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