Tuesday, July 19, 2016

HISTORY AS IT HAPPENED -- The First Battle of Manassas, Va. July 21, 1861

Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard
[The Richmond Daily Dispatch, July 22, 1861]
The great victory.
     We have the inexpressible satisfaction of announcing this morning another victory of our arms; a decisive victory after the most hotly contested and most important battle ever fought on the American continent. The numbers engaged on each side was far beyond precedent in American history; and, fought as the battle was, under the gaze of two capitals of two powerful Confederacies, it possessed an interest and significance such as has attached to few battles ever before fought.
     It is not ascertained how many of the enemy were actually engaged; though the number could not have been much less than seventy-five thousand. The number actually engaged on our own side was nearly fifty thousand.--The skirmishing is said to have begun as early as four o'clock yesterday morning; the heavy fighting between eight and nine o'clock. It continued all day with unabated vigor.--Night closed upon the scene with the enemy in full retreat, hotly pursued by our gallant men.
     Our left was commanded by the brave Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, who had arrived on the field on the day before from Winchester with twenty thousand men. Patterson had, on Monday, marched down from Martinsburg to within a few miles of the entrenchments at Winchester, and had, on Wednesday, suddenly fallen back across the Potomac. Johnston at once determined to reinforce Beauregard, having no doubt that Patterson had been ordered to join Mcdowell. The result proved the correctness of this surmise, for Patterson's column constituted a part of the enemy's fighting force on yesterday.
      The centre of our line was commanded by President Davis in person; the left by the
Gen. J.E. Johnston
(Library of Congress)
glorious Beauregard.President Davis, with the energy and gallantry that belongs to his character, had no sooner delivered his Message to Congress in this city on Saturday, than he commenced his arrangements for sharing the fate of our army in the field. He accordingly left this city early yesterday morning, and arrived in time to take a decisive part in the battle.
      The heaviest onset of the enemy was made upon our left, under Gen. Johnston, and it was this division that suffered the heaviest loss. --It continued to be pressed during the whole of the day, until about four o'clock in the afternoon, when President Davis advanced his centre, disengaged a portion of the enemy's forces and decided the fortune of the day.
      The day is ours; but the victory, though glorious, has cost us dearly. Some of the casualties are stated in the telegraphic column. While we rejoice over the public success, we have to mourn the loss of some of the most gallant spirits and most valuable men of whom the South could boast. The events of to-day will be looked for with the deepest interest.

