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The First Manassas. [from the Richmond, Va., Dispatch, August 10, 1902.]

A man who was there tells about the great ‘skedaddle.’ discipline of our troops.

The lack of it was most Conspicuous—a writer who visited Beauregard's Camp when a boy recalls the great battle.

Was there ever a more humiliating scene enacted in this country of ours than that as shown by the demoralized and fleeing United States troops at the first battle of Manassas? It has been some consolation to us old Confederates who have suffered so long and patiently since the close of the Civil war to know that the army of General McDowell, on the 21st day of July, 1861, composed of several thousand old regulars and 25,000 volunteers, were badly whipped by the Southern troops, who numbered not over 21,000, and of that number only about 16,000 were actually engaged. They had every advantage of us in means, ammunition, provisions, transportation, [270] etc. Our regiments were made up of all grades and conditions of men, educated and uneducated. In the ranks were lawyers, doctors, merchants, and A. M.'s alongside our sturdy mountaineers. The latter were accustomed to hardships, and with his rifle the head of a wild turkey at 100 yards was knocked off nine times out of ten. Just before entering the Army I was out hunting with my rifle. I had found a squirrel and was trying to get a shot at him, but as fast as I would move quietly arouud the tree he would keep out of my sight by moving around to the other side. Suddenly I heard the crack of a rifle, and the squirrel fell to the ground, shot through the head. To my surprise, I found that a young man (our overseer's son) had shot him from up the mountainside, some 150 yards from where I was standing. These men were independent and courageous, and often paid but little attention to the discipline imposed by their officers. While Colonel Strange, of Charlottesville, Va., was drilling his regiment in that town a short time before being ordered to the front, he said:

Mr. Jones, stand square, sir!

Mr. Jones immediately replied:

Colonel Strange, I are squar, sir!

Mr. Jones was a splendid specimen of the mountaineer, and of such material as many of the best Confederate soldiers were made.

Yes, we whipped them badly at Manassas, sometimes called the battle of Bull Run by the skedaddlers, for it was the battle of Manassas that gave to the English language the new word ‘skedaddle.’ So much has been written about this battle that I will not attempt any special description of the disposition of the troops or their manoeuvres, but give you extracts from papers and reports from men who were engaged in the battle, that these facts may be before the eyes of our citizens, and not reply, as did a young lady to a friend of mine a few weeks ago in Philadelphia, when asked some question about the Civil war, she replied after some hesitation: ‘About what war. Oh, yes, I remember now,’ she said, ‘you mean the war in which they hung Jeff. Davis on a sour apple tree?’ I was only 15 years old when I visited the camps of Beauregard's army at Manassas. It was my first sight of such a scene. I was with my brother-in-law, Catlett Fitzhugh, and rode horseback about the camps, witnessing the drilling of troops and seeing everything that was to be seen about a large army. General Winfield Scott was too old to command, hence General McDowell was in charge of [271] the United States troops on the 21st with the following brigadiers under him: Generals Burnside, Porter, Wilcox, Franklin, Howard, Sherman, Keys, Schenck, Richardson, Blenkers, and Runyon, while General Beauregard had under him Generals Bonham, D. R. Jones, Longstreet, Hampton, Ewell, and Holmes. General Joseph E. Johnston, who was in charge of the Army of the Shenandoah, reinforced Beauregrrd on the 21st, after a forced march from the Valley of Virginia, his brigadiers being T. J. Jackson, Barnard E. Bee, and E. K. Smith. The twelve companies of cavalry were commanded by Colonel J. E. B. Stuart.

In examining my file of papers, the Louisville Daily Courier, I find the following letters in the evening edition of August 5, 1861. The first is copied from the Atlanta (Ga.) Confederacy. It reads as follows:

