By Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com
July 21, 2011 in Manassas, Virginia
Today, July 21, 2011, marked the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run, the first major engagement of the Civil War.
The clash of the Union and Confederate armies at Manassas, Virginia - just three miles from my office - is often studied by military historians, tacticians, and strategists, but rarely studied by students of politics.
Let me suggest that the Battle of Bull Run has many lessons for the student of politics, and that it is especially pertinent to today’s political battle over spending, the debt, and deficits.
July 21, 1861 began as a picnic for the Washington establishment who rode out in their carriages to watch the glittering Union army achieve a victory that was in their minds a foregone conclusion.
As the battle began, and the Union cannon balls crashed into the McLean house and the Confederates were soon retreating toward Henry House Hill, it looked like the conventional wisdom was right.
But a small group of Confederates led by a Virginia Military Institute professor named Thomas J. Jackson changed the course of the battle.
As the Union force began to drive the Confederates into a retreat, Brig. Gen. Barnard Bee cried out to Jackson, "The Enemy are driving us," to which Jackson replied, “Then, Sir, we will give them the bayonet."
Jackson’s Virginians stood fast, and Bee exhorted his own troops to re-form by shouting, "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians."
The Confederates turned a potential rout into a victory and the name and legend of one of the South’s most storied generals, Stonewall Jackson, was born 150 years ago today.
There were many heroes on both sides at First Bull Run, but the key lesson for the student of politics comes from the choices the commanders made at the critical moment when the battle hung in the balance; to allow superior forces to waver and retreat or to “give them the bayonet” even if the odds look long.
As the debt ceiling debate moves toward the August 2 deadline, Tea Party and conservative activists are locked in a battle with the political establishment that is every bit as historic as the Civil War, and I’ve never been more proud and pleased at how the leaders of the conservative movement have come together in principled opposition to the big-government Washington Establishment – Democratic and Republican.
Truly, in the history of the conservative movement, this is your finest hour. Seldom have conservative leaders gotten out front as you have, pressuring and forcing Republican leaders to take a principled, conservative position on cut, cap, and balance and not taking “no” for an answer.
I’m proud of each and every one of you for your work, sacrifice, and leadership. We hold the future of this great country in our hands. Let us continue to take our inspiration from the heroes of Bull Run and not waver and retreat when victory is within our grasp.