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Chapter 9:

  • Battle of Manassas.
  • -- General J. E. Johnston assumes command, but General Beauregard directs operations and fights the battle. -- superiority of numbers against us. -- deeds of heroism. -- enemy completely routed. -- Ordnance and supplies captured. -- ours and enemy's losses. -- strength of General McDowell's army. -- the verdict of history.

After the check received at Bull Run, on July 18th, the Federal army remained inactive throughout the 19th and 20th, except in efforts to reconnoitre and determine the Confederate position and the best point for penetrating or turning it. This prolonged delay, though somewhat unaccountable, under the circumstances, was, certainly, of great advantage to General Beauregard. It allowed General Holmes to reach the theatre of operations in time, with 1265 infantry, 6 pieces of light artillery, and a company of cavalry of 90 men. General Johnston also arrived, about noon on the 20th, with Jackson's brigade,1 2611 strong, a portion of Bee's and Bartow's brigades numbering 2732 bayonets, 300 of Stuart's cavalry, and Imboden's and Pendleton's batteries; to which were added Barksdale's 13th Mississippi regiment, which came up from Lynchburg; and Hampton's Legion, 600 strong.

General Johnston was now the ranking officer at Manassas; nevertheless, as General Beauregard had already made all his plans and arrangements for the maintenance of the position, of which General Johnston was, as yet, completely uninformed, he declined assuming the responsibilities of the command until after the impending battle, but offered General Beauregard his personal services on the field, which were cordially accepted. General Beauregard thereupon explained his plan of operations, which was agreed to, and he continued his active preparations for the hourly expected conflict.

The question about to be tested was, whether our great struggle [97] for independence should win life and honor, or fail in disaster and ruin. One or the other would necessarily be the fate of the Confederacy. Heavy, therefore, was the responsibility upon the commander who stood ready to meet the issue. What General Beauregard had urged upon the government, and so earnestly demanded, had not been accorded; the military aspect had also changed; and he was now forced to occupy that defensive position which he had tried his utmost to avoid. But McDowell's apparent hesitation in his forward movement, the confidence General Beauregard had in his troops and in the wisdom of his order of battle, were most encouraging, and justified him in looking hopefully and fearlessly to the result.

Our line remained the same as on the 18th, except as modified by the distribution of the newly arrived reinforcements. General Holmes's brigade, the 2d Tennessee and 1st Arkansas regiments were placed in rear of Ewell. Early's brigade was shifted from the rear of Ewell to the rear of Jones's brigade; Longstreet was supported by Bee's and Bartow's brigades (of General Johnston's forces), posted at even distance in rear of McLean's and Blackburn's Fords; and, still farther in the rear, was Barksdale's Mississippi regiment. Bonham was supported by Jackson's brigade (of General Johnston's forces) placed at even distance in rear of Blackburn's and Mitchell's fords. Ten companies of infantry, two of cavalry, and a battery of four 6-pounders, under Rogers, had been added to Cocke's brigade, which covered the remaining fords—Island, Ball's and Lewis's—extending to the right of Evans's demi-brigade. The latter, which formed a part of Cocke's command, held the stone bridge, and covered a farm ford, about one mile above. Hampton's Legion of infantry, which had reached the army that morning (20th), was at once thrown forward to the Lewis House, as a support to any troops that might be engaged in that quarter. Two companies of Radford's cavalry were held in reserve, in rear of Mitchell's Ford, and Stuart's (of General Johnston's forces)—some three hundred men—occupied the level ground in rear, from Bonham's to Cocke's brigades. Five pieces of Walton's battery were in reserve in rear of Bee's right, and Pendleton's in rear of Bonham's extreme left.

The following table shows the composition and the total strength, in men and guns, of the Confederate forces assembled on the morning of the 21st, awaiting the conflict: [98]

1. The Army of the Potomac, including the garrison at Camp Pickens, Manassas21,833 & 29 guns.
2. The Army of the Shenandoah6,000 & 20 guns.
3. General Holmes's forces1,355 & 6 guns.
In all, 29,188 & 65 guns.

One peculiar feature of the theatre of operations was a direct road running in front of the Confederate positions, from the extreme right at Union Mills Ford, and trending off to Centreville. This was seized upon, and entered prominently into the Confederate plan of battle, as drawn up on the night of the 20th. That is to say, Ewell, from the extreme right, at Union Mills Ford, was to advance towards Centreville by that road, and, halting about half-way, await communication from Jones, who was to move from McLean's Ford and place himself on the left of Ewell, awaiting in that position communication from Longstreet, who, by a similar advance from Blackburn's Ford, was to take position on the left of Jones, and be joined on his own left by Bonham, from Mitchell's Ford. Ewell, having the longest march, was to begin the movement, and each brigade was to be followed by its reserves. The several commanders were instructed in the object of the movement, which was to pivot the line on Mitchell's Ford, and by a rapid and vigorous attack on McDowell's left flank and rear, at Centreville, rout him and cut off his retreat on Washington. ‘Sumter’—of good omen—was given as a watchword to the troops.

