Nonfiction Book Excerpt: The Civil War Begins: Sumter to Bull Run by Fred Skolnik

The Civil War Begins: Sumter to Bull Run

by Fred Skolnik

The drama surrounding Fort Sumter and reaching its peak in April 1861 had begun four months earlier with the secession of South Carolina from the Union. The cause of the Civil War was ostensibly the issue of slavery, though Lincoln had declared that he would only ban it in the new states formed out of the western territories. However, resentment in the South ran very deep, fueled by the air of moral superiority assumed by the North and the financial stranglehold of New York and Boston bankers on the rural South. Churchill called the War the most unavoidable in modern history and such, apparently, it was.

Up until April the Federal garrison – 74 officers and men and eight musicians – had occupied not Fort Sumter but Fort Moultrie at the edge of Sullivan Island, a resort near the city of Charleston (see Map 1). In such localities, along the coast and on the borders but mostly across the Mississippi facing the Indians, the 198 companies of the regular army, totaling 16,000 officers and men, were deployed. Service at Charleston was of course preferable to service in the swamplands of Florida or the wastelands of the West. For Charleston was a civilized city, the Athens of the South as it was known to its 40,000 inhabitants, with paved streets and colonnaded brick and marble buildings and walled gardens, and it was there that rural society from the interior of the state gathered in the winter season, for the shopping, the balls, the theater, the horse races and the cock fights. At the same time, however, the city was not immune to the tensions between North and South – just the opposite was the case – so that it was clear to the new commander at Moultrie, Major Robert Anderson, who had arrived in the middle of November, that if South Carolina seceded from the Union, it would demand the evacuation of the forts in the Bay. Anderson was 55 years old, from Kentucky, and with a wife from Georgia no less, but loyal to the government and with no intention of being derelict in his duty, whatever his feelings might be.[1] Moultrie, at the time, was particularly vulnerable, despite the repairs that were begun the previous summer and had at least managed to stop up the gaping holes in the walls that allowed even cows to step into the fort for a quick visit in their leisure hours. On the other hand, nothing was done about the two sand hills that commanded the fort from a distance of 350 yards, making them an ideal location for snipers, as they were on private property. On the whole, the forts around the Bay were in pretty bad shape. Castle Pinckney was manned by a single sergeant with his family who spent his time oiling the rusty cannons there, Fort Johnson was practically in ruins, and Fort Sumter, under construction for 31 years, had still not been completed and not one cannon had been mounted.

Sumter had been built on an artificial reef beside the main ship channel in the Bay and had been planned to accommodate 650 soldier and 146 cannons on two acres of ground. As Sumter commanded the entrance to the Bay in the same way that Pinkney commanded the city, Anderson pressed for authorization to occupy both, and was indeed authorized to speed up the work there (around 100 laborers, mostly immigrants, had been working in Sumter when Anderson arrived). All this activity was naturally not to the liking of Charleston's residents, who understood exactly what Anderson was up to. Even before he had arrived they had blocked the pier to prevent ammunition from reaching Moultrie from the arsenal in the city, and now, with secession, South Carolina dispatched three commissioners to the capital to negotiate the transfer of the Federal property in the state to the rebels.

During the crisis, President Buchanan had maintained an absurdly paradoxical position. As he understood it, a state did not have the right to secede. On the other hand, the government did not have the right to prevent it. Therefore he received and did not receive the three commissioners. He did not receive them as representatives of an independent government but as private citizens, and in this guise he deliberated with them. But by the time he met with them on December 28, the entire situation in Charleston had changed. Anderson had done what no one in the government had been prepared to do: he had acted.

Fearing that the rebels would attempt to seize Federal property if the government didn't accede to their demands, Anderson decided to abandon Moultrie and transfer his entire force to Sumter. The operation was organized under a veil of secrecy with most of his men completely in the dark. On December 26, the day after Christmas, he sent off all 43 wives and children of his men in the direction of Fort Johnson, in two rented boats, as if to get them out of harm's way. But he had also loaded the boats with four months of supplies for his entire force along with part of their personal equipment. Then, as night fell, he got all his men onto three additional boats that had been hidden in a little bay near Moultrie and in total silence sailed for Sumter. When they got there, the small force that had remained in Moultrie as cover fired two signal shots and the two boats waiting in the Bay with the women and children also made its way to Sumter. In the meantime the force in Moultrie put the cannons there out of commission and the garrison doctor rowed back and forth with as much medical equipment as he could bring along. The next day Anderson and his men stood on the walls of Sumter and looked out toward Charleston with not a little satisfaction.

When it became clear what had happened, all hell broke loose. Governor Pickens of South Carolina sent an aide to Sumter to demand that Anderson return to Moultrie. Anderson refused. Secretary of War Floyd, who was from Virginia and had already transferred 115,000 rifles to Southern warehouses during the year, supposedly to fill their quotas, and had tried to transfer 125 cannons there too in the previous month, immediately sent an indignant telegram to Anderson: "Intelligence has reached here this morning [December 27] that you have abandoned Fort Moultrie, spiked your guns, burned the carriages, and gone to Fort Sumter. It is not believed, because there is no order for any such movement. Explain the meaning of this report." President Buchanan, upon receiving the South Carolina commissioners and being exhorted to send Anderson back to Sumter, pleaded with them: "Mr. Barnwell, you are pressing me too importunately; you don't give me time to consider; you don't give me time to say my prayers. I always say my prayers when required to act upon any state affair."

Fortunately, Anderson had just the explanation that Floyd had demanded. On December 11 he had received a visit from Don Carlos Buell, Assistant Adjutant-General of the U.S Army, who gave him verbal instructions from Floyd, namely, to defend himself "to the last extremity" if attacked and even to occupy any of the other forts as required if there were clear signs of hostile actions. Floyd had in fact modified his instructions ten days later, instructing Anderson not to endanger his men if there was no chance of prevailing, in which case he was to surrender under the best conditions he could get. However, everything had still been left to Anderson's discretion. Now, Anderson claimed, he had employed that discretion to save his command. The Northern members of the Cabinet concurred that he had acted correctly and Floyd, who was in any case on his way out of the government, resigned two days later.

But Governor Pickens gave as good as he got. Castle Pinkney and Moultrie were occupied a day after Anderson seized Sumter, as was the customs house and post office in the city. Two days later Fort Johnson was occupied and on December 30 a force of 200 militiamen surrounded the arsenal in the city, received the surrender of the 15 soldiers there, and took possession of 22,000 rifles and a number of cannon. Consequently, in his written reply to the South Carolina commissioners on December 31, Buchanan declared that despite his inclination to order Anderson back to Moultrie and despite the fact that Anderson had acted on his own, he was not now inclined, given the haste of the rebels to seize Federal property, to abandon Sumter. Without a doubt the departure of the obstreperous Floyd had made it easier for Buchanan to act and he even made preparations to send reinforcements to Anderson. In the meantime Lincoln, who was due to be sworn in on March 4, continued to sit quietly at home in Springfield, only declaring that he was prepared to be flexible on every issue except the spread of slavery.

The facility in which Anderson found himself looked more like a building site than a fort. Though it was surrounded by 50-foot ramparts, the interior was a clutter of building materials and equipment. The first priority was to mount their 66 cannons. Since there were no embrasures in the second tier, Anderson didn't use it and, with the help of the 43 workmen still in the fort, had his men drag the cannons one by one to their designated places on the lower and upper levels, including three columbiads weighing 7 tons each and firing a 128 lb. projectile. However, most of the cannons were outdated 24-, 32- and 42-pounders. Simultaneously, supplies and reinforcements – 200 men – left New York clandestinely on January 5 on the Star of the West, a steamship rented at $1250 a day. The ship arrived at the Bay at midnight on January 8 and at dawn tried to enter it. It was greeted by two shots from Morris Island, Moultrie's guns joined in, and the Star of the West turned around and fled. Anderson and Pickens immediately sent threatening letters to each other, but since neither side wished to see the situation deteriorate, a kind of truce was put in place and correct relations were reestablished. Anderson was permitted to purchase food in the city's markets and to use the occupied post office (as a precaution Anderson sealed his correspondence with the War Department with wax) and for its part the government backed down from its intention to reinforce Sumter.

As noted, six additional Southern states had seceded by February 1, proceeding to seize U.S. Army facilities one after the other. In Texas, General Twiggs, a 70-year-old Georgian who retired from the Army for reasons of health and out of loyalty to the South, made sure the rebels came into possession of all the facilities under his command – around 20 along a 1,200 mile border – and that his 2,500 soldiers were expelled from the state. Only in Florida, in Fort Pickens in Pensacola Bay on the western edge of the state, did the Army hold out against rebel guns on the shore in a situation similar to the one at Sumter, and with it two additional forts at the Southern tip of the state. But the seceding states did not content themselves with seizing Federal property. On February 4, 38 delegates from six states (the Texans had not managed to send theirs) convened in Montgomery, Alabama and proclaimed a "Confederacy," that is, a country of their own. Despite the fact that the secession of the seven Southern states had been a belligerent and unilateral act, they did not spare themselves in their efforts to find a Constitutional justification for it. As they saw things, the Union was made up of sovereign states which had each entered a kind of association or federation separately and independently, so it followed that each had the right to leave it. Not at all, claimed the defenders of the Union: the Union was perpetual, as had been stated in the Articles of Confederation drafted by the Continental Congress before the framing of the Constitution, and in any case, as Lincoln argued, it was self-evident, as no country has ever had basic laws that made possible its own extinction. Moreover, the states had no standing in the creation of the Union, as the Constitution explicitly referred to "we the people" as the constituting power and not "we the states."

