From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
What came to be called First Bull Run took place on July 19, a balmy Sunday in 1861, and, hard though it may be for us at this vantage to imagine, all of Washington took picnic baskets with them in their carriages to watch the Rebels get whipped. [The assumption, North and South, was that this was going to be a quick and easy war, each side asserting that the other was no match for them!] Unfortunately, after what looked like a quick Northern victory, it was the Yankees who got whipped. At the end of the day the roads back to Washington were clogged with an odd but profoundly sobering assortment of panicky congressmen, women in their summer finery, members of the diplomatic corps and soldiers flinging their equipment to the four winds – all in headlong flight from what looked very much like abject defeat. Confident Northern boasts were destined to disappear like snow in spring. A world of tranquil certitudes was over, perhaps never to return.
‘Wisdom comes by disillusionment.’
- George Santayana