It could not have come before, as Lee and the rest had foreseen; because an earlier concentration at Bull Run would have drawn the two superior Federal forces together on the selfsame spot. There was still some risk about giving Patterson the slip. True, his three-month special-constable array was semi-mutinous already; and its term of service had only a few more days to run.
Then the stream of men retreating, mixed with clogging masses of panic-struck civilians, became a torrent. Bull Run was only a special-constable affair on a gigantic scale. The losses were comparatively small 3553 killed and wounded on both sides put together: not ten per cent of the less than forty thousand who actually fought. Moreover, the side that won the battle lost the war.