On the 9th of July General Johnston wrote an official letter, from which I make the following extracts:
"Headquarters, Winchester, July 9, 1861.
"General: ... Similar information from other sources gives me the impression that the reenforcements arriving at Martinsburg amount to seven or eight thousand. I have estimated the enemy's force hitherto, you may remember, at eighteen thousand. Additional artillery has also been received. They were greatly superior to us in that arm before.
"The object of reenforcing General Patterson must be an advance upon this place. Fighting here against great odds seems to me more prudent than retreat.
"I have not asked for reenforcements, because I supposed that the War Department, informed of the state of affairs everywhere, could best judge where the troops at its disposal are most required....
"Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
(Signed) "Joseph E. Johnston,
"If it is proposed to strengthen us against the attack I suggest as soon to be made, it seems to me that General Beauregard might with great expedition furnish five or six thousand men for a few days.
"J. E. J."
As soon as I became satisfied that Manassas was the objective point of the enemy's movement, I wrote to General Johnston, urging him to make preparations for a junction with General Beauregard, and to his objections, and the difficulties he presented, replied at great length, endeavoring to convince him that the troops he described as embarrassing a hasty march might be withdrawn in advance of the more effective portion of his command. Writing with entire confidence, I kept no copy of my letters, and, when subsequent events caused the wish to refer to them, I requested General Johnston to send me copies of them. He replied that his tent had been blown down, and his papers had been scattered. His letters to me, which would show the general purport of mine to him, have shared the fate which during or soon after the close of the war befell most of the correspondence I had preserved, and his retained copies, if still in his possession, do not appear to have been deemed of sufficient importance to be inserted in his published "Narrative."
On the 17th of July, 1861, the following telegram was sent by the Adjutant-General:
"Richmond, July 17, 1861.
"To General J. E. Johnston, Winchester, Virginia.
"General Beauregard is attacked. To strike the enemy a decisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and baggage to Culpepper Court-House, either by railroad or by Warrenton. In all the arrangements exercise your discretion.
(Signed) "S. Cooper,
"Adjutant and Inspector-General."
The confidence reposed in General Johnston, sufficiently evinced by the important command intrusted to him, was more than equal to the expectation that he would do all that was practicable to execute the order for a junction, as well as to secure his sick and baggage. For the execution of the one great purpose, that he would allow no minor question to interfere with that which was of vital importance, and for which he was informed all his "effective force" would "be needed."
The order referred to was the telegram inserted above, in which the sending the sick to Culpepper Court-House might have been after or before the effective force had moved to the execution of the main and only positive part of the order. All the arrangements were left to the discretion of the General. It seems strange that any one has construed this expression as meaning that the movement for a junction was left to the discretion of that officer, and that the forming of a junction—the imperious necessity—should have been termed in the order "all the arrangement," instead of referring that word to its proper connection, the route and mode of transportation. The General had no margin on which to institute a comparison as to the importance of his remaining in the Valley, according to his previous assignment, or going where he was ordered by competent authority.
It gives me pleasure to state that, from all the accounts received at the time, the plans of General Johnston, for masking his withdrawal to form a junction with General Beauregard, were conducted with marked skill, and, though all of his troops did not arrive as soon as expected and needed, he has satisfactorily shown that the failure was not due to any defect in his arrangements for their transportation.
The great question of uniting the two armies had been decided at Richmond. The time and place depended on the enemy, and, when it was seen that the real attack was to be against the position at Manassas, the order was sent to General Johnston to move to that point. His letters of the 12th and 15th instant expressed his doubts about his power to retire from before the superior force of General Patterson, therefore the word "practicable" was in this connection the equivalent of possible. That it was, at the time, so understood by General Johnston, is shown by his reply to the telegram.
"Headquarters, Winchester, July 18, 1861.
"General: I have had the honor to receive your telegram of yesterday.
"General Patterson, who had been at Bunker Hill since Monday, seems to have moved yesterday to Charlestown, twenty-three miles to the east of Winchester.
"Unless he prevents it, we shall move toward General Beauregard to-day....
(Signed) "Joseph E. Johnston.
"General S. Cooper."
After General Johnston commenced his march to Manassas, he sent to me a telegram, the substance of which, as my memory serves and the reply indicates, was an inquiry as to the relative position he would occupy toward General Beauregard. I returned the following answer:
"Richmond, July 20, 1861.
"General J. E. Johnston, Manassas Junction, Virginia.
"You are a general in the Confederate Army, possessed of the power attaching to that rank. You will know how to make the exact knowledge of Brigadier-General Beauregard, as well of the ground as of the troops and preparation, avail for the success of the object in which you cooeperate. The zeal of both assures me of harmonious action.
(Signed) "Jefferson Davis."
General Johnston, by his promotion to the grade of general, as well as his superior rank as a brigadier over Brigadier-General Beauregard, gave him precedence; so there was no need to ask which of the two would command the whole, when their troops should join and do duty together. Therefore his inquiry, as it was revolved in my mind, created an anxiety, not felt before, lest there should be some unfortunate complication, or misunderstanding, between these officers, when their forces should be united. Regarding the combat of the 18th of July as the precursor of a battle, I decided, at the earliest moment, to go in person to the army.
As has been heretofore stated, Congress was to assemble on the 20th of July, to hold its first session at the new capital, Richmond, Virginia. My presence on that occasion and the delivery of a message were required by usage and law. After the delivery of the message to Congress on Saturday, the 20th of July, I intended to leave in the afternoon for Manassas, but was detained until the next morning, when I left by rail, accompanied by my aide-de-camp, Colonel J. R. Davis, to confer with the generals on the field. As we approached Manassas Railroad junction, a cloud of dust was visible a short distance to the west of the railroad. It resembled one raised by a body of marching troops, and recalled to my remembrance the design of General Beauregard to make the Rappahannock his second line of defense. It was, however, subsequently learned that the dust was raised by a number of wagons which had been sent to the rear for greater security against the contingencies of the battle. The sound of the firing had now become very distinct, so much so as to leave no doubt that a general engagement had commenced. Though that event had been anticipated as being near at hand after the action of the 18th, it was both hoped and desired that it would not occur quite so soon, the more so as it was not known whether the troops from the Valley had yet arrived.
On reaching the railroad junction, I found a large number of men, bearing the usual evidence of those who leave the field of battle under a panic. They crowded around the train with fearful stories of a defeat of our army. The railroad conductor announced his decision that the railroad train should proceed no farther. Looking among those who were about us for one whose demeanor gave reason to expect from him a collected answer, I selected one whose gray beard and calm face gave best assurance. He, however, could furnish no encouragement. Our line, he said, was broken, all was confusion, the army routed, and the battle lost. I asked for Generals Johnston and Beauregard; he said they were on the field when he left it. I returned to the conductor and told him that I must go on; that the railroad was the only means by which I could proceed, and that, until I reached the headquarters, I could not get a horse to ride to the field where the battle was ragging. He finally consented to detach the locomotive from the train, and, for my accommodation, to run it as far as the army headquarters. In this manner Colonel Davis, aide-de-camp, and myself proceeded.
At the headquarters we found the Quartermaster General, W. L. Cabell, and the Adjutant-General, Jordan, of General Beauregard's staff, who courteously agreed to furnish us horses, and also to show us the route. While the horses were being prepared, Colonel Jordan took occasion to advise my aide-de-camp, Colonel Davis, of the hazard of going to the field, and the impropriety of such exposure on my part. The horses were after a time reported ready, and we started to the field. The stragglers soon became numerous, and warnings as to the fate which awaited us if we advanced were not only frequent but evidently sincere.
There were, however, many who turned back, and the wounded generally cheered upon meeting us. I well remember one, a mere stripling, who, supported on the shoulders of a man, who was bearing him to the rear, took off his cap and waved it with a cheer, that showed within that slender form beat the heart of a hero—breathed a spirit that would dare the labors of Hercules.
