Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command, Volume 1: Manassas to Malvern Hill

Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command, Volume 1: Manassas to Malvern Hill

by Douglas Southall Freeman

Paperback

$15.68 $23.00 Save 32% Current price is $15.68, Original price is $23. You Save 32%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Overview

All unquestioned masterpiecc of the historian's art, and a towering landmark in the literature of the American Civil War.

Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command is the most colorful and popular of all of Douglas Southall Freeman's works; it is generally considered the most penetrating study ever written of military personalities and tactics during the American Civil War. A sweeping narrative that presents a multiple biography against the flame-shot background of history, it is the story of the great figures of the Army of Northern Virginia who fought under Robert E. Lee as they came forward on the stage of war.

In this first volume, Manassas to Malvern Hill, Dr. Freeman describes the rise and fall of General Beauregard, the growing friction between Jefferson Davis and Joseph E. Johnston, the emergence and failure of a number of military charlatans, and the first display of ability on the part of some new men at a time when the organization developed at Manassas collapsed at Seven Pines. The narrative illumines the rise of "Stonewall" Jackson and traces his progress in the Shenandoah Valley campaign and into Richmond amid the acclaim of the South, accompanies him through the failures during the Seven Days, and then leaves him, with the new army entirely organized, in the center of the stage of history.

Manassas to Malvern Hill is the first volume of a three-volume work. In the second volume, the men whose reputations were made, or lost, on such fields as Manassas at the second battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville dominate the narrative; volume three depicts the Gettysburg campaign and the thunder signaling the ruin of theConfederacy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780684187488
Publisher: Macmillan Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date: 11/20/1986
Pages: 816

About the Author

Douglas Southall Freeman was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1886, the son of a Confederate soldier. After receiving a Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University at the age of twenty-two, he embarked on a newspaper career. He was named the editor of the Richmond News Leader at the age of twenty-nine, a post he would hold for thirty-four years. In 1915, Freeman was commissioned by Scribner's to write a one-volume biography of Robert E. Lee; twenty years of work later, his four-volume R. E. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize. The three volumes of Lee's Lieutenants took him a relatively modest eight years to complete. He won another Pulitzer Prize for his six-volume biography of George Washington, which he finished only hours before his death in 1953.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

"Old Bory's Coming"

He would go at once. The request from the President that he come to Richmond offered an opportunity as surely as it conveyed an order. Federal troops had crossed the Potomac. A battle that would assure the triumph of the new Confederacy would be fought ere long in Virginia. Command there was much to be preferred to the post at Pensacola, from which Mr. Davis had excused him. Virginia was more inviting, even, than New Orleans, whither his fellow Lousianians had asked the Chief Executive to send him. At the same time, departure from South Carolina would be regrettable. From the hour of his arrival there, March 6, 1861, the patriots of Charleston had welcomed him. After he had forced the surrender of Fort Sumter on April 14, without the loss of a man, they had acclaimed and adopted him Some of them seemed to find a certain Huguenot kinship in his name -- Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard -- and all of them united to do him honor. Before he left those friendly and gallant South Carolinians, to win the battle in Virginia, he would write a farewell address.

It was done with dispatch and was, in its final form, a message not to South Carolinians only but to the entire Confederacy also. Beauregard wrote: "...it seems my services are required elsewhere, and thither I shall go, not with joy but with firm determination to do more than my duty, if I can, and to leave as strong a mark as possible on the enemies of our beloved country, should they pollute its soil with their dastardly feet. But rest assured...that whatever happens at first, we are certain to triumph at last, even if we had for arms only pitchforks and flint-lock muskets, for everybush and haystack will become an ambush and every barn a fortress. The history of nations proves that a gallant and free people, fighting for their independence and firesides, are invincible against even disciplined mercenaries, at a few dollars per month. What, then, must be the result when its enemies are little more than an armed rabble, gathered together hastily on a false pretence, and for an unholy purpose, with an octogenarian at its head? None but the demented can doubt the issue."

Before it was possible to ascertain what impression was made by this address, the General and his staff left on May 29, 1861, for Richmond, the newly selected capital of the Confederate States. The staff itself included many Carolinians of distinguished name and of the highest political station. At the moment, it was fortunately so. Along the railroad, advance word had been spread that General Beauregard was aboard the northbound train. Multitudes gathered at every station to have a look at the "Hero of Sumter." Their demand, voiced in every key, was, "Speech, speech, speech!" He bowed his acknowledgments, but he did not reply. Where the crowd was insistent, Beauregard would glance at one of his volunteer aides, Col. John L. Manning, who then would step forward and would deliver a brief oration. Often, also, on the journey, Judah P Benjamin, former Senator from Louisiana, and Attorney General of the Confederacy, who chanced to be aboard, would appear on the train platform and would stir the throng with his eloquence.

The journey confirmed everything the General had been told of the incredible popularity he had won by his success in Charleston Harbor. How quickly fame had come to him! When he had resigned from the United States Army, Feb. 20, 1861, he had been fifth ranking Captain in the Corps of Engineers and had a brevet as Major for gallant conduct in the Mexican War. Late in 1860, he had been named Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, but because of known Southern sympathy had held the post five days only -- Jan. 23-28, 1861. In his profession he was esteemed; outside of it he was little known till hostilities had been opened at Charleston. Now, seven weeks after the fall of Sumter, and less than three months from the time he had arrived at Charleston, he had received the thanks of Congress and the laudation of the Southern press as one of the greatest soldiers in the world. Napoleonic myths had grown up about him. He was said to have warned President Lincoln to remove all noncombatants from Washington by a given date, as if he were determined forthwith to take the city. Southern people even were told that a frightened North hoped and believed that he was dead and that his body had been shipped to France. Not one doubt of his military genius was admitted.

