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McClellan vs. Lee, Part Two

By August, the Confederates managed to get 20,000 troops into the trans-Allegheny region, outnumbering the Federals there for the only time in the war. But most of these men were untrained, many were armed with unreliable old smoothbore muskets or even with squirrel rifles and shotguns, and one third of them were on the sick list- mostly with measles and mumps which struck down farm boys who had never before been exposed to these childhood diseases. Sick or well, 5,000 of the Confederate troops served in two independent commands headed by John B. Floyd and Henry A. Wise, former governors of Virginia and eager secessionists who now thirsted after military glory. In July, Jacob Cox's Ohioans had manuevered Wise's brigade all the way up the Kanawha River to White Sulpher Springs, 100 miles east of Charleston. Floyd's brigades reinforced Wise, but the two men cordially hated each other and spent more time feuding than planning a counterattack against Cox.

At this point Robert E. Lee arrived to take command. Lee went personally to Huntersville, where 10,000 wet, sick, hungry Confederate soldiers confronted 3,000 Union troops dug in on the high ground of Cheat Mountain, a few miles south of the Rich Mountain pass from which Rosecrans had driven the rebels in July. The southern people expected great things of Lee. But this time he disappointed them. His complicated plan for a convergence of 5 separate columns against 2 Union positions was frustrated by the difficult terrain, the inexperience of his officers, the fatigue and sickness of his men, and by the weather. Rain had been falling during most of the 45 days before Lee's troops moved out on September 10. Mud slowed their movements to a crawl. After some skirmishing that cost each side fewer than 100 casualties had eliminated all chance of surprise, Lee gave up and called off the operation on September 15. The Federals remained in control of the Allegheny passes. Supply problems prevented further Confederate operations in this area. (About this time Lee began to grow a beard, which came in gray.)

Lee took most of his troops to the Kanawha Valley to reinforce Floyd and Wise, whose advance had been checked by Rosecrans at Carnifex Ferry on September 10. Jefferson Davis finally resolved the disputes between the two political generals by recalling Wise to Richmond. When Lee arrived in Kanawha his troops outnumbered the Federals, but once again rain, sickness and terrain- plus Rosecrans's effective leadership- foiled a Confederate attempt to trap the enemy. Rosecrans pulled his forces back to a more defensible position on October 6. Seeing no chance to attack them successfully, Lee returned to Richmond at the end of October. He soon went to South Carolina to shore up Confederate coastal defenses, leaving behind a damaged reputation.

"MCCLELLAN WHIPS LEE IN WEST VIRGINIA!" declared a northern newspaper. Actually, McClellan had had little to do with it; it was Rosecrans who was the general involved, and he hardly "whipped" Lee, just moved his troops into better position and Lee declined to attack. But the press was already enamored with the Little Napoleon, who returned their admiration. There was not room for another general like Rosecrans to upstage the show, so McClellan took all the praise. He felt it was his due. As a result of West Virginia, McClellan became a household word in the North, and for a time his popularity, as we shall see, exceeded that of Lincoln.

Meanwhile, the newspapers down South expressed a great deal of frustration about Robert E. Lee. They had predicted he would drive the Yankees back to Ohio, and he had failed. In October they mocked him as "Granny Lee" and "Evacuating Lee". the acerbic Richmond Examiner wrote a biting editorial pronouncing Lee as "outwitted, outmaneuvered, and generaled" and predicting he would never amount to anything of note in this struggle.

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The narrative will continue next with the first major confrontation of the American Civil War, the Battle of Bull Run. Before we get there, we are going to take a quick look at the organization of the armies and navies of North and South, and then the competing war strategies between Northern leaders.

But this will only take a few days: by the end of the week, we will be ready to dissect the battle.

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Yeah, McClellan was a putz.

Not completely. He's one of the more fascinating characters in the war, and he certainly has tons of flaws, but in other ways he was a very effective general. He would have been better off not being involved in battle decisions. If he had simply served in the Civil War the same way that George Marshall served in World War II, as the man who organized the armed forces and prepared it for others, McClellan might have gone down in history as one of our greatest military men. But his ego would not allow this.

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Yeah, McClellan was a putz.

Not completely. He's one of the more fascinating characters in the war, and he certainly has tons of flaws, but in other ways he was a very effective general. He would have been better off not being involved in battle decisions. If he had simply served in the Civil War the same way that George Marshall served in World War II, as the man who organized the armed forces and prepared it for others, McClellan might have gone down in history as one of our greatest military men. But his ego would not allow this.
No, he was a putz. His actions during the War and after are definately putz-like.

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The Navies: A Comparison, Part One

At the outset of the crisis, the Union Navy seemed ill-prepared for war. Of the 42 ships in commission when Lincoln became president, most were patrolling waters thousands of miles from the United States. Fewer than a dozen warships were available for immediate service along the American coast. But there were some bright spots in the naval outlook. Although 373 of the navy's 1,554 officers and a few of its 7,600 seamen left to go with the South, the large merchant marine from which an expanded navy would draw experienced officers and sailors was overwhelmingly northern. Nealy all the country's shipbuilding capacity was in the north. And the Navy Department, unlike the War Department, was blessed with outstanding leadership.

Gideon Welles, whose long gray beard and stern countenance led Lincoln to call him Father Neptune, proved to be a capable administrator. But the real dynamism in the Navy Department came from Assistant Secretary Gustavus V. Fox, architect of the Fort Sumter expedition. Within weeks of Lincoln's proclamation of a blockade against Confederate ports on April 19, the Union navy had bought or chartered scores of merchant ships, armed them, and dispatched them to blockade duty. By the end of 1861 more than 260 warships were on duty and 100 more (including 3 experimental ironclads) were under construction. We shall return to the tale of the ironclads later.

The northern naval outlook appeared especially bright in contrast to the southern. The Confederacy began life with no navy and few facilities for building one. The South possessed no adequate shipyards except the captured naval yard at Norfolk, and not a single machine shop capable of building an engine large enough to power a respectable warship. While lacking material resources, however, the Confederate navy possessed striking human resources, especially Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory, and Commanders Raphael Semmes and James D. Bulloch.

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Yeah, McClellan was a putz.

Not completely. He's one of the more fascinating characters in the war, and he certainly has tons of flaws, but in other ways he was a very effective general. He would have been better off not being involved in battle decisions. If he had simply served in the Civil War the same way that George Marshall served in World War II, as the man who organized the armed forces and prepared it for others, McClellan might have gone down in history as one of our greatest military men. But his ego would not allow this.
No, he was a putz. His actions during the War and after are definately putz-like.
McClellan deserves credit for being a brilliant engineer and a superb administrative organizer. The Army of the Potomac was his creation, and he deserves credit for building it up.He made a great army, but never knew how to use it.

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Yeah, McClellan was a putz.

Not completely. He's one of the more fascinating characters in the war, and he certainly has tons of flaws, but in other ways he was a very effective general. He would have been better off not being involved in battle decisions. If he had simply served in the Civil War the same way that George Marshall served in World War II, as the man who organized the armed forces and prepared it for others, McClellan might have gone down in history as one of our greatest military men. But his ego would not allow this.
No, he was a putz. His actions during the War and after are definately putz-like.
McClellan deserves credit for being a brilliant engineer and a superb administrative organizer. The Army of the Potomac was his creation, and he deserves credit for building it up.He made a great army, but never knew how to use it.
Like Marty Schottenheimer

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...By the end of June, McClellan had 20,000 men in trans-Allegheny Virginia. Five or six thousand of them guarded the B & O, which had been reopened to Washington. McClellan sent another 2,500 men under Jacob Cox to move up the Kanawha River to Charleston. With the remaining 12,000, McClellan planned to encircle and trap Garnett's little army. Leaving 4,000 men to make a feint against Laurel Mountain, McClellan took three brigades to launch the main attack at Rich Mountain 8 miles to the south. Rather than assault the Confederate trenches head on, McClellan accepted Rosecrans' plans for a flank attack by one brigade while McClellan with two others stood ready to exploit whatever sucesses Rosecrans achieved. Guided by a local unionist over a narrow mountain track, Rosecrans's Ohio and Indiana regiments rolled up the rebel flank on July 11 and killed, wounded, or captured 170 of the 1,300 Confederates at a cost of about 60 casualties to themselves. Misinterpreting the sounds of battle through the woods and laurel thickets, McClellan feared that Rosecrans was losing; he therefore failed to launch the follow-up attack, and allowed most of the rebels to escape. Jacob Cox, writing later as a historian of the campaign, pointed out that McClellan in West Virginia "showed the same characteristics which begame well known later. There was the same overestimate of the enemy, the same tendency to interpret unfavorably the sights and sounds in front, the same hesitancy to throw in his whole force when he knew that his subordinate was engaged."Despite McClellan's timidity, Rosecrans's attack sent the Confederates into a pell-mell retreat. 500 of them were subsequently captured, while Garnett's main force of 3,000 at Laurel Mountain, with the Federals now in their rear, fled over bad roads to the north and east. Union brigades pursued and on July 13 attacked Garnett's rear guard at Corrick's Ford, where Garnett lost his life- the first Civil War general killed in action. Although most of the rebels got away, the campaign cleared northwest Virginia of organized southern forces....

A couple of interesting points...McClellan's plan for western Virginia was to push his entire force into the Kanawha Valley and move toward Richmond, which would have accomplished little. Scott and Stanton prompted him to instead secure Rich Mountain. 'Old Brains' Halleck and his Jominian 'points on a map' theory of winning the war by controlling key chokepoints was simply the wrong model for winning this war, but that said, here is one instance where it was perfectly applicable. Rich Mountain was the key to Confederate defenses in Trans-Allegheny Virginia. The fall of Camp Garnett would threaten Confederate positions from Harpers Ferry to Tennessee. Never before had military dispositions been better arranged to demonstrate, under certain circumstances, the validity of the "domino theory" of defense.With the fall of Camp Garnett, Confederate defenses would crumble in Randolph County. McClellan's movement to Beverly would make the Confederate position at Laurel Hill untenable, severing as it would Garnett's line of supply to Staunton and trapping him between McClellan and another Federal force in front of Laurel Hill. In turn, the collapse of Garnett's command would, as both Confederates and Federals were aware, endanger Johnston's position at Harpers Ferry should McClellan elect to move over the Staunton and Parkersburg Turnpike into the Valley. Moreover, Garnett's defeat would jeopardize the Confederate position in the Kanawha Valley. McClellan might choose to move southward to trap the Confederate in the Kanawha Valley, commanded by General Henry A. Wise from his Charleston (WV, nee VA) headquarters. Or, as the Confederates feared, McClellan might move to attack either the Virginia Central or the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad.Again for emphasis, Young Napolean didn't come up with the plan - he merely took credit for it.The other interesting point is Little Mac's overestimation of the forces opposing him. Later on, we'll see that he routinely accepted as fact wild guesstimates that showed him outnumbered 2:1 (when in fact the odds were almost reversed). Here at Rich Mountain he believed the Confederates had 10,000 men and 40 rifled cannons - in fact the numbers were around 1,300 and exactly 1 cannon.The flanking attack, again, was not McClellan's idea - I'm not sure if any army commander in the war was so lacking in imagination. The rebels had setup camp on the Hart farm, and 18 y.o. David Hart had wandered into Rosecrancs camp, and described to him how they could move their force under cover to the top of Rich Mountain, and descend on a dirt path that would lead directly into the Confederate flank. Still, it took Rosy some time to convince McClellan.Then there is the suspicion that Rosecran's was being beaten after the attack started. This is typical of Mac - he always assumed the worst, and thought only of how to save his command. Rarely if ever was his mind ever turned toward seizing the intiative, or considering what he could do to take control of the battle. Time and again he thought only of what he could do to react to his opponent's moves.On the battlefield, he was indeed a putz. Edited by BobbyLayne

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The Navies: A Comparison, Part Two

Stephen Mallory was a former U.S. Senator from Florida with experience as chairman of the Senate naval affairs committee. Although snubbed by high Richmond society because of his penchant for women of questionable virtue (I read this to be- prostitutes) Mallory proved equal to the task of creating a navy from scratch. He bought tugboats, revenue cutters, and river steamboats to be converted into gunboats for harbor patrol. Recognizing that he could never challenge the Union navy on its own terms, Mallory decided to concentrate on a few specialized tasks that would utilize the South's limited assets to maximum advantage. He authorized the development of "torpedoes" (mines) to be planted at the mouths of harbors and rivers; by the end of the war such "infernal devices" had sunk or damaged 43 Union warships. He encouraged the construction of "torpedo boats", small half-submerged cigar-shaped vessels carrying a contact mine on a bow-spar for attacking blockade ships. It was only one step from this concept to that of a fully suberged torpedo boat. Much later in this thread we will tell the story of the C.S.S. Hunley, the world's first combat submarine.

