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First Manassas Confederate Plan of Attack

Joe Johnston's date of commission made him the senior commander, and he immediately assumed overall command of the combined forces. However, P.G.T. Beauregard had been on this ground for weeks, knew the defenses and the troops emplaced, and had the best knowledge of what McDowell had done to date. Moreover, the Creole general had a plan. A would-be Napoleon, the Louisianian always had a grand scheme, and now he assumed that Johnston would go along with his plan to attack McDowell. Simply put, Beauregard meant to push most of his brigades across Bull Run early on July 21, with most of his strength - including Johnston's troops - on his right flank. They would push around the Federal left flank and cut McDowell off from his line of retreat via Fairfax Court House. That done, they could disperse or destroy the Yankee army while leaving it nowhere to run. Johnston readily agreed, perhaps not realizing that in doing so he was yielding much of his ability to influence the ensuing battle to his subordinate.

It was not a good plan.

It put two-thirds of their army on the right side of an eight-mile long line, leaving the left very thinly defended, and Sudley Ford completely uncovered. One and one-half brigades were left to cover three miles all by themselves, including the best fords and the stone bridge, along a stretch where Bull Run was shallow enough to wade across in places usually not fordable.

But Tyler's demonstration at Blackburn's Ford had convinced Beauregard that McDowell intended his main attack there or at nearby Mitchel's Ford in the right center of the Confederate line, and once believing he knew what an opponent thought, Beauregard could not or would not change his mind. Should McDowell strike the weaker side of his line before Beauregard got his own plan into motion, all the fruits of Johnston's arrival might be lost.

Worse, Beauregard bungled the writing orders instructing the several brigades as to their positions and movements. They were far too complex, and in one case the wording was so ambiguous that, read literally, it ordered one brigade to attack another Confederate brigade! Nevertheless, when Beauregard gave Johnston a copy of the order to sign at 4:30 a.m., July 21, the Virginian did not question it, another case of abrogating his responsibility to his subordinate. They were committed now. All they and their soldiers could do was try to get a little more sleep before the opening of the battle to save the Confederacy.

McDowell July 19-20

For McDowell's sake, it may have been a good thing he knew nothing of what had been happening out in the Shenandoah or in his front across Bull Run. Already his own plans were coming apart. He did not want Tyler to make such a heavy demonstration as that at Blackburn's Ford, for now he feared that Beauregard would reinforce that section of Bull Run. Worse, upon reaching the vicinity he had to change his original plan of advance and not attempt to cross Bull Run at the lower ford near the Orange & Alexandria tracks, then sweep Northwestward up the south bank. Reconnaissance now showed him that the ground was not suitable to moving large numbers of troops.

As a result, McDowell spent all of July 19 in reconnoitering other ground and in resting his men. His scouts learned that the stone bridge was heavily guarded but that Sudley Ford was protected by only a few companies of the enemy, so confident was Beauregard that McDowell intended to attack in the right center of his line. The trouble was that there were no good, direct roads to the ford, but McDowell's staff set about interviewing local farmers and eventually found a practicable - if difficult - route that infantry might take. Learning this, McDowell revised his battle plan even while his men heard and speculated on the meaning of the sound of trains coming into Manassas Junction.

Some thought it was the sound of the Confederate army evacuating, and that there would be no fight. Others, like brigade commander Colonel William T. Sherman, thought otherwise and expected to meet the combined enemy armies when the battle came. When word came to McDowell that Beauregard and Johnston had joined, though, he refused to believe it. Washington would have informed him if Patterson failed, he reasoned. What neither he nor Washington knew yet was that Patterson himself did not realize that Johnston had disappeared from Winchester.

During the day of July 20, McDowell had asked the 4th Pennsylvania regiment, whose ninety-day enlistments expired the next day, to extend them two weeks. A majority of the men refused. A captain in the 4th Pennsylvania explained the regiments decision as "the fact of the matter was, the men had been badly used. They had a right to their discharge." Their colonel, John F. Fatranft, stayed with the army and volunteered as an aide-de-camp on the staff of Colonel William Franklin. As the army marched toward battle the next morning, the Pennsylvanians left for Washington and home.

First Bull Run Union Plan of Attack

Late on July 20, McDowell called a war council with his staff and division commanders. The generals stood around a large table, in "a great tent," lit by lanterns and candles, examining maps. Outside the tent, a group of civilians, including members of Congress, milled about. He explained to his commanders the plan based on new information. Tyler was to make a demonstration along the lower fords from the stone bridge on down, while Hunter was to make the difficult cross-country march to Sudley Ford and cross there. Heintzelman was to cross at a nearby ford but would miss his way and eventually follow Hunter. Together they would sweep down the south bank of the stream, opening each succeeding ford as they moved. Ironically, his plan was exactly the same as Beauregard's; stand firm in the center and left and make a massive move on the right. If both armies moved at the same time, the two armies would have grappled and spun around in counter-clockwise manner, like a pair of dancers clutching each other and twirling to the accompaniment of cannon.

McDowell's was the better conceived of the two because he aimed at the easier fords to cross and made use of the apparent fact that Beauregard's main strength was on the center and lower crossings. Sound as the plan was, it was also complicated, involving two feints the half the army and a flank march by the other half, with the main effort to made at right angles to the line of advance.

Still, it was the army that moved first which would have the advantage.

The night before the battle

That evening the men and officers all knew that there would be a fight on the morrow. The mood in the camps that night was one of both solemnity and confidence. Chaplains conducted services while the bands played hymns. "I pray," a sergeant confided in his journal, "that I may have the strength & courage to carry me safely through or to die decently in a manner becoming an American soldier." Another soldier wrote to his parents, "It will be a great battle the greatest yet God only knows how it will end and who amongst us will stand the contest God can only disside." Private George Rollins of the 3rd Maine told his father later, "Troops never marched to battle more confident of victory than we." "We shall have hard work, and I will acquit myself as well as I can," Sherman wrote home.

Out around the campfires rumors flew from mouth to mouth. Those who could enjoyed a beautiful evening, especially appreciated after the oppressive heat of the day. Out in the fields the lowing of cattle and the rattling of the crickets in the thickets lent a peaceful air to what was about to become a scene of battle. Services concluded, bands played patriotic songs. Across Bull Run the scene was the same, only the soldiers rejoiced the two armies had become one. On both sides, North and South, they forward to routing the foe in the morning.

On both sides men wrote their names and home towns on slips of paper and pinned them to their shirts or put them in a pocket so that, should they fall, their bodies could be identified and sent home. They all knew, blue and gray alike, that some of them were destined to die. July 21st was a Sunday; it would be a bloody sabbath.

Map - situation 0530 21 July 1861

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Sunday Morning July 21 - Union march begins

Predictably, the Federal plan started to go wrong the moment it commenced.

No one had any experience trying to move troops in these numbers, and over unfamiliar ground, on narrow or barely existing roads. Moreover, these were volunteers, still unfamiliar with their orders and drum and bugle calls and not entirely adjusted yet to some wet-eared corporal or sergeant bawling orders at them. McDowell wanted to start his march at 2 a.m. Schneck's brigade, the first to depart, did not start until an hour later.

Then the going proved difficult in the dark, the men sometimes actually feeling their way, and moving thus at a snail's pace. It took an hour to cover just the first mile, thus delaying Sherman's brigade immediately behind. Tyler did his best to push the men forward, but still it would be nearly daylight before they covered the short distance to the north bank facing the stone bridge. And the slowness of their movement naturally slowed Hunter and Heintzelman, who for a time had to march behind them before they could turn off on the path to Sudley Ford. Having much farther to go to reach their destination, they should have been ordered to move out first.

"Shanks" Evans and his barrelita

Facing them on the south side of Bull Run, and concealed on hills immediately overlooking the stone bridge, was the small command of Colonel Nathan G. Evans, one of the true eccentrics of the Confederate army. The South Carolinian was boastful, swaggering, and hard-drinking. At the stone bridge of Bull Run, he detailed an orderly on his staff to carry with him at all times a small keg of whiskey, which he called his 'barrelita', and from which he took numerous droughts during the day. Yet he was also a born fighter.

A graduate from West Point class of 1848, he had distinguished himself in at the battle of Wachita Village in October, 1858, when his command defeated a large body of the Comanches - and he personally killed two of their noted chieftains in a hand-to-hand fight. For this he was voted a handsome sword by the legislature of South Carolina. Shanks Evans would scrap with anybody, including his superiors, but most of all he would prefer to fight with the Yankees, and on this, his first opportunity, he would prove himself a terror.

Evans had only the Fourth South Carolina and the First Louisiana Battalion, two cannon, and a company of cavalry - essentially a regiment and one-half, to face Tyler's entire division. Lesser men would have recoiled when they saw the advance elements of the Yankees approach. When Tyler's artillery sent their first shot across Bull Run at just after 6 a.m., intending it as a signal to McDowell that they were in position, and the same time expecting their fire to pin down Confederates at the bridge, Evans refused to be duped. He kept his own guns silent, not wanting to reveal to Tyler just how weak he was, and only let a small line of skirmishers return a sporadic fire. Thus Tyler hand no inkling that he could have pushed across the bridge with one concerted thrust.

By 7:30 Evans deduced that Tyler had no intention of attacking. Obviously this was only a demonstration, and that could only mean one thing. Tyler wanted to keep him here and divert his attention from something else. Soon thereafter Evans discovered what that was.

The Yankees cross Bull Run at Sudley Ford

As frustrating as was the morning's march for Tyler, it was worse for Hunter and Heintzelman. Hunter waited a full two and one-half hours for Tyler's division to get out of the way before he could start his march in the dark. Colonel Ambrose Burnside's brigade led the way at last, but it was 5:30 before he finally reached the turnoff for Sudley Ford. Then the 'road' turned out to be nothing more than a cow path, and some men had to cut down trees and brush to clear the way for the rest.

The sun started to rise in the sky, elevating the temperature uncomfortably for the men in heavy wool uniforms, even though it was still morning. it was going to be hot, humid, and they were running very, very late. When Tyler's signal cannon sounded, Burnside was still three miles from the ford. Then a guide took them off on the wrong fork in the road that added another - unnecessary - three miles to their march. As a result, it was 9:00 before Burnside's advance parties finally cleared the woods and saw the stream and ford nearly a mile ahead.

When they reached Bull Run, the bluecoats were so parched that they broke ranks and gulped water from the stream despite their officers orders to keep formation. Then they crossed and turned south, with the sounds of Tyler's sporadic skirmishing suggesting that the battle was already under way. What they could not know is that the scrappy Nathan Evans was on his way, too.

"Look out for your left"

All that stood in the path of the 20,000 Union soldiers converging on the Confederate left flank were "Shanks" Evans and his reduced brigade of 1,100 men.

The Confederates had built signal stations on high elevations. Observing from 8 miles southwest on Signal Hill was Beauregard's signal officer, Captain Edward Porter Alexander, who spotted the Yankee advance. Using wig-wag flags he informed Evans of the main Union flanking movement through Sudley Springs. It was the first use of semaphore signaling in combat. Alexander's message: "Look out for your left, your position is turned." Evans sent off a courier to headquarters at once, and then took action on his own. The Yankees had to be stopped or delayed long enough for Beauregard to send reinforcements. Faced with three full brigades in his front and two divisions coming at him off to the left, Evans had but one thought.

Outnumbered twenty-to-one, he decided to attack.

Situation map, morning July 21

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Matthews Hill

The combative Shanks left a mere 200 men at the bridge to skirmish with Tyler's division and hastily led 900 of his men from their position fronting the Stone Bridge to a new location on the slopes of Matthews Hill, a low ridge to the northwest of his previous position. There he took cover in a line of trees, and around 10:15 when the head of Burnside's column came into sight across a field Evans opened fire.

It took Hunter's column by surprise, and for the next several minutes the Yankees were in come confusion before they established a battle line. Then, incredibly, Evans charged right into the center of the Union line. Leading the attack were the colorful Louisianians of the First Battalion, dressed in their baggy red-and-white striped zouave pants, with bowie knives in their hands. The attack could hardly burn back Hunter, but it did delay him, and that was all Evans hoped for. Around 11 o'clock the first reinforcements, portions of Bee's brigade, arrived on the field to strengthen Evan's paper-thin line, and soon thereafter Bartow arrived with two Georgia regiments. Now the Confederates totaled about 2,800 men, still a fraction of what the Yankees had, but enough to mount a spirited defense.

Again Evans readied an attack, then the small Confederate line swept up the southeast slope of Matthews Hill. This they raced into an inferno. In fifteen minutes the Eighth Georgia was cut to pieces. Bartow's horse was shot out from underneath him. The Fourth Alabama advanced alone after all the other Confederate regiments were halted in the rain of lead and found itself facing much of Hunter's line alone. "Out brave men fell in great numbers," a captain said days later. Soon they found the enemy advancing and Yankees in front and on both sides. They were almost surrounded and had to retreat in a galling fire. The Federals had the momentum.

Evans would launch no more attacks. But he had bought time. Now he would start to pay for it with lives as the enemy came on.

The Confederates pulled back off Matthews Hill and across a steam called Youngs Branch as they saw the first elements of Heintzelman's division start to come into line with Hunter's. Worse, to their right they could see that Sherman had finally tired of waiting on the north bank of Bull Run and had crossed his men in a shallows upstream of the stone bridge.

There was no choice but to pull back what little of Evans' command was posted by the bridge and consolidate all of the remaining Southerners on this part of the field. By now some of the regiments were in tatters. The Fourth Alabama had lost every one of its field officers, and the remnants were scurrying stubbornly up the slopes of Henry Hill just south of Young's Branch.

Some distance behind his advancing line, McDowell saw the battle going his way despite the delays and setbacks of the morning, and took off his hat and rode along his lines shouting "Victory! Victory! The day is ours."

Perhaps not just yet, for Evans, Bee, and Bartow were not done resisting the Yankees push. Moreover, though taken by surprise, Beauregard and Johnston were reacting well. Thanks to Evans in particular, their battered left flank had held beyond all expectations. Now all across the ground below Bull Run brigade after brigade was on the march to the left, all intent on converging on Henry Hill.

At that very moment the train bearing Kirby Smith's brigade was nearing Manassas Junction, and those men could be on the battle line in a few hours if the Confederates held out. The battle was now out of Beauregard and Johnston's control, to be sure, but they were still in the fight.

Both army commanders rode to the front to direct the placement of reinforcements as they arrived, and then while Beauregard remained there, Johnston went behind the lines to hurry forward each brigade as it became available. And up on Henry Hill itself, even as the battered defenders prepared to receive what looked like the strongest Yankee thrust yet, some looked to the rear and saw the approach of a fresh brigade.

Thomas J. Jackson was on the way.

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Since BL has gotten to Jackson, I thought we might as well give a bio:

Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

Thomas Jackson was the third child of Julia Beckwith Jackson and Jonathan Jackson, an attorney. Both of Jackson's parents were natives of Virginia. The family already had two young children and were living in Clarksburg, in what is now West Virginia, when Thomas was born. He was named for his maternal grandfather.

Thomas's sister Elizabeth (age six) died of typhoid fever on March 6, 1826, with two-year-old Thomas at her bedside. His father died of the same disease March 26. Jackson's mother gave birth to Thomas's sister Laura Ann the day after Jackson's father died. Julia Jackson thus was widowed at 28 and was left with much debt and three young children (including the newborn). She sold the family's possessions to pay the debts. She declined family charity and moved into a small rented one-room house. Julia took in sewing and taught school to support herself and her three young children for about four years.

In 1830, Julia Neale Jackson remarried. Her new husband, Blake Woodson, an attorney, did not like his stepchildren. There were continuing financial problems. The following year, after giving birth to Thomas's half-brother, Julia died of complications, leaving her three older children orphaned. Julia was buried in an unmarked grave in a homemade coffin in Westlake Cemetery along the James River and Kanawha Turnpike in Fayette County within the corporate limits of present-day Ansted, West Virginia.

As their mother's health continued to fail, Jackson and his sister Laura Ann were sent to live with their uncle, Cummins Jackson, who owned a grist mill in Jackson's Mill (near present-day Weston in Lewis County in central West Virginia). Their older brother, Warren, went to live with other relatives on his mother's side of the family, but he later died of tuberculosis in 1841 at the age of 20. Thomas and Laura Ann returned from Jackson's Mill in November 1831 to be at their dying mother's bedside. They spent four years together at the Mill before being separated—Laura Ann was sent to live with her mother's family, Thomas to live with his Aunt Polly (his father's sister) and her husband, Isaac Brake, on a farm 4 miles from Clarksburg. Thomas was treated by Brake as an outsider and, having suffered verbal abuse for over a year, ran away from the family. When his cousin in Clarksburg beseeched him to return to Aunt Polly's, he replied, "Maybe I ought to, ma'am, but I am not going to." He walked 18 miles through mountain wilderness to Jackson's Mill, where he was welcomed by his uncles and he remained there for the following seven years.

