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festly absurd. The United States possessed but one positive military advantage over the States in rebellion, and this was the control of the sea. Treating the coast line of the Confederacy as a strong position held by the Union forces, it was evidently the dictate of sound strategic principles so to combine the land assaults of the Federal armies as to drive their adversary, when defeated, outward upon this coast line.
It was in accordance with this simple and comprehensive view of the position that Lieutenant-General Scott endeavored to organize his first plans of campaign. But he soon found that whatever deference might be paid to him, there were certain objects which he would be positively compelled to aim at without any regard to their harmony or their discord with his general intentions.
Foremost among these objects was the reduction of Richmond.
The government of the Confederates had scarcely established itself at Richmond before it became evident that the main force and virulence of the approaching contest would be concentrated upon the attack and defence of that capital.
Though the border States from the mountain line of Western Virginia to the frontiers of Kansas were in a state of fermentation and confusion, and it was already becoming apparent that the fury of the war must soon blaze out along the course of the Mississippi and in the central West, the Confed. erate government pressed forward the great majority of the forces raised throughout the South into Tide-water and Piedmont Virginia. It is probable that Lieutenant-General Scott, had he been left to his own judgment, would have acted upon the Napoleonic maxim of refusing to meet his enemy where that enemy invites the attack, and “for the simple reason that he there invites the attack.” But he was not permitted to do this; and in the end of May he proceeded to organize an invasion of Eastern Virginia.
The forces assembled at Washington under the orders of Lieutenant-General Scott, and now to be thus employed, were respectable in point of numbers; but such was their condition in all other particulars, that they scarcely deserved to be styled an army.
Many of the regiments had reached the capital without arms, and much delay had occurred in arming them. Their field and line officers were, for the most part, entirely destitute of military habits and experience; and nothing at all resembling an orderly hierarchy of command existed among them. The hopeful nucleus of this heterogeneous body was a small force of regular troops; but the organization of this force, small as it was, had been seriously deranged by the secession from the Federal army of many officers who had occupied positions upon its general staff.
The “Grand Army of the United States” encamped about Washington, at the beginning of June, 1861, was an army without a quartermaster's department, without a commissary's department, without a medical department, without a general staff. It had no adequate force of cavalry; and no adequate force of efficient artillery. Its communication with the North were protected by the military occupation of Baltimore, but its positions at Washington were not properly intrenched; and if it was to be moved upon a campaign of invasion it must move without a fortified base of operations, and, substantially, with
out a reserve.
The preparations, meanwhile, of the Confederates for the defense of Virginia against this army were not much more formidable.
The Southern president, Mr. Davis, a man of military experience and military intelligence, was hampered in the work of perfecting these preparations by a number of influences. The jealous disinclination of Virginia to commit her sword into his keeping gravely interfered with the unity of plans and of command in the Confederate camp.
A like disinclination existed in other States, and particularly in Georgia, the governor of which commonwealth refused to arm or equip any troops going forward to Virginia unless they moved under his own commission.
Cherishing still the hope that actual war might after all be averted, and indisposed to confide in men whose political views differed from his own, Mr. Davis hesitated in his distribution of important commands. Notwithstanding the evident concentration of the Federal power upon Virginia, the end of May found the Confederate forces in that State scattered without any combination of positions, and the Confederate leaders still without any general plan of defense.
Batteries had been thrown up on the banks of the Potomac and the lower James, although so late as in the end of April the city of Richmond had been thrown into a panic by the reported approach of a single Federal war-steamer. The hostile visitor proved to be a passenger steamer, from Norfolk, which narrowly escaped annihilation from a six-pounder cannon hastily dragged to a height near the city. But so entirely without defense was the river throughout its course, that had a single Federal war-steamer been indeed dispatched upon the errand, there can be no doubt that it might have compelled the surrender of Richmond almost without firing a shot.