Mallory knew of British and French experiments with ironclad warships. He believed that the South's best chance to break to blockade was to build and buy several of these revolutionary vessels, equip them with iron rams, and send them out to sink the wooden blockade ships. In June 1861 Mallory authorized the rebuilding of the half-destroyed U.S.S. Merrimack as the Confederacy's first ironclad, rechristened the C.S.S. Virginia. Although work proceeed slowly because of shortages, the South invested much hope in this secret weapon (which was no secret to the Federals, who intelligence agents penetrated loose southern security.) The Confederacy began converting other vessels into ironclads, but its main source for these and other large warships was expected to be British shipyards. For the sensitive task of exploiting this source, Mallory selected James D. Bulloch of Georgia.

With 14 years' experience in the U.S. Navy and 8 years in commercial shipping, Bulloch, (whose sister had married a New York man named Roosevelt and had just given birth to baby boy which she named Theodore) knew ships as well as anyone in the South. He also possessed the tact, social graces, and business acumen needed for the job of getting warships built in a country whose neutrality laws threw up a thickset of obstacles. Arriving at Liverpool in June 1861, Bulloch quickly signed contracts for two steam/sail cruisers that eventually became the famed commerce raiders Florida and Alabama. In the fall of 1861 he bought a fast steamer, loaded it with 11,000 Enfield rifles, 400 barrels of gunpowder, several cannons, and large quantities of ammunition, took command of her himself, and ran the ship through the blockade into Savannah. The steamer was then converted into the ironclad ram C.S.S. Atlanta. Bulloch returned to England, where he continued his undercover efforts to build and buy warships. His activities prompted one enthusiastic historian (Phillip Van Doren Stern) to evaluate Bulloch's contribution to the Confederacy as next only to those of Robert E. Lee.

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The Navies: A Comparison, Part Three

The commerce raiders built in Britain represented an important part of Confederate Naval strategy. In any war, the enemy's merchant shipping becomes fair game. The Confederates sent armed raiders to roam the oceans in search of northern vessels. At first the South depended upon privateers for this activity. An ancient form of wartime piracy, privateering had been practiced with great success by Americans in the Revolution and the War of 1812. In 1861, Jefferson Davis proposed to turn this weapon against the Yankees. On April 17, Davis offered letters of marque to any southern shipowner who wished to turn privateer. (A letter of marque means the government not only gives you the right to attack enemy shipping, but as your reward you may keep whatever treasure you capture.) About 20 such craft were cruising the sea lanes off the Atlantic coast, and by July they had captured two dozen prizes.

Panic seized northern merchants, whose cries forced the Union to divert ships from blockade duty to hunt down the "pirates." They enjoyed some success, but in doing so caused a crisis in the legal definition of the war. Refusing to recognize the Confederacy as a legitimate government, Lincon on April 19, 1861, issued a proclamation threatening to treat captured privateer crews as pirates. By midsummer a number of such crews languished in northern jails awaiting trial. Jefferson Davis declared that for every privateer hanged for piracy (the usual punishment) he would have a Union prisoner of war executed. The showdown came when Philadelphia courts convicted several privateer officers in the fall of 1861. Davis had lots drawn among Union prisoners of war, and the losers- including a grandson of Paul Revere- were readied for retaliatory hanging. The country was spared this eye-for-an-eye bloodbath when the Lincoln Administration backed down. Its legal position was untenable, for in the same proclamation that had branded the privateers as pirates Lincoln had also imposed a blockade against the Confederacy. This had implicitly recognized the conflict as a war rather than merely a domestic insurrection. The Union government's decision on February 3, 1862, to treat captured privateer crews as prisoners of war was another step in the same direction.

(The opinion given in the last sentence of the above paragraph is McPherson's. There are many legal scholars and historians who disagree that Lincoln's legal position was untenable.)

By this time, Confederate privateers as such had disappeared from the seas. Their success had been short-lived, for the Union blockade made it difficult to bring prizes into southern ports, and neutral nations closed their ports to prizes. The Confederacy henceforth turned to commerce raiders- warships manned by naval personnel and designed to sink rather than to capture enemy shipping. The transition from privateering to commerce raiding began in June 1861, when the 5 gun steam sloop C.S.S. Sumter evadded the blockade at the mouth of the Mississippi and headed toward the Atlantic. Her captain was Raphael Semmes of Alabama, a 30 year year veteran of the U.S. navy who now launched his career as the chief nemesis of that navy and terror of the American merchant marine. During the next 6 months the Sumter captured or burned 18 vessels before Union warships finally bottled her up in the harbor of Gibaltrar in January, 1862. Semmes sold the Sumter to the British and made his way across Europe to England, where he took command of the C.S.S. Alabama and went on to bigger achievements.

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First Look: The Confederate Army Part One

A people proud of their martial prowess, southerners felt confident of their ability to whip the Yankees in a fair fight- or even an unfair one. The idea that one Southron could lick 10 Yankees- or at least 3- really did exist in 1861. "Just throw 3 or 4 shells among those blue-bellied Yankees," said a North Carolinian in May 1861, "and they'll scatter like sheep." In southern eyes the North was a nation of shopkeepers. It mattered not that the Union's industrial capacity was many times greater than the Confederacy's. Said Henry Wise of Virginia:

It is not the improved arm, but the improved man which will win the day. Let brave men advance with flint locks and old-fashioned bayonets, on the popinjays of Northern cities, and I will answer for it with my life, that the Yankees will break and run.

Expecting a short and glorious war, southern boys rushed to join the colors before the fun was over. Even though the Confederacy had to organize a War Department and an army from the ground up, the South got an earlier start on mobilization than the North. Volunteer military companies with distinctive names- Tallapoosa Grays, Jasper Greens, Floyd Rifles, Lexington Wild Cats, Palmetto Guards, Fire Zouaves- sprang up in towns and cities across the country. The training, discipline, and equipment of these units varied widely. Many of them spent more time drinking than drilling. Even those that made a pretense of practicing military manuevers sometimes resembled drum and bugle corps more than fighting outfits. Nevertheless, it was these volunteer companies that first answered the call for troops.

A good example of one of these early militias was the Wade Hampton Legion from South Carolina. As I mentioned earlier in the narrative, Hampton was a very rich South Carolina planter who had vigourously opposed secession. He did not share the typical southern contempt for the Yankees and in fact considered war against them an act of regional suicide. However, once war began he was determined to fight to defend his land and people as best he could. Riding from one town to another, he promised any man who joined him that they would be well-armed, well-outfitted, and well-paid. Hampton was true to his word, though he had to use his own fortune to provide this. In general his men were better treated than other militia groups, and boys flocked to join him. Soon this Legion would become an important cog in the Army of Northern Virginia.

(I have a special interest in Wade Hampton because growing up my next door neighbor was a kid named Scott Hampton, who was a direct descendant of old Wade. This caused me to read up on the general, who later became governor of South Carolina. Though his individual story doesn't differ much from that of dozens of other soldiers in this struggle, I may relate more of it later, just for the fun of it.)

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First Look: The Confederate Army Part Two

In February 1861, even before Fort Sumter, the Confederate Congress had created a War Department, and President Davis appointed Leroy P. Walker of Alabama as Secretary of War. Though a politician like his Union counterpart Simon Cameron, Walker had a better reputation for honesty and efficiency. More important, perhaps, Jefferson Davis himself was a West Point graduate, a combat veteran, and a former secretary of war. Although Davis's fussy supervision of Confederate military matters eventually led to conflict with some army officers, the president's martial expertise helped speed southern mobilization in 1861.

On March 6 the Confederate Congress authorized an army of 100,000 volunteers for 12 months. Although the South selected cadet gray as its official uniform color, each regiment initially supplied its own uniforms, so that Confederate armies were garbed in a confusing variety of clothing that defied the concept of "uniform". Calvalrymen and artillery batteries provided their own horses. Some volunteers brought their own weapons, ranging from bowie knives and Colt revolvers to shotguns and hunting rifles. Many of the wealthier recruits from planter families brought their slaves to wash and cook for them. Volunteer companies, following the venerable militia tradition, elected their own officers (captains and lieutenants). State governors officially appointed regimental officers (colonels, lieutenant colonels, majors.)

By the time Lincoln called for 75,000 men after the fall of Sumter, the South's do-it-yourself mobilization had already enrolled 60,000 men. But these soldiers were beginning to experience the problems of logistics and supply that would plague the southern war effort to the end. Even after the accession of the 4 upper-South states, the Confederacy had only 1/9 the industrial capacity of the Union. Northern states had manufactured 97% of the country's firearms in 1860, 94% of its cloth, 93% of its pig iron, and more than 90% of its boots and shoes. The Union had more than twice the density of railroads per square mile as the Confederacy, and several times the mileage of canals. The South could produce enough food to feed itself, but the transport network, adequate at the beginning of the war to distribute this food, soon began to deteriorate because of a lack of replacement capacity. Nearly all of its rails had come from the North or from Britain; of 470 locomotives built in the United States during 1860, only 19 had been made in the South.

The shortages in food and supply would only get worse through the four years of the war. Somehow, though, the Confederacy managed to stay relatively well-armed, thanks mainly due to the genius of one man who deserves more mention in history than he gets: Josiah Gorgas. A snapshot to follow.

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Civil War snapshot: Josiah Gorgas

This amazing Yankee turned Confederate was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. A graduate of West Point with honors, he was a captain in the US Army and stationed in Montgomery Alabama early in the 1850s. There he was invited to a ball hosted by the governor of the state, John Gaye (as were all federal officers) and at the ball he was introduced to the governor's daughter, Amelia Gayle. She was a southern belle well above Gorgas' station, yet the two fell in love, and despite the severe objections of the governor, they were married the next year. Their first son, William, was born in 1854; he would one day become Surgeon-General of the United States Army.

When war broke out Amelia Gayle Gorgas told her husband that he was free to leave for the North, but that she would stay and be loyal to her home state of Alabama. His heart torn in two, Gorgas resigned from the US Army to join her. Soon, he offered his services to Jefferson Davis, who had heard of this man and admired his West Point background. Yet Davis was fearful of giving Gorgas a military command position because he wondered if Southern troops would serve under a Yankee and trust him. Davis therefore put Gorgas in charge of the newly formed Ordnance Bureau, with the simple order: keep the troops armed. This move turned out to be one of Jefferson Davis's greatest decisions of the Civil War.

When Josiah Gorgas accepted this appointment in April 1861, the situation was already hopeless. No foundry in the South except for the Tredegar Iron Works had the capacity to manufacture heavy ordnance. There were no rifle works except small arsenals at Richmond and at Fayetteville, North Carolina, along with all the captured machinery from the U.S. Armory at Harper's Ferry, which was transferred to Richmond.The du Pont plants in Delaware produced most of the country's gunpowder; the South had manufactured almost none, and this heavy, bulky product would be difficult to smuggle through the tightening blockade. The principle ingredient of gunpowder, saltpeter (potassium nitrate, or "niter") was also imported.

But Gorgas proved to be a genius at organization and improvisation. He almost literally turned plowshares into swords. He sent Caleb Huse to Europe to purchase all available arms and ammunition. Huse was as good at this job as James Bulloch was at his task of building Confederate warships in England. The arms and other supplies Huse sent back through the blockade were crucial to Confederate survival during the war's first year.

Meanwhile Gorgas began to establish armories and foundries in several states to manufacture small arms and artillery. He creating a Mining and Niter Bureau headed by Isaac M. St. John, who located limestone caves containing saltpeter in the southern Appalachians, and appealed to southern women to save the contents of chamber pots to be leached for niter. The Ordnance Bureau also built a huge gunpowder mill at Augusta Georgia, which began production in 1862. Ordnance officers under Gorgas' supervision roamed the South buying or seizing stills for their copper to make rifle percussion caps; they melted down church and plantation bells for bronze to build cannon; they gleaned southern battlefields for lead to remold into bullets and for damaged weapons to repair.

Gorgas drove himself and his workers crazy. He worked 20 hours a day, seven days a week. He was constantly experimenting with new ideas, new contraptions. Any innovation was welcome. He detested bureacracy and was given carte blanche by Davis to cut through all red tape and keep the troops armed. This Gorgas was able to do, somehow, throughout all the trials and tribulations the Confederacy would suffer.

Josiah Gorgas never returned to Pennsylvania. After the war, he accepted the position of president of the University of Alabama, and moved into a house on campus that is still known today as The Gorgas House. His wife, Amelia, became the university librarian, and today the main library at the University of Alabama is known as the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library.

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C.S.S. Alabama

From today's Post and Courier

Big Gun Goes Home

Cannon recovered from wreck of notorious Confederate sloop Alabama

The Confederate sloop of war Alabama traveled the world during the Civil War, making life miserable for many mariners, but the feared raider never actually made it to the state from which it took its name.

But now, thanks to the efforts of Hunley project conservators, Mobile has one of the Alabama's big guns.

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The following excerpts are taken from a memoir published in 1908 by Confederate veteran Luther W. Hopkins, From Bull Run to Appomattox: A Boy's View. The last paragraph blew me away the first time I read it.

Is there a boy in all this wide land, North or South, who would not like to hear what a boy has to say of his experience as a private soldier in the Confederate Army from 1861 to 1865, serving for the most part in Stuart's Cavalry of Lee's army? Men have told their story, and graphically told it from a man's standpoint. But who has spoken for the boy? Who has told of the part the boy played in that great drama that was on the stage for four years without intermission? That bloody drama in which there were 3,000,000 players — a play that cost the country eight billions in money and half a million human lives?

