Every one seemed instinctively to realize that we were making a race with the Confederates
How did we know?
No one could tell.
How did we know time and again our destination, when suddenly set in motion forward, or hurried back to retraverse some route?
And how was it that nine times in ten the conjectures or predictions of the rank and file, as to the result of a movement, would be verified or fulfilled?
It was an exciting race; for a good stretch of the way, past Brandy Station
, we sped, sometimes at a trot, always at quickstep.
It must have been past noon when our division, in the rear of the long, broad phalanx, neared Rappahannock Station, by Rappahannock Ford.
As we bowled over the plain to the bank, we came up with and broadened a large mass of troops waiting their turn to cross the pontoon; the river was not fordable at this time.
Away over the sea of plain north of the river stretched the army toward Bealton, and beyond as far as an object was visible.
When at length, after a long wait, we had gained the north bank, and were in the wake of the procession which was unmistakably moving on Manassas
, the booming of cannon was heard in the northwest as at Warrenton
The head of our column must be at Warrenton Junction, nine miles to the southeast or beyond.
It must be that Union cavalry and horse artillery have met similar Confederate troops up in Fauquier
, these bodies being between their respective columns, with a broad interval on either hand.
The rival columns appeared to have made equally good time.
Now the Federal
commander availed himself of a clever piece of strategy.
Our division became the head of the column; we were soon on the south side of the river and were rapidly marching toward Brandy Station
, as though bent upon placing ourselves in Lee
Now it was the turn of the Confederate
column to countermarch, and back it turned, making progress toward Culpepper
Now the pace of our column is slackened perceptibly, and perhaps twenty minutes of slow movement succeeded, when we are marched right about, and at double-quick regain the river and recross; and the whole Federal army is on the wing over the plain and along the line of the great Midland
track, having gained considerable advantage in respect to a start northward, although we have the outside track.