As we advanced, the storm of the battle was rolling westward, and its fury became more faint. When I met General Johnston, who was upon a hill which commanded a general view of the field of the afternoon's operations, and inquired of him as to the state of affairs, he replied that we had won the battle. I left him there and rode still farther to the west. Several of the volunteers on General Beauregard's staff joined me, and a command of cavalry, the gallant leader of which, Captain John F. Lay, insisted that I was too near the enemy to be without an escort. We, however, only saw one column near to us that created a doubt as to which side it belonged; and, as we were riding toward it, it was suggested that we should halt until it could be examined with a field-glass. Colonel Chesnut dismounted so as the better to use his glass, and at that moment the column formed into line, by which the wind struck the flag so as to extend it, and it was plainly revealed to be that of the United States.
Our cavalry, though there was present but the squadron previously mentioned, and from a statement of the commander of which I will make some extracts, dashed boldly forward to charge. The demonstration was followed by the immediate retreat of what was, I believe, the last, thereabout, of the enemy's forces maintaining their organization, and showing a disposition to dispute the possession of the field of battle. In riding over the ground, it seemed quite possible to mark the line of a fugitive's flight. Here was a musket, there a cartridge-box, there a blanket or overcoat, a haversack, etc., as if the runner had stripped himself, as he went, of all impediments to speed.
As we approached toward the left of our line, the signs of an utter rout of the enemy were unmistakable, and justified the conclusion that the watchword of "On to Richmond!" had been changed to "Off for Washington!"
On the extreme left of our field of operations, I found the troops whose opportune arrival had averted impending disaster, and had so materially contributed to our victory. Some of them had, after arriving at the Manassas Railroad junction, hastened to our left; their brigadier-general, E. K. Smith, was wounded soon after getting into action, and the command of the brigade devolved upon Elzy, by whom it was gallantly and skillfully led to the close of the battle; others, under the command of General (then Colonel) Early, made a rapid march, under the pressing necessity, from the extreme right of our line to and beyond our left, so as to attack the enemy in flank, thus inflicting on him the discomfiture his oblique movement was designed to inflict on us. All these troops and the others near to them had hastened into action without supplies or camp-equipage; weary, hungry, and without shelter, night closed around them where they stood, the blood-stained victors on a hard-fought field.
It was reported to me that some of the troops had been so long without food as to be suffering severe hunger, and that no supplies could be got where they were. I made several addresses to them, all to the effect that their position was that best adapted to a pursuit of the enemy, and that they should therefore remain there; adding that I would go to the headquarters and direct that supplies should be sent to them promptly.
General (then Colonel) Early, commanding a brigade, informed me of some wounded who required attention; one, Colonel Gardner, was, he said, at a house not far from where we were. I rode to see him, found him in severe pain, and from the twitching, visible and frequent, seemed to be threatened with tetanus. A man sat beside him whose uniform was that of the enemy; but he was gentle, and appeared to be solicitously attentive. He said that he had no morphine, and did not know where to get any. I found in a short time a surgeon who went with me to Colonel Gardner, having the articles necessary in the case. Before leaving Colonel Gardner, he told me that the man who was attending to him might, without hindrance, have retreated with his comrades, but had kindly remained with him, and he therefore asked my protection for the man. I took the name and the State of the supposed good Samaritan, and at army headquarters directed that he should not be treated as a prisoner. The sequel will be told hereafter.
It was then late, and we rode back in the night, say seven miles, to the army headquarters. I had not seen General Beauregard on the field, and did not find him at his quarters when we returned; the promise made to the troops was therefore communicated to a staff-officer, who said he would have the supplies sent out. At a later hour when I met General Beauregard and informed him of what had occurred, he stated that, because of a false alarm which had reached him, he had ordered the troops referred to from the left to the right of our line, so as to be in position to repel the reported movement of the enemy against that flank. That such an alarm should have been credited, and a night march ordered on account of it, shows how little the completeness of the victory was realized.
[Footnote 178: see "Rebellion Record," vol. ii, pp. 164, 165.]
Conference with the Generals after the Battle.—Order to pursue the Enemy.—Evidences of a Thorough Rout.—"Sweet to die for such a Cause."—Movements of the Next Day.—What more it was practicable to do.—Charge against the President of preventing the Capture of Washington.—The Failure to pursue.—Reflection on the President.—General Beauregard's Report.—Endorsement upon it.—Strength of the Opposing Forces.—Extracts relating to the Battle, from the Narrative of General Early.—Resolutions of Congress.—Efforts to increase the Efficiency of the Army.
At a late hour of the night, I had a conference with Generals Johnston and Beauregard; the Adjutant-General of the latter, Colonel Jordan, was present, and sat opposite to me at the table.
When, after some preliminary conversation, I asked whether any troops had been sent in pursuit of the enemy, I was answered in the negative. Upon further inquiry as to what troops were in the best position for pursuit, and had been least fatigued during the day, General Bonham's brigade was named. I then suggested that he should be ordered in pursuit; a pause ensued, until Colonel Jordan asked me if I would dictate the order. I at once dictated an order for immediate pursuit. Some conversation followed, the result of which was a modification of the order by myself, so that, instead of immediate pursuit, it should be commenced at early dawn. Colonel Jordan spoke across the table to me, saying, "If you will send the order as you first dictated it, the enemy won't stop till he gets into the Potomac." I believe I remember the words very nearly, and am quite sure that I do remember them substantially. On the 25th of March, 1878, I wrote to General Beauregard as follows:
"Dear Sir: Permit me to ask you to recall the conference held between General Johnston, yourself, and myself, on the night after the close of the battle of Manassas; and to give me, if you can, a copy of the order which I dictated, and which your adjutant-general, T. J. Jordan, wrote at my dictation, directing Brigadier-General Bonham to follow the retreating enemy. If you can not furnish a copy of the order, please give me your recollection of its substance.
(Signed) "Jefferson Davis."
To this letter General Beauregard courteously replied that his order-book was in New York, in the hands of a friend, to whom he would write for a copy of the order desired if it should be in said book, and that he would also write to his adjutant, General Jordan, for his recollection of the order if it had not been inscribed in the order-book.
On the 24th of April General Beauregard forwarded to me the answer to his inquiries in my behalf, as follows:
"New York, 63 Broadway, April 18, 1878.
"My dear General: In answer to your note, I hasten to say that properly Mr. Davis is not to be held accountable for our failure to pursue McDowell from the field of Manassas the night of the 21st of July, 1861.
"As to the order, to which I presume Mr. Davis refers in his note to you, I recollect the incident very distinctly.
"The night of the battle, as I was about to ascend to your quarters over my office, Captain E. P. Alexander, of your staff, informed me that Captain ——, attached to General Johnston's Army of the Shenandoah, reported that he had been as far forward as Centreville, where he had seen the Federal army completely routed and in full flight toward Washington.
"This statement I at once repeated to Mr. Davis, General Johnston, and yourself, whom I found seated around your table—Mr. Davis at the moment writing a dispatch to General Cooper.
"As soon as I had made my report, Mr. Davis with much animation asserted the necessity for an urgent pursuit that night by Bonham, who, with his own brigade and that of Longstreet, was in close proximity to Centreville at the moment. So I took my seat at the same table with you, and wrote the order for pursuit, substantially at the dictation of Mr. Davis. But, while writing, either I happened to remember, or Captain Alexander himself—as I am inclined to believe—called me aside to remind me that his informant was known among us of the old army as —— ——, because of eccentricities, and in contradistinction with others of the same name. When I repeated this reminder, Mr. Davis recalled the sobriquet, as he had a precise personal knowledge of the officers of the old army. He laughed heartily, as did all present.
"The question of throwing General Bonham forward that night, upon the unverified report of Captain ——, was now briefly discussed, with a unanimous decision against it; therefore, the order was not dispatched.
"It is proper to add in this connection that, so far as I am aware—and I had the opportunity of knowing what occurred—this was the only instance during Mr. Davis's stay at Manassas in which he exercised any voice as to the movement of the troops. Profoundly pleased with the results achieved by the happy juncture of the two Confederate armies upon the very field of battle, his bearing toward the generals who commanded them was eminently proper, as I have testified on a former occasion; and, I repeat, he certainly expressed or manifested no opposition to a forward movement, nor did he display the least disposition to interfere by opinion or authority touching what the Confederate forces should or should not do.