Cummins Jackson was strict with Thomas, who looked up to Cummins as a schoolteacher. Jackson helped around the farm, tending sheep with the assistance of a sheepdog, driving teams of oxen and helping harvest wheat and corn. Formal education was not easily obtained, but he attended school when and where he could. Much of Jackson's education was self-taught. He once made a deal with one of his uncle's slaves to provide him with pine knots in exchange for reading lessons; Thomas would stay up at night reading borrowed books by the light of those burning pine knots. Virginia law forbade teaching a slave, free black or mulatto to read or write, as enacted following Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion in Southampton County in 1831. Nevertheless, Jackson secretly taught the slave to write, as he had promised. Once literate, the young slave fled to Canada via the underground railroad. In his later years at Jackson's Mill, Thomas was a schoolteacher.

In 1842, Jackson was accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Because of his inadequate schooling, he had difficulty with the entrance examinations and began his studies at the bottom of his class. As a student, he had to work harder than most cadets to absorb lessons. Displaying a dogged determination that was to characterize his life, however, he became one of the hardest working cadets in the academy, and moved steadily up the academic rankings. Jackson graduated 17th out of 59 students in the Class of 1846. It was said by his peers that if he had stayed there another year, he would have graduated first.

Jackson began his United States Army career as a second lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Artillery Regiment and was sent to fight in the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848. He served at the Siege of Veracruz and the battles of Contreras, Chapultepec, and Mexico City, eventually earning two brevet promotions, and the regular army rank of first lieutenant. It was in Mexico that Jackson first met Robert E. Lee.

During the assault on Chapultepec Castle, he refused what he felt was a "bad order" to withdraw his troops. Confronted by his superior, he explained his rationale, claiming withdrawal was more hazardous than continuing his overmatched artillery duel. His judgment proved correct, and a relieving brigade was able to exploit the advantage Jackson had broached. In contrast to this display of strength of character, he obeyed what he also felt was a "bad order" when he raked a civilian throng with artillery fire after the Mexican authorities failed to surrender Mexico City at the hour demanded by the U.S. forces.The former episode, and later aggressive action against the retreating Mexican army, earned him field promotion to the brevet rank of major. He was later recognized by army commander Winfield Scott at a celebratory banquet in Mexico City for earning more promotions than any other officer during the three-year war.

In the spring of 1851, Jackson accepted a newly created teaching position at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), in Lexington, Virginia. He became Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy and Instructor of Artillery. Jackson's teachings are still used at VMI today because they are military essentials that are timeless, to wit: discipline, mobility, assessing the enemy's strength and intentions while attempting to conceal your own, and the efficiency of artillery combined with an infantry assault.

However, despite the high quality of his work, he was not popular as a teacher. He memorized his lectures and then recited them to the class; any students who came to ask for help were only given the same explanation as before. And if students came to ask again, Jackson viewed this as insubordination and likewise punished them. The students mocked his apparently stern, religious nature and his eccentric traits. In 1856, a group of alumni attempted to have Jackson removed from his position.

Little as he was known to the white inhabitants of Lexington, Jackson was revered by many of the African-Americans in town, both slaves and free blacks. He was instrumental in the organization in 1855 of Sunday school classes for blacks at the Presbyterian Church. His second wife, Mary Anna Jackson, taught with Jackson, as "he preferred that my labors should be given to the colored children, believing that it was more important and useful to put the strong hand of the Gospel under the ignorant African race, to lift them up." The pastor, Dr. William Spottswood White, described the relationship between Jackson and his Sunday afternoon students: "In their religious instruction he succeeded wonderfully. His discipline was systematic and firm, but very kind. ... His servants reverenced and loved him, as they would have done a brother or father. ... He was emphatically the black man's friend." He addressed his students by name and they in turn referred to him affectionately as "Marse Major."

Jackson's family owned six slaves in the late 1850s. Three (Hetty, Cyrus, and George, a mother and two teenage sons) were received as a wedding present. Another, Albert, requested that Jackson purchase him and allow him to work for his freedom; he was employed as a waiter in one of the Lexington hotels and Jackson rented him to VMI. Amy also requested that Jackson purchase her from a public auction and she served the family as a cook and housekeeper. The sixth, Emma, was a four-year-old orphan with a learning disability, accepted by Jackson from an aged widow and presented to his second wife, Mary Anna, as a welcome-home gift. After the American Civil War began, he appears to have hired out or sold his slaves. Mary Anna Jackson, in her 1895 memoir, said, "our servants ... without the firm guidance and restraint of their master, the excitement of the times proved so demoralizing to them that he deemed it best for me to provide them with good homes among the permanent residents." James Robertson wrote about Jackson's view on slavery:

Jackson neither apologized for nor spoke in favor of the practice of slavery. He probably opposed the institution. Yet in his mind the Creator had sanctioned slavery, and man had no moral right to challenge its existence. The good Christian slaveholder was one who treated his servants fairly and humanely at all times.

While an instructor at VMI, in 1853, Thomas Jackson married Elinor "Ellie" Junkin, whose father was president of Washington College (later named Washington and Lee University) in Lexington. An addition was built onto the president's residence for the Jacksons, and when Robert E. Lee became president of Washington College he lived in the same home, now known as the Lee-Jackson House. Ellie gave birth to a stillborn son on October 22, 1854, experiencing a hemorrhage an hour later that proved fatal.

After a tour of Europe, Jackson married again, in 1857. Mary Anna Morrison was from North Carolina, where her father was the first president of Davidson College. They had a daughter named Mary Graham on April 30, 1858, but the baby died less than a month later. Another daughter was born in 1862, shortly before her father's death. The Jacksons named her Julia Laura, after his mother and sister.

Jackson purchased the only house he ever owned while in Lexington. Built in 1801, the brick town house at 8 East Washington Street was purchased by Jackson in 1859. He lived in it for two years before being called to serve in the Confederacy. Jackson never returned to his home.

In November 1859, at the request of the governor of Virginia, Major William Gilham led a contingent of the VMI Cadet Corps to Charles Town to provide an additional military presence at the hanging of militant abolitionist John Brown on December 2, following his raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry on October 16. Major Jackson was placed in command of the artillery, consisting of two howitzers manned by 21 cadets.

In 1861, as the American Civil War broke out, Jackson became a drill master for some of the many new recruits in the Confederate Army. On April 27, 1861, Virginia Governor John Letcher ordered Colonel Jackson to take command at Harpers Ferry, where he would assemble and command the famous "Stonewall Brigade", consisting of the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 27th, and 33rd Virginia Infantry regiments.

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The Eccentric Traits of "Stonewall" Jackson

Jackson held a lifelong belief that one of his arms was longer than the other, and thus usually held the "longer" arm up to equalize his circulation. He was described as a "champion sleeper", even falling asleep with food in his mouth occasionally. A paper delivered to the Society of Clinical Psychologists hypothesized that Jackson had Asperger syndrome, although other possible explanations exist.Indeed Jackson suffered a number of ailments, for which he sought relief via contemporary practices of his day, including hydropathy, popular in America at that time, visiting establishments at Oswego, New York, in 1850, and Round Hill, Massachusetts, in 1860, although with little evidence of success.Jackson also suffered a significant hearing loss in both of his ears as a result of his prior service in the U.S. Army as an artillery officer.

A recurring story concerns Jackson's love of lemons, which he allegedly gnawed whole to alleviate symptoms of dyspepsia. General Richard Taylor, son of President Zachary Taylor, wrote a passage in his war memoirs about Jackson eating lemons: "Where Jackson got his lemons 'no fellow could find out,' but he was rarely without one." However, recent research by his biographer, James I. Robertson, Jr., has found that none of his contemporaries, including members of his staff, friends, or his wife, recorded any unusual obsessions with lemons and Jackson thought of a lemon as a "rare treat ... enjoyed greatly whenever it could be obtained from the enemy's camp". Jackson was fond of all fruits, particularly peaches, "but he enjoyed with relish lemons, oranges, watermelons, apples, grapes, berries, or whatever was available."

In command, Jackson was extremely secretive about his plans and extremely punctilious about military discipline. This secretive nature did not stand him in good stead with his subordinates, who were often not aware of his overall operational intentions and complained of being left out of key decisions.

Robert E. Lee could trust Jackson with deliberately non-detailed orders that conveyed Lee's overall objectives, what modern doctrine calls the "end state". This was because Jackson had a talent for understanding Lee's sometimes unstated goals and Lee trusted Jackson with the ability to take whatever actions were necessary to implement his end state requirements. Many of Lee's subsequent corps commanders did not have this ability. At Gettysburg, this resulted in lost opportunities. Thus, after the Federals retreated to the heights south of town, Lee sent one of his new corps commanders, Richard S. Ewell, discretionary orders that the heights (Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill) be taken "if practicable". Without Jackson's intuitive grasp of Lee's orders or the instinct to take advantage of sudden tactical opportunities, Ewell chose not to attempt the assault, and this failure is considered by historians to be the greatest missed opportunity of the battle. (We'll get into this in great detail much later on.)

Jackson had a poor reputation as a horseman. One of his soldiers, Georgia volunteer William Andrews, wrote that Jackson was "a very ordinary looking man of medium size, his uniform badly soiled as though it had seen hard service. He wore a cap pulled down nearly to his nose and was riding a rawboned horse that did not look much like a charger, unless it would be on hay or clover. He certainly made a poor figure on a horseback, with his stirrup leather six inches too short, putting his knees nearly level with his horse's back, and his heels turned out with his toes sticking behind his horse's foreshoulder. A sorry description of our most famous general, but a correct one." His horse was named "Little Sorrel" (also known as "Old Sorrel"), a small chestnut gelding.He rode Little Sorrel throughout the war, and was riding him when he was shot at Chancellorsville. Little Sorrel died at age 36 and is buried near a statue of Jackson on the parade grounds of VMI. (His mounted hide is on display in the VMI Museum.)

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Matthews Hill

The combative Shanks left a mere 200 men at the bridge to skirmish with Tyler's division and hastily led 900 of his men from their position fronting the Stone Bridge to a new location on the slopes of Matthews Hill, a low ridge to the northwest of his previous position. There he took cover in a line of trees, and around 10:15 when the head of Burnside's column came into sight across a field Evans opened fire.

It took Hunter's column by surprise, and for the next several minutes the Yankees were in come confusion before they established a battle line. Then, incredibly, Evans charged right into the center of the Union line. Leading the attack were the colorful Louisianians of the First Battalion, dressed in their baggy red-and-white striped zouave pants, with bowie knives in their hands. The attack could hardly burn back Hunter, but it did delay him, and that was all Evans hoped for. Around 11 o'clock the first reinforcements, portions of Bee's brigade, arrived on the field to strengthen Evan's paper-thin line, and soon thereafter Bartow arrived with two Georgia regiments. Now the Confederates totaled about 2,800 men, still a fraction of what the Yankees had, but enough to mount a spirited defense.

Again Evans readied an attack, then the small Confederate line swept up the southeast slope of Matthews Hill. This they raced into an inferno. In fifteen minutes the Eighth Georgia was cut to pieces. Bartow's horse was shot out from underneath him. The Fourth Alabama advanced alone after all the other Confederate regiments were halted in the rain of lead and found itself facing much of Hunter's line alone. "Out brave men fell in great numbers," a captain said days later. Soon they found the enemy advancing and Yankees in front and on both sides. They were almost surrounded and had to retreat in a galling fire. The Federals had the momentum.

Evans would launch no more attacks. But he had bought time. Now he would start to pay for it with lives as the enemy came on.

The Confederates pulled back off Matthews Hill and across a steam called Youngs Branch as they saw the first elements of Heintzelman's division start to come into line with Hunter's. Worse, to their right they could see that Sherman had finally tired of waiting on the north bank of Bull Run and had crossed his men in a shallows upstream of the stone bridge.

There was no choice but to pull back what little of Evans' command was posted by the bridge and consolidate all of the remaining Southerners on this part of the field. By now some of the regiments were in tatters. The Fourth Alabama had lost every one of its field officers, and the remnants were scurrying stubbornly up the slopes of Henry Hill just south of Young's Branch.

Some distance behind his advancing line, McDowell saw the battle going his way despite the delays and setbacks of the morning, and took off his hat and rode along his lines shouting "Victory! Victory! The day is ours."

Perhaps not just yet, for Evans, Bee, and Bartow were not done resisting the Yankees push. Moreover, though taken by surprise, Beauregard and Johnston were reacting well. Thanks to Evans in particular, their battered left flank had held beyond all expectations. Now all across the ground below Bull Run brigade after brigade was on the march to the left, all intent on converging on Henry Hill.

At that very moment the train bearing Kirby Smith's brigade was nearing Manassas Junction, and those men could be on the battle line in a few hours if the Confederates held out. The battle was now out of Beauregard and Johnston's control, to be sure, but they were still in the fight.

Both army commanders rode to the front to direct the placement of reinforcements as they arrived, and then while Beauregard remained there, Johnston went behind the lines to hurry forward each brigade as it became available. And up on Henry Hill itself, even as the battered defenders prepared to receive what looked like the strongest Yankee thrust yet, some looked to the rear and saw the approach of a fresh brigade.

Thomas J. Jackson was on the way.

Pure Awesomeness. I nominate Bobby Layne to do the battles, and Tim to do Bios and political aspects.

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Since BL has gotten to Jackson, I thought we might as well give a bio:

Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

Thomas Jackson was the third child of Julia Beckwith Jackson and Jonathan Jackson, an attorney. Both of Jackson's parents were natives of Virginia. The family already had two young children and were living in Clarksburg, in what is now West Virginia, when Thomas was born. He was named for his maternal grandfather.

Jackson's paternal grandparents came from England to Virginia as indentured servants. Both had been arrested for stealing from their employers and met on the transit to the west.

The Eccentric Traits of "Stonewall" Jackson

Many of the financial difficulties associated with the Jackson family were the results of his father's love of alcohol; this lead to young Thomas' dislike of drinking. He also found his escape from his childhood problems in church. These two things helped lead to his being the overtly religious non drinking man we know.

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You could argue that politics played a very bad role in this First Battle of Bull Run. President Lincoln was under tremendous political pressure to take quick and decisive action. Northern newspapers were hitting him daily to bring the supposed secession of the southern states to an end immediately. Beyond that the very real military problem of not having enough troops as the first round of enlistments made after Sumter were drawing to a close - almost all were only 90 day terms.

Under that pressure he was was begging his generals to do something and so this plan was hatched. It was a picture of how the first few years of the war would go for the North. Lincoln begging his generals to fight. And they either didn't listen or did it badly, and Lincoln focred to make changes in the command structure to get what he wanted.

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Henry Hill

McDowell's 'victory' was not won yet, not so long as those Rebels stayed put on Henry Hill, and now he concentrated on driving them from it. Shortly after 1:30 his line was stable enough to start the push across Youngs Branch. The brigades of William Sherman and Andrew Porter formed the line. With them were two batteries of artillery commanded by Charles Griffin and J.B. Ricketts. Hunter had been wounded early and was out of action, but Heintzelman's division was arriving and starting to go into position on the right of Hunter's line, now commanded by Porter. At last the numerical advantage on this part of the field was starting to become manifest. Surely the Rebels could not resist a concerted onslaught by this gathering host.

On the far side of Henry Hill, the remnants of Evan's and Bee's and Bartow's commands took refuge. However, they had bought time for reinforcements to arrive, and now fresh troops started coming. First came Wade Hampton and the infantry of the South Carolina Legion - a unit if infantry, cavalry and artillery all in one. He went into line on the right of the Confederate front, his men still panting from having just arrived from Richmond and run to the front, and from the Warrenton pike to cover withdrawal of the Confederates across Youngs Branch.

Then came Jackson. He had his men up at 4 a.m. that morning, expecting to go reinforce Longstreet at Blackburn's Ford. But then later in the morning he heard the firing off to his left at the stone bridge. Like Bee and Bartow before him, he did not wait for orders, but assuming the battle to be there, he instantly put his brigade in motion.* By about 11:30 he approached the scene of action and moved up the back slope of Henry Hill. Once on the crest, he put his five Virginia regiments in line just behind the summit, informed Bee of his arrival, and told his men to lie down and await either the attack of the enemy of instructions from Johnston.

Here a legend was born. Bee rode to Jackson when he heard of his arrival.

"General," he cried, "they are beating us back."

"Well, then sir, we'll give them the bayonet," Jackson calmly replied.

Bee seems to have regarded the bayonet comment as an order - though he and Jackson held equal rank and seniority - and so he rode back to his command. The confusion was pervasive. A mere captain commanded the Fourth Alabama now, yet no one could find him at the moment. Disoriented, Bee did not even recognize some of his own men at first. "This is all of my brigade I can find - will you follow me back to where firing is going on?" They all said they would, and he led them back into the inferno. But before doing so, he almost certainly said something else, but none present ever agreed on precisely what it was. A few days later a newspaperman said he was told that Bee cried out, "Look! There is Jackson with his Virginians, standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer." A few days more, and people in Richmond spoke of Jackson's men being so staunch under fire that "they are called a stone wall."

