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Fifteen miles away was a
Confederate detachment, on the road to Yorktown, where the main body was
under the command of General J.B. Magruder, a former artillery officer
of the United States army. The Confederate position at Big Bethel was a
strong one and had a garrison of more than a thousand troops. A short
distance in front was Little Bethel, where a small detachment was under
the command of Colonel D.H. Hill, also a former member of the United
States army.

General Pierce advanced to the attack early on the morning of June 9th.
The two columns mistook each other, and not until 10 men were killed was
the sad blunder discovered. An assault quickly followed, but the
assailants were defeated with the loss of 14 killed and 49 wounded.
Among the slain was Lieutenant John T. Greble, a brilliant West Point
officer, who ought to have been in command of the brigade, with which he
doubtless would have achieved a success. The incompetency of the
political leader cost dearly, but the government was yet to learn that
full-fledged officers are not to be found among men who have made
politics their life profession.


SUCCESSFUL UNION CAMPAIGN IN WESTERN VIRGINIA.

The only place where there were any Union successes was in western
Virginia. Colonel Wallace with a detachment of Indiana Zouaves--a
favorite form of military troops at the beginning of the war--made a
forced march at night over a mountain road, from Cumberland, in
Maryland, to Romney, where the Confederates had a battery on a bluff
near the village, guarded by a number of field-pieces. By a spirited
dash, the Union troops captured the position and drove the defenders
into the woods. Unable to overtake them, Colonel Wallace returned to
Cumberland.

This incident had important results. General Jo Johnston, one of the
best commanders of the war, was at Harper's Ferry, and, fearing for his
communications, he evacuated the post, and marched up the Shenandoah
Valley to a point near Winchester.


GENERAL McCLELLAN.

The operations in western Virginia brought into prominence an officer
who was destined to play an important part in the war. He was George B.
McClellan, born in Philadelphia in 1826, and graduated at West Point in
1846. He rendered fine service in the Mexican War, after which,
resigning from the army, he was for several years engineer for the
Illinois Central Railroad and afterward a railroad president. He was
appointed a major-general at the opening of the Civil War, and, with
15,000 troops, mostly from the Western States, he advanced against the
Confederates in western Virginia under the command of General Garnett,
also a graduate and formerly an instructor at West Point. Garnett held a
position west of the principal line of the Alleghanies, which covered
the road leading from Philippi to Beverly. Colonel Pegram was placed in
charge of the hill Rich Mountain, a short distance south of Garnett.

McClellan advanced against these two positions. Colonel Rosecrans, with
four regiments and in the face of a blinding rainstorm, followed a
circuitous path through the woods, and charged up the elevation against
a strong fire. The Confederates were driven from their position and down
the other side of the hill. Colonel Pegram, finding his position turned,
retreated in the direction of Beverly. Rosecrans pursued and Garnett
turned to the north, aiming for St. George on the Cheat River. Pegram
had surrendered with 600 men, the remainder joining Garnett, who was
hard pressed by General Morris. Despite the obstructions thrown in his
path, he overtook the fugitives on the 13th of July at Carrick's Ford on
the Cheat River. There the Confederates were routed and Garnett shot
dead at the head of his troops. The remnant of his force fled in
disorder, and succeeded in reaching Monterey on the eastern side of the
mountains.

[Illustration: GENERAL GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

(1826-1885).]

The campaign in western Virginia was a brilliant Union success. A
thousand prisoners, seven guns, 1,500 stands of arms, and twelve colors
were captured, with slight loss to the victors. All the credit of this
success was given to McClellan, and, since the North was yearning for
some leader with the halo of success attached to his name, they at once
proclaimed "Little Mac" as their idol, destined to crush secession and
re-establish the Union in all its strength and former glory.

In September General Robert E. Lee was sent into western Virginia to
regain the ground lost, but he failed and was driven out of the section
by Rosecrans, the successor of McClellan. Before this took place,
however, the opening battle of the war had been fought elsewhere.


"ON TO RICHMOND!"

The removal of the Confederate government from Montgomery to Richmond
was unbearably exasperating to the North. It may be said that the
secession flag was flaunted in sight of Washington. The New York
_Tribune_, the most influential journal of the North, raised the cry
"_On to Richmond_!" and the pressure became so clamorous and persistent
that the government, although conscious of the risk of the step, ordered
an advance against the Confederate capital. Congress, which had met July
4th, appropriated $500,000,000 for carrying on the war, and authorized
President Lincoln to call out 500,000 volunteers for crushing the
rebellion.

