seemed to be a continuous line, which was held by the enemy, from which came steady solid firing against what might be supposed to be heads of columns stationed at various points, or advancing against them. It was necessary to feed the horses and give them some rest after a hot drive of some 26 or 27 miles, or I would have proceeded at once to the front. As I was watching the faces of the Senators and Congressmen, I thought I had heard or read of such a scene as this — but there was much more to come. The soldiers, who followed each shot with remarks in English or German, were not as eager as men generally are in watching a fight. Once, as a cloud of thick smoke ascended from the trees, a man shouted out, “That's good; we've taken another battery: there goes the magazine.” But it looked like, and I believe was, the explosion of a caisson. In the midst of our little reconnoissance, Mr. Vizetelly, who has been living, and indeed marching, with one of the regiments as artist of The Illustrated London News, came up and told us the action had been commenced in splendid style by the Federalists, who had advanced steadily, driving the Confederates before them — a part of the plan, as I firmly believe, to bring them under the range of their guns. He believed the advantages on the Federal side were decided, though won with hard fighting, and he had just come up to Centreville to look after something to eat and drink, and to procure little necessaries, in case of need, for his comrades. His walk very probably saved his life. Having seen all that could be discerned through our glasses, my friend and myself had made a feast on our sandwiches in the shade of the buggy; my horse was eating and resting, and I was forced to give him half an hour or more before I mounted, and meantime tried to make out the plan of battle, but all was obscure and dark. Suddenly up rode an officer, with a crowd of soldiers after him, from the village. “We've whipped them on all points!” he shouted. “We've taken their batteries, and they're all retreating!” Such an uproar as followed! The spectators and men cheered again and again, amid cries of “Bravo!” “Bully for us!” “Didn't I tell you so?” and guttural “hochs” from the Deutschland folk, and loud “hurroors” from the Irish. Soon afterward my horse was brought up to the hill, and my friend and the gentleman I have already mentioned set out to walk toward the front — the latter to rejoin his regiment, if possible, the former to get a closer view of the proceedings. As I turned down into the narrow road or lane already mentioned, there was a forward movement among the large four-wheeled tilt wagons, which raised a good deal of dust. My attention was particularly called to this by the occurrence of a few minutes afterward. I had met my friends on the road, and after a few words, rode forward at a long trot as well as I could past the wagons and through the dust, when suddenly there arose a tumult in front of me at a small bridge across the road, and then I perceived the drivers of a set of wagons with the horses turned toward me, who were endeavoring to force their way against the stream of vehicles setting in the other direction. By the side of the new set of wagons there were a number of commissariat men and soldiers, whom at first sight I took to be the baggage guard. They looked excited and alarmed, and were running by the side of the horses — in front the dust quite obscured the view. At the bridge the currents met in wild disorder. “Turn back! Retreat!” shouted the men from the front. “We're whipped I We're whipped!” They cursed, and tugged at the horses' heads, and struggled with frenzy to get past. Running by me on foot was a man with the shoulder-straps of an officer. “Pray, what is the matter, sir?” “It means we're pretty badly whipped, and that's a fact,” he blurted out in puffs, and continued his career. I observed that he carried no sword. The teamsters of the advancing wagons now caught up the cry. “Turn back — turn your horses!” was the shout up the whole line, and, backing, plunging, rearing, and kicking, the horses which had been proceeding down the road, reversed front and went off toward Centreville. Those behind them went madly rushing on, the drivers being quite indifferent whether glory or disgrace led the way, provided they could find it. In the midst of this extraordinary spectacle, an officer, escorted by some dragoons, rode through the ruck with a light cart in charge. Another officer on foot, with his sword under his arm, ran up against me. “What is all this about?” “Why, we're pretty badly whipped. We're all in retreat. There's General Tyler there, badly wounded.” And on he ran. There came yet another, who said, “We're beaten on all points. The whole army is in retreat.” Still there was no flight of troops, no retreat of an army, no reason for all this precipitation. True, there were many men in uniform flying toward the rear, but it did not appear as if they were beyond the proportions of a large baggage escort. I got my horse up into the field out of the road, and went on rapidly towards the front. Soon I met soldiers, who were coming through the corn, mostly without arms; and presently I saw firelocks, cooking-tins, knapsacks, and greatcoats on the ground, and observed that the confusion and speed of the baggage carts became greater, and that many  of them were crowded with men, or were followed by others, who clung to them. The ambulances were crowded with soldiers, but it did not look as if there were many wounded. Negro servants on led horses dashed frantically past; men in uniform, whom it were a disgrace to the profession of arms to call “soldiers,” swarmed by on mules, chargers, and even draught horses, which had been cut out of carts or wagons, and went on with harness clinging to their heels, as frightened as their riders. Men literally screamed with rage and fright when their way was blocked up. On I rode, asking all, “What is all this about?” and now and then, but rarely, receiving the answer, “We're whipped;” or, “We're repulsed.” Faces black and dusty, tongues out in the heat, eyes staring — it was a most wonderful sight. On they came, like him,Headquarters Department of Virginia, Fairfax Court-House, July 18.General orders, No. 18.--It is with the deepest mortification the general commanding finds it necessary to reiterate his orders for the preservation of the property of the inhabitants of the district occupied by the troops under his command. Hardly had we arrived at this place, when, to the horror of every right-minded person, several houses were broken open, and others were in flames, by the act of some of those who, it has been the boast of the loyal, came here to protect the oppressed, and free the country from the domination of a hated party. The property of this people is at the mercy of troops who, we rightly say, are the most intelligent, best educated, and most law-abiding of any that ever were under arms. But do not, therefore, the acts of yesterday cast the deepest stain upon them? It was claimed by some that their particular corps were not engaged in these acts. This is of but little moment; since the individuals are not found out, we are all alike disgraced. Commanders of regiments will select a commissioned officer as a provost-marshal, and ten men as a police force under him, whose special and sole duty it shall be to preserve the property from depredations, and to arrest all wrong-doers, of whatever regiment or corps they may be. Any one found committing the slightest depredation, killing pigs or poultry, or trespassing on the property of the inhabitants, will be reported to Headquarters, and the least that will be done to them will be to send them to the Alexandria jail. It is again ordered, that no one shall arrest, or attempt to arrest, any citizen not in arms at the time, or search or attempt to search any house, or even to enter the same without permission. The troops must behave themselves with as much forbearance and propriety as if they were at their own homes. They are here to fight the enemies of the country, not to judge and punish the unarmed and defenceless, however guilty they may be.  When necessary, that will be done by the proper person. By command of Gen. McDowell:James B. Fry, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Who, having once turned round, goes on,But where was the fiend? I looked in vain. There was, indeed, some cannonading in front of me and in their rear, but still the firing was comparatively distant, and the runaways were far out of range. As I advanced, the number of carts diminished, but the mounted men increased, and the column of fugitives became denser. A few buggies and light wagons filled with men, whose faces would have made up “a great Leporello” in the ghost scene, tried to pierce the rear of the mass of carts, which were now solidified and moving on like a glacier. I crossed a small ditch by the roadside, got out on the road to escape some snake fences, and, looking before me, saw there was still a crowd of men in uniforms coming along. The road was strewn with articles of clothing — firelocks, waist-belts, cartouch-boxes, caps, greatcoats, mess-tins, musical instruments, cartridges, bayonets and sheaths, swords and pistols — even biscuits, water-bottles, and pieces of meat. Passing a white house by the roadside, I saw, for the first time, a body of infantry with sloped arms marching regularly and rapidly towards me. Their faces were not blackened by powder, and it was evident they had not been engaged. In reply to a question, a non-commissioned officer told me in broken English, “We fell back to our lines. The attack did not quite succeed.” This was assuring to one who had come through such a scene as I had been witnessing. I had ridden, I suppose, about three or three and a-half miles from the hill, though it is not possible to be sure of the distance; when, having passed the white house, I came out on an open piece of ground, beyond and circling which was forest. Two field-pieces were unlimbered and guarding the road; the panting and jaded horses in the rear looked as though they had been hard worked, and the gunners and drivers