Thus was born "Stonewall" Jackson.

Yet no one knows for certain what Bee said, or what he meant exactly. The remark seems like testimony to Jackson's firmness under fire, yet at the time Bee said it, Jackson had not yet become engaged and had his men lying down behind the crest. Others thought it might not be a compliment at all, but rather a snide comment to the effect that while Bee's men were being mauled, Jackson kept his command out of the fight, immovable like a stone wall. Whatever the case, Jackson would be "Stonewall" for the rest of time. Likewise, long after he had been promoted, the five Virginia regiments he commanded that day were forever the "Stonewall" brigade.

Bee rallied his men and led them in a bayonet charge toward Griffin's and Rickett's batteries. They came under a terrible fire, and then Bee plunged from his horse, mortally wounded. Only minutes later, on another part of the field, Bartow fell with a bullet in his breast. "They have killed me, boys," he cried. In minutes he was dead.

It was about 12:30 when Johnston and Beauregard arrived on Henry Hill to survey the situation in person. Johnston himself took command of a part of the now leaderless and shocked Fourth Alabama and led it to the right of Jackson's line on Henry Hill. Now some of the scattered and confused men of Evan's shattered command began to reform around the nucleus of Jackson, and within minutes the Confederate line grew and strengthened in numbers and resolve, thought still heavily outnumbered by the enemy.

Had the Yankees pushed their advance vigorously once Heintzelman arrived, they probably could have walked over Henry Hill, Jackson included. By waiting too long, they gave the Confederates time, and now it would cost them.

Now Johnston left Beauregard at the front and himself rode back to the rear to find more reinforcements and channel them toward the scene of fighting. Rapidly more men came, first the odd ex-governor of Virginia, William Smith, called "Extra Billy" thanks to his predilection for adding "extra" items to state appropriations. He brought three companies of the 49th Virginia, along with portions of other commands that he found along the way, men not afraid to follow him even though he held a parasol over his head while riding, to ward off the sun. As Smith and other went into line, the Henry Hill line was almost complete, but barely more than 3,000 strong. The timing could not have been better, for now at last the Yankee attack appeared to be renewing, as two batteries rolled down across Youngs Branch and moved up the slope of Henry Hill, preparing to soften the Confederate line prior to an infantry assault.

Map - Situation 2 pm

*ASIDE - just a personal pet peeve of mine, but many civil war authors/historian like to enlarge the heroics of their subject with a variant of the idiom "Do not wait for orders from headquarters. March to the sound of the guns.", as if it were some rare form of aggressive audacity. In point of fact, this maxim comes from Jomini, and Halleck's interpretation of Jominian tactics had dominated West Point for decades. IOW, every mid-century graduate of the military academy had this battlefield tactic ingrained in them. The fog of war, as well as the literal blanket of smoke that covers black powder battlefields, limitations in communications, the inherent advantages of acting decisively - all these dictated commanders at every level should, whenever in doubt, "march to the sound of the battle."

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The battle for the guns on Henry Hill

It was a foolish move for McDowell to make, for he sent the artillery forward with no infantry support. The cannoneers were isolated, alone, but unlimbered their guns and opened fire, initially concentrating on Confederates near the house of the widow Judith Henry atop the hill. She had refused to leave her home, and one of the first shots from the cannon almost severed one of her feet. She lay dying for the rest of the day, and afterward her son threw himself down on the ground outside the house crying, "They've killed my mother."

The Union artillery then dueled with Confederate batteries less than 300 yards away for nearly an hour as McDowell continued to take his time, all the while squandering his early advantage. Then at last, instead of sending his whole line forward, and taking advantage of his strength, he made the mistake that generals would commit again and again throughout the entire war. He sent forward only one regiment at a time.

First in were the colorful Eleventh New York "Fire Zouaves." As they came abreast of the two batteries, Jackson's line on the hill arose and sent a withering volley into them. Volley after volley crashed into them, and they finally fell back, leaving the cannon unprotected.

Just now, Jeb Stuart's Virginia cavalrymen came on the scene, putting the retreating zouaves to rout on the Sudley Road. Then one of Jackson's regiments rushed forward. It was the Thirty-third Virginia, men who happened to be wearing non-descript uniforms of varying colors. They rushed toward the guns, and Griffin at first delayed firing on them, warned by his superiors that they might be fellow Federals. They discovered too late their mistake. The Virginians cut down more than fifty of their battery horses, making it impossible to get the guns away, and captured two fine cannon as the artillerymen scurried away for their lives. Seeing this success, Jackson ordered his whole line forward to clear the hill of Yankees, taking the other nine guns of Griffin's and Rickett's batteries. At last the Confederates could sense that they had a chance of gaining the upper hand on a day when at first it looked to be going all for McDowell.

Beauregard ordered a general attack, and as his line swept forward, the little general cried, "The day is ours! The day is ours!" In fact, the outcome was still very much open to whichever side took best advantage of its opportunities. McDowell stopped the Confederate advance, regrouped his line, and then started sending in additional attacks of his own, though each time repeating the mistake of making them piecemeal rather than an overwhelming force. Still, more regiments were constantly arriving from Sudley Ford crossing, and each went into line on the Federal right, gradually extending it below Henry Hill. In time the Federals would be able simply to overlap the Confederate line and force Beauregard to withdraw for fear of being surrounded or cutoff from Manassas Junction.

For the next two hours the battle seesawed back and forth with casualties mounting and no clear indication of who was going to win. Time after time the lost cannon of Griffin and Ricketts were retaken by the Federals, then captured again by the Confederates, each time before the guns could be manhandled to the rear by the other side. And now, regardless of what Bee meant with the Stonewall remark, Jackson proved indeed to be an immovable object. When Sherman came into the Yankee line he sent an attack up Henry Hill and slammed into the Virginians and was stopped cold. Once more confusion over uniforms caused hesitation, for Sherman's Second Wisconsin wore gray, and Jackson's men at first were reluctant to fire on them, while fellow Yankees did shoot at them, thinking them to be Rebels. Eventually, however, the Confederates beat Sherman back.

Then Sherman sent in the Seventy-ninth New York, called the Highlanders thanks to their plaid pants and tartans. Jackson was ready for them. "The first fire swept our ranks like a quick darting pestilence," said one of the Yankees. Colonel James Cameron, brother of Lincoln's secretary of war, Simon Cameron, fell mortally wounded early in the assault. Then many of the men mistook the Confederate flag - red, white and blue - hanging limply on a staff, for the stars and stripes. They held their fire thinking that Jackson might be on their side. The delay proved fatal. And as Confederate fire drove them back in confusion, the Sixty-ninth New York - to be called the "fighting Sixty-ninth" - just coming up, encountered the same wall of lead.

Each time one of these regiments fell back, it jumbled the main Federal line as the fleeing attackers passed through. Sometimes men did not stop on the command to regroup but simply kept running in near-panic. Henitzelman tried to stop them, but then he went out of the battle with a painful wound. Indeed, so many officers were falling that there was no one for some of the men to turn to, and so they simply wandered back toward Sudley Ford, getting in the way of reinforcements still on the road, and spreading stories of the battle not going well for them.

Map - Situation 4 pm

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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?

Found this today while reviewing E.P. Alexander's memoir, Fighting for the Confederacy

A day or so before the Federals actually started we knew they were about to come. Their general preparations could not be concealed & we had many friends in & near Wash. City & Alexandria to send us word. More than one lady made more or less newspaper reputation by coming in from the country between our two lines to tell Gen. Beauregard what she knew about the enemy's movements, but I don't think any information received in that way cut any figure.

BTW, Porter Alexander's writings were some of the most astute, articulate and even handed accounts penned by any participant on either side. Well worth reading; still in print, and for good reason. Edited by BobbyLayne

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The Spectators, Part One

Meanwhile, as the battle of Bull Run that BobbyLayne is describing was going on, a scene unrivaled in warfare was taking place a short ways away:

Washington rumbled with an excitement rarely matched in the capital's history. For months, the 19th-century equivalent of CNN had churned out news and speculation at a feverish pitch. Now, the day of the big battle had finally arrived. It was Sunday–the week's only leisure day–and throughout the city, newspapermen, politicians, and common folk hunted up carriages for a trip to the front. Talk of the battle was everywhere, and many of the curious meant to see of it what they could. The sun rose over clots of civilian wagons heading westward out of the city, taking their passengers to witness what would surely be an unsparing, unequivocal Union victory.

Intending only to watch from the sidelines as history was made, these noncombatants were about to become part of the history and lore of the First Battle of Bull Run–part of an enduring legend that puts civilians at the center of some of the most chaotic moments in that first major battle of the war, regardless of what actually happened.

Only a handful of civilians were in Centreville early enough to watch the army march. Their numbers would swell by the hour to perhaps several hundred, and would include some of America's luminaries: Congressman Elihu Washburne of Illinois, later Ulysses S. Grant's sponsor; Senator Jim Lane of Kansas; future Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax of Indiana; Radical Republican Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts; Senator Benjamin F. Bluff Ben Wade, who would be the spiritual leader of the radical Committee on the Conduct of the War; and a handful more. Despite their lofty positions, few of them had any concept of the day's battle plan as laid out by the Union army commander, Brigadier General Irvin McDowell. Once the army started to march, the civilian dignitaries, like the Confederates, would have to guess what would happen next.

There was, however, one civilian with special access to the army and its plans that day: Rhode Island's 31-year old governor, William Sprague. Sprague was rich, cultured, ambitious, and eligible (he would later marry Washington's foremost belle, Kate Chase, daughter of the treasury secretary). The governor took seriously his titular post as commander of the Rhode Island State Militia; he would attach himself this day to the brigade commanded by Colonel Ambrose E. Burnside.

The two Rhode Island regiments in Burnside's brigade would lead the day's featured Yankee movement: an arching march north and west to cross Bull Run creek above the Confederate left flank and the Stone Bridge, where the Warrenton Turnpike crossed the creek, almost five miles west of Centreville. Sprague had no intention of merely looking over his favorite general's shoulder. Instead, he rode at the head of the column with Burnside, spurring forward occasionally to reconnoiter, and ultimately directing his constituents into tumultuous musketry fire on Matthew's Hill, just north of the turnpike. Governor Sprague was foremost in the fight and inspired the men with coolness and courage, wrote one Rhode Islander. The governor had two horses shot from under him–probably the only sitting governor in American history to suffer that distinction.

I want to stop here and comment on these spectators before I continue. There is something really astonishing about a crowd of people heading to the site of a battle, hoping to watch what would happen. It's important to note that there were no organized sports in 1861; baseball was about 15 years away from becoming popular. Military heroes had the same cache that athletes and celebrities do today. Obviously, larger questions arise here, such as do men need some sort of violent activitity to witness? If they had pro football back then, would they have been quite as eager to go to war?

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The Spectators, Part Two

Sprague and his Rhode Islanders prevailed that morning on Matthew's Hill, driving the Confederates away in haste just as McDowell had envisioned. Of all this, however, the distant and growing pods of civilians near Centreville knew little.

Throughout the morning and early afternoon, steady streams of would-be spectators found their way to the heights at Centreville, fully five miles from the battlefield. They came in all manner of ways, wrote a Union officer, some in stylish carriages, others in city hacks, and still others in buggies, on horseback, or even on foot. Apparently everything in the shape of vehicles in and around Washington had been pressed into service for the occasion.

Shortly after 1:00 p.m., the most famous news correspondent on the field, William H. Russell of the London Times, crested the Centreville ridge. Russell recalled the slopes were covered with men, carts, and horses while spectators crowned the summit. To the west, a vast panorama lay before the audience: forest and field against the backdrop of the Bull Run Mountains, 15 miles distant. The civilian horde looked intently into the scene, but could divine little. Congressman Alfred Ely of New York, who had also just arrived, noted that the thick woods hid from our view all the troops, although the smoke of the battle was plainly seen, and the deep-throated roar of the artillery distinctly heard. Russell scanned the supposed battlefield intently with his glass, but, as he wrote in what would be the most famous recounting of the Bull Run disaster, "I failed to discover any traces of close encounter or very severe fighting."

For most civilians present that day, the experience was less a visual feast than a forum for wanton speculation. Russell noted that they were all excited, especially one woman with an opera glass. She was quite beside herself when a louder-than-usual volley echoed from the distant battlefield. "That is splendid", she exclaimed. "Oh my! Is that not first-rate? I guess we will be in Richmond this time tomorrow."

A handful of soldiers made their way among the spectators, offering commentary and interpretation of the unseen battle beyond Bull Run. At one point, the crowd stood rapt when an officer galloped up the Warrenton Turnpike from the direction of the battlefield (credentials enough, apparently, for the spectators to assume his word reliable). He waved his cap and conveyed stunning news: "We've whipped them at all points. We have taken their batteries. They are retreating as fast as they can, and we are after them."

"The crowd atop the hill loosed a cheer that rent the welkin," said Russell. Congressmen shook hands. "Bully for us! Bravo! Didn't I tell you so?" they exclaimed. To those perched safely on the heights of Centreville, it seemed the battle could not be going better.

For curious reporters and congressmen–many determined to record rather than speculate on the proceedings–the view from Centreville was simply not enough, so several ventured closer to get a better look. Without much idea of how the battle would unfold, many headed south toward Blackburn's Ford, along Centreville-Manassas Road, where a preliminary fight had raged on July 18. On a ridge about a mile southeast of Centreville, Captain John Tidball had positioned his battery that morning–part of the force calculated to keep the Confederates' attention away from the Union flanking column to the north. Tidball watched with some amusement as civilians thronged to his position, hoping to see or learn something momentous.

All manner of people were represented in this crowd, from the most grave and noble senators to hotel waiters, wrote Tidball. (Tidball noted tellingly, however, that he saw none of the other sex there, except a few huxter women who had driven out in carts loaded with pies and other edibles.) They pulled up with their carriages much as we do to a Saturday morning soccer game–strewing their vehicles along the roadsides. Once the shoulders of the road filled, the drivers pulled into the fields behind the battery, hitching their horses to bushes. All of them made a beeline to Tidball's battery. "I was plied with questions innumerably," sighed the captain.

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I'll finish up my description of the battle shortly; in the meantime, here is a 10-11 minute clip from Gods and Generals depicting Jackson (Stephen Lang, who played Gen. Pickett in Gettysburg, and more recently, Colonel Quaritch in Avatar).

First Manassas scene

Note that Jackson is wearing a federal uniform. In fact, its pretty confusing who is on which side during those scenes - which is in fact quite accurate. Awful, horrible, unwatchable movie, but give Ron Maxwell credit for accomplishing one thing - the movie is a stickler for getting the small details correct.

Aside - I met Stephen Lang at the 140th re-enactment of Antietam. Great guy, and a very knowledgeable civil war bore.

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Yet no one knows for certain what Bee said, or what he meant exactly. The remark seems like testimony to Jackson's firmness under fire, yet at the time Bee said it, Jackson had not yet become engaged and had his men lying down behind the crest. Others thought it might not be a compliment at all, but rather a snide comment to the effect that while Bee's men were being mauled, Jackson kept his command out of the fight, immovable like a stone wall. Whatever the case, Jackson would be "Stonewall" for the rest of time. Likewise, long after he had been promoted, the five Virginia regiments he commanded that day were forever the "Stonewall" brigade.

Bee rallied his men and led them in a bayonet charge toward Griffin's and Rickett's batteries. They came under a terrible fire, and then Bee plunged from his horse, mortally wounded.

So, if Bee survives the day and was disparaging Jackson, what happens? Maybe the name Stonewall sticks and it isn't a compliment, despite how the rest of the battle goes. :shrug:

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The Spectators, Part 3

Tidball spent as much time providing commentary as he did commanding his battery that day. Situated as he was on a secondary front far from the fighting, however, he could do nothing to satisfy his visitors. Most of the sightseers were evidently disappointed at what they saw, or rather did not see, recorded Tidball. They no doubt expected to see a battle as represented in the pictures.

The most distinguished of Tidball's visitors was the troika of Senators Wilson, Wade, and Lane. Tidball recorded that all three were full of the 'on to Richmond' fever–impatient to see more of the battle than Tidball's overlook offered. Lane, a Mexican War veteran, was particularly intent, declaring that he must have a hand in it [the battle] himself. When someone pointed out that he lacked a gun, he retorted, "I can easily find a musket on the field." Lane led the trio on foot across the fields toward the Warrenton Turnpike, where a close encounter with battle (a victorious one, of course) seemed more likely.