In the night, scouts posted by General Beauregard's orders in front of Evans's lines brought in the report that McDowell was concentrating at Centreville and on the Warrenton turnpike, leading thence to the stone bridge. As General Beauregard believed that the repulse of the 18th would deter the Federal general from another attack on the centre, these facts, in his opinion, pointed to a movement against the left flank. In reality, Mc-Dowell had, at first, intended to move on the Confederate right, in anticipation of which, as the most probable operation, the strongest Confederate brigades were posted in that quarter; but the result of further reconnoissances, made with more minuteness by the enemy, the day after the engagement of Bull Run, caused an alteration of his plans, as originally adopted. As this apparent new disposition of McDowell's forces rather favored the execution of the Confederate plan of battle, no change was made by General Beauregard; but, in view of contingencies, he despatched [99] orders, by daybreak, to every command in the lines, to be ready to move at a moment's notice.

At a very early hour in the morning of the 21st, Hunter's and Heintzelman's divisions of McDowell's army, over sixteen thousand strong, moved forward from Centreville by the Warrenton turnpike. Striking off to the right, about half-way between Centreville and the stone bridge, they made a circuit through a difficult forest, guided by the trace of an old road, to the Sudley Springs Ford, two miles above the stone bridge, with the design of flanking the Confederate left and taking possession of the Manassas Gap Railroad, so as to cut off the advent of General Johnston, most of whose troops, it was known, had not yet arrived. Meanwhile, Tyler moved his division down the Warrenton turnpike against the stone bridge, held by the Confederate extreme left, under Colonel Evans, in front of whom he immediately deployed a portion of his force.

About 5.30 A. M., report of this latter demonstration reached General Beauregard, who thereupon immediately ordered Colonel Evans, and, with him, General Cocke, to watch most vigilantly the movements of the forces confronting them, and, if attacked, to maintain their position at all hazards.

The surest and most effective method of relieving our left, General Beauregard thought, was by a rapid, vigorous attack of our right wing and centre on the enemy's flank and rear, at Centreville, all due precautions being first taken against the advance of any reserves from the direction of Washington. This proposed movement he submitted to General Johnston, who fully approved of it, and orders were forthwith issued for its execution. General Ewell was to lead the movement, followed by Jones, Longstreet, and Bonham, with their respective reserves. Colonels Stuart and Radford to be held in hand and brought forward whenever their assistance might be deemed necessary.

The enemy's extended line of skirmishers was now visible in front of Evans, who threw forward the two flank companies of the 4th South Carolina, and one company of Wheat's Louisiana battalion, which were deployed as skirmishers to cover his front. An occasional scattering fire resulted, and for more than an hour did the two confronting forces thus face one another; the main body of the enemy, meanwhile, cautiously advancing through the forest, to take our forces in flank and rear. [100]

Colonel Evans, being satisfied that the movement in his front was merely a sham, the real object being to turn his left, determined (8.30 A. M.) to change his position so as to meet the enemy, and he accordingly ordered to his left and rear six companies of Sloan's 4th South Carolina, five of Wheat's Louisiana battalion, and two 6-pounders of Latham's battery—leaving only four of Sloan's companies to guard the stone bridge: General Cocke being first informed of these changes and of the reasons necessitating them.

Colonel Evans formed his line some four hundred yards in rear of the old Pittsylvania Mansion, but the enemy not approaching by that road, he marched across the fields for three quarters of a mile, and took position mainly on the Brentsville road, in front of what was soon to be the enemy's line of battle. There he waited, the opposing masses drawing nearer and nearer.

We now quote from General Beauregard's official report, and will continue to do so at intervals as we proceed:

In the meantime, about 7 o'clock A. M., Jackson's brigade, with Imboden's and five pieces of Walton's battery, had been sent to take up a position along Bull Run to guard the interval between Cocke's right and Bonham's left, with orders to support either in case of need—the character and topographical features of the ground having been shown to General Jackson by Captain D. B. Harris, of the Engineers of this army corps.

So much of Bee's and Bartow's brigades—now united—as had arrived— some two thousand eight hundred muskets—had also been sent forward to the support of the position of the stone bridge.

Burnside's brigade—which here, as at Fairfax Court-House, led the advance—at about 9.45 A. M. debouched from a wood in sight of Evans's position, some five hundred yards distant from Wheat's battalion.