At the fullest of this valuation, Richmond was prepared to welcome him. On May 31, ere his train puffed importantly into the station, hundreds of townfolk had gathered there. A carriage and four were waiting to carry the General to the Spotswood Hotel, where a suite had been reserved for him. All the honors that had been paid President Davis upon arrival two days previously were to be repeated for General Beauregard. He was most grateful when he stepped from the car and shook hands; but, if the committee would permit, he would take a simpler carriage and, in the company of one or two of his staff officers, would go quietly to the hotel. With even more of admiration for his modesty than of regret that he might not be seen by all who had come to welcome him, the committeemen acquiesced. Quickly he was wheeled up the hill to the Spotswood. The band and the crowd followed. Music and cheers and appeals for a speech were in vain. His mission was war. He must waste no time in needless words.

The next day, he conferred with the President and with General R. E. Lee who, in an ill-defined manner, was responsible for military operations in Virginia. Old friends these were, old and admiring. Davis as United States Secretary of War had known Beauregard well and, in March, 1861, had commended the General to Governor Pickens of South Carolina as "full of talent and of much military experience." This favorable judgment had been strengthened by Beauregard's direction of affairs in South Carolina. In planning immediate steps to combat the fast-developing Federal threat against Virginia, Jefferson Davis felt that he could rely on Beauregard.

No less did the President have self-reliance. He had hurried to Richmond in answer to earnest representations that he and he only could direct aright the defense of the frontier. Montgomery newspapers had reported not long previously that Mr. Davis was having his old Mexican sword sharpened at a gunsmith's in Market Street and that numbers of visitors had called to see that famous weapon. A man who was having his blade made ready of course intended using it. Little doubt was expressed that the President would take the field in person. Rumor had it he had written Governor Letcher of Virginia that he would do this and, with Lee and Beauregard to execute his orders, would himself plan operations. Such a course, the Richmond Examiner asserted, would inspire confidence, order and energy. With others, the paper explained, the soldiers would fight and perhaps would win, but "with him, the victory would be certain, and chance become certainty." He was acclaimed "a tower of strength, with the iron will, the nerve, the energy and decision of Andrew Jackson and more than Jackson's knowledge and general education." Davis, it was asserted, was a statesman in every way qualified for his task; he had foresight, judgment, fertility of resources and wonderful composure of spirit. As for comment in the Northern press, the South was flattered when the Cleveland Plain Dealer styled the President a "genuine son of Mars," and when the Bangor Democrat pronounced him "one of the very, very few gigantic minds which adorn the pages of history."

If there were error of judgment in these estimates, the new President did not deprecate it. He was not flattered by praise, but neither was he frightened by responsibility. Without vainglory or belief that he had genius for swift strategical combinations, he felt, as he sat down with Beauregard and with Lee, that he had been trained as a soldier and that, as a commander, he had been tried. To his four years of administrative experience as Secretary of War -- an experience that no other living man in the South except John B. Floyd could boast -- he had added that of chairman of the Military Committee of the United States Senate. Who had so diversified an equipment, who a better reason for self-reliance? Difficult he knew his task was; capable of discharging it he believed himself to be. Systematic, swift and with a memory that was not quite so accurate as he assumed it to be, he was confident he could discharge in more than a perfunctory sense his prerogative as commander in chief of the military forces of the Confederacy.

The third man at the council on May 31 was in public estimation the least distinguished of the three. Robert Lee was the son of a renowned Revolutionary soldier and had enjoyed the high admiration of Winfield Scott. In the Mexican War, Lee's work as an engineer had been brilliant, and when he had resigned from the "old army" he had reached the rank of Colonel of Cavalry; but he had no such reputation as Beauregard had won at Sumter and no prestige, other than social, that compared with that of President Davis. Inasmuch as Lee had returned to Richmond from Manassas on the 30th, he was asked by the President to explain what had been done to prepare that important railroad junction against the Federals, who, on the night of May 23-24, had crossed the Potomac and had seized Alexandria. Beauregard listened and reflected. He soon perceived that the President intended to send him to Norfolk. Later, when Lee had explained the situation in Northern Virginia, the President decided that Beauregard should have the post of instant danger, that of the Alexandria line.

Beauregard exhibited neither concern nor satisfaction. If that was the post the President wished him to have, he would proceed immediately to Manassas. He needed to outfit himself, but he could leave that assignment to some of his entourage. The next morning he would start for the Northern frontier of the Confederacy.

