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Russell's Account Of The Flight From Bull's Run

Russell's Account Of The Flight From Bull's Run image
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The followiag extracta arofrom Wm, IL RussoU's letter to tlio London Times, in which he describes the disastrous p:inic aod flight ot our Anny that s icceeded the battle of JJull's Hun on the. 21st uit: Aslturned down into the narrovv rqfld, o:1 lano, ulread.y meotioned, there was u forward movement araong the large four.-wheeled tilt wagons, whioh raised a good deal of dust. My attention was partleularly callcd to thïs by tho occurrenoe of a few minutes afterwards. I had met my frieads on the road, and alter a few wordfl rode lorward at a long trot as well as I could past the. wagons and through the dust, when siuklenly theraarrwea tumult in front of me at n smull bridge across the road, and then I perceived the drivers of á set óf wagons with the horses turned towarda me, who were ' andeavoring to foros their way against tbu treatn of vehiulês setting in the other directioD. By tho sido oí the nuw set of wagons there was a nuipber of eommissariat men and edldiers, whotn at firet sight I took to be the baggagü guard. They loüked excited and ulurined, and ere running by the h;do of the horses - in front the dnst quite obscured the view. At thé bridge the eurrent met in wild disorder. ''Turn back! lietreatP'shouted the men froiu the front, " VvVre wuipped, wc're whipped!" They cursed and tugged at ti)e horsés'-heads and strügglod with frenzy to get past. Running by ma on foot was a man with the shoukler straps of an offioer. :'Pray frhat is the matter, sir'r" 'Tt means we're pretty budly whipped, aid that's a fact,;' he blurted out in piiffs, and utnitiniied his career. I observed that he earr'ed no sword. - The teamsters of the advancing wagjns now caught up the cry. "Turn back- tuin your horses,'1 was the shout up the whóle line, and, backing, plunglng, rearing and kicking, the horses whieh liad been proeeeding down the raad reversed front and went off towards Centryville. Those behind them went mauly rushing on, the drivèra being qoït'é indifferent whether glory Or disgraee led the way, provided they eonld iiud n. In the midst of this extraordinary spectacle an oflieer, escorted by 6jme dragoonSj rode through the ruek with a eart in charge. Another : on foot, with his sword ander 1, is arm, ran up águinst me. '-What is all this aboat?1' i'Why we're pretty badly whipped. Wo'reail in retreat. There's Gen. Tyier there badly wounded." And on he ran. There came vet another, who suid, "We're beaten on all points. Ti:e whole array is in retreat." Still there was no flight of troops, no retreat of' an army, no reason for all this precipitation. True, there were many men in uniform living towanJs tiie rear, but it did not appear as if they .vere beyoud the proportious of a large baggage oacort. I got my boree up into the field out ot the road, and went on rapidly towurd the ttont. - ííoo'i I met soldiers vho wei'e coming through the oom, mostly without anus; and presontly I saw lirelocks, cooking tins, knapsacks, and great coats on the ground, and obsei'ved that the con; and speed ot the baggage carts beoame greater, and that many of them were erowded with soldier?, but it did not look as if there were nuiny troondedj Nqgro ervanta on led horses dashed frautioally pas!; men in uniform, whotn it wei'e a disgraee to the prof'ession of armsto cali ''soldiere," Bwarmed by on raules, obargers, and even draught horses, wbich had been cut out of carts or wagons, and went ou with haroöfes clinging to their heels, as frightencd as their riders. Men iiterallv screamed with rage and fright when their wav was blocked up. Ün I rode, asking all, "What is all this abotit?" and uovv and then, but tfarely, receiviog the answer, - "We're whipped;" or "We're repulsed " Facea black and dusty, tongues out in the heat, eyesstari ig - it was a most wonilerful .sight. On they cama like him - nee turued rcuud goes on, .. .t.J, Forhe koovvetb tbat a fearfol ik'ud i oli) clono LiL-hinü him tru;ul." But where was the fiend! I looked in vain. There wus, indeed, some cannonadiug in front of me and in their rear, uut still the firing was comparaLiveiy distant, and the runaways were far uut ol range. As L advanced the nutnber of oarts diminished, but the mouDled men incrèased, and the column pf fugitivas becaint; ueu.ser. Any way it was now well established iiu.t üic retreat ad really oommenead, thoiigh-1 saw but few wounded mei), and the regiment which were faling back had Dot sufiferèd muoTi loss. No iniu seemed to know amthing lur certain. Even the uavalry charge was a riunor. Severa! üfficeis said they had carrfod guns and Unes, but then they drifted iuto the nonfeenee which one euus and hcars everywhere ubout 1 inaeked batteriea." One or iwotalked more seusiblv about tiie slrong po.