Captains of the Civil War, A Chronicle of the Blue and the Gray
William Wood

Part 1 out of 5


Scanned by Dianne Bean.





Sixty years ago today the guns that thundered round Fort Sumter
began the third and greatest modern civil war fought by
English-speaking people. This war was quite as full of politics
as were the other two--the War of the American Revolution and
that of Puritan and Cavalier. But, though the present Chronicle
never ignores the vital correlations between statesmen and
commanders, it is a book of warriors, through and through.

I gratefully acknowledge the indispensable assistance of Colonel
G. J. Fiebeger, a West Point expert, and of Dr. Allen Johnson,
chief editor of the series and Professor of American History at


Late Colonel commanding 8th Royal Rifles, and Officer-in-charge,
Canadian Special Mission Overseas.

QUEBEC, April 18, 1921, CONTENTS

I. THE CLASH: 1861










XII. THE END: 1865




States which claimed a sovereign right to secede from the Union
naturally claimed the corresponding right to resume possession of
all the land they had ceded to that Union's Government for the
use of its naval and military posts. So South Carolina, after
leading the way to secession on December 20,1860, at once began
to work for the retrocession of the forts defending her famous
cotton port of Charleston. These defenses, being of vital
consequence to both sides, were soon to attract the strained
attention of the whole country.

There were three minor forts: Castle Pinckney, dozing away, in
charge of a solitary sergeant, on an island less than a mile from
the city; Fort Moultrie, feebly garrisoned and completely at the
mercy of attackers on its landward side; and Fort Johnson over on
James Island. Lastly, there was the world-renowned Fort Sumter,
which then stood, unfinished and ungarrisoned, on a little islet
beside the main ship channel, at the entrance to the harbor, and
facing Fort Moultrie just a mile away. The proper war garrison of
all the forts should have been over a thousand men. The actual
garrison--including officers, band, and the Castle Pinckney
sergeant--was less than a hundred. It was, however, loyal to the
Union; and its commandant, Major Robert Anderson, though born in
the slave-owning State of Kentucky, was determined to fight.

The situation, here as elsewhere, was complicated by Floyd,
President Buchanan's Secretary of War, soon to be forced out of
office on a charge of misapplying public funds. Floyd, as an
ardent Southerner, was using the last lax days of the Buchanan
Government to get the army posts ready for capitulation whenever
secession should have become an accomplished fact. He urged on
construction, repairs, and armament at Charleston, while refusing
to strengthen the garrison, in order, as he said, not to provoke
Carolina. Moreover, in November he had replaced old Colonel
Gardner, a Northern veteran of "1812," by Anderson the
Southerner, in whom he hoped to find a good capitulator. But this
time Floyd was wrong.

The day after Christmas Anderson's little garrison at Fort
Moultrie slipped over to Fort Sumter under cover of the dark,
quietly removed Floyd's workmen, who were mostly Baltimore
Secessionists, and began to prepare for. defense. Next morning
Charleston was furious and began to prepare for attack. The South
Carolina authorities at once took formal possession of Pinckney
and Moultrie; and three days later seized the United States
Arsenal in Charleston itself. Ten days later again, on January 9,
1861, the Star of the West, a merchant vessel coming in with
reinforcements and supplies for Anderson, was fired on and forced
to turn back. Anderson, who had expected a man-of-war, would not
fire in her defense, partly because he still hoped there might
yet be peace.

While Charleston stood at gaze and Anderson at bay the ferment of
secession was working fast in Florida, where another tiny
garrison was all the Union had to hold its own. This garrison,
under two loyal young lieutenants, Slemmer and Gilman, occupied
Barrancas Barracks in Pensacola Bay. Late at night on the eighth
of January (the day before the Star of the West was fired on at
Charleston) some twenty Secessionists came to seize the old
Spanish Fort San Carlos, where, up to that time, the powder had
been kept. This fort, though lying close beside the barracks, had
always been unoccupied; so the Secessionists looked forward to an
easy capture. But, to their dismay, an unexpected guard
challenged them, and, not getting the proper password in reply,
dispersed them with the first shots of the Civil War.

Commodore Armstrong sat idle at the Pensacola Navy Yard,
distracted between the Union and secession. On the ninth Slemmer
received orders from Winfield Scott, General-in-Chief at
Washington, to use all means in defense of Union property. Next
morning Slemmer and his fifty faithful men were landed on Santa
Rosa Island, just one mile across the bay, where the dilapidated
old Fort Pickens stood forlorn. Two days later the Commodore
surrendered the Navy Yard, the Stars and Stripes were lowered,
and everything ashore fell into the enemy's hands. There was no
flagstaff at Fort Pickens; but the Union colors were at once hung
out over the northwest bastion, in full view of the shore, while
the Supply and Wyandotte, the only naval vessels in the bay, and
both commanded by loyal men, mastheaded extra colors and stood
clear. Five days afterwards they had to sail for New York; and
Slemmer, whose total garrison had been raised to eighty by the
addition of thirty sailors, was left to hold Fort Pickens if he

He had already been summoned to surrender by Colonel Chase and
Captain Farrand, who had left the United States Army and Navy for
the service of the South. Chase, like many another Southern
officer, was stirred to his inmost depths by his own change of
allegiance. "I have come," he said, "to ask of you young
officers, officers of the same army in which I have spent the
best and happiest years of my life, the surrender of this fort;
and fearing that I might not be able to say it as I ought, and
also to have it in proper form, I have put it in writing and will
read it." He then began to read. But his eyes filled with tears,
and, stamping his foot, he said: "I can't read it. Here, Farrand,
you read it." Farrand, however, pleading that his eyes were weak,
handed the paper to the younger Union officer, saying, "Here,
Gilman, you have good eyes, please read it." Slemmer refused to
surrender and held out till reinforced in April, by which time
the war had begun in earnest. Fort Pickens was never taken. On
the contrary, it supported the bombardment of the Confederate
longshore positions the next New Year (1869.) and witnessed the
burning and evacuation of Pensacola the following ninth of May.

While Charleston and Pensacola were fanning the flames of
secession the wildfire was running round the Gulf, catching well
throughout Louisiana, where the Governor ordered the state
militia to seize every place belonging to the Union, and striking
inland till it reached the farthest army posts in Texas. In all
Louisiana the Union Government had only forty men. These occupied
the Arsenal at Baton Rouge under Major Haskins. Haskins was
loyal. But when five hundred state militiamen surrounded him, and
his old brother-officer, the future Confederate General Bragg,
persuaded him that the Union was really at an end, to all intents
and purposes, and when he found no orders, no support, and not
even any guidance from the Government at Washington, he
surrendered with the honors of war and left by boat for St. Louis
in Missouri.

There was then in Louisiana another Union officer; but made of
sterner stuff. This was Colonel W. T. Sherman, Superintendent of
the State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy at
Alexandria, up the Red River. He was much respected by all the
state authorities, and was carefully watching over the two young
sons of another future Confederate leader, General Beauregard.
William Tecumseh Sherman had retired from the Army without seeing
any war service, unlike Haskins, who was a one-armed veteran of
the Mexican campaign. But Sherman was determined to stand by the
Union, come what might. Yet he was equally determined to wind up
the affairs of the State Academy so as to hand them over in
perfect order. A few days after the seizure of the Arsenal, and
before the formal secession of the State, he wrote to the

"Sir: As I occupy a quasi-military position under the laws of the
State, I deem it proper to acquaint you that I accepted such
position when Louisiana was a State of the Union, and when the
motto of this seminary was inserted in marble over the main door:
"By the liberality of the General Government of the United
States. The Union--esto perpetua." Recent events foreshadow a
great change, and it becomes all men to choose .... I beg you to
take immediate steps to relieve me as superintendent, the moment
the State determines to secede, for on no earthly account will I
do any act or think any thought hostile to, or in defiance of,
the old Government of the United States."

Then, to the lasting credit of all concerned, the future
political enemies parted as the best of personal friends. Sherman
left everything in perfect order, accounted for every cent of the
funds, and received the heartiest thanks and best wishes of all
the governing officials, who embodied the following sentence in
their final resolution of April 1, 1861: "They cannot fail to
appreciate the manliness of character which has always marked the
actions of Colonel Sherman." Long before this Louisiana had
seceded, and Sherman had gone north to Lancaster, Ohio, where he
arrived about the time of Lincoln's inauguration.

Meanwhile, on the eighteenth of February, the greatest of all
surrenders had taken place in Texas, where nineteen army posts
were handed over to the State by General Twiggs. San Antonio was
swarming with Secessionist rangers. Unionist companies were
marching up and down. The Federal garrison was leaving the town
on parole, with the band playing Union airs and Union colors
flying. The whole place was at sixes and sevens, and anything
might have happened.

In the midst of this confusion the colonel commanding the Second
Regiment of United States Cavalry arrived from Fort Mason. He was
on his way to Washington, where Winfield Scott, the veteran
General-in-Chief, was anxiously waiting to see him; for this
colonel was no ordinary man. He had been Scott's Chief of Staff
in Mexico, where he had twice won promotion for service in the
field. He had been a model Superintendent at West Point and an
exceedingly good officer of engineers before he left them, on
promotion, for the cavalry. Very tall and handsome, magnificently
fit in body and in mind, genial but of commanding presence, this
flower of Southern chivalry was not only every inch a soldier but
a leader born and bred. Though still unknown to public fame he
was the one man to whom the most insightful leaders of both sides
turned, and rightly turned; for this was Robert Lee, Lee of
Virginia, soon to become one of the very few really great
commanders of the world.

As Lee came up to the hotel at San Antonio he was warmly greeted
by Mrs. Barrow, the anxious wife of the confidential clerk to
Major Vinton, the staunch Union officer in charge of the pay and
quartermaster services. "Who are those men?" he asked, pointing
to the rangers, who wore red flannel shoulder straps. "They are
McCulloch's," she answered; "General Twiggs surrendered
everything, to the State this morning." Years after, when she and
her husband and Vinton had suffered for one side and Lee had
suffered for the other, she wrote her recollection of that
memorable day in these few, telling words: "I shall never forget
his look of astonishment, as, with his lips trembling and his
eyes full of tears, he exclaimed, 'Has it come so soon as this?'
In a short time I saw him crossing the plaza on his way to
headquarters and noticed particularly that he was in citizen's
dress. He returned at night and shut himself into his room, which
was over mine; and I heard his footsteps through the night, and
sometimes the murmur of his voice, as if he was praying. He
remained at the hotel a week and in conversations declared that
the position he held was a neutral one."

Three other Union witnesses show how Lee agonized over the
fateful decision he was being forced to make. Captain R. M.
Potter says: "I have seldom seen a more distressed man. He said,
'When I get to Virginia I think the world will have one soldier
less. I shall resign and go to planting corn.'" Colonel Albert G.
Brackett says: "Lee was filled with sorrow at the condition of
affairs, and, in a letter to me, deploring the war in which we
were about to engage, made use of these words: 'I fear the
liberties of our country will be buried in the tomb of a great
nation.'" Colonel Charles Anderson, quoting Lee's final words in
Texas, carries us to the point of parting: "I still think my
loyalty to Virginia ought to take precedence over that which is
due to the Federal Government; and I shall so report myself in
Washington. If Virginia stands by the old Union, so will I. But
if she secedes (though I do not believe in secession as a
constitutional right, nor that there is sufficient cause for
revolution) then I will still follow my native State with my
sword, and, if need be, with my life. I know you think and feel
very differently. But I can't help it. These are my principles;
and I must follow them."

