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Chapter 11: battle of Bull Run

To organize and mobilize the Army of Northeastern Virginia, McDowell had constituted five divisions: Tyler's, Hunter's, Heintzelman's, Dixon S. Miles's, and Runyon's. Our division had the left from the Centreville Pike southeastward to the Potomac; Runyon's kept in or near Alexandria as a reserve; while the other divisions ranged northward to beyond Georgetown, covering a frontage of more than ten miles. McDowell had for mounted troops an escort of United States cavalry not to exceed five hundred.

With a good body of horse and abundant reliefs of slaves used to hard work, Beauregard, even before the arrival of the Army of the Shenandoah, was surely well prepared with his “effectives” of 21,823 soldiers and 29 cannon to sustain a good defensive battle against the Union column of 28,568 men and 49 cannon.

Centreville was in 1861 an inconsiderable village with but one street north and south, the buildings mainly on the west side scattered along a ridge. The road from Centreville to Manassas Junction followed the trend of this ridge southward and crossed Bull Run three miles distant at Mitchell's Ford. The Warrenton Turnpike, coursing from east to west through the village, crossed Bull Run about four miles west of it at Stone Bridge. The country in the valleys of [147] Bull Run and its tributaries was for the most part woodland. The current of Bull Run was not rapid, but the banks were abrupt, often rocky and precipitous, so that it could not readily be crossed except at the bridges and fords. The higher ground afforded quiet slopes and plateaus, but everywhere so many trees had been allowed to grow that the farms were like glades of more or less expanse in the midst of a forest. There were no prominent points for observation, so that the commanding generals were obliged to work out their plans by maps and sketches.

Beauregard, with his staff, fort, depot of supplies, force of workmen, and necessary reserves, posted himself at Manassas; the right of his army, Ewing's brigade, at Union Mills; at McLean's Ford, Jones's brigade; at Blackburn's Ford, Longstreet's; just above Mitchell's Ford, Bonham's; at Lewis' Ford, Coke's; at Stone Bridge, the crossing of the Warrenton Pike, Evans's demibrigade of a regiment and a half, which formed the left of the Confederate army proper; Early's brigade of four regiments was drawn up in rear of Longstreet and Jones as a reserve. The above brigades, together with some seven other regiments and companies not brigaded, constituted Beauregard's “Army of the Potomac.”

Radford's cavalry brigade was keeping watch along the front and south of Union Mills, and Stuart, after his arrival from the Shenandoah, scouted beyond Evans's position on the Confederate left.

McDowell, for the sake of contracting his lines, and gathering his regiments under their several commanders, ordered a short march, setting out from the Potomac on July 16th and sending them forward to several small places in Virginia not far apart. This [148] march was duly made and Heintzelman caused our brigades to pass the Accotink and go to the Pohick. When I came to the Accotink I found many men of the preceding brigade sitting down and taking off their shoes — not to wade the shallow stream, but for fear they might slip off the narrow bridge which was made of two logs placed side by side, and so wet their shoes and socks. Regiment after regiment had been crossing in this way by file, so that each brigade before mine had taken full two hours to pass a stream not more than twenty yards wide and the water nowhere above their knees. This delayed my crossing till night. My men were somewhat incensed because I made them close up and march straight through the ford. They surely would not have been so fresh and happy the next morning if they had been three hours later than they were in getting into camp. In such small things as this West Point officers appeared to be too severe with new troops. Remembering Professor Mahan's rule: “Not to imperil the success of a campaign from fear of wetting the soldiers' feet,” they doubtless showed indignation and scolded regimental officers for wasting important time in crossing shallow streams.

I wrote home from that first camp that two serious accidents had occurred to us, two men having shot themselves, so unused even then were our young soldiers to handling rifles. In consequence of hearing much profanity, I wished our men had more regard for the Lord; we might then expect His blessing.

