LEE'S EARLY LIFE : CHAPTER X
THE WAR BEGINS.
Early in May, Virginia became formally
a member of the Southern Confederacy, and the troops
which she had raised a portion of the Confederate
States Army. When Richmond became the capital
soon afterward, and the Southern Congress assembled,
five brigadier-generals were appointed, Generals Cooper,
Albert S. Johnston, Lee, J.E. Johnston, and Beauregard.
Large forces had been meanwhile raised throughout
the South; Virginia became the centre of all eyes,
as the scene of the main struggle; and early in June
occurred at Bethel, in Lower Virginia, the first prominent
affair, in which General Butler, with about four thousand
men, was repulsed and forced to retire.
The affair at Bethel, which was of
small importance, was followed by movements in Northern
and Western Virginia the battles at Rich
Mountain and Carrick’s Ford; Johnston’s
movements in the Valley; and the advance of the main
Federal army on the force under Beauregard, which
resulted in the first battle of Manassas. In these
events, General Lee bore no part, and we need not
speak of them further than to present a summary of
the results. The Federal design had been to penetrate
Virginia in three columns. One was to advance
from the northwest under General McClellan; a second,
under General Patterson, was to take possession of
the Valley; and a third, under General McDowell, was
to drive Beauregard back from Manassas on Richmond.
Only one of these columns that of McClellan succeeded
in its undertaking. Johnston held Patterson in
check in the Valley until the advance upon Manassas;
then by a flank march the Confederate general hastened
to the assistance of Beauregard. The battle of
Manassas followed on Sunday, the 21st of July.
After an unsuccessful attempt to force the Confederate
right, General McDowell assailed their left, making
for that purpose a long detour and
at first carried all before him. Reenforcements
were hurried forward, however, and the Confederates
fought with the energy of men defending their own soil.
The obstinate stand made by Evans, Bee, Bartow, Jackson,
and their brave associates, turned the fortunes of
the day, and, when reenforcements subsequently reached
the field under General Kirby Smith and General Early,
the Federal troops retreated in great disorder toward