Naturally a great deal of ink was spilled arguing these two basic positions, though the debate was entirely academic. The architects of the Confederacy had hastened to publish their own Constitution, a fairly simple task given the fact that they copied the Constitution of the abominable Union, as well as its laws and institutions, with the exception of a few provisions concerning states' rights, and in an effort to appear righteous even banned the importation of slaves from foreign countries, which added an element of farce to the entire exercise. To close the circle they also awarded their president the same salary as the president of the United States.[2]

The rebels chose Jefferson Davis as their president, no doubt the most accomplished and experienced individual among them. A graduate of West Point and hero of the Mexican War, Davis has served in Congress and the Senate as well as Secretary of War in Pierce's Cabinet, but would have preferred, he claimed, to command the troops of his own state of Mississippi instead of becoming president of the Confederacy. Despite having been elected unanimously, he had many detractors, who expressed doubts as to his stature as a statesman and were put off by his arrogant and narrow-minded ways, his reserved manner and his legalistic mind.[3] Davis was the complete opposite of Lincoln, who was a friendly type and admired much more by his "inferiors," namely slaves, women and children, than by his own class. Ironically, he resembled Lincoln physically, with the same pursed lips and sunken cheeks. Aside from his "Lincolnesque" look, he also resembled Lincoln in his personal history. Both were natives of Kentucky, with Lincoln arriving in Illinois in the New West via Indiana and Davis arriving in Mississippi in the New South via Louisiana.

And now, on February 15, Davis arrived in Montgomery, a lively and attractive city with its Italian-style villas, luxurious coaches and beautiful women – the South at its best. Immediately after being sworn in, he appointed the rest of his Cabinet, one for each state of the Confederacy aside from his own Mississippi, and including Judah Benjamin, a brilliant jurist and former Senator from Louisiana ("a Hebrew with Egyptian principles," as he was called in the North for his support of slavery), who was appointed attorney general. Davis was then authorized by the Provisional Congress to enlist 100,000 volunteers for a period of one year. To his wife he wrote: "We are without machinery, we are without means, and threatened by a powerful opposition, but I do not despond and will not shrink from the task imposed on me."

On February 22, Lincoln arrived in Baltimore, on his way to Washington with his entire entourage. Baltimore was a distinctly Southern city, and Lincoln was forced to cross it in the dead of night following rumors of an assassination plot. In the capital itself, on inauguration day, two sharpshooters were stationed at every window in the city and 50 secret service men huddled beneath the platform set up for the speeches. In his speech, Lincoln again promised not to interfere with slavery in the Southern states and again emphasized his commitment to the preservation of the Union. "In your hands and not in mine," he called to the South, "is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors."

Lincoln's call was received in the South with anger and disdain and war preparations continued. In Sumter, Anderson sent all dependents home and continued to emplace his cannons in plain sight of the incensed inhabitants of Charleston. And now, in the beginning of March, an officer by the name of Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was sent to the city to take command. Short and dark, he looked as exotic as his name sounded and had a penchant for self-promotion. Beauregard the "Creole" was 42 and a native of Louisiana with some Welsh and Scottish blood flowing in his veins too and without a doubt the right man to embody the authority of the Confederacy in aristocratic Charleston, a Napoleonic figure with the addition of all the virtues – grace, pride, honor – of his class, arrogant and hot-tempered in the accepted style, gallant and romantic. From a professional point of view too Beauregard was right for the job, for conducting a siege and capturing fortifications was the bread and butter of the army engineer and such was Beauregard, like most of the "better people" in the army, as it was to this elite corps that those at the top of their West Point class were sent. Beauregard had gotten a good name in the regular army. He had been wounded twice in Mexico and with the rank of major had even served as superintendent of West Point in the months preceding the secession of Louisiana. Now as a brigadier in the Confederate army (at a salary of $301 a month), he had the ten regiments at his disposal that had been mobilized to defend South Carolina and transferred to the new government with around 7,000 soldiers – along with the 47 howitzers surrounding Sumter at the easy range of 1,300 (Cummings Point) to 2,450 yards (Fort Johnson). Beauregard was ready to make war.

Under these circumstances the dilemma Lincoln faced was whether to try once more to send supplies and reinforcements to Sumter at the risk of provoking war and the secession of the remaining Southern states and even the border states that had until now remained undecided. At this point, only tiny Delaware seemed secure. Despite the influence of the few slaveholders in the state (among the 112,000 inhabitants there were only 1,798 slaves), the state legislature had voted unanimously not to secede. In North Carolina it was indeed decided not to convene a convention to discuss the issue and in the mountain regions, such as East Tennessee and West Virginia, there was little sympathy for the rebels, though North Carolina was far from being safe for the Union. Arkansas was divided. Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri were uncertain. Some encouragement was derived from the admission of free Kansas as the 34th state of the Union, which was only made possible by the absence of the Southern senators, but on the other hand all efforts to avoid a clash failed, including the most serious one, the Critendon Compromise, a legislative package that resuscitated the Missouri Compromise, seeking as Douglas had to leave the slavery question in the Southern territories in the hands of the local populations. Despite wide support, the compromise was rejected by the Senate.

Despite everything, Lincoln's inclination was to send supplies to Sumter. His Cabinet, however, was divided. Leading the opposition was Secretary of State Seward, Lincoln's opponent at the Democratic Convention, who came up with a somewhat wild idea of a familiar kind, namely, to declare war against Spain and France as a distraction serving to unify the nation, in retaliation for their activities in Latin America. Seward saw himself as the dominant figure in the Government and believed he could control what he perceived as a weak and inexperienced Lincoln. Among other things, Seward declared that whatever the policy might be, if Lincoln was incapable of carrying it out, it was preferable that Seward did so himself. Lincoln, however, very quickly made sure that Seward understood that responsibility for governing the country was entirely his, and Seward, for his part, understood very quickly that he had underestimated the President. Lincoln intended to be president in every sense of the word. In the end, with supplies dwindling at Sumter, Lincoln decided to attempt to supply it. Consequently, on April 8, he informed the Governor of South Carolina that he intended to send out a flotilla of unarmed and unmanned supply ships. This idea did not appeal to Jefferson Davis in Montgomery, who instructed Beauregard to demand the immediate evacuation of Sumter or, alternately, to capture it. Beauregard wasted little time. A few days before, he had already stopped supplies from the city and the use of the post office. On April 11 he sent three of his aides out to Sumter in a rowboat to demand its surrender. It was 3:45 in the afternoon when they arrived. Anderson conferred with his officers and replied in the negative, but mentioned in passing that in any case his men would be surrendering to hunger in a few days' time. This remark was also passed on to Montgomery and caught Davis's eye. When then, he wished to know, did Anderson plan to evacuate the fort. Once again Beauregard dispatched his aides and this time Anderson replied that if he did not receive new instructions or supplies by the 15th, he would surrender then. This did not satisfy the delegation, so in Beauregard's name, after being told by the latter to use their judgment, they informed Anderson at 3:20 in the morning that in another hour Southern guns would open fire on the fort. From there they rowed to Fort Johnson and ordered the signal shot to be fired. The shell exploded about 100 feet above the fortress. Within a quarter of an hour all of Beauregard's guns had entered the fray. The sound of gunfire brought out all of Charleston to their roofs and balconies to watch the marvelous show of bombs bursting in air like fireworks, the women praying, the men cursing.

The soldiers in Sumter took shelter and waited for orders. In the meantime the first two ships from the supply convoy arrived, but did not dare enter the Bay. Remaining entirely calm, Anderson's men had their breakfast (only some fat pork remained) and at 7:30 went out to man the cannons. Because they would be exposed, Anderson decided not to use the 28 cannons he had emplaced in the upper tier, which happened to be his most powerful guns, and to make do with the 21 cannons at ground level. Unfortunately it turned out that most of them – the 32-pounders – were not powerful enough to inflict any real damage at such a range. Furthermore they were only good for firing solid shot as opposed to the Southern shells, which shook the fort like an earthquake and continued to fall at a steady clip throughout the day, though none of the defenders was hit. Out of frustration, one of the Federal soldiers climbed to the upper tier and fired off every one of the heavy cannons there that were aimed at Fort Moultrie. A few cannon shots were also aimed at the civilians crowding the shore to get a better look at things, but instead of hitting any of them they hit the empty summer hotel being used as a hospital.[4]

Fires broke out three times during the day in the Sumter barracks, as the rebels were using heated shot in addition to shells, but were extinguished with the help of the laborers, who also served as ammunition bearers and even joined the cannon crews. By evening Beauregard's guns had fired 2,500 rounds of shot and shells. The pace dropped to one every quarter of an hour in the rainy night, but with the sun out in the morning, firing was stepped up and fires again broke out, which now threatened to spread to the arsenal. A ditch was dug around it and filled with water until the danger passed. In the meanwhile, at Cummings Point on Morris Island, another of Beauregard's aides, Louis Wigfall, former senator from Texas, observed the smoke and destruction and Sumter's shattered flagpole and on his own got a soldier and two Negroes into a rowboat and had them row him out to the pockmarked fort. At 1:30 in the afternoon one of the Federal gunners was surprised to see a puffy face crowned with wild hair in his position. It was Wigfall, in civilian clothes and with a white hanky tied to his sword, who had managed to cross the mined promenade outside the rampart and boost himself over it. Wigfall asked to speak with Anderson. Anderson came out to meet him. Wigfall introduced himself and pleaded with Anderson to stop the bloodshed. Anderson remarked that no blood had been shed among his men and in any case the rebels were continuing to fire. Wigfall took it upon himself to take care of the matter and got a white flag to be hoisted above the fort during the negotiations that he intended to conduct with Anderson. Wigfall proposed the same terms to the exhausted and desperate Federal commander that Beauregard had proposed two days earlier – surrender with all the usual military honors. Anderson agreed. Wigfall gave him his best wishes and removed himself from the place.

In the meanwhile Beauregard had also observed the flames shooting up from the fort and the fallen flag so he sent another three aides from Moultrie "to offer assistance" and of course push for a surrender. Halfway there, they observed that the flag was up again (raised by the garrison), turned around and started rowing back. But when they looked back they saw that it had been lowered and a white flag raised instead (thanks to Wigfall). Again they turned around and at around two o'clock reached the fort and discovered to their amazement that Anderson had already surrendered. When they pointed out to Anderson that Wigfall was not authorized to conduct negotiations, Anderson threatened to open fire again. The three aides calmed him and proposed that they return to Beauregard to confirm the surrender.

Not too much time passed before two more aides arrived, for Beauregard too had seen the white flag when his first delegation was still in the middle of the Bay and had determined to demand an immediate surrender. Anderson was forced to explain that this was the third time he was surrendering and that the second delegation had just returned to Moultrie. Finally, a few hours later, the aides returned and this time finalized the surrender.