Lee reached Washington on the first of March. Lincoln, delivering
his Inaugural on the fourth, brought the country one step nearer
war by showing the neutrals how impossible it was to reconcile
his, principles as President of the whole United States with
those of Jefferson Davis as President of the seceding parts. "The
power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess
the property and places belonging to the government." Three days
later the provisional Confederate Congress at Montgomery in
Alabama passed an Army Act authorizing the enlistment of one
hundred thousand men for one year's service. Nine days later
again, having adopted a Constitution in the meantime, this
Congress passed a Navy Act, authorizing the purchase or
construction of ten little gunboats.

In April the main storm center went whirling back to Charleston,
where Sherman's old friend Beauregard commanded the forces that
encircled Sumter. Sumter, still unfinished, had been designed for
a garrison of six hundred and fifty combatant men. It now
contained exactly sixty-five. It was to have been provisioned for
six months. The actual supplies could not be made to last beyond
two weeks. Both sides knew that Anderson's gallant little
garrison must be starved out by the fifteenth. But the excited
Carolinians would not wait, because they feared that the arrival
of reinforcements might balk them of their easy prey. On the
eleventh Beauregard, acting under orders from the Confederate
Government, sent in a summons to surrender. Anderson refused. At
a quarter to one the next morning the summons was repeated, as
pilots had meanwhile reported a Federal vessel approaching the
harbor. Anderson again refused and again admitted that he would
be starved out on the fifteenth. Thereupon Beauregard's aides
declared immediate surrender the only possible alternative to a
bombardment and signed a note at 3:20 A.M. giving Anderson formal
warning that fire would be opened in an hour.

Fort Sumter stood about half a mile inside the harbor mouth,
fully exposed to the converging fire of four relatively powerful
batteries, three about a mile away, the fourth nearly twice as
far. At the northern side of the harbor mouth stood Fort
Moultrie; at the southern stood the batteries on Cummings Point;
and almost due west of Sumter stood Fort Johnson. Near Moultrie
was a four-gun floating battery with an iron shield. A mile
northwest of Moultrie, farther up the harbor, stood the Mount
Pleasant battery, nearly two miles off from Sumter. At half-past
four, in the first faint light of a gray morning, a sudden spurt
of flame shot out from Fort Johnson, the dull roar of a mortar
floated through the misty air, and the big shell--the first shot
of the real war--soared up at a steep angle, its course
distinctly marked by its burning fuse, and then plunged down on
Sumter. It was a capital shot, right on the center of the target,
and was followed by an admirable burst. Then all the converging
batteries opened full; while the whole population of perfervid
Charleston rushed out of doors to throng their beautiful East
Battery, a flagstone marine parade three miles in from Sumter, of
which and of the attacking batteries it had a perfect view.

But Sumter remained as silent as the grave. Anderson decided not
to return the fire till it was broad daylight. In the meantime
all ranks went to breakfast, which consisted entirely of water
and salt pork. Then the gun crews went to action stations and
fired back steadily with solid shot. The ironclad battery was an
exasperating target; for the shot bounced off it like dried peas.
Moultrie seemed more vulnerable. But appearances were deceptive;
for it was thoroughly quilted with bales of cotton, which the
solid shot simply rammed into an impenetrable mass. Wishing to
save his men, in which he was quite successful, Anderson had
forbidden the use of the shell-guns, which were mounted on the
upper works and therefore more exposed. Shell fire would have
burst the bales and set the cotton flaming. This was so evident
that Sergeant Carmody, unable to stand such futile practice any
longer, quietly stole up to the loaded guns and fired them in
succession. The aim lacked final correction; and the result was
small, except that Moultrie, thinking itself in danger,
concentrated all its efforts on silencing these guns. The
silencing seemed most effective; for Carmody could not reload
alone, and so his first shots were his last.

At nightfall Sumter ceased fire while the Confederates kept on
slowly till daylight. Next morning the officers' quarters were
set on fire by red-hot shot. Immediately the Confederates
redoubled their efforts. Inside Sumter the fire was creeping
towards the magazine, the door of which was shut only just in
time. Then the flagstaff was shot down. Anderson ran his colors
up again, but the situation was rapidly becoming impossible. Most
of the worn-out men were fighting the flames while a few were
firing at long intervals to show they would not yet give in. This
excited the generous admiration of the enemy, who cheered the
gallantry of Sumter while sneering at the caution of the Union
fleet outside. The fact was, however, that this so-called fleet
was a mere assemblage of vessels quite unable to fight the
Charleston batteries and without the slightest chance of saving

Having done his best for the honor of the flag, though not a man
was killed within the walls, Anderson surrendered in the
afternoon. Charleston went wild with joy; but applauded the
generosity of Beauregard's chivalrous terms. Next day, Sunday the
fourteenth, Anderson's little garrison saluted the Stars and
Stripes with fifty guns, and then, with colors flying, marched
down on board a transport to the strains of Yankee Doodle.

Strange to say, after being four years in Confederate hands,
Sumter was recaptured by the Union forces on the anniversary of
its surrender. It was often bombarded, though never taken, in the

The fall of Sumter not only fired all Union loyalty but made
Confederates eager for the fray. The very next day Lincoln called
for 75,000 three-month volunteers. Two days later Confederate
letters of marque were issued to any privateers that would prey
on Union shipping. Two days later again Lincoln declared a
blockade of every port from South Carolina round to Texas. Eight
days afterwards he extended it to North Carolina and Virginia.

But in the meantime Lincoln had been himself marooned in
Washington. On the nineteenth of April, the day he declared his
first blockade, the Sixth Massachusetts were attacked by a mob in
Baltimore, through which the direct rails ran from North to
South. Baltimore was full of secession, and the bloodshed roused
its fury. Maryland was a border slave State out of which the
District of Columbia was carved. Virginia had just seceded. So
when the would-be Confederates of Maryland, led by the Mayor of
Baltimore, began tearing up rails, burning bridges, and cutting
the wires, the Union Government found itself enisled in a hostile
sea. Its own forces abandoned the Arsenal at Harper's Ferry and
the Navy Yard at Norfolk. The work of demolition at Harper's
Ferry had to be bungled off in haste, owing to shortness of time
and lack of means. The demolition of Norfolk was better done, and
the ships were sunk at anchor. But many valuable stores fell into
enemy hands at both these Virginian outposts of the Federal
forces. Through six long days of dire suspense not a ship, not a
train, came into Washington. At last, on the twentyfifth, the
Seventh New York got through, having come south by boat with the
Eighth Massachusetts, landed at Annapolis, and commandeered a
train to run over relaid rails. With them came the news that all
the loyal North was up, that the Seventh had marched through
miles of cheering patriots in New York, and that these two fine
regiments were only the vanguard of a host.

But just a week before Lincoln experienced this inexpressible
relief he lost, and his enemy won, a single officer, who,
according to Winfield Scott, was alone worth more than fifty
thousand veteran men. On the seventeenth of April Virginia voted
for secession. On the eighteenth Lee had a long confidential
interview with his old chief, Winfield Scott. On the twentieth he
resigned, writing privately to Scott at the same time: "My
resignation would have been presented at once but for the
struggle it has cost me to separate myself from a service to
which I have devoted the best years of my life. During the whole
of that time I have experienced nothing but kindness from my
superiors and a most cordial friendship from my comrades. I shall
carry to the grave the most grateful recollections of your kind
consideration, and your name and fame shall always be dear to me.
Save in the defense of my native State I never desire again to
draw my sword."

The three great motives which finally determined his momentous
course of action were: first, his aversion from taking any part
in coercing the home folks of Virginia; secondly, his belief in
State rights, tempered though it was by admiration for the Union;
and thirdly, his clear perception that war was now inevitable,
and that defeat for the South would inevitably mean a violent
change of all the ways of Southern life, above all, a change
imposed by force from outside, instead of the gradual change he
wished to see effected from within. He was opposed to slavery;
and both his own and his wife's slaves had long been free. Like
his famous lieutenant, Stonewall Jackson, he was particularly
kind to the blacks; none of whom ever wanted to leave, once they
had been domiciled at Arlington, the estate that came to him
through his wife, Mary Custis, great-granddaughter of Martha
Washington. But, like Lincoln before the war, he wished
emancipation to come from the slave States themselves, as in time
it must have come, with due regard for compensation.

On the twenty-third of this eventful April Lee was given the
chief command of all Virginia's forces. Three days later "Joe"
Johnston took command of the Virginians at Richmond. One day
later again "Stonewall" Jackson took command at Harper's Ferry.
Johnston played a great and noble part throughout the war; and we
shall meet him again and again, down to the very end. But Jackson
claims our first attention here.

Like all the great leaders on both sides Jackson had been an
officer of regulars. He was, however, in many ways unlike the
army type. He disliked society amusements, was awkward, shy,
reserved, and apparently recluse. Moderately tall, with large
hands and feet, stiff in his movements, ungainly in the saddle,
he was a mere nobody in public estimation when the war broke out.
A few brother-officers had seen his consummate skill and bravery
as a subaltern in Mexico; and still fewer close acquaintances had
seen his sterling qualities at Lexington, where, for ten years,
he had been a professor at the Virginia Military Institute. But
these few were the only ones who were not surprised when this
recluse of peace suddenly became a very thunderbolt of
war--Puritan in soul, Cavalier in daring: a Cromwell come to life

Harper's Ferry was a strategic point in northern Virginia. It was
the gate to the Shenandoah Valley as well as the point where the
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad crossed the Potomac some sixty miles
northwest of Washington. Harper's Ferry was known by name to
North and South through John Brown's raid two years before. It
was now coveted by Virginia for its Arsenal as well as for its
command of road, rail, and water routes. The plan to raid it was
arranged at Richmond on the sixteenth of April. But when the
raiders reached it on the eighteenth they found it abandoned and
its Arsenal in flames. The machine shops, however, were saved, as
well as the metal parts of twenty thousand stand of arms. Then
the Virginia militiamen and volunteers streamed in, to the number
of over four thousand. They were a mere conglomeration of
semi-independent units, mostly composed of raw recruits under
officers who themselves knew next to nothing. As usual with such
fledgling troops there was no end to the fuss and feathers among
the members of the busybody staffs, who were numerous enough to
manage an army but clumsy enough to spoil a platoon. It was said,
and not without good reason, that there was as much gold lace at
Harper's Ferry, when the sun was shining, as at a grand review in

Into this gaudy assemblage rode Thomas Jonathan Jackson, mounted
on Little Sorrel, a horse as unpretentious as himself, and
dressed in his faded old blue professor's uniform without one
gleam of gold. He had only two staff officers, both dressed as
plainly as himself. He was not a major-general, nor even a
brigadier; just a colonel. He held no trumpeting reviews. He made
no flowery speeches. He didn't even swear. The armed mob at
Harper's Ferry felt that they would lose caste on Sunday
afternoons under a commandant like this. Their feelings were
still more outraged when they heard that every officer above the
rank of captain was to lose his higher rank, and that all new
reappointments were to be made on military merit and direct from
Richmond. Companies accustomed to elect their officers according
to the whim of the moment eagerly joined the higher officers in
passing adverse resolutions. But authorities who were unanimous
for Lee were not to be shaken by such absurdities in face of a
serious war. And when the froth had been blown off the top, and
the dregs drained out of the bottom, the solid mass between, who
really were sound patriots, settled down to work.

