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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 2, Part 1 (First Manassas Campaign)
Page 505 Chapter IX. THE BULL RUN CAMPAIGN.

main body of our forces. Inquiry has developed the fact that a massage to be verbally delivered was sent by Hon Mr. Chesnut. If the conjectures received in the report were entertained, they rested on the accomplishment of one great condition, namely, that a junction of the forces of Generals Johnston and Holmes should be made with the army of General Beauregard, and should gain a victory. The junction was made, the victory was won, but the consequences that were predicted did not result. The reasons why no such consequences could result are given, and the responsibility cannot be transferred to the Government at Richmond, which certainly have united in any feasible plan to accomplish such desires results.

If the plan of campaign mentioned in the report had been presented in a written communication, and in sufficient detail to permit proper investigation, it must have been pronounced to be impossible at that time, and its proposal could only have been accounted for by the want of information of the forces and positions of the armies in the field.

The facts that rendered it impossible are the following:

1. It was based, as related from memory by Colonel Chesnut, on the supposition of drawing a force of about twenty-five thousand men from the command of General Johnston. The letters of General Johnston show his effective force to have been only eleven thousand, with an enemy thirty thousand strong in his front ready to take possession of the valley of Virginia on his withdrawal.

2. It proposed to continue operations by effecting a junction of a part of the victorious forces with the army of General Garnet in Western Virginia. General Garnett's forces amounted only to three of four thousand men, them known to be in rapid retreat before vastly superior forces under McClellan, and the news that he was himself killed, and his army scattered, arrived within forty-eight house of Colonel Chesnut's arrival in Richmond.

3. The plan was based on the improbable and inadmissable supposition that the enemy was to await everywhere, isolated and motionless, until our forces could effect junctions to attack them in detail.

4. It could not be expected that any success obtainable on the battle field would enable our forces to carry the fortifications on the Potomac, garrisoned, and within supporting distance of fresh troops; nor after the actual battle and victory did the generals on the field propose an advance on the capital, north does it appear they have since believed themselves in a condition to attempt such a movement.

It is proper also to observe that there is no communication of field in the War Department, as received at the close of the reports, showing what were the causes which "prevented the advance of our forces and prolonged vigorous pursuit of the enemy to and beyond the Potomac."

JEFFERSON DAVIS.


HEADQUARTERS FIRST CORPS ARMY POTOMAC,
Centreville, Va., November 8, 1861.

GENERAL: My attention having been called to the date of my report of the battle of Manassas, August 26, 1861, when it was only received at the War Department October 15, 1861, I have to request that the date of the letter accompanying the report, October -, 1861, should be affixed to it. The delay arose from the that it was placed in the hands of the copyist on the day of its date, but was left open to be amend and corrected as the details of the battle became better known


Page 505 Chapter IX. THE BULL RUN CAMPAIGN.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 2, Part 1 (First Manassas Campaign)
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