looked worn and dejected. Dropping shots sounded close in front through the woods; but the guns on the left no longer maintained their fire. I was just about to ask one of the men for a light, when a sputtering fire on my right attracted my attention, and out of the forest or along the road rushed a number of men. The gunners seized the trail of the nearest piece to wheel it round upon them; others made for the tumbrils and horses as if to fly, when a shout was raised, “Don't fire; they're our own men;” and in a few minutes on came pell-mell a whole regiment in disorder. I rode across one, and stopped him. “We're pursued by cavalry,” he gasped, “they've cut us all to pieces.” As he spoke, a shell burst over the column; another dropped on the road, and out streamed another column of men, keeping together with their arms, and closing up the stragglers of the first regiment. I turned, and to my surprise saw the artillerymen had gone off, leaving one gun standing by itself. They had retreated with their horses. While we were on the hill, I had observed and pointed out to my companions a cloud of dust which rose through the trees on our right front. In my present position that place must have been on the right rear, and it occurred to me that after all there really might be a body of cavalry in that direction; but Murat himself would not have charged these wagons in that deep, well-fenced lane. If the dust came, as I believe it did, from field-artillery, that would be a different matter. Any way it was now well established that the retreat had really commenced, though I saw but few wounded men, and the regiments which were falling back had not suffered much loss. No one seemed to know any thing for certain. Even the cavalry charge was a rumor. Several officers said they had carried guns and lines, but then they drifted into the nonsense which one reads and hears everywhere about “masked batteries.” One or two talked more sensibly about the strong positions of the enemy, the fatigue of their men, the want of a reserve, severe losses, and the bad conduct of certain regiments. Not one spoke as if he thought of retiring beyond Centreville. The clouds of dust rising above the woods marked the retreat of the whole army, and the crowds of fugitives continued to steal away along the road. The sun was declining, and some thirty miles yet remained to be accomplished ere I could hope to gain the shelter of Washington. No one knew whither any corps or regiment was marching, but there were rumors of all. kinds--“The 69th are cut to pieces,” “The fire Zouaves are destroyed,” and so on. Presently a tremor ran through the men by whom I was riding, as the sharp reports of some field-pieces rattled through the wood close at hand. A sort of subdued roar, like the voice of distant breakers, rose in front of us, and the soldiers, who were, I think, Germans, broke into a double, looking now and then over their shoulders. There was no choice for me but to resign any further researches. The mail from Washington for the Wednesday steamer at Boston  leaves at 2 1/2 on Monday, and so I put my horse into a trot, keeping in the fields alongside the roads as much as I could, to avoid the fugitives, till I came once more on the rear of the baggage and store carts, and the pressure of the crowd, who, conscious of the aid which the vehicles would afford them against a cavalry charge, and fearful, nevertheless, of their proximity, clamored and shouted like madmen as they ran. The road was now literally covered with baggage. It seemed to me as if the men inside were throwing the things out purposely. “Stop,” cried I to the driver of one of the carts, “every thing is falling out.” “----you,” shouted a fellow inside, “if you stop him, I'll blow your brains out.” My attempts to save Uncle Sam's property were then and there discontinued. On approaching Centreville, a body of German infantry of the reserve came marching down, and stemmed the current in some degree; they were followed by a brigade of guns and another battalion of fresh troops. I turned up on the hill half a mile beyond. The vehicles had all left but two--my buggy was gone. A battery of field-guns was in position where we had been standing. The men looked well. As yet there was nothing to indicate more than a retreat, and some ill-behavior among the wagoners and the riff-raff of different regiments. Centreville was not a bad position properly occupied, and I saw no reason why it should not be held if it was meant to renew the attack, nor any reason why the attack should not be renewed, if there had been any why it should have been made. I swept the field once more. The clouds of dust were denser and nearer. That was all. There was no firing — no musketry. I turned my horse's head and rode away through the village, and after I got out upon the road the same confusion seemed to prevail. Suddenly the guns on the hill opened, and at the same time came the thuds of artillery from the wood on the right rear. The stampede then became general. What occurred at the hill I cannot say, but all the road from Centreville for miles presented such a sight as can only be witnessed in the track of the runaways of an utterly demoralized army. Drivers flogged, lashed, spurred, and beat their horses, or leaped down and abandoned their teams, and ran by the side of the road; mounted men, servants, and men in uniform, vehicles of all sorts, commissariat wagons, thronged the narrow ways. At every shot a convulsion, as it were, seized upon the morbid mass of bones, sinew, wood, and iron, and thrilled through it, giving new energy and action to its desperate efforts to get free from itself. Again the cry of “Cavalry” arose. “What are you afraid of?” said I to a man who was running beside me. “I'm not afraid of you!” replied the ruffian, levelling his piece at me, and pulling the trigger. It was not loaded, or the cap was not on, for the gun did not go off. I was unarmed, and I did go off as fast I could, resolved to keep my own counsel for the second time that day. And so the flight went on. At one time a whole mass of infantry, with fixed bayonets, ran down the bank of the road, and some falling as they ran, must have killed and wounded those among whom they fell. As I knew the road would soon become impassable or blocked up, I put my horse to a gallop and passed on toward the front. But mounted men still rode faster, shouting out, “Cavalry are coming.” Again I ventured to speak to some officers whom I overtook, and said, “If these runaways are not stopped, the whole of the posts and pickets in Washington will fly also!” One of them, without saying a word, spurred his horse and dashed on in front. I do not know whether he ordered the movement or not, but the van of the fugitives was now suddenly checked, and, pressing on through the wood at the roadside, I saw a regiment of infantry blocking up the way, with their front towards Centreville. A musket was levelled at my head as I pushed to the front--“Stop, or I'll fire.” 3 At the same time the officers  were shouting out, “Don't let a soul pass.” I addressed one of them, and said, “Sir, I am a British subject. I am not, I assure you, running away. I have done my best to stop this disgraceful rout, (as I had,) and have been telling them there are no cavalry within miles of them.” “I can't let you pass, sir.” I bethought me of Gen. Scott's pass. The adjutant read it, and the word was given along the line, “Let that man pass!” and so I rode through, uncertain if I could now gain the Long Bridge in time to pass over without the countersign. It was about this time I met a cart by the roadside surrounded by a group of soldiers, some of whom had “69” on their caps. The owner, as I took him to be, was in great distress, and cried out as I passed, “Can you tell me, sir, where the 69th are? These men say they are cut to pieces.” “I can't tell you.” “I'm in charge of the mails, sir, and I will deliver them if I die for it. You are a gentleman and I can depend on your word. Is it safe for me to go on?” Not knowing the extent of the debacle, I assured him it was, and asked the men of the regiment how they happened to be there. “Shure, the Colonel himself told us to go off every man on his own hook, and to fly for our lives!” replied one of them. The mail agent, who told me he was an Englishman, started the cart again. I sincerely hope no bad result to himself or his charge followed my advice; I reached Fairfax Court-House; the people, black and white, with anxious faces, were at the doors, and the infantry were under arms. I was besieged with questions, though hundreds of fugitives had passed through before me. At one house I stopped to ask for water for my horse; the owner sent his servant for it cheerfully, the very house where we had in vain asked for something to eat in the forenoon.  “There's a fright among them,” I observed, in reply to his question respecting the commissariat drivers. “They're afraid of the enemy's cavalry.” “Are you an American?” said the man. “No, I am not.” “Well, then,” he said, “there will be cavalry on them soon enough. There's 20,000 of the best horsemen in the world in Virginia!” Washington was still 18 miles away. The road was rough and uncertain, and again my poor steed was under way, but it was of no use trying to outstrip the runaways. Once or twice I imagined I heard guns in the rear, but I could not be sure of it in consequence of the roar of the flight behind me. It was most surprising to see how far the foot soldiers had contrived to get on in advance. After sunset the moon rose, and amid other acquaintances, I jogged alongside an officer who was in charge of Col. Hunter, the commander of a brigade, I believe, who was shot through the neck, and was inside a cart, escorted by a few troopers. This officer was, as I understood, the major or second in command of Col. Hunter's regiment, yet he had considered it right to take charge of his chief, and to leave his battalion. He said they had driven back the enemy with ease, but had not been supported, and blamed — as bad officers and good ones will do — the conduct of the General: “So mean a fight I never saw.” I was reminded of a Crimean General, who made us all merry by saying, after the first bombardment, “In the whole course of my experience I never saw a siege conducted on such principles as these.” Our friend had been without food, but not, I suspect, without drink — and that, we know, affects empty stomachs very much — since two o'clock that morning. Now, what is to be thought of an officer — gallant, he may be, as steel — who says, as I heard this gentleman say to a picket who asked him how the day went in front, “Well, we've been licked into a cocked hat; knocked to----.” This was his cry to teamsters escorts, convoys, the officers and men on guard and detachment, while I, ignorant of the disaster behind, tried to mollify the effect of the news by adding, “Oh! it's a drawn battle. The troops are reoccupying the position from which they started in the morning.” Perhaps he knew his troops better than I did. It was a strange ride, through a country now still as death, the white road shining like a river in the moonlight, the trees black as ebony in the shade; now and then a figure flitting by into the forest or across the road — frightened friend or lurking foe, who could say? Then the anxious pickets and sentries all asking, “What's the news?” and evidently prepared for any amount of loss. Twice or thrice we lost our way, or our certainty about it, and shouted at isolated houses, and received no reply, except from angry watch-dogs. Then we were set right as we approached Washington, by teamsters. For an hour, however, we seemed to be travelling along a road which, in all its points, far and near, was “twelve miles from the Long Bridge.” Up hills, down into valleys, with the silent grim woods forever by our sides. Now and then, in the profound gloom, broken only by a spark from the horse's hoof, came a dull but familiar sound like the shutting of a distant door. As I approached Washington, having left the Colonel and his escort at some seven miles on the south side of the Long Bridge, I found the grand guards, pickets' posts, and individual sentries burning for news, and the word used to pass along, “What does that man say, Jack?” “Begorra, he tells me we're not bet at all — only retraiting to the ould lines for convaniency of fighting to-morrow again. Oh, that's illigant!” On getting to the tete de pont, however, the countersign was demanded; of course, I had not got it. But the officer passed me through on the production of Gen. Scott's safeguard. The lights of the city were in sight; and reflected by the waters of the Potomac, just glistened by the clouded moon, shone the gay lamps of the White House, where the President was probably entertaining some friends. In silence I passed over the Long Bridge. Some few hours later it quivered under the steps of a rabble of unarmed men. At the Washington end a regiment with piled arms were waiting to cross over into Virginia, singing and cheering. Before the morning they received orders, I believe, to assist in keeping Maryland quiet. For the hundredth time I repeated the cautious account, which to the best of my knowledge was true. There were men, women, and soldiers to hear it. The clocks had just struck 11 P. M. as I passed Willard's. The pavement in front of the hall was crowded. The rumors of defeat had come in, but few of the many who had been fed upon lies and the reports of complete victory which prevailed could credit the intelligence. Seven hours had not elapsed before the streets told the story. The “Grand army of the North,” as it was called, had representatives in every thoroughfare, without arms, orders, or officers, standing out in the drenching rain. When all these most unaccountable phenomena were occurring, I was fast asleep, but I could scarce credit my informant in the morning, when he told me that the Federalists, utterly routed, had fallen back upon Arlington to defend the capital, leaving nearly 5 batteries of artillery, 8,000 muskets, immense quantities of stores and baggage, and their wounded prisoners in the hands of the enemy! Let the American journals tell the story their own way. I have told mine as I know it. It has rained incessantly and heavily since early morning, and the country is quite unfit for operations; otherwise, if Mr. Davis desired to press his advantage, he might be now very close to Arlington Heights. He has already proved that he has a fair right to be considered the head of a “belligerent power.” But, though the North may reel under the shock, I cannot think it will make her desist from the struggle,  unless it be speedily followed by blows more deadly even than the repulse from Manassas. There is much talk now (of “masked batteries,” of course) of outflanking, and cavalry, and such matters. The truth seems to be that the men were overworked, kept out for 12 or 14 hours in the sun, exposed to a long-range fire, badly officered, and of deficient regimental organization. Then came a most difficult operation — to withdraw this army, so constituted, out of action, in face of an energetic enemy who had repulsed it. The retirement of the baggage, which was without adequate guards, and was in the hands of ignorant drivers, was misunderstood, and created alarm, and that alarm became a panic, which became frantic on the appearance of the enemy and on the opening of their guns on the runaways. But the North will be all the more eager to retrieve this disaster, although it may divert her from the scheme, which has been suggested to her, of punishing England a little while longer. The exultation of the South can only be understood by those who may see it; and if the Federal Government perseveres in its design to make Union by force, it may prepare for a struggle the result of which will leave the Union very little to fight for. More of the “battle” in my next. I pity the public across the water, but they must be the victims of hallucinations and myths it is out of my power to dispel or rectify just now. Having told so long a story, I can scarcely expect your readers to have patience, and go back upon the usual diary of events; but the records, such as they are, of this extraordinary repulse, must command attention. It is impossible to exaggerate their importance. No man can predict the results or pretend to guess at them.
And turns no more his head,
For he knoweth that a fearful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.
Comments on Mr. Russell's letter: from the Chicago Tribune.Mr. Russell's letter to the London Times, the greater part of which we transferred to our columns yesterday morning, is, in many respects, a remarkable paper. We enjoyed the privilege of riding from a point a couple of miles east of Centreville, to another point east of Fairfax Court House, with Mr. Russell, and when he tells what took place on that bit of road, we are competent judges of his truthfulness and fairness as a descriptive writer. We do not know and do not care what he saw, or says he saw, of the fight and the flight, before we found him; but from the errors and misstatements in that portion of his narrative with which we are immediately concerned, we should be justified in believing that he was not at the battle at all, and that the materials for his letter were gathered from some Fire Zouave or a private of the Ohio Second, who left, terror stricken, in the early part of the fray, and carried the fatal news of the rout and the race to the credulous rear. We left Centreville without, knowing that a repulse had been felt, or that a retreat to that point had been ordered. Jogging leisurely down the Washington road, perhaps ten minutes--certainly not more — ahead of Mr. Russell, we saw nothing of the flogging, lashing, spurring, beating, and abandoning that he so graphically describes. The road was as quiet and clear as if no army were in the vicinity. A mile from Centreville we met that New Jersey regiment, a private of which, Mr. Russell says, threatened to “shoot him if he did not halt.” The officers were turning back the few fugitives, not a dozen in all, that were on their way in; but, recognized as a civilian, as the Times correspondent must have been, we passed to the rear unchallenged. Mr. Russell, at that moment, could not have been half a mile behind us. Pushing on slowly we were overtaken by Col. Hunter's carriage, in which he, wounded, was going to the city. Mr. Russell saw it, or says he saw it, attended by .an escort of troopers, at the bead of whom was a major, who “considered it right to take charge of his chief and leave his battalion.” We saw no troopers nor major. Hon. Isaac N. Arnold, of the House, was riding by the side of the vehicle, and he, a smooth-faced gentleman, in the garb of a civilian, may have been mistaken by our “own correspondent” for a doubtful man of war. Possibly two miles and a half from Centreville, we stopped at a road-side farm house for a cup of water. While drinking, Mr. Russell passed. We recognized him, rode along, and were soon engaged with him in a discussion of the causes of the check — it was not then known to be any thing more; and, in his company, we went on through Fairfax, in all a distance, perhaps, of six or eight miles; and we can affirm that not one incident which he relates as happening in that stretch, had any foundation in fact. We saw nothing of that Englishman of whom he says:
It was about this time I met a cart by the roadside, surrounded by a group of soldiers, some of whom had “69” on their caps. The owner, as I took him to be, was in great distress; and cried out, as I passed, “ Can you tell me, sir, where the Sixty-ninth are? These men say they are cut to pieces.” “I can't tell you.” “I'm in charge of the mails, sir, and I will deliver them if I die for it. You are a gentleman, and I can depend on your word. Is it safe for me to go on?” Not knowing the extent of the debacle, I assured him it was, and asked the men of the regiment how they happened to be there. “Shure, the colonel himself told us to go off every man on his own hook, and to fly for our lives,” replied one of them. The mail agent, who told me he was an Englishman, started the cart again. I sincerely hope no bad result to himself or his charge followed my advice.We rode into Fairfax together.