The next day, April 14, Anderson marched his men to the parade ground to the sound of drums, raised the flag and saluted it with volleys of cannon fire, during which a pile of ammunition exploded next to one of the guns and a soldier was killed along with five wounded, one of them critically – the only losses in the entire battle, where 4,000 shells and steel shot had fallen on the fort. After the ceremony, Anderson and his men boarded one of the ships waiting outside the harbor and sailed away.

The fall of Sumter electrified America. The inhabitants of the South were almost delirious with joy, embracing strangers in the streets and cheering at every opportunity. In the North too there was an outpouring of feeling as tensions dissolved after the long crisis and people steadied their nerves for the coming war. Lincoln's response was not long in coming. The next day he published a call for 75,000 volunteers for a period of three months to put down the rebellion in the seven Confederate states. Lincoln had once again acted decisively despite the danger of pushing additional states into the arms of the rebels, the jewel in the crown being glorious Virginia, the largest state in the South with 1.6 million inhabitants (including 550,000 slaves) and the fifth largest in the United States. Among its sons were four of America's first five presidents; the great John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for 35 years (1801-1835); and even Winfield Scott, the commanding general of the United States Army since 1841. Virginia had the most formidable fighting force in the South with 150,000 militiamen, comprising the bulk of the state's military force, around 300 cannon, and an abundance of first-rate regular army officers – 84 in number, comprising 8% of the total.[5]

Among these officers, and perhaps the most capable among them, at least in the eyes of Scott, who claimed he was worth 50,000 men, was that same Robert. E. Lee who had been sent to Harpers Ferry to put down John Brown's insurrection. Already in the beginning of February, Lee had been released from his post as deputy commander of a Texas cavalry regiment and invited by Scott to Washington. When he got there, both Lincoln and Scott put out feelers. Scott, at the age of 75, was no longer able to take the field or even to get up from a chair and mount a horse without a major military operation that required the mobilization of all his aides. He had always been a mountain of a man, but in old age he had ballooned to 300 lbs. and was plagued by a host of illnesses. ("Lieutenant General Scott," wrote Scott to the Secretary of State in that same period, "who had a bad night and can scarcely hold up his head this morning …) It is therefore reasonable to assume that in the meetings between Lee and government officials he was offered nothing less than the field command of the U.S Army. One way or the other, he turned it down. He was not capable, he wrote, of raising a hand against his kin, his children, his home; he hoped, he said, that he would not have to draw his sword unless it was to defend his state of Virginia. And as expected, Virginia did secede after Lincoln's call for volunteers, and with it, on April 20, Lee resigned from the Army after 36 years of service,[6] and at a heavy price – the almost certain loss of his plantation in Arlington just across the Potomac, which was an especially heavy in view of his lack of means (despite being married to a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington) and four marriageable daughters. Within a few days Lee was appointed commander of state troops by the Governor of Virginia. These troops did not wait for Lee to act. With the secession of Virginia, thousands converged on Harpers Ferry and the arsenals there, met by 45 Federal soldiers. When it became obvious that they did not stand a chance of defending themselves, the latter burned everything they could on the night of the 18th and fled. This included 15,000 rifles; but the machinery and tools were saved and sent on to Richmond. An even more serious problem for Washington were the intentions of the border state of Maryland, which enveloped the District of Columbia and as a hostile force could isolate the capital. Despite the fact that its legislature had blocked efforts to secede, support for the rebels was widespread, especially in Baltimore. When the 6th Massachusetts regiment arrived there, having been among the first to answer Lincoln's call, and began crossing the city in railroad cars pulled by horses in order to reach the Washington terminal, the way was blocked by local residents and four companies were isolated. When they got down from the cars to continue on foot, they were met by a barrage of thrown objects and gunfire. The soldiers immediately returned fire. Four of them along with 12 civilians were killed and many wounded. The next day the railroad bridge was burned and Washington was indeed cut off from the North. On the same day the Federal garrison at the Norfolk, Virginia shipyard abandoned its post, fearing its capture, but not before burning most of the ships, as old as most of them were. So the war began to gain momentum. All over America, North and South, volunteers were now settling into improvised camps and the routines of raw recruits: drills, parades, guard duty, family visits, prayer – and finally the election of field officers by the men themselves. With the closing of Baltimore the first recruits crossed Chesapeake Bay and reached Washington via Annapolis. The 7th New York and the 6th and 8th Massachusetts were housed in the Senate Rotunda and everyone had a good time chairing imaginary sessions. Bread was baked in the basement of the building. The 7th Rhode Island bivouacked in the Patent Office near the exhibits of curiosities. The commander of the regiment was Ambrose Burnside, a former regular army officer who had invented a breech-loading carbine. With him arrived the governor of the state, the young and wealthy William Sprague, who immediately began to court the beautiful daughter of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase. As a backdrop to courtship and social life in general, Washington was not a very inspiring place, still not built up after 60 years of construction. The Capitol, home of Congress, was surrounded by scaffolding, the streets were overflowing with mud and garbage, animal carcasses filled the canals, and bars and houses of ill repute were everywhere. And worst of all was the sight of the rebel flag blowing in the wind in Alexandria on the right bank of the Potomac. By the middle of April, 35,000 of the 100,000 Southern volunteers were already equipped for active duty. On April 21 a battalion of cadets from the Virginia Military Academy arrived in Richmond accompanied by a professor of mathematics by the name of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, a West Point graduate and one of the outstanding veterans of the Mexican War, chosen now to train the recruits. In the meanwhile over 2,000 militiamen had gathered at Harpers Ferry and on the 27th Jackson was sent there to establish order. Jackson got rid of all the "generals" and their preening aides, organized regiments and instituted iron discipline and an exhausting training regimen of 17 hours a day, including at least seven hours of marching. He was joined by "Jeb" Stuart, remembered from the days of John Brown and now given the job of organizing the cavalry. By this time Virginia's forces were already under the authority of President Davis. In the face of all this activity, Lincoln acted energetically. On April 19, he announced a blockade of Southern ports, which was problematic, as international law defined blockades as instruments of warfare between two states and Lincoln was not prepared to accord such a status to the Confederacy. (With regard to prisoners he had no choice but to regard rebel prisoners as prisoners of war lest the South retaliate in its treatment of Northern prisoners.) Lincoln announced the blockade without the approval of Congress, which was in recess. He also extended the period of service of the volunteers to three years and expanded the regular army by ten regiments. But most problematic of all in terms of presidential powers was his suspension of the writ of habeas corpus along the Philadelphia-Washington rail line (which crossed Maryland) in order to allow arrests without having to appear before a judge, in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling.

In the meantime, volunteers continued to arrive in Washington by the thousands, some of them equipped, some emptyhanded. The most striking of them was without a doubt the Zouaves of New York, most of them volunteer firemen and all in their customary exotic dress: fezzes, short jackets, billowing pantaloons in a variety of colors and piratical knives and handguns hanging from their belts. The Zouaves had originally been colonial French soldiers from the Zouave tribe in Algeria who had distinguished themselves in the Crimean War and spawned numerous imitators. The ones from New York, who arrived in Washington in May, had been organized by their commanding officer, Elmer Ellsworth, who in the not too distant past had studied law under Lincoln in Springfield. His men stormed the city in high spirits, swinging from buildings on ropes and charging purchases to Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. But when a fire broke out at the big Willard Hotel, they promptly extinguished it and won the hearts of the city's residents.

Gradually, order was established. The volunteers were bivouacked in camps surrounding the city and generals began to be appointed from among army oldtimers and glory-seeking politicians: Robert Patterson, at the age of 69 a veteran of the War of 1812 like Scott, was given command of the Department of Pennsylvania; Joseph Mansfield received Washington; Benjamin Butler, a Democratic activist from Massachusetts whom Lincoln wished to enlist in the war effort received the Department of Annapolis in Maryland. At the beginning of May, 13 states announced that they had at least one regiment organized (Pennsylvania already had 25 and Ohio 22).[7] However, at the same time, two more states seceded – Arkansas and Tennessee – and the Confederacy declared that a state of was existed between itself and the United States. By this time Jackson had a force of 8,000 men at Harpers Ferry facing General Patterson, and in Maryland, despite the fact that it was leaning to the North, there was still a great deal of agitation. To the amazement of Lincoln and Scott, the ambitious Butler decided to capture Baltimore with its quarter of a million residents, and to this end marched there with 1,000 men "to enforce the law." In actual fact it was not a bad idea and its implementation was reasonable. The presence of Federal soldiers in the city stymied Southern supporters and the sight of Butler in his ostentatious uniform running around like a stage actor served as a symbol of government authority. Arms were confiscated, the Confederate flag was taken down and arrests were made. But Butler was transferred to a quieter place.

Davis in Montgomery was now convinced that Virginia was fated to be the main battleground of the war and therefore decided to move the capital of the Confederacy to Richmond, around 90 mile south of Washington. He arrived there on May 29. The move was fairly simple, since at this stage the Confederate government was being run out of the trouser pockets of its members.

Davis found his own White House in the beautiful city – the third in size in the South with nearly 40,000 inhabitants, including 15,000 Negroes, many of them manumitted, and also a center of the tobacco and slave trade. Here he was swallowed up in a maelstrom of generals and politicians. One of them at least – Jackson at Harpers Ferry – gave him something to be happy about. It went without saying that the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad would have to be treated with kid gloves in order not to antagonize the inhabitants of Maryland and West Virginia, who were wavering between North and South. This was a huge system of 3,800 cars and over 500 miles of track. Jackson decided to be clever. First he limited the movement of trains past his camp ("because of the noise") to between the hours of 11 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. Then he blocked the tracks coming and going at opposite ends of a 30-mile stretch so that whoever went in could not get out, and in this way trapped around 50 locomotives and over 300 cars. Some of them he transported South on the main road, pulled by horses. Jackson's originality – or what was perceived as his eccentricity – had become legend. Already at the military academy where he was teaching, his students, shortsightedly, nicknamed him Tom Fool. Once, it was related, he wore his winter uniform in the summer because the order to wear it had not been rescinded, and once he stood outside the superintendent's office in a pouring rain because he was early for an appointment to hand in a report. He was convinced that one of his legs was longer than the other and that one of his arms was heavier than the other, so he occasionally lifted the heavier arm above his head to allow the blood to drain off and thus to lighten the load and balance himself. But despite all his idiosyncrasies, he possessed at least one kernel of self-awareness. "I have but one talent," he once told a friend, "and will never be anything more than plain Tom Jackson unless the United States engage in war." And he got his wish.