I do not know how it was in the Northern armies, but the bulk of Lee's soldiers in the ranks were boys in their teens. It was these boys who made Thomas Jonathan Jackson, "Stonewall Jackson;" who put Robert E. Lee's name in the hall of fame and who lifted J. E. B. Stuart up to the rank of lieutenant-general of cavalry. One of these boys has written the story as he remembers it in plain, simple language ; not a history, but simply an account of what he saw and did while this eventful history was being made. If his experience is different from others, or does not accord in all respects with what the historian has written, it is because we do not all see alike. The writer has not consulted the histories for material for this story; he did not have to do this. If all the boys who served in the Confederate Army were to write their experience, they would all be different, yet all approximately correct, and perhaps, taken together, would be the most perfect history that could be written of the Confederate side of the Civil War.

In the early spring of 1861 I was seventeen years old and going to school about half a mile from my home in Loudoun county, Virginia. Twelve miles distant was Harper's Ferry, where two years previous John Brown had made an attempt to raise an insurrection among the slaves in that district. He seized the United States arsenal, located there, for the purpose of arming the negroes, who were expected to flock to his standard and have their freedom declared. The negroes did not respond; John Brown and a few of his followers were captured and hanged. This atrocious act of Brown and his abettors kindled a flame in the hearts of the Southern people that led to the Civil War. But none felt it so keenly as did the Virginians, because it was their sacred soil that had been traduced.

Three years before this, when I was twelve years of age, I remember to have heard a political discussion among a body of men, and the following words have lingered in my memory ever since, and they are all that I can recall of their talk:

"If there is a war between the North and South, Virginia will be the battlefield."

I thought it would be grand, and waited anxiously for the fulfillment of this prophecy. Then when John Brown swooped down on Harper's Ferry with his cohorts, it looked as if the day had really come and that the prediction was about to be fulfilled. From that time war talk was general, especially among the small boys.

But the intense excitement caused by the Brown episode gradually abated. It broke out afresh, however, when later it was announced that Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States. It seemed to be the consensus of opinion that the result would be war, and that Virginia in truth would be the battleground, and that the counties along the Potomac would receive the first shock of battle. We boys of Loudoun county, right on the Potomac, felt that we were "it," and we had a kind of pity for those poor fellows a little farther back. We were in the front row, and when the curtain should go up we could see and hear everything.

There were about thirty boys attending our school between the ages of fifteen and twenty. They all entered the Confederate Army, but few survived the war.

Somewhere between childhood and youth we children all learned that there was a race of people up North called abolitionists, who were so mean that they sent secret agents through the country to persuade the colored people to leave their homes and go North, where they could be free. That these agents were disguised as peddlers or otherwise, and that they visited the cabins of the slaves during the late hours of the night, and went so far as to urge them to rise up in a body and declare their freedom, and if necessary to murder those who held them as slaves. This delusion, if it were a delusion, might have been dispelled had not John Brown and his men appeared upon the scene to give an ocular demonstration of their real intent. The few men with him may have been the only following that he had, but the damage had been done. Virginia was fighting mad.

What had been whispered about the abolitionists in secret was now proclaimed from the housetops. John Brown was an abolitionist, and all abolitionists were John Browns, so the youths, at least, reasoned. The words abolitionist and Yankee were for the most part synonymous terms ; the former being hard to pronounce, the child usually employed the latter.

Some of the young children did not know that a Yankee was a human being, as the following incident will illustrate: When the first Federal soldiers entered the village of Middleburg, Loudoun county, Virginia, the cry went up and down the streets, "The Yankees have comel" The streets were soon deserted by every living thing except the dogs and the ubiquitous, irrepressible small boy, who was or pretended to be "skeered o' nothin'." This war was gotten up for his special benefit, and he was determined to see all that was to be seen, and was always to be found well up in front. The women and children within their homes crowded to the windows to see the cavalry as it marched by. A little three-year old nephew of mine, with the expression of alarm disappearing from his face, said: "Mamma, them ain't Yankees, them's soldiers." He expected to see some kind of hideous animal.

This is the education the Virginia boys got, who afterward became Lee's soldiers. They were brought up in this school, and when they became soldiers, wearing the gray, they felt that they had something to fight for. They believed that they were real patriots, notwithstanding they were called rebels and traitors.

This brings us to the beginning of the Civil War, or at least to the secession movement. Lincoln had not yet taken his seat as President, when several of the Southern States seceded and formed a Southern Confederacy, with Montgomery, Ala., as the capital, and Jefferson Davis as President. This was recognized by the United States Government as open rebellion, and as soon as Mr. Lincoln took the reins of government, he called for 75,000 troops to suppress the rebellion.

Virginia must either furnish her quota of troops or withdraw from the Union. She promptly chose the latter, and shortly afterward became a part of the Southern Confederacy. As soon as the ordinance of secession had passed the Virginia Legislature, there were a thousand Paul Reveres in the saddle, carrying the news to every point not reached by telegraph lines. The young men and boys did not wait for the call from the Governor. Military companies, infantry, cavalry and artillery sprang up everywhere. Anyone who chose and could get a sufficient following might raise a company. These companies were offered to the Governor and promptly accepted. The ordinance of secession was passed at night. The next morning Virginia troops were on their way to seize Harper's Ferry.

On the approach of these troops the small guard of United States soldiers stationed there set fire to the buildings and fled. The fire was extinguished by the citizens, I think, and much of the valuable machinery and military stores was saved. The machinery was sent to Richmond, and the arms were used in equipping the soldiers. Harper's Ferry became one of the outposts of the Confederacy, and a place of rendezvous for the rapidly-growing Confederate battalions.

Thomas Jonathan Jackson, afterward known as Stonewall Jackson, was sent to Harper's Ferry to drill and organize the forces gathering there, into an army. He was later superseded by Gen. Jos. E. Johnston, but Jackson remained as a subordinate commander.

But to go back to the thirty boys. What were they doing all this time? Just prior to the date of Virginia's secession they were gathering in groups at noon and recess, on the way to and from school, and talking war. How big and important we seemed as we prospectively saw ourselves dressed as soldiers, armed and keeping step to the beat of the drum. There was but little studying, for our preceptor was not hard on us. He had once been a boy himself, and appreciating the conditions that surrounded us, he chiefly employed himself in keeping the school together until hostilities began, if it should really come to that. I don't know how long the school continued, but I do know that these particular boys were early on the drill ground, and were being trained into soldiers. It was diflicult for parents to keep the fourteen and fifteen-year-old boys at home or in school.

I had a brother sixteen years old who was first of the family to enlist, and then all followed, one after another, until four of us were in the ranks. There were mature men and old men, men of heavy responsibilities, who saw farther into the future than the younger generation. These went about with bowed heads and talked seriously of what the future might bring. They wisely discussed constitutional law, State rights, what foreign nations would have to say about it, the nations that had to have our cotton.

"Cotton was king," they said, and the South owned the king, soul and body. Questions like these were discussed among the men, but like one of old, the boy cared for none of these things. In the language of a famous Union general, his place was to meet the enemy and defeat him. I remember about this time having heard this toast offered to the South :

"May her old men make her laws,

her young men fight her battles,

and her maidens spin her cotton."

The boy well understood the part he was to play, and he was in his element, and as happy as a boy could be. I cannot remember just when the first call was made for troops by the Governor, but I do know, as I have already stated, that the boys heard the call from a higher source, and they were coming from mountain and plain, from hillside and valley, from the shop, and office and school. Well do I recall the joy that surged up in every boy's breast as one after another of the actors took their places on the stage. I find myself quoting Elizabeth Akers, this time substituting a word:

"Backward, turn backward, oh time in thy flight,

And make me a BOY again, just for tonight"

Now let us take a peep into the Virginia homes. What were the women doing? Ah, they were as busy as bees. These boys must be equipped not only with munitions of war, but each must take with him as many home comforts as could possibly be compressed into a bundle small enough to be carried. When he was at home it took a good-sized room to hold these things; now he must put them into his pocket or on his back, and it took all of a mother's skill to gather these things up into the least possible space, that her boy might have in the camp life all that a mother's love could give him. The Government would furnish the guns, the powder, the lead, the canteen and knapsack and haversack; the tinshop, the tincup; the shoemaker, the boots; the bookstore, the Bible (every boy must carry a Bible), but all the clothing, all the little necessary articles for comfort and health, must be manufactured in the home. Did you ever open the outside casing of one of those large patent beehives and see the bees at work inside? What rushing and pushing and confusion ! Every bee, so far as human eye can see, seems busy. A Virginia home in the spring of 1861 was but the replica of such a beehive.

While these things were going on in the home the boys were drilling in the field, for they were now out of school. All were anxious to get their equipment, and to be the first to offer their services to the Governor.

Had these boys any conception of what they were rushing into? Suppose just at this time the curtain had been lifted, and they could have seen Bull Run and Seven Pines, Manassas and Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and The Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor and Appomattox? And if they could have seen a picture of their homes and fields as they appeared in 1865, would they have rushed on? Perhaps I can answer that question by pointing to the battlefield of New Market. In the fall of 1864, after nearly all the great battles had been fought, the young cadets from Lexington, Va., who had not yet been under fire, but with a full knowledge of what war meant, rushed into this battle like veterans and were mowed down as grain, their little bodies lying scattered over the field like sheaves of wheat.

"O war, thou hast thy fierce delight,

Thy gleams of joy intensely bright;

Such gleams as from thy polished shield

Fly dazzling o'er the battle-field."

Yes, war has its bright, attractive side, and those boys, as I knew them, would have looked at these moving-pictures as they came one after another into view, and then perhaps have turned pale; perhaps they would have shuddered and then cried out, "On with the dance ; let joy be unconfined ;" and it was literally on with the dance. School, as I have just said, was out, and every laddie had his lassie, and you may be sure they improved the time. It was drill through the day and dance through the night.

"No sleep till morn when youth and pleasure meet

To chase the glowing hours with flying feet."

The boys were happy, and "all went merry as a marriage bell," and well that it was so. When we looked into the hive we saw that the bees were busy, but as far as human eye could discover, there was no head ; all was confusion ; it was pushing and shoving and coming and going, and one might have asked the question, What are they doing? What does it all mean? If we could have seen farther into the hive we would have discovered that back of this busy throng sat the queen, and that these were her subjects, doing her bidding. She was sending out her little rogues to rob the flowers, and they were coming back richly laden with spoils.

This was the raw material, and it was being worked up. When the season was over and the flowers were dead, and we drew from the hive the finished product, so perfect in all its parts and richly stored with sweetened treasures, we began to realize that there was a master mind behind it all. Do you suppose for a moment that when these young men and boys of Virginia, in fact from all over the South, who were rushing with such intense enthusiasm into the Confederate ranks, the fathers and mothers and sisters , who were equipping tliese youths with comforts without which they could not have endured the hardships of the camp, do you suppose they were but following the dictates of a few maddened, fire-eating fanatics, and that the whole would end in debt, death and desolation? If you had lived in 1861 you might have been excused for thinking so.

But what do you think of it today, as the finished product begins to unfold itself to our view? Do you not believe there was a master mind behind it all, a King, and that these boys were but part of His loyal subjects, doing His will? Suppose there had been no rush and no adequate army at Bull Run to meet McDowell and his forces as they came marching out from Washington with flying colors? Suppose the Confederates had been beaten at Bull Run and Richmond had fallen, and the war had ended then? What miserable creatures we poor devils of the South would have been! The world would have laughed at us. We would have lost all of our self-respect. A cycle of time could not have wiped out our self-contempt, and God might have said, "I cannot build up a great nation with material like this." The North would have had no Grand Army Veterans, and no deeds of heroism with which to keep alive the fire of patriotism in the hearts of their children. Spain in 1898 might have successfully defied us, and China and Japan have roamed at will over our land. No; the war was a necessity. It was costly, but was worth all that it cost. It has made of us a very great nation. Now I shall go back and tell how it was done.

What a remarkable account; I think it lends something to trying to understand the Spirit of '61.

ETA: fix formating

Edited by BobbyLayne

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Union Corruption- 1861

The early Union efforts to forge an army large enough to defeat the South were a combination of errors, corruption, and confusion- in other words, typical Washington at work. The complaints came from every quarter: not enough arms. Not enough officers. Not enough uniforms, or shoes. "2,400 hundred men in camp and less than half of them armed!" complained Indiana's Governor Morton. "Why has there been such a delay in sending arms? No officer yet to train the men. Not a pound of powder or any sort of equipment. Allow me to ask, what is the cause of all of this?" Ulysses S. Grant wrote from Cairo: "There is a great deficiency in transportation. I have no ambulances. The clothing received has been almost universally of an inferior quality and deficient in quantity."