I reached Fairfax Court House; the people, black and white, with anxious faces, were at the doors, and the infantry under arms. I was besieged with questions, though hundreds of fugitives had passed through before me.It is a small matter, this, but it marks the accuracy of the man. Not a question was asked of Mr. Russell nor of us; not a “fugitive,” we dare affirm, had passed that way; the infantry — another New Jersey regiment, if we are not mistaken — were at their usual evening parade, supposing, no doubt, that their companions in arms had won a great victory.
At one house I stopped to ask for water for my horse; the owner sent his servant for it cheerfully, the very house where we had in vain asked for something to eat in the forenoon. “There's a fright among them,” I observed in reply to his question concerning the commissariat drivers. “They're afraid of the enemy's cavalry.” “Are you an American?” said the man. “No, I am not.” “Well, then,” he said, “there will be cavalry on them soon enough. There's twenty thousand of the best horsemen in the world in Virginny.”At the little one-horse tavern in Fairfax, the  horses--Mr. R.'s and our own — were watered, by a servant; but the reported conversation did not take place. A short distance from that inn, Mr. Russell put spurs to his animal, and, riding furiously, left us behind; he picked up ample material for misrepresentation, however, as he went. We point out the greatest falsehood, if one falsehood can be greater than another, in the columns that he has devoted to the vilification of our troops:
Washington was still 18 miles away. The road was rough and uncertain, and again my poor steed was under way, but it was of no use trying to outstrip the runaways. Once or twice I imagined I heard guns in the rear, but I could not be sure, in consequence of the roar of the flight behind me. It was most surprising to see how far the foot soldiers had contrived to go on in advance.It must have been surprising indeed! From the moment of meeting the First New Jersey regiment, of which we have spoken, not a soldier, unless one of a baggage, or a picket-guard, did we see on the road — not one. The wagons going in were few, and their progress was not such as to indicate that they were making a retreat. We faced train after train going out with supplies, without guard, and without suspicion that the army was beaten and in flight. The defeat was not known to any on the road, not even to Mr. Russell, who informed us that our army would fall back and encamp for the night, only to renew the battle the next day. The “roar of the flight behind me” is a stretch of the imagination. We were “behind me,” and heard the guns, and marked the time as 7:15; but save our poor old thick-winded steed, there was not another horse on the road within our sight. A few carriages with wounded, a few retiring civilians — none making haste, none suspecting the finale that was reached — soon passed us; but not an armed man, trooper nor footman, was anywhere near. Mr. Russell in the next paragraph confesses as much:
It was a strange ride, through a country now still as death, the white road shining like a river in the moonlight, the trees black as ebony in the shade; now and then a figure flitting by into the forest or across the road — frightened friend or lurking foe, who could say? Then the anxious pickets and sentries all asking, “What's the news? ” and evidently prepared for any amount of loss.The truth is probably this: The imaginative correspondent left the battle-ground before any confusion occurred, and when the retrograde movement was ordered. Hearing the exaggerated stories of what came to be a flight, after he got into Washington, on Monday, while the excitement was at its height, he wove them into his letter as facts of his own observation. The rout was disgraceful enough to make any man's blood cold in his veins; but it was not what Mr. Russell describes. As we have asserted, he did not see it.
From the Providence Journal.
To the Editor of the Journal:Mr. Russell, who occupies so large a space in the London Times in giving a description of “What he saw” at the repulse of “Bull Run,” was at no time within three miles of the battle-field, and was at no time within sight or musket-shot of the enemy. He entered Centreville after the writer of this, and left before him. At the period of the hardest fighting, he was eating his lunch with a brother “John Bull,” near Gen. Miles's Headquarters. When the officer arrived at Centreville, announcing the apparent success of the Federal forces, (of which he gives a correct description,) it was 4 o'clock. The retreat commenced in Centreville at half-past 4. During this half hour he went about one mile down the Warrenton road, and there met the teams returning, with some straggling soldiers and one reserve regiment, which were not in the fight. He did not wait to see the main portion of the army, which did not reach Centreville until about two hours after his flight. His excuse for hurrying to Washington on account of mailing his letter that night, is inconsistent with his statement that he went to bed, and that the mail did not leave until 4 o'clock the next morning. He probably dreamed of the statements which he furnishes the Times, that there were no batteries taken — no charges made; that the Union forces lost five batteries, 8,000 stand of arms, &c., &c., and no doubt reflected his own feelings when he calls the Union forces cowardly at being repulsed after marching twelve miles and fighting three or four hours an entrenched enemy which numbered more than three to one.
W. E. H.4
To the Editor of the Journal:At last we have it. After two Atlantic voyages it is “salt” enough, all must admit, and more than that, we must admit that, what he saw of the affair at Bull Run he has described with graphic and painful truth. But, as your correspondent, W. E. H., who knew more of his personal movements than I did, says, “He was at no time within three miles of the battle-field,” and consequently was no better informed upon the subject than you were, Mr. Editor, sitting in your sanctum. Therefore the earlier struggles of the day — the hard won successes of the Union troops — receive but passing notice, because he did not see them--he only saw the rout. Yet in another letter, from which I have only seen extracts, he arrives at various conclusions, “from further information acquired.” One is that “there was not a charge of any kind made by the confederate cavalry upon any regiment of the enemy until they broke.” If this be true, the Fire Zouaves are all liars, and thousands of spectators were deceived, including Major Barry, of the artillery, who states expressly in his report that the cavalry charged upon the Fire Zouaves. Mr Russell says, “there were no masked batteries at play on the side of the Confederates.” Either he was grossly misinformed, or he purposely distorts the truth by quibbling on the word masked. If a masked battery is absolutely one concealed by carefully constructed abatis, or elaborate mantelets, such as Mr. Russell has perhaps seen in India or the Crimea, and nothing else, then it is very possible there were none upon the field; but if it is a battery of siege or light artillery, with or without entrenchments, so placed that it is entirely concealed by woods, underbrush, or artificial screens until the attacking force is close upon it, then I am one of thousands who can bear witness to the existence of several such upon the hill east of our (Rhode Island) field of action. I did not see either fortifications or cannon; but when a puff of smoke is seen to issue from a piece of woods, followed by a heavy report and a heavier ball — when this goes on for hours, the missiles ploughing up the earth in every direction, and sowing it broadcast with the  dead, one is likely to conclude that there is something behind that screen of trees, and that something is my idea of a masked battery. Finally, he says, “There were no desperate struggles except by those who wanted to get away.” Of course not. He did not see them, and he is too truthful to relate any thing he did not see. His account of the retreat is no worse than the truth--what he saw of it. But be it remembered that he was with the very advance of the flying column, the most panic-stricken portion of the crowd — that he was in Washington at 11 P. M. of Sunday, about the hour when our regiments and many others camped in the vicinity of Centreville, having regained our quarters, were lighting fires, drying our clothes, or talking over the prospect of a renewed attack on Manassas next day. Many of us lay down to sleep, from which we woke, more astonished than Mr. Russell himself, at the idea of continuing our retreat to Washington; but the order came from Headquarters, and we obeyed. Of this, or of the good order preserved by several regiments, including ours, all the way from the battle-field to Cub Run, and again resumed after three or four miles, Mr. Russell says nothing — he did not see it--he wasn't there. Yet his story will be received as Times' gospel, not to be gainsayed, by hundreds of thousands in England, while the contradiction, if it ever reaches there, will come as a stale American apology, unworthy of belief.