Another example of Jackson's excessive diligence can be seen in his refusal to transfer his command to Joseph Johnston, one of the senior officers in the Confederate army, who arrived on May 24 with orders from the Secretary of War to assume command. Until he received orders from his commanding officer, Lee, or from the governor of the state, Letcher, replied Jackson, he was not going to hand anything over to anyone. Lee took the time to set him straight and Jackson happily took command of a brigade under his new commander – four regiments made up of men from the Shenandoah Valley, most of them farmers and laborers with not a few carpenters, tanners, students and clerks and among them many Germans and Irish. Johnston had had an illustrious career in the regular army – and an uncanny ability to get shot. He had been wounded five times in Mexico and in one fight against the Indians he escaped unscathed with 30 bullet holes in his uniform. Facing him was Robert Patterson, but other pressure points were beginning to develop in Virginia. At the eastern end of the Virginia Peninsula, opposite the abandoned Norfolk shipyard, sat Fortress Monroe with 4,000 soldiers, making it the largest such facility in the United States, to which the menacing Benjamin Butler had been dispatched from Baltimore to threaten Richmond too, 75 miles away. Opposing him, at Yorktown, where Cornwallis had surrendered in 1781, was John Magruder, another formidable showman, known as Prince John for his courtly manner. But the most sensitive point remained Alexandria, opposite the Capital, where workers at the White House were in the habit of observing the rebel flag through a telescope. To right the situation and get the ball rolling, thousands of Northern soldiers crossed the Long Bridge on May 23 and captured the city, becoming the first Northern troops to set foot on North Virginia soil. They suffered just one casualty: Ellsworth, commander of the Zouaves shot dead while running to lower the rebel flag by the incensed owner of the house where it was raised. Lincoln mourned as if one of his own sons had been killed and the rebels withdrew, digging in not far from a place called Bull Run.

These developments were closely observed by the European Powers (namely, England and France), not at all displeased at the prospects of a war between North and South that would weaken America. At the same time they hesitated to come right out and support the South, fearing the Northern response as well as being put off by Southern slavery. England recognized that a state of war existed between the two sides and declared its neutrality, which was seen by the South as an important step toward recognition, but at the same time legitimized the blockade and relieved the North of concern that the European Powers would protect ships trying to run the blockade to reach Southern ports.

This blockade, from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, together with penetration into the South via the Mississippi River, were the main features of the Anaconda Plan that Scott came up with in order to divide and suffocate the South. The Plan was a product of the correspondence between Scott and George Brinton McClellan, commander of the Ohio troops and one of the rising stars in the constellation of young officers who saw the war as an opportunity to make their mark. Born in Philadelphia into a wealthy family, McClellan had known only success in life. Finishing second in his class at West Point (Jackson had finished seventeenth in the same class), he received three brevet promotions in the Mexican War and was afterwards sent to the Crimea as an observer, establishing his reputation as a military thinker with his report and with the cavalry manual he subsequently wrote. McClellan had retired from the army in 1857 and served as vice president of a railroad company in Chicago (for which the attorney was none other than Lincoln) and on his way to the top also won the heart of a young lady over numerous rivals after years of courtship. With the outbreak of war, three states courted him this time, to be commander of their state troops. Ohio won. At 34, he had now been elevated from his position as a junior officer to the center of the national stage. It is small wonder, therefore, that he immediately set out to elaborate grandiose plans starring himself and offer advice to everyone in sight. Consequently, Scott, perhaps feeling slightly threatened, pointed out their defects and put together his own plan, the said Anaconda Plan. But it was impossible to ignore the energy and intelligence that McClellan brought to his command and already on May 14 he became the first volunteer officer to receive the rank of major general in the regular army, leaving at the end of the month to conduct his first campaign in West Virginia.

Mountainous West Virginia was important to the North for a number of reasons: as a source of coal, timber and salt; as the gateway to the Ohio Valley and for control of the Ohio River; as part of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad line connecting the East to the Valley; and most important of all, as a source of support since the area was cut off from the rest of the state by the Alleghany Mountains and consequently geographically and economically linked to the North (only there, in all the South, had Lincoln's name appeared on the presidential ballot in 1860). Therefore, when it became known that the rebels had burned two bridges on the Baltimore & Ohio line, McClellan immediately dispatched four regiments to secure it and capture the town of Grafton, a railroad terminus around 60 miles from the Ohio border. This was accomplished without any losses as the enemy withdrew without any resistance and McClellan, surrounded by women in his Cincinnati home, hastened to congratulate his troops and proclaim to the inhabitants of West Virginia that the Government did not intend to interfere with the institution of slavery there. This declaration of course went beyond his authority but was in fact pretty much in accord with Lincoln's thinking. Now, with Grafton under his belt, McClellan ordered his troops to advance to Philippi, 20 miles to the south, where the rebels had fled. The commander of the pursuing troops, Thomas Morris, a West Point graduate, divided his 3,000 men into two columns 12 miles apart with the idea of having them arrive simultaneously from the east and the west. Amazingly, they arrived just 15 minutes apart after marching all night in pouring rain. The surprise was complete. The 800-or-so rebels did not see the advancing enemy until they were 400 yards away and this time too they fled without offering opposition, leaving behind all their personal belongings and half their weapons and continuing to flee until they reached the hill country of Beverly 25 miles farther south. The operation was dubbed the Philippi Races in the press and was pretty much the only ray of light for the North at the moment. At Harpers Ferry the ancient Patterson promised a lot but delivered very little and farther south Benjamin Butler proved that what had worked for Morris and McClellan would not necessarily work for him.

Butler's objective, after capturing Newport News commanding the entrance to the James River, was the Southern troop concentration around the Big Bethel Church, around 8 miles west of Fortress Monroe. To ward off Butler, Magruder had dispatched, on June 6, the big reinforcement he had received from North Carolina, 1,100 well-trained men, thanks to their commander Douglas Harvey Hill (Jackson's brother-in-law). Reinforced by another four companies from Virginia (around 300 men), Hill dug in behind a branch of the Black River, which meandered around his right flank, and was also protected in his rear and on his left flank by woods. His four cannons he set up opposite the approaches to the bridge that crossed the river, and then waited. Butler moved out on June 10 to destroy him, sending forward his force of around 4,400 men, mostly from New York, on parallel roads, to meet at Little Bethel, around 2 miles from Big Bethel, and mount their assault from there. The complicated night march was beyond the logistic ability of the raw recruits and their officers so despite the fact that they were given a password and white patches to wear in order to identify each other, when they arrived at the meeting place the two columns opened fire on each other, wounding 21 of their own men. Following this, some of the men ran away and the rest advanced. In the end only two of the seven Northern regiments were engaged, firing aimlessly and easily scattered by Hill's artillery when they tried to deploy. Butler suffered 76 casualties, Hill had one killed – the first among Southern forces – and seven wounded. Such a resounding failure caused much distress in the North and was naturally magnified in the South at a time when it was still possible to call every encounter a "battle." Magruder continued to establish his line of defense in the Peninsula, which now included 2,700 men at Yorktown and 1,300 at Williamsburg to its west with another 1,550 men at Bethel and 40 cannon on the James River and 30 on the York – a thin line far from the 10,000 men required. Requests for men went straight to the War Department of the Confederacy. Naturally enough, the transfer of responsibility for Virginia's troops to the new government led to confusion and occasional friction. Lee, for example, continued to command Virginia's troops, now as a brigadier in the Confederate army, but operations were also undertaken without consulting him. Thus Johnston abandoned Harpers Ferry on June 15 fearing that he would not be able to hold his own against Patterson and McClellan, but not without going to great lengths to shift responsibility for the move to the government, even getting authorization for it from Adjutant-General Cooper. Patterson indeed occupied Harpers Ferry for a day or two but then got cold feet, afraid that Johnston would return, and went back to Maryland. Not even Johnston's retreat 25 miles to the southwest of Winchester moved him to recross the Potomac and pursue the rebels as Scott requested "if you have superior forces," a loophole that left too much to the timid general's discretion. No, he did not have superior forces, Patterson asserted.[8] Scott was disappointed but apparently was not willing to take responsibility for issuing an unequivocal order. Only McClellan continued to take the initiative.

Already on June 11, eight days after McClellan's victory at Philippi, Northern supporters in the area geared up to separate themselves from the rest of the state, and on June 19 elected Francis Pierpont as provisional governor. The rebels, it will be remembered, had been driven by McClellan to Beverly, a town located on the road connecting Rich and Cheat Mountain. McClellan himself had finally left his headquarters in Cincinnati on June 22, now setting foot on West Virginia soil for the first time. Three days later he reached Grafton and in his special way addressed his troops as follows: "I have heard that there is danger here. I have come to place myself at your head and share it with you. I fear now but for one thing – that you will not find foeman worthy of your steel." To his adoring wife he wrote: "Well, it is a proud and glorious thing to see a whole people here, simple and unsophisticated, looking up to me as their deliverer from tyranny."