Wilson, Wade, and Lane would indeed find a better vantage point–the best available to any of the Manassas spectators, and one available to only a select few. The senators' cross-country trek would bring them to the Warrenton Turnpike at a spot about a mile east of the more-famous-by-the-minute Stone Bridge over Bull Run. There, a ridge overlooking the bridge and stream afforded the best view to be had of the battlefield, short of being in the midst of it. Beyond the bridge, variable crescendos of musketry and artillery fire rolled across the landscape; white smoke rose over the distant battlefield; and occasionally, a skittering line of battle was seen between the white billows.

During the battle's early hours, only a small knot of civilians had managed to get to this place: a half-dozen reporters, the aspiring politico Taylor, the prominent Ohio judge Daniel McCook, and one of his sons. (McCook was scion of perhaps the Civil War's most militaristic family; 16 of his kin would serve.) As word of the Union's morning successes filtered back to Centreville, however, more civilians, like the senatorial triumvirate of Lane, Wade, and Wilson, trickled onto the ridge. Those who got to the overlook (which is today a huge quarry, hundreds of feet deep) were generally the well-connected and the literate: a half-dozen senators, a dozen representatives, and sundry other scribes and voyeurs, probably not more than 50 in all. Although these lucky few were but a fraction of the probably 500 civilians who ventured forth that Sunday to watch the battle, these were the men who would write of their experiences and thereby convey as typical an experience that properly belonged to only a few.

Most of these civilians arrived at the overlook fired by good news and optimism. Judge McCook had been there all day with his son Edwin, his carriage parked only a few hundred yards behind the battle line of the 2d Ohio, in which another of his sons, Charles, toiled as an officer. While the intensity of events beyond the stream rose during the day, the mood at McCook's outpost was relaxed–so much so that he invited his officer–son Charles to leave his regiment and lunch with him.

By 4:00 p.m. the politicians had lost most of their inhibitions about involving themselves with military affairs. Congressman Washburne, who was present on the ridge, even took it upon himself to reconnoiter for Colonel Robert C. Schenck's Ohio brigade at the bridge. Washburne spotted the enemy, then beseeched Schenck to take a look himself.

At the Stone Bridge–now in Union hands–New York Herald correspondent Henry Villard frantically asked directions to McDowell's headquarters. No one could tell him, and the journalist watched in some puzzlement as the tide of blue-clad refugees along the Warrenton Turnpike grew. After 20 minutes, Villard spotted a familiar staff officer, and repeated his query for McDowell. "You won't find him," came the shocking response. The officer continued, his voice frantic and his eyes filled with panic:

All is chaos in front. The battle is lost. Our troops are giving way and falling back without orders. Get back to Centreville!

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My source for the story of "The Spectators" is an article by John J. Hennessy originally published in the August 2001 issue of Civil War Times Magazine. The title of the article was "War Watchers at Bull Run During America's Civil War." I have slightly edited the article, adding a few thoughts and further details, as I do with my other sources.

It really is a compelling and fascinating story- almost rivaling the story of the battle itself. I will relate the second half of it after BL finishes the battle. But try to imagine it: you're a civilian having wandered into a battlefield, expecting to see a military victory, when suddenly you encounter the soldiers on your side fleeing from the scene, shouting "We're whipped!" What would you do? If your answer is run like hell, then you have a sense of what happened, at least to some of the people there.

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I'll finish up my description of the battle shortly; in the meantime, here is a 10-11 minute clip from Gods and Generals depicting Jackson (Stephen Lang, who played Gen. Pickett in Gettysburg, and more recently, Colonel Quaritch in Avatar).

First Manassas scene

Note that Jackson is wearing a federal uniform. In fact, its pretty confusing who is on which side during those scenes - which is in fact quite accurate. Awful, horrible, unwatchable movie, but give Ron Maxwell credit for accomplishing one thing - the movie is a stickler for getting the small details correct.

Aside - I met Stephen Lang at the 140th re-enactment of Antietam. Great guy, and a very knowledgeable civil war bore.

I don't know why people hated that movie so much. Yes it wasn't nearly as good as Gettysburgh but I thought it was a very well done story and what you compliment it on is important - the detail is pretty damn accurate and amazing.

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I'll finish up my description of the battle shortly; in the meantime, here is a 10-11 minute clip from Gods and Generals depicting Jackson (Stephen Lang, who played Gen. Pickett in Gettysburg, and more recently, Colonel Quaritch in Avatar).

First Manassas scene

Note that Jackson is wearing a federal uniform. In fact, its pretty confusing who is on which side during those scenes - which is in fact quite accurate. Awful, horrible, unwatchable movie, but give Ron Maxwell credit for accomplishing one thing - the movie is a stickler for getting the small details correct.

Aside - I met Stephen Lang at the 140th re-enactment of Antietam. Great guy, and a very knowledgeable civil war bore.

I don't know why people hated that movie so much. Yes it wasn't nearly as good as Gettysburgh but I thought it was a very well done story and what you compliment it on is important - the detail is pretty damn accurate and amazing.
Lots of lengthy verbatim speechs by various characters gave it a bloated, turgid feel. I enjoyed it, but thats because I am intimately familiar with the events and people. I can't imagine the average person lacking a base knowledge of the ACW finding it entertaining.

That said, it really is a remarkable movie for uncanny accuracy.

Gettysburg feels crisp by comparison because you have several converging plot lines - the broken friendship of Armistead and Hancock, citizen-soldier Chamberlain, the reluctant Longstreet, high-spirited Pickett. The real star is of course the battle itself, but what makes it fun is interesting characters like Sam Sheppard's portrayal of cavalryman John Buford. The problem with G&G is they were so concerned with period details and literal interpretation they forgot to make it interesting.

Regardless, I have to think its going to be a long, long time (if ever) before we see tens of thousands of re-enactors come together for a film project again. Now they would just use CGI. I've talked to guys who worked on both films as extras, and it was a pretty awesome experience.

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I will relate the second half of it after BL finishes the battle.

Sorry to hold things up...work, baby, etc...will try to prepare stuff ahead of time going forward for other battles so it doesn't take quite as long.

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About Gettysburg: I had an opportunity to visit two year's ago, spent two days there.

Before I went, I researched what I was going to see to try to get an understanding of why the battle hinged on Pickett's charge and, more importantly, why that battle tactic was adopted.

I stumbled on the key to the battle before I went and was able to read this entire book to put it into context:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0PB...84/ai_n6124056/

In summation, a flanking maneuver by the South Calvery was thwarted by the North Calvery (Stuart was stopped by Custer in a masterful battlefield maneuver). Stewart was set on a flanking operation in the early AM and was supposed to attack from the rear after the cannon birage. Custer's men were hidden in the woods and an adacious Calvery charge, initiated and led by Custer, stopped their advance.

I went to the site of the movie that Gods and Generals portrays and got the vibes from that topography....it's a place of honor. I sought out the backwoods where Stuart met Custer and was not able to say that I actually found it as it's not a recognized tourist spot.

I was fortunate to discover the answer to my question: why would all those guys march across that field....into canister and ball and then rifle fire? And, I was fortunate to find the answer before I visited.

If Gettysburg was instrumental in determining the course of the War, Custer was instrumental in determining the outcome of the battle.

:yes:

Edited by Toads

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Henry Hill (concluded)

Map - situation 5 p.m.

The final Union brigade to arrive at this point was Colonel Oliver O. Howard's. They had already marched ten miles or more that day in the heat and gathering dust, all the time hearing the growing din of battle ahead of them. Then they encountered the stragglers, and meanwhile Howard had not had the sense to allow the men to leave behind their heavy field packs. By the time they cross Sudley Ford and approached the right of the Yankee battle line, perhaps a fourth of some of his regiments had dropped out from exhaustion.

At 4 p.m. Howard came on the field and was told to go to the right flank. He put his brigade in line, dressed the ranks, and ordered the first line forward. The fire from Elzey's line withered them, and as they began falling back, Howard sent forward his second line. It, too, was repulsed, and an alarming number of men ran for the rear in panic until they got out of the fire. Meanwhile, over on the Confederate right, Keyes, too, had been handily repulsed, with the result that both Southern flanks were fairly secure, while the Federal line became increasingly shaky.

More and more of the once distant Confederate brigades were being forwarded by Johnston. Bonham's regiments now came into line on the extreme left, and then at the most fortuitous possible moment, Bonham's men saw yet more troops coming their way from the rear. Kirby Smith had literally just jumped off the train from the Shenandoah and was bringing his regiments straight to the most vital part of the line after a grueling six-mile march from the depot. Along the way Smith encountered Johnston, whose only order was to "go where the fire is hottest". Smith rushed forward through the stragglers and the wounded and about 4 p.m. took his place in line, just in time for Smith to fall with a wound before he actually got into the fight.

Just then Beauregard had been in something of a panic. Around noon E.P. Alexander had ridden over from his signal station on Wilcoxen's Hill and pointed towards pillars of smoke rising low in the southwest - clouds of dust obviously raised by thousands of troops rushing to the front. By 4 p.m., off in the distance to the rear, he spotted through his binoculars a column of marching soldiers. It could be more reinforcements sent by Johnston. But it might also be a Federal column, perhaps even Patterson's army from the Shenandoah for all he knew.

At the moment, barely holding his own against McDowell, he knew he could not withstand new assaults from a whole fresh enemy army. Tense minutes followed as Beauregard kept looking at the cloud, trying to make out flags. When the head of the group was perhaps a mile distant, he could see a flag, but it draped limply about its staff, unrecognizable. Then a blessed gust of wind unfurled the folds of the flag and Beauregard could see it was not the National stars and stripes, but the Confederate stars and bars. It was Jubal Early's brigade, arriving at precisely the right time and place.

Elzey assumed command of Smith's brigade and took it through a wood to emerge with a wonderful view of Howard's now-exhausted Federals directly before him. At once he ordered a charge. "Give it to them, boys!" he shouted. The Rebels rushed forward as the terrified and demoralized Federals withdrew before them. By the time Elzey finished his charge, Howard and his men were nowhere to be seen. Beauregard rode up to congratulate Elzey, yet neither appreciated yet just what had happened. Howard's retreat signaled the beginning of the breakup of McDowell's army.

Together, Early and Elzey pivoted to hit the exposed Federal right flank, while Stuart placed his cavalry on their extreme left and joined the push. The Yankees fell back before them almost without resistance, and when Early crested a small rise he could see thousands of them fleeing in panic beyond the Warrenton turnpike. "We scared the enemy worse than we hurt him," Early recalled, but the effect was just as decisive.

Howard himself confessed that "it was evident that a panic had seized all the troops in sight." Men ran in abject terror yelling, "The enemy is upon us! We shall be taken!" Howard and other officers frantically (and futilely) rode along the lines and among the panicked groups trying to halt them. It was no use.

Seeing what was happening, Beauregard seized the moment and ordered a charge by his whole battle line.

timschochet - sorry to bail, but you'll have to wrap up the narrative with the story of the rout, and the pursuit by the Black Horse cavalry that caused the great panic at the lone bridge over Cub Run.

We're off to see the parade in Chinatown, and then a couple days of family dinners to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Will be back Sunday night or Monday morning.

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...

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0PB...84/ai_n6124056/

I sought out the backwoods where Stuart met Custer and was not able to say that I actually found it as it's not a recognized tourist spot.

...

East Cavalry Field

It's about three miles from the GMP, well worth the trip.

As for the conjecture and theory of just what Lee thought Stuart could accomplish, it would have been consistent with Napoleon's use of heavy cavalry...but those tactics were outdated with the advent of the rifle, and Lee never used his troopers to finish off a foe (technology had rendered the tactic suicidal).

But we'll save that discussion for later - we'll get there in due time. What is interesting about bringing it up at this point, though, is Stuart did impact the rout at Bull Run - a battle that was fought largely with smoothbore muskets being the dominant small arms weapon on both sides.

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1st Bull Run, Monday morning quarterbacking

Casualty totals

Confederate - 387 killed, 1,582 wounded, 35 missing

Union - 460 killed, 1,124 wounded, 1,312 missing

A curious thing about McDowell's enterprise at Bull Run is that one may fairly say that it was foreordained to failure, and yet conclude that it came within inches of success. Wholly untrained in the higher branches of the military art, he was compelled, by the force of circumstances, to operate with an army that was entirely unfit for active campaigning; but he had an opponent no better than himself, and the chief difference between two armies that both lacked the distinctive qualities of a field force resolved itself into that which lay between the disadvantage of the offensive and the benefit of the defensive.

In some ways McDowell did better than his critics have allowed. To move such an army at all, to get it concentrated at Centreville, to throw a wing of 17,000 men over Bull Run, meant much hard work and hard driving. And yet, as we have seen, all this fell entirely short of what was needed for success. Rapidity of action was essential, and at no moment, at no point, did McDowell show any tendency of the sort - rather the contrary.

It is perhaps fairer to emphasize that McDowell had had no training or experience in the difficult art of generalship, than to say that he displayed no sign of possessing military qualities. It was certainly not easy for a junior officer in a military service that gave neither practical nor theoretical training to its higher ranks, when suddenly promoted to the command of an army to assume all the superiority and decision, to display all the science, that such a function demands. It is not surprising that he took too much advice, and deferred too much to the views of subordinates whose judgments, on the whole, do not appear to have been as good as his own.

In bringing his troops into contact with the enemy McDowell showed little tactical sense. His order of the 20th of July showed gross inability to handle marching arrangements. But he did better than his opponents in utilizing a considerable part of his forces for delivering his blow. His employment both of his guns and of his infantry was far from good. Griffin's and Ricketts' batteries were recklessly exposed; his infantry brigades were allowed to become mere supports for the artillery, and to go into action as strings of regiments employed one at a time. For these failings, the configuration of the ground, the superior tactics of the Confederates, the general lack of ability of McDowell's subordinates, the want of a proper system of command, and the general ignorance of staff work, were in part responsible.

Several of the Federal commanders ascribed their ill success to what they believed to be the inferiority of their musketry. Thus Franklin says : "It is my firm belief that a great deal of the misfortune of the day at Bull Run is due to the fact that the troops knew very little of the principles and practice of firing. In every case I believe that the firing of the rebels was better than ours."

The truth appears to be this. The Federal infantry as it advanced was too carefully nursed by its officers; as soon as it reached the fire zone it was ordered to lie down and keep covered while the artillery did the work. So long as the artillery was successful in breaking down resistance the plan succeeded, but when the infantry was called on - after the hard day's work and much lying out of sight of the enemy in the sun - to advance into the open, firing at the enemy's line at short range, it jibbed away, fired wildly, and eventually broke.

Far more important than this was the complete and miserable failure of the regimental officers. Quite one half of McDowell's regiments were good stuff so far as the men went; all they needed was to be led and commanded. McDowell himself relates that on the field disorganized bodies of soldiers called to him asking to be led. Colonel Biddle, speaking of the volunteers after their return to camp, says: "They had a perfect dread of going into battle with their officers, and they wanted to go back and enter into new organizations.''

If the regimental officers were for the most part worse than useless, the field and staff officers were not much better, though in a different way. The West-Pointers were fearless enough, and fit to lead any troops into battle; but they had no more knowledge of the art of high command than the regimental officers had of the art of company leading. This subject has already been dealt with. Suffice it to say that on the field the confusion of orders and of organization was almost complete. Everybody gave orders, and nobody gave orders. McDowell's staff in large part disintegrated. No one knew what to do, where to find headquarters. At the moment when the attack on the Henry house plateau began, Averell says: "this feeling was uppermost: want of orders." Later, even civilians like Governor Sprague took it on themselves to order troops about.

It was the rout of the army back to Centreville and Washington that attracted most attention at the time. On the whole that was a mere incident of a not abnormal character when all the facts of the case are considered. That rout really began when, on the advance, the columns were kept standing long hours in the sun and the officers proved unable to prevent their men from going off into the woods after blackberries; or when the Pennsylvania and New York troops were allowed shamefully to abandon the army, with hardly a word of reproof, at the moment of battle; or even when Lincoln proclaimed that only the common soldier could be trusted and his officer was a leader not entitled to confidence.

The rout at Stone Bridge was good newspaper copy, and little more.

It should be added that McDowell showed his even, steady, bravery, in that disheartening hour. He continued to do all that was in him to the bitter end. At Young's Branch, at Centreville, and again at Fairfax Court House, he did his best to turn the stream of fugitives, he continued to take every measure he could to fulfil his duty as a soldier; from that high and honorable standard he never for a moment wavered. And his report is on the whole a straightforward and honest confession of failure, very little colored or distorted in an endeavor to evade responsibility.

On the Southern side the superiority of Johnston's corps in leadership, organization, and mobility stands out conspicuously. Bee got much out of his troops. Jackson showed the highest tactical ability, and great firmness of character, in the way he chose his position and handled his infantry and guns together on the Henry house plateau; he earned and he deserved the honors of the day. Johnston himself showed too much diffidence till about twelve o'clock, and it was not till about 2.30 or 3 P.M. that he really assumed control of operations. He displayed courage and at times judgment. Yet on the whole his conduct in the battle was far less creditable to him than the degree of organization and fighting quality he had succeeded in imparting to his little army, and the way in which he brought it from the Valley to Manassas.