There was seven hours' drill every day except Sunday; no light
task for a mere armed mob groping its ignorant way, however
zealously, towards the organized efficiency of a real army. The
companies had to be formed into workable battalions, the
battalions into brigades. There was a deplorable lack of cavalry,
artillery, engineers, commissariat, transport, medical services,
and, above all, staff. Armament was bad; other munitions were
worse. There would have been no chance whatever of holding
Harper's Ferry unless the Northern conglomeration had been even
less like a fighting army than the Southern was.

Harper's Ferry was not only important in itself but still more
important for what it covered: the wonderfully fruitful
Shenandoah Valley, running southwest a hundred and forty miles to
the neighborhood of Lexington, with an average width of only
twenty-four. Bounded on the west by the Alleghanies and on the
east by the long Blue Ridge this valley was a regular covered way
by which the Northern invaders might approach, cut Virginia in
two (for West Virginia was then a part of the State) and, after
devastating the valley itself (thus destroying half the foodbase
of Virginia) attack eastern Virginia through whichever gaps might
serve the purpose best. More than this, the only direct line from
Richmond to the Mississippi ran just below the southwest end of
the valley, while a network of roads radiated from Winchester
near the northeast end, thirty miles southwest of Harper's Ferry.

Throughout the month of May Jackson went on working his men into
shape and watching the enemy, three thousand strong, at
Chambersburg, forty-five miles north of Harper's Ferry, and
twelve thousand strong farther north still. One day he made a
magnificent capture of rolling stock on the twenty-seven miles of
double track that centered in Harper's Ferry. This greatly
hampered the accumulation of coal at Washington besides helping
the railroads of the South. Destroying the line was out of the
question, because it ran through West Virginia and Maryland, both
of which he hoped to see on the Confederate side. He was himself
a West Virginian, born at Clarksburg; and it grieved him greatly
when West Virginia stood by the Union.

Apart from this he did nothing spectacular. The rest was all just
sheer hard work. He kept his own counsel so carefully that no one
knew anything about what he would do if the enemy advanced. Even
the officers of outposts were forbidden to notice or mention his
arrival or departure on his constant tours of inspection, lest a
longer look than usual at any point might let an awkward
inference be drawn. He was the sternest of disciplinarians when
the good of the service required it. But no one knew better that
the finest discipline springs from self-sacrifice willingly made
for a worthy cause; and no one was readier to help all ranks
along toward real efficiency in the kindest possible way when he
saw they were doing their best.

At the end of May Johnston took over the command of the
increasing force at Harper's Ferry, while Jackson was given the
First Shenandoah Brigade, a unit soon, like himself, to be raised
by service into fame.

On the first and third of May Virginia issued calls for more men;
and on the third Lincoln, who quite understood the signs of the
times, called for men whose term of service would be three years
and not three months.

Just a week later Missouri was saved for the Union by the daring
skill of two determined leaders, Francis P. Blair, a Member of
Congress who became a good major-general, and Captain Nathaniel
Lyon, an excellent soldier, who commanded the little garrison of
regulars at St. Louis. When Lincoln called upon Governor
Claiborne Jackson to supply Missouri's quota of three-month
volunteers the Governor denounced the proposed coercion as
"illegal, unconstitutional, revolutionary, inhuman, and
diabolical"; and thereafter did his best to make Missouri join
the South. But Blair and Lyon were too quick for him. Blair
organized the Home Guards, whom Lyon armed from the arsenal. Lyon
then sent all the surplus arms and stores across the river into
Illinois, while he occupied the most commanding position near the
arsenal with his own troops, thus forestalling the Confederates,
under Brigadier-General D. M. Frost, who was now forced to
establish Camp Jackson in a far less favorable place. So
vigorously had Blair and Lyon worked that they had armed
thousands while Frost had only armed hundreds. But when Frost
received siege guns and mortars from farther south Lyon felt the
time had come for action.

Lyon was a born leader, though Grant and Sherman (then in St.
Louis as junior ex-officers, quite unknown to fame) were almost
the only men, apart from Blair, to see any signs of preeminence
in this fiery little redheaded, weather-beaten captain, who kept
dashing about the arsenal, with his pockets full of papers,
making sure of every detail connected with the handful of
regulars and the thousands of Home Guards.

On the ninth of May Lyon borrowed an old dress from Blair's
mother-in-law, completing the disguise with a thickly veiled
sunbonnet, and drove through Camp Jackson. That night he and
Blair attended a council of war, at which, overcoming all
opposition, answering all objections, and making all
arrangements, they laid their plans for the morrow. When Lyon's
seven thousand surrounded Frost's seven hundred the Confederates
surrendered at discretion and were marched as prisoners through
St. Louis. There were many Southern sympathizers among the crowds
in the streets; one of them fired a pistol; and the Home Guards
fired back, killing several women and children by mistake. This
unfortunate incident hardened many neutrals and even Unionists
against the Union forces; so much so that Sterling Price, a
Unionist and former governor, became a Confederate general, whose
field for recruiting round Jefferson City on the Missouri
promised a good crop of enemies to the Union cause.

Lyon and Blair wished to march against Price immediately and
smash every hostile force while still in the act of forming. But
General Harney, who commanded the Department of the West,
returned to St. Louis the day after the shooting and made peace
instead of war with Price. By the end of the month, however,
Lincoln removed Harney and promoted Lyon in his place; whereupon
Price and Governor Jackson at once prepared to fight. Then sundry
neutrals, of the gabbling kind who think talk enough will settle
anything, induced the implacables to meet in St. Louis. The
conference was ended by Lyon's declaration that he would see
every Missourian under the sod before he would take any orders
from the State about any Federal matter, however small. "This,"
he said in conclusion, "means war." And it did.

Again a single week sufficed for the striking of the blow. The
conference was held on the eleventh of June. On the fourteenth
Lyon reached Jefferson City only to find that the Governor had
decamped for Boonville, still higher up the Missouri. Here, on
the seventeenth, Lyon attacked him with greatly superior numbers
and skill, defeated him utterly, and sent him flying south with
only a few hundred followers left. Boonville was, in itself, a
very small affair indeed. But it had immense results. Lyon had
seized the best strategic point of rail and river junction on the
Mississippi by holding St. Louis. He had also secured supremacy
in arms, munitions, and morale. By turning the Governor out of
Jefferson City, the State capital, he had deprived the
Confederates of the prestige and convenience of an acknowledged
headquarters. Now, by defeating him at Boonville and driving his
forces south in headlong flight he had practically made the whole
Missouri River a Federal line of communication as well as a
barrier between would-be Confederates to the north and south of
it. More than this, the possession of Boonville struck a fatal
blow at Confederate recruiting and organization throughout the
whole of that strategic area; for Boonville was the center to
which pro-Southern Missourians were flocking. The tide of battle
was to go against the Federals at Wilson's Creek in the southwest
of the State, and even at Lexington on the Missouri, as we shall
presently see; but this was only the breaking of the last
Confederate waves. As a State, Missouri was lost to the South

In Kentucky, the next border State, opinions were likewise
divided; and Kentuckians fought each other with help from both
sides. Anderson, of Fort Sumter fame, was appointed to the
Kentucky command in May. But here the crisis did not occur for
months, while a border campaign was already being fought in West

West Virginia, which became a separate State during the war, was
strongly Federal, like eastern Tennessee. These Federal parts of
two Confederate States formed a wedge dangerous to the whole
South, especially to Virginia and the Carolinas. Each side
therefore tried to control this area itself. The Federals, under
McClellan, of whom we shall soon hear more, had two lines of
invasion into West Virginia, both based on the Ohio. The northern
converged by rail, from Wheeling and Parkersburg, on Grafton, the
only junction in West Virginia. The southern ran up the Great
Kanawha, with good navigation to Charleston and water enough for
small craft on to Gauley Bridge, which was the strategic point.

In May the Confederates cut the line near Grafton. As this broke
direct communication between the West and Washington, McClellan
sent forces from which two flying columns, three thousand strong,
converged on Philippi, fifteen miles south of Grafton, and
surprised a thousand Confederates. These thereupon retired, with
little loss, to Beverly, thirty miles farther south still. Here
there was a combat at Rich Mountain on the eleventh of July. The
Confederates again retreated, losing General Garnett in a
skirmish the following day. This ended McClellan's own campaign
in West Virginia. But the Kanawha campaign, which lasted till
November, had only just begun, with Rosecrans as successor to
McClellan (who had been recalled to Washington for very high
command) and with General Jacob D. Cox leading the force against
Gauley. The Confederates did all they could to keep their
precarious foothold. They sent political chiefs, like Henry A.
Wise, ex-Governor of Virginia, and John B. Floyd, the late
Federal Secretary of War, both of whom were now Confederate
brigadiers. They even sent Lee himself in general commend. But,
confronted by superior forces in a difficult and thoroughly
hostile country, they at last retired east of the Alleghanies,
which thenceforth became the frontier of two warring States.

The campaign in West Virginia was a foregone conclusion. It was
not marked by any real battles; and there was no scope for
exceptional skill of the higher kind on either side. But it made
McClellan's bubble reputation.

McClellan was an ex-captain of United States Engineers who had
done very well at West Point, had distinguished himself in
Mexico, had represented the American army with the Allies in the
Crimea, had written a good official report on his observations
there, had become manager of a big railroad after leaving the
service, and had so impressed people with his ability and modesty
on the outbreak of war that his appointment to the chief command
in West Virginia was hailed with the utmost satisfaction. Then
came the two affairs at Philippi and Rich Mountain, the first of
which was planned and carried out by other men, while the second
was, if anything, spoiled by himself; for here, as afterwards on
a vastly greater scene of action, he failed to strike home at the
critical moment.

Yet though he failed in arms he won by proclamations; so much so,
in fact, that WORDS NOT DEEDs might well have been his motto. He
began with a bombastic address to the inhabitants and ended with
another to his troops, whom he congratulated on having
"annihilated two armies, commanded by educated and experienced
soldiers, intrenched in mountain fastnesses fortified at their

It disastrously happened that the Union public were hungering for
heroes at this particular time and that Union journalists were
itching to write one up to the top of their bent. So all
McClellan's tinsel was counted out for gold before an avaricious
mob of undiscriminating readers; and when, at the height of the
publicity campaign, the Government wanted to retrieve Bull Run
they turned to the ''Man of Destiny" who had been given the
noisiest advertisement as the "Young Napoleon of the West."
McClellan had many good qualities for organization, and even some
for strategy. An excited press and public, however, would not
acclaim him for what he was but for what he most decidedly was

Meanwhile, before McClellan went to Washington and Lee to West
Virginia, the main Union army had been disastrously defeated by
the main Confederate army at Bull Run, on that vital ground which
lay between the rival capitals.

