- Apr 20, 2013
- East Texas
https://www.civilwar.org/learn/articles/spectators-witness-history-manassasAmong the notables in this crowd were senators Ben Wade of Ohio, Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, Jim Lane of Kansas, Lafayette Foster of Connecticut, congressmen Alfred Ely of New York and Elihu Washburne of Illinois, as well as soon-to-be-legendary photographer Mathew Brady....
Congressman Ely who strayed too close to Bull Run and became a prisoner of the 8th South Carolina Infantry. Alone among all the politicians clamoring, “On to Richmond!,” Ely was successful; he spent the next five months residing at Libby Prison.
It seems the author is quibbling over irrelevant distinctions She agrees that "civilians did go out to watch it" and reports that "onlookers did bring food and even picnic baskets to watch the battle." She agrees politicians were present. including "dozens of members of Congress". And she quotes US Army Captain John Tidball as writng that he saw a “throng of sightseers” near his position. Tidball later described a crowd of men (and a few enterprising saleswomen who brought “pies and other edibles” to sell) eager to watch the battle. “It was Sunday and everybody seemed to have taken a general holiday; that is all the male population,”View attachment 150067
The author agrees with that description, but disagrees with calling it the "picnic battle".Everything I have read concerning the First Bull Run battle seems to point to the picnic story. Knowing the mindset at that time I could see it happening. The nearness of Washington to Centerville, the attitude of the well to do and politicians that the Union Army was a professional one and the Confederate Army was not as professional. this all point to not only bad thinking, but it also allowed dangerous and stupid ideas to become manifest. Hence lets picnic and watch the war end. You can also read of the retreat being a mess because of all of the buggies and wreckage of war clogging the retreat route f.
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