Beauregard's errors, and his lack of the logic, system, and clearness of vision which are called for in the higher command of armies, have already been sufficiently emphasized. It is doubtful whether he did any one single thing that helped to bring success to the Confederate arms on the 21st of July, while his blunders would require a lengthy enumeration.

The defensive was assuredly a great advantage to the Confederate commanders. When their turn came to take the offensive on the Henry hill, -- and they timed the moment skilfully, -- their opponents were spent. Beauregard's orders and staff work certainly give one the impression that a Confederate offensive towards Centreville would probably have been marked by even less cohesion than McDowell's movement was. For although the Federal general failed to keep his brigades marching by the left after they passed Sudley Spring, he did at all events keep them together and strike a concerted blow. The movements of Ewell, Jones, and Longstreet do not suggest that Beauregard could have done as much.

Johnston himself wrote as follows:

"A large proportion of it [beauregard's army] was not engaged in the battle. This was a great fault on my part. When Bee's and Jackson's brigades were ordered to the vicinity of the Stone Bridge, those of Holmes and Early should have been moved to the left also, and placed in the interval on Bonham's left--if not then, certainly at nine o'clock, when a Federal column was seen turning our left: and, when it seemed certain that General McDowell's great effort was to be made there. Bonham's, Longstreet's, Jones', and Ewell's brigades, leaving a few regiments and their cavalry to impose on Miles' division, should have been hurried to the left to join in the battle. If the tactics of the Federals had been equal to their strategy we should have been beaten. If, instead of being brought into action in detail, their troops had been formed in two lines with a proper reserve, and had assailed Bee and Jackson in that order, the two Southern brigades must have been swept from the field in a few minutes, or enveloped. General McDowell would have made such a formation, probably, had he not greatly underestimated the strength of his enemy."

The subsequent action of the Confederate authorities contains an official verdict on the generals. J. E. Johnston was left in charge of the main Confederate army at Manassas. Jackson was promoted to an independent command in the Shenandoah; while Beauregard was sent out West and placed under A. S. Johnston, with whom in the following year he fought the battle of Shiloh against Grant.

At Washington the scenes that followed the battle were disheartening for the Federal cause. The city openly avowed its satisfaction at the Confederate victory. The volunteers showed up badly after their defeat. Discipline was at an end; drunkenness and disorder of the worst kind reigned supreme. The gravest anxiety prevailed, and a change of commanders was decided on that brought McClellan to Washington. Whether McClellan was any better than McDowell may be doubted, but at all events from that moment it was recognized by the Administration that the military problem was one for experts, and could not be solved by a handful of improperly organized three months' volunteers.

First Bull Run was a clash between relatively large, ill-trained bodies of recruits, led by inexperienced officers. Neither army commander was able to deploy his forces effectively, only 18,000 men from each side were actually engaged. Although McDowell had been active on the battlefield, he had expended most of his energy maneuvering nearby regiments and brigades, instead of controlling and coordinating the movements of his army as a whole. Other factors contributed to McDowell’s defeat: Patterson’s failure to hold Johnston in the valley; McDowell’s two-day delay at Centreville; allowing Tyler’s division to lead the march on 21 July thus delaying the flanking divisions of Hunter and Heintzelman; and the 2 1/2-hour delay after the Union victory on Matthews’ Hill, which allowed the Confederates to bring up reinforcements and establish a defensive position on Henry Hill.

On Henry Hill Beauregard had also limited his control to the regimental level, generally allowing the battle to continue on its own and only reacting to Union moves. Johnston’s decision to transport his infantry to the battlefield by rail played a major role in the Confederate victory. Although the trains were slow and a lack of sufficient cars did not allow the transport of large numbers of troops at one time, almost all of his army arrived in time to participate in the battle. After reaching Manassas Junction, Johnston had relinquished command of the battlefield to Beauregard, but his forwarding of reinforcements to the scene of fighting was decisive.

Compared to later battles, casualties at First Bull Run had not been especially heavy.

Three months after First Bull Run Union forces suffered another, smaller defeat at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, near Leesburg, Virginia. The perceived military incompetence at First Bull Run and Ball’s Bluff led to the establishment of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, a congressional body created to investigate Northern military affairs. Concerning the Battle of First Bull Run, the committee listened to testimony from a variety of witnesses connected with McDowell’s army. Although the committee’s report concluded that the principal cause of defeat was Patterson’s failure to prevent Johnston from reinforcing Beauregard, Patterson’s enlistment had expired a few days after the battle, and he was no longer in the service. The Northern public clamored for another scapegoat, and McDowell bore the chief blame. On 25 July 1861, he was relieved of army command

First Bull Run demonstrated that the war would not be won by one grand battle, and both sides began preparing for a long and bloody conflict. In the North, Lincoln called for an additional 500,000 volunteers with three-year enlistments, and the men with ninety-day enlistments were sent home. In the South, once the euphoria of victory had worn off, Jefferson Davis called for 400,000 additional volunteers. The battle also showed the need for adequately trained and experienced officers and men. One year later many of the same soldiers who had fought at First Bull Run, now combat veterans, would have an opportunity to test their skills on the same battlefield.

After Bull Run there came a resolution on both sides. Win or lose in this first major battle, the soldiers who kept their heart - or regained it after the panic - looked into themselves to see how they would face their next battle. Most agreed with one Yankee private who told his family in a letter that "I intend to see the thing played out, or die in the attempt."

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The Spectators, Part 4

Not far from Villard and Washburne, Congressman Ely had likewise strolled down the road for a better look. When he had gone about 100 yards, a bullet struck the ground near him. The congressman dodged out of the road and found refuge with some others behind a tree, frozen, as he admitted, from fear of being shot if I moved. How long he remained there, he was unable to say. But it must have been nearly an hour–long enough for the situation around him to change dramatically.

About 5:30 p.m., Ely spotted a line of Confederate infantry emerging from a nearby wood. Two officers approached Ely and asked who he was.

"Alfred Ely," the congressman replied.

"What state are you from?" asked the officers.

"From the state of New York," replied Ely.

"Are you connected in any way with the Government?" prodded the soldiers.

"A Representative in Congress," answered Ely. (Mistake? He should have just said no. They might have passed him by. Who knows?)

One of the officers grabbed Ely by the arm, stripped him of a pistol, and proclaimed him a prisoner. The two officers hustled Ely to their commander, Colonel E.B. Cash of the 8th South Carolina. When they announced the identity of their prisoner, Cash, a cantankerous old farmer who would fight one of the last lawful duels in America after the war, pointed his pistol at Ely's head.

"### #### your white-livered soul!" screeched Cash. "I'll blow your brains out on the spot!"

The junior officers quickly interceded: "Colonel, Colonel, you must not shoot that pistol, he is our prisoner." Still enraged, Cash grudgingly stashed his pistol, and the South Carolinians hustled Ely to the rear. He would spend the next six months in a Richmond prison, a political prize tormented all the while by his captors. (Once released, Ely would do the thoroughly American thing and write a best-selling book about his ordeal.)

Atop the ridge, the remaining civilians sensed that the predicted triumph across Bull Run had unraveled. Soon, Confederate cavalry (famed as "The Black Horse Cavalry"- a name which spread terror among Yankees) charged up the hill, cutting off Charles McCook–visiting his father yet again–from his regiment. The elder McCook watched in horror as his son fled along a fence line with a Confederate officer on horseback chasing him. "Charles kept him most manfully at bay with his bayonet," wrote Judge McCook a few days later. The Confederate demanded the young McCook's surrender. "No, never; no, never to a rebel," Charles declared. The horseman circled around McCook and shot him in the back, and someone in turn shot the Confederate officer. Judge McCook gathered up the mangled body of his wounded son, placed him on a makeshift bed in his carriage, and started a mournful ride back toward Centreville. Charles McCook would die within hours.

The knot of dignitaries and reporters on the ridge overlooking Bull Run soon found themselves caught in the swirl of retreat. Washburne started rearward in his carriage, only to come across a wounded soldier. The congressman nobly gave up his seat to the man and started walking. Just moments later, he turned to witness an unnerving sight. "I beheld a perfect avalanche pouring down the road immediately behind me," he wrote. "It was the retreat of the army…. A perfect panic had seized every body. The soldiers threw away their guns and their blankets…. Officers, I blush to say, were running with their men."

London Times correspondent Russell arrived at Cub Run, an offshoot of Bull Run that intersects Warrenton Turnpike a few miles closer to Centreville, just in time to see the disaster unfold. His account would do more to shape the public–and historical–perception of the Union defeat than anyone else's, and it was not a flattering narrative:

The scene on the [Warrenton] road had now assumed an aspect which has not a parallel in any description I have ever read. Infantry soldiers on mules and draught horses…. Negro servants on their masters' wagons; ambulances crowded with unwounded soldiers; wagons swarming with men who threw out the contents in the road to make room, grinding through a shouting, screaming mass of men on foot, who were literally yelling with rage…. There was nothing left… but to go with the current one could not stem.

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The Spectators Part 5

John Taylor stood agape at the spectacle–dazed and confounded. On either side of the road crowds of soldiers surged toward Centreville. So much had the men discarded that Taylor was certain he could almost have walked from the field to Centreville on bags of oats, bales of hay, and boxes of ammunition. But, Taylor wrote, the most startling aspect of the retreat was its hurry: Every one seemed after the honor of being the first man to enter Washington. Soldiers dashed at wagons to cut loose the horses, and with two on a horse, gallop off toward home. Every sentiment of shame, and all sense of manhood was absent for the moment.

Intense urgency yielded to outright panic when the Confederates managed to get some artillery in range of the bridge over Cub Run. Amidst the gauntlet of shells, a Union wagon swerved and overturned on the bridge, forcing all who wished to cross into the water on either side. Ambulances, horses, cannon, and men were piled in one confused mass. Shells burst overhead as the Yankees rushed on, and one Rhode Islander shuddered at the sight of the upper half of a soldier's body flying up the hill. "With this," he admitted, "A cry of mortal terror arose among the flying soldiers."

The scene at the Cub Run bridge was the defining event of the First Battle of Bull Run. It was into this scene (commonly mislocated to the Stone Bridge) that newspapermen, moviemakers, historians, and novelists injected civilians as central characters–frightened souls tossing aside picnics and parasols to infect the retreating army with panic. Yet, dozens of contemporary accounts make it clear that the panic was a military, not a civilian, event. No civilians were killed or wounded (as the moviemakers love to portray), and so few of them were present east of Cub Run that their presence was rarely if ever mentioned by the soldiers who did participate in the panic. That handful of civilians who had reached the ridge overlooking the Stone Bridge managed to recross the Cub Run bridge before the span was blocked and the true panic began. As Taylor asserted after the war, "There is no truth whatever in the claim that civilians contributed to the panic."

Once across Cub Run, the panicked mob transformed into a discouraged flood, protected by a strong line of infantry and artillery just west of Centreville. Captain Tidball had by now moved his battery to the Warrenton Turnpike and watched as the bedraggled crowd flowed by. Tidball recognized his inquisitors of the morning: Senators Lane, Wilson, and Wade. Lane came by first, now mounted on a flea-bitten gray horse with a rusty harness on and wielding, sure enough, the musket he had promised to find. Not far behind Lane trundled Senator Wilson, hot and red in the face from exertion…in his shirtsleeves, carrying his coat on his arm. When he reached Tidball, Wilson (who would later briefly command the 22d Massachusetts Infantry, Henry Wilson's Regiment) swabbed the sweat from his brow and growled, "Cowards! Why don't they turn and beat back the scoundrels?"

And finally up the hill toiled Wade, without the strength to do anything but drag his coat on the ground behind him. Wrote Tidball: "As he approached me I thought I had never beheld so sorrowful a countenance. Wade's normally long face seemed still more lengthened by the weight of his heavy under-jaws…so heavy it seemed to overtax his exhausted strength to keep his mouth shut."

Such was the condition of most of the Yankees who had found their way to Bull Run that day. But the vast majority of civilians had not gotten near Bull Run, had not caught even a glimpse of a Confederate soldier, and were not panicked by a stumbling mob of frightened Union soldiers. When word of the disaster filtered back to the large gaggle of spectators at Centreville, most of them simply mounted their buggies or horses and headed back toward Washington, albeit with some urgency. One brief spasm of panic infected part of the fleeing horde, but generally the civilian departure was orderly. (Russell noted this sliver of panic, and therefore it became famous.) Some arrived back in the capital during the night, hundreds more the next morning–all of them with tales of woe and fright. The spectacle of these woebegone civilians became an instant target for newspapermen and editorialists–most of whom had been hundreds of miles away during the battle.

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Aftermath of Bull Run Part One

Back on the other side of Bull Run, jubilent rebels celebrated their victory and rounded up hundreds of Union prisoners. Jefferson Davis himself had turned up at the moment of victory. A warrior at heart, Davis could not sit still in Richmond while the battle raged 80 miles away. He chartered a special train, obtained a horse near Manassas, and rode with an aide toward the fighting in mid-afternoon through a swelling stream of wounded and stragglers who cried, "Go back! We are whipped!" Though Davis knew that the rear areas of a battlefield always presented a scene of disorder and defeat no matter what was going on at the front, he rode on with a sinking heart. Was this to be the fate of his Confederacy? As he neared Johnston's headquarters, however, the sounds of battle rolled away to the north. Johnston came forward with the news of southern triumph. Elated, Davis urged vigourous pursuit of the beaten enemy. Although some Confederates had gone a mile or two beyond Bull Run, Johnston and Beauregard believed that no full-scale pursuit was possible. In Johnston's words, "our army was more disorganized by victory than that of the United States by defeat."

When the magnitude of Confederate victory sank in during the following weeks, southern newspapers began to seek scapegoats for the failure to "follow up the victory and take Washington." An unseemly row burst out in which the partisans of each of the principals- Davis, Johnston, Beauregard- blamed on the others for this "failure". Postwar memoirs by the three men continued the controversy. But the prospect of "taking" Washington in July 1861 was an illusion, as all three recognized at the time. McDowell formed a defensive line of unbloodied reserves at Centreville on the night of July 21. Early next morning a heavy rain began to turn the roads into soup. Confederate logistics were inadequate for a sustained advance even in good weather. The army depots at Manassas were almost bare of food. Despite a mood of panic in Washington, the rebels were not coming- and could not have come.

In July 1861, the controversy about failure to pursue lay in the future. The South erupted in joy over a victory that seemed to prove that one Southron could indeed lick any number of Yankees. It was easy to forget that the numbers engaged were equal, that Confederate troops had fought on the defensive for most of the battle (easier than attacking, especially for green troops) and that the Yankees had come close to winning. In any case, the battle of Manassas, (as it would forever be known in the South) was one of the most decisive tactical victories of the war. Although its strategic results came to seem barren to many in the South, the battle did postpone for 8 months any further Union efforts to invade Virginia's heartland. And the price in casualties was small compared with later battles (see BL's post #774.)

Perhaps the most profound consequences of the battle were psychological. But these consequences were full of paradox. The South's gleeful celebration generated a cockiness heedless of the Biblical injunction that pride goeth before a fall. Manassas was "one of the decisive battles of the world" wrote political leader Thomas R. R. Cobb of Georgia. It "has secured our independence." Edmund Ruffin considered "this hard-fought battle virtually the close of the war." He thought Beauregard's next step should be "a dash upon Philadelphia & the laying it in ashes...as full settlement & acquittance for the past northern outrages." The Mobile Register predicted that the Union army would "never again advance beyond cannon shot of Washington." The Richmond Whig went even further:

The breakdown of the Yankee race, their unfitness for empire, forces dominion upon the South. We are compelled to take the sceptre of power. We must adapt ourselves to our new destiny.

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Aftermath of Bull Run Part Two

Immediately after the battle the shame and despair of many northerners almost caused them to agree with these southern assessments. "Today will be known as BLACK MONDAY", wrote a New Yorker when he heard the news. "We are utterly and disgracefully routed, beaten, whipped." Horace Greeley, whose New York Tribune had done so much to prod the government into premature action, endured a week of self-reproachful, sleepless nights before writing a despondent letter to Lincoln: "On every brow sits sullen, scorching, black despair...If it is best for the country and for mankind that we make peace with the rebels, and on their own terms, do not shrink even from that."

Yet the deep, long-lasting impact of Bull Run on the North was not defeatism, but renewed determination. The London Times correspondent predicted such a result on the day after the battle: "This ##### in the great Northern balloon will let out a quantity of poisonous gas, and rouse the people to a sense of the nature of the conflict on which they have entered." In a sermon on a text from Proverbs- "adversity kills only where there is a weakness to be killed"- one of the North's leading clergyman expressed this new mood of grim resolution. It was echoed by a soldier in the ranks: "I shall see the thing played out, or die in the attempt." Even as Greeley was writing despairingly to Lincoln, an editorial in the Tribune by another hand maintained that "it is not characteristic of Americans to sit down despondently after a defeat...Let us go to work, then, with a will."