In April Lincoln had called for three-month volunteers. In May
the term of service for new enlistments was three years. In June
the military chiefs at Washington were vainly doing all that
military men could do to make something like the beginnings of an
army out of the conglomerating mass. Winfield Scott, the veteran
General-in-Chief, rightly revered by the whole service as a most
experienced, farsighted, and practical man, was ably assisted by
W. T. Sherman and Irvin McDowell. But civilian interference
ruined all. Even Lincoln had not yet learned the quintessential
difference between that civil control by which the fighting
services are so rightly made the real servants of the whole
people and that civilian interference which is very much the same
as if a landlubber owning, a ship should grab the wheel
repeatedly in the middle of a storm. Simon Cameron, then
Secretary of War, was good enough as a party politician, but all
thumbs when fumbling with the armies in the field. The other
members of the Cabinet had war nostrums of their own; and every
politician with a pull did what he could to use it. Behind all
these surged a clamorous press and an excited people, both
patriotic and well meaning; but both wholly ignorant of war, and
therefore generating a public opinion that forced the not
unwilling Government to order an armed mob "on to Richmond"
before it had the slightest chance of learning how to be an army.

The Congress that met on the Fourth of July voted five hundred
thousand men and two hundred and fifty million dollars. This
showed that the greatness of the war was beginning to be seen.
But the men, the money, and the Glorious Fourth were so blurred
together in the public mind that the distinction between a vote
in Congress and its effect upon some future battlefield was never
realized. The result was a new access of zeal for driving
McDowell "on to Richmond." Making the best of a bad business,
Scott had already begun his preparations for the premature

By the end of May Confederate pickets had been in sight of
Washington, while McDowell, crossing the Potomac, was faced by
his friend of old West Point and Mexican days, General
Beauregard, fresh from the capture of Fort Sumter. By the
beginning of July General Patterson, a veteran of "1812" and
Mexico, was in command up the Potomac near Harper's Ferry. He was
opposed by "Joe" Johnston, who had taken over that Confederate
command from "Stonewall" Jackson. Down the Potomac and Chesapeake
Bay there was nothing to oppose the Union navy. General Benjamin
Butler, threatening Richmond in flank, along the lower
Chesapeake, was watched by the Confederates Huger and Magruder.
Meanwhile, as eve have seen already, the West Virginian campaign
was in full swing, with superior Federal forces under McClellan.

Thus the general situation in July was that the whole of
northeastern Virginia was faced by a semicircle of superior
forces which began at the Kanawha River, ran northeast to
Grafton, then northeast to Cumberland, then along the Potomac to
Chesapeake Bay and on to Fortress Monroe. From the Kanawha to
Grafton there were only roads. From Grafton to Cumberland there
was rail as well. From Cumberland to Washington there were road,
rail, river, and canal. From Washington to Fortress Monroe there
was water fit for any fleet. The Union armies along this
semicircle were not only twice as numerous as the Confederates
facing them but they were backed by a sea-power, both naval and
mercantile, which the Confederates could not begin to challenge,
much less overcome. Lee was the military adviser to the
Confederate Government at Richmond as Scott then was to the Union
Government at Washington.

Such was the central scene of action, where the first great
battle of the war was fought. The Union forces were based on the
Potomac from Washington to Harper's Ferry. The Confederates faced
them from Bull Run to Winchester, which points were nearly sixty
miles apart by road and rail. The Union forces were fifty
thousand strong, the Confederate thirty-three thousand. The Union
problem was how to keep "Joe" Johnston in the Winchester position
by threatening or actually making an invasion of the Shenandoah
Valley with Patterson's superior force, while McDowell's superior
force attacked or turned Beauregard's position at Bull Run. The
Confederate problem was how to give Patterson the slip and reach
Bull Run in time to meet McDowell with an equal force. The
Confederates had the advantage of interior lines both here and in
the semicircle as a whole, though the Union forces enjoyed in
general much better means of transportation. The Confederates
enjoyed better control from government headquarters, where the
Cabinet mostly had the sense to trust in Lee. Scott, on the other
hand, was tied down by orders to defend Washington by purely
defensive means as well as by the "on to Richmond" march.
Patterson was therefore obliged to watch the Federal back door at
Harper's Ferry as well as the Confederate side doors up the
Shenandoah : an impossible task, on exterior lines, with the kind
of force he had. The civilian chiefs at Washington did not see
that the best of all defense was to destroy the enemy's means of
destroying THEM, and that his greatest force of fighting MEN, not
any particular PLACE, should always be their main objective.

On the fourteenth of June Johnston had destroyed everything
useful to the enemy at Harper's Ferry and retired to Winchester.
On the twentieth Jackson's brigade marched on Martinsburg to
destroy the workshops of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway and to
support the three hundred troopers under J. E. B. Stuart, who was
so soon to be the greatest of cavalry commanders on the
Confederate side. Unknown at twenty-nine, killed at thirty-one,
"Jeb" Stuart was a Virginian ex-officer of United States
Dragoons, trained in frontier fighting, and the perfect type of
what a cavalry commander should be: tall, handsome, splendidly
supple and strong, hawk-eyed and lion-hearted, quick, bold,
determined, and inspiring, yet always full of knowledge and
precaution too; indefatigable at all times, and so persistent in
carrying out a plan that the enemy could no more shake him off
than they could escape their shadows.

On the second of July the first brush took place at Falling
Waters, five miles south of the Potomac, where Jackson came into
touch with Patterson's advanced guard. As Jackson withdrew his
handful of Virginian infantry the Federal cavalry came clattering
down the turnpike and were met by a single shot from a
Confederate gun that smashed the head of their column and sent
the others flying. Meanwhile Stuart, who had been reconnoitering,
came upon a company of Federal infantry resting in a field.
Galloping among them suddenly he shouted, "Throw down your arms
or you are all dead men!" Whereupon they all threw down their
arms; and his troopers led them off. Patterson, badly served by
his very raw staff, reported Jackson's little vanguard as being
precisely ten times stronger than it was. He pushed out
cautiously to right and left; and when he tried to engage again
he found that Jackson had withdrawn. Falling Waters was
microscopically small as a fight. But it served to raise
Confederate morale and depress the Federals correspondingly.

Patterson occupied Martinsburg,while Johnston, drawn up in line
of battle, awaited his further advance four days before retiring.
Then, with his fourteen thousand, Patterson advanced again, stood
irresolute under distracting orders from the Government in
Washington, and finally went to Charlestown on the seventeenth of
July--almost back to Harper's Ferry. Johnston, with his eleven
thousand, now stood fast at Winchester, fifteen miles southwest,
while Stuart, like a living screen, moved to and fro between

Meanwhile McDowell's thirty-six thousand had marched past the
President with bands playing and colors flying amid a scene of
great enthusiasm. The press campaign was at its height; so was
the speechifying; and ninety-nine people out of. every hundred
thought Beauregard's twenty-two thousand at Bull Run would be
defeated in a way that would be sure to make the South give in.
McDowell had between two and three thousand regulars: viz., seven
troops of cavalry, nine batteries of artillery, eight companies
of infantry, and a little battalion of marines. Then there was
the immense paper army voted on the Glorious Fourth. And here,
for the general public to admire, was a collection of armed and
uniformed men that members of Congress and writers in the press
united in calling one of the best armies the world had ever seen.
Moreover, the publicity campaign was kept up unflaggingly till
the very clash of arms began. Reporters marched along and sent
off reams of copy. Congressmen, and even ladies, graced the
occasion in every way they could. "The various regiments were
brilliantly uniformed according to the aesthetic taste of peace,"
wrote General Fry, then an officer on McDowell's staff, and
"during the nineteenth and twentieth the bivouacs at Centreville,
almost within cannon range of the enemy, were thronged with
visitors, official and unofficial, who came in carriages from
Washington, were under no military restraint, and passed to and
fro among the troops as they pleased, giving the scene the
appearance of a monster military picnic."

Had McDowell been able to attack on either of these two days he
must have won. But previous Governments had never given the army
the means of making proper surveys; so here, within a day's march
of the Federal capital, the maps were worthless for military use.
Information had to be gleaned by reconnaissance; and
reconnaissance takes time, especially without trustworthy guides,
sufficient cavalry, and a proper staff. Moreover, the army was
all parts and no whole, through no fault of McDowell's or of his
military chiefs. The three-month volunteers, whose term of
service was nearly over, had not learned their drill as
individuals before being herded into companies, battalions, and
brigades, of course becoming more and more inefficient as the
units grew more and more complex. Of the still more essential
discipline they naturally knew still less. There was no lack of
courage; for these were the same breed of men as those with whom
Washington had won immortal fame, the same as those with whom
both Grant and Lee were yet to win it. But, as Napoleon used to
say, mere men are not the same as soldiers. Nor are armed mobs
the same as armies.

The short march to the front was both confused and demoralizing.
No American officer had ever had the chance even of seeing, much
less handling, thirty-six thousand men under arms. This force was
followed by an immense and unwieldy train of supplies, manned by
wholly undisciplined civilian drivers; while other, and quite
superfluous, civilians clogged every movement and made confusion
worse confounded. "The march," says Sherman, who commanded a
brigade, "demonstrated little save the general laxity of
discipline; for, with all my personal efforts, I could not
prevent the men from straggling for water, blackberries, or
anything on the way they fancied." In the whole of the first long
summer's day, the sixteenth of July, the army only marched six
miles; and it took the better part of the seventeenth to herd its
stragglers back again. "I wished them, " says McDowell, "to go to
Centreville the second day [only another six miles out] but the
men were footweary, not so much by the distance marched as by the
time they had been on foot." That observant private, Warren Lee
Goss, has told us how hard it is to soldier suddenly. "My canteen
banged against my bayonet; both tin cup and bayonet badly
interfered with the butt of my musket, while my cartridge-box and
haversack were constantly flopping up and down--the whole
jangling like loose harness and chains on a runaway horse." The
weather was hot. The roads were dusty. And many a man threw away
parts of his kit for which he suffered later on. There was food
in superabundance. But, with that unwieldy and grossly
undisciplined supply-and-transport service, the men and their
food never came together at the proper time.

Early on the eighteenth McDowell, whose own work was excellent
all through, pushed forward a brigade against Blackburn's Ford,
toward the Confederate right, in order to distract attention from
the real objective, which was to be the turning of the left. The
Confederate outposts fell back beyond the ford. The Federal
brigade followed on; when suddenly sharp volleys took it in front
and flank. The opposing brigade, under Longstreet (of whom we
shall often hear again), had lain concealed and sprung its trap
quite neatly. Most of the Federals behaved extremely well under
these untoward circumstances. But one whole battery and another
whole battalion, whose term of service expired that afternoon,
were officially reported as having "moved to the rear to the
sound of the enemy's cannon." Thereafter, as military units, they
simply ceased to exist.

At one o'clock in the morning of this same day Johnston received
a telegram at Winchester, from Richmond, warning him that
McDowell was advancing on Bull Run, with the evident intention of
seizing Manassas Junction, which would cut the Confederate rail
communication with the Shenandoah Valley and so prevent all
chance of immediate concentration at Bull Run. Johnston saw that
the hour had come. It could not have come before, as Lee and the
rest had foreseen; because an earlier concentration at Bull Run
would have drawn the two superior Federal forces together on the
selfsame spot. There was still some risk about giving Patterson
the slip. True, his three-month special-constable array was
semi-mutinous already; and its term of service had only a few
more days to run. True, also, that the men had cause for
grievance. They were all without pay, and some of them were
reported as being still "without pants." But, despite such
drawbacks, a resolute attack by Patterson's fourteen thousand
could have at least held fast Johnston's eleven thousand, who
were mostly little better off in military ways. Patterson,
however, suffered from distracting orders, and that was his
undoing. Johnston, admirably screened by Stuart, drew quietly
away, leaving his sick at Winchester and raising the spirits of
his whole command by telling them that Beauregard was in danger
and that they were to "make a forced march to save the country."