The battle was a decided success, and was fought with distinguished gallantry by all our troops who participated in it. It is but just to say, however, that the Fourth Alabama Regiment, Colonel Jones, the Seventh Georgia, Colonel Gartrell, and the Eighth Georgia, Lieutenant-Colonel Gardner, both under Acting-Brigadier Bartow; the Fourth South Carolina, Colonel Sloane; Hampton's Legion, Colonel Hampton; the Sixth North Carolina, Colonel Fisher, and the Eleventh and Seventh Virginia did the hardest fighting, suffered most, and bore the brunt of the battle. Colonel Kershaw's and Colonel Cash (South Carolina) regiments came into action late, but did most effective service in the pursuit, which continued nearly to Centreville. General E. K. Smith's brigade reached Manassas during the battle and rushed to the field, a distance of seven miles, through the broiling sun at a double quick. As they neared the field from a doulle-quick they got fairly to running, their eyes flashing, the officers crying out: ‘On, boys; to the rescue!’ and the men shouted at the top of their voices. When General Johnson saw Smith he exclaimed: ‘The Blucher of the day has come.’ They soon arrived in front of the enemy, and with a shout that might be heard from one end of the battle-field to the other they launched at the adversary like a thunderbolt. They delivered but two fires, when the enemy began to give way, and in a few minutes they began to give way and were in full retreat. The brigade is composed of one Tennessee and one Mississippi regiment and a battalion from Maryland. As they rushed into the fight I could but recall with an appreciation, I never felt before the words of Holy writ, ‘as terrible as an enemy with banners.’ The artillery companies [272] did good service also. Those engaged were the New Orleans Washington Artillery, Latham's Battery from Lynchburg, Imboden's from Staunton, Kemper's from Alexandria, Thomas's from Richmond, Pendleton's from Lexington, Rogers's from Leesburg, and the Wise Artillery, Captain Arburtus. The Washington Artillery and Latham's Battery and Kemper's were in position to do most, but all his companies manoeuvred well and delivered their fires with great effect.

I do not believe that I have informed you in any of my letters that Colonel Cameron, of one of the Pennsylvania regiments, had been killed, and that his brother, Lincoln's Secretary of War, had sent a friend, one Arnold Harris, a lobby member about Washington, to ask for his body. As he did not come under a flag of truce, General Johnston ordered him into custody and sent him to Richmond.

The Republican secretary chose to ignore the existence of our authority and the rank and position of our officers by sending a verbal message and without a flag, just as the Ministers of King George were wont to act towards General Washington and the Continental Congress during the first revolution, and therefrom our officers chose to send the aforesaid Mr. Harris to prison. I have just heard that five more of Ellsworth's Zouaves—Old Abe's pet lambs—were captured to-day in the woods near Centreville, one of whom was Colonel Farnham, the successor of Ellsworth. He had been wounded and the other remained behind to take care of him.

While on a visit yesterday to the Seventh Regiment I had the satisfaction of examining their flag. It has fourteen bullet holes in it and the flag staff was struck in four places. After Colonel Bartow's fall Lieutenant Paxton, of Virginia, asked leave, the color-bearer being wounded, to carry the flag. His request was granted, and be and W. L. Norman, one of the color guards of DeKalb county, were the first to place it upon the captured battery. There is another incident which deserves public mention, and which shows of what stuff the Georgia boys are made. William DeJarnette, of the Rome Light Guard, having been slightly wounded and left behind, concealed himself in the bushes. The Second Rhode Island Regiment passed by without seeing him, but Colonel Slocum, who commanded the regiment, and who came on behind, discovered him in the bushes. Attempting to draw his pistol, he said: “Your life, you rebel! ” For some reason he could not get out his pistol easily, and seeing DeJarnette level his musket at him, he cried out: “Don't [273] shoot.” But the Georgian did shoot, and killed him, too. I saw Slocum's grave to-day in a little cabbage garden by the roadside, and also found there Major Ballou, of the same regiment, who had his leg shot off.

There is still another fact I cannot forbear to record. After the terrible fire to which the Eighteenth Georgia had been exposed and which they received with the immobility of a marble statue, General Beauregard passed the little remnant of the regiment that was still left and which was ready to strike yet another blow, and raising his cap with undisguised admiration and sympathy, he said: “Eighteenth Georgia, I salute you.”

The Canadian press on the battle of Manassas.

The Quebec Chronicle has the following:

The New York press will be doubtless sadly downcast now. For ourselves, we have not exulted over the much vaunted victories, and see no great reason to rejoice in a northern defeat. All our desire is that the war should cease, and that we should be spared the spectacle of seeing brothers in race and language in mortal combat. Neither the North nor the South can subjugate the other. Let them agree to what we call a reparation de bieus, and be at peace. There is room enough on this great continent for three great nations—a union of the British colonies—a union of the Northern States, and a Confederacy of the Southern republic.

