Union troops plan to attack Manassas tomorrow, according to reports from the frontlines. Forces are now encamped just outside of Fairfax and Centreville, Virginia, about three miles North of Manassas, where all columns have gathered in preparation of tomorrow’s attack. The day was spent planning the attack and gathering reconnaissance information – troops were given the day to rest and prepare before marching on the Confederates.
Thursday’s Battle at Blackburn’s Ford near Manassas, called “the first engagement in eastern Virginia of any importance” by the New York Times, appears to have resulted in a slight victory for the Confederates, although not a decisive one. A sizable group of men, apart from General McDowell’s main force, were traveling on the road a few miles south of Centreville, when they came under fire from hidden positions along the road. A moderately-sized engagement followed, and the Federal forces were forced to retreat, although losses on both sides appear to be relatively minor. This defeat has doubtless played into General McDowell’s decision to hold his troops in Fairfax for a day before advancing upon Manassas.
Reports from last week’s battles at Rich Mountain and Corrick’s Ford continue to pour in, painting a more accurate picture of the events which transpired. The Confederate encampments were considerably better defended than initially realized, requiring a long uphill march through wooded, rocky territory to effect a surprise attack upon a well-guarded fortification high on the Mountain. It was only the element of surprise that allowed Rosecrans’s men to storm the fort that led to the Union rout. Due to their lack of preparation for such an attack, the capture of the upper fortification threw the Confederate troops into disarray, forcing them to flee and surrender after just a few hours of fighting.
Confederate General Robert Garnett was killed in last week’s battle at Corrick’s Ford in western Virginia. Although rumors of his death had been circulating for days, the recent discovery of his body by the Union army was the first confirmation. The Union rout of the Confederates in western Virginia now appears to be even greater than initially believed, having claimed the life of a key Confederate commander in the region. Garnett was 41-years-old at the time of his death.
A number of Congressmen are absent from the capital and have crossed the river to Virginia, where they are observing the troops stationed there in preparation for the attack upon the Confederates near Manassas. They will likely return soon, however, as a journey to the frontlines would be too long and too dangerous. Their presence should be expected at the capital early next week.
Sorely-needed supplies arrived today at Newport News, where forces led by Major Butler have been encamped for months. The men have been badly wanting for supplies, and have had relatively little success with their advances northward towards Yorktown, further up the peninsula. With luck, the arrival of new supplies will improve their fortune, potentially allowing them to put pressure on Richmond from the East. Confederate encampments along the peninsula have been reinforced, however, and their fortifications and batteries appear ready to withstand a potential attack from the South.
In the News:
- The Philadelphia Inquirer has an account of the recent battle at Bull’s Run near Blackburn’s Ford.
- The New York Times provides a report on the advance of Federal troops in Northern Virginia.
- The Columbia Spy covers the movements of General Patterson’s troops near Bunker Hill in Virginia.
- A letter printed in the Richmond Daily Dispatch claims that a number of local soldiers who fought in the battle at Rich Mountain have been taken prisoner and were not killed in battle.
- The Richmond Daily Dispatch notes that the population of Britain contains a sizable excess of women.
- The New York Times speculates that the British will soon ask the United States to remove the blockade on the South so as to replenish its cotton supply, and discusses the impact of the blockade on international politics.
- The Philadelphia Press discusses the implications of the rapid growth of the Union Army.
- The Richmond Daily Dispatch predicts that the North will ultimately be the loser of the coming conflict, stating that “the South cannot be conquered back by bayonets.”
- The Philadelphia Inquirer has published a list of the most egregious actions the Confederates have taken since the beginning of the conflict.
- The Pittsburgh Daily Gazette and Advertiser argues that Southerners have been misled by their political leaders into a war against their own best interests.
- The Quincy Whig Republican supports the expulsion of traitorous senators from the nation’s highest legislative body.