Straining every nerve they stepped out gallantly and covered mile
after mile till they reached the Shenandoah, forded it, and
crossed the Blue Ridge at Ashby's Gap. But lack of training and
march discipline told increasingly against them. "The
discouragement of that day's march," said Johnston, "is
indescribable. Frequent and unreasonable delays caused so slow a
rate of marching as to make me despair of joining General
Beauregard in time to aid him." Even the First Brigade, with all
the advantages of leading the march and of having learnt the
rudiments of drill and discipline, was exhausted by a day's work
that it could have romped through later on. Jackson himself stood
guard alone till dawn while all his soldiers slept.

As Jackson's men marched down to take the train at Piedmont,
Stuart gayly trotted past, having left Patterson still in
ignorance that Johnston's force had gone. By four in the
afternoon of the nineteenth Jackson was detraining at Manassas.
But, as we shall presently see, it was nearly two whole days
before the last of Johnston's brigades arrived, just in time for
the crisis of the battle. When Johnston had joined Beauregard
their united effective total was thirty thousand men. There had
been a wastage of three thousand. McDowell also had no more than
thirty thousand effectives present on the twenty-first; for he
left one division at Centreville and lost the rest by straggling
and by the way in which the battery and battalion already
mentioned had "claimed their discharge" at Blackburn's Ford.
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth, while, sorely against
his will, the Federals were having their "monster military
picnic" at Centreville, he was reconnoitering his constantly
increasing enemy under the greatest difficulties, with his
ill-trained staff, bad maps, and lack of proper guides.

Lee had chosen six miles of Bull Run as a good defensive
position. But Beauregard intended to attack, hoping to profit by
the Federal disjointedness. Consequently none of the eight fords
were strongly defended except at Union Mills on the extreme right
and the Stone Bridge on the extreme left, where the turnpike from
Centreville to Warrenton crossed the Run. Bull Run itself was a
considerable obstacle, having fairly high banks and running along
the Confederate front like the ditch of a fortress. Three miles
in rear stood Manassas Junction on a moderate plateau intersected
by several creeks. The most important of these creeks, Young's
Branch, joined Bull Run on the extreme left, near the Stone
Bridge and Warrenton turnpike, after flowing through the little
valley between the Henry Hill and Matthews Hill. Three miles in
front, across Bull Run, stood Centreville, the Federal camp and
field base during the battle.

Sunday, July 21, 1861, was a beautiful midsummer day. Both armies
were stirring soon after dawn. But a miscarriage of orders
delayed the Confederate offensive so much that the initiative of
attack passed to the Federals, who advanced against the Stone
Bridge shortly after six. This attack, however, though made by a
whole division against a single small brigade, was immediately
recognized as a mere feint when, two hours later, Evans,
commanding the Confederate brigade, saw dense clouds of dust
rising above the woods on his left front, where the road crossed
Sudley Springs, nearly two miles beyond his own left. Perceiving
that this new development must be a regular attempt to turn the
whole Confederate left by crossing Bull Run, he sent back word to
Beauregard, posted some men to hold the Stone Bridge, and marched
the rest to crown the Matthews Hill, facing Sudley Springs a mile
away. Meanwhile four of "Joe" Johnston's five Shenandoah
brigades--Bee's, Bartow's, Bonham's, and Jackson's--had been
coming over from the right reserve to strengthen Evans at the
Bridge. As the great Federal turning movement developed against
the Confederate left these brigades followed Evans and were
themselves followed by other troops, till the real battle raged
not along Bull Run but across the Matthews Hill and Henry Hill.

Forming the new front at right angles to the old, so as to attack
and defend the Confederate left on the Matthews and Henry Hills,
caused much confusion on both sides; but more on the Federal, as
the Confederates knew the ground better. By eleven Bee had
reached Evans and sent word back to hurry Bartow on. But the
Federals, having double numbers and a great preponderance in
guns, soon drove the Confederates off the Matthews Hill. As the
Confederates recrossed Young's Branch and climbed the Henry Hill
the regular artillery of the Federals limbered up smartly,
galloped across the Matthews Hill, and from its nearer slope
plied the retreating Confederates on the opposite slope with
admirably served shell. Under this fire the raw Confederates ran
in confusion, while their uncovered guns galloped back to find a
new position. "Curse them for deserting the guns," snapped
Imboden, whose battery came face to face with Jackson's brigade.
"I'll support you," said Jackson, "unlimber right here." At the
same time, half-past eleven, Bee galloped up on his foaming
charger, saying, "General, they're beating us back." "Then, Sir,"
said Jackson, "we'll give them the bayonet"; and his lips shut
tight as a vice.

Bee then went back behind the Henry Hill, where his broken
brigade was trying to rally, and, pointing toward the crest with
his sword, shouted in a voice of thunder: "Rally behind the
Virginians! Look! There's Jackson standing like a stone wall!"
From that one cry of battle Stonewall Jackson got his name.

While the rest of the Shenandoahs were rallying, in rear of
Jackson, Beauregard and Johnston came up, followed by two
batteries. Miles behind them, all the men that could be spared
from the fords were coming too. But the Federals on the Matthews
Hill were still in more than double numbers; and they enjoyed the
priceless advantage of having some regulars among them. If the
Federal division at the Stone Bridge had only pushed home its
attack at this favorable moment the Confederates must have been
defeated. But the division again fumbled about to little purpose;
and for the second time McDowell's admirable plan was spoilt.

It was now past noon on that sweltering midsummer day; and there
was a welcome lull for the rallying Confederates while the
Federals were coming down the Matthews Hill, struggling across
the swamps and thickets of Young's Branch, and climbing the Henry
Hill. Within another hour the opposing forces were at close grips
again, and the Federals, flushed with success and steadied by the
regulars, seemed certain to succeed.

Imboden has vividly described his meeting Jackson at this time.
"The fight was just then hot enough to make him feel well. His
eyes fairly blazed. He had a way of throwing up his left hand
with the open palm towards the person he was addressing; and, as
he told me to go, he made this gesture. The air was full of
flying missiles, and as he spoke he jerked down his hand, and I
saw that blood was streaming from it. I exclaimed, 'General, you
are wounded.' 'Only a scratch--a mere scratch,' he replied; and,
binding it hastily with a handkerchief, he galloped away along
his line."

Five hundred yards apart the opposing cannon thundered, while the
musketry of the long lines of infantry swelled the deafening
roar. Suddenly two Federal batteries of regulars dashed forward
to even shorter range, covered by two battalions on their flank.
But the gaudy Zouaves of the outer battalion lost formation in
their advance; whereupon "Jeb" Stuart, with only a hundred and
fifty horsemen, swooped down and smashed them to pieces by a
daring charge. Then, just as the scattered white turbans went
wildly bobbing about, into the midst of the inner battalion, out
rushed the Thirty-third Virginians, straight at the guns. The
battery officers held their fire, uncertain in the smoke whether
the newcomers were friend or foe, till a deadly volley struck
home at less than eighty yards. Down went the gunners to a man;
down went the teams to a horse; and off ran the Zouaves and the
other supporting battalion, helter-skelter for the rear.

But other Federals were still full of fight and in superior
numbers. They came on with great gallantry, considering they were
raw troops who were now without the comfort of the guns. Once
more a Federal victory seemed secure; and if the infantry had
only pressed on (not piecemeal, by disjoined battalions, but by
brigades) without letting the Confederates recover from one blow
before another struck them, the day would have certainly been
theirs. Moreover, they would have inflicted not simply a defeat
but a severe disaster on their enemy, who would have been caught
in flank by the troops at the Stone Bridge; for these troops,
however dilatory, must have known what to do with a broken and
flying Confederate flank right under their very eyes. Premonitory
symptoms of such a flight were not wanting. Confederate wounded,
stragglers, and skulkers were making for the rear; and the
rallied brigades were again in disorder, with Bee and Bartow, two
first-rate brigadiers, just killed, and other seniors wounded.
Another ominous sign was the limbering up of Confederate guns to
cover the expected retreat from the Henry Hill.

But on its reverse slope lay Jackson's Shenandoahs, three
thousand strong, and by far the best drilled and disciplined
brigade that either side had yet produced apart, of course, from
regulars. Jackson had ridden up and down before them, calm as
they had ever seen him on parade, quietly saying, "Steady, men,
steady! All's well." In this way he had held them straining at
the leash for hours. Now, at last, their time had come. Riding
out to the center of his line he gave his final orders: "Reserve
your fire till they come within fifty yards. Then fire and give
them the bayonet; and yell like furies when you charge!" Five
minutes later, as the triumphant Federals topped the crest, the
long gray line rose up, stood fast, fired one crashing
point-blank volley, and immediately charged home with the first
of those wild, high rebel yells that rang throughout the war. The
stricken and astounded Federal front caved in, turned round, and
fled. At the same instant the last of the Shenandoahs--Kirby
Smith's brigade, detrained just in the nick of time--charged the
wavering flank. Then, like the first quiver of an avalanche, a
tremor shook the whole massed Federals one moment on that fatal
hill: the next, like a loosened cliff, they began the landslide

There, in the valley, along Young's Branch, McDowell established
his last line of battle, based on the firm rock of the regulars.
But by this time the Confederates had brought up troops from the
whole length of their line; the balance of numbers was at last in
their favor; and nothing could stay the Federal recoil. Lack of
drill and discipline soon changed this recoil into a disorderly
retreat. There was no panic; but most of the military units
"dissolved into a mere mob whose heart was set on getting back to
Washington in any way left '''Open. The regulars and a few formed
bodies in reserve did their best to stem the stream. But all in

One mile short of Centreville there was a sudden upset and
consequent block on the bridge across Cub Run. Then the stream of
men retreating, mixed with clogging masses of panic-struck
civilians, became a torrent.

Bull Run was only a special-constable affair on a gigantic scale.
The losses were comparatively small--3553 killed and wounded on
both sides put together: not ten per cent of the less than forty
thousand who actually fought. Moreover, the side that won the
battle lost the war. And yet Bull Run had many points of very
great importance. In spite of all shortcomings it showed the good
quality of the troops engaged: if not as soldiers, at all events
as men. It proved that the war, unlike the battle, would not be
fought by special constables, some of whom first fired their
rifles when their target was firing back at them. It brought one
great leader--Stonewall Jackson--into fame. Above all, it
profoundly affected the popular points of view, both North and
South. In the South there was undue elation, followed by the
absurd belief that one Southerner could beat two Northerners any
day and that the North would now back down en masse, as its army
had from the Henry Hill. A dangerous slackening of military
preparation was the unavoidable result. In the North, on the
other hand, a good many people began to see the difference
between armed mobs and armies; and the thorough Unionists, led by
the wise and steadfast Lincoln, braced themselves for real war.