To complete his work as deliverer, McClellan had at his disposal 20,000 men. A quarter of them he deployed along 200 miles of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad line. One brigade, under Morris's command, he left at Philippi and with his other three he advanced toward Beverly. The new commander of rebel troops in West Virginia was Robert Garnett of the regular army, who was waiting for McClellan with 5,000 men after receiving considerable reinforcements (but none from among local residents). Garnettt concentrated his force at the Rich and Laurel mountain passes, which commanded the turnpikes leading north and south. Most of the force (around 3,500 men) was deployed at Laurel Hill with another 1,300 under the command of John Pegram at Rich Mountain around 10 miles farther south. On July 6 McClellan ordered Morris to send his brigade down from Philippi and take up a position opposite Garnett's main camp on Laurel Hill, and on July 9 he deployed the other three brigades opposite Pegram. To Scott he wrote that "no prospect of a brilliant victory shall induce me to depart from my intention of gaining success by maneuvering rather than fighting. I will not throw these raw men of mine into the teeth of artillery and intrenchments if it is possible to avoid it" – a remark totally in accord with the military philosophy prevailing in the U.S. Army at the time. Fortunately McClellan did not have to look too far to find a solution to the problem of mountain warfare. To study war in the 19th century meant to study Napoleon. In mountain warfare, the Master had written, one should deploy on the flanks or in the rear of the enemy in order to force him to retreat without a fight or to come out and fight. By the time McClellan finished collecting his thoughts, William Rosecrans, commanding one of the brigades on Rich Mountain, had already made his appearance, with a local resident in tow who was prepared to lead the Union force to Pegram's rear. McClellan immediately approved the plan and concluded with Rosecrans that he would attack from below the moment he heard a signal shot from the mountain. On July 11 Rosecrans set out with four regiments and a few dozen cavalrymen, making up a force of 1,900. After 8 hours of marching through pathless woods in the rain, the force arrived at the crest of the mountain and got onto a path. Facing it were about 300 entrenched men who had been sent there by Pegram to secure the mountain pass while the rest of his force remained in camp on the slope. Rosecrans drove them off with little effort. Pegram did not succeed in rallying his men and decided to abandon his camp and try to link up with Garnett. In the meanwhile McClellan remained frozen below and did not join the fighting (claiming that he had not heard the signal shot and therefore feared that Rosecrans had not executed his part of the plan). In the morning Rosecrans arrived at the rebel camp and found it abandoned. Pegram had indeed tried to reach Garnett but it turned out that Garnett too had abandoned his camp opposite Morris when he learned that Pegram had been routed, fearing that his line of retreat would be endangered. Isolated and without rations, Pegram wandered around in the area for two days and finally surrendered around 600 of his men to McClellan. Garnett crossed Cheat Mountain in pouring rain with Morris behind him and was killed at Corrick's Ford on the Cheat River while the rest of his men escaped after a two-hour exchange of fire, some north, some south.

As was his habit, McClellan addressed his men immediately after the fighting ended. "I am more than satisfied with you," he proclaimed. "You have annihilated two armies [!], commanded by educated and experienced soldiers, intrenched in mountain fastnesses." But even if the campaign that McClellan had just conducted seemed to have been expressly devised to give the young commander some erroneous ideas about the nature of war, the fact of victory cannot be denied, nor the achievement of McClellan and his officers (Morris, wrote McClellan to his wife so that she would understand how hard things were for him, is "a timid old woman" and Rosecrans "a silly fussy goose"). He was all fired up and wished to advance, but Scott reined him in, fearing that his supply lines would be overextended. Consequently McClellan had to be satisfied for the time being with his new nickname, the Young Napoleon, and made sure he was photographed in all the appropriate postures while staring down the camera, "as if he were dictating terms of surrender," as Shelby Foote put it.

In the meantime, McClellan's opposite number, Beauregard, had been sent north by Davis to take command of what was being called the Alexandria line, which was in actual fact the concentration of Southern troops at the Bull Run fords. There, at the beginning of June, he found 6,000 men and immediately requested another 10,000 in order to block the growing Northern force in his front. At the same time he bombarded Richmond with plans, some too bold, some too complicated, most of them based on the attachment of Johnston's troops to his own command, and all of them gently rejected by President Davis. On the other hand he did receive the reinforcements he had requested and by June 20 had 15,000 men at the creek. Bull Run flowed sluggishly and circuitously in a northwest-southeast direction from its source in the Bull Run Mountains down to the Occoquan River around 12 miles from the Potomac. Its average width was just 30 feet. The sector that Beauregard occupied did not make for a particularly good line of defense. There were many easily crossed fords and the north bank commanded the south bank. Its advantage was that it was only 3 miles from Manassas Junction farther south, which provided a good link to Richmond 100 miles away and with Johnston in the Shenandoah Valley (60 miles).

Beauregard anchored his left at the Stone Bridge, where the Warrenton Turnpike crossed the river and continued west from Centerville. Stationed there under Nathan "Shanks" Evans were four regiments, some cavalry and four cannons. Evans was a fiery type who kept an aide who lugged around a keg of whiskey on his back and went wherever Evans went. At least one of his two regiments suited him perfectly. This was the 1st Louisiana (or more precisely a battalion of five companies). Outfitted in the Zouave style with red fezzes and going under the name of Louisiana Tigers, its members had been among the biggest ruffians on the New Orleans docks. Disciplinary problems were solved by their commanding officer, "Rob" Wheat, a preacher's son and former mercenary, by executions. The right flank, ten miles from the bridge, was guarded by Richard Ewell at Union Mills Ford, where the railroad ran on its way down to Manassas Junction from Alexandria. Like Evans, Ewell was a West Pointer, as were four other commanders in Beauregard's six brigades: James Longstreet, Jubal Early. Philip St. George Cocke and D.R. Jones. The sixth, Milledge Bonham, had fought in Mexico. Among the officers and men serving in regiments there were also experienced soldiers with backgrounds as militiamen and volunteers in the Mexican War: politicians and lawyers, aristocrats and plain folks, all of them experienced in the hunt and life in the field, and despite their fiery temperaments, imbued with the habit of obedience in a class society – all of which gave them an apparent advantage over their adversaries.

As noted, this adversary continued to grow (by July 4, 64 regiments were stationed around the Capital), though enjoying the regimen of a summer camp: roll call at 5 a.m., breakfast at 7, sick call and guard duty at 8, two hours of drill from 10 o'clock, lunch at noon and after a few weeks of basic training, time off until the battalion exercises at 6 p.m. and then time off again until lights out at 9:30. Leisure time was spent, among other things, fighting and drinking, which added to the chaos that prevailed in the city despite the semblance of military order. The men of the 1st Minnesota, who had traveled 2,000 miles in five days to reach the city, specialized in stealing kegs of whiskey from their sutler and then passing around the same empty canteens when they were inspected to "prove" that they were innocent, thus rivaling New York's Zouaves for the title of camp pranksters. On top of everything, sanitary conditions were deplorable, there was a shortage of rations, and many of the officers were indifferent to the welfare of their men.

At the head of the army taking shape in the streets of Washington with the aim of striking into Virginia and suppressing the rebellion was Irwin McDowell, a classmate of Beauregard's at West Point and a pure staff officer who had never commanded so much as a company of fighting men. This was the man who was going to lead into battle the biggest army the United Stated had ever put into the field, bigger than the army of the great Washington in the War of Independence and bigger than the army of Scott himself in Mexico. At headquarters he was known for his enormous appetite, consuming an entire watermelon for dessert, but beyond that he was not known for anything. Surprisingly, though, at Scott's urging, he devised a fairly intelligent plan of action at the end of June: outflank the Alexandria line in order to reach Manassas Junction and threaten Beauregard's supply lines, forcing him to retreat or come out and fight. Even his estimate of the size of Beauregard's army was fairly accurate – around 25,000 with another 10,000 in potential reinforcements. For his own army McDowell requested 30,000 men and 10,000 in reserve as against the 14,000 he already had on active duty at the time. Scott approved the plan on the spot and instructed McDowell to be ready to go into battle on July 8, an entirely unrealistic date in view of the preparations still to be made. In the meanwhile Patterson again had to advance against Johnston in order to keep him occupied and prevent him from reinforcing Beauregard. He therefore crossed the Potomac on July 2, reinforced now by the troops from Sumter, among others, who had been sent to him under the command of Doubleday. Jackson, with just 350 men, in the area for two weeks observing the enemy, now advanced against Patterson, running into half a division – around 3,000 men – and held out for 3 hours before he was forced to retreat 3 miles to Martinsburg. Patterson hobbled toward the town and Jackson retreated another few miles to link up with Johnston, who had arrived to reinforce him, and the two Southern commanders now awaited developments. These failed to materialize. Patterson suddenly remembered that he was short of supplies and short of men. When it became clear that Patterson did not intend to come out of Martinsburg, Johnston returned to Winchester and the two armies continued to observe each other from a distance of 20 miles.

Beauregard too continued to observe developments. Though he had somewhat exaggerated McDowell's strength, he had a pretty good idea of McDowell's timetable, thanks to a spy in Washington. According to his information, McDowell was scheduled to begin his advance on July 16. Consequently he began to press Johnston for reinforcements, and at the same time, convinced that McDowell planned to attack him just at the point where he had concentrated most of his men – at Mitchell's Ford – he planned his counterattack accordingly, on the model of Austerlitz. "While they are marching to turn my right," proclaimed Napoleon on the eve of that battle, "they must present their flank to your blows." Beauregard therefore determined to strike at McDowell with the bulk of his forces while the latter was on the march to Mitchell's Ford, some on his flank, some in his rear, in the direction of Centerville.

And indeed, on the morning of July 16 McDowell ordered his army to move on the enemy. At the same time Scott cautioned Patterson not to allow Johnston to tie him up with a small force while the rest slipped away to join Beauregard. Not to worry, replied Patterson. Such a thing was inconceivable. McDowell now had 35,000 men in five divisions and 49 guns. As in the case of Beauregard, his senior officers were all West Point men, and among the brigade commanders, many were destined to play a leading role in the war: that same Burnside who had brought one of the first regiments to Washington in those tempestuous April days; William Tecumseh Sherman, who had found himself without much to do at the start of the war after a spotty career in and out of the army and got his brother Senator John Sherman and other connections to fix him up with a command; the pious Oliver Howard; and Sykes and Franklin and Keyes and Schenck and Israel Richardson. To his orders McDowell added the warning that he would not countenance any surprise or retreat. Immediately, in the usual disorder, his men raced to the wagons to stock up on three days' supplies, dressed without a semblance of uniformity, silk flags waving in the air, and everything looking more "like a circus in Vienna than an army in Virginia," as the historian Alan D. Gaff put it. At last, equipped with canteens, bedrolls and muskets with 40 rounds of ammunition, McDowell's army got underway at two o'clock in the afternoon, followed by a herd of cattle. The sights surrounding them were the pastoral sights familiar to every American, though the Westerners among them took note of the depleted Virginia soil: hill and dale, river and forest, hare and deer, corn and wheat, and a great deal of pastureland, a landscape more suited to boyhood adventures on a summer's day than to war – and indeed everything was unfolding idyllically for the soldiers, and with excessive caution on the part of their officers. The men engaged in a bit of looting, a bit of berry picking. It took two hours for a brigade to cross a stream less than 2 feet deep, using a log between the two banks. By nightfall the army had advanced around 6 miles.