He immediately threw forward his skirmishers in force, and they became engaged with Wheat's command, and the 6-pounder gun under Lieutenant Leftwich.

For upwards of an hour, with less than eight hundred men, Sloan's companies and Wheat's battalion alone intrepidly resisted the mass of three thousand five hundred bayonets and eight pieces of artillery, including the strong battery of six 13-pounder rifled guns of the 2d Rhode Island volunteers, and two Dahlgren howitzers. At the urgent call of Colonel Evans, General Bee, with his gallant command, came to their assistance. He had been averse to leaving his position, which was the true one for the occasion, and had strongly advised Colonel Evans to fall back on his [101] line. But realizing that, if not supported, such a small force would soon be crushed by the overwhelming numbers opposed to it, he threw forward his entire command and engaged the enemy with surpassing valor, Imboden's battery playing at the same time with telling effect.

A fierce and destructive conflict now ensued [says General Beauregard]. The fire was withering on both sides, while the enemy swept our short, thin lines with their numerous artillery, which, according to their official reports, at this time consisted of ten rifled guns and four howitzers. For one hour did these stout-hearted men of the blended commands of Bee, Evans, and Bartow breast an uninterrupted battle-storm, animated surely by something more than the ordinary courage of even the bravest men under fire. It must have been, indeed, the inspiration of the cause, and consciousness of the great stake at issue, which thus nerved and animated one and all to stand unawed and unshrinking in such extremity.

Two brigades of Heintzelman's division, with Ricketts's light battery of six 10-pounder rifled guns, now opened fire on Imboden's command, which had been increased by two rifled pieces from the Washington Artillery, and two guns from Latham's battery.

Evans's eleven companies, Bee's and Bartow's four regiments, two companies of the 11th Mississippi, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell, and six pieces under Imboden and Richardson, were the only forces we had to confront two divisions of four strong brigades, of which seventeen companies were regulars of all arms. Despite this fearful disparity in numbers our troops still maintained their position, constantly breaking and shattering the enemy's ranks. But now came Sherman's and Keyes's brigades of Tyler's division, six thousand strong, adding number to number, and forcing our line at last to give way, though only when ordered to do so by the heroic Bee himself.

Our losses were heavy in officers and men. The 8th Georgia and the 4th Alabama suffered terribly. Colonels Jones and Gardiner were dangerously wounded; and many other noble-hearted patriot soldiers there fell, killed or disabled, under the murderous fire directed against them.

From Generals Johnston's and Beauregard's headquarters, which occupied a central position about half a mile to the rear of Mitchell's Ford, could be distinctly heard the clattering roll of musketry and the incessant din of artillery, bearing witness to the heavy onslaught made upon us on the left. Anxiously, but confidently, [102] did General Beauregard await its issue, expectant, the while, that similar sounds would soon be audible from the right and centre of the line. Instead of which, at about half-past 10 A. M., a messenger came from General Ewell, with the disappointing news that General Beauregard's orders to him for his advance upon Centreville, though forwarded quite early in the morning, had not yet reached him; but that, in consequence of a communication from General D. R. Jones, he had thrown his brigade across the stream at Union Mills. It was evidently too late to undertake the projected movement. The firing appeared to be still increasing on the left, while it would have taken Generals Ewell and Holmes from two to three hours to reach the position first assigned to them. Other combinations became necessary, and were immediately resorted to.

The movement of the right and centre [says General Beauregard, in his report], already begun by Jones and Longstreet, was at once countermanded, with the sanction of General Johnston, and we arranged to meet the enemy on the field upon which he had chosen to give us battle. Under these circumstances, our reserves not already in movement were immediately ordered up to support our left flank, namely, Holmes's two regiments, a battery of artillery under Captain Lindsay Walker, of six guns, and Early's brigade. Two regiments from Bonham's brigade, with Kemper's four 6-pounders, were also called for; and, with the sanction of General Johnston, Generals Ewell, Jones (D. R.), Longstreet, and Bonham were directed to make a demonstration to their several fronts, to retain and engross the enemy's reserves and forces on their flank, and at and around Centreville. Previously, our respective chiefs of staff, Major Rhett and Colonel Jordan, had been left at my headquarters to hasten up and give directions to any troops that might arrive at Manassas.

And now, these orders having been rapidly despatched, Generals Johnston and Beauregard proceeded, at full gallop, to the imdiate field of action, where they arrived just as the forces under Bee, Bartow, and Evans had retired to a wooded ravine in rear of the Robinson House, south of the stone bridge—which was then gallantly held by the Hampton Legion.