[The Richmond Daily Dispatch, July 24, 1861]
The great victory.
increasing excitement.
action of the Confederate Congress.
&c., &c., &c.
     The excitement in the city yesterday reached a height such as we never before witnessed. The anxiety of many of our own citizens subsided on learning that their kindred were uninjured in the great battle at Stone Bridge, and all seemed to unite in the general exultation. The intelligence from Washington, which we publish in our telegraphic column, was received at an early hour in the day, and immediately posted upon the bulletin board, around which a vast throng congregated, and so continued until night, cheering and otherwise giving expression to joyous feeling. Ladies caught the enthusiasm of the hour, and stopped to listen to the glad news, while pleasure sparkled in every bright eye. While this was the state of affairs in the Capital of the Confederate States, how was it in the doomed city where Lincoln, and Seward, and Scott, and hosts of corrupt satellites, have been planning iniquitous schemes and out-stripping even Satan in the atrocity of their machinations? Washington was shrouded in gloom; and we doubt not that the cowardly fiends fled to their hiding places, and trembled in apprehension of popular vengeance.
     To satisfy the demand of the public, an extra was issued from this office in the forenoon of yesterday, and thus the exciting intelligence was spread all over the city. It was in truth a day long to be remembered.
     The Confederate Congress, on Monday, passed appropriate resolutions after receiving the dispatch from President Davis, announcing the victory. These were alluded to in yesterday's paper, but the resolutions themselves were accidentally omitted. The official dispatch was presented by Mr. Memminger, who said:
     This announcement informs Congress that the invader of our soil has been driven back, that our altars have been purified and our homes secured from the ruthless hand of an unprincipled foe. But, sir, it has been at a cost that will bring sorrow into many families; wet with burning tears the cheeks of many widows and orphans, and into many happy homes bring grief and desolation; and I presume, sir, Congress will be little disposed on such an occasion to go on with their usual business. I have therefore taken the liberty of offering a series of resolutions, which I will submit to the attention of Congress, and ask their adoption.
     Resolved, That we recognize the hand of the Most High God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, in the glorious victory with which He has crowned our arms at Manassas; and that the people of these Confederate States are invited, by appropriate services on the ensuing Sabbath, to offer up their united thanks giving and prayers for this mighty deliverance.
     Resolved, That we deeply deplore the necessity which has washed the soil of our country with the blood of so many of our noble sons, and that we offer to their respective families and friends our warmest and most cordial sympathies, assuring them that the sacrifice made will be consecrated in the hearts of our people, and will there enshrine the names of the gallant dead, as the champions of free and Constitutional Government.
      Resolved, That we approve the prompt and patriotic efforts of the Mayor of the city of Richmond, to make provisions for the wounded, and that a committee of one member from each State be appointed to co-operate in the plan.
      Resolved, That Congress do now adjourn.
The resolutions were unanimously adopted, and Congress adjourned.
Incidents of the battle.
      It is stated that while Gen. Beauregard was leading Hampton's Legion into the thickest of the fight, his horse's head was shot off by a shell, which also killed the horses of two of his aids, Messrs. Heyward and Ferguson, of South Carolina.
    The member of the Washington Artillery who was killed, and whose body was brought to this city by his father on Monday night, was Sergeant Joshua Reynolds. He behaved with great coolness and gallantry in the fight until he received his fatal wound. We heard of but two others of this splendid battalion who were injured--Privates Payne and Crutcher.
Maj. C.R. Wheat
1st Bn. La. Vols.
(Confederate Veteran Magazine)
Major Wheat, of Louisiana, is reported badly wounded, and his battalion is said to have suffered severely.
     The friends of Lieut. Edgar Macon, of the Thomas Artillery, of this city, have received intelligence of his death.
     The Col. Willcox mentioned elsewhere as among the prisoners, surrendered to the 28th Virginia Regiment. It will gratify every true Virginian to learn of the capture of Captain Edward C. Carrington, who is connected with some of the best families in the South, none of whom would object to his consignment to the hands of an executioner. Another prisoner of rank is Col. Corcoran, of the 69th New York Regiment.
     Col. Francis S. Bartow, of Georgia, had taken the colors of his regiment in his hands, and was leading a brilliant charge, when he fell. The bereaved wife of the gallant officer was in Richmond when she heard the news of his death.
     Col. Kemper'sAlexandria Artillery receive high praise for their bravery in the action.--Their guns did tremendous execution.
     The Central train arrived from Manassas Junction at half-past 7 o'clock last evening Several thousand persons had assembled, and the fact that some of our dead were brought in the train, changed the current of joy to some extent. This, however, did not prevent a cordial and enthusiastic welcome to President Davis, who was among the passengers An account of his arrival will be found in an other column.
     Many incidents were related of the fight, and all concur in the accounts elsewhere given of the complete rout of the Federal Army.
     We are enabled to state on the best authority that the loss in killed, on our side, does not exceed five hundred--probably not much over four hundred.
     It is currently reported, and even vouched for by some of the passengers, that Gen. Scott
Lt. Gen. T.J. "Stonewall" Jackson
(Library of Congress)
was near the scene of action in his carriage. When the retreat of his army took place, Scott left the vehicle and escaped in one direction, while the carriage drove off in another. Our men, of course, pursued the carriage and captured it, and in it found the sword and epaulette of the old General. A letter from Manassas tells the same story.
      At least a hundred wagons, loaded with army stores, were captured by the Confederates.
      A large number of muskets and other relics of the battle were brought down last evening. Not the least interesting among these were daguerreotype likenesses of females, found in the pockets or haversacks of those who expected to whip the "rebels."
      A doubtful rumor was in circulation that John Cochrane and Lovejoy, members of Congress, who came to see the fight, were taken prisoners.
     The "contraband" articles captured included fine brandies and wines, with which the Federals probably intended to hold a jollification, after their victory.
      The rumored capture of Gen. Patterson is unfounded.
      For a mass of intelligence, as reported from Washington, we refer the reader to the telegraphic columns. It will be seen that the enemy's lowest estimate of his loss is four to five thousand.

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