Promise was performance. By way of Hanover Junction, Gordonsville, Orange and Rappahannock Station, names destined to be written red, he travelled on June x to Manassas and forthwith assumed command. "Old Bory's come!" cried the South Carolina troops who had served under him at Charleston. The Virginia recruits, hearing the cheers, sought this first opportunity of observing him. If they expected a theatrical personality, they were disappointed. What they saw was a small man, 43 years of age, and five feet seven inches in height. He weighed about 150 pounds and had much strength in his slight frame, though often he fell sick. With graying hair, cropped mustache, a good brow, high cheekbones, a belligerent chin and sallow olive complexion, he was as surely French in appearance as in blood, though not disposed to flashing uniform or to caparisoned steed. Imaginative Southern writers already pictured him as the reincarnation of one of Napoleon's marshals, but they said that his eyes, which were his most pronounced physical characteristic, were those of a bloodhound, large, dark, melancholy, half-inflamed as if from long vigils and obscured sometimes by their heavy, drooping lids. In manner, he was quiet but cordial. Privately talkative, he was officially uncommunicative. His gravity was adjudged the mask of kindliness. If he was unsmiling, he cancelled that by lack of ostentation. His tongue manifestly was his ally; it was not equally apparent that his pen was his enemy.

With little ado Beauregard proceeded to inspect his troops. In command was Milledge L. Bonham, who had fought the Seminoles and the Mexicans as a citizen-soldier and had resigned his seat in Congress to the defense of his native South Carolina. Under Bonham were two fine regiments, more than 1500 of the best young men of the Palmetto State. In addition, a regiment was being organized at Manassas by Col. J. F. Preston, another was being recruited rapidly by Col. R. S. Ewell, and a third by Col. Samuel Garland, a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. From Alexandria had arrived in retreat a few companies under Col. G. H. Terrett. At Culpeper, collecting men as rapidly as possible, was Col. Philip St. George Cocke, a rich planter who had been graduated from West Point in 1832 and had been for two years a Lieutenant in the United States Army.

The smallness of this force alarmed Beauregard. Two days after his arrival at Manassas, he sat down and wrote directly to the President, without reference to Lee. His position, Beauregard explained, his troops, and his service of supply alike were inadequate. "I must therefore," he said, "either be reinforced at once, as I have not more than about 6000 effective men, or I must be prepared to retire, on the approach of the enemy, in the direction of Richmond, with the intention of arresting him whenever and wherever the opportunity shall present itself, or I must march to meet him at one of [the] fords [of Bull Run or Occoquan], to sell our lives as dearly as practicable."

It would not suffice, Beauregard concluded, merely to exhort the President. The populace must be aroused. To that end, he issued on June 5 a formal proclamation in which he told the "good people" of the counties covered by his command: "A restless and unprincipled tyrant has invaded your soil. Abraham Lincoln, regardless of all moral, legal, and constitutional restraints, has thrown his abolition hosts among you, who are murdering and imprisoning your citizens, confiscating and destroying your property, and committing other acts of violence and outrage too shocking and revolting to humanity to be enumerated. All rules of civilized warfare are abandoned, and they proclaim by their acts, if not on their banners, that their warcry is 'Beauty and booty.' All that is dear to man, your honor, and that of your wives and daughters, your fortunes, and your lives, are involved in this momentous contest." With this preamble, Beauregard urged the farmers to "rally to the standard of our State and country, and by every means in your power compatible with honorable warfare to drive back and expel the invaders from your land." He became more specific: "I conjure you to be true and loyal to your country and her legal and constitutional authorities, and especially to be vigilant of the movements and acts of the enemy, so as to enable you to give the earliest authentic information to these headquarters or to the officers under my command. I desire to assure you that the utmost protection in my power will be extended to you all."

The phrase "in my power" had limitations the "good people" of Northern Virginia might not realize. In their complete reliance upon Davis and Beauregard and the valor of their own sons, they did not understand, in those first furious days of half-organized war, how difficult it was to muster and to equip enough men to meet the four offensives that were being forged against their State.

Virginia was singularly vulnerable. From the Northwest, the North and the East, she could be assailed so readily that her defenders would lose much of the advantages of inner lines and of railways that ran from Richmond like spokes from a hub. The Federals held Fortress Monroe on Hampton Roads and commanded the deep water everywhere Although earthworks had been constructed on the tidal rivers of Virginia and had been armed with heavy guns captured at the Norfolk Navy Yard, there was no assurance that Federal warships could not silence or pass those defenses. In particular, there was danger of joint land-and- water operations by the Unionists against the Peninsula between the James and the York Rivers.

That operation would be no particular threat to Beauregard. Nor was there immediate danger to his front from an expedition that was in process of organization around Grafton on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. This town in Taylor County is about 120 miles west of Harpers Ferry and is situated in the Tygart Valley. By ascending Tygart River and then turning eastward over the Alleghenies, an enemy might reach Staunton; but not until then would he be in rear of the forces fighting in the lower or northern end of the Shenandoah Valley. Beauregard could afford to disregard this threat, unless and until he was called upon to detach troops to combat it.

Much nearer Beauregard's line was the prospect of a Federal attack from Pennsylvania and Maryland in Harpers Ferry, where the Shenandoah flows into the Potomac. The terrain and railroad communications were such that if Beauregard's position at Manassas were taken, an adversary might turn westward along the Manassas Gap Railroad, cross the Blue Ridge and cut the line of retreat of the forces at Harpers Ferry. Conversely, loss of Harpers Ferry would endanger Beauregard's position at Manassas.

