The Confederates had camped at a railroad junction in Virginia, where the railroads running west and those running south met. It was, as you see, important that such a place as that should be kept out of the hands of the Confederates, lest all means of railroad travel for the Unionists be cut off. The railroad leading direct to Richmond, the city which the Confederates had made the capital of their Confederacy, led from this junction. Because of this, the Confederates were carefully guarding this junction.
General Beauregard, the same Confederate who had ordered the attack upon Fort Sumter, was in command here, He was an odd looking little man, with snapping black eyes; and snow white hair. He hated "Yankees" as he hated rats; and used often to say, "We'll whip 'em, boys, if we have nothing but pitchforks to do it with."
The Confederate army was camped by the side of a stream called "Bull Run." With Beauregard was another general of whom you need to know, General Johnston.
General McDowell was coming with the Union army to meet this foe. At nine o'clock one Sunday morning, the armies met, and a terrible battle followed. The Confederates began breaking up and giving way. It seemed as if victory was to be on the Union side. But General Jackson turned the tide—Jackson, the cool-headed, iron-hearted, immovable Confederate General.
"Boys, there stands Jackson cool and firm as a stonewall!" said a soldier, as he saw him in the midst of this fearful slaughter, sitting as quietly upon his horse, giving his orders as coolly, as if he were in the quiet fields of his own plantation.
"Jackson like a stone-wall," flew along the lines, from mouth to mouth, and ever after this grim old general was called "Stonewall Jackson."
At noon time, fresh Confederate forces came up, and the already exhausted Unionists rallied to fight again. Back and forth the lines surged against each other. Guns were taken and retaken over and over. No one could tell which side was winning.
All this time, the Confederate leaders had been watching for new troops which were expected every hour from the Shenandoah valley.
The Shenandoah troops arrived! Woe, woe to the Union lines! the first knowledge they had of their new foe, was the yell that arose from every side, "The enemy are upon us! the enemy are upon us!"
Now followed a terrible fright. The Union soldiers, frightened and confused, dropped guns, knapsacks, everything and fled;—fled like wild animals with no reason and no order.
On, on they ran towards Washington, frightening the villagers as they passed along, calling to them to run for their lives from the foe behind. It was one of the most disgraceful flights ever known in history; and when it became really known what had been done, the North was indeed filled with shame and despair.
Here are two little stories connected with this battle of Bull Run, which although not what some people would call "real history," will help you to remember the battle.
Several dwelling-houses stood within the limits of the place where the fight was hottest, among them the house of Mrs. Judith Henry. Not suspecting that it was to be the scene of a battle, the family remained in the house until it was too late to escape. The noise of the battle came nearer and nearer, and soon cannon-shot began to plow up the ground around the house. Mrs. Henry, who was an invalid, was carried by her son and daughter to a gully, or kind of hollow washed out by running water, and there the three lay in safety until the army had passed by. Thinking themselves safe, the children bore their aged mother to the house again; but the Union troops were driven back, and the fight again raged so hotly around them that it was impossible to leave. The old lady lay there amid all the remaining terrors of the day; the house was riddled with balls, and when the tide of battle had rolled on, she was found so badly wounded that she died soon after.