Lincoln agreed with this editorial rather than with Greeley's letter. Though shaken by the news of Bull Run, the president and General Scott did not panic. As BL has noted, Lincoln signed a bill for the enlistment of 500,000 three year men. And, thanks to a decision made by Lincoln on the morning after Bull Run, the new volunteers arrived in Washington for training to discover a dynamic, magnetic general to command them: George B. McClellan.

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The saga of Wilmer McLean - the most remarkable coincidence of the American Civil War

Wilmer McLean - Wikipedia entry

Nestled among the cornfields and pasture lands in rural Prince William County was a large plantation known as Yorkshire. Wilmer McLean and his wife, Virginia Beverly Hooe Mason, moved there in January, 1853, completely unaware of the events that would transpire at their estate shortly after the beginning of the Civil War.

During the First Battle of Manassas, the McLean House was used as headquarters for General P.G.T. Beauregard, commander of the Confederate Army of the Potomac. Edward Porter Alexander, a relative of Wilmer McLean and Beauregard's chief signal officer, witnessed the beginning of the battle from McLean's yard. The barn was used as a military hospital, as well as a prison for captured Union soldiers. A log kitchen on the property was the object of the the first Union artillery shells fired at the Battle of Blackburn's Ford on July 18, 1861. A shell went through the walls of the kitchen, causing mud daubing to fly into the meal being prepared for Confederate officers there. Beauregard wrote after the battle, "A comical effect of this artillery fight was the destruction of the dinner of myself and staff by a Federal shell that fell into the fire-place of my headquarters at the McLean House." Alexander watched the episode through a glass and noted in his memoir, Figthing for the Confederacy, "we went without dinner that day."

McLean, concerned for his family's safety, took them away from Yorkshire before the beginning of the battle, but he would return after the battle was over. He remained in Manassas and worked for the Confederate quartermaster until February 28, 1862. He would not be reunited with his family until the spring.

McLean was a retired major in the Virginia militia, but was too old to return to active duty at the outbreak of the Civil War; he made his living during the war as a sugar broker supplying the Confederate States Army. When the Confederates evacuated Manassas in March 1862, McLean's business opportunities dwindled. He decided to move because his commercial activities were centered mostly in southern Virginia and the Union army presence in his area of northern Virginia made his work difficult.

He undoubtedly was also motivated by a desire to protect his family from a repetition of his battle experience. In the spring of 1863 he and his family moved about 120 miles south to Appomattox County, Virginia, near Appomattox Court House. He could not escape the war, however.

On April 9, 1865, the war came back to Wilmer McLean when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant in the parlor of McLean's house near Appomattox Court House, effectively ending the Civil War. Said McLean, "The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor".

Once the surrender was over, members of the Army of the Potomac began taking the tables, chairs, and various other furnishings in the house - essentially, anything that wasn't tied down - as souvenirs. They simply handed the protesting McLean money as they made off with his property.

McLeans' second home is now part of the Appomattox Court House National Historical Monument operated by the National Park Service of the United States Department of the Interior.

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The Spectators, Part 4

...

One of the officers grabbed Ely by the arm, stripped him of a pistol, and proclaimed him a prisoner. The two officers hustled Ely to their commander, Colonel E.B. Cash of the 8th South Carolina. When they announced the identity of their prisoner, Cash, a cantankerous old farmer who would fight one of the last lawful duels in America after the war, pointed his pistol at Ely's head.

"### #### your white-livered soul!" screeched Cash. "I'll blow your brains out on the spot!"

The junior officers quickly interceded: "Colonel, Colonel, you must not shoot that pistol, he is our prisoner." Still enraged, Cash grudgingly stashed his pistol, and the South Carolinians hustled Ely to the rear.

...

This story comes from the ubiquitous Edward Porter Alexander, who had been sent by Beauregard with instructions for the pursuit to Colonel Joseph Kershaw (commander of the 2nd S.C., and senior commander of the follow up column). 'The junior officer' was in fact Alexander himself - though a mere captain at the time, as a member of Beauregard's staff carrying orders from the Army commander, his word carried an air of authority.

After the war E.B.C. Cash went back to his Chesterfield County law practice, and in the summer of 1880 shot a fellow lawyer dead in a duel which stemmed from a legal dispute. The victim was Colonel William M. Shannon of nearby Camden. After his arrest the incident received widespread notoriety throughout the country (several contemporaneous articles are found in the New York Times online archive). Accounts describe 'high spirited antagonists who had been friends for 20 years and both of whom had a distinguished Confederate War background'. The case resulted in a mistrial in the fall, and an acquittal in the early 1881 retrial. It was the last known duel in South Carolina - the state legislature finally outlawed dueling in December 1880, and required public officers (until 1954) to swear that they had not been in a duel.

ETA: correct typo

Edited by BobbyLayne

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Prelude to the Battle of Wilson's Creek

(I will set up the background to this battle; then BL can handle the actual battle if he wants, or I can cover it otherwise.)

Two days after Bull Run, Lincoln penned a memorandum on future Union strategy: efforts to make the blockade effective were to be pushed forward; Maryland was to be held "with a gentle (!), but firm, and certain hand"; Union troops in Virginia were to be reinforced, thoroughly trained, and prepared for a new invasion; the inept Patterson was to be replaced by a new commander of the army at Harper's Ferry (Nathaniel P. Banks); Union armies in the western theaters were to take the offensive, "giving rather special attention to Missouri".

Lincoln had high expectations of his newly appointed commander of the Western Department (mainly Missouri), John C. Fremont. Famed as the Pathfinder of the West, Fremont's 11 years' experience in the army's topographical corps gave him a military reputation unmatched by most other political generals. But the formidable difficulties of a Missouri command- a divided population, guerilla warfare, political intrigue, war contract profiteering, impending Confederate invasions from Arkansas and Tennessee- quickly brought out the weaknesses in Fremont's character. He was showy rather than solid. His naivete and his ambition to build quickly a large army and navy for a grand sweep down the Mississippi made him easy prey for contractors whose swollen profits produced a new crop of scandals. Fremont could have survived all this if he had produced victories. But instead, soon after he arrived in St. Louis on July 25, Union Forces in Missouri suffered reverses that came as aftershocks to the earthquake at Bull Run.

Fremont's appointment brought Nathaniel Lyon under his command. After chasing Sterling Price's militia to the southwest corner of the state, Lyon's small army of 5,500 men occupied Springfield at the end of a precarious supply line nearly 200 miles from St. Louis. Lyon faced a motley southern force comprised of Price's 8,000 Missourians and 5,000 other Confederate troops under General Ben McCulloch, a rough-hewn frontiersman who had won his spurs as an Indian fighter, Mexican War officer, and Texas Range. Price was eager to redeem Missouri from the Yankee and "Dutch" troops under Lyon. McCulloch distrusted the reliability of Price's Missourians, two or three thousand of whom lacked weapons while the rest carried an indiscriminate variety of hunting rifles, shotguns, and ancient muskets. McCulloch finally yielded, with great reluctance, to Price's entreaties for an offensive.

Edited by timschochet

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Prelude to the Battle of Wilson's Creek

(I will set up the background to this battle; then BL can handle the actual battle if he wants, or I can cover it otherwise.)

Its all yours as far as pacing the narrative. I may chime in later with some details; I have a few micro-histories on the battle, a couple old articles, and Lyon is a fascinating character study.

But if I don't pick and choose which battles to cover in depth, our discussion will end up being longer than the war itself.

;)

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Not sure where timschochet is going with the narrative next, but a little background on Nataniel Lyon:

graduated 11th out of 52 in the West Point class of '41

wounded and won a brevet captaincy for gallant conduct during the Mexican War

was never popular with either enlisted men or fellow officers in the old army

before the Civil War was twice brought up on charges for physically abusing his men

1850 - Clear Lake Massacre - Captain Lyon was in charge; his own biographer called it "a ferocity which bordered on sadism"

his red hair and red beard matched his fiery temper

openly hated slaveholders and viewed secessionists as traitors

Now when you read that last point, you're probably thinking "Yeah, OK, that was probably true of most Northerners."

But Lyon wasn't like most men.

Boorish, rude, inconsiderate, and generally unpleasant, he shocked people with his unorthosox religious views, implying that he alone understood the will of the Almighty. Lyon saw himself as God's chosen instrument for the punishment of Secesh, and the need to accomplish this influenced his military decisions.

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The Battle of Wilson's Creek

At the same time that McCulloch was giving into Price's call for an offensive, Lyon learned that Fremont could send him no reinforcements. All Union troops seemed to be needed elsewhere to cope with guerrillas and to counter a rebel incursion into southeast Missouri that threatened the Union base at Cairo, Illinois. Outnumbered by more than 2 to 1, with the 90 day enlistments of about half his men about to expire, Lyon's only choice seemed to be to retreat. But the fiery red-haired general could not bear to yield southwest Missouri without a fight. He decided to attack McCulloch and Price before they could attack him.

Disregarding the maxims of military textbooks (just as Robert E. Lee later did to win his greatest victories), Lyon divided his small army in the face of a larger enemy and sent a flanking column of 1,200 men under Franz Sigel on a night march around the south of the Confederate camp along Wilson's Creek, 10 miles south of Springfield. While Sigel came up on the the Confederate rear, Lyon would attack from the front with the main Union force. The Federals carried out this difficult maneuver successfully, achieving surprise in a two-pronged attack at sunrise on August 10. But McCulloch and Price kept their poise and rallied their men for a stand-up, seesaw firefight at short range along the banks of Wilson's Creek and on the slopes of a nearby hill.

The battle was marked by two turning points that finally enabled the rebels to prevail. First, after initially driving back the Confederates on the southern flank, Sigel's attack came to a halt after another incident of mistaken identity. A Louisiana regiment clad in uniforms similar to the militia gray of Lyon's 1st Iowa approached close enough to Sigel's vanguard to pour in a murderous volley before the unionists recognized them as enemies. Sigel's attack disintegrated; a Confederate artillery barrage and infantry counterattack soon scattered his demoralized brigade to the four winds. The Louisianians and Arkansans in this part of the field then joined the Missourians fighting Lyon's main force, whom they now outnumbered by 3 to 1. In the thick of the fighting Lyon was twice wounded slightly and his horse was shot from under him before a bullet found his heart. This demoralized the unionists, who in addition had almost run out of ammunition. Slowly they pulled back, yielding the battlefield to the enemy and withdrawing to Springfield unpursued by the equally battered southerners.

Each side in this bloody battle suffered about 1,300 casualties, a considerably higher proportion of losses than at Bull Run.

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OK, here is a list of events I will be covering in the narrative in the immediate future, in order:

Aftermath of Wilson's Creek

The issue of slavery

McClellan takes charge

Battle of Ball's Bluff

McClellan vs. Lincoln

Davis vs. J. Johnston

The Blockade and the Battle of Roanoke Island

The Ironclads: Virginia vs. Monitor

The Confederacy and England

Mason and Slidell

All of this is necessary before we get into the next major set of battles: the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson, and the battle of Shiloh. These battles will take a great deal of time, and will include bios of Albert Sidney Johnston, Nathan Bedford Forest, and others.

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Wilson's Creek Epilogue...interesting facts of battle and the people who fought there

Gen Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union General to die in the Civil War, was interred in Eastford, CT and became a National hero as the "Savior of Missouri". While this battle was lost, his actions did keep Missouri in the Union. He is remembered at Wilson's Creek with a small monument.

Kansas has seven counties that were named in honor of Wilson's Creek veterans... Lyon (Gen Nathaniel Lyon), Cloud (Maj-later Col William Cloud), Crawford (Capt Samuel J Crawford of 2nd Kansas), Pratt (Lt Caleb Pratt of 1st KS killed at battle), Stafford (Lt Lewis Stafford of 1st KS, killed in 1863 in LA) , and Russell County is named after Lt. Avra P Russell of the 2nd KS, who survived this battle but didn't the Battle of Prarie Grove in 1862. Osborne County, Kansas is named after Private Vincent Osborne of Co E, 2nd Kansas, who after almost loosing his leg from an injury sustained in this battle, would loose his right leg in 1865. Buncombe County, Iowa renamed itself Lyon County in 1862. Minnesota also named a county Lyon , after the fallen general, as well as does Nevada. Texas has a McCulloch County named after Benjamin McCulloch. Lyon even had a ship named after him.

Eugene F Ware, who wrote under the pen name, Ironquill, would survive the war and move to Kansas. There he would become one of Kansas' most respected poets. All glory comes from daring to begin.

Franz Sigel, who's name helped recruit thousands of German Americans to fight for the North, would forever be remembered as commander of the Union force defeated at the Battle of New Market, in part by the famous charge of VMI students. He would later move to Bronx, New York and there, died in 1902, still a hero to German Americans. His funeral was attended by thousands and there was a Bronx city park named in his honor.

There would be five US medal of honors given in this battle.

Only Virginia and Tennessee saw more battles in their state than did Missouri.

30 of the Union officers in this battle, would become generals before the War's end.

Wilson's Creek ranks 8th as the bloodiest battle for the Union Army during the Civil War when measuring losses per 1000 troops.

9 days after this battle, the Confederate States of America Congress agrees to an alliance with Missouri. Missouri now has two official governments..one Union, one Confederate.

Major John A Haldeman would become US Consul-General in Bangkok Siam in 1882. Two of his sons would join the Union Army, while one joined the Confederate Army as a surgeon. All survived the war. Colonel James David Walker, of the 4th Arkansas Infantry, was captured at Wilson's Creek and imprisoned for two years. From 1879 to 1885 he served in the US Congress as Senator from Arkansas.

The 14 acre National Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri, is the only federal cemetery where there is no wall separating the graves of Union and Confederate dead. The wall separating the 10 acre National Cemetery from a separate 4 acre Confederate cemetery was torn down in 1911. Many of the fallen from Wilson's Creek, were re-interred here. The cemetery contains separate monuments to Union General Nathaniel Lyon and Confederate General Sterling Price. Veterans from every conflict in America's history rest here, including William Freeman, veteran of the Revolutionary War.

25% (1 in 4) of Union soldiers on Bloody Hill, were killed or injured.

Sgt William Watson returned to his home country of Scotland after the war, and wrote "Life in the Confederate Army" which was published in 1888 by Scribner & Welford. Sgt William Tunnard returned home to Louisiana, resided in Shreveport, and published "A Southern Record" immediately after the war. Going mostly unnoticed, it was re-printed in 1988 by Edwin Bearss and Morningside Bookshop and remains today' one of the best regimental histories available. Lt Charles Nichols of the 5th MSG, survived the battle and the war, only to be killed by the Younger brothers while sheriff of Dallas, Texas.

Capt Emmett MacDonald, who had vowed to never cut his hair until the Confederacy was acknowledged, never did. He was killed in a small battle in Hartville, MO in Jan 1863.

This was the first major battle that Indians are known to have been participants in.

Some infamous characters fought in this battle, as yet unknown privates. Alexander Franklin "Frank" James, brother of the infamous Jesse James, would fight with the Missouri State Guard here. James Butler Hickok, later to be known as "Wild Bill Hickok" was here with the Union forces, acting as a scout for Lyon.

Private Andrew Young McDonald, an orphan, had emigrated to the US in 1854. After working as a plumber in Cleveland, OH and St Louis, MO, he opened his own plumbing business in Dubouque, IA. Heeding the call to serve, Andrew marched south with the 1st Iowa Infantry. Wounded in the battle, he would lay on the battlefield for nearly 4 days before being rescued. In 1863, while marching towards Vicksburg, he would receive word that he had been granted a patent, which he would later sell for $500 to Coes & Co of Worcester, MA. His invention - the monkey wrench that is still in use today.

George Washinton D Keckley, the son of a white plantation owner and black slave woman named Elizabeth, was bought out of slavery and joined the 1st Missouri Infantry(U), Company D. He would die on Bloody Hill. His mother went on to become Mrs Lincoln's dressmaker and very close friends with the Lincoln family.

William Clark Quantrill would become the guerilla leader of Quantrill's Raiders. He was responsible for the massacre at Lawrence, Kansas. Depending on which side you were on, he was either a barbarian or a hero. Either way, he died in a prison of war camp in Louisville, KY in 1865.

Lt John Knox Rankin of the 2nd Kansas Infantry not only survived this battle, but happened to be in Lawrence when it was attacked by Quantrill's men. After the war he worked for the Interior Department with the Indian's and was well respected.

Private's Frank James and Thomas "Cole" Younger would become infamous as they rode with Quantrill and then the James gang. Frank and Cole would survive their wild days and die as old men.

James Butler "Wild Bill" Hitckok wouldn't be so lucky. After becoming quite famous, he would die in a card game, holding what is now called the "Deadman's Hand" - pair of aces and eights.

