Mr. Russell's second letter on the Manassas rout — an editorial from the London Times.
We subjoin a few extracts from Mr. Russell
's second letter, dated Washington
, July 24th, 1861:
In the States one thing is certain — the Cabinet
will resist the pressure of the mob or be hurled out of office.
If they yield to the fanatics and fight battles against the advice of their officers, they must be beaten, and the tone of New York indicates that a second defeat would cost them their political existence.
They can resist such pressure in future as has been brought on them hitherto by pointing to Bull Run
, and by saying, ‘"See the result of forcing General Scott
against his wishes. "’ Of the Cabinet
, Mr. Chase
, the Secretary of the Treasury
, is perhaps the only man who bore up against the disheartening intelligence of Monday morning; but Mr. Seward
and others are recovering their spirits as they find that their army was more frightened than hurt, and that the Confederates
did not advance on the Capital
immediately after their success.
It was a sad, rude sweep of the broom to the cob-web spinner — to the spider politicians, who have been laying-out warps in all directions, and are now lying in frowsy heaps among the ruins of their curious artifices.
Nothing can restore them to their places in the popular estimation; nothing could have kept them there but the rapid and complete success of their policy and the speedy fulfillment of their prophesies.
The sword they have drawn is held over their heads by the hands of some coming man whose face no one can see yet; but his footsteps are audible, and the ground shakes beneath his tread.
The News of the reverse.
If the bulk of the capital and population of the North
is thrown into this struggle, there can be but one hope for the Confederates
--brilliant victories on the battle-field, which must lead to recognition from Foreign Powers.
The fight cannot go on forever, and if the Confederate States
meet with reverses — if their Capital is occupied, their Congress dispersed, their territory (that which they claim as theirs) occupied, they must submit to the consequences of defeat.
Is not that equally true or their opponents?
On what ground can the United States
, which were founded on successful rebellion, claim exemption from the universal law which they did so much to establish?
Whatever the feelings of the North
may be now, there can be no doubt that the reverse of Manassas
caused deep mortification and despondency in Washington
, whether he disapproved, as it is said, the movement onward, or not, was certain that the Confederates
would be defeated.
The Union troops made no bayonet charge, took no batteries, nor Annihilated any cavalry.
When the statements in the American
papers are compared with the facts, I am aware it will be necessary to rely a little on ‘"character"’ in asking faith for what I report.
There was not a bayonet charge made by the Federalist infantry during the day; there was not a charge of any kind made by the Confederate cavalry upon any regiment of their enemy until the latter broke.
There was not a hand-to-hand encounter between any regiments.
There was not a single battery charged or taken by the Federalists.
There were no masked batteries in play by the former.
There was no annihilation of rebel horse by Zouaves — Fire or other.
A volley fired by one battalion emptied three saddles among a body of horse who appeared at some distance, and the infantry which performed the execution then retired.
There were no desperate struggles except by those who wanted to get away.
The whole matter, in plain English
, amounts to this.
Now the Federal officers talk of the defeat.
* * The tone in which some officers speak of being ‘"whipped"’ is almost beautiful and exultant.
Last night I heard one declaring he thought it was a good thing they were beaten, as it would put an end to the fighting; ‘"he was quite sure none of his men would ever face the Confederates
again."’ Another was of opinion that it was lucky they had not advanced much further, as in that case they could not have escaped so well.
Volunteers — Tests
The volunteers indulge in covers radiations
on the generalship of the commander the regulars speak with contemptuous bitterness of the inefficiency and cowardice of the volunteers officers.
The former talk learnedly of the art of war, and of the cruelty of being led like sheep to the slaughter.
The latter, without detracting from the courage of the men, inveigh against those who directed their regiments on the field; and the volunteer privates are glad to add their testimony against many of the officers, whose pride in uniforms and gold lace did not permit them to soil them in the smoke of gunpowder.
It is remarkable that so much hankering after military reputation should be accompanied — in some instances at least — by an absence of any military spirit.
The regular officers spoke in only one way of the conduct of the officers of the volunteers and of certain regiments.
Indeed, what could be said of men who acted after and in action as others acted before it, and went away as fast as they could?
Thus the men of a volunteer battery marched off, leaving their guns on the ground, the very morning of the engagement, because their three months term of service was up, and the Pennsylvania
regiment exhibited a similar spirit.
The 69th (Irish
) volunteered to serve as long as they were required, and so did some other corps, I believe.
But there must be something rotten in the system, military and political, which generates such sentiments, and develops neither the sense of military honor nor any of that affectionate devotion for the Union
which is called by one party in America
The fighting of the Germans, Irish and Scotch.
No doubt the papers will furnish detailed lists of killed and wounded, if you have any fancy to publish them, and columns of letter, from the soldiers, and pages of incidents of the battle which may be consulted by the curious; but there is a concurrence of testimony to the good conduct of Blenker
's Germans, the Sixty-Ninth, (Irish
,) and the Seventy-Ninth, (Scotch) Capt. Meagher
, indeed, I am told, yielded to the universal panic, and was seen on foot at Centreville
making the best of his way towards Fort Corcoran, with exclamations which implied that for the moment he recognized the Southern Confederacy as highly belligerent.
, conspicuous by his great stature, being a man of six feet and half in height, was an object of attraction to the enemy, and is lying dangerously, if not mortally, wounded.
Value of the Union sentiment of the North.
The great question to be decided just now is the value of the Union
sentiment in the North
Will the men and the money be forthcoming, and that soon enough to continue the war of aggression or recuperation against the seceded States?