-ition ol the eneuiv, the fatigue oí' their men, thu want of a reserve, severe lo-?;es, and the bad conduct of certain r'egime.'its. Not one spoke as if hethought of retiring bevond GentreviHe. Thu clo.uda of dust rising aboye tho woods markod the retreat pf the army, a::d the crowös o! {ugitíyes cíjutinuèd to steal away aloug the roád. The Bun was declining and son:e thirty miles vet remained to be aoeenuplished ere I eould bope to gain the shelter ol Washington. No one knew vyhither any corps or regiment was marebing, but there were rumor 3 of all kiuds - "Thfe 69th are cut to plecosj 'The h'üe Zouaves are deslroyed," and soon. iJ:esunlíy a tremor rau through the men by whom 1 '.vas riding, as thesharp Ls of some field pieees ratled íhrough the wood close at hand. A! ttórt of subdutd roi, Ivbe thovoiceot distant breakers, rose in front cf uu, and the aoldier.s, vsho uere, I tlnuk, (.jtviiu.ns, b'.'cke into a doublé, looking now and iheii over their bhouklers-: wus no ehoice lor me but to retsign any further researches. Tho mail from Washington for the Wednesday steamer at Boston caves at 2:30 on Mouduy, and so I put my hoi-o iuto a trot, keepiüg in the lields alon the road, as much as I could, to avoid the fugitiVecJ till I carne once more on ,r of the baggage and store carts, and tiio pressure of the ciowd, who, eonscious of the aid which the vehicUs I I afford them against a cavalryj chargt, s nd fearful, nevertheles?, cf their proximity, olamored aml sbouted likü madmen as Üitiy ran. The road was n'ovv litéraily oovered wiih bagqage. It seemed to tne as ii' tlio men inside wcro throwing the thingfl out purposely. "Stop," cried I to lbo driver of one oí the carta, ''everylliing is falling out' "- -you," shouted a fellow inside, "if you stop hiin l'll blow your brainu out." My aUempts to t-avo Uncle Sain's property weru then and thero diacontiimud. ün approaohiog Centreville, a body oí Germán nfaotry, of the reserve, c.ime marohing down and stemmed tlif current in sonio degree; thev v.erü fbllowed by a brigado of guns and antfther battalion of freso troops. i turned up on the hill half a niüe beyoinl. The vahiclea had all lolt but two - my buggy was goce. A battery ot Meld gnus was in poaition whoro we had been standing. The men looked well. As yet there was nolhing to indicate more tlian i retreat and soino 11behavior among the wagi-nera and the riffraff oi different régimen ts. GfiDtreville was Bot a bad posuion properly ooupied, and I saw do reason why it shoiild n it be held if it. was ment to renew the altack, nor any reason why the otlaek sliould not be renewed, if there had been any why it shniild have boen made. L swept the field once more. The ulouda oi' dust vvero denser and nemer. That was all. - There was no tiring- :.o musketry. I lurned my hurse's head, und rodo away through ihe viliage, alter I got out upon the road tho samo confusión seemed to prevail. tóuddenly the guns on the hill opened, and at tho Bache time camo the thuds of artillery froni tbs wood on the right rear. The stampede beeame general. What ocourrud at the h:ll I can not say, but all the road froin Centreville for miles presented such a sight as can ouly be witneaseci in the track oi tho runaways of au utterly demoi'alized arm}. - Drïvera flogged, lashed, spurred anci beat their horses, or leaped down and abandonad tëeir teams, and ran by tho side of the road; mounted meu, servants, and men in uniform, vehie'es of all sorts, comruissariat wagons thronged the Qftlfow ways. At every shot a contusión as it were seized upon the morbid masa of bones, sinew, wood and iron, and thrilled thryugh it, giviug new eoergy and actiun to its deeperats eftorta to get ÍVce trom iisdf. Again cry ut -'Cavalry" arose. '-What are you aïraid ofí said 1 to a man who was running besido me. ' -X'iii not afraid of you," replied the ruffiao, leveling bis piece at me and pulling the trigger. It was not loaded or the cap was uot on, for the gun did not go ofl'. L was unanned, and I did go of{ as tast as i could, resolved to keep my own counsel for the seo nj timé that day. And so the fight went on. At ;ne timo a wholemaesoi iufuntry, v, i;h iixeil bayonpt, ran down the bank of the road, aud soine {alliog as they ran must have killed and wounded those arrong wliom they fpll. As 1 knew the road wonld soon become iuipussable or blocked up, I put my hor se to a gallop and pasned on toward the front. But monnted men still rode fttster, shouting out "oavalry are coming." # ' # # # It was most surprising to see how far the foot soldiers had contrived to get in advance. After sunset tho moon rote, and amid other acquaintances I jogged alorgsitie an officer w!io was iu charge of Golonel Hun ter, the oomrnandor of a brigade, I believe, who was übot tbrough the neck, and was inside a cart, escorted by a few troopere. This offioer was, as I understood, the Major or secondin command of Colone! Hunter's Regiment, yet hè had conBidered it right to take charge of hia ehiei, and to eave his battaiion. Ho said thoy had driven back tho enemy with ease, but had not been supported, and blamed - as bad ofiieers and good nes will do - tho conduct of the general: "So mean a fight I never saw." Our lriend had been -.vithout food, but not, I suspect, without drink - and that, we know, tSects ernpty stomaehs very much - since 2 p'clock that morninr. Now, what is to be thoughtoi ab effieer - gallant he may be as steel - who says, as I hoard this gentleman say lo a picket who aaked hini how the day went in iront. "Well, we've been licked into a cocked bat; kr.Ofkud to ." This was his cry to tcarn.-ters, escorts, couvoys, the oiücers, and men on guiird.


Old News
Michigan Argus