Captain Samuel J Crawford of the 2nd Kansas Infantry would survive the war and become Governor of Kansas.

Lt Charles E Farrand survived the war, married twice and died in Colorado in 1929. His father, Ebenezer Farrand, who had joined the US Navy in 1823, moved to Florida where he became Commodore Farrand of the CSA Navy. The two would never meet after they chose opposing sides during the war.

Captain James Totten eventually became a Brevet Brigadier General, but his career in the military was hindered by his passion for the contents of his canteen. He died in 1871 and is buried in Sedalia, MO. As the second generation of Totten artillerymen, his son, Charles Adelle Lewis Totten would continue the family heritage. Included in this line are Major General James Willoughby Totten and General William Pierce Enis, Jr, who commanded the 10th Corps during the Korean War.

18 year old Private Shelby Norman, of Company A, 1st Iowa Infantry, would become the first Iowan killed in battle in the Civil War. In 1896, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Des Moines Iowa used his likeness to represent the infantry dead of the war.

Private James Baird Weaver of the 1st Iowa would survive the war and run for President on the Greenback Labor Party ticket. In 1880, he only received 3% of the popular vote in 1880. In 1892, he was nominated by the "People's Party of the USA" ticket, known as the Populist's, but fell short again.

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Aftermath of Wilson's Creek

Although the Confederates' tactical victory at Wilson's Creek was much less decisive than at Manassas and its impact on public opinion outside Missouri was small, its strategic consequences at first seemed greater. The Union forces retreated all the way to Rolla, 100 miles north of Springfield. Having gained confidence and prestige, Price marched northward to the Missouri River, gathering recruits along the way. With 18,000 troops he surrounded the 3,500-man garrison at Lexington, the largest city between St. Louis and Kansas City. Fremont scraped together a small force to reinforce the garrison, but it could not break through Price's ring. After 3 days of resistance, Lexington surrendered on September 20.

Price's reputation soared, while Fremont's plummeted In two months of command he appeared to have lost half of Missouri. Confederate guerillas stepped up their activities. The Blair family, once Fremont's sponsors, turned against him and began intriguing for his removal. And a bold step that Fremont had taken to reverse the decline of his fortunes backfired and helped sealed his fate.

On August 30 Fremont issued a startling proclamation. As commanding general he took over "the administrative powers of the State," declared martial law, announced the death penalty for guerillas caught behind Union lines, confiscated the property and freed the slaves of all Confederate activists in Missouri. Fremont did this both to intimidate the rebels and gain himself allies among antislavery Republicans. But Lincoln, trying to keep Kentucky in the Union, was highly displeased. Lincoln removed him from command, whereupon the controversy of slavery arose in Washington.

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The Slavery Debate

Lincoln's revocation of Fremont's emancipation order and his removal of the general from command stirred up a controversy about slavery. Abolitionists who had been silent about this issue for the first few months of the war now began to speak out. Bull Run was also a catalyst. Southerners boasted that slavery was "a tower of strength to the Confederacy" because it enabled the South "to place in the field a force so much larger in proportion to her population than the North." Precisely, agreed emancipationists. Slaves constituted more than half of the South's labor force. Destroy slavery, the new argument became, and you cripple the South. And it could be done despite the Constitution which protected slavery, the argument went, because rebels had forfeited their constitutional rights. If the Union was at war, it could also confiscate enemy property as a legitimate act of war.

Benjamin Butler was the first prominent figure to act on these arguments. Back in May, 3 slaves who had been working on southern fortifications escaped to Butler's lines at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. Their owner- a Confederate colonel- appeared next day under flag of truce and, citing the Fugitive Slave Act, demanded the return of his property. Butler replied that since Virgina claimed to be out of the Union, this law did not apply. He labeled the escaped slaves "contraband of war" and put them to work in his camp. Northern newspapers picked up the contraband phrase and thereafter slaves who came into Union lines were known as contrabands.

Lincoln hesistated, then approved Butler's decision. But he was still uneasy, and very concerned about the reactions of Kentucky and Maryland. It did not help that abolitionists were writing letters to newspapers with phrases like "Damn the border states!" Lincoln responded by arguing in December, "I have been anxious and careful that the war shall not degenerate into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle." But some Republicans were already viewing it as a revolutionary conflict between two social systems. Thaddeus Stevens, the grim-visaged Cromwellian leader of radical Republicans in the House, called for precisely the kind of violent, remorseless struggle Lincoln hoped to avoid:

Free every slave- slay every traitor- burn every rebel mansion, if these things be necessary to preserve this temple of freedom. We must treat this war as a radical revolution, and remodel our institutions.

The slavery issue played a part in a growing Republican disenchantment with McClellan. But, as we shall see, more important than slavery was McClellan's defects of character and generalship.

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McClellan! Part One

As detailed before, George B. McClellan's life seemed to have prepare him for greatness. In May, 1861, at the age of 34, he became the second-ranking general in the U.S. army and in July he took command of the North's principal field army. McClellan came to Washington, in the words of the London Times correspondent, as "the man on horseback" to save the Union; the press lionized him; they called him "the man of destiny."

But perhaps McClellan's career had been too sucessful. He had never known, as Grant had, the despair of defeat and the humiliation of failure. He had never learned the lessons of adversity and humility. The adulation he experienced during the early weeks in Washington went to his head. McClellan's letters to his wife revealed the beginnings of a messiah complex. "I find myself in a strange position here: President, Cabinet, Genl. Scott & all deferring to me," he wrote the day after arriving in Washington. "By some strange operation of magic I seem to have become the power of the land." McClellan reveled in the way the soldiers cheered him as he rode along their lines. "They want me to take over the govt- Dictatorship!" Though claiming he did not want this, he added:

You have no idea how the men brighten up now when I go among them. I can see every eye glisten. You have never heard such yelling. I believe they love me. God has placed a great work in my hands. I was called to it; my previous life seems to have directed me to this great end.

The first victim of McClellan's vainglory was General-in-Chief Scott. More than twice McClellan's age, Scott was America's foremost living soldier, a hero of two wars, second only to George Washington in military reputation. But Scott's fame belonged to past wars. McClellan aspired to be the hero of this one. A rivalry with the "old general", as McClellan privately called Scott, soon developed.

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OK, here is a list of events I will be covering in the narrative in the immediate future, in order:

Aftermath of Wilson's Creek

The issue of slavery

McClellan takes charge

Battle of Ball's Bluff

McClellan vs. Lincoln

Davis vs. J. Johnston

The Blockade and the Battle of Roanoke Island

The Ironclads: Virginia vs. Monitor

The Confederacy and England

Mason and Slidell

All of this is necessary before we get into the next major set of battles: the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson, and the battle of Shiloh. These battles will take a great deal of time, and will include bios of Albert Sidney Johnston, Nathan Bedford Forest, and others.

I have a lot of resources for these and will cover them in depth. Probably won't have much to contribute in the interim.

re: Wilson's Creek - it was pretty ferocious, due mainly to the poor weaponry. The Confederate coalition forces (one of the strangest armies in the entire war) had 2,000 unarmed men, and a good portion of the remainder had old flintlocks, shotguns and squirrel hunting rifles - anybody with a smoothbore musket was well equipped. As a consequence, the fighting was pretty close in - much of the time the lines were 40 yards or closer. There's not a whole lot to discuss tactics wise. Sigel blundered by having his men in column with no skirmishers, but really it was a weight of the numbers thing, and not much else to tell.

I may circle back to revisit Missouri in the morning; not so much the battle, but more so the events that led up to Wilson's Creek. timschochet covered this in his narrative over several posts, but I think it is worthwhile to emphasize a few points.

Lyon went off the deep end, but he never should have moved into the Ozarks. There was no need to, he already had secured Missouri for the Union by controlling the railroads, the Missouri valley, and the major population centers. But he was hell bent on making the secesh pay. Regardless, his actions (and Congressman Blair) were a double edged sword. While he in the end drove Gov Jackson out of power and into exile, the manner in which they accomplished it set many 'conditional unionists' against the federal government.

Missouri was like a civil war inside the civil war.

Edited by BobbyLayne

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McClellan! Part Two

In truth, there could be only one head of the post-Bull Run military buildup. McClellan went about this task with great energy. He put in 18 hour days that achieved quick and visible results. McClellan communicated directly with the president, bypassing Scott. Scott, whose age and infirmities prevented him from doing more than a few hours of paperwork, grew piqued at being left out of things. McClellan complained that Scott was frustrating his plans to prepare a quick offensive. He wrote his wife:

That confounded old man always gets in my way. He understands nothing, appreciates nothing. I don't know whether he is a dotard or a traitor. If he cannot be taken out of my path, I will resign and let the administration take care of itself. The people call upon me to save the country- I must save it and cannot respect anything that is in the way.

At first Lincoln tried to mediate, but the pressure was too strong from Republican senators, and on November 1, Scott retired "for health reasons." McClellan succeeded him as commander in chief. Republicans had pushed Scott out because they blamed him for the inactivity of the army. But McClellan soon began to express fears that Beauregard was about to march forward with a huge army to crush him. A curious lack of confidence began to creep into McClellan's words and deeds, even as he continued to think of himself as God's chosen instrument to save the Republic. The first signs appeared of a chronic tendency to overestimate enemy strength and to use this estimate as an excuse to remain on the defensive. In October, McClellan had 120,000 men while Beauregard and Johnston had only 45,000 in and near Manassas. But McClellan professed to believe that the enemy numbered 150,000 and was prepared to attack him.

The Confederates had pushed their picket posts within sight of Washington. They had also established batteries on the lower Potomac to interdict river traffic to the capital. In late September the southerners withdrew from one exposed position on Munson's Hill a few miles southwest of Washington. When the Federals moved in, instead of the large cannon they had expected they found a log shaped and painted to resemble a cannon. This "Quaker Gun" embarrassed McClellan and called into question his reports of superior Confederate forces. The patience of northerners was beginning to grow thin.

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I'll finish up my description of the battle shortly; in the meantime, here is a 10-11 minute clip from Gods and Generals depicting Jackson (Stephen Lang, who played Gen. Pickett in Gettysburg, and more recently, Colonel Quaritch in Avatar).

First Manassas scene

Note that Jackson is wearing a federal uniform. In fact, its pretty confusing who is on which side during those scenes - which is in fact quite accurate. Awful, horrible, unwatchable movie, but give Ron Maxwell credit for accomplishing one thing - the movie is a stickler for getting the small details correct.

Aside - I met Stephen Lang at the 140th re-enactment of Antietam. Great guy, and a very knowledgeable civil war bore.

I don't know why people hated that movie so much. Yes it wasn't nearly as good as Gettysburgh but I thought it was a very well done story and what you compliment it on is important - the detail is pretty damn accurate and amazing.
Lots of lengthy verbatim speechs by various characters gave it a bloated, turgid feel. I enjoyed it, but thats because I am intimately familiar with the events and people. I can't imagine the average person lacking a base knowledge of the ACW finding it entertaining.

That said, it really is a remarkable movie for uncanny accuracy.

Gettysburg feels crisp by comparison because you have several converging plot lines - the broken friendship of Armistead and Hancock, citizen-soldier Chamberlain, the reluctant Longstreet, high-spirited Pickett. The real star is of course the battle itself, but what makes it fun is interesting characters like Sam Sheppard's portrayal of cavalryman John Buford. The problem with G&G is they were so concerned with period details and literal interpretation they forgot to make it interesting.

Regardless, I have to think its going to be a long, long time (if ever) before we see tens of thousands of re-enactors come together for a film project again. Now they would just use CGI. I've talked to guys who worked on both films as extras, and it was a pretty awesome experience.

Hail Caesar?

I loved G&G too. But yea, it's not a movie for those that aren't "into" the Civil War. Like the various shots of the different regiments crossing into Fredericksburg, each getting a title screen and several seconds of screen time... just nothing more than "accurate bloat" that's going to put the average viewer to sleep.

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Ball's Bluff

The North was calling for action, and action did temporarily break the quiet along the Potomac on October 21, but not the kind the North was hoping for. The rebels held the town of Leesburg, Virginia, 40 miles upriver from Washington. Hoping to dislodge them, McClellan ordered General Charles P. Stone to make a "slight demonstration" from the Maryland side of the river while other Union regiments marched upriver on the Virginia side to threaten the Confederate flank. Stone assigned the mission to Colonel Edward Baker, a former Illinois politician and old friend of Lincoln, who had named his second son after him. Baker sent most of his brigade across the river, where it ran into a Confederate brigade posted in the woods at the top of a 100 foot bank called Ball's Bluff. With no previous combat experience, Baker and his men took poorly chosen positions. After some lively skirmishing, in which Baker was killed, the Confederates drove the Yankees in disorder down the bank and into the river, where some of those who escaped bullets were drowned. More than half of Baker's 1700 men were killed, wounded, or captured.

This humiliating disaster provoked among Republicans an angry search for a scapegoat. When Congress met in December it established a Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War to investigate the causes for defeat at Ball's Bluff and Bull Run. Benjamin Wade chaired the committee and Radical Republicans dominated it. It functioned like a star chamber court. The committee's first victim was General Stone. This officer had acquired a proslavery reputation, and several officers before the committee vaguely described alleged contacts between Stone and Confederate officers. Stone was given no opportunity to confront his accusers. McClellan did little to protect his subordinate, and Stone was arrested and put in prison for 6 months. No formal charges were ever brought against him. He was finally released, but his career was ruined.

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McCLellan and Lincoln

Whether or not McClellan threw Stone to the wolves to protect himself, he had clearly got into deep political waters by the end of 1861. McClellan was a Democrat. Some of his closest army comrades in prewar days had been southerners, including Joseph Johnston whose army at Manassas McClellan seemed reluctant to attack. Although no admirer of slavery, McClellan liked abolitionists even less. And he had political ties with New York Democrats who had begun to mention him as the party's next presidential candidate.

Lincoln at this time did his best to shield McClellan from the growing criticism of the army's inactivity. "I intend to be careful and do as well as possible," McClellan told Lincoln during one of their early discussions. "Just don't let them hurry me, is all I ask." Lincoln replied, "You shall have your own way in the matter." Lincoln, however, went on to remind McClellan that there was a danger in ignoring public opinion. "The demands of the public for action are a reality and must be taken into account."

McClellan not only resisted such realities, in private he also expressed his contempt for all Republicans- including Lincoln. In letters to his wife he wrote that "I can't tell you how disgusted I am becoming with these wretched politicians- they are a most despicable set of men...The President is nothing more than a well meaning baboon...'the original gorilla'...it is sickening to the extreme to see the weakness and unfitness of the poor beings who control the destinies of this great country."

One evening in November, Lincoln and Seward called on McClellan at home. He was out at a wedding party; when he returned an hour later and learned of his visitors, McClellan ignored them and went upstairs. Half an hour later a servant informed the president and secretary of state that the general had gone to bed. Lincoln's private secretary was furious, but Lincoln said, "I will hold McClellan's horse if he will only bring us success."

But that was the rub. Military success could be achieved only by taking risks. McClellan seemed to shrink from the prospect. He lacked the mental and moral courage required of great generals- the will to act, to confront the terrible moment of truth on the battlefield. Having experienced nothing but success in his career, he was afraid to risk failure. He also suffered from what might be termed the "Bull Run syndrome"- a paralysis that prevented any movement against the Confederates until the army was thoroughly prepared. McClellan excelled at preparation, but it was never quite complete. The army was perpetually almost ready to move- but the enemy was always larger and better prepared.

To cover his fears, McClellan tried to shift the blame to others. "I am here in a terrible place," he had written in August. "The enemy have from 3 to 4 times my force (in fact, McClellan then had twice the enemy's force), the President is an idiot, the old General is in his dotage- they cannot or will not see the true state of affairs." In November, when McClellan had nearly three times the number of men and more that three times the weight of artillery as the Confederates in his front, he complained:

I cannot move without more means...I have left nothing undone to make this army what it ought to be...I am thwarted and deceived by these incapables at every turn...It now begins to look as if we are condemned to a winter of inactivity. If it is so the fault will not be mine; there will be that consolation for my conscience, even if the world at large never knows it.

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Davis and Johnston

In Richmond, Jefferson Davis was having his own problems with a general. On August 31 the Confederate president named 5 men to the rank of full general. Joseph E Johnston and Pierre G. T. Beauregard were 4th and 5th on the list, below Adjutant General Samuel Cooper, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Robert E. Lee. When Joseph Johnston learned of this, he erupted in outrage. Not only was this ranking illegal, he informed Davis is a hotly worded letter, it was also an insult to his honor. He had outranked all of these men in the United States army, and by the terms of the law creating the Confederate grade of full general he still outranked them. Moreover, Cooper was a desk general (and a Yankee to boot, having been born and raised in New Jersey); A. S. Johnston had just arrived in the Confederacy after a slow trip from California and had not seen a shot fired in anger; Lee had won no battles and was even then floundering in West Virginia; while he, Joe Johnston, had won the battle of Manassas. Davis had committed a "violation of my rights as an officer, and tarnished my fame as a soldier and a man."