Fulfilling our orders for July 17th, every command came up abreast of Fairfax Court House. Colonel Franklin and I encamped our brigades near each other upon a hillside. That night we reclined before the same map spread on the ground near a camp fire and [149] studied the orders for the next day which we had just received. Colonel Willcox's brigade had been in advance and had branched off southward toward the railroad and Fairfax Station.

“On our coming the enemy fled without a shot. We captured a. sergeant, a corporal, and nine men belonging to the First Alabama Regiment.”

This Confederate outpost at Fairfax Station had had two-regiments as a guard, an Alabama and a Louisiana. Willcox had approached them from an unexpected quarter.

The morning of the 18th Franklin and I heard again from McDowell. Each column had found some obstructions-felled trees, extra-sized breastworks at the court house, and equally strong outworks at the railway station. The Confederates retreated before each column; they did not draw in their pickets, most of whom fell into our hands; four of our men of Miles's division were wounded. To this news McDowell added:

I am distressed to have to report excesses by our troops. The excitement of the men found vent in burning and pillaging, which distressed us all greatly.

Thus in general a responsible soul in an approaching crisis is grieved at the wrongdoing of his agents. Yet, notwithstanding considerable straggling, foolish delays at streams, carelessness with firearms, burning and pillaging on first news of success, we had accomplished this first stage of approach to our enemy as well as General Scott could have expected.

McDowell's instructions for the third march were few and comprehensive: Dixon Miles's division to Centreville; Hunter to get as near Centreville as he could and have water; while Heintzelman was to move up to the Little Rocky Run on the road, hence to Centreville. [150] A postscript gave zest to his message to Tyler, who was in front of Miles: “Observe well the roads to Bull Run and to Warrenton. ... Do not bring on an engagement, but keep up the impression that we are moving on Manassas.”

When that postscript was penned, McDowell had just changed his purpose. Till then it had been his plan to move on Manassas by a rapid push from his left, but his engineers found the roads of approach “too narrow and crooked for a large body to move over and the distance around (southward) too great to admit of it with any safety.”

During the 18th, as our men tramped along, a discouraging rumor ran down the column that Tyler was defeated. Though McDowell did not intend so much in his instructions, Tyler understood that he was to make toward Manassas a reconnoissance in force. It was difficult to do anything else with our fighting Colonel Richardson in front. It was so quiet when Tyler with Richardson neared Blackburn's Ford that they could not detect with glasses that Longstreet was there with his batteries and five infantry regiments and Early close behind with four more, yet such was the case.

Tyler naturally ordered forward a battery and supported it by Richardson's brigade. A few shots from the Union battery brought a battery response from the Confederates; and Richardson's supporting fire obtained quick and spiteful rifle retorts. One regiment, getting too far forward, was attacked and driven back. Richardson, now full of fire, begged of Tyler to charge with other troops and carry the enemy's position. Tyler refused; for he had reconnoitered and had found a strong force. In doing so he [151] had lost six lives and had twenty-six men disabled by wounds. His instructions were plain: “Do not bring on an engagement” ; so Tyler was obliged to stop the fight. Is was a small affair, but it gave the morale to Beauregard. Later in the war such a skirmish would have passed with scarcely a remark.

The Confederate commander, General Johnston, had eluded Patterson, passed on to Piedmont, and then transported his infantry on the cars, sending them to Manassas, part at a time. Ie himself came on with the first trainload, reaching Beauregard Saturday, July 20th. His artillery, escorted by Stuart's cavalry, had marched. The last brigades, it is true, and the marching column did not get to the field of Bull Run till the afternoon of the 21st, but all came soon enough to participate in the battle.

After his arrival, though he had been modest about it, giving all credit to Beauregard, Johnston, being senior in rank, took the actual command and saved the day. He had, more than any other Confederate leader, a decided genius for war.