"You having at the close of the day surrendered the command, which had been left in your hands, over both Confederate armies during the engagement, General Johnston was that night in chief command. He was decidedly averse to an immediate offensive, and emphatically discountenanced it as impracticable.
"Very truly, your friend,
(Signed) "Thomas Jordan.
"General P. G. T. Beauregard, New Orleans, Louisiana."
General Beauregard, in his letter forwarding the above, wrote, "The account given herewith by General Jordan of what occurred there respecting further pursuit that night agrees with my own recollection."
It was a matter of importance, as I regarded it, to follow closely on the retreating enemy, but it was of no consequence then or now as to who issued the order for pursuit, and, unless requested, I should not have dictated one, preferring that the generals to whom the operations were confided should issue all orders to the troops. I supposed the order, as modified by myself, had been sent. I have found, however, since the close of the war, that it was not, but that an order to the same effect was sent on the night of the 21st of July, for a copy of which I am indebted to the kindness of that chivalrous gentleman, soldier, and patriot, General Bonham. It is as follows:
"Headquarters Army of the Potomac,
"Manassas, July 21, 1861.
"(Special Orders, No. 140.)
"I. General Bonham will send, as early as practicable in the morning, a command of two of his regiments of infantry, a strong force of cavalry, and one field-battery, to scour the country and roads to his front, toward Centreville. He will carry with him abundant means of transportation for the collection of our wounded, all the arms, ammunition, and abandoned hospital stores, subsistence, and baggage, which will be sent immediately to these headquarters.
"General Bonham will advance with caution, throwing out an advanced guard and skirmishers on his right and left, and the utmost caution must be taken to prevent firing into our own men.
"Should it appear, while this command is occupied as directed, that it is insufficient for the purposes indicated, General Bonham will call on the nearest brigade commander for support.
"II. Colonel P. St. George Cocke, commanding, will dispatch at the same time, for similar purposes, a command of the same size and proportions of infantry, artillery, and cavalry on the road via Stone Bridge; and another command of two companies of infantry and one of cavalry on the road by which the enemy retreated toward and via Sudley's Mills.
"By command of Brigadier-General Beauregard:
(Signed) "Thomas Jordan, A. A. Adjutant-General.
"To Brigadier-General Bonham."
Impressed with the belief that the enemy was very superior to us, both in numbers and appointments, I had felt apprehensive that, unless pressed, he would recover from the panic under which he fled from the field, rally on his reserves, and renew the contest. Therefore it was that I immediately felt the necessity for a pursuit of the fugitives, and insisted that the troops on the extreme left should retain their position during the night of the 21st, as has been heretofore stated. In conference with the generals that night, this subject was considered, and I dictated an order for a movement on the rear of the enemy at early dawn, which, on account of the late hour at which it was given, differed very little from one for an immediate movement. A rainfall, extraordinary for its violence and duration, occurred on the morning of the succeeding day, so that, over places where during the battle one could scarcely get a drink of water, rolled torrents which, in the afternoon of the 22d, it was difficult to cross.
From these and other causes, the troops were scattered to such an extent that but few commands could have been assembled for immediate service. It was well for us that the enemy, instead of retiring in order, so as to be rallied and again brought to the attack, left hope behind, and fled in dismay to seek for safety beyond the Potomac.
Each hour of the day following the battle added to the evidence of a thorough rout of the enemy. Abandoned wagons, stores, guns, caissons, small-arms, and ammunition, proved his complete demoralization. As far as our cavalry went, no hostile force was met, and all the indications favored the conclusion that the purpose of invasion had for the time been abandoned.
The victory, though decisive and important, both in its moral and physical effect, had been dearly bought by the sacrifice of the lives of many of our bravest and best, who at the first call of their country had rushed to its defense.
When riding to the front, I met an ambulance bearing General Barnard Bee from the field, where he had been mortally wounded, after his patriotism had been illustrated by conspicuous exhibitions of skill, daring, and fortitude. Soon after, I learned that my friend Colonel Bartow had heroically sealed with his life-blood his faith in the sanctity of our cause. He had been the chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs in the Provisional Congress, and, after the laws were enacted to provide for the public defense, he went to the field to maintain them. It is to such virtuous and devoted citizens that a country is indebted for its prosperity and honor, as well in peace as in war.
Reference has been made to the dispersion of our troops after the battle, and in this connection the following facts are mentioned: In the afternoon of the 22d, with a guide, supposed to be cognizant of the positions at which the different commands would be found, I went to visit the wounded, and among them a youth of my family, who, it was reported to me, was rapidly sinking. After driving many miles, and witnessing very painful scenes, but seldom finding the troops in the position where my guide supposed them to be, and always disappointed in not discovering him I particularly sought, I was, at the approach of night, about to abandon the search, when, accidentally meeting an officer of the command to which the youth belonged, I was directed to the temporary hospital to which the wounded of that command had been removed. It was too late; the soul of the young soldier had just left his body; the corpse lay before me. Around him were many gentle boys, suffering in different degrees from the wounds they had received. One bright, refined-looking youth from South Carolina, severely if not fatally wounded, responded to my expression of sympathy by the heroic declaration that it was "sweet to die for such a cause."
Many kindred spirits ascended to the Father from that field of their glory. The roll need not be recorded here; it has a more enduring depository than the pen can make—the traditions of a grateful people.
The victory at Manassas was certainly extraordinary, not only on account of the disparity of numbers and the inferiority of our arms, but also because of many other disadvantages under which we labored. We had no disciplined troops, and, though our citizens were generally skilled in the use of small-arms, which, with their high pride and courage, might compensate for the want of training while in position, these inadequately substituted military instruction when manoeuvres had to be performed under fire, and could not make the old-fashioned musket equal to the long-range, new-model muskets with which the enemy was supplied. The disparity in artillery was still greater, both in the number and kind of guns; but, thanks to the skill and cool courage of the Rev. Captain W. N. Pendleton, his battery of light, smooth-bore guns, manned principally by the youths whose rector he had been, proved more effective in battle than the long-range rifle-guns of the enemy. The character of the ground brought the forces into close contact, and the ricochet of the round balls carried havoc into the columns of the enemy, while the bolts of their rifle-guns, if they missed their object, penetrated harmlessly into the ground.
The field was very extensive, broken, and wooded. The senior general had so recently arrived that he had no opportunity minutely to learn the ground, and the troops he brought were both unacquainted with the field and with those with whom they had to cooeperate. To all this must be added the disturbing fact that the plan of battle, as originally designed, was entirely changed by the movement of the enemy on our extreme left, instead of right and center, as anticipated. The operations, therefore, had to be conducted against the plan of the enemy, instead of on that which our generals had prepared and explained to their subordinate commanders. The promptitude with which the troops moved, and the readiness with which our generals modified their preconceived plans to meet the necessities as they were developed, entitled them to the commendation so liberally bestowed at the time by their countrymen at large.
General Johnston had been previously promoted to the highest grade in our army, and I deemed it but a fitting reward for the services rendered by General Beauregard that he should be promoted to the same grade; therefore, I addressed to him the following letter:
"Manassas, Virginia, July 21, 1861.
"Sir: Appreciating your services in the battle of Manassas, and on several other occasions during the existing war, as affording the highest evidence of your skill as a commander, your gallantry as a soldier, and your zeal as a patriot, you are promoted to be a general in the army of the Confederate States of America, and, with the consent of the Congress, will be duly commissioned accordingly.
(Signed) "Jefferson Davis.
"General P. G. T. Beauregard, etc."