The Montreal Gazette has the following:

The grand army that was to exterminate the Southerners is in full retreat upon Washington, utterly beaten by the superior tactics of the Southern general, which has enabled him to man his troops as to do what the Northern general intended—overwhelm the enemy. It was not a pleasant thing for philosophic minds to see that the defeat of the Northern army was received rather with satisfaction than regret by the people on the streets here. The North has bragged so much and so loudly, has been so insolent in its tone, not only towards the South, but towards Britain; it has bragged so much about thrashing Great Britain, and crumpling up poor little cowards, that sympathy has been alienated from the braggart and bully. The South has been hemmed in by the great masses of troops, a portion of her territory wrested from her—her ports blockaded—her every effort jeered at—her prospects of successful fighting for her own territory turned into ridicule, until no one could help feeling some [274] desire to see the braggart worsted, and the much-abused South, driven to bay, achieve a success.

I take the following from the same paper:

Stories set afloat by the black Republican press of the barbarous treatment of the wounded by the Confederate troops is denied by The Baltimore American, an administrative paper:

From troops passing through here, and particularly from the members of the Michigan regiments, who have a large number of wounded with them, we learn that every attention was paid to the wounded which the most humane could have deserved; one soldier affirming that he called upon a man who had shot him down for some water, and that the Confederate supplied him from his own canteen.

No country produced a more humane type of men than did the South. A lieutenant of our own city, when falling back under the tremendous fire at the battle of Gettysburg, was appealed to by a Yankee officer for help—when, without a moment's hesitation, he stooped down and gently lifted him upon his back and bore him away to a place of safety. This was Lieutenant P. T. Oliver, a prosperous merchant and a most excellent citizen of the city of Athens. Our soldiers never resorted to such barbarous treatment of men as the water torture, practiced by the United States troops in the war in the Philippines. Nor did we burn houses down over the heads of women and children (as I witnessed in the Valley of Virginia), by the order of General Sheridan, and approved by the United States Government at Washington. Now let us see, of both sides, who were interested in this first campaign against Richmond; these extracts are from official dispatches.

General Scott to McClellan, July 18:

McDowell yesterday drove the enemy beyond Fairfax Courthouse. He will attack the entrenched camp, Manassas Junction, today. Beaten there the enemy may retreat both upon Richmond and the Shenandoah Valley. I may reinforce him (Patterson) to enable you to bay Johnston.

Secretary Cameron to Governor Curtin, July 18:

The Pennsylvania troops were expected to have joined the forces going into battle this week. I trust there will be no delay to prevent them sharing the honors of the expected battle

General Scott to McClellan, July 21, A. M:

Johnston has amused Patterson and reinforced Beauregard. [275] McDowell this morning forcing the passage of Bull Run. In two hours he will turn the Manassas Junction and storm it to-day with superior force.

General Scott to the commanding officer at Baltimore, July 21:

Put your troops on the alert. Bad news from McDowell's army; not credited by me.

Captain Alexander to Washington:

General McDowell's army in full retreat. The day is lost. Save Washington and the remnants of this army. The routed troops will not reform.

General Scott to McDowell:

Under the circumstances it seems best to return to the line of the Potomac.

President Davis to General Cooper, Manassas, July 21:

Night has closed upon a hard fought field. Our forces have won a glorious victory.

Colonel Kerigan, at Alexandria, to Cameron, July 22:

There are about 7,000 men here without officers; nothing but confusion.

General Mansfield, to Captain Mott at the Chain Bridge, July 22:

Order the Sixth Maine to keep their demoralized troops out of their camps.

General Mansfield to General Runyan, July 22:

Why do the regiments I sent to you yesterday return so precipitously to Alexandria without firing a shot?

W. T. Sherman to the Adjutant-General, July 22.

I have at this moment ridden in with, I hope, the rear men of my brigade, which in common with our whole army has sustained a terrible defeat and has degenerated into an armed mob.

General Scott to General McClellan, July 22, 1 A. M:

After fairly beating the enemy and taking three of his batteries, a panic seized McDowell's army and it is in full retreat on the Potomac. A most unaccountable transformation into a mob of a fine appointed and admirable led army.

These few extracts are enough to show the utter rout of the Federal army. Twenty-eight pieces of artillery, about 5,000 muskets and nearly 500,000 cartridges, a garrison flag, and ten colors were [276] captured on the field or in the pursuit. Besides these we captured sixty-four artillery horses with the harness, twenty-six wagons, and much camp equipage, clothing and other property abandoned in their flight. Would that we could have ended at Manassas, and the thousands of lives of the heroic men of the South been spared.

Adown the coming years did beat,
     The pulse of hope, life seemed so bright,
That little recked we of defeat,
     Nor dreamed such days should close in night.

Athens, Ga., May 24, 1902.

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