Insulted by the tone of Johnston's letter, Davis sent an icy reply: "Sir, I have just received and read your letter...It's arguments are utterly one sided, and it's insinuations as unfounded as they are unbecoming."

The main effect of this graceless dispute was to plant a seed of hostitlity between Davis and Johnston that was to bear bitter fruit for the Confederacy. It also demonstrated an important difference between Davis and Lincoln as war leaders. A proud man sensitive of his honor, Davis could never forget a slight or forgive the man who committed it. Not for him was Lincoln's willingness to hold the horse of a haughty general if he would only win victories.

Davis also quarreled with Beauregard. The jaunty Louisianian's report on the battle of Manassas became public in October. It implied that Davis had delayed Johnston's reinforcement of Beauregard almost to the point of disaster. It noted Davis's rejection of Beauregard's grandiose plan for an offensive before the battle in a matter that caused the press to confuse this issue with the then-raging controversy over responsibility for failing to follow up the victory by capturing Washington. Throughout this report Beauregard's flamboyant prose tended to magnify his own role. Miffed, Davis reprimanded the general for writing an account that "seemed to be an attempt to exalt yourself at my expense." One way to deal with Beauregard, who had grown restless in his role as second in command to Johnston in Virginia, was to send him as far away from Richmond as possible. In January 1862, Davis transferred Beauregard to the Tennessee-Kentucky theater, where he could try to help Albert Sidney Johnston cope with the buildup of Union forces in Kentucky.

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Wow. I hope you folks don't lose your resolve in continuing this near epic narrative. I have some knowledge of the subject, but the way this thread reads (which took me several days to catch up to) has really helped me understand many things I've read about, but never really comprehended as fully as I wanted to.

I digress, but didn't WV leave the CSS based on the fact that they viewed the successioin to be an illegal act? I know that was discussed a long time ago, but that was the legal out they had at their disposal as I understand it.

It's amazing how much of an advantage the south had in terms of generals and military leadership. If not for that, and the corruption of some of the north's cabinet members, it might have been a much shorter war. The south was unified, the north was not. Three things the north had that made the difference IMO... Lincoln, factories and more men, the later two took time to take advantage of. The south had some political infighting while the north found ways to let politics get in the way of victory far more often. Even the egos of the early key players in the north were formidable obstacles. Look at McCellan. It took Lincoln a long time to find some generals who knew how to fight a war.

Anyways, I've enjoyed this immensely. Thanks.

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Wow. I hope you folks don't lose your resolve in continuing this near epic narrative. I have some knowledge of the subject, but the way this thread reads (which took me several days to catch up to) has really helped me understand many things I've read about, but never really comprehended as fully as I wanted to.

I think we'll see it through. I don't post in here everyday but timschochet is pretty relentless. He is driving the time line but anyone can jump in at anytime.

I digress, but didn't WV leave the CSS based on the fact that they viewed the successioin to be an illegal act? I know that was discussed a long time ago, but that was the legal out they had at their disposal as I understand it.

I'm in favor of circling back - it may not always practical to just wade through in a linear fashion. Just trying to dissuade folks from jumping ahead too much as we'll get to it (eventually). I've been meaning to go back to Blair/Lyon in Missouri because it is fascinating to me that they raised an unconstitutional army, drove the Governor from power by military force, and alienated the otherwise loyal conditional unionists. I just having had time this week to finish composing my post.Interesting - there may have been WV legislators or lawyers who were making that argument. I'm just not aware of it. My understanding (and I haven't looked deeply into it) is the 35 counties west of the Shenandoah felt more closely aligned with the economic interests of western PA and Ohio. I think for many years they felt that Tidewater politicians had controlled the direction of the state, and as there were few slaveholders in the region owing to the geography of the region, they were inclined to remain loyal to the Union.

It's amazing how much of an advantage the south had in terms of generals and military leadership. If not for that, and the corruption of some of the north's cabinet members, it might have been a much shorter war. The south was unified, the north was not. Three things the north had that made the difference IMO... Lincoln, factories and more men, the later two took time to take advantage of. The south had some political infighting while the north found ways to let politics get in the way of victory far more often. Even the egos of the early key players in the north were formidable obstacles. Look at McCellan. It took Lincoln a long time to find some generals who knew how to fight a war. Anyways, I've enjoyed this immensely. Thanks.

I also think it took Lincoln time to realize how the war should be prosecuted. There were always radical Republicans calling for harsher measures, but he was more of a pragmatic centrist. When necessary he was willing to take extraordinary measures, but it was usually a political calculation. Above all else he had to keep the Union together. So if that meant making concessions or throttling back in order to keep the border states from leaving, he was willing to do so for a time.Lincoln was a much more effective chief executive, but from strictly a military standpoint, Jefferson Davis had advantages over his northern counterpart, at least early in the conflict. 'Forward to Richmond' was the wrong strategy - eventually Lincoln realized the Confederate armies had to be the focal point, not capturing the seat of power.re: war making production and the arithmetic - Shelby Foote: "I think that the North fought that war with one hand behind its back. If the Confederacy ever had come close to winning on the battlefield, the North simply would have brought that other arm out from behind its back. I don't think the South ever had a chance to win that war." Be that as it may, it was near thing. Confederate arms more than once almost persuaded the North that the price of subduing the rebellious states would be too high.

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An except from this site...

http://www.wvculture.org/history/journal_wvh/wvh32-2.html

But the Civil War came. In terms of reviving friction between eastern and western Virginians, the war had the effect of turning the clock to 1830. The failure of Virginia to provide adequate defenses for the western counties, the attack on the Baltimore and Ohio near Fairmont in May 1861, the far more devastating and paralyzing destruction of the railroad by Stonewall Jackson at Harpers Ferry and Virginia's cancellation of the Kanawha Valley Railroad, convinced western Virginians that Richmond was still inclined to sacrifice their vital interests. Moreover, Governor John Letcher made it clear that Virginia would continue to punish the Baltimore and Ohio for its decision to support the Union. Little wonder that West Virginians ignored his promise to satisfy all their demands if they would support the Confederacy.32

The Confederate treatment of the Baltimore and Ohio proved to be a great aid to the statehood cause. If West Virginians accepted Congressional dictation to make a case for statehood with zealous opponents of slavery in Congress and with Secretary Chase and the President, they had no difficulty with War Secretary Edwin Stanton, a Democrat who formerly practiced law in Steubenville, Ohio, near the center of statehood activities, and who was well-known to many new state advocates. When this friend of the Baltimore and Ohio replaced the promoter of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Simon Cameron, in the War Department in 1862, statehood prospects brightened greatly. Stanton proved to be a loyal agent of the West Virginia independence movement.33 No coincidence was the addition of the "eastern panhandle" counties to the new state: the Baltimore and Ohio thereafter lay entirely in Maryland and West Virginia, securely beyond the reach of a potentially vindictive Old Dominion.

Wars and revolutions are commonly known to produce wholly unpredictable results. Lincoln's revolutionary experiment in Virginia proved to be no exception to the rule. Having promoted the Wheeling government and helped to clothe it with legal authority, he continued after Appomattox to defend the Restored Government as a means of restoring Virginia to the Union. In doing so, he served West Virginia's statehood purposes, which were basically in conflict with his reconstruction aims. Recognizing the statehood movement as a threat to his reconstruction plans, he tried to check it. When a Wheeling convention, held spellbound by Carlile, was prepared to divide the state in May 1861, an administration agent intervened to persuade the West Virginians to embrace instead the cause of the Union state government. Three months later, Lincoln's Attorney General delivered to statehood advocates an administration caveat, the meaning of which was not subject to misinterpretation. In Congress the President's friend, Orville H. Browning, tried to forestall the movement.34 Nevertheless, West Virginians proceeded to use the Restored Government for statehood purposes. Control of the Restored Government permitted them in May 1862, to obtain technically the permission of the Virginia legislature (the Wheeling Assembly), as required by the federal constitution, to form the new state. Lincoln was distressed by the ultimate Congressional approval of the act, but when the act was placed officially on his desk, he had no real choice. Having enlisted the support of his most powerful critics in Congress and in his cabinet, West Virginians held the trump cards. And he knew it.

Two developments in December 1862, dictated Lincoln's decision to approve the admission of West Virginia, although neither took place in the proposed new state. Lincoln's armies were again crushed, and his leadership was seriously challenged by a Congressional revolt designed to give his Treasury Secretary the power of a prime minister. The devastating repulse of the federals at Fredericksburg shook the nation and deepened the pall of gloom already prevalent in Washington. That fiasco closed the second year of the war, with the Confederates having humiliated Lincoln's armies in four of the five major campaigns in the eastern theater.

Fredericksburg gave form and substance to the apparitions which were to continue to haunt Lincoln for another six months. The Union defeat revived the prospects of foreign intervention, the primary goal of Confederate diplomacy. It made far more ominous a threatened disintegration of the Union, posed by the move to create a northwestern confederacy, the type dissolution which Lincoln had predicted for the Confederacy. That disaster raised serious questions about his ability to conduct the war and prompted zealous Congressmen of his own party to demand that Lincoln relinquish his power to them and their man in his cabinet, Salmon P. Chase. A month earlier the midterm elections embarrassed Lincoln, Fredericksburg left him unable to "see a ray of hope." Perhaps, as he told Browning, the Almighty intended to give the ultimate victory to the Confederates.35

Fredericksburg, and Lincoln's response to it, suggest that Lincoln differed with "radicals" only in terms of timing and expediency. He was as determined as the most zealous of the radicals to win the war, but he repudiated their approach and proposed timing of action. He disliked slavery as much as did Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens, or any of the abolitionists. But he would not sacrifice the Union and the Constitution to destroy slavery. He waited until the appropriate time to act. He would not jeopardize his war program by his actions respecting the division of Virginia. Fredericksburg, however, had the effect of convincing Lincoln that the time and circumstances required his accepting the views of most radicals on the West Virginia question.

Congressional debates on the statehood bill clearly reflect a vindictive attitude of the radicals toward Virginia. They also contained the fundamental arguments in favor of destroying the inhumane institution of slavery. That revulsion against slavery and a vindictive attitude toward the South were characteristic of those designated as "radicals."36 Those Oliver Cromwells of the Civil War were, in effect, too human to rise to the level of Lincoln's statesmanship. If the Confederates had punished the Union at First and Second Manassas and the Peninsular Campaign, and if they had embarrassed the Union at Antietam, the radicals could punish Virginia in Congress, if not on the battlefields. They could forever reduce the size and influence of Virginia by supporting the movement to give independence to those western Virginians.37 If the conservative States' rights men of the statehood movement had attempted to avoid the slavery issue, at least they were generally agreeable to the gradual emancipation of slaves. Virginia was winning the war in the field but, in terms of her territory, she was losing the war in Congress. Fredericksburg apparently destroyed Virginia's case with the President.

Lincoln wished to defer the question of a division of Virginia. He apparently preferred to keep his campaign promises, and those of his party, to avoid interference with slavery in states where it existed. He did not feel that he had the power to abolish slavery which was protected by the Constitution. He had grave doubts about the constitutionality of the proposed new state. But the war forced him to act in both cases. Months earlier when he was in a far stronger position, he had felt it expedient to give a new Wheeling command to the fallen hero of the radicals, John C. Fremont, whom the President had fired because of his refusal to accept the slavery policy of his commander in chief. Fredericksburg strengthened the hand of the radicals and left Lincoln defenseless. While he managed to prevent the Republican extremists from seizing control of the presidency, he found it inexpedient to challenge them further by rejecting the statehood movement. He could be evasive in discussing statehood with John S. Bingham after Fredericksburg,38 but he could not openly challenge the zealots of his own party by rejecting that act which, almost without exception, had the ardent support of the radicals.

In the final analysis, Lincoln approved West Virginia statehood for the same reasons which prompted him to issue the great proclamation. His views toward both questions were determined by the same basic consideration -- he would employ every means available, even if it mean stretching the Constitution much farther than Alexander Hamilton or John Marshall ever dreamed possible, and farther than James C. Randall considered permissible, in order to win the war, to preserve the Union and the Constitution. If such semantic interpolation does not constitution an injustice to historical accuracy, one might paraphrase Lincoln's reply to the "Prayer of Twenty Millions," Horace Greeley's untimely demand for the immediate emancipation of the slaves, in order to make clear Lincoln's approach to the question of West Virginia.

Perceiving more clearly than his contemporaries the importance of timing in dealing with crucial questions of national import, Lincoln would say:

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. . . . My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or to destroy [the new state]. . . . If I could save the Union without [acting on the statehood question], I would do it. . . . What I do about [the division of Virginia], I do because I believe it helps to have the Union, and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help save the Union. . . . I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.39

With perfect timing, Lincoln issued the preliminary emancipation proclamation four weeks after his reply to Greeley. Because the time required him to do so, he approved the statehood bill.

To Lincoln the problem was that of determining the expediency of approving statehood, in a sense, that of reconciling national interests with those of West Virginians who, by virtue of his military failures, seemed to represent a balance of power in the nation. As he found it expedient in September 1862, to defer to the wishes of West Virginians by excluding the new state from the provisions of the preliminary emancipation proclamation, Fredericksburg made expedient his approving and defending the act to admit the new state. To underscore the obvious, Lincoln's written opinion on the statehood question suggests that it was dictated by the same basic premise which prompted him to act respecting slavery. "More than anything else, it depends on whether the admission or rejection of the new state would . . . tend the more strongly to the restoration of the national authority throughout the Union. That which helps more in his direction," he maintained, "is the most expedient at this time."40 (Italics are those of the author.) That statesman from the West whom Walt Whitman had years earlier called forth to save the Union, Lincoln was, fortunately, at the helm to reconcile a critical conflict of state and national interests during the darkest, if not the finest, hour for both the nation and West Virginia.

>end<

So Lincoln was actually against the division of Virginia, as it would interfere with his reconstruction plan. There was also much consternation in Washington because WV would not accept full slave emancipation, and the hard line abolishionists did not want to admit a slave state into the Union. The compromise was eventual emancipation. The "restored government" of WV in Wheeling came about for several reasons. First and foremost, the western counties of Virginia had not been well represented in Richmond up until the war threatened. Richmond allowed more representaives form the west to join the state government, along with promises that the west would be defended from Union forces, which would soon be proven to be an empty promise, culminating in the Phillipi Races, and Stonewall Jackson's destruction of the Baltimore-Ohio railroad. After Lee left, some claim defeated, but essentially he just left, life would get more difficult for the southeastern pro Richmond inhabitants. The western counties had been given up.

The vote to seceed from Virginia was also pretty skewed. The southeastern counties were pro Union secession, so much so that pro unionists fled their homes to the northeastern counties, near Wheeling. These refugees were then well represented in the Wheeling voting, while the southern counties were not, also in part because the men who had joined the Confederate army were absent, and therefore unable to vote. Control of the southeastern counties would have to be based on occupation, not the free will of those counties.

Richmond would try to re-unite with WV after the war, but lost a decision in the Supreme court in 1870, and that was the end of it.

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After reviewing the Robert E Lee failures in West Virginia at the beginning of the war, I think what it really comes down to is that the Confederacy simply did not have enough troops to quell rebellion in West Virginia; they were needed elsewhere.

One of the great questions of the "What if the Confederacy Had Won?" is what would have become of West Virginia? I suspect that the South would have been unwilling to permanently concede it to the North, and would have attempted to claim it. Had they been sucessful, it likely would have become like Kashmir between India and Pakistan and been a constant starting point of conflict between the two nations.

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After reviewing the Robert E Lee failures in West Virginia at the beginning of the war, I think what it really comes down to is that the Confederacy simply did not have enough troops to quell rebellion in West Virginia; they were needed elsewhere.One of the great questions of the "What if the Confederacy Had Won?" is what would have become of West Virginia? I suspect that the South would have been unwilling to permanently concede it to the North, and would have attempted to claim it. Had they been sucessful, it likely would have become like Kashmir between India and Pakistan and been a constant starting point of conflict between the two nations.

Lee supposedly was defeated in WV, but I agree, he simply knew it was ground that could not be defended given his limited manpower resources, and had to give it up, while also knowing that keeping control of WV would tie up some Union resources as a result. The south had to choose what ground had to be defended and as many West Virginians suspected, anything west of the Alleganey montains would be abandonded. The supporters of the Old Dominion would pay the price, especially after the way they treated Unionists prior to the "running off" of Confederates west of the mountains. Harpers Ferry would continue to be a hot spot, but Richmond (or Lee) never had any real plans to defend the western counties. Tactically, the land beyond the mountains to the west were indefensable from the PA and OH borders, and the supply line was not even tenuous, it almost didn't exist at all. When Jackson destroyed the Balt-Ohio RR, WV knew it was over for them. Their best option was then clear.... statehood in the Union.

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