The 22d, the day after the battle, was spent in following up the line of the retreating foe, and collecting the large supplies of arms, of ammunition, and other military stores. The supplies of the army were on a scale of such luxurious extravagance as to excite the surprise of those accustomed only to our rigid economy. The anticipation of an easy victory had caused many to come to the battle as to a joyous feast, and the signs left behind them of the extent to which they had been disappointed in the entertainment, constituted the staple of many laughable stories, which were not without their value because of the lesson they contained as to the uncertainties of war, and the mortification that usually follows vain boasting. Among the articles abandoned by the enemy in his flight were some which excited a just indignation, and which indicated the shameless disregard of all the usages of honorable warfare. They were handcuffs, the fit appendage of a policeman, but not of a soldier who came to meet his foeman hilt to hilt. These were reported to have been found in large numbers; some of them were sent to Richmond.
On the night of the 22d I held a second conference with Generals Johnston and Beauregard. All the revelations of the day were of the most satisfactory character as to the completeness of our victory. The large amount gained of fine artillery, small-arms, and ammunition, all of which were much needed by us, was not the least gratifying consequence of our success. The generals, like myself, were well content with what had been done.
I propounded to them the inquiry as to what more it was practicable to do. They concurred as to their inability to cross the Potomac, and to the further inquiry as to an advance to the south side of the Potomac, General Beauregard promptly stated that there were strong fortifications there, occupied by garrisons, which had not been in the battle, and were therefore not affected by the panic which had seized the defeated army. He described those fortifications as having wide, deep ditches, with palisades, which would prevent the escalade of the works. Turning to General Johnston, he said, "They have spared no expense." It was further stated in explanation that we had no sappers and miners, nor even the tools requisite to make regular approaches. If we had possessed both, the time required for such operations would have more than sufficed for General Patterson's army and other forces to have been brought to that locality in such numbers as must have rendered the attempt, with our present means, futile.
This view of the matter rests on the supposition that the fortifications and garrisons described did actually exist, of which there seemed then to be no doubt. If the reports which have since reached us be true, that there were at that time neither fortifications nor troops stationed on the south bank of the Potomac; that all the enemy's forces fled to the north side of the river, and even beyond; that the panic of the routed army infected the whole population of Washington City; and that no preparation was made, or even contemplated, for the destruction of the bridge across the Potomac—then it may have been, as many have asserted, that our army, following close upon the flying enemy, could have entered and taken possession of the United States capital. These reports, however, present a condition of affairs altogether at variance with the information on which we had to act. Thus it was, and, so far as I knew, for the reasons above stated, that an advance to the south bank of the Potomac was not contemplated as the immediate sequence of the victory at Manassas. What discoveries would have been made and what results would have ensued from the establishment of our guns upon the south bank of the river, to open fire upon the capital, are speculative questions upon which it would be useless to enter.
After the conference of the 22d, and because of it, I decided to return to Richmond and employ all the power of my office to increase the strength of the army, so as the better to enable it to meet the public need, whether in offensive-defensive or purely defensive operations, as opportunity should offer for the one, or the renewal of invasion require the other.
A short time subsequent to my return, a message was brought to me from the prison, to the effect that a non-commissioned officer, captured at Manassas, claimed to have a promise of protection from me. The name was given Hulburt, of Connecticut. I had forgotten the name he gave when I saw him; but, believing that I would recognize the person who had attended to Colonel Gardner, and to whom only such a promise had been given, the officer in charge was directed to send him to me. When he came, I had no doubt of his identity, and explained to him that I had directed that he should not be treated as a prisoner, but that, in the multitude of those wearing the same uniform as his, some neglect or mistake had arisen, for which I was very sorry, and that he should be immediately released and sent down the river to the neighborhood of Fortress Monroe, where he would be among his own people. He then told me that he had a sister residing a few miles in the country, whom he would be very glad to visit. Permission was given him to do so, and a time fixed at which he was to report for transportation; and so he left, with manifestations of thankfulness for the kindness with which he had been treated. In due time a newspaper was received, containing an account of his escape, and how he had lingered about the suburbs of Richmond and made drawings of the surrounding fortifications. The treachery was as great as if his drawings had been valuable, which they could not have been, as we had only then commenced the detached works which were designed as a system of defenses for Richmond.
When the smoke of battle had lifted from the field of Manassas, and the rejoicing over the victory had spread over the land and spent its exuberance, some, who, like Job's war-horse, "snuffed the battle from afar," but in whom the likeness there ceased, censoriously asked why the fruits of the victory had not been gathered by the capture of Washington City. Then some indiscreet friends of the generals commanding in that battle, instead of the easier task of justification, chose the harder one of exculpation for the imputed failure. Their ill-advised zeal, combined perhaps with malice against me, induced the allegation that the President had prevented the generals from making an immediate and vigorous pursuit of the routed enemy.
This, as other stories had been, was left to the correction which time it was hoped would bring, the sooner because it was expected to be refuted by the reports of the commanding generals with whom I had conferred on that subject immediately after the battle.
After considerable time had elapsed, it was reported to me that a member of Congress, who had served on that occasion as a volunteer aide to General Beauregard, had stated in the House of Representatives that I had prevented the pursuit of the enemy after his defeat at Manassas.
This gave to the rumor such official character and dignity as seemed to me to entitle it to notice not theretofore given, wherefore I addressed to General Johnston the following inquiry, which, though restricted in its terms to the allegation, was of such tenor as left it to his option to state all the facts connected with the slander, if he should choose to do me that justice, or should see the public interest involved in the correction, which, as stated in my letter to him, was that which gave it in my estimation its claim to consideration, and had caused me to address him on the subject:
"Richmond, Virginia, November 3, 1861.
"General J. E. Johnston, commanding Department of the Potomac.
"Sir: Reports have been, and are being, widely circulated to the effect that I prevented General Beauregard from pursuing the enemy after the battle of Manassas, and had subsequently restrained him from advancing upon Washington City. Though such statements may have been made merely for my injury, and in that view might be postponed to a more convenient season, they have acquired importance from the fact that they have served to create distrust, to excite disappointment, and must embarrass the Administration in its further efforts to reenforce the armies of the Potomac, and generally to provide for the public defense. For these public considerations, I call upon you, as the commanding general, and as a party to all the conferences held by me on the 21st and 22d of July, to say whether I obstructed the pursuit of the enemy after the victory at Manassas, or have ever objected to an advance or other active operation which it was feasible for the army to undertake.
"Very respectfully, yours, etc.,
(Signed) "Jefferson Davis."
"Headquarters, Centreville, November 10, 1861.
"To his Excellency the President.
"Sir: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 3d inst., in which you call upon me, 'as the commanding general, and as a party to all the conferences held by you on the 21st and 22d of July, to say whether you obstructed the pursuit after the victory of Manassas, or have ever objected to an advance or other active operation which it was feasible for the army to undertake?'
"To the first question I reply, No. The pursuit was 'obstructed' by the enemy's troops at Centreville, as I have stated in my official report. In that report I have also said why no advance was made upon the enemy's capital (for reasons) as follows:
"The apparent freshness of the United States troops at Centreville, which checked our pursuit; the strong forces occupying the works near Georgetown, Arlington, and Alexandria; the certainty, too, that General Patterson, if needed, would reach Washington with his army of more than thirty thousand sooner than we could; and the condition and inadequate means of the army in ammunition, provisions, and transportation, prevented any serious thoughts of advancing against the capital.
"To the second question I reply that it has never been feasible for the army to advance farther than it has done—to the line of Fairfax Court-House, with its advanced posts at Upton's, Munson's, and Mason's Hills. After a conference at Fairfax Court-House with the three senior general officers, you announced it to be impracticable to give this army the strength which those officers considered necessary to enable it to assume the offensive. Upon which I drew it back to its present position.
"Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
(Signed) "J. E. Johnston."
This answer to my inquiry was conclusive as to the charge which had been industriously circulated that I had prevented the immediate pursuit of the enemy, and had obstructed active operations after the battle of Manassas, and thus had caused the failure to reap the proper fruits of the victory.