Washington, July 24, 1861.As no one can say what a day or a night may bring forth, particularly in time of way, I avail myself of a chance of probable quiet, such as it is, amid the rolling of drums, the braying of trumpets and bands, the noise of marching men, rolling of wagons, and general life and activity in the streets, to write some remarks on the action at Manassas or Bull Run. Of its general effects abroad, and on the North and South, a larger and perhaps a better view can be taken from Europe than on this side of the Atlantic. There is a natural and intense anxiety to learn what impression will be made abroad by the battle — for, notwithstanding the vulgar and insolent arrogance of the least reputable portion of the press in the United States, generally conducted by aliens or persons who have left Great Britain from cause--it is felt that the result of the action must have very strong influences over the fortunes of the contending parties, particularly in the money-market, to which recourse must be had in fear and trembling. It would be well not to arrive at hasty conclusions in reference to the bearing of the defeat on the actual struggle. Those who are persuaded that the North must and will subjugate the South, see in the disaster merely a prolongation of the war, a certain loss of material, or even an increment of hope in the spirit it will arouse, as they think, among the Unionists. Others regard it as an evil-omen for the compromise they desire to effect, as it will give the North another insult to avenge, and inspire the South with additional confidence. The Confederates will accept it as proof demonstrative of their faith that the North cannot conquer them, and may take it into their heads to corroborate it by an attempt to inflict on the North that with which they have been menaced by the Cabinet of Washington and its supporters. “What will England and France think of it?” is the question which is asked over and over again. The news must go forth in its most unfavorable form, and it will be weeks, if ever, before the North can set a great victory t the credit side of its books against the Confederates. In thirty days or so the question will be answered — not hastily or angrily, in spite of provocation and offence, but in the spirit of honorable neutrality. In the States one thing is certain — the Cabinet will resist the pressure of the mob, or be hurled out of office. If they yield to the fanatics and fight battles against the advice of their officers, they must be beaten; and the tone of New York indicates that a second defeat would cost them their political existence. they can resist such pressure in future as has been brought on them hitherto by pointing to Bull Run, and by saying, “See the result of forcing Gen. Scott against his wishes.” Of the Cabinet, Mr. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury, is perhaps the only man who bore up against the disheartening intelligence of Monday morning; but Mr. Seward and others are recovering their spirits as they find that their army was more frightened than hurt, and that the Confederates did not advance on the Capital immediately after the success. It was a sad, rude sweep of the broom to the cobweb-spinners; to the spider politicians, who have been laying out warps in all directions, and are now lying in frowsy heaps among the ruins of their curious artifices. Nothing can restore them to their places in the popular estimation; nothing could have kept them there but the rapid and complete success of their policy, and the speedy fulfilment of their prophecies. The sword they have drawn is held over their heads by the hands of some coming man whose face no one can see yet, but his footsteps are audible, and the ground shakes beneath his tread. If Mr. Lincoln were indeed a despot, with the genius to lead or direct an army, now would be his time. All the odium which could be heaped upon him by his enemies, all the accusations that could have been preferred, North and South, have been fully urged, and he could not add to them by leading his army to victory, while with victory would certainly come the most unexampled popularity, and perhaps an extraordinary and prosperous tenure of power. The campaign would be one worthy of a Napoleon, nor could it be determined by even $500,000,000 and 500,000 men, unless they were skilfully handled and well economized. If popular passion be excited by demagogues, and if it be permitted to affect the  councils of the State, it is easy to foresee the end, though it is not so easy to predict by what steps ruin will be reached at last. The Ministers are already ordered to resign by the masters of the mob, and suffer a just punishment for their temporary submission to the clamor of the crownless monarchs of the North-East. The Secretary at War, Mr. Cameron, whose brother fell at the head of his regiment in the field, is accused of making the very submission — which was, indeed, a crime if ever it occurred — by the very people who urged it upon him, and there are few Ministers who escape invective and insinuation. The great question to be decided just now is the value of the Union sentiment in the North. Will the men and the money be forthcoming, and that soon enough to continue the war of aggression or recuperation against the seceded States? The troops here complain of want of money, and say they are not paid. If that be so, there is proof of want of funds, which, if it lasts, will prevent the reorganization of another army, and I think it would not be safe to rely on the present army, or to. depend on many of the regiments until they have been thoroughly reorganized. It must be remembered that the United States is about to lose the services of some 80,000 men, many of whom have already gone home. These are “three months men,” called out under the President's proclamation. Whether they will enlist for the term of three years, now proposed, cannot be determined; but, judging from their words they will not do so if their present officers are continued or recommissioned. At all events, they will nearly all go home to be “mustered out of the service,” as it is called, at the expense of the Government. It is reported in Washington that steps were taken long ago to supply the places of the retiring battalions, and that there were also offers of 83 battalions, which have been accepted by the Government, sent in as soon as the news of the disaster at Bull Run was communicated to the North. How the regiments about to leave in a day or two were sent into the field at all is one of the mysteries of the War Department. While Congress has been passing bills of pains and penalties, confiscating rebel property, and amending sundry laches in the penal code, as well as filling up rat-holes, through which conquered and run-away secessionists might escape, in the laws and body of the Constitution, the conquest is suddenly deferred, and Cotton stands king on the battle-field. “We are glad of it,” cry the extreme Abolitionists, “actually delighted, because now slavery is doomed.” The extreme depression which followed after the joy and delight caused by the erroneous statements of victory, complete and brilliant,.has been gradually disappearing, in proportion to the inactivity of the enemy or to their inability to take advantage of their success-by immediate action. The funds have recovered, and men are saying, “Well, it's not so bad as it might have been.” The eye of faith is turned to the future, the eye of speculation is directed on the hoards of capital, and there is a firm belief that some clever person or another will succeed in inducing John Bull to part with a little of his surplus cash, for which he will receive egregious percentage. If the bulk of the capital and population of the North is thrown into this struggle, there can be but one hope for the Confederates--brilliant victories on the battle-field, which must lead to recognition from foreign powers. The fight cannot go on forever, and if the Confederate States meet with reverses — if their capital is occupied, their Congress dispersed, their territory (that which they claim as theirs) occupied, they must submit to the consequences of defeat. Is not that equally true of their opponents? On what ground can the United States, which were founded on successful rebellion, claim exemption from the universal law which they did so much to establish? Whatever the feelings of the North may be now, there can be no doubt that the reverse of Manassas caused deep mortification and despondency in Washington. Gen. Scott, whether he disapproved, as it is said, the movement onward or not, was certain that the Confederates would be defeated. Every hour messengers were hurried off from the field to the end of the wire some miles away, with reports of the progress made by the troops, and every hour the telegrams brought good tidings up to 4 o'clock or so, when the victory seemed decided in favor of the Federalists; at least, the impression was that they had gained the day by driving the enemy before them. Then came the news of the necessary retirement of the troops; nevertheless, it is affirmed that up to 8 o'clock in the evening Gen. Scott believed in the ultimate success of the United States troops, who under his own immediate orders had never met with a reverse. The President, the Secretary of War, and other members of the Government, were assembled in the room where the telegraph operator was at work far into the night, and as the oracles of fate uncoiled from the wires gloom gathered on their faces, and at last, grave and silent, they retired, leaving hope .behind them. It must have been to them a time of anxiety beyond words; but of old the highest honors were given to him who in calamity and disaster did not despair of the republic. And it is to the credit of the president and his advisers that they have recovered their faith in the ultimate success of their cause, and think they can subjugate the South after all. If the Confederates have suffered heavily in the battle, as is believed to be the case, they may be disheartened in spite of their victory, and the news of a second uprising and levee en masse in the North may not be without an unfavorable effect on their ardor. Such men as Wade Hampton, who is reported killed, leave gaps in their ranks not readily filled, and the number of colonels reported to be hors de combat would indicate a considerable  loss. But the raw levies are not likely to be fit for much for months to come, and it is difficult to see how they will be fit for any thing until they get proper officers. Some of the so-called regiments which have recently come in are mere mobs, without proper equipments, uniform, or arms; others are in these respects much better, marching well and looking like soldiers, but still no better than the troops who were beaten. It is not courage (need it be said?) which is wanting — it is officers; and without them men are worth little or nothing. The men of some regiments fought well; others did not. There was little or no difference between the privates of the one and those of the other; there was probably a marked distinction between the officers. The West Point cadets will all be used up by the increase of the regular army of the United States to 40,000 men, just agreed upon by Congress, after some disputes between the Senate and the House of Representatives; and the bulk of the officers with military experience and education are provided for already. The President is not exempt from the fate of the unfortunate in all republics, but he has yet a good deal of the future to draw upon, and the people are amused by changes among the military commanders and by threats and promises, for which they will all have to pay before the quarrel is adjusted. It is so generally asserted that Gen. Scott did not approve the advance, for which his plans were not matured, (and it is so probable, too,) that it may be believed by those who have not the greatest