Of Johnston's army, Bee's brigade on arrival was placed near Coke's, and Jackson's (the sobriquet of “Stonewall” to the commander began here) was stationed midway between Ball's and Mitchell's fords to help Bonham. Holmes's brigade, coming up from Aquia Creek, was sent to reenforce the right. While other points thus received aid, the Confederate left near the Stone Bridge remained slender and weak.

Beauregard had a plan for the offensive which Johnston approved. It was to move out from his right and attack McDowell on that remarkable Sunday (July 21st) before Patterson could join him.

By Saturday night all the Union divisions except [152] Runyon's at Alexandria were grouped around Centreville. McDowell, too, had his plan. Saturday night (July 20th), at his unpretentious Centreville headquarters, he assembled his division and brigade commanders. His tent having no floor, he spread his map on the ground and explained with care the proposed movements for the morrow. He had a wellconceived order of battle. In his talk the names Tyler, Dixon Miles, Hunter, and Heintzelman each represented a body of troops: “Tyler, you hold the lower fords of Bull Run and the Stone Bridge, making proper demonstrations; Miles's division will be behind you at Centreville for a reserve. Hunter, you go over Cub Run along the Warrenton Pike, then take country road and move up to Sudley Church, or rather to the ford there, turn to the left, cross Bull Run, and move down; when the next ford is reached Heintzelman will cross there and follow you. I hope to seize Gainesville on the Manassas Gap Railroad before Johnston's men get there.”

McDowell did not then know that this wary Confederate was already at Manassas with half of his force and to have enough finally to more than match him in the engagement. Still, McDowell outweighed his opponent in artillery.

That evening before our first battle was a memorable one. I assembled my four regiments for the usual parade-then we had them closed in mass and all the men uncovered their heads while the God of battles was entreated for guidance, for shielding in the battle, and for care of those so precious in our far-away homes. Every soldier of my command seemed thoughtful and reverent that night.

Tyler drew his column out of camp at 3 A. M. Sunday. [153] Hunter and Heintzelman were equally prompt. But the three divisions became badly intermixed in the dim light, and could not be moved in the cross directions like three blocks of regulars. In fact, the three brigades of Tyler did not clear the turning point on the Warrenton Pike till half-past 5; so Hunter waited two weary hours for Tyler to move out of his way, and the impatient Heintzelman stood for an hour longer with his advance at the Warrenton Pike for Hunter's men to pass. My fretted brigade was the rear of this slow-moving column and waited with its head at the turnpike till the sun was an hour high.

The fatigue, coupled with the excitement always existing at such a time, weakened many a strong man. All this bad management-what a good staff should see beforehand and provide against-kept Hunter's troops back. Instead of beginning his attack at daylight, Hunter was not in position across the Sudley Ford till after nine o'clock. Though naturally excited, the leading brigades were at first cheerful and hearty. The men, after getting started, went swinging along singing “John Brown's body” with a wonderful volume of sound. But they were soon affected by the sun, then extremely hot, and the want of sleep troubled them still more. All these new circumstances of war nerved the men to a tension that could not last. Before the end of the second mile many fell out and sat or lay down by the roadside sick and faint.

Mclowell in the morning made a slight change of plan which added to the weariness of Heintzelman's men. He forbade us to make the short cut, and instructed us to follow Hunter all the seven miles by Sudley Ford. In person he detained my brigade at a blacksmith shop not more than a mile beyond Cub [154] Run after we had turned away from the Warrenton Pike toward the Sudley Springs. Mine was thus made a special reserve for Hunter or for Tyler as the exigencies of the conflict might demand. Here, then, with the thick forest in front, within sound of the battlefield, my Maine and Vermont men, naturally with some apprehension, waited from eight o'clock in the morning till afternoon. I cannot forget how I was affected by the sounds of the musketry and the roar of the cannon as I stood near my horse ready to mount at the first call from McDowell; for a few moments weakness seemed to overcome me and I felt a sense of shame on account of it. Then I lifted my soul and my heart and cried: “O God I enable me to do my duty.” From that time the singular feeling left me and never returned.