No specific inquiry was made by me as to the part I took in the conferences of the 21st and 22d of July, but a general reference was made to them. The entire silence of General Johnston in regard to those conferences is noticeable from the fact that, while his answer was strictly measured by the terms of my inquiry as to pursuit, he added a statement about a conference at Fairfax Court-House, which occurred in the autumn, say October, and could have had no relation to the question of pursuit of the enemy after the victory of Manassas, or other active operations therewith connected. The reasons stated in my letter for making an inquiry, naturally pointed to the conferences of the 21st and 22d of July, but surely not to a conference held months subsequent to the battle, and on a question quite different from that of hot pursuit. In regard to the matter of this subsequent conference I shall have more to say hereafter.
I left the field of Manassas, proud of the heroism of our troops in battle, and of the conduct of the officers who led them. Anxious to recognize the claim of the army on the gratitude of the country, it was my pleasing duty to bear testimony to their merit in every available form. Those who left the field and did not return to share its glory, it was wished, should only be remembered as exceptions proving a rule.
With all the information possessed at the time by the commanding generals, the propriety of maintaining our position, while seeking objects more easily attained than the capture of the United States capital, seemed to me so demonstrable as to require no other justification than the statements to which I have referred in connection with the conference of the 22d of July. It would have seemed to me then, as it does now, to be less than was due to the energy and fortitude of our troops, to plead a want of transportation and supplies for a march of about twenty miles through a country which had not then been denuded by the ravages of war.
Under these impressions, and with such feelings, I wrote to General Beauregard as follows:
"Richmond, Virginia, August 4, 1861.
"General Beauregard, Manassas, Virginia.
"My Dear Sir: ... I think you are unjust to yourself in putting your failure to pursue the enemy to Washington to the account of short supplies of subsistence and transportation. Under the circumstances of our army, and in the absence of the knowledge since acquired, if indeed the statements be true, it would have been extremely hazardous to have done more than was performed. You will not fail to remember that, so far from knowing that the enemy was routed, a large part of our forces was moved by you, in the night of the 21st, to repel a supposed attack upon our right, and that the next day's operations did not fully reveal what has since been reported of the enemy's panic. Enough was done for glory, and the measure of duty was full; let us rather show the untaught that their desires are unreasonable, than, by dwelling on possibilities recently developed, give form and substance to the criticisms always easy to those who judge after the event.
"With sincere esteem, I am your friend,
(Signed) "Jefferson Davis."
I had declared myself content and gratified with the conduct of the troops and the officers, and supposed the generals, in recognition of my efforts to aid them by increasing their force and munitions, as well as by my abstinence from all interference with them upon the field, would have neither cause nor motive to reflect upon me in their reports, and it was with equal surprise and regret that in this I found myself mistaken. General Johnston, in his report, represented the order to him to make a junction with General Beauregard as a movement left to his discretion, with the condition that, if made, he should first send his sick and baggage to Culpepper Court-House. I felt constrained to put upon his report when it was received the following endorsement:
"The telegram referred to by General Johnston in this report as received by him about one o'clock on the morning of the 18th of July is inaccurately reported. The following is a copy:
"'Richmond, July 17, 1861.
"'General J. E. Johnston, Winchester, Virginia.
"'General Beauregard is attacked. To strike the enemy a decisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and baggage to Culpepper Court-House, either by railroad or by Warrenton. In all the arrangements, exercise your discretion.
"'S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General.'
"The word 'after' is not found in the dispatch before the words 'sending your sick,' as is stated in the report; so that the argument based on it requires no comment. The order to move 'if practicable' had reference to General Johnston's letters of the 12th and 15th of July, representing the relative strength and positions of the enemy under Patterson and of his own forces to be such as to make it doubtful whether General Johnston had the power to effect the movement."
Upon the receipt of General Beauregard's report of the battle of Manassas, I found that it contained matter which seemed to me out of place, and therefore addressed to him the following letter:
"Richmond, Virginia, October 30, 1861.
"General Beauregard, Manassas, Virginia.
"Sir: Yesterday my attention was called to various newspaper publications purporting to have been sent from Manassas, and to be a synopsis of your report of the battle of the 21st of July last, and in which it is represented that you have been overruled by me in your plan for a battle with the enemy south of the Potomac, for the capture of Baltimore and Washington, and the liberation of Maryland.
"I inquired for your long-expected report, and it has been to-day submitted to my inspection. It appears, by official endorsement, to have been received by the Adjutant-General on the 18th of October, though it is dated August 26, 1861.
"With much surprise I found that the newspaper statements were sustained by the text of your report. I was surprised, because, if we did differ in opinion as to the measure and purposes of contemplated campaigns, such fact could have no appropriate place in the report of a battle; further, because it seemed to be an attempt to exalt yourself at my expense; and, especially, because no such plan as that described was submitted to me. It is true that, some time before it was ordered, you expressed a desire for the junction of General Johnston's army with your own. The movement was postponed until the operations of the enemy rendered it necessary, and until it became thereby practicable to make it with safety to the Valley of Virginia. Hence, I believe, was secured the success by which it was attended.
"If you have retained a copy of the plan of campaign which you say was submitted to me through Colonel Chesnut, allow me to request that you will furnish me with a duplicate of it."
"Very respectfully yours, etc.,"
(Signed) "Jefferson Davis."
As General Beauregard did not think proper to omit that portion of his report to which objection was made, it necessitated, when the entire report was transmitted to Congress, the placing of an endorsement upon it, reviewing that part of the report which I considered objectionable. The Congress, in its discretion, ordered the publication of the report, except that part to which the endorsement referred, thereby judiciously suppressing both the endorsement and the portion of the report to which it related. In this case, and every other official report ever submitted to me, I made neither alteration nor erasure.
That portion of the report which was suppressed by the Congress has, since the war, found its way into the press, but the endorsement which belonged to it has not been published. As part of the history of the time, I will here present both in their proper connection:
"General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General, Richmond Virginia.
"Before entering upon a narration of the general military operations in the presence of the enemy on July 21st, I propose—I hope not unreasonably—first to recite certain events which belong to the strategy of the campaign, and consequently form an essential part of the history of the battle.
"Having become satisfied that the advance of the enemy with a decidedly superior force, both as to numbers and war equipage, to attack or turn my position in this quarter was immediately impending, I dispatched, on July 13th, one of my staff, Colonel James Chesnut, of South Carolina, to submit for the consideration of the President a plan of operations substantially as follows:
"I proposed that General Johnston should unite, as soon as possible, the bulk of the Army of the Shenandoah with that of the Potomac, then under my command, leaving only sufficient force to garrison his strong works at Winchester, and to guard the five defensive passes of the Blue Ridge, and thus hold Patterson in check. At the same time Brigadier-General Holmes was to march hither with all of his command not essential for the defense of the position of Acquia Creek. These junctions having been effected at Manassas, an immediate, impetuous attack of our combined armies upon General McDowell was to follow, as soon as he approached my advanced position, at and around Fairfax Court-House, with the inevitable result, as I submitted, of his complete defeat, and the destruction or capture of his army. This accomplished, the Army of the Shenandoah, under General Johnston, increased with a part of my forces and rejoined as he returned by the detachment left to hold the mountain-passes, was to march back rapidly into the Valley, fall upon and crush Patterson with a superior force, wheresoever he might be found. This, I confidently estimated, could be achieved within fifteen days after General Johnston should march from Winchester for Manassas.
"Meanwhile, I was to occupy the enemy's works on this side of the Potomac, if, as I anticipated, he had been so routed as to enable me to enter them with him or, if not, to retire again for a time within the lines of Bull Run with my main force. Patterson having been virtually destroyed, then General Johnston would reenforce General Garnett sufficiently to make him superior to his opponent (General McClellan) and able to defeat that officer. This done, General Garnett was to form an immediate junction with General Johnston, who was forthwith to cross the Potomac into Maryland with his whole force, arouse the people as he advanced to the recovery of their political rights, and the defense of their homes and families from an offensive invader, and then march to the investment of Washington, in the rear, while I resumed the offensive in front. This plan of operations, you are aware, was not acceptable at the time, from considerations which appeared so weighty as to more than counterbalance its proposed advantages. Informed of these views, and of the decision of the War Department, I then made my preparations for the stoutest practicable defense of the line of Bull Run, the enemy having developed his purpose, by the advance on and occupation of Fairfax Court-House, from which my advance brigade had been withdrawn.