The Virginia authorities had seized Harpers Ferry and its valuable arms machinery on the night of April 18. Militia officers had been placed temporarily in charge, but on April 30 they had been superseded by Col. Thomas J. Jackson, Virginia Volunteers. Beauregard probably remembered Jackson, who had been a young artillerist during the Mexican War and had been brevetted Major for gallantry at Chapultepec. Whether or not he recalled the Major of the gallant days of '47, Beauregard soon heard of the work Jackson was doing at Harpers Ferry. The Colonel had been Professor of Physics and Instructor in Artillery at the Virginia Military Institute, to which position he had been appointed on the recommendation, among others, of D. H. Hill. Serious-minded persons at the seat of the Institute, Lexington, Virginia, respected Jackson's piety, his diligence as a Presbyterian deacon, and his zeal in the religious instruction of the Negroes; the irreverent cadets and the recent graduates of V. M. I. said he was a "curiosity," a dull teacher who hewed to the line of the text and showed much embarrassment when forced to depart from it. At Harpers Ferry, he had been a different, an infinitely more competent, man. Terse, clear in direction, positive in orders, he was declared to be every inch the soldier. With the assistance of some of the cadets from V. M. I., he diligently had been drilling his raw volunteers. Despite the lack of level ground for the parade of even a battalion, he fast was developing to competent performance some of the 8000 men who had been assembled.

A large invading force might shut up the Confederate troops in the angle made at the Ferry by the rivers, but, for the time, Jackson seemed reasonably safe. The cavalry would give him warning. When Col. George Deas -- an old inspector of the United States Army -- had made an official visit to Harpers Ferry about ten days before General Beauregard reached Manassas, he had noted the alertness of a handsome, spirited young cavalryman, small but vigorous, who was commanding Jackson's mounted outposts. "I am quite confident," Colonel Deas had reported, "that, with the vigilance...exercised by Capt. Ashby, no enemy can pass the point which he is directed to observe." Besides, to quote Deas, all five of the companies of cavalry, which included Ashby's two, were "in very good condition, and quite effective." Their commander was the stocky, broad-shouldered Lt. Col. James E. B. Stuart, "Beauty" Stuart, the boys at West Point during Lee's superintendency had called him, in tactful tribute to his notorious lack of good looks. Stuart had arrived in Richmond from the West on May 7, had received commission as Major of Infantry and, after being assigned to Harpers Ferry, had mounted one grade and had set out to organize the Cavalry.

So far as is known, Beauregard had never met either of the two cavalry commanders at Harpers Ferry, but he was well acquainted with the officer who had arrived at that point on May 24 and in somewhat unusual circumstances had assumed command. This officer, Joseph E. Johnston, promptly had been commissioned Brigadier General in the Confederate Army after declining like rank in the service of Virginia. On reaching the Ferry, where he found Jackson exercising authority under a Virginia commission, Johnston in writing requested Jackson to have copied and distributed an order that announced the change of command. Jackson politely but promptly declined to do so. He gave assurance that he would be glad to assist Johnston and the staff officers in procuring "appropriate information" concerning the post, but, said the former professor, "until I receive further instructions from Governor Letcher or General Lee, I do not feel at liberty to transfer my command to another." This he signed in his awkward hand, "T. J. Jackson, Col. Virginia Vols., Comdg. at Harpers Ferry, Va." Then he immediately dispatched copies of the correspondence to General Lee's adjutant. Either because Jackson interposed no objection to the transfer of engineering duties to Johnston's staff, or else because the General's engineer did not wait to ask leave, Jackson added to the letter he sent Lee: "Major Whiting has taken charge of the defences." W. H. C. Whiting -- it was a familiar name to Lee and to all the older engineers of the corps and soon to be no less familiar in the new army.

As Beauregard in due time got the story, General Johnston was not offended by Jackson's refusal to transfer the command. Johnston simply looked among his papers for one that would show he had been assigned to the post. The search was brief. On an application sent him from Richmond, the General found this endorsement: "Referred to General J. E. Johnston, commanding officer at Harpers Ferry. By order of Major-General Lee: John A. Washington." Shown to Jackson, this was accepted instantly by him as evidence of Johnston's authority. The Colonel circulated the desired order and transferred the command. Harpers Ferry formally became a Confederate post. The correspondence was a trivial incident, but it might have been read even then as an indication of the precise military standard of Colonel Jackson: authority was bestowed to be exercised; responsibility was not lightly to be shifted; orders were to be obeyed. If this meant that Jackson for the moment had no command, he would await one.

Soon Beauregard heard that Jackson's successor was having difficulties similar to those encountered at Manassas. Neither Johnston's position nor his troops pleased him. As an engineer he saw that Harpers Ferry could be turned, in his words, "easily and effectively from above and below." The volunteers, in his opinion, were so utterly lacking in "discipline and instruction" that it would be "difficult to use them in the field." When told by a young surgeon of a certain volunteer regiment, "If these men of the Second Virginia will not fight, you have no troops that will," Johnston replied, "I would not give one company of regulars for the whole regiment!" He wrote for instructions within forty-eight hours after assuming command; and within a week he asked whether it would not be better to withdraw altogether from Harpers Ferry and to "join one of our armies, which is too weak for its object."

Of all this and of much that followed, Beauregard was informed. He listened; he pondered; he planned. French he was...French strategy he would employ, Napoleonic strategy.

