Next After Manassas.
The condition of McDowell's army as it fled in tatters back to the Potomac, praying for the privilege of being once more in camp behind the defenses of Washington, will not be herein described. The courage of the several great Northern armies which struggled often and long with the army of Northern Virginia, will never be questioned by Confederate soldiers, and Southern historians may leave to others the task of criticizing the men of McDowell who in this first trial battle were beaten back to the lines from which they had advanced. The engagement at Manassas was simply an indisputable Confederate victory, won by the superior leadership of great generals sustained through the vicissitudes of a whole day's hot encounters by the courage and endurance of the South's fresh-fighting volunteer soldiers. It marked with a very decided emphasis the first stage in the march of events, giving the South renewed confidence in success, exciting the North to increased determination to conquer, and casting Europe into doubt as to the end of the struggle between the two sections of the Union.
Immediately after the battle the Confederate congress authorized the raising of 400,000 soldiers, and the issue of $100,000,000 treasury notes. The army at Manassas Junction collected thousands of small-arms, thirty cannon, wagons, mules, horses and army supplies of all kinds which the enemy left on the battlefield. The Southern States at once accepted with greater readiness the companies and regiments which had been enthusiastically tendered for immediate service. The United States Congress on its part demanded a call for 500,000 men, and authorized the government to raise $500,000,000 to carry on the war. General McClellan was called from West Virginia to take command of the army of the Potomac, and his acknowledged skill as an organizer was soon thoroughly tested by the pressure of great bodies of soldiers forwarded to his department. For months his work consisted in preparing an army which he desired to be invincible, and his government sought to gratify his desire. Before the end of the winter, 200,000 well equipped soldiers constituted "the army of the Potomac," for the protection of Washington and invasion of Virginia.
On the 1st of July, 1861, the total Federal force stationed at all points was computed as 307,875 men, and after deducting the 77,875 three months' men, there still remained at the command of the government about 230,000 soldiers. This total was increased by the 1st of December, according to the estimate of the war department, to 660,971 volunteers and regulars, divided among the armies and navies of the east and the west.
The Confederate authorities, seeing the indisposition of McClellan to make any early advance on Richmond in the fall and winter of 1861, undertook to reorganize the armies of the Confederacy and increase their strength in all respects. The same Federal inaction also permitted an attempt to recover the ground lost in western Virginia. Battles of a minor character were fought in that region, at Grafton, Cross Lanes, Carnifix Ferry, Cheat mountain and other places, but the Confederates failed to establish their control over this section Accordingly the greater part of the forces engaged in the effort was withdrawn and sent to other fields.
In the western field, after the defeat of Lyon, Price and McCulloch united their commands at Wilson's Creek, Mo.; Price moved against Mulligan's division at Lexington, and compelled his surrender of 3,500 men with their arms and supplies, after which the great Missouri chieftain foiled Fremont and occupied Springfield. The battle of Belmont, in the lower part of the State, went against the Confederate general at first, but in the end the Federal general, U. S. Grant, was compelled to take the shelter of his gunboats. The activity of military operations in Missouri during the year 1861, beginning with the affair at Booneville in June, is shown by the record of fifty-two battles, besides many unmentioned small encounters, fought on its soil during the first year of the war.
The fighting in Kentucky in 1861 did not begin until September, and has been regarded as of slight moment; yet in that year there were over twelve engagements of considerable importance. The Home Guards, formed for State protection, furnished a considerable number of men for the Confederate as well as the Federal army, and many Kentuckians went singly or in groups to various Southern commands. The Confederate forces occupied Columbus, on the Mississippi river, in September, at the time General Grant, then commanding at Cairo, took possession of Paducah. General Zollicoffer, with a brigade of infantry and cavalry, entered the southeastern part of the State in September and became engaged in several affairs at Barboursville, Wild Cat and elsewhere with troops from Ohio and Indiana. General Nelson, who had been made useful in organizing Federal troops in Kentucky, operated in the eastern part of that State. In September, a considerable body of Federal troops from Ohio, Indiana and Illinois occupied St. Louis. About the same time, Anderson, who had commanded at Fort Sumter, was promoted brigadier-general of volunteers in the Federal army and assigned to command of the department of Kentucky. He was succeeded by General Sherman. General Buckner commanded the Confederates at Bowling Green, and General Polk was assigned to the "department of the West." The Federal forces in Kentucky were increased before the end of the year, until they were estimated at 60,000. This large body of troops came from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania, except about 20,000, which had been raised in Kentucky. The Confederate forces in the State were computed at about 25,000.
In the middle of the winter, January 10, 1862, the Confederate General Marshall was compelled to fall back from the northeast of Kentucky, and subsequently Crittenden and Zollicoffer were forced to retreat across the Cumberland. President Davis wrote of this affair as "the most serious defeat that we had hitherto met. It broke the right of our defensive line and involved the loss of eastern Kentucky."
In Maryland the Federal military forces held the State in a duress from which the only way of escape was across the Potomac into Virginia, through which many gallant young Marylanders entered the Confederate service.
This Page last updated 06/01/02
RETURN TO CONFEDERATE MILITARY HISTORY OVERVIEW PAGE
GO TO PART VII, NAVAL OPERATIONS