All such complaints were directed to the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, one of the most unsavory characters in American political history (which is saying a lot!) Cameron ignored the complaints, or lost them. He was busy selling government contracts to his cronies in Pennsylvania, and making a fortune on the side. He was also tied up whispering secrets about Lincoln's cabinet members to his buddies in Congress. Given all of this,who had time to deal with complaints? Cameron refused to increased the quartermaster's budget, despite the fact that Congress had authorized the funds to do so. Where the actual money was going, nobody knew. But in June Cameron started refusing offers of more regiments, claiming that he simply did not have the money to pay for it. This exasperated Lincoln to no end.

Throughout 1861 Cameron continued his corrupt activities. To fill contracts for hundreds of thousands of uniforms, textile manufacturers compressed the fibers of recycled woolen goods into a material called "shoddy".This noun soon became an adjective to describe uniforms that ripped after a few days of wear, shoes that fell apart, blankets that disintegrated, and poor workmanship in general on items necessary to equip an army of half a million men and to create its support services within a few short months. Railroads overcharged the government. In one scheme, Cameron actually sold surplus muskets to his buddies for $3.50 and then purchased them back for $20 each! He signed lucrative contracts without competitive bidding. The War Department routed a great deal of military traffic over the Northern Central Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad in which Cameron had direct financial interests.

The House created an investigatory committee on contracts that issued a special report in mid-1862 condemning Cameron's management. But this was only when they felt safe to do so because Lincoln, ingnoring Congressional pressure from Cameron's friends, had already decided that his Secretary of War was the problem.He fired him and made him Minister to Russia and sent Cameron to Moscow. The new Secretary of War was Edward M. Stanton. A former Democrat with a low opinion of Lincoln, Stanton radically revised both his politics and his opinion after taking over the war effort in 1862. He would become famous for his incorruptible efficiency and brusque rudeness toward war contractors- and toward everyone else as well.

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The Battle of Bull Run Part One

(Note- my use here of the name "Bull Run" vs. Manassas is a personal choice, and should not infer a favoritism for North or South. I'll probably refer to it both ways in the narrative.)

Responsible leaders on both sides did not share the popular faith in a short war. Yet even they could not forsee the kind of conflict the war would become- a total war, requiring total mobilization of men and resources, destroying these men and resources on a massive scale, and ending only with unconditional surrender. In the spring of 1861 most northern leaders thought in terms of a limited war. Their purpose was not to conquer the South but to suppress insurrection and win back the latent loyalty of the southern people. The faith in southern unionism lingered long.

A war for limited goals required a strategy of limited means. General-in-Chief Winfield Scott devised such a strategy. As a Virginia unionist, Scott deprecated a war of conquest which even if successful would produce "15 devastated provinces! (the slave states) not to be brought into harmony with their conquerors, but to be held for generations, by heavy garrisons, at an expense quadruple the net duties or taxes which it would be possible to extort from them." (It's astonishing to me how accurate Scott would turn out to be in his predictions.) Instead of invading the South, Scott proposed to "envelop" it with a blockade by sea and a fleet of gunboats supported by soldiers along the Mississippi. Thus sealed off from the world, the rebels would suffocate and the government "could bring them to terms with less bloodshed than by any other plan."

Scott's method would take time- time for the navy to acquire enough ships to make the blockade effective, time to build the gunboats and train the men for the expedition down the Mississippi. Scott recognized the chief drawback of his plan- "the impatience of our patriotic and loyal Union friends. They will urge instant and vigorous action, regardless, I fear, of the consequences." Indeed they did. Northern public opinion demanded an invasion to "crush" the rebel army covering Manassas, a rail junction in northern Virginia linking the main lines to the Shenandoah Valley and the deep South. Newspapers scorned Scott's strategy as the "Anaconda Plan." The Confederate government having accepted Virginia's inivitation to make Richmond its capital, the southern Congress scheduled its next session to begin there on July 20. Thereupon Horace Greeley's New York Tribune blazoned forth with a standing headline:

FORWARD TO RICHMOND! FORWARD TO RICHMOND!

The Rebel Congress Must Not be Allowed to Meet There on the 20th of July

BY THAT DATE THE PLACE MUST BE HELD BY THE NATIONAL ARMY

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The Battle of Bull Run Part Two

Other newspapers picked up the cry of On to Richmond. Some hinted that Scott's Anaconda Plan signified a traitorous reluctance to invade his native state. Many northerners could not understand why a general who with fewer than 11,000 men had invaded a country of 8 million people, marched 175 miles, defeated larger enemy armies, and captured their capital, would shy away from invading Virginia and fighting the enemy 25 miles from the United States capital. The stunning achievements of an offensive strategy in Mexico tended to make both Union and Confederate commanders offensive-minded in the early phases of the Civil War. The success of Lyon in Missouri and of McClellan in western Virginia seemed to confirm the value of striking first and striking fast.

Scott remained unconvinced. He considered the 90 day regiments raw and useless; the 3 year regiments would need several months' training before they were ready for a campaign. But Scott was out of step with the political imperatives of 1861. Public pressure made it almost impossible for the government to delay military action on the main Virginia front. Scott's recommended blockade of southern seaports had begun, and his proposed move down the Mississippi became part of Union strategy in 1862. But events ultimately demonstrated that the North could win the war only by destroying the South's armies in the field. In that respect the popular clamour for "smashing" the rebels was based on sound if oversanguine instinct. Lincoln thought that an attack on the enemy at Manassas was worth a try. Such an attack came within his conception of limited war aims. If successful it might lead to the capture of Richmond; but it would not destroy the social and economic system of the South; it would not scorch southern earth.

By July 1861 about 35,000 Union troops had gathered in the Washington area. Their commander was General Irwin McDowell, a former officer on Scott's staff with no previous experience in field command. A teetotaler who compensated by consuming huge amounts of food, McDowell did not lack intelligence or energy- but he turned out to be a hard-luck general for whom nothing went right. In response to a directive from Lincoln, McDowell drew up a plan for a flank attack on the 20,000 Confederates defending Manassas Junction. An essential part of the plan required the 15,000 Federals near Harper's Ferry under the command of Robert Patterson, a 69 year old veteran fo the War of 1812, to prevent the 11,000 Confederates confronting him from reinforcing Manassas.

McDowell's plan was a good one- for veteran troops with experienced officers. But McDowell lacked both. At a White House strategy conference on June 29, he pleaded for postponement of the offensive until he could train the new 3-year men. Scott once again urged his Anaconda Plan. Lincoln disagreed; he replied, "You are green, it is true, but they are green, also; you are all green alike." The President ordered McDowell to begin the offensive.

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Prelude to First Manassas

(an addendum to timschochet's fine narrative)

Events were happening at a rapid pace throughout 1861 at a variety of points North and South. In order to see more clearly why the first major engagement was fought north of Manassas Junction, along the banks of a mild creek named Bull Run, it might be useful to recap events as they relate to Virginia and the major actors in the opening act.

Virginia was destined to be the first major battleground, if any battles were to be fought. Lying at the northeastern border of the new Confederacy, only the Potomac River separated it from Maryland and Washington, D.C., and the Union. At Harper's Ferry, a mere fifty miles from Washington, the rebels had seized the machinery at the armory and what small arms were not destroyed at the arsenal (just as armories, arsenals, forts and shipyards were seized in every seceded state).

Virginia's strategic location and geography dictated where the two sides would first clash on a grand scale. With the shifting of the CSA capitol from Montgomery to Richmond, any Federal invasion by the recently called up 75,000 volunteers was going to go through the Old Dominion. The Blue Ridge Mountains running northeast to southwest in the middle of the state neatly separated the eastern half of Virginia from the Shenandoah Valley to the west. That valley ended at Harper's Ferry, and an army could move up or down the valley virtually unseen. Yankees, entering at the north, could suddenly appear somewhere in the heartland of the state, behind Confederate lines, with potentially disastrous results. Or Confederates could move north in the Shenandoah and find themselves on the Potomac, ready to invade the North without having been detected.

The first step Governor John Letcher took in mobilizing the state militia (before they were mustered into service for the new CSA government) was to appoint Robert E. Lee to take command of all state forces. Lee knew he could never keep the Yankees entirely out of Virginia; resisting a crossing at the river would amount to nothing more than a delaying action. Instead, he looked for suitable ground south of the Potomac where the geography would favor defending against an invasion.

The Orange & Alexandria Railroad connected Washington with the interior of Virginia. Invading enemies would naturally try to seize the line, deny it to the Confederates, and use it themselves as a supply line on an invasion. Lee must hold as much of that line as possible. At Manassas Junction, the line connected with the Manassas Gap Railroad, which stretched west across the Blue Ridge to the Shenandoah Valley. Not knowing where the North might invade first, this point had to be held to preserve the option of moving troops west (from Manassas to the Shenandoah) or east (from the Shenandoah to Manassas) to meet either threat. Thus circumstances demanded that Lee hold Manassas Junction at the very least.

A few miles north of the junction ran a stream called Bull Run. With banks too steep to ford just anywhere, it was crossable only at a stone bridge on the road to Warrenton, and a handful of fords. Fortify these crossings, reasoned Lee, and he could stop an invader.

As soon as Virginia seceded, Letcher sent Brigadier General Philip St. George Cocke to take charge of starting the defenses. As soon as they became available, Lee began forwarding men and artillery to the Manassas line. Meanwhile, all across the Confederacy men were volunteering, and as soon as they could be organized Jefferson Davis sent them to Virginia, often before they had uniforms and weapons, and almost always before they knew even the rudiments of training. They would practice their drill and learn their commands once they arrived.

Meanwhile, out in the Shenandoah Lee had to look to the defense of Harper's Ferry. With troops being sent to the arsenal village, someone had to take charge. The man Letcher chose to appoint was an oddity; religious fanatic, hypochondriac, a stern disciplinarian who survived ridicule and assassination threats from pupils he taught at the Virginia Military Institute. The name of the Colonel who first trained the new troops at Harper's Ferry was Thomas Jonathan Jackson. At once he set about turning these raw recruits into soldiers, and the soldiers into the nucleus of the infant Army of the Shenandoah (later styled the Valley Army).

Jefferson Davis took over direction of overall military defense, and as commander in chief of the new nation he selected and assigned commanders. While pleased Lee had accepted command of Virginia state forces, he did not yet look to him as a field commander. Instead another Virginian immediately came to mind: Brigadier General Joseph E. Johnston, an excellent career Army office who had won battlefield promotions in the Mexican War. A small, slight man, with a fine reputation as an excellent marksman, he looked every inch the soldier. Yet in Virginia parlors people told stories about him...

When he shooting with friends he always seemed hesitant to shoot the quail they hunted. The birds were always too high, the sun in his eyes, or the barking dogs too distracting. While others banged away, often missing but still bagging some birds, Johnston came back with an empty game sack. But at least his reputation was intact. He had not missed a shot because he had not taken one.

Davis assigned Johnston to take command of the growing forces in the Shenandoah. Meanwhile, to command the army being formed on the Manassas line, there was almost never a question as to who should lead it. Brigadier General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was the darling of the Confederacy after his capture of Fort Sumter. The South had fought one 'battle', such as it was. If there was to be another, who should command in it except the victor? Beauregard came from Louisiana, was short but very fit and military, and took pains to present as fine an appearance as possible. He was an excellent engineer and much thought of in the old army, having been superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point when the secession crisis came. He was also vain, prickly, and given on occasion to fantastical thinking.

At the end of the summer of 1861, Lee, Johnston and Beauregard would among the original five officers in the South who were appointed to the rank of general (only two more were appointed during the remainder of the Civil War).

Later today or tonight I will write more about the Union command, the initial organization of the armies, and give a thumbnail sketch of the brigade and division commanders who would take part in the first major land conflict of the Civil War.

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Keep up the good work here. While I lurk in this thread, I enjoy reading your posts...

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Prelude to First Manassas

(continued)

As mentioned in the previous post, there were fears that Joe Johnston would be too reluctant to act in the Shenandoah's defense; others were equally worried P.G.T. Beauregard would act too quickly or rashly. Only time would tell. But the commanding generals were not the only untried men upon whom the young Confederacy would depend.

The soldiers themselves, farm boys from Georgia, students from South Carolina, clerks and shopkeepers from Alabama, street toughs from Louisiana, and more, all were unskilled and inexperienced at war. The generals worked tirelessly to turn them into soldiers even as they commenced the construction of their defenses to retard a Yankee advance. Young volunteers who enlisted for a quick glorious fight in order to return home as heroes quickly chaffed under a routine that included rising at 5 a.m., drill half an hour later, breakfast at 6, guard practice at 7, drill at 8, more drill at 10:30 until 1 p.m., drill again at 3, and dress parade at 6.

Then came the matter of organization and who should command them. Volunteers formed into companies of about 100 and elected their own captain and lieutenants (one and two, respectively, per company). State authorities joined ten companies together to form a regiment and allowed the company officers to elect the regimental colonel (though sometimes the governors appointed them, elections were more common). Regiments were mustered for national service, and then Johnston or Beauregard would form brigades composed of three or more regiments - as much as possible, keeping outfits from the same state together (a practice utilized only rarely by the North). When it came time to selecting men to command those brigades - they would be commissioned as colonels or brigadier generals - the decision lay with Jefferson Davis.

