previous next

[63] 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.1

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

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
William H. Russell (7)
Dixon S. Miles (1)
William E. Hamlin (1)
Editor (1)
John Bull (1)
William F. Barry (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: