From The Constitution, Wednesday, July 24, 1861 (volume 24, number 1230)



They Retreat on Washington !

Washington, July 22

After the latest information was read from Centerville, at 7:30 last night, a series of events took place in the intensest degree disastrous. Many confused statements are prevalent that we have suffered in a degree which has cast a gloom over the remnant of the army, and excited the deepest melancholy throughout Washington.

The carnage was tremendously heavy on both sides, and on ours represented as frightful.

We were advancing and taking their masked batteries gradually but surely, and driving the enemy towards Manassas Junction, when the enemy seemed to have been reinforced by Gen. Johnston, who it is understood took command, and immediately commenced driving us back, when a panic among our troops suddenly occurred and a regular stampede took place.

It is thought that Gen. McDowell undertook to make a stand at or about Centreville, but the panic was so fearful, that the whole army became demoralized, and it was impossible to check them, either at Centerville or at Fairfax Court House. Gen. McDowell intended to make another stand at Fairfax Court House, but our forces being in full retreat, he could not accomplish his object.

Beyond Fairfax Court House the retreat was kept up until the men reached their regular encampments, a portion of whom returned to them, but a still larger number coming inside the entrenchments. A large number of the troops on the retreat fell by the way side from exhaustion and are scattered along the entire route, all the way from Fairfax.

The road from Bull’s Run to Centreville was strewed with knapsacks, arms, &c. Some of our troops deliberately threw away their guns and appendages, the better to facilitate their travel.

General McDowell was in the rear at the retreat, exerting himself to rally the men, but with only partial effect. The latter part of the army it is said made their retreat in good order. Gen. McDowell was completed exhausted, having slept but little for three nights. His orders on the field did not at all times reach those for whom they were intended.

It is supposed that the force sent against our troops consisted, according to a prisoner’s statement, of about 30,000, including a large number of cavalry. He further says that after receiving reinforcements from Richmond, Strasbergh, and other points, the enemy’s effective force was 90,000 men. According to the statement of two Fire Zouaves they only have about 200 men left from the slaughter ; while the 69th and other regiments frightfully suffered in killed and wounded. The number cannot now be known.

Sherman’s, Carlisles, Griffins and the West Point batteries were taken by the enemy, and the eight 32 pound rifle cannon, the latter being too cumbrous to remove. There were two miles on the other side of Centreville. Such of the wounded as were brought to the Centreville hospital were left there, after having their wounds dressed by surgeon T. H. Hamilton.

A gentleman who accompanied the 8th New York regiment states that the Federal troops went on the battle-field after a fatiguing march of nine hours. The enemy’s batteries and infantry were all concealed, which made it exceedingly difficult for our men to see them, and consequently they could not direct their fire with as telling effect as if they had been in an open field.

McDowell also reported that 40,000 of our troops had been sent back towards Fairfax from the other side of the river.

It was a remnant of the Zouaves who were attacked by the Black Horse Cavalry and repulsed them, leaving but six to return. This gallant regiment now numbers but two hundred. Probably the number of killed and wounded is greatly magnified from the large number of missing.

We learn that Mr. English, member of Congress, telegraphs to the New Haven Register that the Connecticut troops have arrived at Arlington with but little loss.

The Rhode Island battery was taken by the rebels at the Bridge across Bull Run, where their retreat was cut off and their horses all killed.

The following regiments were engaged in the fight : — The 1st, 2d and 3d Connecticut, the 2d Maine, one regiment of regulars composed of the 2d, 3d, and the 8th companies and 250 marines, the 8th and 14th New York militia, the 1st, 2d and 71st New York, the 2d New Hampshire, 5th Massachusetts, 1st Minnesota, 1st Michigan, 11th and 38th New York, 2d, 4th and 5th Maine, and 2d Vermont, besides the several batteries.