Eventually Johnston would have five brigades: Virginians commanded by recently promoted Brigadier General Thomas Jackson, Alabamians and Mississippians under Colonel Edmund Kirby Smith, Alabamians led by Brigadier General Barnard E. Bee, Georgians under Colonel Francis Bartow, and a mixed brigade answering to Colonel Arnold Elzey. By mid-July the Army of the Shenandoah numbered 12,000 and represented every state of the Confederacy.

Beauregard commanded somewhat more troops, around 20,000, divided eventually between seven brigades. Brigadier General Cocke (SEE post #721) commanded one. Colonel Theophilus Holmes took another, as did the crusty Richard S. Ewell of Virgina, and fellow Virginian Colonel Jubal A. Early, with his quaint lisp. Brig. Gen. Milledge L. Bonham of South Carolina led fellow Palmettos, as did Colonel David R. Jones. The hale and hearty Brig. Gen. James Longstreet, though he was from South Carolina, received command of a brigade of Virginians.

The two Confederate armies in Virginia combined totaled well over 30,000 men, with the Manassas Gap Railroad connecting them. If either was attacked, the other could use the line to come in aid. If both were attacked simultaneously, however, the railroad would be of little use to them.

That is exactly what Washington wanted to do.

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BL, first, thanks for saving me time here. Great job! Do you want to relate the rest of the battle too? I'm good one way or the other, let me know.

Second: I thought Bernard Bee was from South Carolina. What was he doing commanding Alabamians? just curious.

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BL, first, thanks for saving me time here. Great job! Do you want to relate the rest of the battle too? I'm good one way or the other, let me know.Second: I thought Bernard Bee was from South Carolina. What was he doing commanding Alabamians? just curious.

Oh, I don't much care either way. You're pretty relentless so I don't mind you driving. I'm liable to lapse a day or two, so in the interest of keeping this thing moving forward, we can continue as we have been for the most part.I just don't want there to be too much duplication of effort.If you want I can finish up here with the organization of the Nationals, command structure, brigade/division commanders. I scrounged up a couple maps that will help folks follow along. Then I'll move on to Blackburn's Ford (July 18), Patterson v. Johnston in the Valley, until we get to the battle. I don't have a plan for how much detail I will go into regarding the battle. Maybe you could post a general description of the First Battle of Bull Run after you see my posts have taken us up closer to July 21. Then I can append any anecdotes or details that are interesting or worth noting. I don't want to get too bogged down in the minutia, but the little stuff and the side stories are what most of us find fascinating, eh?Regarding Bee...not sure, if I run across something definitive, I'll let you know. After he resigned from the old army (March, 1861), he was elected Lt. Col. of the 1st SC regulars. A few months later Davis appointed him to brigade command. Obviously they had a need to fill - but if I come across something more substantive, will post it.

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Bee was from South Carolina.

So not only do many call the war different names, many battles get the same treatment.

The Battle of Bull Run Part One

Prelude to First Manassas

Civil War Battle Names

So many battlefields of the Civil War bear double names that we cannot believe the duplication has been accidental. It is the unusual which impresses. The troops of the North came mainly from cities, towns, and villages, and were, therefore, impressed by some natural object near the scene of the conflict and named the battle from it. The soldiers from the South were chiefly from the country and were, therefore, impressed by some artificial object near the field of action. In one section the naming has been after the handiwork of God; in the other section it has been after the handiwork of man. Thus, the first passage of arms is called the battle of Bull Run at the North,---the name of a little stream. At the South it takes the name of Manassas, from a railroad station. The second battle on the same ground is called the Second Bull Run by the North, and the Second Manassas by the South. Stone's defeat is the battle of Ball's Bluff With the Federals, and the battle of Leesburg with the Confederates. The battle called by General Grant, Pittsburg Landing, a natural object, was named Shiloh, after a church, by his antagonist. Rosecrans called his first great fight with Bragg, the battle of Stone River, while Bragg named it after Murfreesboro, a village. So McClellan's battle of the Chickahominy, a little river, was with Lee the battle of Cold Harbor, a tavern. The Federals speak of the battle of Pea Ridge, of the Ozark range of mountains, and the Confederates call it after Elk Horn, a country inn. The Union soldiers called the bloody battle three days after South Mountain from the little stream, Antietam, and the Southern troops named it after the village of Sharpsburg.

Battles With Dual NamesConfederate Name	Federal NameFirst Manassas	  Bull RunOak Hills		   Wilson's CreekLeesburg			Ball's BluffMill Springs		Logan's Cross RoadsElkhorn Tavern	  Pea RidgeShiloh			  Pittsburg LandingGaines's Mill	   ChickahominySecond Manassas	 Second Bull RunOx Hill			 ChantillyBoonsboro		   South MountainSharpsburg		  AntietamPerryville		  Chaplin HillsMurfreesboro		Stones RiverMansfield		   Sabine Cross RoadsWinchester		  Opequon Creek

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BL, first, thanks for saving me time here. Great job! Do you want to relate the rest of the battle too? I'm good one way or the other, let me know.Second: I thought Bernard Bee was from South Carolina. What was he doing commanding Alabamians? just curious.

Oh, I don't much care either way. You're pretty relentless so I don't mind you driving. I'm liable to lapse a day or two, so in the interest of keeping this thing moving forward, we can continue as we have been for the most part.I just don't want there to be too much duplication of effort.If you want I can finish up here with the organization of the Nationals, command structure, brigade/division commanders. I scrounged up a couple maps that will help folks follow along. Then I'll move on to Blackburn's Ford (July 18), Patterson v. Johnston in the Valley, until we get to the battle. I don't have a plan for how much detail I will go into regarding the battle. Maybe you could post a general description of the First Battle of Bull Run after you see my posts have taken us up closer to July 21. Then I can append any anecdotes or details that are interesting or worth noting. I don't want to get too bogged down in the minutia, but the little stuff and the side stories are what most of us find fascinating, eh?Regarding Bee...not sure, if I run across something definitive, I'll let you know. After he resigned from the old army (March, 1861), he was elected Lt. Col. of the 1st SC regulars. A few months later Davis appointed him to brigade command. Obviously they had a need to fill - but if I come across something more substantive, will post it.
Sounds good to me.

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A couple fun photos:

Know this building?

Of course you do.

The first photo is how the original green dome looked from the 1820s until the 1850s. Because of the countries expansion (dictating a larger congress), wings were added to the north and south ends of the building. Since the additions made the old dome seem out of proportion (and the original design was not widely popular), it was decided to construct a new dome.

Here is how it looked throughout the American Civil War.

Just like the country she represents, it was a work in progress. The new cast iron dome was completed in 1866.

Prelude to First Manassas

(continued)

Winfield Scott, The Grand Old Man of the Army, served the United States for over fifty years, and holds several distinctions regarding rank: he remains the longest serving general in our 234 year history, he was the Commanding General of the United States Army for twenty years (longer than any other holder of the office), and his brevet promotion in 1856 to the rank of lieutenant general made him the first American since George Washington to hold that rank. He commanded forces in the War of 1812, became a national hero after the Mexican-American War - he later served as military governor of Mexico City, and even ran for POTUS. He is generally rated him the ablest American commander of his time.

But in 1861, his age had advanced past 70, and he was so fat at over 350 pounds he was unable to mount a horse without assistance (and presumably unable to ride any great distance - he generally used a carriage). However, he was one Virginian whose loyalty to the Union was never questioned. His mind was still capable, and he remained magnificent soldier despite his physical limitations. President Lincoln leaned on him in all matters military. Scott at once saw the same geographical features that Jefferson Davis and his generals appreciated.

Once Richmond became the Confederate capital, authorities in Washington became fixed upon the necessity of capturing it. Take Richmond, they felt, and the rebellion would wither. All that stood between them and that objective was Beauregard at Bull Run and Johnston in the Shenandoah. Scott and his advisors studied their maps, saw the Manassas Gap Railroad, saw the potential of use of the Shenandoah Valley as an avenue of invasion, and realized that was the back door to Richmond. They saw the defenses going up along Bull Run and in advance of the stream and quickly realized they also needed two armies, and that they must move in unison, with overwhelming strength, to press the Rebels and not allow them to use the rails to reinforce one another. Do that, push past the Bull Run line, move into the Shenandoah and then turn east at one of the Blue Ridge gaps, and Richmond would be easy prey.

Early in June Scott assigned Brig. Gen. Robert Patterson to the task of forming an army in and around Chambersburg, PA. When it was ready, he was to march south across Maryland and push across the Potomac to take Harpers Ferry and defeat (or at least occupy) Johnston's Confederates. Meanwhile, a substantially larger force took shape in Washington. Once more companies became regiments, and regiments became brigades. Taking organization a step further than the Confederacy to provide a more efficient chain of command, the Yankees combined two or more brigades to form army divisions.

Federal commanders at army, division, and brigade levels will be covered next.

Edited by BobbyLayne

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Prelude to First Manassas

(continued)

Command of the first division of the Union army at Washington went to Brig Gen Daniel Tyler, 62, a longtime veteran. Later that summer his granddaughter Edith would be born; long after General Tyler's death, she would serve as first lady to her husband Theodore Roosevelt. The second division went to Brig. Gen. David Hunter, a man of Southern heritage who stayed loyal to the flag. Samuel P. Heintzelman received command of the third division, in spite of the bemused or befuddled expression that seemed always on his face, due because of his excellent combat record in Mexico. Theodore Runyon led the fourth division, made up of untrained men who would not be used in the campaign, and Dixon S. Miles, a notorious inebriate, commanded the fifth division.

Between these five men, none would serve with distinction during the ACW or hold significant combat commands by wars end. One was denounced later in the war for "incapacity, amounting to almost imbecility" for his actions that resulted in the largest number of U.S. soldiers surrendered until the Battle of Corregidor in World War II. Another would never command again, finishing the war in politics. A third would rise to Corps command, only to be relieved to spend the duration assigned to the defense of Washington, D.C. Hunter would be embroiled in a series of controversies until he resigned in 1864. Tyler's future would include a brief stint in the western theatre, then command of Harper's Ferry Defenses, and later the Department of Delaware (not exactly a hotbed of activity).

To lead the brigades commanded by these men, Washington commissioned a mixed bag of characters, some already well known, others destined for fame: William B. Franklin, Orlando B. Wilcox, Ambrose Burnside, William Tecumseh Sherman, Andrew Porter, Erasmus Keyes, and more. But the real attention went to the selection of a commander for this army as a whole. Scott himself, due to poor health, could not lead it, of course. The North did not, as yet, have any established military hero like Beauregard to turn to. Scott preferred old veteran Joseph K. Mansfield, but once more politics intervened. An obscure major on staff duty in the adjutant general's office, a man who had never led so much as a company in action, had powerful friends.

Irvin McDowell came from Ohio, was only 42, and had spent most of his army career on staff duty. He was well liked but somewhat enigmatic. Men found him humorless, distant, reticent. He was a teetotaler, but otherwise a glutton who finish every dish on a table and follow it with an entire watermelon. Many thought him haughty and unpleasant. But the governor of Ohio pushed him on Lincoln for a major command, and so did Secretary of Treasury Salmon Chase of Ohio. Incredibly, their pressure resulted in McDowell being made a brigadier general with the same seniority as Mansfield. When Scott was told to select a commander for the Army of Northeastern Virginia - the largest field army yet gathered on the North American continent - he had to choose between the two, and having other work in mind for Mansfield, he had no choice but to give the plum to McDowell. Thus, through politics, a man with no practical experience at all became the hope of the Union's major army.

Late in May, McDowell rode across the Potomac and established his headquarters in and around Arlington, until recently the home of Robert E. Lee (ASIDE - Lee's estate was later seized on the pretense of unpaid taxes, and turned into a military cemetery, Arlington National). The campaign plan was obvious enough; Patterson must move against Harpers Ferry and the Shenandoah to contain Johnston, while McDowell would move along the Orange & Alexandria. He would take to Manassas Junction 35,000 men.

As the campaign progressed, he refined and evolved his plans, though eventually he would decided to march toward Bull Run, occupy Confederate attention with feint moves against the fords, and meanwhile move a large column across the stream some distance upriver at an unguarded ford. Then his column would move down the south bank of Bull run, striking the Confederates on their exposed flank, and virtually forcing them to fall back from the other fords and the Warrenton Turnpike bridge to avoid being overwhelmed. Once the balance of the army was across Bull Run, then he could move on Manassas and overwhelm Beauregard's 22,000 or so Confederates. He would march on the morning of July 16.

However, nothing in war goes as planned.

Bull Run Campaign Map

If you move your cursor to the lower RH corner, you can enlarge the map (1232 x 949).

In my next post we'll cover McDowell's march from Arlington to Fairfax Court House (July 16-17), and Tyler's reconnaissance in force to Centerville (July 18). The latter resulted in the first major skirmish of the war, the Battle of Blackburn's Ford - not much of a battle by later standards, but one from which the confidence of the Confederate army only increased.

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Civil War Snapshot: Rose O' Neil Greenhow

Allan Pinkerton found himself in an awkward position outside the home of Rose O'Neal Greenhow, one of Washington's most prominent hostesses. The head of the famed detective agency--imported from Chicago by the Union to track and capture rebel subversives operating around the capital--stood barefoot in the pouring rain, balancing himself on the shoulders of two associates, trying to see and hear what he could through a second-story parlor window.

American counterespionage was in its infancy in 1861, but Pinkerton's quarry was no beginner. From her home on 16th Street NW, noted by Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard as being "within easy rifle-range of the White House," Greenhow was running a spy ring meant to undermine the Union war effort. "To this end," she later wrote, "I employed every capacity with which God had endowed me, and the result was far more successful than my hopes could have flattered me to expect."

While she may have overestimated her achievements, her efforts on behalf of the South were relentless. "She did a better job than most in infiltrating the political and military elite of Washington," says Tyler Anbinder, associate professor of history at George Washington University. "She flattered men into revealing sensitive information."

Washington has seen plenty of covert operatives, as well as highly connected grand dames, but "The Rebel Rose," as Greenhow was sometimes called, managed to unite the two professions in herself, and, in the process, added a unique chapter to the city's long history of deeply held Southern sympathies.

She came to town as a young girl, sent from Rockville to live at the Old Capitol with an aunt who ran an inn there. The building, on the site now occupied by the Supreme Court, was constructed as a temporary home for Congress after the original Capitol was burned during the War of 1812. Years later, after the Old Capitol was converted to a prison during the Civil War, Greenhowwould reside there again--this time as one of the Union's more celebrated captives.

With her charm, intellect and ambition, as well as through her husband, Robert, a State Department official whom she married in 1835, Rose Greenhow came to know virtually everyone of importance in Washington. Dolley Madison, Daniel Webster and President James Buchanan were among her many friends and intimates. No one was closer, however, than John C. Calhoun, the powerful statesman from South Carolina who variously served as senator, secretary of state and vice president. As one of the great intellectual progenitors of the Southern Confederacy, he won Greenhow's eternal admiration and devotion.

"I am a Southern woman," she wrote, "born with revolutionary blood in my veins, and my first crude ideas on State and Federal matters received consistency and shape from the best and wisest man of this century."

As her idol suffered through his final illness at the Old Capitol in 1850, Greenhow was in constant attendance. Calhoun's memory remained sacred to her, and fueled her increasingly fanatic devotion to the Southern cause as Civil War approached.

An uncomfortable chill swept through one of her dinner parties in the winter of 1859 when Abigail Adams, wife of presidential scion Charles Francis Adams, professed sympathy and admiration for the radical abolitionist John Brown, who had recently been hanged. With sectional feeling festering just below the surface, polite society in Washington assiduously avoided the topic of John Brown as simply too hot for discussion. Greenhow, however, had no hesitation in challenging Adams. "I have no sympathy for John Brown," she snapped. "He was a traitor, and met a traitor's doom." While Greenhow later professed to have regretted this breach of gracious hostessing, she would never temper or compromise her fierce Southern loyalties.

It was this fervor--along with her many intimate connections in the capital--that made Greenhow, now a 44-year-old widow, a prime rebel recruit when the Civil War finally broke out in April 1861. She proved her worth as a spy in a very short time, supplying to Gen. Beauregard the information that Federal troops would be advancing on Manassas in mid-July.

Her courier, a young woman named Betty Duvall, rode out of Washington by way of the Chain Bridge dressed as a country girl. Meeting Gen. Milledge L. Bonham at the Fairfax County Courthouse, Duvall advised him that she had an urgent message for Gen. Beauregard. "Upon my announcing that I would have it faithfully forwarded at once," Bonham later recalled, "she took out her tucking comb and let fall the longest and most beautiful roll of hair I have ever seen. She took then from the back of her head, where it had been safely tied, a small package, not larger than a silver dollar, sewed up in silk." As author Ishbel Ross noted in the book "Rebel Rose," "Greenhow had ciphered the message. Greenhow had sewn it in silk. Greenhow had obtained the information."

Though historians debate the ultimate impact of her messages on the First Battle of Bull Run, both Beauregard and Confederate President Jefferson Davis honored her for her contribution to the rout of the Northern army in this opening conflict of the Civil War. "Had she not leaked word [of the Northern advance], I don't think anything would have happened differently," says GWU's Anbinder, explaining that Beauregard had a number of sources of information, "but it served to embarrass the North that a woman could obtain such sensitive information."

Indeed Greenhow's covert activities did attract unfavorable attention in Washington, and soon enough Allan Pinkerton was peeping into her windows. "She has made use of whoever and whatever she could as mediums to carry out her unholy purposes," the detective reported with just a hint of hyperbole. "She has not used her powers in vain among the officers of the Army, not a few of whom she has robbed of patriotic hearts and transformed them into sympathizers with the enemies of the country which made them all they were. . . . With her as with other traitors she has been most unscrupulous in the use of means. Nothing has been too sacred for her appropriation so as by its use she might hope to accomplish her treasonable ends."

Despite the fact that she was being watched, and well knew it, Greenhow continued to operate with bold defiance. She soon found herself under arrest. "I have no power to resist you," she declared grandly after challenging Pinkerton's authority to seize her, "but had I been inside of my house, I would have killed one of you before I had submitted to this illegal process." The dramatic flair she demonstrated when captured would characterize much of her time in captivity.

Under house arrest, she grew indignant that her home was being ransacked in the search for incriminating evidence, and that she was subject to constant surveillance. "She wants us to know how her delicacy was shocked and outraged," Civil War diarist Mary Chestnut recorded. "That could be done only by most plainspoken revelations. For eight days she was kept in full sight of men--her rooms wide open--and sleepless sentinels watching by day and by night. Soldiers tramping--looking in at her leisurely by way of amusement. . . . She says she was worse used than Marie Antoinette when they snatched a letter from the poor queen's bosom."

Other female prisoners were sent to Fort Greenhow, as Rose's home came to be known--most of them "of the lowest class," as she called them. During her home confinement, Greenhow managed to continue her secret communications with the South. A letter she had sent to Secretary of State William H. Seward complaining of her mistreatment, in fact, was published in a Richmond newspaper. Because of all the leaks, Fort Greenhow was closed in early 1862, and Rose was transferred to the Old Capitol Prison, along with her 8-year-old daughter, Little Rose. Ironically enough, they were confined in the very same room in which Greenhow had comforted her dying hero, Sen. Calhoun, more than a decade earlier.

It was with this imprisonment that Rose was of greatest service to the South, according to Princeton University's James McPherson, far more than the information she secretly provided. "They made her a martyr in the eyes of the Southern people," McPherson says. "The brutal Yankees who would imprison a mother and child provided ammunition for the Confederate propaganda mills." In the squalid--yet hardly brutal--confines of the Old Capitol, Greenhow played the role of martyr for all it was worth. Mary Chestnut commented sardonically on this in her diary, while a fellow prisoner named Augusta Morris wrote, "Greenhow enjoys herself amazingly."

In March 1862, Greenhow was given a hearing on the charges of espionage. The prisoner was defiant throughout. "If I gave the information you say I have," she taunted, "I must have got it from sources that were in the confidence of the government. . . . If Mr. Lincoln's friends will pour into my ear such important information, am I to be held responsible for all that?"

With the hearing clearly not accomplishing anything--and a formal trial thought to be too incendiary--the judge decided it would be best to exile the prisoner from Washington, sending her south with the pledge not to return during the course of the war. She left the Old Capitol Prison draped in a Confederate flag, and was greeted as a hero by the elite in Richmond when she later arrived there.

"Had Madame Greenhow been sent South immediately after her arrest," opined the New York Times, "we should have heard no more of the deeds of Secesh women which she has made the fashion."

After a brief stay in Richmond, Greenhow was sent to Europe to generate vitally needed support for the Confederacy. Napoleon III and Queen Victoria both received her, and her book, "My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington," was published in Britain and became a bestseller there.

Tragedy struck, however, as Greenhow returned home in 1864. Her ship ran aground along the North Carolina coast, and Rose, fearing capture by Union ships blockading the area, demanded that she be taken ashore in a smaller boat.

The ship's captain reluctantly agreed to let her go, despite a raging storm, and she carried with her several small mailbags, presumed to be secret dispatches from Europe, as well as a large quantity of gold. The little boat capsized in the darkness and rough surf, though, and Rose Greenhow was lost. Her body subsequently washed ashore and was found by a Confederate soldier, who discovered the gold and snatched it before pushing the body back into the water. When the corpse was rediscovered and identified, the soldier was reportedly overwhelmed by guilt and returned the gold.

Rose O'Neal Greenhow was buried with full Confederate military honors in Wilmington, N.C. The inscription on her tomb reads in part: "A bearer of dispatches to the Confederate Government." "Her death," wrote Ishbel Ross, "had the epic touch in which she herself would have gloried."

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This was the right time to tell Greenhow's story, just before the battle. I'm not clear on how she got ahold of McDowell's orders- my sources don't make this exactly clear. Perhaps somebody knows?

Also, and perhaps BobbyLayne can answer this- how would have the battle been different if Greenhollow hadn't sent the message? Would the South have been surprised?

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This was the right time to tell Greenhow's story, just before the battle. I'm not clear on how she got ahold of McDowell's orders- my sources don't make this exactly clear. Perhaps somebody knows?Also, and perhaps BobbyLayne can answer this- how would have the battle been different if Greenhollow hadn't sent the message? Would the South have been surprised?

What you have to keep in mind was Washington, D.C., was very much a southern town. When the Confederates resigned from Congress and left en masse, high society took a nose dive long before the call for 75,000 volunteers filled the streets with soldiers. There were many southern sympathizers collecting information at the local hotels and taverns; Greenhow's message was amongst a chorus of information streaming back to Beauregard at Manassas. Edited by BobbyLayne

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But for the sake of a what if argument, let's assume Beauregard received no advance intelligence. I still don't think it would have made much difference. As I outlined previously, it was obvious that Manassas Junction had to be held because of the rail link. It was the more likely battleground because McDowell had 35,000 (v. 22,000 before reinforcements), while Patterson had around 18,000. Lincoln was obsessed with covering Washington, so shifting the troops for a movement against the Valley seemed unlikely. But had they adopted that plan, then I think we would have seen the same shift of Confederate troops, only in reverse (e.g., from Manassas to the Valley).

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But for the sake of a what if argument, let's assume Beauregard received no advance intelligence. I still don't think it would have made much difference. As I outlined previously, it was obvious that Manassas Junction had to be held because of the rail link. It was the more likely battleground because McDowell had 35,000 (v. 22,000 before reinforcements), while Patterson had around 18,000. Lincoln was obsessed with covering Washington, so shifting the troops for a movement against the Valley seemed unlikely. But had they adopted that plan, then I think we would have seen the same shift of Confederate troops, only in reverse (e.g., from Manassas to the Valley).

This makes a lot of sense. How good was the Union's information about the Southern disposition of forces?

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But for the sake of a what if argument, let's assume Beauregard received no advance intelligence. I still don't think it would have made much difference. As I outlined previously, it was obvious that Manassas Junction had to be held because of the rail link. It was the more likely battleground because McDowell had 35,000 (v. 22,000 before reinforcements), while Patterson had around 18,000. Lincoln was obsessed with covering Washington, so shifting the troops for a movement against the Valley seemed unlikely. But had they adopted that plan, then I think we would have seen the same shift of Confederate troops, only in reverse (e.g., from Manassas to the Valley).

This makes a lot of sense. How good was the Union's information about the Southern disposition of forces?
They were well aware of Cocke's activity in starting the defenses along Bull Run in the spring; by summer it was eight miles long, well entrenched at the seven crossing points. From south to North: McLean's Ford, Blackburn's Ford, Mitchell's Ford, Ball's Ford, Lewis' Ford, the Stone Bridge at Warrenton Turnpike, and Sudley Ford.One of the problems McDowell encountered on his march was he had no cavalry for advance screening. As a result McDowell felt very much like they were stumbling in the dark. When you don't have cavalry to do advance scouting and screening, then you have to deploy skirmishers out front and flanking skirmishers on the sides (tedious manuvering that greatly hampers an army on the march). Stuart's role in the Valley in blocking Patterson was critical; the Union commander had no clue Johnston slipped away. Anyway, jumping ahead there...will cover those points in more detail later.

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Marching to Bull Run

Irvin McDowell suffered under many handicaps, not least of which his own limitations as a commander. There was a complete lack of adequate maps of the countryside, even though Manassas lay scarcely 30 miles from Washington. Neither did he have any substantial cavalry to send out in advance to scout the ground. These factors combined with an army of so many inexperienced soldiers (many of whom were on 3 month enlistments due to expire within days) made the first movement of the Army of Northeastern Virginia a miserable experience full of confusion and missteps.

The Union army was moving largely in the dark as the to what lay ahead of them in the countryside. They were dependent on local civilians who might or might not give them accurate information. Equally bad, Washington was filled with Southron sympathizers who observed every movement of the army and assiduously collected military gossip in the hotel lobbies and taverns. As a result, even before McDowell's men put out their campfires and marched south on July 16, word had already reached Beauregard of their coming and their intentions.

Early that morning the Yankee soldiers arose, expectant, excited, determined that the march begun that day would take them 'on to Richmond' before the summer expired. Yet delay dogged them from the start. Supposed to move in the morning, they did not get under way until two in the afternoon. Their bands played martial airs, including "Dixie", which at this stage was still popular on both sides, and "John Brown's Body." The afternoon proved hot and humid, as all of the days ahead would be in the northern Virginia summer. Men started breaking ranks at every source of water, despite their officers' orders. No blackberry bush could be passed without men stopping to strip it while their comrades marched on. Quickly the generals saw just how 'green' this army in fact was. Some would conclude that it was little more than a well-intentioned organized mob.

As a result they covered only a few miles that day. They did better on the morrow, though, and by nightfall of July 17 portions of the Yankee army had reached and taken Fairfax Court House. Still, McDowell knew that his movements were well observed by the enemy now. There was no chance to surprise Beauregard, and he expected he would probably encounter stiff resistance at Centreville, a few miles north of Bull Run. Thus he ordered Tyler's division to attack that place early on July 18 before Beauregard could consolidate a defense, but when Tyler arrived expecting a fight, he discovered that the Rebels had pulled back.

Beauregard, heavily outnumbered (around 22K to 35K), had pulled all of his army back to the south side of Bull Run. He would make his stand there and hope that he could stop the Yankees' advance. Tyler was elated. The Federals had taken the first feared obstacle without a skirmish. The enemy was retreating in their front. At this rate, they might push on to Richmond and all be heroes.

Since McDowell had given Tyler orders to push forward to 'observe well the roads to Bull Run', Tyler pushed forward on the road that led to Blackburn's Ford.

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Battle of Blackburn's Ford

Blackburn's Ford in 1862

Blackburn's Ford in 2009

At 9 a.m. on the morning of July 18, 1861, the vanguard of Brigadier General Irvin McDowell’s Union army arrived at Centreville having met no organized Confederate opposition. Southern troops had fallen back to defensive positions behind Bull Run the night before. Acting under orders to “Observe well the roads to Bull Run and to Warrenton; Do not bring on an engagement, but keep up the impression that we are moving on Manassas,” General Daniel Tyler, commanding McDowell’s First Division, proceeded to make a reconnaissance towards Blackburn’s Ford. A squadron of cavalry and two companies of infantry from Colonel Israel Richardson’s brigade led the advance.

A Confederate brigade under General James Longstreet, consisting of Virginia and North Carolina infantry regiments and supported by seven guns of the famed Washington Artillery of New Orleans, stood poised to meet the Union advance at Blackburn’s Ford. Longstreet’s troops remained largely concealed by the woods along Bull Run. General P.G.T. Beauregard, commander of Confederate forces at Manassas since June 1st, moved closer to the coming action and made his headquarters at Yorkshire, the nearby home of Wilmer McLean. McLean’s barn would serve as a Confederate field hospital during the battle.

By late morning Tyler was in a position overlooking Blackburn’s Ford on Bull Run. Although he observed a Confederate battery across the run, rebel troops could not be detected in any strength. “Desiring to ascertain the extent of [the Confederate] force,” Tyler called forward his artillery and Richardson’s entire infantry brigade, composed of the 1st Massachusetts, 12th New York, 2nd Michigan and 3rd Michigan, the latter two regiments being deployed facing Mitchell’s Ford.

Tyler’s guns opened fire shortly after noon but received no appreciable response. Determined to feel out the enemy, Tyler directed Richardson to advance a line of skirmishers. Upon approaching the wooded stream banks, a gray clad battalion from the 1st Massachusetts drew scattering shots from skirmishers of the 1st Virginia Infantry. In response, Tyler sent forward a section of 12-pounder field howitzers from Romeyn Ayres’ battery with a squadron of cavalry for support. Richardson also directed the 12th New York and 1st Massachusetts to move forward in support of the artillery pieces. As the two howitzers opened fire the entire stream bottom erupted with heavy volleys of musketry. The New Yorkers became heavily engaged, yet fell back in disorder shortly thereafter, dangerously exposing the left flank of the 1st Massachusetts. Captain Ayres recalled his exposed pair of howitzers after they had expended all of their canister rounds and some spherical case shot.

Satisfied that the enemy was present in strong force, Tyler ordered Richardson’s battered infantry to disengage and withdraw. Ayres’ six guns, assisted by two 20-pounder Parrott rifles, kept up a steady but ineffective artillery exchange with Confederate batteries until 4p.m. In the course of one hour, Union artillery fired a total of 415 shots, while Confederate cannon returned 310 rounds. During this exchange a Union Parrott shell reportedly struck the chimney of Mr. McLean’s detached kitchen and the resulting debris destroyed a meal being prepared for General Beauregard.

General Tyler reported 83 casualties while General Beauregard noted a total of 68 killed and wounded in this relatively small affair. Two soldiers in Company K, 12th New York (Cpl. James E. Cross and Pvt. Charles F. Rand) would later be awarded the Medal of Honor for refusing to retreat at Blackburn’s Ford. The disorderly withdrawal of many Union troops, however, contributed to the perception of a Confederate victory, and left southern troops flushed with confidence. Although General McDowell severely criticized Tyler for aggressively exceeding his orders, the Union repulse at Blackburn’s Ford did yield valuable information to the Union commander. The sharp firefight revealed that the Confederate position along this stretch of Bull Run was formidably defended, and this knowledge contributed to McDowell’s decision to focus the Union efforts elsewhere along the Confederate line.

The failed reconnaissance-in-force at Blackburn's Ford led McDowell to decide against a frontal assault along Bull Run. He decided to attempt to cross the stream beyond the Confederate left flank, at an unguarded ford at Sudley Springs nearly three miles north of the Stone Bridge.

Map (click on LRH corner to enlarge)

Engagement - Blackburn's Ford

July 18, 1861

First Battle - Bull Run

July 21, 1861

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BL is giving a much more detailed account of this battle than I was prepared to relate. None of my battle narratives, which will largely be based on McPherson, will be anywhere near as detailed as this. Therefore BL, you are invited to do this again, as often as you like. I find it terrific and absolutely fascinating.

Therefore, I will wait until BL is done and then resume the narrative after the battle is over.

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BL is giving a much more detailed account of this battle than I was prepared to relate. None of my battle narratives, which will largely be based on McPherson, will be anywhere near as detailed as this. Therefore BL, you are invited to do this again, as often as you like. I find it terrific and absolutely fascinating. Therefore, I will wait until BL is done and then resume the narrative after the battle is over.

Thanks; I hope others are enjoying them as well.I am trying to keep these in bite size morsels. I know its easy for Civil War bores like me to overwhelm folks without realizing it. If its not too much (too lengthy, too slow, etc) I'll stick with this level for now. BUT - always prepared to switch gears if that is what followers and lurkers would prefer. Any suggestions or feedback would be appreciated.ETA: with certain battles I have a little more depth than others; I'm pretty light on most activity in the Carolinas or the trans-Mississippi, so you'll have to do the heavy lifting there timschochet. Edited by BobbyLayne

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Before discussing Joe Johnston (CSA - 12,000 troops) v. Robert Patterson (USA - 18,000 troops) in the Shenandoah Valley - which happened concurrent to McDowell's slow advance - I wanted to share a letter from a Union soldier to his wife.

The Last Letter of Major Sullivan Ballou

Major Sullivan Ballou was a 32-year-old lawyer from Providence, Rhode Island, who volunteered with the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry. This prophetic letter was written to his wife, Sarah, a week before he was mortally wounded in the first battle of Manassas. This letter is quoted from Henry S. Burrage's 1868 volume, Brown University in the Civil War: A Memorial (pp. 105-7), courtesy of the Rhode Island Historical Society.

Head-Quarters, Camp Clark

Washington, D.C., July 14, 1861

My Very Dear Wife:

Indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days, perhaps to­morrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write a few lines, that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure­­and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine, O God be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battle­field for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American civilization now leans upon the triumph of government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution, and I am willing, perfectly willing to lay down all my joys in this life to help maintain this government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know, that with my own joys, I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with care and sorrows,­­when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it, as their only sustenance, to my dear little children, is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country.

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death,­­and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in this hazarding the happiness of those I loved, and I could not find one. A pure love of my country, and of the principles I have often advocated before the people, and "the name of honor, that I love more than I fear death," have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables, that nothing but Omnipotence can break; and yet, my love of country comes over me like a strong wind, and bears me irresistably on with all those chains, to the battlefield. The memories of all the blissful moments I have spent with you come crowding over me, and I feel most deeply grateful to God and you, that I have enjoyed them so long. And how hard it is for me to give them up, and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our boys grow up to honorable manhood around us.

I know I have but few claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me, perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, nor that, when my last breath escapes me on the battle­field, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless, how foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears, every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth, and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you--in the garish day, and the darkest night amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours--always, always, and, if the soft breeze fans your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air cools your throbbing temples, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dear; think I am gone, and wait for me, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care, and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers, I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

"Sullivan."

portrait

marker

base inscription

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That's an amazing letter. Have you visited this battlefield, BL?

I've spent a few days there. Its a remarkable place.

The visitors center is near Matthews Hill, and the NBP rangers give daily tours relating to First Manassas. But if you are familiar with both engagements, it is worth going over to Groverton, Brawner's Farm and the unfinished railroad cut. The area devoted to Second Manassas has been recently restored - as at Gettysburg, they have felled thousands of trees in an attempt to restore the vistas to the historical sight lines of the 1860s.

A visit to any Civil War National Battlefield Park is a special experience. It is difficult for me to articulate. There is something quite spiritual...and humbling...about walking the same ground you have read about. You cannot escape contemplating what men were willing to do. A lot of times when you visit a historical site, there is an ephemeral quality to the journey. But a civil war battlefield gets inside you and won't let go.

Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the first Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.

Born March 28, 1829 in Smithfield, R.I., Ballou was educated at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.; Brown University in Providence, R.I. and the National Law School in Ballston, N.Y. He was admitted to the Rhode Island Bar in 1853.

Ballou devoted his brief life to public service. He was elected in 1854 as clerk of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, later serving as its speaker.

He married Sarah Hart Shumway on October 15, 1855, and the following year saw the birth of their first child, Edgar. A second son, William, was born in 1859.

Ballou immediately entered the military in 1861 after the war broke out. He became judge advocate of the Rhode Island militia and was 32 at the time of his death at the first Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861.

When he died, his wife was 24. She later moved to New Jersey to live out her life with her son, William, and never re-married. She died at age 80 in 1917.

Sullivan and Sarah Ballou are buried next to each other at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, RI. There are no known living descendants.

Ironically, Sullivan Ballou’s letter was never mailed. Although Sarah would receive other, decidedly more upbeat letters, dated after the now-famous letter from the battlefield, the letter in question would be found among Sullivan Ballou’s effects when Gov. William Sprague of Rhode Island traveled to Virginia to retrieve the remains of his state’s sons who had fallen in battle.

During the weeks and months that followed the First Battle of Bull Run, Confederate forces occupying the area of the battlefield desecrated the graves of many fallen Federals. As a means of extracting revenge against the Union regiment at whose hand they had suffered, a Georgia regiment sought retribution against the Second Rhode Island.

Supposing they had disinterred the body of Colonel John Slocum, the Confederates desecrated the body and dumped it in a ravine in the vicinity of the Sudley Methodist Church. Immediately following evacuation from the Manassas area in March 1862, a contingent of Rhode Island officials (including the governor) visited the battlefield to exhume their fallen sons and return them to their native soil. Led to the defiled body, the party examined the remains and a tattered remnant of uniform insignia and discovered the Confederates had mistakenly uncovered the body of Major Ballou, not his commanding officer. The remains were transported back to R.I., where they were laid to rest at Swan Point.

Of the tens of thousands of letters written in the days leading up to the battle, none is more famous than the last letter of Major Sullivan Ballou. As poignant as it is prescient, Ballou's epistle captures not only the spirit of righteousness that led many men to the enlistment office, but is also drives home the stark reality that casualties of war were not confined to the battlefield. There were hundreds of thousands of soldiers who would not return to their families over the next four years, leaving behind a Sarah, or a Willie and Edgar who would 'never know a father's love and care.' Very few, however, had the foresight or the thoughtful eloquence to leave a legacy as touching as Sullivan Ballou's to his grief-stricken family.

I'll close this subject with a couple videos:

Ashokan Farewell

Used as background music in Ken Burn's Civil War documentary; very good collection of period photos.

Sullivan Ballou Letter

audio only - the narrative reading of the letter from Burns first episode.

We'll get back to the fighting in the morning.

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BL is giving a much more detailed account of this battle than I was prepared to relate. None of my battle narratives, which will largely be based on McPherson, will be anywhere near as detailed as this. Therefore BL, you are invited to do this again, as often as you like. I find it terrific and absolutely fascinating.

Therefore, I will wait until BL is done and then resume the narrative after the battle is over.

Thanks; I hope others are enjoying them as well.