The next morning, when they reached Fairfax, McDowell's men saw signs of flight: abandoned equipment and empty houses with tables set and coffee on the stove, and so the carnival continued with the men breaking into houses and running around in the streets in women's underwear. On the 18th McDowell finally reached Centerville, just 20 miles from his starting point two days before and 3 miles from Mitchell's Ford opposite him. Daniel Tyler, commanding the First Division, was ordered to occupy the abandoned town. As noted, McDowell did not intend to attack Beauregard at the fords. He immediately sent out a reconnaissance party to the rebel right, but when it turned out that the ground there was not suitable for the intended movement, he decided to flank the rebel left on better ground. In the meanwhile he instructed Tyler to "observe well the roads to Bull Run and to Warrenton" in order to create the impression that the objective was Manassas and that the assault would be frontal but at all costs not to allow himself to be drawn into an engagement. Tyler sent out a squadron of cavalry and two companies of infantry in the direction of Mitchell's and Blackburn's Fords. When they arrived at 11:30 at the steep bank, about 30 feet above the water, they had a clear view of rebel movement in the open field behind the thin stand of trees along the low southern bank. Tyler, 62, a former army man and now a successful business man, could not contain himself. He advanced his artillery and opened fire. To be on the safe side he also brought up all of Richardson's brigade. The absence of an enemy response encouraged him to send three companies across the stream. These fled after a short exchange of fire with rebel pickets. Tyler again opened fire with his artillery and then sent forward Richardson's entire brigade. Across the stream, at Blackburn's Ford, Longstreet's brigade was waiting. Longstreet was a former army paymaster but also an experienced veteran of the Indian and Mexican wars and a very calm and collected type. Now his men replied in force. The first to break, after half an hour of fighting on their bellies, was the 12th New York on Richardson's left. Their hasty departure left the rest of the Northern force exposed. Tyler came down to get a closer look at things. Richardson wanted to charge the enemy. Tyler decided that enough was enough and ordered Richardson to withdraw his forces, which was very hastily done when Longstreet, reinforced by Jubal Early, sent a few hundred men across the stream to repulse the enemy. The engagement ended with an exchange of artillery fire with hundreds of shells fired back and forth for three quarters of an hour until Tyler broke off contact at around 4 o'clock and returned to Centerville with 83 casualties as opposed to 63 for Longstreet. Another casualty was Beauregard's dinner, when a shell came tumbling down the chimney at his headquarters in the McLean house and landed in the pot.

Beauregard praised Longstreet on his performance and continued to wait for reinforcements from Johnston, which Patterson, who finally steeled his nerve and advanced to within 8 miles of Winchester on July 15, had promised Scott would never happen. Johnston thought otherwise. On that same morning of the 18th, he received a telegram from Davis ordering him to disengage from Patterson and hasten to the aid of Beauregard. The operation was fairly simple. Johnston threw up a cavalry screen between the two forces (Stuart and his men) and sent Jackson east. At about that time, with Jackson already on his way to Ashby Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Patterson was writing to Scott: "I have succeeded in accordance with the wishes of the General-in-Chief in keeping General Johnston's force at Winchester." In the meanwhile Jackson marched 20 miles and crossed the Shenandoah River in the night with his men holding their clothing and their ammunition above their heads tied to their gun barrels. They reached the pass at midnight and at two in the morning collapsed on the ground near a town called Paris. The only one to stay awake to guard the camp was Jackson himself ("Let the poor fellows sleep," he told his officers). Before dawn everyone was up and they continued on their march another 6 miles to Piedmont to board the train to Manassas, which they reached on the afternoon of July 19 after a 30 mile ride. The brigades of Bartow, Bee and Kirby Smith soon followed and as part of the reinforcement the "legion" of Wade Hampton was getting organized in Richmond. This was in fact a private army of 600 men which Hampton, one of the richest men in South Carolina, had equipped at his own expense. The same day also saw the arrival of Holmes' brigade from Aquia Creek, where he had been blocking Fredericksburg and the road to Richmond. Holmes deployed behind Ewell on the right flank, Jackson behind Mitchell's Ford, Bee and Bartow behind Blackburn's Ford. Beauregard now had 30,000 men present or on the way. Despite the train whistles shrieking day and night at Manassas, McDowell did not seem to be aware of the enemy forces coming his way. He was occupied with his own preparations and with greeting visitors from Washington who were also streaming toward him, equipped not with guns but with picnic baskets to spend an enjoyable day watching the coming battle. Johnson himself (senior to Beauregard) arrived on the 20th exhausted after three nights without sleep and, since he did not have time to familiarize himself with the terrain, relied on Beauregard and approved his plan of attack and battle orders without comment.

The two commanders, Beauregard and McDowell, thus had identical plans: each planned to attack the left wing of the other. The question was who would strike first. McDowell issued his orders on that same Saturday, July 20. His fifth division he intended to leave at Centerville together with Richardson's brigade to threaten Blackburn's Ford with their guns. The fourth division he left in the rear of Centerville to secure the road to Washington. Therefore McDowell would be going into battle with three divisions. The first was Tyler's, less Richardson's brigade, which was to advance to the Stone Bridge as a diversion covering the movement of the two remaining divisions – those of David Hunter and Samuel Heintzelman – which would continue in a wide arc to reach Sudley Springs, about 2 miles above the bridge, and from there cross the stream and strike Beauregard's left flank with a force of over 12,000 men.

The entire force was scheduled to set out between 2 and 2:30 a.m., and at the appointed hour the bugle call was indeed sounded under a full moon, but Tyler did not succeed in getting his men organized in time and consequently Hunter and Heintzelman set out behind him 2-3 hours late. Tyler reached the bridge – less than 3 miles from the Warrenton Turnpike – at six in the morning, an hour after sunrise, and at 6:30 opened fire with his artillery, Schenck from the left side of the Turnpike, Sherman from the right. The battle had begun.

Beauregard was aware of everything that was happening. Already at five in the morning, Bonham at Mitchell's Ford reported that the enemy was passing in his front and later that he was moving toward the Stone Bridge. Beauregard ordered Evans at the bridge and Cocke at nearby Ball's Ford to hold on at all hazards and went back to his principal occupation that morning – the publication of a series of confused and contradictory orders for his counterattack, which left most of his force frozen in place. For his plans had undergone numerous revisions. First he had requested that Johnston arrive from the north to come up on McDowell's right and together with his own planned movement trap him in a "perfect Waterloo." Even when Jackson arrived and informed him that Johnston was sending his entire force to Manassas, Beauregard could not let go of the idea and waited in vain for the sound of gunfire somewhere in McDowell's rear. When this did not happen and Johnston arrived at Manassas and joined up with him, Beauregard did some more thinking and got up in the middle of the night to dictate orders for a massive attack on McDowell's left wing at Centerville. No fewer than ten brigades, including one, Kirby Smith's, that had not arrived yet from the Shenandoah Valley, were ordered to prepare to advance on the enemy when they received the order to do so from the commanding general, though it was not clear to them whether Beauregard intended to issue this order before or after they crossed Bull Run and also whether Beauregard or Johnston was the commanding general. Not only this but in the text of his order Beauregard referred to his units as divisions and even corps though such formations did not exist in his army and without any indication of the chain of command. All this was purely academic, however, since aside form Longstreet it is not certain that any other officer received the order, which is not surprising in view of the fact that most of the couriers and aides at Beauregard's disposal were of the variety of Wigfall, the hero of the Sumter surrender. Furthermore, an hour later, at 5:30, after receiving Bonham's report that the enemy was moving west, Beauregard changed his whole concept and without amending his order, whether it had been received or not by his officers, instructed Ewell at Union Mills to prepare to move with Holmes to Centerville as a "diversion" against the enemy, whom he believed was about to attack "on Mitchell's Ford and probably Stone Bridge." At 6 o'clock, he informed Jones at McLean's Ford that Ewell had been ordered to advance and instructed him to join the movement, though Ewell had in fact not been ordered to advance but only to prepare to advance and therefore, as a consequence of all the confusion that Beauregard had wrought, Longstreet crossed Bull Run in accordance with his understanding of the original order and waited there for the order to advance, Jones crossed the stream when the new order reached him (at 7:10!) and waited for Ewell, and Ewell remained where he was waiting for the order to advance, like Holmes, who did not receive the order to support Ewell until 9 o'clock.[9]

At 7 o'clock, to be on the safe side, Beauregard had dispatched Bee and Bartow, who had gathered behind Blackburn's Ford, in the direction of the Stone Bridge to reinforce Evans, and Jackson in the direction of Cocke. Between 8 and 8:30 he moved his headquarters from the McLean house at Manassas to a hill behind Bonham at Mitchell's Ford and almost immediately received a report from a young signal officer by the name of Porter Alexander, who had surmised from the glitter of field pieces and the bayonets and musket barrels of the enemy that he was now crossing Bull Run at Sudley Springs. Beauregard immediately dispatched Wade Hampton to the bridge, who had just arrived from Richmond with his 600 men after being on the road for 30 hours. Beauregard in the meantime had another change of heart and issued another series of orders, this time with the idea of turning Ewell's diversion into a general attack, but this time with just five brigades. Who received these orders and who did not and whether they were actually sent and whether they were canceled in the light of Alexander's report, it is impossible to know.

Alexander's report that the enemy was about to outflank him also reached Evans, even before it was sent to Beauregard, together with similar information via one of Evans' pickets at Sudley Springs. For two hours Tyler had been directing desultory and unpersuasive fire at him, until Evans himself had come to the conclusion that Tyler did not intend to attack. Now, with these reports in hand, Evans acted immediately. On his own responsibility he left four companies from his second regiment, the 4th South Carolina, at the bridge, informed Cocke nearby of his intentions, and with the rest of his force – around 1,100 men – faced left and began moving west toward Sudley Springs. After crossing Young's Branch he deployed under cover of a grove near Matthews Hill, about half a mile from the Warrenton Turnpike. The six companies from the 4th South Carolina along with a single cannon he stationed next to the Sudley-New Market Road, which cut across the Turnpike, and the Louisiana Tigers together with the cavalry and another cannon to their right toward the western slope of the hill. In their front was an open field of fire in the direction of an oak grove hiding Sudley Springs and Bull Run over a mile away. It was now 9 o'clock in the morning.

