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THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN.
A great many important things in a military sense were done in the latter part of April. Washington was made safe for that time; Fortress Monroe, that commands the "water gateway of Virginia," was reinforced and held; the government works at Harper's Ferry were blown up and burned to save them from the confederate troops; the city of Cairo, Illinois, at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, was held by government forces; and the blockade of the Southern States by water which Mr. Lincoln had ordered was extended to Virginia and North Carolina; and different military departments were formed under the charge of different generals.
It was of as great importance to the government to keep the border States out of the confederacy as it was to the South to have them join it; the Southern leaders were all the time pressing and forcing upon them the decision to
secede, and Mr. Lincoln was all the time holding back from everything which would give them even an excuse for going over to the confederacy. The matter of the "long bridge" is one instance of how careful he was not to do anything which a border State could resent. Washington, as we know, is so situated that in order to make the city really secure it was necessary that the government should hold some of the surrounding heights and places of strategic importance across the Potomac. But these were on Virginian soil; therefore, so long as Virginia remained in the Union, although it was plain that her secessionists were going to drag her out, the heights yet remained untouched by the Federal government. It kept a small guard at the bridge, it was true, to prevent its being destroyed; but nobody interfered with travel or merchandise going across it; and when a stray secessionist from Maryland wanted to go South to join the confederate army, nobody hindered him. And it is said that after nightfall the squad of Union soldiers in charge there went across and "hobnobbed" with the Virginia State militia posted on the other side and their officers said very little about it. Just as long as it was possible to forbear, Mr. Lincoln did it.
In addition to all that was to be done here, it
was necessary to make the government right with the nations of Europe, some of whom were much interested in the Southern confederacy. For Jefferson Davis had early sent over representatives to induce them to recognize and approve of the "Confederate States of America"; and if they had done so, it would have been much harder for the government. But Mr. Lincoln knew they would do it unless he prevented it. He said in effect that this was a family quarrel and that foreign nations had nothing to do with it. The details of this statement he left to Secretary Seward, who was well versed in diplomacy and knew how to manage the matter with skill and success.
Meanwhile the North had sent forth its men by the thousands, the hundred thousand, for soldiers and sailors; and the people could not imagine why Mr. Lincoln did not take hold with them and conquer the confederacy straightway? Why was he so slow? They thought they saw everything. But, really, they saw at the time but little of the difficulties and dangers in the way. They could not even realize-for they knew only in a general way at the time-how the government found secret enemies at every turn, in army and navy and in the different departments of the administration. At that time to find out anything that "Lincoln" proposed to
do and to tell it to the confederates was held a fine thing by certain persons.
April twenty-ninth Jefferson Davis assembled the confederate Congress at Montgomery, and made a long and public statement of the wrongs of the South which he published to the world. It was full of untruths carefully put. But after declaring all the preparations for war and for maintaining the Southern confederacy, he added one more word which was certainly true and became a byword at the North through the war. For: "All we want," said Mr. Jefferson Davis, "is to be let alone."
The speeches of the Southern leaders aggravated the North. Mr. Jefferson Davis said openly that the North, and not the South, should be the field of war. And Floyd, who had stolen all he could of government property while he was secretary of war under Buchanan, prophesied that the stars and bars, the flag of the confederacy, would float over the dome of the old capitol at Washington before May first, 1861, and that it "might float eventually over Fanueil Hall itself." So little did the people of the South understand the North.
It has been said that directly after the fall of Sumter the Legislature of Virginia voted the State out of the Union. But this vote had to go to the people of the State to be confirmed.
A few days afterward Jefferson Davis transferred the seat of his government to Richmond. So, the leaders and plenty of troops were on hand there. May twenty-third the vote was taken. By sunset that same day, within an hour of the time that Lincoln learned that Virginia had seceded, regiments of Union troops were marching across the long bridge, and by daylight every position of defence desired had been seized by the government. And early that same day regiments were at work with pick and spade throwing spade throwing up fortifications. For, as we know, the great battle-ground of the war was not the North, but the South. Up and down, and back and forth, over and over in different States, but especially in Virginia, the armies marched, and entrenched, and fought for four terrible years.
There never was a more remarkable army than that which answered the call of President Lincoln. Never were twenty millions of people more full of zeal and enthusiasm for the cause for which their soldiers were to fight; and never were soldiers themselves more deeply interested in the cause for which they were to fight. It was no wonder; the spirit of the war was everywhere. In all the cities and towns; not only in public halls and at war meetings; but in all the workshops and factories, in all the homes, yes,