The troops here complain of wont of money, and say they are not paid.
If that be so, there is proof of want of funds, which, if it lasts, will prevent the reorganization of another army; and I think it would not be safe to rely on the present army, or to depend on many of the regiments till they have been thoroughly reorganized.
It must be remembered that the United States
is about to lose the services of some 80,000 men, many of whom have already gone home.
These are the ‘"three months men," ’ called out under the President
Whether they will enlist for the term of three years, now proposed, cannot be determined; but, judging from their words, they will not do so it their present officers are continued or recommissioned.
At all events, they will nearly all go home to be ‘"mustered out of the service,"’ as it is called, in regiments, at the expense of the Government
It is reported in Washington
that steps were taken long ago to supply the places of the retiring battalions, and that there were also offers of eighty-three battalions, which have been accepted by the Government
, sent in as soon as the news of the disaster at Bull Run
was communicated to the North
How the regiments about to leave in a day or two were sent into the field at all, is one of the mysteries of the War Department.
[editorial from the London Times, Aug. 10.]
The people of the Northern States
are behaving after their defeat in a manner which is somewhat unaccountable.
They do not seem at all inclined to lessen its importance.
They do not affect to conceal that they have been totally and disgracefully defeated, that their opinions of their own merits and of their enemy's deficiencies were unfounded, and that, instead of a short and brilliant campaign, they must either prepare for a desperate war or give up the scheme of subjugating the South
And yet this National calamity and this grievous shame do not seem to affect them as they would affect an European community.
They even take a pleasure in the sensation caused by their unparalleled defeat.
Excitement is to all classes a necessary daily dram, and, if they have it, it matters not whether it is bought by success or misfortune.
Then the people have so little realized the meaning of war, and they have such confidence in their own energy and fortunes, in their faculty of what they call coming ‘ "right side up'ards,"’ that as a community they are no more depressed by a total rout than they would be in their individual capacities by a pecuniary loss.
A singular trait in human character is exhibited by their open acknowledgment to all the world of defeat, coupled with the ‘"enthusiastic reception"’ which they are giving to whole regiments of volunteers, who, on pretence of their time being up, are marching homeward on the morrow of a great defeat, and on the eve of an expected advance of the Southern
The more aristocratic New York volunteers had returned home long before the battle at Bull Run
, and now regiments from almost every State are hastening back to their respective districts, to be received with the loudest plaudits of their friends.
The 14th Ohio, on returning to Toledo
, ‘ "experienced a very cordial reception."’ It was mentioned that, after a few weeks' furlough they would be ready to enlist — those few weeks, for all that they know, being destined to decide the fate of the Union
But the most extraordinary case is that of General Patterson
The General, according to his own account, was in front of General Johnston
, who had 40,000 men. ‘"My force is less than 20,000 Nineteen regiments, whose term of service was up, or would be within a week, all refused to stay an hour over their time,
with the exception of four. Five regiments have gone home, two more go to-day, and three more to-morrow.
To avoid being cut off with the remainder, I fell back and occupied this place."’--This is, we think, one of the most astounding incidents in the history of war. It entirely agrees with the statement given by our special correspondent, that while the cannon of Beauregard
were thundering in their ears, a regiment of volunteers passed him on their way home, their three months term of service being complete.
If such a thing had happened to one corps, it might have been set down to the bad counsels of one or more discontented spirits, or to the injudicious conduct of some commanding officers.
But here it is evident that the whole volunteer army of the Northern States
is worthless as a military organization.
It is useless to comment on the behavior of men who, pretending to rush to arms for the salvation of their country, make off in thousands when the enemy come in sight, and leave their General to take care of himself.
This is certainly carrying to its further limit that right of Secession which they flew to arms to punish.
In any other country such conduct would be looked upon as the extreme of baseness.
But the Americans
do not visit it as such, and they, perhaps, have an instinctive sense of the justice of the case.
They feel how hollow has been so much of the indignation expressed by their party — how much the campaign against the South
is a sham, entered into in obedience to a ‘"sensation" ’ policy, and offering widely from the earnest and steady resolve which animates men who are fighting for objects really dear to them.
were invading the Northern States
, no one can believe that a whole American army would evaporate because three calendar months were up; nor, to bring matters nearer home, can we imagine that the Southerners will take the rail homeward while New York rowdies and Boston Abolitionists are desolating the villages of Virginia
In all ages success in war has inclined to the party which is fighting for an existence, and is consequently steeled to a sterner resolve.--There is a want of this earnestness to be noticed in the conduct of the Northerners.
They take things easy to degree which astonishes as Englishman who recollects the frenzy which followed the first misfortunes of our army at the end of 1854.
The whole story of the battle of Bull Run
is given by the Northern
papers, of course with many variations, but we are bound to any, with entire candor.
The completeness of the defeat, the courage of the enemy, and the panic of their own army, are not extenuated or denied in any way. There is, of course, the usual tendency to lay the blame on the commanders, and to save the self-love of the army at the expense of its chiefs.
But, making allowances for this, it is probable not only that the leaders were incompetent, but the mass of the troops felt that they were.
From the first there seems to have been little purpose in anything that was done.
The advance began before down, and one writer says that even at that early hour there seemed a lack of unity and direct purpose among the officers, which was sometimes made too evident to the troops not to affect their spirit and demeanor.
At the very opening of the day it was plain to all that real and sound discipline was abandoned.
On the other hand, the Confederates were evidently commanded by men who knew something of war.