faith in the firmness of his character, and who think he might be induced to give orders for the execution of ill-conceived and hasty projects, or at all events, to precipitate operations without the necessary conditions of success. It is certain the country was becoming fretful and impatient, and that men like Mr. Wilson, Chairman of the Military Committee of the Senate, were loud in their complaints of the delays and inactivity of the army and of its chief, and of the pretensions of the regular officers. The schism which must always exist between professionals and quacks, between regular soldiers and volunteers, has been greatly widened by the action on Sunday. The volunteers indulge in severe reflections on the generalship of the commanders, the regulars speak with contemptuous bitterness of the inefficiency and cowardice of the volunteer officers. The former talk learnedly of the art of war, and of the cruelty of being led like sheep to the slaughter. The latter, without detracting from the courage of the men, inveigh against those who directed their regiments on the field; and the volunteer privates are glad to add their testimony against many of the officers, whose pride in uniforms and gold lace did not permit them to soil them in the smoke of gunpowder. It is remarkable that so much hankering after military reputation should be accompanied, in some instances at least, by an absence of any military spirit. The tone in which some officers speak of being “whipped” is almost boastful and exultant. Last night I heard one declaring he thought it was a good thing they were beaten, as it would put an end to the fighting; “he was quite sure none of his men would ever face the Confederates again.” Another was of opinion that it was lucky they had not advanced much further, as in that case they could not have escaped so well. And so on. It would be, I am certain, as unjust to the bulk of the officers to suppose they entertain such sentiments as these, as it would be in the last degree untrue to say that their men were destitute of courage, and were not ready to fight any enemy, if fairly disciplined and properly led; but the expression of these things is indicative of the want of proper esprit militaire, and it should be reprehended by those who wish to establish the loyalty of the volunteer army. No doubt the American papers will furnish detailed lists of killed and wounded, if you have any fancy to publish them, and columns of letters from the soldiers, and pages of incidents of the battle which may be consulted by the curious; but there is a concurrence of testimony to the good conduct of Blenker's Germans, the 69th Irish, and the 79th Scotch. Capt. Meagher, indeed, I am told, yielded to the universal panic, and was seen on foot at Centreville making the best of his way towards Fort Corcoran, with exclamations which implied that for the moment he recognized the Southern Confederacy as highly belligerent. Col. Corcoran, conspicuous by his great stature, being a man of 6 1/2 feet in height, was an object of attraction to the enemy, and is lying dangerously, if not mortally, wounded. The Rhode Island regiment has been, however, the most favored by the voice of praise, though many competitors are now putting in claims for at least equal honor. There are various statements in reference to the conduct of the regular cavalry and infantry. The regular officers admit that at one time the cavalry gave way, but they did not break or fly; they were rallied, drew up in line again, and showed front to the enemy. The regular officers declare that it was the infantry which saved the retreat, covering it steadily in conjunction with the Germans; and the losses of the United States Marines argue that they had a large share of the enemy's fire. The artillery who lost their guns speak, as artillery will do under the circumstances, of the infantry which deserted them; and the general officers, who must after all be the best judges, bear strong testimony to the good services and general steadiness of the regulars engaged in the action. When the statements in the American papers are compared with the facts, I am aware it will be necessary to rely a little on “character,” in asking faith for what I report. There was not a bayonet charge made by the Federalist infantry during the day ; there was not a charge of any kind made by the Confederate cavalry upon any regiment of their enemy until the  latter broke. There was not a hand to-hand encounter between any regiments. There was not a single “battery charged” or taken by the Federalists. There were no masked batteries in play by the former.6 There was no annihilation of rebel horse by Zouaves, Fire or other. A volley fired by one battalion emptied three saddles among a body of horse who appeared at some distance, and the infantry which performed the execution then retired. There were no desperate struggles except by those who wanted to get away. The whole matter in plain English amounts to this: The Federalists advanced slowly, but steadily, under the fire of their artillery, driving the enemy, who rarely showed out of cover, in line before them, and gradually forced them back on the right and the centre for a mile and a half towards Manassas. As the enemy fell back they used their artillery also, and there was a good deal of pounding at long ranges with light field-guns, and some heavier rifled ordnance, the line on both sides being rarely within 500 yards of each other. On one occasion the regiments on the right were received by a musketry fire from the enemy, which induced them to fall back, but they were rallied and led forward towards the front. The Confederates again gave way, and the Federalists advanced once more. Again the line of the enemy appeared in front, and delivered fire. The Zouaves, as they are called, and the 11th New York, which were on the flank, fell into confusion not to be rallied, and eventually retired from the field in disorder, to use the mildest term, with a contagious effect on their comrades, and with the loss of the guns which they were supporting. Nothing would, or could, or did stop them. In vain they were reminded of their oaths to “avenge Ellsworth's death.” Their flag was displayed to the winds — it had lost its attractions. They ran in all directions with a speed which their fortune favored. “I tell the tale as it was told to me” by one who had more to do with them, and had better opportunity of witnessing their conduct than I had; for, as I have already stated in a previous letter, I was late on the ground, and had not been able to see much ere the retreat was ordered. Though I was well mounted, and had left Washington with the intention of returning early that night, I found fugitives had preceded me in masses all the way, and when I crossed the Long Bridge, about 11 o'clock, I was told that the city was full of those who had returned from the fight.7 But if the miserable rout and panic of the Federalists have produced such deplorable results to their cause, they have still much to be thankful for. Had the Confederates been aware of their success, and followed up their advantage early on Monday morning, there was no reason on earth why they should not have either got into Washington or compelled the whole of the Federalist army that kept together and could not escape, as it was all on one road, to surrender themselves prisoners, with all they possessed. If the statements in the Federalist papers as to their strength be correct, the rebels could have easily spared 30,000 men for that purpose, with a reserve of 10,000 or 15,000 in their rear. The Chain Bridge, the fords above the Falls, were open to them — at least, there could be but little or no opposition from the disorganized forces. The columns moving round from Fairfax to their left by Vienna would have been able certainly to cross at Matildaville; others could have got over at the Falls, and still there would have been enough to permit Beauregard to occupy Manassas, and to send on a heavy column to cover Alexandria and to shut up the Federalists in the earth-works and tete de pont, if not to wrest them from troops deeply affected by the rout they were witnessing. If the Confederates had the cavalry of which so much has been said, they were scandalously handled. A detour by a cross road from Centreville to the Germantown road would have placed the horse in the rear of the retreating mass in half an hour, and it is not too much to say that mass would have thrown itself on the mercy of the pursuers. If Beauregard's or Lee's force was small, as they say, and suffered as much as the Federalists aver, the flight is the more incomprehensible. But still it is very strange that the victors should not have been aware of their victory — that is, of the utter rout which followed their repulse. The attempt to form line on the top of Centreville, only partially successful as it was, might have imposed on the enemy, and saved McDowell from the pursuit which he did his best to avert. The journals, which at first boasted of the grand Union army of 45,000 men, are now anxious to show that only 20,000 were engaged. Why did the other 25,000 run away? The German regiment, under Col. Blenker, and perhaps some other corps, may have retired in good order, but eventually few withstood the ceaseless alarms. The rain, which commenced on Monday morning early, may have had much to do with the undisturbed retreat of the Federalists, as the enterprise and activity of the enemy would be much diminished in consequence, and as for the beaten army, it has been always observed that troops hold together and march well in rain. But with all allowances and excuses, it is still mysterious inactivity Johnston, whose junction with 40,000 men is said to have taken place (if he had half the number it is more than I give him credit for) on the morning of the battle, must have swelled the force under Lee and Beauregard to 70,000 men at the least. He is the best officer in the Confederate army, and it is believed here that he is already away operating in Western Virginia. There is a suspicious  silence in the despatches and telegrams from the West and South-Western camps of the Federalists which justifies the secessionist rumors of disaster in those quarters. The Confederates by moving out to meet McDowell anticipated the engagement, and brought on the action sooner than he expected, so much so that he was obliged to break up his column, and turn out the regiments right and left as well as he could to bring them into line. It would seem as if they were aware of his plans, for they disregarded the movements on their right, and did not exhibit any activity there till the force opposite their left began to give way, whereupon they made an attempt on the left flank of the Federalists, which added to the alarm of the retiring army. In my last letter, sent at 4 o'clock on Tuesday morning by special courier to Boston, where it arrived in time for the Wednesday packet of July 24, I brought down my narrative to the Monday preceding, such as it was, and have nothing to add to it of much consequence. One of the first acts of the Secretary of War, on being made aware of the reverse, was to telegraph to General McClellan to come to Washington, and to demand reinforcements from the Governors of the Northern States, as well as to put the authorities at Fort McHenry on their guard against a rising in Baltimore. On Tuesday, the rain having ceased in the morning early, the streets were crowded with baggage carts and with soldiers, who wandered up and down astonishing the natives with anecdotes of battle, and doing any thing but duty with their regiments. These men have now been coerced by the mounted patrols to repair to the rendezvous assigned for them by General Mansfield or to go to durance vile; but for the whole day and night the Capital presented an extraordinary aspect, to which a deeper interest was lent by the arrival of wagons and ambulances of wounded.