No map can show the exact dividing line between the actual
combatants of North and South. Eleven States seceded: Virginia,
the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee,
Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. But the mountain folk of western
Virginia and eastern Tennessee were strong Unionists; and West
Virginia became a State while the war was being fought. On the
other hand, the four border States, though officially Federal
under stress of circumstances, were divided against themselves.
In Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and Kansas, many citizens took
the Southern side. Maryland would have gone with the South if it
had not been for the presence of overwhelming Northern sea-power
and the absence of any good land frontier of her own. Kentucky
remained neutral for several months. Missouri was saved for the
Union by those two resourceful and determined men, Lyon and
Blair. Kansas, though preponderantly Unionist, had many
Confederates along its southern boundary. On the whole the Union
gained greatly throughout the borderlands as the war went on; and
the remaining Confederate hold on the border people was more than
counterbalanced by the Federal hold on those in the western parts
of old Virginia and the eastern parts of Tennessee. Among the
small seafaring population along the Southern coast there were
also some strongly Union men.

Counting out Northern Confederates and Southern Federals as
canceling each other, so far as effective fighting was concerned
a comparison made between the North and South along the line of
actual secession reveals the one real advantage the South enjoyed
all through--an overwhelming party in favor of the war. When once
the die was cast there was certainly not a tenth of the Southern
whites who did not belong to the war party; and the peace party
always had to hold its tongue. The Southerners formed simpler and
far more homogeneous communities of the old long-settled stock,
and were more inclined to act together when once their feelings
were profoundly stirred.

The Northern communities, on the other hand, being far more
complex and far less homogeneous, were plagued with peace parties
that grew like human weeds, clogging the springs of action
everywhere. There were immigrants new to the country and
therefore not inclined to take risks for a cause they had not
learned to make their own. There were also naturalized, and even
American-born, aliens, aliens in speech, race, thought, and every
way of life. Then there were the oppositionists of different
kinds, who would not support any war government, however like a
perfect coalition it might be. Among these were some Northerners
who did business with the South, especially the men who financed
the cotton and tobacco crops. Others, again, were those
loose-tongued folk who think any vexed question can be settled by
unlimited talk. Next came those "defeatist" cranks who always
think their own side must be wrong, and who are of no more
practical use than the out-and-out "pacifists" who think
everybody wrong except themselves. Finally, there were those
slippery folk who try to evade all public duty, especially when
it smacks of danger. These skulkers flourish best in large and
complex populations, where they may even masquerade as patriots
of the kind so well described by Lincoln when he said how often
he had noticed that the men who were loudest in proclaiming their
readiness to shed their last drop of blood were generally the
most careful not to shed the first.

Many of these fustian heroes formed the mushroom secret societies
that played their vile extravaganza right under the shadow of the
real tragedy of war. Worse still, not content with the
abracadabra of their silly oaths, the busybody members made all
the mischief they could during Lincoln's last election. Worst of
all, they not only tried their hands at political assassination
in the North but they lured many a gallant Confederate to his
death by promising to rise in their might for a "Free Northwest"
the moment the Southern troopers should appear. Needless to say,
not a single one of the whole bombastic band of cowards stirred a
finger to help the Confederate troopers who rode to their doom on
Morgan's Raid through Indiana and Ohio. The peace party wore a
copper as a badge, and so came to be known as "Copperheads," much
to the disgust of its more inflated members, who called
themselves the Sons of Liberty. The war party, with a better
appreciation of how names and things should be connected, used
their own descriptive "Copperhead" in its appropriate meaning of
a poisonous snake in the grass behind.

The Indians would have preferred neutrality between the two kinds
of inevitably dispossessing whites. But neutrality was impossible
in what was then the Far West. Not ten thousand Indians fought
for both sides put together. On the whole they fought well as
skirmishers, though they rarely withstood shell fire, even when
their cover was good and their casualties small.

The ten times more numerous negroes were naturally a much more
serious factor. The North encouraged the employment of colored
labor corps and even colored soldiers, especially after
Emancipation. But the vast majority of negroes, whether slave or
free, either preferred or put up with their Southern masters,
whom they generally served faithfully enough either in military
labor corps or on the old plantations. As the colored population
of the South was three and a half millions this general fidelity
was of great importance to the forces in the field.

The total population of the United States in 1861 was about
thirty-one and a half millions. Of this total twenty-two and a
half belonged to the North and nine to the South. The grand total
odds were therefore five against two. The odds against the South
rise to four against one if the blacks are left out. There were
twenty-two million whites in the North against five and a half in
the South. But to reach the real fighting odds of three to one we
must also eliminate the peace parties, large in the North, small
in the South. If we take a tenth off the Southern whites and a
third off the Northern grand total we shall get the approximate
war-party odds of three to one; for these subtractions leave
fifteen millions in the North against only five in the South.

This gives the statistical key to the startling contrasts which
were so often noted by foreign correspondents at the time, and
which are still so puzzling in the absence of the key. The whole
normal life of the South was visibly changed by the war. But in
the North the inquiring foreigner could find, on one hand, the
most steadfast loyalty and heroic sacrifice, both in the Northern
armies and among their folks at home, while on the other he could
find a wholly different kind of life flaunting its most shameless
features in his face. The theaters were crowded. Profiteers
abounded, taking their pleasures with ravenous greed; for the
best of their blood-money would end with the war. Everywhere
there was the same fundamental difference between the patriots
who carried on the war and the parasites who hindered them. Of
course the two-thirds who made up the war party were not all
saints or even perfect patriots. Nor was the other third composed
exclusively of wanton sinners. There were, for instance, the
genuine settlers whom the Union Government encouraged to occupy
the West, beyond the actual reach of war. But the distinction
still remains.

Though sorely hampered, the Union Government did, on the whole,
succeed in turning the vast and varied resources of the North
against the much smaller and less varied resources of the South.
The North held the machinery of national government, though with
the loss of a good quarter of the engineers. In agriculture of,
all kinds both North and South were very strong for purposes of
peace. Each had food in superabundance. But the trading strength
of the South lay in cotton and tobacco, neither of which could be
turned into money without going north or to sea. In finance the
North was overwhelmingly strong by comparison, more especially
because Northern sea-power shut off the South from all its
foreign markets. In manufactures the South could not compare at

Northern factories alone could not supply the armies. But finance
and factories together could. The Southern soldier looked to the
battlefield and the raiding of a base for supplying many of his
most pressing needs in arms, equipment, clothing, and even food--
for Southern transport suffered from many disabilities. Fierce
wolfish cries would mingle with the rebel yell in battle when the
two sides closed. "You've got to leave your rations!"--"Come out
of them clothes!"--"Take off them boots, Yank!"--"Come on, blue
bellies, we want them blankets!"

It was the same in almost every kind of goods. The South made
next to none for herself and had to import from the North or
overseas. The North could buy silk for balloons. The South could
not. The Southern women gave in their whole supply of silk for
the big balloon that was lost during the Seven Days' Battle in
the second year of the war. The Southern soldiers never forgave
what they considered the ungallant trick of the Northerners who
took this many-hued balloon from a steamer stranded on a bar at
low tide down near the mouth of the James. Thus fell the last
silk dress, a queer tribute to Northern seapower! Northern
seapower also cut off nearly everything the sick and wounded
needed; which raised the death rate of the Southern forces far
beyond the corresponding death rate in the North. Again,
preserved rations were almost unknown in the South. But they were
plentiful throughout the Northern armies: far too plentiful,
indeed, for the taste of the men, who got "fed up" on the
dessicated vegetables and concentrated milk which they
rechristened "desecrated vegetables" and "consecrated milk."

There is the same tale to tell about transport and munitions.
Outside the Tredegar Iron Works at Richmond the only places where
Southern cannon could be made were Charlotte in North Carolina,
Atlanta and Macon in Georgia, and Selma in Alabama. The North had
many places, each with superior plant, besides which the oversea
munition world was far more at the service of the open-ported
North than of the close-blockaded South. What sea-power meant in
this respect may be estimated from the fact that out of the more
than three-quarters of a million rifles bought by the North in
the first fourteen months of the war all but a beggarly thirty
thousand came from overseas.

Transport was done by road, rail, sea, and inland waters. Other
things being equal, a hundred tons could be moved by water as
easily as ten by rail or one by road. Now, the North not only
enjoyed enormous advantages in sea-power, both mercantile and
naval, but in road, rail, canal, and river transport too. The
road transport that affected both sides most was chiefly in the
South, because most maneuvering took place there. "Have you been
through Virginia?--Yes, in several places" is a witticism that
might be applied to many another State where muddy sloughs
abounded. In horses, mules, and vehicles the richer North wore
out the poorer and blockaded South. Both sides sent troops,
munitions, and supplies by rail whenever they could; and here, as
a glance at the map will show, the North greatly surpassed the
South in mileage, strategic disposition, and every other way.

The South had only one through line from the Atlantic to the
Mississippi; and this ran across that Northern salient which
threatened the South from the southwestern Alleghanies. The other
rails all had the strategic defect of not being convenient for
rapid concentration by land; for most of the Southern rails were
laid with a view to getting surplus cotton and tobacco overseas.
The strategic gap at Petersburg was due to a very different
cause; for there, in order to keep its local transfers, the town
refused to let the most important Virginian lines connect.

Taking sea-power in its fullest sense, to include all naval and
mercantile parts on both salt and fresh water, we can quite
understand how it helped the nautical North to get the
strangle-hold on the landsman's South. The great bulk of the
whole external trade of the South was done by shipping. But,
though the South was strong in exportable goods, it was very weak
in ships. It owned comparatively few of the vessels that carried
its rice, cotton, and tobacco crops to market and brought back
made goods in return. Yankees, Britishers, and Bluenoses (as Nova
Scotian craft were called) did most of the oversea

Moreover, the North was vastly stronger than the South on all the
inland waters that were not "Secesh" from end to end. The map
shows how Northern sea-power could not only divide the South in
two but almost enisle the eastern part as well. Holding the
Mississippi would effect the division, while holding the Ohio
would make the eastern part a peninsula, with the upper end of
the isthmus safe in Northern hands between Pittsburgh, the great
coal and iron inland port, and Philadelphia, the great seaport,
less than three hundred miles away. The same isthmus narrows to
less than two hundred miles between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg (on
the Susquehanna River); and its whole line is almost equally safe
in Northern hands. A little farther south, along the disputed
borderlands, it narrows to less than one hundred miles, . from
Pittsburgh to Cumberland (on the Potomac canal). Even this is not
the narrowest part of the isthmus, which is less than seventy
miles across from Cumberland to Brownsville (on the Monongahela)
and less than fifty from Cumberland to the Ohiopyle Falls (on the
Youghiogheny). These last distances are measured between places
that are only fit for minor navigation. But even small craft had
an enormous advantage over road and rail together when bulky
stores were moved. So Northern sea-power could make its
controlling influence felt in one continuous line all round the
eastern South, except for fifty miles where small craft were
concerned and for two hundred miles in the case of larger
vessels. These two hundred miles of land were those between the
Ohio River port of Wheeling and the Navy Yard at Washington.

Nor was this virtual enislement the only advantage to be won. For
while the strong right arm of Union sea-power, facing northward
from the Gulf, could hold the coast, and its sinewy left could
hold the Mississippi, the supple left fingers could feel their
way along the tributary streams until the clutching hand had got
its grip on the whole of the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee,
Missouri, Arkansas, and Red rivers. This meant that the North
would not only enjoy the vast advantages of transport by water
over transport by land but that it would cause the best lines of
invasion to be opened up as well.