Norfolk was occupied by a small Confederate force. Colonel J. B. Magruder, formerly of the Federal army, held a position near Hampton and Fortress Monroe, with about two thousand troops, mainly from North Carolina and Eastern Virginia.
The defense of Western Virginia had been assumed by General Lee, commander-in-chief of the Virginia forces, who had dispatched to that part of the State Colonel Porterfield, with instructions to raise a volunteer force, and to hold the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Between the extreme east and the extreme west of Virginia lay the main body of the Confederates. General Joseph E. Johnston, a cool, wary, and experienced officer, distinguished in the Federal army by his thorough knowledge of his profession and his great personal gal
lantry, had been sent with a force, chiefly from Tennessee and Mississippi, of less than nine thousand men and thirty guns, by Jefferson Davis, to the important advanced position of Harper's Ferry. Alexandria was held by a small body of Virginia cavalry. The bulk of the Confederate forces were concentrating at Manassas Junction, a plateau of moderate elevation, twentyfive miles west of Alexandria, which commands the intersection of the great line of railway leading from Washington to Richmond with a branch road, called the Manassas Gap Railway, which runs westward through the Blue Ridge to the valley of the Shenandoah river. This plateau, flanked by two small but deeply bedded streams, the river Occoquan and the now worldfamous Bull Run, was admirably fitted for the purposes of the Confederates. The broken and wooded country which surrounds it is traversed, like all northern Virginia, both east and west of the Shenandoah Valley, by few, and for the most part, miserable roads. The Warrenton turnpike, a good Macadamized road, which leads from Alexandria west to Centreville, twenty-two miles distant, turns at that place to the South, and crosses Bull Run at a point now become historical, and known as Stone Bridge.
The Confederate troops here assembled were left under the orders of General Bonham, of South Carolina, until the nature and proportions of the Federal campaign became irresistibly clear, when General Beauregard, who had been previously appointed to the defense of the lower Mississippi, was suddenly recalled to Virginia, and sent to this important command.
Lieutenant-General Scott, being required to invest and invade Virginia, made the best disposition possible of the forces under his command. To Fortress Monroe he sent MajorGeneral Butler, a lawyer of Massachusetts, who had been a conspicuous supporter of the policy of Mr. Jefferson Davis in the Democratic party, but who had thrown himself eagerly into the war, and happening to be sent into Maryland immediately after the Baltimore riots of April 19th, had astonished the
LIFE OF GEN. GEORGE B. MOCLELLAN.
government and the country by a kind of unscrupulous Bowstreet energy, which raised him at once to the rank of a popular hero.
Major-General Patterson, of Pennsylvania, an officer of some experience, was moved through Maryland towards Harper's Ferry, at the head of a column of twenty thousand men.
Lieutenant-General Scott himself, with the main body of the Union forces, threatened, from Washington, Manassas and the road to Richmond.
The invasion of Western Virginia was committed to MajorGeneral McClellan, who was left substantially to take care of bimself, make his own plans, and pursue his own policy.
On the 23d of May, 1861, the Virginia pickets, on duty upon the Virginia shore of the Potomac, near Washington, were driven from their posts by the midnight advance of the “advance guard of the grand army of the United States.”
For some days a Federal war-steamer had been lying off Alexandria. Her officers had been exchanging pleasantries and courtesies freely enough with the Virginians; and the latter were evidently quite at their ease as to the perils which frowned upon them from Washington. The advance of the Federal army drove this careless and confident garrison without a blow from the city. They fell back upon the positions at Manassas, leaving this important gateway of Virginia to be occupied in force by the Federal troops.
Ten days after the occupation of Alexandria, on the 3d of June, Colonel Porterfield, then lying with eight hundred men at Philippa, a village of Western Virginia, was surprised in the night by a body of Ohio troops, from the army of General McClellan.
Notwithstanding repeated requests made to him by General Johnston, commanding the Confederates at Harper's Ferry, to communicate with that post on the subject of the advance of the Federal forces, Colonel Porterfield had refused to co-operate in any way with that officer. His own command was in