At this critical moment disaster stared us in the face. Our men seemed to have accomplished all that could be accomplished against such overpowering numbers; and depression, added to exhaustion, was about to destroy their over-taxed endurance. The words of the brigade, regiment, and company commanders were drowned by the noise and confusion, the whizzing of balls and the explosion of shells. Generals Johnston and Beauregard rode among the [103] troops, but even their presence was unavailing; when it occurred to General Beauregard that the sight of their regimental colors, borne to the front by their officers, would instil new vigor into the men, and restore confidence and order among them. He instructed the colonels to plant their colors fifty yards in advance, and call upon their troops to rally on them. This was done, and proved a complete success. Few, if any, of the men remained behind; and an unbroken line of battle again confronted the foe. It was just before the execution of this brilliant device of General Beauregard's, to the inspiriting effect of which may be attributed the retrieved fortune of the day, that General Bee, while addressing his troops and urging them forward, said of General Jackson's brigade, which had not yet been engaged, but awaited, unmoved, the attack of the enemy: ‘Look at Jackson's brigade; it stands there like a stone wall’—memorable words, that consecrated to fame a command whose invincibility became proverbial under the immortal hero who first led it into battle.

While our line was being reformed, and with a view to strengthening the morale of he troops, both General Johnston and General Beauregard, riding abreast with the color-bearer, led the 4th Alabama on the field, and directly engaged it with the enemy. This gallant regiment had lost all its field-officers; seeing which, General Beauregard shortly afterwards intrusted its command to S. R. Gist, of South Carolina, a young officer who had already attracted his attention, and who was then acting as volunteer aide-de-camp to General Bee. The untiring energy and cool daring of both Generals Johnston and Beauregard, as they hurried forth to the points needing their presence, produced a lasting impression on officers and men who witnessed that part of the struggle.

General Jackson had already moved up with his brigade of five Virginia regiments, and taken position below the brim of the plateau, to the left of the ravine where stood the remnants of Bee's, Bartow's, and Evans's commands. With him were Imboden's battery and two of Stanard's pieces, supported in the rear by J. F. Preston's and Echolls's regiments, by Harper's on the right, and by Allen's and Cummings's on the left.

It was now clearly demonstrated that upon this ground was the battle to be fought. The enemy had forced us upon it, and there all our available forces were being concentrated. This fact once established, it became evident that the presence of both Generals [104] Johnston and Beauregard on the immediate scene of operations, instead of being of advantage, might impede prompt action—often necessary—by either commander. Moreover, the important work of pressing forward the reserves and other reinforcements yet on the way from Winchester was a subject of great concern, and could not be attended to personally by the general in actual command. For these reasons, and because, by mutual consent, the command had been left to General Beauregard, who had planned the battle and knew every inch of the country occupied by our troops, it was agreed that he should remain on the field to direct the battle, while General Johnston should withdraw some distance to the rear, where he could hurry forward the forces already ordered to the front, and indicate the positions they were to assume. General Johnston hesitated before complying with the request that this arrangement should be made, but finally yielded, and temporarily established himself at the Lewis House, before or near which most of the forces called up had to pass on their way to the field.

General Beauregard says, in his report:

As General Johnston departed for the Lewis House, Colonel Bartow reported to me with the remains of the 7th Georgia Volunteers—Gartrell's— which I ordered him to post on the left of Jackson's line, in the edge of a belt of pines bordering the southeastern rim of the plateau, on which the battle was to rage so fiercely.

Colonel William Smith's battalion of the 49th Virginia Volunteers, having also come up, by my orders, I placed it on the left of Gartrell's, as my extreme left at the time. Repairing then to the right, I placed Hampton's Legion, which had suffered greatly, on the flank, somewhat to the rear of Harper's regiment, and also the seven companies of the 8th (Hunton's) Virginia regiment, which, detached from Cocke's brigade by my orders and those of General Johnston, had opportunely reached the ground. These, with Harper's regiment, constituted a reserve to protect our right flank from an advance of the enemy from the quarter of the stone bridge, and served as a support for the line of battle, which was formed on the right by Bee's and Evans's commands; in the centre by four regiments of Jackson's brigade, with Imbodens' four 6pound-ers, Walton's five guns (two rifled), two guns (one rifled) of Stanard's, and two 6-pounders of Rogers's batteries, under Lieutenant Heaton; and on the left by Gartrell's reduced ranks and Colonel Smith's battalion, subsequently reinforced by Faulkner's 2d Mississippi, and by another regiment of the Army of the Shenandoah, just arrived upon the field, the 6th (Fisher's) North Carolina. Confronting the enemy at this time my forces numbered, at most, not more than six thousand five hundred infantry and artillerists, with but thirteen pieces of artillery, and two companies (Carter's and Hoge's) of Stuart's cavalry. [105]

