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The First Battles: April 1861 to February 1862

Bull Run

Why did the Confederates not pursue?

President Jefferson Davis was, by nature and inclination, a military rather than political person. Davis arrived at the battlefield at 4 or 5 P.M., just as the tide turned in his favor. Exultant and exuberant, Davis sent a telegraph to Richmond, announcing a great victory (in his haste, he declared that 15,000 Confederates had beaten three times that number of Yankees). But even Davis, who often let enthusiasm get the better of him, had no thought of pursuing the enemy or of attacking Washington, D.C.

Even now, flushed with victory, the Confederates did not have the means to invade the North. Had they attempted to capture Washington, they might well have been cut up by the federal gunboats as well as artillery on the ground. And even if they had captured Washington, it is unlikely that the Confederates could have kept it. Now, as so often during the war, a limited system of supply and reinforcement dogged the Confederate cause.



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