Copyright 1942 by Charles Scribner's Sons Copyright renewed © 1970 by Inez Goddin Freeman

First Chapter

Chapter 1

"Old Bory's Coming"

He would go at once. The request from the President that he come to Richmond offered an opportunity as surely as it conveyed an order. Federal troops had crossed the Potomac. A battle that would assure the triumph of the new Confederacy would be fought ere long in Virginia. Command there was much to be preferred to the post at Pensacola, from which Mr. Davis had excused him. Virginia was more inviting, even, than New Orleans, whither his fellow Lousianians had asked the Chief Executive to send him. At the same time, departure from South Carolina would be regrettable. From the hour of his arrival there, March 6, 1861, the patriots of Charleston had welcomed him. After he had forced the surrender of Fort Sumter on April 14, without the loss of a man, they had acclaimed and adopted him Some of them seemed to find a certain Huguenot kinship in his name -- Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard -- and all of them united to do him honor. Before he left those friendly and gallant South Carolinians, to win the battle in Virginia, he would write a farewell address.

It was done with dispatch and was, in its final form, a message not to South Carolinians only but to the entire Confederacy also. Beauregard wrote: "...it seems my services are required elsewhere, and thither I shall go, not with joy but with firm determination to do more than my duty, if I can, and to leave as strong a mark as possible on the enemies of our beloved country, should they pollute its soil with their dastardly feet. But rest assured...that whatever happens at first, we are certain to triumph at last, even if we had for arms only pitchforks andflint-lock muskets, for every bush and haystack will become an ambush and every barn a fortress. The history of nations proves that a gallant and free people, fighting for their independence and firesides, are invincible against even disciplined mercenaries, at a few dollars per month. What, then, must be the result when its enemies are little more than an armed rabble, gathered together hastily on a false pretence, and for an unholy purpose, with an octogenarian at its head? None but the demented can doubt the issue."

Before it was possible to ascertain what impression was made by this address, the General and his staff left on May 29, 1861, for Richmond, the newly selected capital of the Confederate States. The staff itself included many Carolinians of distinguished name and of the highest political station. At the moment, it was fortunately so. Along the railroad, advance word had been spread that General Beauregard was aboard the northbound train. Multitudes gathered at every station to have a look at the "Hero of Sumter." Their demand, voiced in every key, was, "Speech, speech, speech!" He bowed his acknowledgments, but he did not reply. Where the crowd was insistent, Beauregard would glance at one of his volunteer aides, Col. John L. Manning, who then would step forward and would deliver a brief oration. Often, also, on the journey, Judah P Benjamin, former Senator from Louisiana, and Attorney General of the Confederacy, who chanced to be aboard, would appear on the train platform and would stir the throng with his eloquence.

The journey confirmed everything the General had been told of the incredible popularity he had won by his success in Charleston Harbor. How quickly fame had come to him! When he had resigned from the United States Army, Feb. 20, 1861, he had been fifth ranking Captain in the Corps of Engineers and had a brevet as Major for gallant conduct in the Mexican War. Late in 1860, he had been named Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, but because of known Southern sympathy had held the post five days only -- Jan. 23-28, 1861. In his profession he was esteemed; outside of it he was little known till hostilities had been opened at Charleston. Now, seven weeks after the fall of Sumter, and less than three months from the time he had arrived at Charleston, he had received the thanks of Congress and the laudation of the Southern press as one of the greatest soldiers in the world. Napoleonic myths had grown up about him. He was said to have warned President Lincoln to remove all noncombatants from Washington by a given date, as if he were determined forthwith to take the city. Southern people even were told that a frightened North hoped and believed that he was dead and that his body had been shipped to France. Not one doubt of his military genius was admitted.

At the fullest of this valuation, Richmond was prepared to welcome him. On May 31, ere his train puffed importantly into the station, hundreds of townfolk had gathered there. A carriage and four were waiting to carry the General to the Spotswood Hotel, where a suite had been reserved for him. All the honors that had been paid President Davis upon arrival two days previously were to be repeated for General Beauregard. He was most grateful when he stepped from the car and shook hands; but, if the committee would permit, he would take a simpler carriage and, in the company of one or two of his staff officers, would go quietly to the hotel. With even more of admiration for his modesty than of regret that he might not be seen by all who had come to welcome him, the committeemen acquiesced. Quickly he was wheeled up the hill to the Spotswood. The band and the crowd followed. Music and cheers and appeals for a speech were in vain. His mission was war. He must waste no time in needless words.

The next day, he conferred with the President and with General R. E. Lee who, in an ill-defined manner, was responsible for military operations in Virginia. Old friends these were, old and admiring. Davis as United States Secretary of War had known Beauregard well and, in March, 1861, had commended the General to Governor Pickens of South Carolina as "full of talent and of much military experience." This favorable judgment had been strengthened by Beauregard's direction of affairs in South Carolina. In planning immediate steps to combat the fast-developing Federal threat against Virginia, Jefferson Davis felt that he could rely on Beauregard.