Early in the morning we had seen McDowell, his staff, and escort pass us toward Sudley Springs. They presented a fine appearance as they trotted off, working their way through Willcox's and Franklin's brigades, which filled the road. On, on they went to the head of Hunter's command, then just arrived at Sudley Church. Burnside's handsome Rhode Island brigade, Hunter's advance, which had covered his front with skirmishers, was then with the remainder of the division taking a rest.

Burnside deployed under the eye of McDowell, and his front swept on, guiding itself by the Sudley and Manassas wagon road down the gentle slopes toward the valley of Young's Branch.

Evans, the quick-witted Confederate commander with that demibrigade at the Stone Bridge, began to suspect that Schenck and Sherman, the advance of Tyler, notwithstanding their bustle and noise, were not earnest in their threatened assault; for they rattled [155] away with their musketry, but did no more. Evans first sent a regiment up the Bull Run toward Burnside and then very soon changed his whole front to the left and pushed over toward the Manassas and Sudley Springs road in front of Burnside's skirmishers; he posted his men so as to face north, covering them as well as he could by uneven ground and trees, but his numbers were few — not a thousand men.

McDowell, on the high ground behind Burnside, not far from Sudley's Ford, took his post and had a fair view of the field, for that was the largest opening among those woody farms. The country in his sight made a handsome picture with its rolling, variegated features sweeping off toward Manassas. Here McDowell saw the skirmishers of both armies begin their noisy work and a few minutes later the main lines rapidly firing, while the field batteries whirled into place and commenced their more terrifying discharges.

At 9.15 Evans's Confederates opened a vigorous fire, which caused Burnside's brigade to halt in confusion. Then McDowell, through his staff, hastened Andrew Porter's brigade to Burnside's support.

Johnston and Beauregard before this, by eight o'clock, were together on a commanding hill south of Mitchell's Ford. Their signal officer detected our crossing at Sudley's Ford about nine. Immediately Bee with his brigade, Hampton with his legion, and Jackson were ordered to the assailed left. Bee, the nearest to Evans, spurred on by the firing, reached him first and took up that choice position, strong as a fort, near the Henry house. He located there a battery and supported it by his large brigade. But Evans was already across the valley northward and calling loudly for nearer help. Bee thereupon forwarded the most of [156] his force to Evans's support. But before an hour all the Confederates in that quarter were driven back by our men to the Henry house, because Heintzelman's two brigades, close upon Hunter, had become actively engaged and the Union troops from Stone Bridge had worked their way to Evans's new right. Bee's Confederates, running to the rear, could not quite halt or be halted at the Henry house, though Hampton's legion was covering their retreat. They were still going back when that indomitable leader, Jackson, being under orders and movement for another place, got news of Bee's trouble; he marched at once by the sound of battle to his relief. Several Confederate batteries were put close to the Henry house and supported by Jackson's infantry. Under the strong shelter of Jackson, Bee rallied his men. This occurred about 11.30 A. M., at which time Jackson called for cavalry to extend and protect his left flank. For Stuart's promptness in doing this Jackson highly commended him, as also for his successful charges against the national forces.

While their orders were being carried at a run, Johnston and Beauregard sped the four intervening miles from their commanding hill to the Henry house. There Johnston's presence under fire and example in carrying forward personally a regimental flag had the happiest effect on the spirit of his troops. After this important work and reinforcement, reluctantly leaving Beauregard in immediate command of the line of battle, Johnston went to the Lewis house, farther back and more central. Here he established his headquarters. From that point he could see the approaches beyond Bull Run, particularly those to the Stone Bridge, and he could from that point watch the maneuvers and [157] movements of his own troops. Thus early in the fight, and constantly to the end, Joseph E. Johnston had an active supervision.

