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[539] he fell back hastily to Harper's Ferry;1 where, on the 25th, he was superseded by Gen. N. P. Banks.

The movement of the Union Grand Army, commanded in the field by Gen. Irwin McDowell, but directed from Washington by Lieut. Gen. Scott, commenced on Tuesday, July 16th. Gen. Tyler's column, in the advance, bivouacked that night at Vienna, four and a half miles from Fairfax Court House. It rested next night at Germantown, two miles beyond Fairfax; and, on Thursday, at 9 o'clock A. M., pushed on to and through Centerville, the Rebels retiring quietly before it. Three miles beyond that village, however, the Rebels were found strongly posted at Blackburn's ford, on Bull Run, and, on being pressed, showed fight. This was at 1 1/2 o'clock P. M. A spirited conflict, mainly with artillery, resulted — the Rebels being in heavy force, under the immediate command of Gen. James Longstreet. The Unionists, more exposed, as well as outnumbered, finally drew back, leaving the Rebel position intact. The losses were nearly equal: 83 on our side; 68 on the other. Sherman's battery, Capt. Ayres, did most of the actual fighting, supported by Col. Richardson's brigade, consisting of the 1st Massachusetts, 12th New-York, and 2d and 3d Michigan. Regarded as a reconnoissance in force, the attack might be termed a success; since the result demonstrated that the main Rebel army was in position along the wooded valley of Bull Run, half-way between Centerville and Manassas Junction, and purposed to remain.

Gen. McDowell's army was moved up to and concentrated around the ridge on which Centerville is situated during the 18th and 19th, with intent to advance and attack the Rebels, posted. along Bull Run and between that stream and Manassas Junction, on Saturday, the 20th. But delay was encountered in the reception of adequate subsistence, which did not arrive till Friday night. During Saturday, three days rations were distributed and issued, and every preparation made for moving punctually at 2 o'clock next morning. Meantime, Beauregard, maintaining an absolute quiet and inoffensiveness on his front, and fully informed by spies and traitors of every movement between him and Washington, had hastily gathered from every side all the available forces of the Confederacy, including 15,000, or nearly the

1 On the day of McDowell's advance to Centerville, and of the collision at Blackburn's Ford, Gen. Scott telegraphed complainingly to Patterson as follows:

Washington, July 18th, 1861.
Major-Gen. Patterson, etc.: I have certainly been expecting you to beat the enemy. If not, to hear that you have felt him strongly, or, at least, had occupied him by threats and demonstrations. You have been at least his equal, and, I suppose, superior, in numbers. Has he not stolen a march and sent reenforcements toward Manassas Junction? A week is enough to win a victory. * *

To this, Patterson responded as follows:

Charlestown, July 18th, 1861.
Col. E. D. Townsend, A. A. G., etc.: Telegram of to-day received. The enemy has stolen no march upon me. I have kept him actively employed, and, by threats and reconnoissances in force, caused him to be reinforced. I have accomplished more in this respect than the General-in-Chief asked, or could well be expected, in the face of an enemy far superior in numbers, with no line of communication to protect. * * * *

At this very moment, Patterson knew that he had, by his flank march to Charlestown, completely relieved Johnston from all apprehension of attack or disturbance, and left him perfectly free to reinforce Beauregard with his entire army.

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