Wednesday, July 24.Before breakfast I rode over the Long Bridge to Arlington. There were groups of soldiers, mostly without arms or belts, some few shoeless, a good many footsore, going along the ground or standing in the streets of the city engaged in the occupation called “loafing” in these parts. Several of the men stopped me to inquire after the different regiments to which they belonged. They were dejected and broken — looking fellows, but, at all events, their mien was more becoming than that of their officers, who are crowding about the hotels and talking of their “whipping” with complacency and without shame. A Washington paper, alluding to the demoralization of the regiments yesterday evening, calls on these officers “to forego one day's duty at the bars and hotels,” and to return to their corps. Thousands of men follow the example of their superiors. The necessities of others compel them to seek out the quarters of their regiments that they may be fed. One man dressed in uniform had the impudence to come into my room to-day, and, after a series of anecdotes, which would furnish a stupendous sequel to Munchausen, as to his valor, “masked batteries,” charges of cavalry, &c., to ask me for the loan of $5, on the ground that he was a waiter at the hotel at which I had stopped in New York. I could perceive by his talk and by that of some other soldiers, the mode in which these stories about “charges” and “masked batteries” are made up. A newspaper reporter is made the victim of some glorious myths by a frightened, intoxicated, or needy warrior, and these are duly made immortal in type. Then hundreds of men, anxious to see what is said about them in the papers, and ignorant as soldiers generally are of the incidents of the affair in which they have been engaged, read of “Black horse Rangers,” “prodigious slaughter,” “Fire Zouaves,” Capt. Meagher, on a white charger, with a green flag, rushing into the midst of inaccessible and impregnable masked batteries, and persuade themselves it is all true, adding to their subsequent narratives such incidents of life and color as may be within their knowledge or imagination. Excitement has a wonderful influence on their perceptive faculties. Great exertions were requisite yesterday to prevent the mob of disorganized soldiers and the rabble from maltreating or murdering the Confederate prisoners, and it was necessary to rescue them by patrols of dragoons. In one instance a Senator informed General McDowell that he had seen the mob with his own eyes hanging a prisoner, and that gallant and generous officer at once rushed off, if he could not rescue, at least to avenge the “rebel;” but on arriving at the place he was happy to find he was in time to shield the man from the violence of the crowd, and that the Senator had mistaken an “effigy” for a human being. Gen. McDowell has been much distressed by the dastardly conduct of some of the beaten troops towards their prisoners, and there have been strange scenes in consequence. “General,” said one man, “had I known this I would have died a hundred times before I fell into these wretches' hands. Let me go free, and let any two or four of them venture to insult me then!” The soldiers are, however, greatly irritated not only by defeat, but by reports of the most horrible cruelties and atrocities towards prisoners and wounded by the Confederates; indeed, if it should be the case that the latter burnt a hospital at Centreville with all the wounded, and that they cut the throats of captives and dying soldiers on the field of battle and in the retreat, the indignation and disgust of the whole civilized world should visit them, and their cause will be marred more by such vile cowardice and blood-thirstiness than ten such victories could advance it. For one, I am loth to credit these stories, but it is only right to say that there are many such current, particularly in reference to the New Orleans Zouaves. In a previous letter some account was given  of the defences on the right bank of the river opposite to Washington. Men were engaged in working at the tete de pont, and letting the water of the river into the newly-dug ditch. It is probable the Long Bridge is mined, as no one is allowed to smoke upon it; but the carters, many of whom are negroes, do not pay much attention to the order when the sentries are not looking. Apropos of negroes, it is confidently asserted that a corps of them is employed by the Confederates for camp duty, if not for fighting, and that they were certainly employed to guard the prisoners, to the intense anger of the Federalists. One officer who came in says that he was actually in their custody. He escaped by a method not often resorted to by officers, for he pledged his word of honor he would not attempt to go away if he were allowed to go for a drink of water, and when he had done so, he made the best of his way to Washington, and told the anecdote in society, among whom was a member of the British legation. There is an increase of the camps on the heights up to Arlington, and there must now be a strong force of infantry there, though there is a deficiency in field-artillery. Of guns in position in the works there is the greatest abundance. The road up to Arlington House was dotted with men returning to the camps, few of whom were encumbered with firelocks. Gen. McDowell was sitting with some officers before his tent under the trees which shaded the place from the sun. He is a man in the prime of life, some 40 and odd years of age, very powerfully built, with a kindly, honest, soldierly expression in face and manners, and it was pleasant to see that though he was not proud of being “whipped,” there was no dejection other than that a man should feel who has been beaten by his enemy, but who knows he has done his duty. Originally he had proposed a series of operations different from those which were actually adopted, and his dispositions for the advance of his columns after the scheme of attack was decided upon were careful and elaborate. But he miscalculated somewhat the powers of regular troops. All his subsequent operations were vitiated by the impossibility of gaining the points fixed on for the first day's march, and Gen. Tyler, who engaged somewhat too seriously with the enemy on the left at Bull Run on the Thursday before the battle in making what was a mere reconnaissance, put them on the alert and hastened up Johnston. The General was kind enough to go over the plans of the attack with me, and to acquaint me with the dispositions he had made for carrying out the orders he had received to make it, and to my poor judgment they were judicious and clear. With the maps laid out on the table before his tent he traced the movements of the various columns from the commencement of offensive measures to the disastrous advance upon Manassas. It was evident that the Confederate Generals either were informed or divined the general object of his plan, which was, in fact, to effect a turning movement of his centre and right, while his left menaced their right on Bull Run, and to get round their left altogether; for they had, soon after he moved, advanced their columns to meet him, and brought on an engagement, which he was obliged to accept on ground and at a time where and when he had not contemplated fighting. The initial failure of the movement took place several days earlier, when his columns were late on the march, though ample time had been allowed to them, so that, instead of getting to Centreville and to the Run, he was obliged to halt at Fairfax Court House, and to lose another day in occupying the positions which ought to have been taken when he first advanced. By moving out to attack or meet him the enemy obliged him to abandon the design of turning them and getting round their left below Manassas, and when once they did so it became obvious that he had not much chance of succeeding, unless he could actually push back the enemy and “keep them moving” with such rapidity that they would fly into and out of their lines just as his own troops did from the field. The officers who were present were all agreed that the Federalists had advanced steadily on the right and centre, and that they had driven back the Confederates with considerable loss for a mile and a half when the panic took place in the regiments on the flank of the right, which necessitated the issue of an order for the retirement of the whole force, and the advance of the reserves to cover it. The volunteers who had broken could not be rallied, the movement, always dangerous with such materials, under such circumstances was misunderstood by the wagon-drivers and by other regiments, and the retreat became finally the shameful rout, which was only not utterly disastrous because of the ignorance and inactivity or the weakness of the enemy. Major Barry, an officer of the regular United States Artillery, told me he could not stop the runaways, who ought to have protected his guns, though the gunners stood by them till the enemy were fairly upon them, and that, as for the much-talked — of cavalry, two round shots which were pitched into them by his battery sent them to the right — about at once. The regular officers spoke in only one way of the conduct of the officers of the volunteers and of certain regiments. Indeed, what could be said of men who acted after and in action as others acted before it, and went away as fast as they could? Thus the men of a volunteer battery marched off, leaving their guns on the ground, the very morning of the engagement, because their three-months' term of service was up, and the Pennsylvania regiments exhibited a similar spirit. The 69th Irish volunteered to serve as long as they were required, and so did some other corps, I believe; but there must be something rotten in the system, military and political, which generates such sentiments and develops  velops neither the sense of military honor nor any of that affectionate devotion for the Union which is called by one party in America patriotism. As the General was speaking to me, a volunteer Colonel came up, and said abruptly, “General, my men have had nothing to eat for four days; what is to be done?” “Make an application to the commissariat officer, and represent the circumstances to me. There is no reason whatever why the men should be without food, for there is plenty of it in camp.” “Yes; but the carters won't bring it. They go away and leave us, and, as I tell you, the men have had nothing for four days.” “I tell you, sir, that must be the fault of their officers. Why were not the circumstances reported? Go over to Capt.