Of course the South had some sea-power of her own. Nine-tenths of
the United States Navy stood by the Union. But, with the
remaining tenth and some foreign help, the South managed to
contrive the makeshift parts of what might have become a navy if
the North had only let it grow. The North, however, did not let
it grow.

The regular navy of the United States, though very small to start
with, was always strong enough to keep the command of the sea and
to prevent the makeshift Southern parts of a navy from ever
becoming a whole. Privateers took out letters of marque to prey
on Northern shipping. But privateering soon withered off, because
prizes could not be run through the blockade in sufficient
numbers to make it pay; and no prize would be recognized except
in a Southern port. Raiders did better and for a much longer
time. The Shenandoah was burning Northern whalers in Bering Sea
at the end of the war. The Sumter and the Florida cut a wide
swath under instructions which "left much to discretion and more
to the torch." The famous Alabama only succumbed to the U.S.S.
Kearsarge after sinking the Hatteras man-of-war and raiding
seventy other vessels. Yet still the South, in spite of her
ironclads, raiders, and rams, in spite of her river craft, of the
home ships or foreigners that ran the blockade, and of all her
other efforts, was a landsman's country that could make no real
headway against the native seapower of the North.

Perhaps the worst of all the disabilities under which the
abortive Southern navy suffered was lubberly administration and
gross civilian interference. The Administration actually refused
to buy the beginnings of a ready-made sea-going fleet when it had
the offer of ten British East Indiamen specially built for rapid
conversion into men-of-war. Forty thousand bales of cotton would
have bought the lot. The Mississippi record was even worse. Five
conflicting authorities divided the undefined and overlapping
responsibilities between them: the Confederate Government, the
State governments, the army, the navy, and the Mississippi
skippers. A typical result may be seen in the fate of the
fourteen "rams" which were absurdly mishandled by fourteen
independent civilian skippers with two civilian commodores. This
"River Defense Fleet" was "backed by the whole Missouri
delegation" at Richmond, and blessed by the Confederate Secretary
of War, Judah P. Benjamin, that very clever lawyer-politician and
eversmiling Jew. Six of the fourteen "rams" were lost, with sheer
futility, at New Orleans in April, '62; the rest at Memphis the
following June.

As a matter of fact the Confederate navy never had but one real
man-of-war, the famous Merrimac; and she was a mere razee, cut
down for a special purpose, and too feebly engined to keep the
sea. Even the equally famous Alabama was only a raider, never
meant for action with a fleet. Over three hundred officers left
the United States Navy for the South; but, as in the case of the
Army, they were followed by very few men. The total personnel of
the regular Confederate navy never exceeded four thousand at any
one time. The irregular forces afloat often did gallant, and
sometimes even skillful, service in little isolated ways. But
when massed together they were always at sixes and sevens; and
they could never do more than make the best of a very bad
business indeed. The Secretary of the Confederate navy, Stephen
R. Mallory, was not to blame. He was one of the very few
civilians who understood and tried to follow any naval principles
at all. He had done good work as chairman of the Naval Committee
in the Senate before the war, and had learnt a good deal more
than his Northern rival, Gideon Welles. He often saw what should
have been done. But men and means were lacking.

Men and means were also lacking in the naval North at the time
the war began. But the small regular navy was invincible against
next to none; and it enjoyed many means of expansion denied to
the South.

On the outbreak of hostilities the United States Navy had ninety
ships and about nine thousand men--all ranks and ratings (with
marines) included. The age of steam had come. But fifty vessels
had no steam at all. Of the rest one was on the Lakes, five were
quite unserviceable, and thirty-four were scattered about the
world without the slightest thought of how to mobilize a fleet at
home. The age of ironclads had begun already overseas. But in his
report to Congress on July 4, 1861, Gideon Welles, Secretary of
the Navy, only made some wholly non-committal observations in
ponderous "officialese." In August he appointed a committee which
began its report in September with the sage remark that "Opinions
differ amongst naval and scientific men as to the policy of
adopting the iron armament for ships-of-war." In December Welles
transmitted this report to Congress with the still sager remark
that "The subject of iron armature for ships is one of great
general interest, not only to the navy and country, but is
engaging the attention of the civilized world." Such was the
higher administrative preparation for the ironclad battle of the
following year.

It was the same in everything. The people had taken no interest
in the navy and Congress had faithfully represented them by
denying the service all chance of preparing for war till after
war had broken out. Then there was the usual hurry and horrible
waste. Fortunately for all concerned, Gideon Welles, after vainly
groping about the administrative maze for the first five months,
called Gustavus V. Fox to his assistance. Fox had been a naval
officer of exceptional promise, who had left the service to go
into business, who had a natural turn for administration, and who
now made an almost ideal Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He was,
indeed, far more than this; for, in most essentials, he acted
throughout the war as a regular Chief of Staff.

One of the greatest troubles was the glut of senior officers who
were too old and the alarming dearth of juniors fit for immediate
work afloat. It was only after the disaster at Bull Run that
Congress authorized the formation of a Promotion Board to see
what could be done to clear the active list and make it really a
list of officers fit for active service. Up to this time there
had been no system of retiring men for inefficiency or age. An
officer who did not retire of his own accord simply went on
rising automatically till he died. The president of this board
had himself turned sixty. But he was the thoroughly efficient
David Glasgow Farragut, a man who was to do greater things afloat
than even Fox could do ashore. How badly active officers were
wanted may be inferred from the fact that before the appointment
of Farragut's promotion board the total number of regular
officers remaining in the navy was only 1457. Intensive training
was tried at the Naval Academy. Yet 7500 volunteer officers had
to be used before the war was over. These came mostly from the
merchant service and were generally brave, capable, first-rate
men. But a nautical is not the same as a naval training; and the
dearth of good professional naval officers was felt to the end.
The number of enlisted seamen authorized by Congress rose from
7600 to 51,500. But the very greatest difficulty was found in
"keeping up to strength," even with the most lavish use of

The number of vessels in the navy kept on growing all through. Of
course not nearly all of them were regular men-of-war or even
fighting craft "fit to go foreign." At the end of the first year
there were 264 in commission; at the end of the second, 427; at
the end of the third, 588; and at the end of the fourth, 671.

Bearing this in mind, and remembering the many other Northern
odds, one might easily imagine that the Southern armies fought
only with the courage of despair. Yet such was not the case. This
was no ordinary war, to be ended by a treaty in which compromise
would play its part. There could be only two alternatives: either
the South would win her independence or the North would have to
beat her into complete submission. Under the circumstances the
united South would win whenever the divided North thought that
complete subjugation would cost more than it was worth. The great
aim of the South was, therefore, not to conquer the North but
simply to sicken the North of trying to conquer her. "Let us
alone and we'll let you alone" was her insinuating argument; and
this, as she knew very well, was echoed by many people in the
North. Thus, as regards her own objective, she began with hopes
that the Northern peace party never quite let die.

Then, so far as her patriotic feelings were concerned, the South
was not fighting for any one point at issue--not even for
slavery, because only a small minority held slaves--but for her
whole way of life, which, rightly or wrongly, she wanted to live
in her own Southern way; and she passionately resented the
invasion of her soil. This gave her army a very high morale,
which, in its turn, inclined her soldiers the better to
appreciate their real or imagined advantages over the Northern
hosts. First, they and their enemies both knew that they enjoyed
the three real advantages of fighting at home under magnificent
leaders and with interior lines. Robert Lee and Stonewall Jackson
stood head and shoulders above any Northern leaders till Grant
and Sherman rose to greatness during the latter half of the war.
Lee himself was never surpassed; and he, like Jackson and several
more, made the best use of home surroundings and of interior
lines. Anybody can appreciate the prime advantage of interior
lines by imagining two armies of equal strength operating against
each other under perfectly equal conditions except that one has
to move round the circumference of a circle while the other moves
to meet it along the shorter lines inside. The army moving round
the circumference is said to be operating on exterior lines,
while the army moving from point to point of the circumference by
the straighter, and therefore shorter, lines inside is said to be
operating on interior lines. In more homely language the straight
road beats the crooked one. In plain slang, it's best to have the
inside track.

Of course there is a reverse to all this. If the roads, rails,
and waterways are better around the circle than inside it, then
the odds may be turned the other way; and this happens most often
when the forces on the exterior lines are the better provided
with sea-power. Again, if the exterior forces are so much
stronger than the interior forces that these latter dare not
leave any strategic point open in case the enemy breaks through,
then it is evident that the interior forces will suffer all the
disadvantages of being surrounded, divided, worn out, and

This happened at last to the South, and was one of the four
advantages she lost. Another was the hope of foreign
intervention, which died hard in Southern hearts, but which was
already moribund halfway through the war. A third was the hope of
dissension in the North, a hope which often ran high till
Lincoln's reelection in November, '64, and one which only died
out completely with the surrender of Lee. The fourth was the
unfounded belief that Southerners were the better fighting men.
They certainly had an advantage at first in having a larger
proportion of men accustomed to horses and arms and inured to
life in the open. But, other things being equal, there was
nothing to choose between the two sides, so far as natural
fighting values were concerned.

Practically all the Southern "military males" passed into the
ranks; and a military male eventually meant any one who could
march to the front or do non-combatant service with an army, from
boys in their teens to men in their sixties. Conscription came
after one year; and with very few exemptions, such as the clergy,
Quakers, many doctors, newspaper editors, and "indispensable"
civil servants. Lee used to express his regret that all the
greatest strategists were tied to their editorial chairs. But
sterner feelings were aroused against that recalcitrant State
Governor, Joseph Brown of Georgia, who declared eight thousand of
his civil servants to be totally exempt. From first to last,
conscripts and volunteers, nearly a million men were enrolled:
equaling one-fifth of the entire war-party white population of
the seceding States.

All branches of the service suffered from a constant lack of arms
and munitions. As with the ships for the navy so with munitions
for the army, the South did not exploit the European markets
while her ports were still half open and her credit good,
Jefferson Davis was spotlessly honest, an able bureaucrat, and
full of undying zeal. But, though an old West Pointer, he was
neither a foresightful organizer nor fit to exercise any of the
executive power which he held as the constitutional
commander-in-chief by land and sea. He ordered rifles by the
thousand instead of by the hundred thousand; and he actually told
his Cabinet that if he could only take one wing while Lee took
the other they would surely beat the North. Worse still, he and
his politicians kept the commissariat under civilian orders and
full of civilian interference, even at the front, which, in this
respect, was always a house divided against itself.

The little regular army of '61, only sixteen thousand strong,
stood by the Union almost to a man; though a quarter of the
officers went over to the South. Yet the enlisted man was
despised even by the common loafers who would not fight if they
could help it. "Why don't you come in?" asked a zealous lady at a
distribution of patriotic gifts, "aren't you one of our heroes?"
"No, ma'am," answered the soldier, "I'm only a regular."

The question of command was often a very vexed one; and many
mistakes were made before the final answers came. The most
significant of all emergent facts was this: that though the
officers who had been regulars before the war did not form a
hundredth part of all who held commissions during it, yet these
old regulars alone supplied every successful high commander,
Federal and Confederate alike, both afloat and ashore.