The enemy's force, now bearing hotly and confidently down on our position, regiment after regiment of the best-equipped men that ever took the field —according to their own history of the day—was formed of Colonels Hunter's and Heintzelman's divisions, Colonels Sherman's and Keyes's brigades of Tyler's division, and the formidable batteries of Ricketts, Griffin, and Arnold's Regulars, and 2d Rhode Island and two Dahlgren howitzers—a force of over twenty thousand infantry, seven companies of regular cavalry, and twenty-four pieces of improved artillery. At the same time, perilous heavy reserves of infantry and artillery hung in the distance around the stone bridge, Mitchell's, Blackburn's, and Union Mills Fords, visibly ready to fall upon us at any moment; and I was also assured of the existence of other heavy corps at and around Centreville, and elsewhere within convenient supporting distance.

While posting his lines for the fierce struggle about to be renewed, General Beauregard, deeply impressed with the fearful odds against us, exhorted his troops to stand fast for their homes and the cause for which they were fighting. Telling them that reinforcements would soon arrive, he urged them on to ‘victory or death.’ His words were few, but they inspired the men, who dashed forward with re-awakened ardor.

The enemy had now taken possession of the plateau which General Bee's forces had occupied in the morning, and, with Ricketts's battery of six rifled guns—the pride of the Federal army—and Griffin's light battery of regulars, besides others already mentioned, opened a most destructive fire upon our advancing columns.

The plateau of which we speak, enclosed on three sides by small water-courses emptying into Bull Run, rose to an elevation of one hundred feet above the stream. Its crest ran obliquely to Bull Run, and to the Brentsville and turnpike roads. East and west of its brow could be seen an unbroken fringe of secondgrowth pines, affording most excellent shelter for our sharpshooters, who skilfully availed themselves of it. To the west was a broad belt of oaks extending across the crest, right and left of the Sudley road, where regiments of both armies now met and hotly contended for the mastery.

The ground occupied by our guns was an open space of limited extent, about six hundred yards from the Henry House. Here, thirteen of our pieces, mostly 6-pounders, were maintained in action. They displayed from the outset such skill and accuracy of aim as to excite the terror no less than the admiration of the enemy. The advancing columns suffered severely from the fire of [106] this artillery, assisted by our musketry on the right, and part of the left, whose good fortune it was to be under cover. Regiment after regiment of the opposing forces, thrown forward to dislodge us, was made to break in confusion, never completely to recover their organization on that field. The gallant Stuart, with two companies of his command, by a sudden rush on the right of the enemy, on the Brentsville-Sudley road, greatly added to the disorder our firing had caused. But still fresh Federal troops poured in from the immediate rear, filling up their broken ranks and making it plain that their object was to turn our position.

At 2 P. M. General Beauregard, with characteristic promptitude, bringing up the whole right of his line except the reserves, gave the order to recover the plateau. The movement was executed with determination and vigor. It was a bold one, and such as the exigency required. Jackson's brigade, veteran-like and unwavering, now came up and pierced the enemy's centre, successfully, but not without heavy loss. With equal intrepidity the other portions of the line had joined in the onset, which proved irresistible, and the lost ground was once more ours. The enemy being strongly reinforced, again rallied, however, and, by weight of numbers, re-occupied the contested plateau and stood ready to resume the attack.

Between 2.30 and 3 P. M., just as the reinforcements sent forward by General Johnston reached the field, General Beauregard —resolved upon dislodging the enemy—had brought up his entire line, including the reserves, which he led in person. It was a general attack, shared in by every command then on the ground —Fisher's North Carolina, which had just arrived, being among them. The whole open space was taken by storm and swept clear of the enemy, and the plateau around the Henry and Robinson Houses, ever memorable in history, remained finally in our possession. The greater part of Ricketts's and Griffin's batteries were captured, with a flag of the 1st Michigan regiment, Sackson's brigade. Many were the deeds of valor accomplished during this part of the day; but many, also, the irreparable losses the Confederacy had now to mourn. The heroic Bee fell, mortally wounded, at the head of the 4th Alabama; so did the intrepid Bartow, while leading the 7th Georgia. Colonel Thomas, of General Johnston's staff, was killed; so was Colonel Fisher, whose regiment—as gallant as its leader—was terribly shattered. [107]

Withers's 18th regiment of Cocke's brigade, with Hampton's Legion, followed the charge, and captured several rifled pieces, which were instantly turned against the enemy with effect.