----, and he will take the necessary steps.” And, after some further expatiation on the hardships of his case, the Colonel, who is as brave as a lion, but who is not very well acquainted with military routine, retired. It need not be said that the men were not actually without food for four days, although the Colonel's statement in reference to the commissariat was true. Reckless as all soldiers are of provisions and food, volunteers are notoriously extraordinarily so. Then, there is probably a want of organization in the commissariat. McDowell's corps were ordered to march with three days food cooked, not including, of course, the day of marching. The food was, however, issued, inclusive of that day, and next day the men had eaten up or wasted the two days rations in one, and had nothing. They were badly provided with food and with water on the very day of the action, and some men told me that evening they had eaten nothing since 2 1/2 A. M. Indeed, the General witnessed the disorder which was caused by the regiments rushing out of the ranks to drink at a small stream before they went into action, though their canteens were filled before they set out. Mr. Wadsworth, a gentleman of New York of large fortune, who, with the rank of Major, is acting as aide-decamp to the General, had just come in from Centreville from the Confederates, to whom he had gone yesterday with a flag of truce, relative to the dead and wounded. They would not permit him to enter their lines, but otherwise received him courteously, and forwarded his despatches. This morning he was told that an answer would be sent in due time to his despatches, and he was ordered to return to his quarters. While I was at Arlington, despatches and messengers were continually arriving. One was from Headquarters, appointing Major Barry to command the artillery. Another stated that the enemy had advanced to Fairfax Court House. Presently in came two young men, who said they had been prevented going to that place by the approach of the Confederates, and that they had heard the sound of guns as they turned back. The balloon was up in the air reconnoitring, or, as I suspect, struggling with the wind, which was drifting it steadily toward the Confederates. No one seemed to know, however, what Beauregard and Lee are doing, but it is affirmed that Johnston has gone off with a corps towards Western Virginia once more, and that an insurrection in Baltimore and Maryland is only prevented by the reenforcements which are pouring in to Gen. Banks, and by the anticipations of speedy aid from the Confederates. Mr. Bernal, the British consul, came over to-day to consult with Lord Lyons on certain matters connected with our interests in the city of Baltimore. As the truth is developed the secessionists in Washington become radiant with joy, and cannot conceal their exultation wherever it is safe to indulge it. Their ears are erect for the sound of the cannon which is to herald the entrance of the enemy into the capital of the United States. The Unionists, on the other hand, speak of the past hopes of the enemy, of the great reenforcements arriving, of the renewed efforts of the North, and of its determination to put down rebellion. There must be an infatuation which amounts to a kind of national insanity in a portion of the North, or is it possible that they believe what the journals tell them — that they are the strongest, bravest, richest, mightiest people in the world, and that they have only to will it, and the world — including the Confederate States--is prostrate before them? The exaggerations and misstatements of part of the American press would certainly lead those who believed it to such conclusions. Let us take a few phrases from the papers in reference to the action at Manassas. One New York journal on Monday announced positively “the national troops undisputed victors.” “Bull Run lost, they must want water.” “The enthusiasm which carried certain regiments” whose “brave and brilliant exploits” were “preeminent,” “into the face of the intrenched foe was startling in its effect.” “The nation has triumphed! Praise be to God! Live the Republic!” It does “not infer the Southern men are cowards,” but that “all the forgery, perjury, and telegraphic lying have not weaned a very large proportion of them from their old love of the Union.” “Splendid Union victory!” “Terrible slaughter!” “Twelve hours terrific fighting!” “Their last hope gone!” “Heroism of the Union forces!” “They know no such word as ‘fear!’ ” “Hot chase of the rebels!” At 5.30, when the Federalists were in retreat, “an officer telegraphs the enemy totally routed.” There is, of course, plenty of “flanking” and “masked batteries;” and, as a proof of hard work on the part of the pioneers, it is remarked--“An observer judged it would ordinarily take three months to do what these lumbermen did in half a day!” “Guns were discharged as rapid as two in a minute.” “We have successfully outflanked the enemy.” A “brigadier quartermaster” was taken. In several places it is stated that the men asserted “their officers were cowards.” In another journal of New York there are accounts of the  “Greatest battle ever fought on this continent!” “Fearful carnage on both sides!” “Incessant roar of artillery and rattle of small-arms!” “Terrible tenacity!” “After a terrific fight, each and every rebel battery was taken!” “Now on to Richmond!” “The rout of the enemy was complete!” Crushing rebellion! “” Victory at Bull Run; Sumter avenged! “A” battle of unparalleled severity! “Our gallant and laurel-crowned army!” Another newspaper, “Our army went into battle with firm step and light hearts, singing patriotic songs.” Bull Run defeat is placed “among those great military achievements which in ancient and modern times have overthrown or marked the beginning of empires,” &c., “not less than 125,000 being engaged on both sides.” The poor blusterer tells us “an army equal in numbers to that of France, and as well disciplined, will burn to resent the wrongs that have been offered to the country, and they will rejoice at being able to display abroad the valor for which there will be no longer a field at home.” It would be worth while to know what the Secretary of State thinks of this style of writing at present. His frame of mind just now, perhaps, is not suited to such strong expressions, particularly as the people they are meant to arouse only laugh at them.
Thursday, July 25, 1861.Last night there was an alarm that the enemy were advancing. General Scott and his staff were roused up in the night by messengers from the outposts. There was a similar alarm in Alexandria, but the report was untrue. The Confederates, however, have advanced their pickets within six miles of the latter place. The War Department is in ignorance of their general movements, and can get no intelligence from the country. Several regiments marched out of the city, as their time was up, and their places will be taken by others coming in from the North and West. The three-months men are going off just as their services are most needed. Can any one say the three-years men may not do the same? The proportions of the contest are not likely to be dwarfed.
Friday, July 26, 1861.I have kept my letter open to the last moment, but there is no change to announce, except a nearer advance of the enemy's pickets on the road to Alexandria. General McClellan has arrived, and it is said he will send a force out at once to guard the Upper Potomac, and to prevent any force crossing in that direction. The weather is not excessively hot, and is favorable enough for campaigning purposes. Washington is quiet to-day as yet. There are considerable additions to be made to the works on the other side, and, indeed, there is a hill in front of one of the redoubts which commands it a trifle, and which it is an oversight not to fortify. In a few days, if a column is ready, I hope to be able to accompany it.
Mr. Russell's Third letter on Bull RunThe rebel army could have entered Washington — He speculates as to the reasons why it did not.
Washington, July 29, 1861.On this day week the Confederates could have marched into the capital of the United States. They took no immediate steps to follow up their unexpected success. To this moment their movements have betrayed no fixity of purpose or settled plan to pursue an aggressive war, or even “to liberate Maryland if they have the means of doing so.” And, indeed, their success was, as I suspected, not known to them in its full proportions, and their loss, combined, perhaps, with the condition of their army, as much as political and prudential motives actuating their leaders, may have had a fair share in producing the state of inactivity with which the Federalists have no reason to be dissatisfied.