The North had four times as many whites as the South; it used
more blacks as soldiers; and the complete grand total of all the
men who joined its forces during the war reached two millions and
three-quarters. But this gives a quite misleading idea of the
real odds in favor of the North, especially the odds available in
battle. A third of the Northern people belonged to the peace
party and furnished no recruits at all till after conscription
came in. The late introduction of conscription, the abominable
substitution clause, and the prevalence of bounty-jumping
combined to reduce both the quantity and quality of the recruits
obtained by money or compulsion. The Northerners that did fight
were generally fighting in the South, among a very hostile
population, which, while it made the Southern lines of
communication perfectly safe, threatened those of the North at
every point and thus obliged the Northern armies to leave more
and more men behind to guard the communications that each advance
made longer still. Finally, the South generally published the
numbers of only its actual combatants, while the Northern returns
always included every man drawing pay, whether a combatant or
not. On the whole, the North had more than double numbers, even
if compared with a Southern total that includes noncombatants.
But it should be remembered that a Northern army fighting in the
heart of the South, and therefore having to guard every mile of
the way back home, could not meet a Southern one with equal
strength in battle unless it had left the North with fully twice
as many.

Conscription came a year later (1863) in the North than in the
South and was vitiated by a substitution clause. The fact that a
man could buy himself out of danger made some patriots call it "a
rich man's war and a poor man's fight." And the further fact that
substitutes generally became regular bounty-jumpers, who joined
and deserted at will, over and over again, went far to increase
the disgust of those who really served. Frank Wilkeson's
"Recollections of a Private Soldier in the Army of the Potomac"
is a true voice from the ranks when he explains "how the resort
to volunteering, the unprincipled dodge of cowardly politicians,
ground up the choicest seedcorn of the nation; how it consumed
the young, the patriotic, the intelligent, the generous, and the
brave; and how it wasted the best moral, social, and political
elements of the Republic, leaving the cowards, shirkers,
egotists, and moneymakers to stay at home and procreate their

That is to say, it was so arranged that the fogy-witted lived,
while the lion-hearted died.

The organization of the vast numbers enrolled was excellent
whenever experts were given a free hand. But this free hand was
rare. One vital point only needs special notice here: the
wastefulness of raising new regiments when the old ones were
withering away for want of reinforcements. A new local regiment
made a better "story" in the press; and new and superfluous
regiments meant new and superfluous colonels, mostly of the
speechifying kind. So it often happened that the State
authorities felt obliged to humor zealots set on raising those
brand-new regiments which doubled their own difficulties by
having to learn their lesson alone, halved the efficiency of the
old regiments they should have reinforced, and harassed the
commanders and staff by increasing the number of units that were
of different and ever-changing efficiency and strength. It was a
system of making and breaking all through.

The end came when Northern sea-power had strangled the Southern
resources and the unified Northern armies had worn out the
fighting force. Of the single million soldiers raised by the
South only two hundred thousand remained in arms, half starved,
half clad, with the scantiest of munitions, and without reserves
of any kind. Meanwhile the Northern hosts had risen to a million
in the field, well fed, well clothed, well armed, abundantly
provided with munitions, and at last well disciplined under the
unified command of that great leader, Grant. Moreover, behind
this million stood another million fit to bear arms and
obtainable at will from the two millions of enrolled reserves.

The cost of the war was stupendous. But the losses of war are not
to be measured in money. The real loss was the loss of a million
men, on both sides put together, for these men who died were of
the nation's best.


Bull Run had riveted attention on the land between the opposing
capitals and on the armies fighting there. Very few people were
thinking of the navies and the sea. And yet it was at sea, and
not on land, that the Union had a force against which the
Confederates could never prevail, a force which gradually cut
them off from the whole world's base of war supplies, a force
which enabled the Union armies to get and keep the strangle-hold
which did the South to death.

The blockade declared in April was no empty threat. The sails of
Federal frigates, still more the sinister black hulls of the new
steam men-of-war, meant that the South was fast becoming a land
besieged, with every outwork accessible by water exposed to
sudden attack and almost certain capture by any good amphibious
force of soldiers and sailors combined.

Sea-power kept the North in affluence while it starved the South.
Sea-power held Maryland in its relentless grip and did more than
land-power to keep her in the Union. Sea-power was the chief
factor in saving Washington. Seapower enabled the North to hold
such points of vantage as Fortress Monroe right on the flank of
the South. And sea-power likewise enabled the North to take or
retake other points of similar importance: for instance, Hatteras

In a couple of days at the end of August, 1861, the Confederate
forts at Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina, were compelled to
surrender to a joint naval and military expedition under
Flag-Officer Stringham and Major-General B. F. Butler. The
immediate result, besides the capture of seven hundred men, was
the control of the best entrance to North Carolina waters, which
entailed the stoppage of many oversea supplies for the
Confederate army. The ulterior result was the securing of a base
from which a further invasion could be made with great advantage.

The naval campaign of the following year was truly epoch-making;
for the duel between the Monitor and Merrimac in Hampton Roads on
March 9, 1862, was the first action ever fought between ironclad
steam men-of-war.

Eleven months earlier the Federal Government had suddenly
abandoned the Norfolk Navy Yard; though their strongest garrison
was at Fortress Monroe, only twelve miles north along a waterway
which was under the absolute control of their navy, and though
the Confederates', had nothing but an inadequate little untrained
force on the spot. Among the spoils of war falling into
Confederate hands were twelve hundred guns and the Merrimac, a
forty-gun steam frigate. The Merrimac, though fired and scuttled
by the Federals, was hove up, cut down, plated over, and renamed
the Virginia. (History, however, knows her only as the Merrimac.)
John L. Porter, Naval Constructor to the Confederate States, had
made a model of an ironclad at Pittsburgh fifteen years before;
and he now applied this model to the rebuilding of the Merrimac.
He first cut down everything above the water line, except the gun
deck, which he converted into a regular citadel with flat top,
sides sloping at thirty-five degrees, and ends stopping short of
the ship's own ends by seventy feet fore and aft. The effect,
therefore, was that of an ironclad citadel built on the midships
of a submerged frigate's hull. The four-inch iron plating of the
citadel knuckled over the wooden sides two feet under water. The
engines, which the South had no means of replacing, were the old
ones which had been condemned before being sunk. A four-foot
castiron ram was clamped on to the bow. Ten guns were mounted:
six nine-inch smooth-bores, with two six-inch and two seven-inch
rifles. Commodore Franklin Buchanan took command and had
magnificent professional officers under him. But the crew, three
hundred strong, were mostly landsmen; for, as in the case of the
Army, the men of the Navy nearly all took sides with the North,
and the South had very few seamen of any other kind.

To oppose the Merrimac the dilatory North contracted with John
Ericsson the Swede, who had to build the Monitor much smaller
than the Merrimac owing to pressure of time. He enjoyed, however,
enormous advantages in every other respect, owing to the vastly
superior resources of the North in marine engineering,
armor-plating, and all other points of naval construction. The
Monitor was launched at New York on January 30, 1869., the
hundredth day after the laying of her keel-plate. Her length over
all was 172 feet, her beam was 41, and her draught only 10--less
than half the draught of the Merrimac. Her whole crew numbered
only 58; but every single one was a trained professional naval
seaman who had volunteered for dangerous service under Captain
John L. Worden. She was not a good sea boat; and she nearly
foundered on her way down from New York to Fortress Monroe. Her
underwater hull was shipshape enough; but her superstructure--a
round iron tower resting on a very low deck--was not.
Contemptuous eyewitnesses described her very well as looking like
a tin can on a shingle or a cheesebox on a raft. She carried only
two guns, eleven-inchers, both mounted inside her turret, which
revolved by machinery; but their 180-pound shot were far more
powerful than any aboard the Merrimac. In maneuvering the Monitor
enjoyed an immense advantage, with her light draft, strong
engines, and well-protected screws and rudder.

On the eighth of March, a lovely spring day, the Merrimac made
her trial trip by going into action with her wheezy old engines,
lubberly crew, and the guns she had never yet fired. She shoveled
along at only five knots; but the Confederate garrisons cheered
her to the echo. Seven miles north she came upon the astonished
fifty-gun Congress and thirty-gun Cumberland swinging drowsily at
anchor off Newport News, with their boats alongside and the men's
wash drying in the rigging. Yet the surprised frigates opened
fire at twelve hundred yards and were joined by the shore
batteries, all converging on the Merrimac, from whose iron sides
the shot glanced up without doing more than hammer her hard and
start a few rivets. Closing in at top speed--barely six
knots--the Merrimac gave the Congress a broadside before ramming
the Cumberland and opening a hole "wide enough to drive in a
horse and cart." Backing clear and turning the after-pivot gun,
the Merrimac then got in three raking shells against the
Congress, which grounded when trying to escape. Meanwhile the
Cumberland was listing over and rapidly filling, though she kept
up the fight to the very last gasp. When she sank with a roar her
topmasts still showed above water and her colors waved defiance.
An hour later the terribly mauled Congress surrendered; whereupon
her crew was rescued and she was set on fire. By this time
various smaller craft on both sides had joined the fray. But the
big Minnesota still remained, though aground and apparently at
the mercy of the Merrimac. The great draught of the Merrimac and
the setting in of the ebb tide, however, made the Confederates
draw off for the night.

Next morning they saw the "tin can on the shingle" between them
and their prey. The Monitor and Merrimac then began their
epoch-making fight. The patchwork engines of the deep-draught
Merrimac made her as unhandy as if she had been water-logged,
while the light-draught Monitor could not only play round her
when close-to but maneuver all over the surrounding shallows as
well. The Merrimac put her last ounce of steam into an attempt to
ram her agile opponent. But a touch of the Monitor's helm swung
her round just in time to make the blow perfectly harmless. The
Merrimac simply barged into her, grated harshly against her iron
side, and sheered off beaten. The firing was furious and mostly
at pointblank range. Once the Monitor fired while the sides were
actually touching. The concussion was so tremendous that all the
Merrimac's gun-crews aft were struck down flat, with bleeding
ears and noses. But in spite of this her boarders were called
away; whereupon every man who could handle cutlass and revolver
made ready and stood by. The Monitor, however, dropped astern too
quickly; and the wallowing Merrimac had no chance of catching
her. The fight had lasted all through that calm spring morning
when the Monitor steamed off, across the shallows, still keeping
carefully between the Merrimac and Minnesota. It was a drawn
battle. But the effect was that of a Northern victory; for the
Merrimac was balked of her easy prey, and the North gained time
to outbuild the South completely.

Outbuilding the South of course meant tightening the "anaconda"
system of blockade, in the entangling coils of which the South
was caught already. Three thousand miles of Southern coastline
was, however, more than the North could blockade or even watch to
its own satisfaction all at once. Fogs, storms, and clever ruses
played their part on behalf of those who ran the blockade,
especially during the first two years; and it was almost more
than human nature could stand to keep forever on the extreme
alert, day after dreary day, through the deadly boredom of a long
blockade. Like caged eagles the crews passed many a weary week of
dull monotony without the chance of swooping on a chase. "Smoke
ho!" would be called from the main-topgallant cross-tree. "Where
away?" would be called back from the deck. "Up the river,
Sir!"--and there it would stay, the very mark of hope deferred.
Occasionally a cotton ship would make a dash, with lights out on


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