While the Federal troops had been driven back on our right, across the turnpike and beyond Young's Branch, the woods on our left yet swarmed with them. Just then arrived, most opportunely, Kershaw's 2d and Cash's 8th South Carolina regiments. They were led through the oaks, east of the Sudley-Brentsville road, where, after sweeping the enemy before them, they took up a commanding position on the west, and opened a galling fire upon those commands—including the regular infantry—which had rallied in the southwest angle of the plateau, under cover of a strong Federal brigade. Kemper's battery, evolving northward by the same road, joined with signal effect in the attack on the enemy's right. Preston's 28th regiment of Cocke's brigade had also come up. It encountered some Michigan troops on the way, and captured Colonel Wilcox, their brigade commander.

Our army had received another important reinforcement. While these stirring events were taking place (3 P. M.) part of Brigadier-General Kirby Smith's command, some seventeen hundred infantry of Elzey's brigade, and Beckham's battery, were seen hurrying to the field, from Camp Pickens (Manassas), where they had arrived by rail, two or three hours before. General Johnston had directed them to the left of our line, where he thought reinforcements were most needed. Just as they reached their position, south of the Henry House, General Smith was severely wounded, and compelled to retire to the rear. His place was filled by Colonel Elzey, an officer of merit, who displayed great discernment in selecting the ground for the battery attached to his command. Its accurate firing, under Lieutenant Beckham, occasioned much damage to the Federal right.

Colonel Early, who should have moved up with his command, at noon, did not receive the order to do so until 2 P. M. He appeared upon the field just after Elzey, with Kemper's 7th Virginia, Hay's 7th Louisiana, and Barksdale's 13th Mississippi. He was drawn up in line of battle near Chinn's House, flanking the enemy's right. The clouds of dust raised by the advance of his force, in a direction from which none of our troops were expected at the time, had caused the keenest anxiety to General Beauregard, who thought it might be another column of the [108] enemy threatening to turn his left. There being then no breeze, the flags, hanging heavily to their staffs, could not be distinguished, even through field-glasses. At last, and as General Beauregard was about to make preparations to meet this new foe, a propitious breath of air spread out the colors of one of the advancing regiments—the 13th Mississippi—at that time so similar in design to the United States flag. To the intense relief of all, it was now ascertained that the column was Early's gallant command, hurrying on, with all possible speed, towards the point from which was heard the heaviest firing.

At about 3.30 P. M. the enemy, driven back on their left and centre, had formed a line of battle of gigantic proportions, crescentlike in form, from the old Carter Mansion to Chinn's House. ‘The woods and fields’—says General Beauregard—were filled with masses of infantry and carefully preserved cavalry. It was a truly magnificent though redoubtable spectacle, as they threw forward, in fine style, on the broad, gentle slope of the ridge occupied by their main lines, a cloud of skirmishers, preparatory to another attack.

‘But as Early formed his line and Beckham's pieces played upon the right of the enemy, Elzey's brigade, Gibbon's 10th Virginia, Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart's 1st Maryland and Vaughn's 3d Tennessee regiments, and Cash's 8th and Kershaw's 2d South Carolina, Withers's 18th and Preston's 28th Virginia, advanced in an irregular line, almost simultaneously, with great spirit, from their several positions upon the front and flanks of the enemy in their quarter of the field. At the same time, too, Early resolutely assailed their right flank and rear. Under this combined attack the enemy was soon forced, first, over the narrow plateau in the southern angle, made by the two roads so often mentioned, into a patch of woods on its western slope, thence over Young's Branch and the turnpike into the fields of the Dogan Farm, and rearward, in extreme disorder, in all available directions towards Bull Run. The rout had now become general and complete.’

As soon as General Beauregard had ascertained that final victory was ours, he ordered all the forces then on the field to follow in active pursuit upon the heels of the enemy. With a proud and happy feeling of elation at the issue of the day, he then rode to the Lewis House to inform General Johnston of the glorious result, and, as had been agreed—the battle being now over—to commit [109] to his hands the command of our united forces. The interview was a short one, and General Beauregard, anxious to reap the full benefit of the victory, hurried to the front to press the pursuit.

Early's brigade, with the 19th Virginia regiment, followed the panic-stricken fugitive enemy. Stuart and Beckham had also thrown their men forward along the road by which the flying columns had so confidently marched to the field that morning; but the prisoners so encumbered their way as to force them soon to give up the pursuit. Kershaw's, Withers's, Preston's, and Cash's regiments, Hampton's Legion and Kemper's battery, attached to Kershaw, rushed forward on the Warrenton road, by the stone bridge, where Kershaw's command captured a number of pieces of artillery. ‘The enemy,’ says General Beauregard in his report, ‘having opportunely opened a way for them through the heavy abattis which my troops had made on the west side of the bridge, several days before.’

