Foreign and Colonial NewsThe Illustrated London News, vol. 39, no. 1102, p. 129.
August 10, 1861
By the arrival of the City of Washington at Queenstown we have telegrams to the 27th ult.
After the check which the Federalists received on the 18th ult. in the first assault on the Confederates' position to the south of Bull's Run—a stream which in England would be called a river—General M'Dowell contented himself for the two following days with reconnoitring the position of the enemy. Finding the position, which was very similar to that occupied by the Russians at Alma, too strong for an attack in front, his first idea was to get in the rear of the intrenchments. The obstacles to the passage of artillery presented by the narrow and stony roads rendered this plan impracticable. It was therefore arranged that an attack should be made on the left flank of the enemy, accompanied by a feint in front. The day fixed for the general engagement was Sunday, the 21 ult. The Federal forces began their march on this memorable day at half-past two a.m. The first batteries opened at five a.m.; but it was not until noon that the infantry engagement commenced. At this time the Federal front extended over about five miles. In the hand-to-hand conflicts the Federals were uniformly successful, and at length had carried all the works on the crest of the hill but two or three. Reinforcements kept continually arriving to the Confederates from Manassas. Suddenly, about four o'clock p.m., an order was given to retreat, and this retreat soon became a more than disorderly flight. It appears that an attack of the Confederate cavalry was made on the baggage and ammunition stores of the Federalists, which were unprotected by cavalry pickets, as they should have been. The teamsters fled in the utmost confusion. The ambulance and artillery waggoners cut the horses loose and galloped towards Washington. The reserves, attacked in the rear, followed, escaping over a bridge which the Confederate cavalry either dared not or could not seize. Colonel Blenker's regiment, the 8th New York (a German corps), alone of the reserves remained firm. When General M'Dowell found his reserves had fled he gave that order to retreat which so much surprised some of the Northern regiments. The retreat in the face of a pursuing enemy at once became a flight. Nevertheless, the Federals did not suffer much, as they repulsed the cavalry on the field of battle, and Colonel Blenker's regiment protected the rear from Centreville. The Southern account, by way of New Orleans and Louisville, informs us that General Johnston (the report of whose death is one of the many canards to which this affair has given rise) commanded the Confederate left, "where the enemy made the fiercest attack." General Beauregard commanded the right. President Davis reached the field at noon, and took command of the centre. When the left was pressed the severest, the centre engaged a portion of the enemy's forces, and, it is added, "decided the fortunes of the day."
Everything was abandoned—guns, rifles, the wounded, blankets, knapsacks, ammunition, provisions, waggons-everything that could impede flight—were left behind. General M'Dowell endeavoured to rally the fugitives at Centreville, and again at Fairfax Court Houes [sic], but in vain. They only stopped at the Potomac, after a run of twenty-four miles. Here a regiment on guard at the Long Bridge and the discontinuance of the steam-ferries stopped their further flight, or the army would have dissipated in as many hours as it took months to form. Yet there was nobody in pursuit. It was only at eleven p.m. that a small force of cavalry attacked Colonel Blenker's regiment, and were easily repulsed. This regiment retired from Centreville at about one a.m. on Monday morning, and marched back leisurely to its old encampment opposite Washington, being the only one which retired in a dignified manner.
The loss that the Federalists sustained is said to be "continually decreasing." At first represented at 10,000, it has rapidly fallen to "from 300 to 500" in killed and wounded. Many regiments were said to be "cut to pieces" whose members had merely taken to the woods, and who have since reappeared. Among the killed is Colonel Cameron, of the Highland Regiment, and brother of the Secretary of War. The Southern loss in probably greater than the Northern in killed and wounded. On Monday the Federal cavalry revisited the field of battle, and brought off some of their derelict artillery.
[We give in the accompanying Supplement a more detailed account of the battle and of the Federal army's flight.]
Congress, on the 22nd, passed resolutions that no disasters, however overwhelming, would deter them from maintaining the Union. In the Senate a resolution confiscating the property (including slaves) of persons who had taken up arms against the Union was passed by 32 yeas and 6 nays, after a spirited debate.
General M'Dowell was superseded by the Government, and General M'Clellan appointed in his stead to the command of the Army of the Potomac. The Government has since accepted all the troops that have offered, and show every disposition to continue the contest with greater vigour than ever.
The news of the defeat of the Federalists was received by the Baltimoreans with joy. Pictures of General Beauregard were sold in great numbers. There was, however, no rioting.
New York passed through several alternations of feeling. On Sunday it was believed that a great victory had been won, and there was exuberant public joy, and some talk of commencing a war with England. On Monday, when very exaggerated reports of the Federal losses came in, the joy was turned into consternation, wailing, and cries for vengeance. On Tuesday, when the small aggregate of the loss of life became known, equanimity was restored.
General M'Clellan, in an address to his "army of the West," boasts that they have annihilated two armies, taken five guns, twelve colours, 1500 stand of arms, and 1000 prisoners, including more than forty officers. One of the second commanders of the enemy is a prisoner, the other was killed, more than 250 of the enemy have shared his fate, together with all the baggage and camp equipage. All this had been accomplished with the loss of twenty killed and sixty wounded on the part of the Union army in Western Virginia.
Two of the prizes captured by the Southern privateers have been recaptured from the prize crew by the prisoners. In the case of the schooner Waring a free coloured man effected the recapture by killing with his own hand all the prize crew save one, and putting that one in irons. He then took command, and brought her in safety to New York. His motive was the assurance that he should be enslaved if taken into Charleston. He is a Rhode Islander, and has become quite a hero in New York.
It is said there are but three United States' vessels blockading the entire coast of North Carolina, and that the port of Beaufort in that State is, for the most time, perfectly free from blockade.
The New York Times' correspondent at Fort Pickens states that Admiral Milne has informed the British Government that the blockade is totally inefficient. This report evidently requires qualification, as another reporter, for the Tribune, writes that the Admiral was satisfied that the blockade of the Mississippi at least was sufficiently effective.
Stocks fell after the disaster at Bull's Run, but exchange on England has risen higher than for many months past. Secretary Chase made application for a 5,000,000-dollar loan in Treasury notes, but only half the amount required was offered.