Extract from the Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson Coolidge
July 22. We went on board the old frigate “Constitution.” About ten feet are said to remain of the original vessel which took the “Guerrière” in the War of 1812. Whilst on board we were alarmed at the report of the complete overthrow of McDowell’s army at Bull Run near Manassas Gap. The fight began on the twenty-first. The rebels, commanded by Beauregard and General Lee and strengthened by Johnston’s command of twenty thousand men, outnumbered and outgeneralled the Federal troops. Our army gave way at night and the large part of them ran in the most terrible confusion even as far as Washington, over twenty miles, spreading panic in the city and all over the Union. The road through Centreville and Fairfax Court House to Alexandria was strewn with knapsacks, guns, baggage wagons, etc. Fortunately the enemy did not pursue. We do not appear to have lost over one thousand men, which leads to the supposition that the enemy was also badly disorganized. McClellan had been called upon to take command.