Opposite, on the other side of the grove, was Burnside, the first to arrive at Sudley Springs, together with Governor Sprague, and coming up after him Andrew Porter, both of them belonging to Hunter's division. As noted, the departure of Hunter and Heintzelman had been delayed by Tyler. Furthermore, when the flanking force got off the Warrenton Turnpike about 500 yards before Cub Run, with McDowell himself standing there to direct traffic, it turned out that the road was not a road, so that instead of marching 6 miles to their objective they had to wander for 12 miles to get there. At the ford the men drank some water and rested up for a few minutes before some skirmishers were sent ahead. When they came out of the grove, at around 9:15, they ran into Evans. Burnside immediately ordered the 2nd Rhode Island to advance on the enemy with its artillery via the Sudley Road. When the men in the regiment received the order they did not really understand that they were about to engage in a real battle in a real war and therefore, as usual, frolicked while marching and stopped to pick berries. When they came out of the grove they too ran into Evans and a lively exchange of fire commenced.[10] The regiment held on for around half an hour, during which time no one thought to bring up the rest of the brigade, which was marking time in the rear in a field on the right-hand side of the road. Hunter, in command of the division and sitting high on his horse like the rest of the officers to observe the action, was hit in the neck and cheek almost immediately and evacuated bleeding profusely, as was the commander of the regiment, who was mortally wounded. The command devolved on Burnside, who immediately sent in the rest of the brigade. Evans held firm. Burnside's horse was shot out from under him. Wheat's Tigers charged with fierce cries and Bowie knives waved in the air and succeeded in stopping Burnside's advance for the moment, but Wheat went down with a serious wound and the superior numbers of the Federal force began to tell. At this point Porter turned up and took command of the division as the senior officer on the field. Sykes' battalion of regulars was sent in to support Burnside and the rest of Porter's brigade began to deploy on his right. Evans was now in a desperate situation, but when he looked back he was surprised to see Bee and Bartow coming toward him.

As noted, they had both been dispatched by Beauregard to support Evans at the bridge. Now, drawn past the bridge by the sound of gunfire, they hastened to deploy on Evans' right with their six regiments – around 2,800 men – and emplace four guns in the rear, on Henry Hill, under the command of Imboden. These held on until Heintzelman arrived with McDowell's second division at 11 a.m. and sent William Franklin forward to outflank Evans. He also sent his artillery forward (Ricketts and Griffin) on the Sudley road, to within 1,000 yards of Imboden's guns, initiating an artillery duel that was heard 100 miles away. Under this enormous pressure, the rebels began to fall back. Now Sherman with 3,400 men joined the chase after crossing Bull Run about half a mile from the bridge and finding himself on Bartow's flank. McDowell, who had just now crossed Sudley Springs and arrived at the battlefield, was seized by a kind of ecstasy, shouting, "Victory! Victory! The day is ours!" And that was how it looked. Only the 4th Alabama was still on the field while the rest of the rebel force crossed Young's Branch and made for Henry Hill, and it too was mowed down by Sherman's 69th New York.

Only then, with the intensity of the gunfire at the bridge reaching a fever pitch, did Beauregard and Johnston bestir themselves after waiting in vain for Beauregard's counterattack to begin, finally understanding that the actual battle was developing on the left, 4 miles to the west. It will be remembered that Ewell and Jones had been awaiting developments. Only at 8:30 did Beauregard remember that Ewell had not received orders to advance and sent a courier (who did not arrive). In the meanwhile, Ewell and Jones had made contact and understood the extent of the contretemps. At 10:30 a courier from Ewell reached Beauregard to tell him that nothing was being done. Ewell requested that he advance to Centerville. Beauregard, who finally understood that his plans had gone awry and there was no chance of carrying them out, canceled the entire operation. Johnston, who until that moment had left everything in Beauregard's hands, began to get angry, and when Alexander reported a big cloud of smoke rising from the northwest, he thought it was Patterson coming[11] and could not contain himself: "The battle is there!" he shouted to Beauregard. "I am going!" It was then around 11:30, when Evan, Bee and Bartow were retreating toward Henry Hill. At Johnston's request to reinforce the left, Beauregard ordered Holmes and Early to move west and Bonham to dispatch two regiments – and galloped after Johnston.

In the meanwhile Hampton arrived at Henry Hill and when he saw Evans coming toward him, immediately rode in the direction of the Warrenton Turnpike and took up a position at the Robinson house, which belonged to a freed slave, to block singlehandedly with his men the advance of the enemy coming down from the eastern slope of Matthews Hill to cross Young's Branch and give chase to the rebels. At around 11:30, the last of the brigades that had been sent to the left by Beauregard arrived at Henry Hill. This was Jackson's brigade. Like the others he had been drawn by the sound of gunfire and on his own joined the fray with his 2,500 men. He immediately began to deploy his five regiments at the eastern edge of a level plateau with a belt of young oak trees for cover and an open field of fire before him for 500 yards with woods on his flanks and to the rear. The position had been wisely chosen and was much superior to a more forward position to the right, which would have been exposed on its flanks and 30 yards above Young's Branch, because here the enemy had to advance into Jackson's field of fire. Jackson placed the 33rd Virginia behind the Henry house (the owner was an 84-yeat-old widow who had refused to leave and was killed in her bed). Alongside the 33rd was the 2nd, both partially covered by the woods and deployed in two double rows. In the center of the line, where Imboden had retreated after his artillery duel with Ricketts and Griffin, Jackson placed the 27th and the 4th in four lines. On his right flank, 500 yards from the 33rd, he placed the 5th, also under cover of the trees. The entire line faced west in the direction of the Warrenton and Sudley roads.

Bee, extremely agitated as his men streamed to the rear or huddled in a valley near the Robinson house, galloped up to Jackson and shouted, "They are beating us back!" Jackson remained unperturbed. "Then, sir," he said, "we will give them the bayonet." Bee turned around and rode back to his men, stopping before them and proclaiming his immortal words: "Look! There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Rally behind the Virginians!"[12]

In the meantime Jackson kept his men on bent knee, calming and encouraging them and studying the front from high up on his horse (when he was wounded in the finger he held it up over his head with his characteristic seriousness to stop the flow of blood, completely indifferent to the bullets flying all around him). At this point in the battle, with Hampton still holding on at the Robinson house and what remained of the troops of Evans, Bee and Bartow falling in alongside Jackson and Federal forces pushing forward on the Henry plateau, between 12 and 12:30, Beauregard and Johnston arrived.

It has to be said in their favor that they acted decisively. Johnston rallied the remnants of the battered 4th Alabama, cowering somewhere behind Hampton near the Robinson house, and deployed them to the right of Jackson. At this point Beauregard demonstrated that he had not lost the ability to amaze. He turned to Johnston and asked him to leave the field so that Beauregard could direct the battle by himself. Someone, he said, has to direct the reinforcements arriving from the rear and Johnston, as the senior officer, was the one to do it. Johnston, who was hardly the one to bow out when honor was at stake, refused. Beauregard, who knew how to stand firm when glory was at stake, insisted. In the end, Johnston gave way and galloped around 1,000 yards to the Lewis house in the rear, where he established his headquarters. Beauregard continued the day's work. He detached the 8th and 49th Virginia from Cocke, who had been waiting at Ball's Ford, attaching the 8th (seven companies) to Hampton, who had finally fallen back to Jackson's right together with the remnants of Evans, Bee and Bartow, and sending the 49th (three companies), under the command of William ("Extra Billy") Smith, former governor of Virginia, to the left. He also sent to the left Bartow's 7th Georgia and Bee's 2nd Mississippi after they had reorganized themselves. The new defensive line now consisted of 6,500 men and 13 guns according to Beauregard, who continued to ride back and forth making fiery speeches until his horse was shot out from under him. Finally, Fisher's 6th North Carolina arrived and was also sent to the left, almost to the Sudley road. Orders were sent to the brigades remaining in the rear to hasten to the front.

Jackson waited for McDowell. He instructed his men to wait until the enemy came up on the plateau and advanced to within 30 yards before opening fire and charging with their bayonets. Moving up in his front were the brigades of Franklin and Willcox (Heintzelman) and Porter and Sherman (Keyes from Tyler's division had also been sent forward but moved so hesitantly that he quickly lost contact with the others and vanished from sight, as did Burnside after receiving permission to fall back and replenish his ammunition; and Howard too had not yet arrived). The batteries of Ricketts and Griffin (11 guns) were sent forward too, deploying not far from the Henry house, a few hundred yards from the Southerners. With the support of the 11th New York (Ellsworth's Zouaves) and the 14th (Brooklyn) New York they opened fire on the rebel guns at the center of Jackson's line. At around 1 o'clock the battle entered its most violent phase. The Zouave's absorbed two not particularly accurate volleys, dispersed somewhat, and ran into Jeb Stuart's cavalry – around 150 men – on the Sudley road. Stuart's men rode back and forth sowing chaos in the ranks of the New Yorkers with their glistening swords and carbines. At the same time, Cummings commanding the 33rd Virginia on Jackson's left wing grew anxious at the sight of Federal artillery and infantry coming near, ignored Jackson's orders and decided to charge Ricketts and Griffin, who until then had been pouring destructive fire into the rebel ranks, reinforced by guns from the Rhode Island battery. Imboden fell back with his guns, half his horses killed, and was replaced with fresh batteries. Griffin saw Cummings' men coming at him and opened up with flesh-tearing canister fire (charges of 27 steel balls of 1" diameter). Berry, in command, stopped him, thinking it was the 14th New York. Cummings continued to advance and the battery crews stood rooted to the ground until the rebels revealed their true identity with murderous fire from a distance of 60 yards. This took out most of the men and horses around the guns and scattered the two New York regiments along with the 1st Minnesota, which had also come up to the plateau to support the Federal artillery, so eagerly that they had unburdened themselves of their equipment, including their canteens. Only the two Rhode Island guns together with one of Griffin's got away and a jubilant Cummings came into possession of the other ten.

