For more great articles, be sure to subscribe to Civil War Times magazine today! Now, the day of the big battle had finally arrived. Lane, a Mexican War veteran, was particularly intent, declaring that he must have a hand in it [the battle] himself. Intense urgency yielded to outright panic when the Confederates managed to get some artillery in range of the bridge over Cub Run. It was the retreat of the army…. Judge McCook gathered up the mangled body of his wounded son, placed him on a makeshift bed in his carriage, and started a mournful ride back toward Centreville. Shocking, sudden Union defeat engulfed these misbegotten ones—so the lore goes—and they fled hell-bent with their military protectors, dodging shells, scrambling through streams, often falling to exhaustion or shrapnel. There was nothing left… but to go with the current one could not stem.
The junior officers quickly interceded: Some arrived back in the capital during the night, hundreds more the next morning—all of them with tales of woe and fright. This article was written by John J. What state are you from? No one could tell him, and the journalist watched in some puzzlement as the tide of blue-clad refugees along the Warrenton Turnpike grew. But the vast majority of civilians had not gotten near Bull Run, had not caught even a glimpse of a Confederate soldier, and were not panicked by a stumbling mob of frightened Union soldiers. They came in all manner of ways, wrote a Union officer, some in stylish carriages, others in city hacks, and still others in buggies, on horseback, or even on foot. When someone pointed out that he lacked a gun, he retorted, I can easily find a musket on the field. I beheld a perfect avalanche pouring down the road immediately behind me, he wrote. Judge McCook gathered up the mangled body of his wounded son, placed him on a makeshift bed in his carriage, and started a mournful ride back toward Centreville. Soon, Confederate cavalry charged up the hill, cutting off Charles McCook—visiting his father yet again—from his regiment. As Taylor asserted after the war, There is no truth whatever in the claim that civilians contributed to the panic. Ambulances, horses, cannon, and men were piled in one confused mass, remembered a Rhode Island artilleryman. That handful of civilians who had reached the ridge overlooking the Stone Bridge managed to recross the Cub Run bridge before the span was blocked and the true panic began. We have contorted the image into a carnival: They pulled up with their carriages much as we do to a Saturday morning soccer game—strewing their vehicles along the roadsides. One Syracuse paper asserted, editors, reporters, congressmen, and others…were the first to fly…. The civilians in fact affected or were affected by events that day very little indeed. Most of the sightseers were evidently disappointed at what they saw, or rather did not see, recorded Tidball. There was, however, one civilian with special access to the army and its plans that day: Lane led the trio on foot across the fields toward the Warrenton Turnpike, where a close encounter with battle a victorious one, of course seemed more likely. There was nothing left… but to go with the current one could not stem. Just moments later, he turned to witness an unnerving sight. Governor Sprague was foremost in the fight and inspired the men with coolness and courage, wrote one Rhode Islander. Are you connected in any way with the Government? The congressman nobly gave up his seat to the man and started walking. Modern Americans giggle and gawk at such manufactured images.
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