No less did the President have self-reliance. He had hurried to Richmond in answer to earnest representations that he and he only could direct aright the defense of the frontier. Montgomery newspapers had reported not long previously that Mr. Davis was having his old Mexican sword sharpened at a gunsmith's in Market Street and that numbers of visitors had called to see that famous weapon. A man who was having his blade made ready of course intended using it. Little doubt was expressed that the President would take the field in person. Rumor had it he had written Governor Letcher of Virginia that he would do this and, with Lee and Beauregard to execute his orders, would himself plan operations. Such a course, the Richmond Examiner asserted, would inspire confidence, order and energy. With others, the paper explained, the soldiers would fight and perhaps would win, but "with him, the victory would be certain, and chance become certainty." He was acclaimed "a tower of strength, with the iron will, the nerve, the energy and decision of Andrew Jackson and more than Jackson's knowledge and general education." Davis, it was asserted, was a statesman in every way qualified for his task; he had foresight, judgment, fertility of resources and wonderful composure of spirit. As for comment in the Northern press, the South was flattered when the Cleveland Plain Dealer styled the President a "genuine son of Mars," and when the Bangor Democrat pronounced him "one of the very, very few gigantic minds which adorn the pages of history."

If there were error of judgment in these estimates, the new President did not deprecate it. He was not flattered by praise, but neither was he frightened by responsibility. Without vainglory or belief that he had genius for swift strategical combinations, he felt, as he sat down with Beauregard and with Lee, that he had been trained as a soldier and that, as a commander, he had been tried. To his four years of administrative experience as Secretary of War -- an experience that no other living man in the South except John B. Floyd could boast -- he had added that of chairman of the Military Committee of the United States Senate. Who had so diversified an equipment, who a better reason for self-reliance? Difficult he knew his task was; capable of discharging it he believed himself to be. Systematic, swift and with a memory that was not quite so accurate as he assumed it to be, he was confident he could discharge in more than a perfunctory sense his prerogative as commander in chief of the military forces of the Confederacy.

The third man at the council on May 31 was in public estimation the least distinguished of the three. Robert Lee was the son of a renowned Revolutionary soldier and had enjoyed the high admiration of Winfield Scott. In the Mexican War, Lee's work as an engineer had been brilliant, and when he had resigned from the "old army" he had reached the rank of Colonel of Cavalry; but he had no such reputation as Beauregard had won at Sumter and no prestige, other than social, that compared with that of President Davis. Inasmuch as Lee had returned to Richmond from Manassas on the 30th, he was asked by the President to explain what had been done to prepare that important railroad junction against the Federals, who, on the night of May 23-24, had crossed the Potomac and had seized Alexandria. Beauregard listened and reflected. He soon perceived that the President intended to send him to Norfolk. Later, when Lee had explained the situation in Northern Virginia, the President decided that Beauregard should have the post of instant danger, that of the Alexandria line.

Beauregard exhibited neither concern nor satisfaction. If that was the post the President wished him to have, he would proceed immediately to Manassas. He needed to outfit himself, but he could leave that assignment to some of his entourage. The next morning he would start for the Northern frontier of the Confederacy.

Promise was performance. By way of Hanover Junction, Gordonsville, Orange and Rappahannock Station, names destined to be written red, he travelled on June x to Manassas and forthwith assumed command. "Old Bory's come!" cried the South Carolina troops who had served under him at Charleston. The Virginia recruits, hearing the cheers, sought this first opportunity of observing him. If they expected a theatrical personality, they were disappointed. What they saw was a small man, 43 years of age, and five feet seven inches in height. He weighed about 150 pounds and had much strength in his slight frame, though often he fell sick. With graying hair, cropped mustache, a good brow, high cheekbones, a belligerent chin and sallow olive complexion, he was as surely French in appearance as in blood, though not disposed to flashing uniform or to caparisoned steed. Imaginative Southern writers already pictured him as the reincarnation of one of Napoleon's marshals, but they said that his eyes, which were his most pronounced physical characteristic, were those of a bloodhound, large, dark, melancholy, half-inflamed as if from long vigils and obscured sometimes by their heavy, drooping lids. In manner, he was quiet but cordial. Privately talkative, he was officially uncommunicative. His gravity was adjudged the mask of kindliness. If he was unsmiling, he cancelled that by lack of ostentation. His tongue manifestly was his ally; it was not equally apparent that his pen was his enemy.

With little ado Beauregard proceeded to inspect his troops. In command was Milledge L. Bonham, who had fought the Seminoles and the Mexicans as a citizen-soldier and had resigned his seat in Congress to the defense of his native South Carolina. Under Bonham were two fine regiments, more than 1500 of the best young men of the Palmetto State. In addition, a regiment was being organized at Manassas by Col. J. F. Preston, another was being recruited rapidly by Col. R. S. Ewell, and a third by Col. Samuel Garland, a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. From Alexandria had arrived in retreat a few companies under Col. G. H. Terrett. At Culpeper, collecting men as rapidly as possible, was Col. Philip St. George Cocke, a rich planter who had been graduated from West Point in 1832 and had been for two years a Lieutenant in the United States Army.

The smallness of this force alarmed Beauregard. Two days after his arrival at Manassas, he sat down and wrote directly to the President, without reference to Lee. His position, Beauregard explained, his troops, and his service of supply alike were inadequate. "I must therefore," he said, "either be reinforced at once, as I have not more than about 6000 effective men, or I must be prepared to retire, on the approach of the enemy, in the direction of Richmond, with the intention of arresting him whenever and wherever the opportunity shall present itself, or I must march to meet him at one of [the] fords [of Bull Run or Occoquan], to sell our lives as dearly as practicable."

