Paul Craig Roberts | June 12 2012
I have always been intrigued by the Battle of Bull Run, the opening battle of the US Civil War, known to southerners as the War of Northern Aggression. Extreme hubris characterized both sides, the North before the battle and the South afterwards.
Republican politicians and their ladies in their finery road out to Manassas, the Virginia town through which the stream, Bull Run, flowed, in carriages to watch the Union Army end the “Southern Rebellion” in one fell swoop. What they witnessed instead was the Union Army fleeing back to Washington with its tail between its legs. The flight of the northern troops promoted some southern wags to name the battle, the Battle of Yankee Run.
The outcome of the battle, left the South infected with the hubris that had so abruptly departed the North. The southerners concluded that they had nothing to fear from cowards who ran away from a fight. “We have nothing to worry about from them,” decided the South. It was precisely at this point that hubris defeated the South.
Historians report that the flight back to Washington left the Union Army and the US capital in a state of disorganization for three weeks, during which time even a small army could have taken the capital. Historians inclined not to see the battle as a victory for the South claim that the southerners were exhausted by the effort it took to put the yankees to flight and simply hadn’t the energy to pursue them, take Washington, hang the traitor Lincoln and all the Republicans, and end the war.
Exhausted troops or not, if Napoleon had been the southern general, the still organized southern army would have been in Washington as fast as the disorganized Union. Possibly the southerners would have engaged in ethnic cleansing by enslaving the yankees and selling them to Africans, thus ejecting from the country the greed-driven northern imperialists who, in the southern view, did not know how to behave either in private or in public.