full strength, of Gen. Johnston
's Army of the. Shenandoah, and had decided to assume the offensive and attack our forces before Gen. Patterson
could come up to join them.
Had our advance been made on Saturday, as we originally intended, it would have encountered but two-thirds of the force it actually combated;
had it been delayed a few hours longer, we should have stood on the defensive, with the immense advantage of knowing the ground, and of choosing the positions whereon to fight.
Such are the overruling casualties and fatalities of war.
is a decent mill-stream, fordable, in summer, at intervals of half a mile to a mile.
Its immediate valley is generally narrow and wooded, inclosed by bluffs, neither high nor very steep, but affording good positions for planting batteries to command the roads on the opposite side, so screened by woods and brush as to be neither seen nor suspected until the advancing or attacking party is close upon them.
This fact explains and justifies Gen. McDowell
's (or Scott
's) order of battle.
This was, briefly: to menace the Rebel
right by the advance of our 1st division on the direct road from Centreville
to Manassas Junction
, while making a more serious demonstration on the road running due west from Centerville