It would not suffice, Beauregard concluded, merely to exhort the President. The populace must be aroused. To that end, he issued on June 5 a formal proclamation in which he told the "good people" of the counties covered by his command: "A restless and unprincipled tyrant has invaded your soil. Abraham Lincoln, regardless of all moral, legal, and constitutional restraints, has thrown his abolition hosts among you, who are murdering and imprisoning your citizens, confiscating and destroying your property, and committing other acts of violence and outrage too shocking and revolting to humanity to be enumerated. All rules of civilized warfare are abandoned, and they proclaim by their acts, if not on their banners, that their warcry is 'Beauty and booty.' All that is dear to man, your honor, and that of your wives and daughters, your fortunes, and your lives, are involved in this momentous contest." With this preamble, Beauregard urged the farmers to "rally to the standard of our State and country, and by every means in your power compatible with honorable warfare to drive back and expel the invaders from your land." He became more specific: "I conjure you to be true and loyal to your country and her legal and constitutional authorities, and especially to be vigilant of the movements and acts of the enemy, so as to enable you to give the earliest authentic information to these headquarters or to the officers under my command. I desire to assure you that the utmost protection in my power will be extended to you all."

The phrase "in my power" had limitations the "good people" of Northern Virginia might not realize. In their complete reliance upon Davis and Beauregard and the valor of their own sons, they did not understand, in those first furious days of half-organized war, how difficult it was to muster and to equip enough men to meet the four offensives that were being forged against their State.

Virginia was singularly vulnerable. From the Northwest, the North and the East, she could be assailed so readily that her defenders would lose much of the advantages of inner lines and of railways that ran from Richmond like spokes from a hub. The Federals held Fortress Monroe on Hampton Roads and commanded the deep water everywhere Although earthworks had been constructed on the tidal rivers of Virginia and had been armed with heavy guns captured at the Norfolk Navy Yard, there was no assurance that Federal warships could not silence or pass those defenses. In particular, there was danger of joint land-and- water operations by the Unionists against the Peninsula between the James and the York Rivers.

That operation would be no particular threat to Beauregard. Nor was there immediate danger to his front from an expedition that was in process of organization around Grafton on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. This town in Taylor County is about 120 miles west of Harpers Ferry and is situated in the Tygart Valley. By ascending Tygart River and then turning eastward over the Alleghenies, an enemy might reach Staunton; but not until then would he be in rear of the forces fighting in the lower or northern end of the Shenandoah Valley. Beauregard could afford to disregard this threat, unless and until he was called upon to detach troops to combat it.

Much nearer Beauregard's line was the prospect of a Federal attack from Pennsylvania and Maryland in Harpers Ferry, where the Shenandoah flows into the Potomac. The terrain and railroad communications were such that if Beauregard's position at Manassas were taken, an adversary might turn westward along the Manassas Gap Railroad, cross the Blue Ridge and cut the line of retreat of the forces at Harpers Ferry. Conversely, loss of Harpers Ferry would endanger Beauregard's position at Manassas.

The Virginia authorities had seized Harpers Ferry and its valuable arms machinery on the night of April 18. Militia officers had been placed temporarily in charge, but on April 30 they had been superseded by Col. Thomas J. Jackson, Virginia Volunteers. Beauregard probably remembered Jackson, who had been a young artillerist during the Mexican War and had been brevetted Major for gallantry at Chapultepec. Whether or not he recalled the Major of the gallant days of '47, Beauregard soon heard of the work Jackson was doing at Harpers Ferry. The Colonel had been Professor of Physics and Instructor in Artillery at the Virginia Military Institute, to which position he had been appointed on the recommendation, among others, of D. H. Hill. Serious-minded persons at the seat of the Institute, Lexington, Virginia, respected Jackson's piety, his diligence as a Presbyterian deacon, and his zeal in the religious instruction of the Negroes; the irreverent cadets and the recent graduates of V. M. I. said he was a "curiosity," a dull teacher who hewed to the line of the text and showed much embarrassment when forced to depart from it. At Harpers Ferry, he had been a different, an infinitely more competent, man. Terse, clear in direction, positive in orders, he was declared to be every inch the soldier. With the assistance of some of the cadets from V. M. I., he diligently had been drilling his raw volunteers. Despite the lack of level ground for the parade of even a battalion, he fast was developing to competent performance some of the 8000 men who had been assembled.

A large invading force might shut up the Confederate troops in the angle made at the Ferry by the rivers, but, for the time, Jackson seemed reasonably safe. The cavalry would give him warning. When Col. George Deas -- an old inspector of the United States Army -- had made an official visit to Harpers Ferry about ten days before General Beauregard reached Manassas, he had noted the alertness of a handsome, spirited young cavalryman, small but vigorous, who was commanding Jackson's mounted outposts. "I am quite confident," Colonel Deas had reported, "that, with the vigilance...exercised by Capt. Ashby, no enemy can pass the point which he is directed to observe." Besides, to quote Deas, all five of the companies of cavalry, which included Ashby's two, were "in very good condition, and quite effective." Their commander was the stocky, broad-shouldered Lt. Col. James E. B. Stuart, "Beauty" Stuart, the boys at West Point during Lee's superintendency had called him, in tactful tribute to his notorious lack of good looks. Stuart had arrived in Richmond from the West on May 7, had received commission as Major of Infantry and, after being assigned to Harpers Ferry, had mounted one grade and had set out to organize the Cavalry.

