How The South Could Have Won the Civil War: The Fatal Errors That Led to Confederate Defeat Click here to purchase from Barnes & Noble. Click here to purchase from

Failure at the Battle of Manassas in 1861

Excerpt from How The South Could Have Won the Civil War, by Bevin Alexander,
pages 28–29

The South had been given [by its victory at Manassas on July 21, 1861] the chance to end the war with a single additional blow. All that was needed was the resolve—and, above all, the leadership—to bring it off. Every unit best situated to cut the line of retreat should have been put in motion at once, and the senior generals themselves should have taken personal command to inspire and urge pursuit...

Two hours of daylight remained, and that night the moon was nearly full. The Confederates could have pursued the enemy all through the night. But none of the senior leaders thought of consolidating the victory and winning the war—not Davis, not Beauregard, not Johnston. They spent the last hours of daylight touring the battlefield...

General Johnston later excused his failure to capture Washington and end the war. “Our army,” he said, “was more disorganized by victory than that of the United States by defeat.” Indeed, some troops were disorganized and undisciplined, but this was hardly an adequate justification for his gross failure of command in not attempting to reap the fruits of victory. Large segments of his army were not disorganized, and they could have moved with speed.

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