"The War Department having been informed by me, by telegraph on July 17th, of the movement of General McDowell, General Johnston was immediately ordered to form a junction of his army corps with mine, should the movement in his judgment be deemed advisable. General Holmes was also directed to push forward with two regiments, a battery, and one company of cavalry."
"The order issued by the War Department to General Johnston was not, as herein reported, to form a junction, 'should the movement in his judgment be deemed advisable.' The following is an accurate copy of the order:
"'General Beauregard is attacked. To strike the enemy a decisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and baggage to Culpepper Court-House, either by railroad or by Warrenton. In all the arrangements, exercise your discretion.'
"The words 'if practicable' had reference to letters of General Johnston of the 12th and 15th of July, which made it extremely doubtful if he had the power to make the movement, in view of the relative strength and position of Patterson's forces as compared with his own.
"The plan of campaign reported to have been submitted, but not accepted, and to have led to a decision of the War Department, can not be found among its files, nor any reference to any decision made upon it; and it was not known that the army had advanced beyond the line of Bull Run, the position previously selected by General Lee, and which was supposed to have continued to be the defensive line occupied by the main body of our forces. Inquiry has developed the fact that a message, to be verbally delivered, was sent by Hon. Mr. Chesnut. If the conjectures recited in the report were entertained, they rested on the accomplishment of one great condition, namely, that a junction of the forces of Generals Johnston and Holmes should be made with the army of General Beauregard and should gain a victory. The junction was made, the victory was won; but the consequences that were predicted did not result. The reasons why no such consequences could result are given in the closing passages of the reports of both the commanding generals, and the responsibility can not be transferred to the Government at Richmond, which certainly would have united in any feasible plan to accomplish such desirable results.
"If the plan of campaign mentioned in the report had been presented in a written communication, and in sufficient detail to permit proper investigation, it must have been pronounced to be impossible at that time, and its proposal could only have been accounted for by the want of information of the forces and positions of the armies in the field. The facts that rendered it impossible are the following:
"1. It was based, as related from memory by Colonel Chesnut, on the supposition of drawing a force of about twenty-five thousand men from the command of General Johnston. The letters of General Johnston show his effective force to have been only eleven thousand, with an enemy thirty thousand strong in his front, ready to take possession of the Valley of Virginia on his withdrawal.
"2. It proposed to continue operations by effecting a junction of a part of the victorious forces with the army of General Garnett in Western Virginia. General Garnett's forces amounted only to three or four thousand men, then known to be in rapid retreat before vastly superior forces under McClellan, and the news that he was himself killed and his army scattered arrived within forty-eight hours of Colonel Chesnut's arrival in Richmond.
"3. The plan was based on the improbable and inadmissible supposition that the enemy was to await everywhere, isolated and motionless, until our forces could effect junctions to attack them in detail.
"4. It could not be expected that any success obtainable on the battle-field would enable our forces to carry the fortifications on the Potomac, garrisoned, and within supporting distance of fresh troops; nor after the actual battle and victory did the generals on the field propose an advance on the capital, nor does it appear that they have since believed themselves in a condition to attempt such a movement.
"It is proper also to observe that there is no communication on file in the War Department, as recited at the close of the report, showing what were the causes which prevented the advance of our forces and prolonged, vigorous pursuit of the enemy to and beyond the Potomac.
(Signed) "Jefferson Davis."
It has not been my purpose to describe the battles of the war. To the reports of the officers serving on the field, in the armies of both Governments, the student of history must turn for knowledge of the details, and it will be the task of the future historian, from comparison of the whole, to deduce the truth.
It is fortunate for the cause of justice that error and misrepresentation have, in their inconsistencies and improbabilities, the elements of self-destruction, while truth is in its nature consistent and therefore self-sustaining. To such general remarks in regard to campaigns, sieges, and battles as may seem to me appropriate to the scope and object of my work, I shall append or insert, from time to time, the evidence of reliable actors in those affairs, as well to elucidate obscurity as to correct error.
From the official reports it appears that the strength of the two armies was: Confederate, 30,167 men of all arms, with 29 guns; Federal, 35,732 men, with a body of cavalry, of which only one company is reported, and a large artillery force not shown in the tabular statement. Of these troops, some on both sides were not engaged in the battle. This, it is believed, was the case to a much larger extent on our side than on that of the enemy. He selected the point of attack, and could concentrate his troops for that purpose, but we were guarding a line of some seven miles front, and therefore widely dispersed.
For the purpose above stated, extracts are herein inserted from a narrative in the "Operations on the Line of Bull Run in June and July, 1861, including the First Battle of Manassas." The name of the author, J. A. Early, will, to all who know him, be a sufficient guarantee for the accuracy of the statements, and for the justice of the conclusions announced. To those who do not know him, it may be proper to state that he was educated as a soldier; after leaving the army became a lawyer, but, when his country was involved in war with Mexico, he volunteered and served in a regiment of his native State, Virginia. After that war terminated, he returned to the practice of his profession, which he was actively pursuing when the controversy between the sections caused the call of a convention to decide whether Virginia should secede from the Union. He was sent, by the people of the county in which he resided, to represent them in that convention. There he opposed to the last the adoption of the ordinance for secession; but, when it was decided, against his opinion, to resort to the remedy of withdrawal from the Union, he, true to his allegiance to the State of which he was a citizen, paused not to cavil or protest, but at once stepped forth to defend her against a threatened invasion. The sword that had rusted in peace gleamed brightly in war. He rose to the high grade of lieutenant-general. None have a more stainless record as a soldier, none have shown a higher patriotism or purer fidelity through all the bitter trials to which we have been subjected since open war was ended and nominal peace began.
Extracts from the narrative of General J. A. Early, of events occurring when he was colonel of the Twenty-fourth Regiment of Virginia Infantry and commanding a brigade:
"On June 19, 1861, I arrived at Manassas Junction and reported to General P. G. T. Beauregard, the Twenty-fourth Virginia Regiment having been previously sent to him, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Hairsten, from Lynchburg, where I had been stationed under the orders of General Robert E. Lee, for the purpose of organizing the Virginia troops which were being mustered into service at that place....
"On the morning of July 18th, my brigade was moved, by order of General Beauregard, to the left of Camp Walker, on the railroad, and remained there some time....
"On falling back, General Ewell, in pursuance of his instructions, had burned the bridges on the railroad over Pope's Run, from Fairfax Station to Union Mills, and while I was at Camp Walker I saw the smoke ascending from the railroad-bridge over Bull Run, which was burned that morning.
"The burning of this bridge had not been included in the previous instructions to Ewell, and I have always been at a loss to know why it was now fired. That bridge certainly was not necessary to the enemy for crossing Bull Run, either with his troops or wagons, as that stream was easily fordable at numerous places, both above and below. The bridge was, moreover, susceptible of easy defense, as there were deep cuts leading to it on both sides. The only possible purpose to be subserved by the burning of that bridge would have been the prevention for a short time of the running of trains over it by the enemy, in the event of our defeat, or evacuation of Manassas without a fight. As it was, we were afterward greatly inconvenienced by its destruction." ...
The attack made on the 18th is described as directed against our right center, and as having been met and repulsed in a manner quite creditable to our raw troops, of whom he writes:
"On the 19th they were occupied in the effort to strengthen their position by throwing up the best defenses they could with the implements at hand, which consisted of a very few picks and spades, some rough bowie-knives, and the bayonets of the muskets.... The position was a very weak one, as the banks on the opposite side of Bull Run overlooked and commanded those on the south side, which were but a few feet above the water's edge, and there was an open field in rear of the strip of woods on our side of the stream, for a considerable distance up and down it, which exposed all of our movements on that side to observation from the opposite one, as the strip of woods afforded but a thin veil which could be seen through....