On the Union side, which promised so well in the first onset, misfortunes began to multiply. Hunter was severely wounded and left the field, cannon were captured from us, batteries that had been well managed were put too far in front of their infantry supports and lost their horses; several regiments, broken by the fighting, were intermingled, appearing like flocks and herds to be covering the slopes and the valley without order or organization. In the midst of this confusion McDowell sent his engineer officer, Captain A. W. Whipple, for my brigade. He was to lead it straight to the battlefield; but Whipple, not knowing any cross route, guided us by Sudley's Ford, six miles around instead of three across. The immediate need of my troops was so great that McDowell said: “Have them move in double time.” Whipple gave the instructions. We began the march in that way, but the heat and fatigue of long waiting had already done its work. Many fell out of ranks; blankets, haversacks, and even canteens were dropped, so that those who persevered kept nothing but arms and ammunition; the pace was diminished, but that did not long avail to remedy the exhaustion. Overcome by their efforts, more and more left the column and lined the roadside. When we crossed the ford, at least one half of my men were absent.

At that point some facetious staff officer tried to hasten our march, crying: “You better hurry and get in if you want to have any fun.” Here, looking forward to the high ground, I saw McDowell and his small escort a few hundred yards off. To my left and nearer [158] I saw Burnside's men, who had come back from the field with their muskets gleaming in the sunshine. They had some appearance of formation and were resting on their arms. I noticed other troops more scattered; ambulances in long columns leaving the field with the wounded-General Hunter was in one of them; there were men with broken arms; faces with bandages stained with blood; bodies pierced; many were walking or limping to the rear; meanwhile shells were shrieking and breaking in the heated air. I was sorry, indeed, that those left of my men had to pass that ordeal.

It was about 3 P. M. Away over toward the Warrenton Pike and by the Henry house there was still a fitful rattling of small arms and a continuous roar of heavy guns. “Send Howard to the right to support Ricketts's battery.” Captain J. B. Fry, of McDowell's staff, brought me the word and led the way to the right, well across Young's Branch to a hill not far from the Dogan house. In the little ravine north of this hill I formed my two brigade lines, the Second Vermont and Fourth Maine in the front, and the Third and Fifth Maine in the second line. When forming, I so stationed myself, mounted, that the men, marching by twos, should pass me. I closely observed them. Most were pale and thoughtful. Many looked up into my face and smiled. As soon as it was ready the first line swept up the slope, through a sprinkling of trees, out into an open space on high ground. The six guns of Ricketts's battery which had fought there were already disabled or lost, and Captain Ricketts wounded and captured. One lieutenant, Douglas Ramsy, was killed. Another lieutenant, Edmund Kirby, covered with blood, on a wounded horse was hurrying along [159] saving a caisson. My first line passed him quickly, and

as soon as the Second Vermont gained the crest of the

hill, scattered hostile skirmishers being close ahead,

the order to fire was given. The Fourth Maine, de-

layed a little by the thicket, came up abreast of the

Vermonters on the right and commenced firing. An

enemy's battery toward our front and some musketry

shots with no enemy plainly in sight caused the first

annoyance. Soon another battery off to our right

coming into position increased the danger. And, worse

than the batteries, showers of musket balls from the

wood, two hundred yards away, made warm work for

new men; but those unhit stood well for a time, or when

disturbed by artillery shots, rallied till they had deliv-

ered from fifteen to twenty rounds per man. We

had found no battery to support but were thrust into

an engagement against Confederate infantry and ar-


After that first line had been formed and was hard

at work, I returned through the thicket to the valley

behind us and brought up the second line, composed of

a remnant of the Fifth Maine and a larger portion of

the Third, intending to give the first line a rest. A

part of the Fifth, in consequence of a cannon shot strik-

ing its flank and a rush of our own retreating cavalry,

had been broken up and was gone. Our new line did

not fully relieve the former; the Fourth Maine re-

mained in position, the few of the Fifth going beyond

the Fourth to the extreme right. The Second Vermont

was ordered to withdraw and form a reserve. It was

a hot place. Every hostile battery shot produced con-

fusion, and as a rule our enemy could not be seen.

Soon the breakages were beyond repair; my order

for part of the front line to retire to reform was understood [160] for the whole. The major of the Fourth Maine asked anxiously: “Did you order us to retreatt” I shook my head, so he tried to stop his men. The colonel of the Fifth, exhausted by an attack of illness, said that he could do no more. Many officers labored to keep their men together, but I saw could effect nothing under fire. At last I ordered all to fall back to the valley and reform behind the thicket. Our men at the start moving back slowly soon broke up their company formations and continued to retire, not at first in a panicky manner, but steadily, each according to his own sweet will.

Before many minutes, however, it was evident that a panic had seized all the troops within sight. Some experienced veteran officers, like Heintzelman, entreated and commanded their subordinates, by turns, to rally their men; but nothing could stop the drift and eddies of the masses that were faster and faster flowing toward the rear. A final Confederate fire just before this retreat came upon our right flank when on the hill. Near there were the bodies of Zouaves conspicuous from their red uniform among the trees, who had fallen early in the day. That flank fire was from General E. Kirby Smith's Confederate brigade, which had come from the cars to that last battle scene, supported on his right by General Early. Some of our men had glimpses of bright bayonets a few hundred yards away above the low bushes. In front of them rode one officer on a white horse. At first he seemed alone. He turned and gave a command, but at the instant was shot and fell to the ground, though his men came forward, firing as they came. This was probably General Smith, who fell near that place wounded. One cannon shot striking among our men hit Alonzo Stinson, [161] of the Fifth Maine. His wound was mortal, his arm being broken and his side crushed. His brother, Harry, then a private, afterwards my aid-de-camp, who became a lieutenant colonel before the war closed, bravely stayed on the field with his brother and was taken prisoner by the advancing Confederates.

Captain Heath, of the Third Maine, who, promoted subsequently to lieutenant colonel and fell in the battle of Gaines Mills, walked for some time by my horse and shed tears as he talked to me: “My men will not stay together, Colonel, they will not obey me,” he said. Other brave officers pleaded and threatened. Surgeons staying back pointed to their wounded and cried: “For God's sake, stop; don't leave usl” Nothing could at that time reach and influence the fleeing crowds except panicky cries like: “The enemy is upon us! We shall all be taken” These cries gave increase to confusion and speed to flight. Curiously enough, instead of taking a short road to Centreville, the unreasoning multitude went back the long sevenmile route, exposing themselves every moment to death or capture.

After the complete break-up, just before the recrossing of Bull Run, Heintzelman, with his wounded arm in a sling, rode up and down and made a last effort to restore order. He sharply reprimanded every officer he encountered. He swore at me. From time to time I renewed my attempts. My brother, C. H. Howard, if he saw me relax for a moment, sang out: “Oh, do try again!” Part of the Fourteenth New York from Brooklyn rallied north of Bull Run and were moving on in fine shape. “See them,” said my brother; “let us try to form like that” So we were trying, gathering a few, but in vain. One foolish cry [162] behind a team of horses thundering along the road was: “The black horse cavalry are upon us!” This sent the Brooklyn men and all others in disorder into the neighboring woods. Then I stopped all efforts, but sent out this message and kept repeating it to every Maine and Vermont man within reach: “To the old camp at Centreville. Rally at the Centreville camp.”

No organization was effected before we reached that camp. There a good part of my brigade assembled and we remained in camp about one hour. Word was then brought me that our division and McDowell's entire army were retreating toward Washington, covered by Dixon Miles's fresh troops.

It was some small satisfaction to me to reorganize and to march at the head of my brigade again in good order, even though it were in retreat. We halted at Fairfax Court House and lay on our arms till morning. Following the universal example, I continued the march at daylight toward the Potomac. Four miles out, near Clermont, we were met by trains of cars and taken to Alexandria.

