Battle of Bull Run


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A correspondent of the Richmond Dispatch wrote: "Between two and three o'clock large numbers of men were leaving, the field, some of them wounded, others exhausted by the long struggle, who gave us gloomy reports; but, as the firing on both sides continued steadily, we felt sure that our brave Southerners had not been conquered by the overwhelming hordes of the North. It is however due to truth to say that the result at this hour hung trembling in the balance. We had lost numbers of our most distinguished officers. Generals Bartow and Bee had been stricken down; Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, of the Hampton Legion, had been killed - Colonel Hampton had been wounded. But there was at hand the fearless General whose reputation as a commander was staked on this battle: General Beauregard promptly offered to lead the Hampton Legion into action, which he executed in a style unsurpassed and unsurpassable. General Beauregard rode up and down our lines, between the enemy and his own men, regardless of the heavy fire, cheering and encouraging our troops. About this time a shell struck his horse, taking his head off, and killing the horses of his aides Messrs. Ferguson and Hayward. General Johnston also threw himself into the thickest of the fight, seizing the colors of a Georgia regiment and rallying them to the charge. His staff signalized themselves by their intrepidity, Colonel Thomas being killed and Major Mason wounded, Your correspondent heard General Johnston exclaim to General Cocke just at the critical moment, 'Oh for four regiments!' His wish was answered; for in the distance our reinforcements appeared. The tide of battle was turned in our favor by the arrival of General Kirby Smith from Winchester, with four thousand men of General Johnston's division. General Smith heard, while on the Manassas railroad cars, the roar of battle. He stopped the train and hurried his troops across the fields to the point just where he was most needed."

The Federal soldiers, who had been fighting thirteen hours, weary, hungry, thirsty, continually encountering fresh regiments, and never seeing even a company hurrying to their own support, became suddenly dismayed and panic-stricken. Elzey's and Jubal A. Early's fresh battalions filled the woods on their right, extending rapidly toward its rear, firing on them from under cover, and seeming, by their shots and cries, to be innumerable. Two or three of the regiments recoiled, and then broke, rushing down to the Run. Jefferson Davis, who had left Richmond at 6 A.M., reached the junction at four, and galloped to the battlefield just in time, it was said, to witness the advance of his cavalry, fifteen thousand strong, under Lieutenant-Colonel J. E. B. Stuart, on the heels of the flying troops. He telegraphed that night to his Congress as follows: "Night has closed upon a hard-fought field. Our forces were victorious. The enemy was routed, and fled precipitately, abandoning a large amount of arms, ammunition, knapsacks, and baggage. The ground was strewed for miles with those killed, and the farmhouses and the ground around were filled with wounded. Pursuit was continued along several routes, toward Leesburg and Centerville, until darkness covered the fugitives. We have captured several field-batteries, stands of arms, and Union and State flags. Many prisoners have been taken."

Before 3 P.M. there had been fitful cannonading and skirmishing, but no serious engagement, on the left. But, when a defeat on the right became manifest, General Johnston again ordered General Richard S. Ewell to advance and attack, which he did, but was received by the Second brigade, Colonel T. A. Davis, with so rapid and spirited a fire of canister that he precipitately retreated. There were still more than three hours of good daylight when the Confederates saw the routed right rushing from the field, like frightened sheep, yet their pursuit amounted to nothing. They came across Bull Run, preceded by their cavalry, and seem to have taken a deliberate, though rather distant, survey of the Fifth division, drawn up in good order along the slope west of Centerville and eagerly expecting their advance. But they appear to have been aware that their victory was a lucky accident, and they did not choose to submit its prestige to the chances of another fray. Having gratified their thirst for knowledge, considerably out of musket-shot, they returned to their previous hiding-places in the woods skirting Bull Run.

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“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:2