The pursuit of the enemy, the result of which might have more than doubled the importance of our victory, was not further continued that evening. A false report which had reached General Beauregard, on his way to the front, necessitated at once a complete change in the character of his orders. From Manassas, riding at full speed, had come a messenger, sent to General Beauregard by Major Thomas G. Rhett, of General Johnston's staff, with the startling information that the enemy's reserves, composed of fresh troops, and in considerable force, had penetrated our lines at Union Mills Ford, and were marching on Manassas. The report did not originate with Major Rhett, but had been brought to him by the adjutant of General D. R. Jones, in person.

No sooner had this unwelcome news been received than General Beauregard, without the loss of a moment, rode back to the Lewis House, saw General Johnston, agreed with him as to what measures should be adopted for the emergency, and, mounting a fresh horse (the fourth on that day, one of them having been killed under him by the explosion of a shell, while he was giving instructions to General Jackson), he proceeded at once to the point reported to be threatened, ordering thither Ewell's and Holmes's brigades, which had just come up to the Lewis House. With these troops he proposed to attack the enemy vigorously before he should effect a lodgment on our side of Bull Run. He asked also for such reinforcements as could be spared from the pursuit. [110]

As General Beauregard reached the vicinity of Union Mills Ford, towards dark, he ascertained, with mingled feelings of joy and regret, that the troops which had been seen advancing from that direction were none other than those belonging to the command of General Jones, originally posted near McLean's Ford. General Jones had crossed Bull Run at that point, in the morning, as already stated, to aid in the projected attack by our right and centre on the enemy, at Centreville; but had been ordered back, in consequence of the movements against our left. In obedience to new instructions, he was again thrown across Bull Run, to make demonstrations against the enemy from a quarter supposed by him to be unguarded. His advance was most gallantly effected; and not only did the brisk firing of his brigade drive the enemy's infantry to cover, but the bold, unexpected movement was greatly instrumental in spreading the panic which finally disbanded the Federal army. His command was on the march to resume its former position, behind Bull Run, when thus mistaken for the enemy. It should here be added, in explanation of this unfortunate error, that the uniforms of General Jones's men differed very slightly from those of the Northern troops—a fact of no small significance, which had already embarrassed many a Confederate officer, during the day, particularly on the arrival of General Early's forces on the field.

After this mishap and the causes leading to it had been fully explained, it was too late to resume the pursuit, as night had then set in. It must not be forgotten, besides, that our troops had been marching and counter-marching since early morning-‘most of the time,’ says General Beauregard, ‘without water and without food, except a hastily snatched meal at dawn’—and that, when not thus marching, they had been fighting against a determined foe, at some points more than three times their superior in number. Well, therefore, were the Confederate troops of Manassas entitled to rest, that evening, on the laurels they had so gallantly yet so dearly won. Few, however, enjoyed the privilege afforded them; so wakeful had success made both officers and men, so carried away were they by the glorious victory achieved.

While retracing his steps towards the Lewis House, General Beauregard was informed that President Davis and General Johnston had both gone to Manassas. He repaired thither and found them, between half-past 9 and ten o'clock, at his headquarters. [111]

The President, who, upon approaching the field, accompanied by Colonel Jordan, of General Beauregard's staff, had felt quite despondent at the signs of defeat which he thought he saw in the groups of stragglers and fugitives—fragments thrown out from the heat and collision of battle—came up just in time to witness the rout and pursuit of the enemy. He was greatly elated over the victory, and was profuse in his compliments to the generals and the troops. After listening to General Beauregard's account of the battle, he proposed that a brief despatch be sent to the War Department, which was done, that very night, in the following words:

Manassa, July 21st, 1861.
Night has closed upon a hard-fought field. Our forces have won a glorious victory. The enemy was routed, and fled precipitately, abandoning a very large amount of arms, munitions, knapsacks, and baggage. The ground was strewn for miles with those killed, and the farm-houses and the ground around were filled with his wounded. The pursuit was continued along several routes towards Leesburg and Centreville, until darkness covered the fugitives. We have captured several field-batteries and regimental standards and one United States flag. Many prisoners have been taken. Too high praise cannot be bestowed, whether for the skill of the principal officers, or for the gallantry of all the troops. The battle was mainly fought on our left, several miles from our field works. Our force engaged them not exceeding fifteen thousand; that of the enemy estimated at thirty-five thousand.