The Union army across the Potomac from Washington numbered about 40,000
men and was under the command of General Irvin McDowell. It was only
partly disciplined, had a few good and many incompetent officers, was
composed of fine material, but of necessity lacked the steadiness which
can only be acquired by actual campaigns and fighting.

General Beauregard, with a Confederate army not quite so numerous, held
a strong military position near Manassas Junction, some thirty miles
from Washington, and connected with Richmond by rail. General Jo
Johnston had a smaller Confederate army at Winchester, it being his duty
to hold General Patterson in check and prevent his reinforcing McDowell.
At the same time Patterson, to prevent Johnston from joining Beauregard,
planned an offensive movement against the Confederate commander at
Winchester.


THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN.

McDowell's plan was to advance to Fairfax Court-House, and then, turning
south, cut Beauregard's communications. The first movement was made on
the afternoon of July 16th. General Mansfield with 16,000 men remained
in Washington to protect the capital from surprise. The advance was
slow, occupying several days. McDowell discovered six Confederate
brigades posted along the creek known as Bull Run, and he decided to
begin his attack upon them. While General Tyler was sent across the
stone bridge to threaten the Confederate front, Hunter and Heintzelman
were directed to make a detour and attack the enemy's front and rear.
Johnston, who had hurried up from Winchester, had decided to hasten the
battle through fear of the arrival of Patterson with reinforcements for
McDowell, but the latter, moving first, Johnston was compelled to act on
the defensive.

[Illustration: FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN, 1861

On July 16, 1861, the first great battle of the Civil War was fought,
resulting in the complete defeat of the Union army, which fled in panic
from the field. Had the Confederates followed up the pursuit they could
easily have captured Washington city. The total loss to the Union army
in killed, wounded, captured and missing was 3,334 men; that of the
Southern army, 1,982. The Confederates gained another victory at Bull
Run in 1862.]

Tyler and Hunter were tardy in their movements, but by noon McDowell had
turned the Confederate left and uncovered the stone bridge. Instead of
using the advantage thus secured and assuming position at Manassas
depot, he kept up his pursuit of the fleeing Confederates to the woods.
There, when everything seemed to be going the way of the Union array, it
was checked by General T.J. Jackson's brigade, whose firm stand in the
face of seeming disaster won for him the soubriquet of "Stonewall"
Jackson, first uttered in compliment by General Bee, by which name the
remarkable man will always be remembered.

[Illustration: STATUE OF McCLELLAN IN CITY HALL SQUARE, PHILADELPHIA.]

The stand of Jackson enabled Johnston to rally the right and Beauregard
the left, but matters were in a critical shape, when Kirby Smith, who
had escaped Patterson in the valley, rushed across the fields from
Manassas with 15,000 fresh troops. This timely arrival turned, the
fortunes of the day. McDowell was driven from the plateau he had
occupied, and the whole Union army was thrown into a panic and rushed in
headlong flight for the defenses of Washington. Nothing could stay their
flight, and the city was overrun with the terrified fugitives, who
swarmed into the railroad trains, fled to the open fields beyond,
spreading the most frightful rumors, while many did not believe
themselves safe until at home in the North.

Had the Confederates followed up the pursuit, they could have easily
captured Washington. They failed to do so, because they did not know
how beaten and disorganized the Union forces were. The Union losses in
this first great battle of the war were: Killed, 470; wounded, 1,071;
captured and missing, 1,793; total, 3,334. The Confederate losses were:
Killed, 387; wounded, 1,582; captured and missing, 13; total, 1,982.


GENERAL McCLELLAN APPOINTED TO THE COMMAND OF THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

Bull Run was a bitter humiliation for the North, but it served a good
purpose. The national government understood for the first time the
formidable nature of the task before it. Its determination to subdue the
rebellion was intensified rather than lessened, but it now went about it
in the right way. Incompetent officers were weeded out, careful and
vigorous measures set on foot, and, what was the most popular movement
of all, General McClellan was called to the command of the Army of the
Potomac. He took charge August 20th, and set about organizing and
disciplining the magnificent body of men. No one could surpass him at
such work, and he had the opportunity of establishing himself as the
idol of the nation.



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