I am trying to keep these in bite size morsels. I know its easy for Civil War bores like me to overwhelm folks without realizing it. If its not too much (too lengthy, too slow, etc) I'll stick with this level for now.

BUT - always prepared to switch gears if that is what followers and lurkers would prefer. Any suggestions or feedback would be appreciated.

ETA: with certain battles I have a little more depth than others; I'm pretty light on most activity in the Carolinas or the trans-Mississippi, so you'll have to do the heavy lifting there timschochet.

The battles are my favorite part. Throw in as much detail as you like, I love it.

Feedback done, and thanks to you and Tim for a great thread.

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Would Johnston come?

There had ben anxious days in the Shanandoah while events unfolded east of the Blue Ridge. 69 year old Union General Robert Patterson, in charge of the force of 18,000 men organized at Chambersburg, PA, proved to be a slow, doddering, hesitant commander, who took his time about advancing on Harpers Ferry. But eventually he did get across the Potomac near Williamsport, while the understength Confederate Army under Joe Johnston had no choice but to fall back before him.

On July 2, near Hoke’s Run, two Union brigades encountered Virginia regiments under Thomas J. Jackson, driving them back slowly. Jackson’s orders were to delay the Federal advance only, which he did, withdrawing before Patterson’s larger force. On July 3, Patterson occupied Martinsburg.

Able skirmishing and Patterson's temerity, however, worked to slow his advance thereafter, so that by the second week of July Johnston's Confederates were firmly planted at Winchester, twenty miles south of the Potomac, with the vital Manassas Gap rail ine still in their control and no sign of Patterson advancing further.

(ASIDE - the town of Winchester would change hands more than 75 times in the next four years)

Not until July 16 did the Yankees show signs of making a tentative advance again. Patterson knew that McDowell was starting his march that day, and somehow reasoned that by making a faint-hearted show of force in front of Winchester, he could keep Johnston pinned down and unable to reinforce Beauregard. But the whole thing backfired. Timid to the point of foolishness, Patterson's small demonstration against Winchester only left him convinced that he could not move further and that Johnston had 42,000 in his army instead of the 12,000 or more actually there.

By magnifying enemy numbers three and a half times in his imagination, Patterson defeated himself. As he and his staff officers slapped each others' backs and congratulated themselves that they had pinned down Johnston in spite of his superior numbers and that McDowell would now win a great victory thanks to them, they sat down intending to do nothing more during the campaign.

But then came an angry order from Winfield Scott in Washington, D.C., that they were not to let Johnston fool them. They must attack him and keep attacking. On the morning of July 18, however, having already withdrawn from the Winchester area, Patterson put his army back on the road. "The enemy has stolen no march on me," he confidently wired to Washington. But then some of his volunteer regiments refused to go, their 90-day enlistments having expired. Glad to have an excuse not to do anything, Patterson decided that he could not advance with a reduced and balky army. But he did not have to advance anyhow, he reasoned. "I have succeeded," he wired to Scott, "in keeping General Johnston's force at Winchester."

At that very moment, Johnston's Confederates were already on their way to Manassas.

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From the Shenandoah to Manassas Junction

The Army of the Shenandoah had lived under constant threat of enemy advance for days, but as time wore on Johnston became increasingly convinced that Patterson did not have the stomach for a fight. When he found out from his cavalry chief, Colonel J.E.B. Stuart, that Patterson had actually moved his army seven miles away from Winchester after the halfhearted demonstration of July 16, Johnston realized that he would be able to get all or part of his command away if needed. On the seventeenth came a telegram from Beauregard announcing that Richmond had ordered Johnston to move to Manassas immediately. "Do so, if possible," said Beauregard, "and we shall crush the enemy."

Confirmation arrived early the next morning from Richmond itself. No one knew whether McDowell might attack the next day. If he did, Johnston could not possibly be there. If he did not, then still there might be time.

Early on July 18 reveille sounded in Johnston's camps. No one told the men where they were going, but hastily they packed their equipment, and then Jackson's Virginia brigade marched off southeastward toward Piedmont Station, the nearest point on the Manassas Gap line. "We are all completely at a loss to comprehend the meaning of our retrograde movement," one of his men complained in his diary. The would know soon enough.

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Manassas Gap Railroad

Campaign Map

(click LRH corner to enlarge)

Jackson pushed them fast and then informed them of their destination. That put heart into the men and they marched with renewed vigor, knowing that every minute saved could mean Confederate lives saved at Manassas. Not until 2 a.m., July 19, did they halt for the night at Paris.

Behind them came the other brigades, one by one, first Bee, then Bartow, and finally Kirby Smith, temporarily commanding Elzey's brigade since his own was not completely organized. Johnston himself rode ahead of the army toward Piedmont Station to arrange the trains to transport his men. When he arrived he met a messenger with word of the fight earlier that day at Blackburn's Ford. Now real urgency drove the Southerners. Sending back word to Beauregard that he was coming and that parts of his command would arrive on the morrow, Johnston worked throughout the night. When Jackson's column came into sight around 6 a.m., July 19, some cars awaited them, and within a few hours the entire brigade was on its way eastward.

It was a hair-raising trip for some, many of the boys being on a train for the first time in their lives. While the officers grumbled at the slow pace of the engine, the men marveled at the speed of their progress. At every town and hamlet along the way, townspeople turned out to cheer them on while the women waved their handkerchiefs. It took them eight hours, but finally they saw smoke in the distance that signaled their approach to Manassas Junction. It rose above Beauregard's campfires. They come in time. Exhausted after marching and riding sixty miles in the past twenty-eight hours, the Virginians collapsed on the ground, unaware as yet that they had just made history, being the first soldiers to ever make a major territorial shift by rail from one war zone to another.

Behind them came the others. There was only one engine on the Manassas Gap line, so Bartow had to wait for the train to return to Piedmont Station before he could embark his brigade. They would travel all night, not reaching Manassas until daylight July 20. At the same time Bee boarded his brigade, thanks to Johnston finding another train somewhere, and this engine moved at seeming light speed, getting Bee's brigade to Manassas shortly after noon that same day. That still left some elements of Bee's, Bartow's, and all of Elzey's brigade - commanded by Smith - awaiting transportation, with Smith's own command hurrying on as well. It was 3 a.m., July 21, when the next train left, carrying most of Elzey's brigade, and behind them would come one last train bringing some of the remnants. They could not arrive until before dawn, July 21, at the earliest. Meanwhile J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry - whose men supplied their own horses for service - rode hard for thirty-six hours and reached Manassas late July 20.

Jefferson Davis, Beauregard, and Johnston had achieved a small miracle. In barely forty-eight hours they put together a concentration that came close to doubling the strength of the army along Bull Run, doing it virtually under the guns of the enemy, completing fooling Patterson in the Shenandoah, and even deceiving McDowell as to the meaning of the sound of the train whistles coming into and going out of Manassas Junction. Davis rushed other isolated units to the front from elsewhere in Virginia, too. For the first time in history, railroads served decisively in warfare. Now their combined 34,000 troops were almost the equal of McDowell's 35,000, testimony to the foresight of Robert E. Lee and General Cocke, who originally conceived the scheme.

Now it was up to Beauregard and Johnston to capitalize on their good fortune and planning.

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This is just great stuff, BL. Everything you just described is handled in one or two lines by McPherson, and though I don't have Foote in front of me I don't recall him going into this amount of detail either. You make everything real and detailed with your descriptions, which are terrific. Yet not one bit of what you've described seems excessive or besides the point. Every word is interesting (at least to me!) Well done.

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(ASIDE - the town of Winchester would change hands more than 75 times in the next four years)

Do you know any more details about this?

I'm betting it was abandoned by most inhabitants, but it would be great to read about the story of one guy who hung around the whole time. Suppose the owner of tavern was always open? Sometimes with Yankees, some times with rebels...what a fascinating story that would be.

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(ASIDE - the town of Winchester would change hands more than 75 times in the next four years)

Do you know any more details about this?

I'm betting it was abandoned by most inhabitants, but it would be great to read about the story of one guy who hung around the whole time. Suppose the owner of tavern was always open? Sometimes with Yankees, some times with rebels...what a fascinating story that would be.

I'm sure it was always hellish for the Yankees. That Valley fed the Army of Northern Virginia; it was the heartland of the eastern theatre. The 35 counties to the west who became West Virginia were indifferent to the cause, but every town from Winchester to Front Royal had boys fighting with Jackson and Lee.

You have to keep in mind the manner in which the war was prosecuted by the North. In the beginning, they were under strict orders to protect civilian property (which included contraband aka slaves - the policy evolved over the first couple years). Foraging was not permitted. Well, the secesh knew that, so they were emboldened to come out on their porches waving the stars and bars, and hurl insults at the Union soldiers from the windows of their homes.

Then Grant came east and the whole game changed. He sent Hunter out there in 1864 and they scorched the earth. Lil' Phil Sheridan got all the ink and fame, but Hunter was his corps commander; that man had a serious hard on for making the Southron people pay.

But in 1861 it was a very different kind of war. Most of the soldiers, North and South, were on short-term enlistments. They thought there was going to be one big fight and it would be over. Some of the rank and file Rebs thought Blackburn's Ford had won them their independence (the officers knew better). The Yanks thought they'd march down to Manassas, whip the Secesh, and restore the Union - done and done. Most of the country had no idea what was in store for them.

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timschochet -

To further illustrate the point about how the average Virginian felt about Yankees invading their soil...

Recently I finished Stephen Sears fine book To The Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign, which details the 1862 siege at Yorktown, the drive up the Peninsula, Seven Pines, and the Seven Days Battles (a week long series of battles which occurred a few weeks after R.E. Lee assumed command). There was one anecdote about a man who had a large farm upon which McClellan had pitched his headquarter's tents. After a battle, they had used his land to bury many of the Union dead. This man would come out every day and berate the soldiers, telling them that after they left he was going to dig up the bodies and feed them to his hogs. Imagine how that made the Yankee soldiers feel; they were under strict orders to protect all civilian property. Yet his belligerence was not the exception. Virtually every Virginian carried this deep seated hatred in their bosom.

In 1861 a patriotic fevor swept across the two nations. In both the USA and the CSA, songs were written to whip the populace into a frenzy. In later years as the death toll rose, the heartbreak and destruction being wrought upon the country would lead to sad songs and dirges that reflected the dreary struggle. But the spirit of '61 the popular songs reflected romantic notions: about cause and country, about putting down a rebellion, about fighting a second war of independence. Here are two such examples:

'Twas in the days of seventy-six

When freemen young and old

All fought for Independence then

Each hero brave and bold!

'Twas then the noble Stars and Stripes

In triumph did appear

And defended by brave patriots

The Yankee Volunteers

'Tis my delight to march and fight

Like a New York Volunteer!

Now, there's our City Regiments

Just see what they have done:

The first to offer to the State

To go to Washington

To protect the Federal Capital

And the flag they love so dear!

And they've done their duty nobly,

Like New York Volunteers!

'Tis my delight to march and fight

Like a New York Volunteer!

The Rebels out in Maryland

They madly raved and swore,

They'd let none of our Union troops

Pass through Baltimore

But the Massachusetts Regiment

No traitors did they fear

But fought their way to Washington

Like Yankee Volunteers!

'Tis my delight to march and fight

Like a New York Volunteer!

Southrons, hear your country call you!

Up, lest worse than death befall you!

To arms ! To arms! To arms, in Dixie!

Lo! All the beacon-fires are lighted,

Let all hearts be now united!

To arms ! To arms! To arms, in Dixie!

Advance the flag of Dixie

Hurrah! Hurrah!

For Dixie's land we take our stand,

And live or die for Dixie!

To Arms! To Arms!

And conquer peace for Dixie

To Arms! To Arms

And conquer peace for Dixie

Hear the Northern thunders mutter!

Northern flags in South winds flutter!

To arms ! To arms! To arms, in Dixie!

Send them back your fierce defiance!

Stamp upon the accursed alliance!

To arms ! To arms! To arms, in Dixie!

Advance the flag of Dixie

Hurrah! Hurrah!

For Dixie's land we take our stand,

And live or die for Dixie!

To Arms! To Arms!

And conquer peace for Dixie

To Arms! To Arms

And conquer peace for Dixie

Fear no danger! Shun no labor!

Lift up rifle, pike and saber!

To arms ! To arms! To arms, in Dixie!

Shoulder pressing close to shoulder,

Let the odds make each heart bolder!

To arms ! To arms! To arms, in Dixie!

Advance the flag of Dixie

Hurrah! Hurrah!

For Dixie's land we take our stand,

And live or die for Dixie!

To Arms! To Arms!

And conquer peace for Dixie

To Arms! To Arms

And conquer peace for Dixie

Swear upon our country's altar

Never to submit or to falter,

To arms ! To arms! To arms, in Dixie!

Till the spoilers are defeated,

Till the Lord's work is completed!

To arms ! To arms! To arms, in Dixie!

Advance the flag of Dixie

Hurrah! Hurrah!

For Dixie's land we take our stand,

And live or die for Dixie!

To Arms! To Arms!

And conquer peace for Dixie

To Arms! To Arms

And conquer peace for Dixie

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