When, at the close of April, 1861, the Confederates
satisfied that the national government and the loyal people of the country were resolved to maintain the authority and integrity of the republic, they put forward extraordinary efforts to strike a deadly blow by seizing the national capital before it should be too late.
There was great enthusiasm among the young men of the South
They read on the telegraph bulletin-boards the call of the President
for 75,000 men, and received the announcement with derisive laughter and cheers for “Old Abe the rail-splitter.”
Few believed there would be war. One of their chroniclers avers that companies were quickly formed from among the wealthiest of the youth, and that 200,000 volunteers could have been organized within a month, if they had been called for. The enthusiasm of the young men was shared by the other sex. Banners of costly materials were made by clubs of young women and delivered to the companies with appropriate speeches—the young men on such occasions swearing that they would perish rather than desert the flag thus consecrated.
Regarding the whole matter as a lively pastime, many of these companies dressed in the most costly attire, and bore the most expensive rifles, but grave men tried to undeceive them.
wrote to a Mississippi friend, telling him that hardships and privations awaited these young men, and advising them to use the commonest materials for clothing.
He recommended all volunteers to dress
in gray-flannel coats and light-blue cotton pantaloons, for summer was approaching.
The Confederates chose as their grand rallying-place, preparatory to a march on Washington
, Manassas Junction
, a point on the Orange and Alexandria Railway, where another joined it from Manassas Gap, in the Blue Ridge
It is about 25 miles west from Alexandria
, and 30 miles in a direct line from Washington, D. C.
It was an admirable strategic point, as it commanded the grand southern railway route connecting Washington
, and another leading to the fertile Shenandoah Valley, beyond the Blue Ridge
. General Scott
had been advised to take possession of that point.
but he declined; and while the veteran soldier was preparing for a defensive campaign the opportunity was lost.
At Manassas Junction
, large numbers of Confederate troops were soon gathered under the command of General Beauregard
The battle of Manassas
, or the second battle of Bull Run
, was fought near the battle-ground of the first engagement at Bull Run
, Aug. 30, 1862.
, after the battle of Groveton
(q. v.), found his army greatly reduced in numbers—only about 40,000.
It had failed to keep Lee
apart, and it was now decidedly the weaker force.
Prudence counselled a retreat to Bull Run
, or even to the defences of Washington
; but Pope
resolved to try the issue of another battle.
expected rations and forage from McClellan
, at Alexandria
, but was disappointed.
When it became clear that he would receive no aid from McClellan
, he had no other alternative than to fight or surrender, so he put his line into V shape on the morning of Aug. 30.
made a movement which gave Pope
the impression that the Confederates
were retreating, and the latter telegraphed to Washington
to that effect.
He ordered a pursuit.
When, at 10 A. M., an attempt was made to execute this order, a fearful state of things was developed.
The eminence near Groveton
was found to be swarming with Confederates, who, instead of retreating, had been massing under cover of the forest, in preparation for an offensive movement.
They opened a furious fire on the front of the Nationals, and at the same time made a heavy flank movement.
's corps, which had been made to recoil by the first unexpected blow, rallied, and performed specially good service.
meanwhile had hastened to the left.
By the disposition of Reynolds
's corps to meet the flank movement, Porter
's key-point had been uncovered, but the place of Reynolds
had been quickly supplied by 1,000 men under Warren
The battle became very severe, and for a while victory seemed to incline towards the Nationals, for Jackson
's advanced line was steadily pushed back until 5 P. M. Then Longstreet
turned the tide.
With four batteries, he poured a most destructive fire from Jackson
's right, and line after line of Nationals was swept away.
Very soon the whole of Pope
's left was put to flight, when Jackson
advanced, and Longstreet
pushed his heavy columns against Pope
At the same time Lee
's artillery was doing fearful execution upon Pope
's disordered infantry.
Darkness alone put an end to the fearful struggle.
Although pushed back some distance, the National
left was still unbroken, and held the Warrenton turnpike
, by which alone the Nationals might safely retreat.
had no other safe alternative than to fall back towards the defences of Washington
At 8 P. M. he issued orders to that effect, and during the night the whole army withdrew across Bull Run
to the heights of Centreville
, the troops under Meade
covering the movement.
The night was very dark, and Lee
, fortunately, did not pursue.