So far as is known, Beauregard had never met either of the two cavalry commanders at Harpers Ferry, but he was well acquainted with the officer who had arrived at that point on May 24 and in somewhat unusual circumstances had assumed command. This officer, Joseph E. Johnston, promptly had been commissioned Brigadier General in the Confederate Army after declining like rank in the service of Virginia. On reaching the Ferry, where he found Jackson exercising authority under a Virginia commission, Johnston in writing requested Jackson to have copied and distributed an order that announced the change of command. Jackson politely but promptly declined to do so. He gave assurance that he would be glad to assist Johnston and the staff officers in procuring "appropriate information" concerning the post, but, said the former professor, "until I receive further instructions from Governor Letcher or General Lee, I do not feel at liberty to transfer my command to another." This he signed in his awkward hand, "T. J. Jackson, Col. Virginia Vols., Comdg. at Harpers Ferry, Va." Then he immediately dispatched copies of the correspondence to General Lee's adjutant. Either because Jackson interposed no objection to the transfer of engineering duties to Johnston's staff, or else because the General's engineer did not wait to ask leave, Jackson added to the letter he sent Lee: "Major Whiting has taken charge of the defences." W. H. C. Whiting -- it was a familiar name to Lee and to all the older engineers of the corps and soon to be no less familiar in the new army.

As Beauregard in due time got the story, General Johnston was not offended by Jackson's refusal to transfer the command. Johnston simply looked among his papers for one that would show he had been assigned to the post. The search was brief. On an application sent him from Richmond, the General found this endorsement: "Referred to General J. E. Johnston, commanding officer at Harpers Ferry. By order of Major-General Lee: John A. Washington." Shown to Jackson, this was accepted instantly by him as evidence of Johnston's authority. The Colonel circulated the desired order and transferred the command. Harpers Ferry formally became a Confederate post. The correspondence was a trivial incident, but it might have been read even then as an indication of the precise military standard of Colonel Jackson: authority was bestowed to be exercised; responsibility was not lightly to be shifted; orders were to be obeyed. If this meant that Jackson for the moment had no command, he would await one.

Soon Beauregard heard that Jackson's successor was having difficulties similar to those encountered at Manassas. Neither Johnston's position nor his troops pleased him. As an engineer he saw that Harpers Ferry could be turned, in his words, "easily and effectively from above and below." The volunteers, in his opinion, were so utterly lacking in "discipline and instruction" that it would be "difficult to use them in the field." When told by a young surgeon of a certain volunteer regiment, "If these men of the Second Virginia will not fight, you have no troops that will," Johnston replied, "I would not give one company of regulars for the whole regiment!" He wrote for instructions within forty-eight hours after assuming command; and within a week he asked whether it would not be better to withdraw altogether from Harpers Ferry and to "join one of our armies, which is too weak for its object."

Of all this and of much that followed, Beauregard was informed. He listened; he pondered; he planned. French he was...French strategy he would employ, Napoleonic strategy.

Copyright 1942 by Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright renewed © 1970 by Inez Goddin Freeman

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Foreword

"Dramatis Personae"

I. "Old Bory's Coming"

II. Magruder and D. H. Hill Emerge III. First Loss of a Leader IV. Beauregard Essays Grand Strategy V. Beauregard Plans a Battle VI. Beauregard's Star at Zenith VII. Pursuit and a Confused Council VIII. Subordinates of Promise IX. The Star of Beauregard Is Beclouded X. Johnston Passes a Dark Winter XI. Johnston's Withdrawal from Manassas XII. Johnston Retreats Again XIII. The Army That Left Yorktown XIV. Williamsburg XV. Eltham Introduces John B. Hood XVI. Twenty-four Unhappy Days XVII. Seven Pines: A Battle of Strange Errors XVIlI. Grim Fruits of Anniversary XIX. Old Snarls Are Untangled XX. Stuart Justifies His Plume XXI. General and Deacon Jackson at Odds XXII. The Building of a "New Model" Army XXIII. "Dick" Ewell Sticks by a "Crazy Man"

XXIV. Jackson Launches His Offensive XXV. Cedarville to Winchester -- a Dreadful Night XXVI. A Victory Ends at a Manse XXVII. "From the Snare of the Fowler"

XXVII. A Crowning Double Victory XXIX. "The Hero of the South"

XXX. Jackson Marches to a Confusing Field XXXI. The New Organization Fails XXXII. First Battle of A. N. Va.

XXXIII. Magruder Stays Up Too Long XXXIV. The Delay in the Reconcentration XXXV. Two Columns Are Halted XXXVI. Holmes Advances and Magruder Gallops in Vain XXXVII. Malvern Hill: A Tragedy of Staff XXXVIII. The End of Magruder and of Huger XXXIX. Discontent and Dyspepsia as Problems of Command XL. Stuart Makes a Second "Raid"

XLI. The Juniors Who Vied with Veterans XLII. The Enigma of Jackson's State of Mind XLIII. A New Organization for New Battles

APPENDIX

I. The Military Geography of Virginia II. Southern Resources of CommandIII. The Distribution of Beauregard's Combat Order of July 20, 1861

IV. Order of Battle of Confederate Infantry, July 21, 1861

V. Origin of the Name "Stonewall"

VI. Jackson's Plans and Marches of May 24, 1862

Manuscript Sources Short Title Index Index

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews