Friday, June 3, 2011

Willing and Anxious to Meet the Enemy

From The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. series I, Volume II, part I

General G T Beauregard makes a critical report to Jefferson Davis in the days before the first Battle of Bull Run. Did Davis listen?  

Camp Pickets, Va., June 3, 1861.
His Excellency President JEFFERSON DAVIS,
Richmond, Va.:

DEAR SIR: I arrived here on the 1st, at 2 p.m., and immediately examined the site of this encampment and the place of its proposed defenses. The former is an open country, traversed by good roads in every direction, without any strong natural features for the purposes of defense, and without running water nearer than three miles, except a few small springs at half that distance. The plans of the works are good, but too extensive to be finished in less than two or three weeks, and cannot be garrisoned with less than from three to four thousand men. As this position can be turned in every direction by an enemy, for the purpose of destroying the railroads intended to be defended by it, it becomes a question whether these works could be held more than a few days when thus isolated.

I have reconnoitered closely several of the fords on Bull Run and one on Occoquan Run (about three miles from here), which offer strong natural features of defense; but they are so numerous and far apart that only a much larger force than I have here at my command (say not less than from ten to fifteen thousand men) could hope to defend them all against a well-organized enemy of about twenty thousand men, who could select his point of attack. I must therefore either be re-enforced at once, as I have not more than about six thousand 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 whenever the opportunity shall present itself, or I must march to meet him at one said fords, to sell our lives as dearly as practicable.

Badly armed and badly equipped as my command is at present, with several of its regiments having but one or two field officers, and having hardly any means of transportation, it would be expecting too much that I could meet with success the Northern foes that are preparing to attack us within a few days with all the advantages of arms, numbers, and discipline.

I beg, however, to remark that my troops are not only willing, but are anxious, to meet the enemies of our country under all circumstances.
I remain, dear sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
From The Photographic History of The Civil War in Ten Volumes: Volume One, The Opening Battles.
The Review of Reviews Co., New York. 1911 (Wikimedia Commons)

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