Bull Run: Its Strategy and Tactics – Robert Matteson Johnston

This description of the campaign of first Bull Run was written about the turn of the century by a professional soldier. In one way, this is excellent as this makes him a credible witness about what could or could not be done at the time. In another, you have to remember he has his own axe to grind.

So when he opines that if there had been a large regular army, the rebellion would have been crushed, you have to remember that a large regular army was what all these officers wanted to build their careers. In reality, this was out of the question. In addition, if the South had dominated the regular army like they did the officer corps, the army might have fought on the wrong side!

In a similar vein, when he mentions that the ‘deserting’ units that went home just before the battle because their three-month terms of enlistment had expired should have been shot, you need to realize that such an act would have been out of the question at the time, or at any other time for that matter.

Aside from this, it’s a pretty good review, and even-handed. Joe Johnston comes out looking the most professional. McDowell gets somewhat mixed to negative reviews. Patterson and Beauregard get panned.


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