Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/261
Talks With General J. A. Early. 253
<ion's, Ramseur's, and Rode's divisions of infantry. The nth was spent in front of Washington city. Why did not Early go into the city with his troops ? How often since the war have we heard dis- cussions pro and con about the first battle of Manassas, and the following remarks were made: " Why did not Beauregard and John- ston take Washington city when they could have done so with but little resistance ?" I do not remember what Early 's reasons were for not going into Washington on the I2th.
He no doubt had good reasons after consulting with his generals for not doing so. He knew that reinforcements, the Sixth Army Corps, was disembarking from transports on the Potomac, and still they did not reach Early 's line of battle until on the i3th. What was transpiring in Washington city during all of that time ? I shall take the liberty of quoting from an impartial historian, Frank Wilk- inson, who fought on the Union side. He says:
" Washington was in an uproar. In the morning we heard that Early was at a certain point. At night he was reported as being fifty miles from there. To-day his army was alleged to number 30,000 men. On the morrow pale-faced, anxious men, solemnly asserted that certain information had been received at the War De- partment that at least 50,000 veteran soldiers were marching with Early. Late at night, on July gth, I was at Willard's Hotel. An ^excited man walked rapidly in and told the group in which I was talking that our army, under General Lew Wallace, had been disas- trously defeated on the Monocacy by General Early, and that our disordered troops were in full retreat on Baltimore. Later on we we heard that Wallace's army had been annihilated. Still later, that the government's books, records, and money were being packed in boxes preparatory to its flight to New York. Almost every man that I met that night believed that the Confederate guns would be thundering at the capital in less than twenty-four hours.
"The next morning the report of defeat on the Monocacy was confirmed and the excitement in the city grew more and more intense. Men stood in groups on street corners, in hotel lobbies, in newspaper offices, and in drinking saloons and discussed the military situation.
"Officers rode furiously up and down the streets, and swarmed around the War Department. I began to think that maybe Early would make a dash at Washington. So I walked to the War De- partment and reported for duty. I was astonished at the authentic news. War Department officials told me that General Anger, who had command of the troops at Washington, did not have 5,000