"About dusk on the 19th, brigade commanders were summoned to a conference at McLean's house by General Beauregard, and he then informed us of the fact that General Johnston had been ordered, at his instance, from the Valley, and was marching to cooeperate with us. He stated that Johnston would march directly across the Blue Ridge toward the enemy's right flank, and would probably attack on that flank at dawn the next morning. Before he had finished his statement of the plans he proposed pursuing in the event of Johnston's attack on the enemy's right flank, a party of horsemen rode up in front of the house, and, dismounting, one of them walked in and reported himself as Brigadier-General T. J. Jackson, who had arrived with the advanced brigade of Johnston's troops by the way of Manassas Gap Railroad, and he stated that his brigade was about twenty-five hundred strong. This information took General Beauregard very much by surprise, and, after ascertaining that General Jackson had taken the cars at Piedmont Station, General Beauregard asked him if General Johnston would not march the rest of his command on the direct road, so as to get on the enemy's right flank. General Jackson replied with some little hesitation, and, as I thought at the time, in rather a stolid manner, that he thought not; that he thought the purpose was to transport the whole force by railroad from Piedmont Station. This was the first time I ever saw General Jackson, and my first impressions of him were not very favorable from the manner in which he gave his information. I subsequently ascertained very well how it was that he seemed to know so little, in the presence of the strangers among whom he found himself, of General Johnston's intended movements, and I presume nothing but the fact of General Beauregard being his superior in rank, and his being ordered to report to him, could have elicited as much information from him, under the circumstances, as was obtained. After General Jackson had given the information above stated, and received instructions where to put his brigade, he retired, and General Beauregard proceeded to develop fully his plans for the next day. The information received from General Jackson was wholly unexpected, but General Beauregard said he thought Jackson was not correctly informed, and was mistaken; that he was satisfied General Johnston was marching with the rest of his troops and would attack the enemy's right flank early next day as he had before stated. Upon this hypothesis, he directed that when General Johnston's attack began and he had become fully engaged, of which we were to judge from the character of the musketry-fire, we should cross Bull Run from our several positions, and move upon the enemy so as to attack him on his left flank and rear. He said that he had no doubt General Johnston's attack would be a complete surprise to the enemy; that the latter would not know what to think of it; that when he turned to meet that attack, and soon found himself assailed on the other side, he would be still more surprised and would not know what to do; that the effect would become a complete rout—a perfect Waterloo; and that, when the enemy took to flight, we would pursue, cross the Potomac, and arouse Maryland....
"During the 20th General Johnston arrived at Manassas Junction by the railroad, and that day we received the order from him assuming command of the combined armies of General Beauregard and himself.
"Early on the morning of the 21st (Sunday), we heard the enemy's guns open from the heights north of Bull Run, from which they had opened on the 18th, and I soon received orders for the movement of my brigade....
"Upon arriving there (McLean's Ford), I found General Jones had returned to the intrenchments with his brigade, and I was informed by him that General Beauregard had directed that I should join him (General Beauregard) with my brigade.... He then asked me if I had received an order from General Beauregard to go to him, and, on my replying in the negative, he informed me that he had such an order for me in a note to him. He sent to one of his staff-officers for the note, and showed it to me. The note was one directing him to fall back behind Bull Run, and was in pencil. At the foot of it were these words: 'Send Early to me.' This was all the order that I received to move to the left, and it was shown to me a very little after twelve o'clock.... Chisholm, who carried the note to Jones, in which was contained the order I received, passed me at McLean's Ford going on to Jones about, or a little after, eleven o'clock. If I had not received the order until 2 P. M., it would have been impossible for me to get on the field at the time I reached it, about 3.30 P. M. Colonel Chisholm informed me that the order was for all the troops to fall back across Bull Run.... I was met by Colonel John S. Preston, one of the General's aides, who informed me that General Beauregard had gone where the fighting was ... but that General Johnston was just in front, and his directions were that we should proceed to the left, where there was a heavy fire of musketry.... When we reached General Johnston, he expressed great gratification at our arrival, but it was very perceptible that his anticipations were not sanguine. He gave me special instructions as to my movements, directing me to clear our lines completely before going to the front.... In some fields on the left of our line we found Colonel Stuart with a body of cavalry and some pieces of artillery, belonging, as I understood, to a battery commanded by Lieutenant Beckham.... I found Stuart already in position beyond our extreme left, and, as I understood it, supporting and controlling Beckham's guns, which were firing on the enemy's extreme right flank, thus rendering very efficient service. I feel well assured that Stuart had but two companies of cavalry with him, as these were all I saw when he afterward went in pursuit of the enemy. As I approached the left, a young man named Saunders came galloping to me from Stuart with the information that the enemy was about retreating, and a request to hurry on. This was the first word of encouragement we had received since we reached the vicinity of the battle. I told the messenger to inform Stuart that I was then moving as rapidly as my men could move; but he soon returned with another message informing me that the other was a mistake, that the enemy had merely retired behind the ridge in front to form a new flanking column, and cautioning me to be on my guard. This last information proved to be correct. It was the last effort of the enemy to extend his right beyond our left, and was met by the formation of my regiments in his front.... The hill on which the enemy's troops were was Chinn's Hill, so often referred to in the accounts of this battle, and the one next year, on the same field.... An officer came to me in a gallop, and entreated me not to fire on the troops in front, and I was so much impressed by his earnest manner and confident tone, that I halted my brigade on the side of the hill, and rode to the top of it, when I discovered, about a hundred and fifty yards to my right, a regiment bearing a flag which was drooping around the staff in such a manner as not to be distinguishable from the Confederate flag of that day. I thought that, if the one that had been in front of me was a Virginia regiment, this must also be a Confederate one; but one or two shots from Beckham's guns on the left caused the regiment to face about, when its flag unfurled, and I discovered it to be the United States flag. I forthwith ordered my brigade forward, but it did not reach the top of the hill soon enough to do any damage to the retiring regiment, which retreated precipitately down the hill and across the Warrenton Pike. At that time there was very little distinction between the dress of some of the Federal regiments and some of ours. As soon as the misrepresentation in regard to the character of the troops was corrected, my brigade advanced to the top of the hill that had been occupied by the enemy, and we ascertained that his troops had retired precipitately, and a large body of them was discovered in the fields in rear of Dogan's house, and north of the turnpike. Colonel Cocke, with one of his regiments, now joined us, and our pieces of artillery were advanced and fired upon the enemy's columns with considerable effect, causing them to disperse, and we soon discovered that they were in full retreat.... When my column was seen by General Beauregard, he at first thought it was a column of the enemy, having received erroneous information that such a column was on the Manassas Gap Railroad. The enemy took my troops, as they approached his right, for a large body of our troops from the Valley; and as my men, moving by flank, were stretched out at considerable length, from weariness, they were greatly over-estimated. We scared the enemy worse than we hurt him....
"We saw the evidences of the flight all along our march, and unmistakable indications of the overwhelming character of the enemy's defeat in abandoned muskets and equipments. It was impossible for me to pursue the enemy farther, as well because I was utterly unacquainted with the crossings of the Run and the woods in front, as because most of the men belonging to my brigade had been marching the greater part of the day and were very much exhausted. But pursuit with infantry would have been unavailing, as the enemy's troops retreated with such rapidity that they could not have been overtaken by any other than mounted troops. On the next day we found a great many articles that the routed troops had abandoned in their flight, showing that no expense or trouble had been spared by the enemy in equipping his army.... In my movement after the retreat of the enemy commenced, I passed the Carter house and beyond our line of battle. The enemy had by this time entirely disappeared, and, having no knowledge of the country whatever, being on the ground for the first time, besides not observing any movement of troops from our line, I halted, with the expectation of receiving further orders. Observing some men near the Carter house, I rode to it, and found some five or six Federal soldiers, who had collected some wounded there of both sides, and among them Colonel Gardner, of the Eighth Georgia Regiment, who was suffering from a very painful wound in the leg, which was fractured just above the ankle.... Just after my return from the house where I saw Colonel Gardner, President Davis, in company with several gentlemen, rode to where my command was, and addressed a few stirring remarks to my regiments, in succession, which received him with great enthusiasm.