The list of the ordnance and supplies captured from the enemy, merely alluded to in the foregoing despatch to General Cooper, included twenty-eight field-pieces, of the best character of arms, with over one hundred rounds of ammunition for each gun; thirtyseven caissons; six forges; four battery wagons; sixty-four artillery horses, completely equipped; five hundred thousand rounds of small-arms ammunition; four thousand five hundred sets of accoutrements; over five hundred muskets; nine regimental flags; a large number of pistols, knapsacks, swords, canteens, and blankets; a great many axes and intrenching tools; wagons, ambulances, hospital stores, and not a small quantity of subsistence. We also captured fully sixteen hundred prisoners, including those who recovered from their wounds.

Our loss in this memorable battle was computed as follows: Killed, 369; wounded, 1483; making an aggregate of 1852. This statement is taken from General Beauregard's report. In General Johnston's report, written from Fairfax Court-House, the result [112] was summed up in this wise: Killed, 378; wounded, 1489; missing, 30; aggregate, 1897.

The enemy's loss was not officially acknowledged at the time. The feeling which had led the Northern press to conceal the real strength of General McDowell's army seems also to have impelled the enemy to withhold a true statement of his casualties.

In his report, so often quoted from—the whole of which appears in the appendix to this chapter—General Beauregard says: ‘The actual loss of the enemy will never be known—it may now only be conjectured. Their abandoned dead, as they were buried by our people where they fell, unfortunately were not enumerated, but many parts of the field were thick with their corpses as but few battle-fields have ever been. The official reports of the enemy are studiously silent on this point, but still afford us data for an approximate estimate. Left almost in the dark in respect to the losses of Hunter's and Heintzelman's divisions— first, longest, and most hotly engaged—we are informed that Sherman's brigade, Tyler's division, suffered, in killed, wounded, and missing, 609—that is, about eighteen per cent. of the brigade. A regiment of Franklin's brigade—Gorman's—lost twentyone per cent. Griffin's (battery) loss was thirty per cent., and that of Keyes's brigade, which was so handled by its commander as to be exposed to only occasional volleys from our troops, was at least ten per cent. To these facts add the repeated references in the reports of the reticent commanders to the ‘murderous’ fire to which they were habitually exposed, the “pistol-range” volleys and galling musketry, of which they speak as scourging their ranks, and we are warranted in placing the entire loss of the Federals at over forty-five hundred in killed, wounded, and prisoners. To this may be legitimately added, as a casualty of the battle, the thousands of fugitives from the field, who never rejoined their regiments, and who were as much lost to the enemy's service as if slain or disabled by wounds. These may not be included under the head of “missing,” because in every instance of such report we took as many prisoners of those brigades or regiments as are reported “missing.” ’ In his report, General Johnston, confirming General Beauregard's estimate, says: ‘The loss of the enemy could not be ascertained. It must have been between four and five thousand.’

It is not our purpose to dwell at any length on that part of a [113] subject which, to us, appears of but minor importance in comparison with the real question at issue, to wit—the result of the battle of Manassas, or, in other words, the acknowledged victory of the Confederate forces over an army vastly superior in point of number, armament, and equipment.

The reader is already informed of the correct strength of our united forces, on the morning of the 21st July. It was increased by 1700 infantry, and a battery, on the arrival of part of General Kirby Smith's command, at 3.30 P. M., which would bring up our aggregate to 30,888 of all arms. It must be borne in mind, however, that the commands of Generals Holmes and Ewell, aggregating at least 3000 men, though mentioned on our field returns as present at and around Manassas, were never directly engaged with the enemy on that day.

General Beauregard estimates as follows the numerical strength of the Federal forces against us. We quote from his report: ‘Making all allowances for mistakes, we are warranted in saying that the Federal army consisted of at least fifty-five regiments of volunteers, eight companies of regular infantry, four of marines, nine of the regular cavalry, and twelve batteries, numbering together one hundred and nineteen guns. These regiments, at one time, . . . numbered, in the aggregate, fifty-four thousand one hundred and forty, and averaged nine hundred and sixty-four men each.’ Deducting as many as one hundred and sixty-four per regiment, for the sick, and men on detached service, the average would then be reduced to eight hundred men. Adding, now, the different commands of regulars of all arms, mentioned above, and the aggregate of the Federal army opposing us at Manassas could not have been less than fifty thousand men.

The facts that have transpired one by one, gradually throwing light upon this point, have already fallen within the domain of history, and show, conclusively, in spite of the extreme reticence of many Federal commanders, that an army fifty thousand strong, under General McDowell, was defeated and routed, at Manassas, on the 21st of July, 1861, by less than thirty thousand Confederate troops, under the immediate command, before and during the battle, of General G. T. Beauregard.

1 This brigade reached Manassas Junction the evening previous. So did, at a later hour, the 7th and 8th Georgia regiments.

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