The next day, by means of strong effort, on my own motion I led three regiments of my brigade back westward four miles along the Alexandria and Centreville Pike to a good position near Mrs. Scott's farm. The other regiment, the Fifth Maine, having lost all of its blankets and being destitute of other needed supplies, I left temporarily in Alexandria. At last that was supplied and rejoined its brigade. The brigade thereafter faithfully guarded the approaches to Alexandria through many sore and dark days of discouragement, privation, and sickness, till McClellan, finally beginning to rebrigade and reorganize the army, ordered us to retire to a position nearer the Potomac. [163]

At the battle of Bull Run heavy losses were inflicted in the brief time we were able to hold our ground-50 killed, 115 wounded, and 180 missing. We had among them two officers killed and seven wounded-total loss, 345. Smith's (or Elzey's) Confederate loss was 28 killed and 108 wounded; Early's, 24 killed and 122 wounded. Total killed and wounded in both brigades, 279.

McDowell's entire Union loss was 481 officers and men killed, 1,011 wounded, and 1,216 missing. Beauregard's and Johnston's entire Confederate loss was 307 killed, 1,582 wounded, and 13 missing.

It was at least two weeks after our Bull Run panic before much reliance could be placed on our troops. In Alexandria the second night we put the men under shelter in the empty houses. A dreadful rainstorm had set in after the battle. The rain poured down in torrents and flooded the roads and the streets of the city.

And now came the most trying period of the war to all patriotic hearts. The terrible discontent day by day was aggravated and continued among the men. They distrusted their officers, high and low, many of them pleaded to go home, some mutinied, some deserted, some worthless officers only encouraged the malcontents, while others feared them. Letters complaining of ill usage filled the mails; the supplies for a time were short; spoiled clothing could not be immediately replaced; blankets and equipments were not forthcoming to fill the want; food was scarce and often poor, bread being moldy and meat insufficient. Counter complaints attended with bitter charges came to us from the homes far away. The military authority was insufficient speedily to rectify all these evils. Officers [164] and men rushed into Washington and thronged the hotels, boarding houses, and public offices with a saucy, idle, vagabond crowd. In many regiments even the arms were abused or allowed to become unserviceable from rust. But little by little the quartermaster general--the worthy, diligent, and able General Meigs --arranged to so supply every want in clothing and tentage as soon to relieve every cause of grumbling, and in like manner the commissary general, George Gibson, before long gave us plenty of new bread and fresh meat, so that the men became more contented and hopeful. And commanders in the field took the utmost pains to reestablish and maintain discipline.

Congress voted 500,000 more men to help us, and McClellan, conspicuous, with the reputation of successful generalship in West Virginia, was speedily called to the command of the departments of Washington and of Northeastern Virginia.

I heard General Sherman once say when he had listened to a severe criticism of Patterson, McDowell, and other early leaders, that we must not be too critical and hard upon them, for we were green in those days and we all have to learn by experience. We were then taught many lessons — the indispensable need of organization, of proper commanders, drill, and discipline; how little things like waiting or overhaste in marching or unloading the men certainly forestall defeat; how essential it is somehow to keep the men who fight in confidence and in heart; how and when to bring up the supports and reserves and use them to the best advantage.

One thing which affected us much was the saying so often heard that day: “It is Sunday I The attacking party on the Sabbath is sure of defeat” Whether [165] this be the superstition or the religion of a people, wise men will respect it. To violate the Sabbath weakens the soldiers who come from our churches and Sunday schools. With what a beautiful spirit General McClellan subsequently met this religious feeling in a superb order soon after issued: “The major general commanding desires and requests that in future there may be a more perfect respect for the Sabbath on the part of his command. We are fighting in a holy cause and shall endeavor to deserve the benign favor of the Creator. One day's rest in seven is necessary to men and animals. More than this, the observance of the holy day of the God of mercy and of battles is our sacred duty.”

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