"I briefly informed Mr. Davis of the orders I had received, and the movements of my brigade, and asked him what I should do under the circumstances. He told me that I had better get my men into line, and wait for further orders. I then requested him to inform Generals Johnston and Beauregard of my position, and my desire to receive orders. I also informed him of the condition in which I had found Colonel Gardner, and also of Colonel Jones being in the neighborhood badly wounded, requesting him to have a surgeon sent to their relief, as all of mine were in the rear attending to the wounded of their regiments. While we were talking, we saw a body of troops moving on the opposite side of Bull Run, some distance below us.
"Mr. Davis then left me, going to the house where Colonel Gardner was, and I moved my brigade some half a mile farther, and formed it in line across the peninsula formed by a very considerable bend in Bull Run above the stone bridge. I put out a line of pickets in front, and my brigade bivouacked in this position for the night. By the time all these dispositions were made it was night, and I then rode back with Captain Gardner over the route I had moved on, as I knew no other, in order to find General Johnston or General Beauregard, so that I might receive orders, supposing that there would be a forward movement early in the morning. I first went to the Lewis house, which I found to be a hospital filled with wounded men; but was unable to get any information about either of the generals. I then rode toward Manassas, and, after going some distance in that direction, I met an officer who inquired for General Johnston, stating that he was on his staff. I informed him that I was looking for General Johnston also, as well as for General Beauregard, and supposed they were at Manassas; but he said that he was just from Manassas, and neither of the generals was there.... At about twelve o'clock at night I lay down in the field in rear of my command, on a couple of bundles of wheat in the straw. My men had no rations with them. I had picked up a haversack on the field, which was filled with hard biscuits, and had been dropped by some Yankee in his flight, and out of its contents I made my own supper, distributing the rest among a number of officers who had nothing.
"Very early next morning, I sent Captain Gardner to look out for the generals, and get orders for my command. He went to Manassas, and found General Beauregard, who sent orders to me to remain where I was until further orders, and to send for the camp-equipage, rations, etc., of my command. A number of the men spread over the country in the vicinity of the battlefield, and picked up a great many knapsacks, India-rubber cloths, blankets, overcoats, etc., as well as a good deal of sugar, coffee, and other provisions that had been abandoned by the enemy....
"After I had received orders showing that there was no purpose to make a forward movement, I rode over a good deal of the field, north of the Warrenton pike, and to some hospitals in the vicinity, in order to see what care was being taken of the wounded. I found a hospital on the Sudley road, back of the field of battle, at which Colonel Jones, of the Fourth Alabama, had been, which was in charge of a surgeon of a Rhode Island regiment, whose name was Harris, I think. I asked him if he had what he wanted for the men under his care, and he told me he would like to have some morphine, of which his supply was short. I directed a young surgeon of our cavalry, who rode up at the time, to furnish the morphine, which he did, from a pair of medical saddle-pockets which he had. Dr. Harris told me that he knew that their troops had had a great deal of coffee and sugar mixed, ready for boiling, of which a good deal had been left at different points near the field, and asked if there would be any objection to his sending out and gathering some of it for the use of the wounded under his charge, as it would be of much service to them. I gave him the permission to get not only that, but anything else that would tend to the comfort of his patients. There did not come within my observation any instance of harsh or unkind treatment of the enemy's wounded; nor did I see any indication of a spirit to extend such treatment to them. The stories which were afterward told before the Committee on the Conduct of the War (appointed by the Federal Congress), in regard to 'rebel atrocities,' were very grossly exaggerated, or manufactured from the whole cloth....
"On the night following the battle, when I was looking for Generals Beauregard and Johnston, in riding over and to the rear of the battle-field, I discovered that the greater part of the troops that had been engaged in the battle were in a great state of confusion. I saw companies looking for their regiments, and squads looking for their companies, and they were scattered as far as I went toward Manassas. It was very apparent that no considerable body of those troops that had been engaged on the left could have been brought into a condition next day for an advance toward Washington....
"The dispute as to who planned the battle, or commanded on the field, General Johnston or General Beauregard, is a most unprofitable one. The battle which General Beauregard planned was never fought, because the enemy did not move as he expected him to move. The battle which was fought was planned by McDowell, at least so far as the ground on which it was fought was concerned. He made a movement on our left which was wholly unexpected and unprovided for, and we were compelled to fight a defensive battle on that flank, by bringing up reenforcements from other points as rapidly as possible. When Generals Johnston and Beauregard arrived on the field where the battle was actually fought, it had been progressing for some time, with the odds greatly against us. What was required then was to rally the troops already engaged, which had been considerably shattered, and hold the position to which they had been compelled to retire until reenforcements could be brought up. According to the statements of both generals, the command of the troops then on the field was given to General Beauregard, and he continued to exercise it until the close, but in subordination, of course, to General Johnston, as commander-in-chief, while the movements of all the reenforcements as they arrived were unquestionably directed by the latter. According to the statement of both, the movement of Elzey's brigade to the left averted a great danger, and both concur in attributing the turning of the tide of battle to the movement of my brigade against the enemy's extreme right flank (General Beauregard in a letter on the origin of the battle-flag, and General Johnston in his 'Narrative' recently published).
"General Beauregard unquestionably performed the duty assigned him with great ability, and General Johnston gives him full credit therefor. Where, then, is there any room for a controversy in regard to the actual command, and what profit can there be in it?
"General Johnston assumes the responsibility for the failure to advance on Washington, and why, then, should an effort be made to shift it on any one else? He certainly was commander-in-chief, and had the privilege of advancing if he thought proper. The attempt to show that the failure to advance was due to the want of transportation and rations for the army is idle. If the Bull Run bridge had not been burned on the 18th, our supplies could have been run to Alexandria, if we could have advanced, as easily as to Manassas, for the enemy had repaired the railroad to Fairfax Station as he moved up, and failed to destroy it when he went back. Moreover, we had abundant transportation at that time for all the purposes of an advance as far as Washington. In my brigade, the two Virginia regiments had about fourteen six-horse wagons each, and that would have furnished enough for the brigade, if the Seventh Louisiana had none. In 1862 we carried into Maryland only enough wagons to convey ammunition, medical supplies, and cooking-utensils, and we started from the battle-field of second Manassas with no rations on hand, being, before we crossed the Potomac, entirely dependent on the country, which, in July, 1861, was teeming with supplies, but in August and September, 1862, was nearly depleted. The pretense, therefore, that the advance in July, 1861, was prevented by the want of transportation and of supplies is wholly untenable."
I will now make the promised extracts from reminiscences of Colonel (then Captain) Lay, which were sent to a friend, and handed to me for my use. The paper bears date February 13, 1878. After some preliminary matter, and stating that his force consisted of three cavalry companies, the narrative proceeds:
"I was under orders to be in the saddle at 6.30 A. M., July 21, 1861, and to report immediately to General Beauregard at his headquarters. About 7.30 A. M. I accompanied him and General Johnston to a position near to Mitchell's Ford, where for some hours we remained under an active fire of the long-range guns of the enemy upon the opposite hills. When the unexpected flank movement of the enemy was developed, with the generals named, we rode at rapid speed to the left, when General Beauregard immediately rode to the front, General Johnston taking position near and to the left of the Lewis house.... About 3.15 P. M., Captain R. Lindsey Walker, with his battery, took position to the left and in front of the Lewis house and commenced firing. I was near him when the shot from his battery was fired, and watched its effect as it swept through the columns of the enemy, producing perfect confusion and demoralization.... I rode to join my brother, Colonel Lay, whom I saw going toward my command from General Johnston. He reported to me that General Johnston said: 'Now is your time; push the pursuit.' I started at once on a trot, was passing General Johnston, who gave some orders, and I understood him to say, 'Salute the President in passing.' ... I saluted, and passed on at a gallop.