It was now 2 o'clock. With the enemy guns taken, Jackson planned to assault the remaining enemy force, but Franklin beat him to the punch, retaking Rickett's and Griffin's batteries after driving off Cummings, who had lost 146 of his 400 men. Now Jackson's force stood up and unleashed a volley from 50 yards before charging with the famous "rebel yell," a blood-curdling animal-like scream. Hampton joined the right together with Cocke's 8th and 18th Virginia and together they swept the Northerners from the plateau. Hampton received a head wound but shook it off and continued fighting. Once again the enemy's guns fell into the hands of the rebels. Federal units regrouped and again advanced, with little coordination. Regiment after regiment was sent forward and ran into murderous fire. The fighting was violent, accompanied by curses when the two sides got within shouting distance. The 1st Minnesota, which had previously been repulsed by the 33rd Virginia, now returned at the urging of Heintzelman and captured the guns again but was again driven back. Next the 38th New York from Willcox's brigade returned to the field and also retook the guns and even managed to drag three of them 300 yards to the rear.

Sherman also sent his men forward. The 2nd Wisconsin came up past the Robinson house and moved toward the Henry house. Jackson and the other forces on the rebel right poured deadly fire into their ranks. Heads were severed and bodies cut in two by the steel balls fired from rebel cannons with the groans and cries of the wounded filling the air. Next came the 79th New York. They too ran into the same withering fire and retreated with their commander mortally wounded. Finally the 69th New York was driven back as well. Among the wounded was Heintzelman, hit in the arm. Once again the rebels were in control of the plateau.

At 3 o'clock, McDowell's last brigade arrived on the field – Howard's. The 2nd Vermont and the 4th Maine were the first to move toward the Henry house. Like the others they ran into merciless fire. In their excitement many of them loaded cartridge after cartridge into their gun barrels, forgetting to fire or remove the ramrod before pulling the trigger. The 3rd and 5th Maine also joined the fighting but after a few minutes they too were routed. For Johnston had done his work. While Beauregard and McDowell had been moving among their troops like junior officers, only Johnston had been acting like a commanding general, moving up reinforcements from the rear at the right time and to the right place. Anticipating Howard, he positioned Cocke's 28th Virginia at the Sudley road. At the same time, Bonham's two regiments, the 2nd and 8th South Carolina, were sent across the road to stop a Federal flanking movement. Bee, Bartow and Fisher of the 6th North Carolina were all killed. Kershaw, commanding the 2nd South Carolina, called upon the nearby 28th Virginia to move to the left too in order to block Howard and this was accordingly done. Suddenly the rebels saw a column of soldiers coming toward them from the direction of Manassas. At first they thought that these were Federal soldiers because their flag resembled the American flag, but it turned out that it was Smith, the last of the brigades coming up from the Shenandoah Valley after three days on the road. The newcomers had cast aside their knapsacks and the 1,700 men had marched 6 miles practically on the run and reported to Johnston, who sent them to "where the fire is hottest." That was on the left wing. Smith was almost immediately wounded in the chest. Elzey took command and after firing a volley from 400 yards charged Howard. Northern resistance began to dissolve. Another rebel brigade arrived from the fords. This was Early and with him once again Stuart's cavalry. McDowell fell back across the Warrenton Turnpike. Beauregard ordered a general assault. Now the tables were turned and the Northern victory had become a resounding defeat. All the Northern units began moving to the rear to get back across Bull Run and onto the road to Washington. It was now 4:30 in the afternoon. Unlike professional soldier who feel safety in numbers, McDowell's raw recruits felt safer when dispersed. The retreat soon became a rout. At Cub Run, on the road to Centerville, where the bridge was blocked after artillery fire from the pursuing rebels caused a wagon to overturn there, complete chaos reigned. Rifles were thrown away and the carriages of the tourists were abandoned. Fortunately for the pursued the pursuit did not go well. Stuart was loaded down with prisoners, Early grew tired of the chase, and Longstreet and Bonham were recalled for fear that the Federals would return to flank the rebel right. Even Jefferson Davis, who had arrived toward the end of the battle, joined the pursuit. Later, when he met with the elated Beauregard and Johnston, he pressed them to continue the chase, but in the end he agreed that it would not do any good in the darkness of night and satisfied himself with Beauregard's promise that it would be resumed in the morning (a promise that was not kept).

Meanwhile it began to rain, which became a storm during the night while thousands of Federal soldiers streamed toward the Capital in torn and bloodstained uniforms, the wagons emptied of equipment and rations to carry the wounded, picnic baskets and women's clothing scattered all along the road, and an oppressive feeling of defeat and humiliation in many hearts. Forty miles they trudged until they came within sight of Washington after 36 hours without food in the pouring rain.

The rebels too were surrounded by the debris of battle: equipment, rifles, bodies – but as victors. The booty was abundant: 27 of the 35 Northern artillery pieces that had arrived on the field and 4,000 muskets along with 1,421 prisoners. The prisoners were held in a grove at Sudley Church and the wounded inside the church. The surgeons had plenty to do. When a few artillerymen went up to the roof of the Lewis house to collect rainwater to drink in the morning, they found it filled with blood from the amputated limbs thrown there. Already in the heat of day while the fighting was going on, flies had begun to lay their eggs in open wounds and the brain of one soldier had been eaten by maggots. Now the dead bodies swelled and rotted until they were buried in ditches. The rebel dead were sent home in wagons that stopped at each stricken house to unload its cargo. Southern losses reached 1,982 (387 killed, 1,582 wounded and 13 missing and captured). Two-thirds of them belonged to the forces arriving from the Shenandoah Valley (561 for Jackson, 343 for Bartow, 405 for Bee). The North reported 460 killed, 1,124 wounded and 1,312 missing or captured. Among all the brigades, Sherman had the most losses – 605. Many illusions were destroyed by the battle of Bull Run. It was clear now that the war was not going to end so fast but go on for quite some time and at a price that no one had imagined.

[1] His father too had served in his time. During the War of Independence he had commanded a reconnaissance mission that crossed the Delaware River without Washington's authorization and almost gave away the surprise attack planned by the General when they opened fire on some Hessian sentries at Trenton. Another individual who had served at Moultrie, 30 years before, was Edgar Allen Poe. Poe used Sullivan Island as the backdrop of his famous story "The Gold Bug," which opens with a detailed description of the place.

[2] Namely, $25,000 a year. It may be noted that, at the time, the daily wage of craftsmen (carpenters, painters, etc.) was $1.61-1.65 and of common laborers $1.03. For a pound of bacon the consumer in Richmond, Virginia paid $0.12½, for butter $0.25, flour $0.05, sugar $0.08, coffee $0.12. Cotton growers received $0.11 per pound and paid $125 for a horse in good condition and $1,500 for a field slave in prime condition

[3] In 1850 he had opposed a bill to dissolve the Union on the grounds that Congress did not have the power to do so, and when Polk promoted him to brigadier general after his service in Mexico he turned the promotion down on the grounds that only the governor had the power to determine the rank of the commander of state troops.

[4] When Abner Doubleday, one of the officers at Sumter, was later asked why they had shot at the hotel, he jokingly replied that they had once given him a bad room. Doubleday is considered the inventor of baseball (in 1839).

[5] The overrepresentation of Southern officers in the Army (460 out of 1,080 on active duty) derived in part from the aristocratic-military tradition of the South and the preference in advancement accorded to them under Scott and the two Southern Secretaries of War – Davis and Floyd – in the 1850s.

[6] In the final count, 297 of the 460 Southern officers in the U.S. Army resigned to go over to the Confederacy, as did 16 Northern-born officers married to Southern women.

[7] The complement for an infantry regiment had been fixed at between 830 and 1,046 officers and men (860-1,220 in the South), including 26 musicians, in ten companies. Cavalry volunteers were divided into 4-6 squadrons of two companies with 79-95 men in each company.

[8] Patterson in fact reported that he had 14,344 men present on June 30 while Johnston reported 10,654. At this stage, following Lincoln's call for more volunteers at the beginning of May, Northern forces, according to the calculations of Secretary of War Cameron, totaled 235,000 present and absent (half of them under McClellan in the Ohio Department and Mansfield in Washington). The South had 100,000 men under arms following Davis's original call. In the North it was customary to report, in addition to "present and absent" under one heading ("absent" included those absent sick, on furlough, on detached service, deserters and prisoners), also "present" and "effective" separately. "Aggregate present" thus included the sick in camp and those under arrest or unequipped. "Effective" included noncombatants (drivers of supply wagons, cooks, clerks, etc.). In the South, on the other hand, "effective" included battle-ready soldiers while their officers were listed under "aggregate present. Therefore the numerical advantage of the North in many battles was much less significant than was reflected under the "effective" heading in battle reports.

[9] The entire comedy is painstakingly dissected by D.S Freeman in Lee’s Lieutenants, Vol. I, pp. 53ff, 726-7.

[10] The two sides were equipped with muzzle-loading muskets, mostly of the smoothbore variety, with an effective range of 100 yards and a complicated loading procedure that gave them to barely two shots a minute. The Confederacy had 150,000 serviceable firearms at the beginning of the war, around a million rounds of ammunition, 15,000 lbs. of gunpowder, and 200,000 percussion caps. Fortunately, 800,000 caps purchased in New York in March had been smuggled into Virginia and distributed in July in time for the battle. The invention of the percussion cap to replace the flintlock was one of the great military innovations of the 19th century, solving the problem of dampness and reducing the rate of misfires from 166 per 1,000 to 6 per 1,000. The cartridge consisted of a lead ball and gunpowder wrapped cylindrically in paper and twisted or plugged in order to keep the gunpowder in. To load, the soldier bit off the twisted end of the cartridge to release the gunpowder, poured it down the barrel, pushed in the ball with his thumb and rammed it home with a ramrod, cocked the hammer halfway, inserted the percussion cap, cocked the hammer all the way back, and was ready to fire. In the classic assault, the attacking force took the first volley at those same 100 yards and then charged the enemy with bayonets fixed.

[11] The smoke was from Johnston's own supply train.

[12] There are many versions of this famous story, varying in timing, wording and intention. Not all of them are flattering to Jackson. One version has it that Bee was sarcastically chastising Jackson for standing there "like a stone wall" and not coming to his assistance. Still another version claims that Bee was referring to Jackson's brigade and not to Jackson himself. One way or the other, both Jackson and his brigade got the Stonewall nickname.