Had Davis been aware of the utter demoralization of our soldiers by panic, he would doubtless have had them pursued, not only toward Centerville, but, if possible, into and beyond it; and he would not have needed so grossly to understate the strength of his army in order to magnify his victory. Before 3 P. M., there had been fitful cannonading and skirmishing, but no serious engagement, on our left.1 But, when our defeat on the right became manifest, Gen. Johnston2 again ordered Ewell to advance and attack; which he did, but was received by the 2d brigade, Col. T. A. Davis, with so rapid and spirited a fire of grape and canister that he precipitately retreated. There were still more than three hours of good daylight when the Rebels saw our routed right rushing madly from the field3 like frightened sheep, yet their pursuit amounted to nothing. They came across Bull Run, preceded by their cavalry, and seem to have taken a deliberate, though rather distant, survey of the 5th division, drawn up in good order along the slope west of Centerville, and eagerly expecting their advance. But they appear to have been aware that their victory was a lucky accident, and they did not choose to submit its prestige to the chances of another fray. Having gratified their thirst for knowledge, considerably out of musket-shot, they returned to their previous hiding-places in the woods skirting Bull
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1 Beauregard says, in his official report, that he sent orders to Gen. Ewell, holding his extreme right at the Union Mills ford, next south of Blackburn's (on Bull Run), to advance and attack; and that they did advance a mile toward Centerville on the Union Mills road, but retreated again “under a sharp fire of artillery, in consequence of the miscarriage of orders.”
2 Gen. Johnston, who had joined Beauregard, at Winchester on the 20th, was the ranking officer, and entitled to command: but, after listening to Beauregard's plans, promptly acceded to them, and directed him to carry them into execution. As Davis himself finally arrived on the field, the Rebel army may be said to have had three commanders-in-chief during the course of the battle.
3 A correspondent of The New York Tribune, who witnessed and described the battle and the flight, says:
Notwithstanding all that I had seen, it seemed incredible that our whole army should melt away in a night; and so I remained at Centerville, trusting that, by the morning, a sort of reorganization would have taken place, and that our front would still oppose the enemy. At 7 A. M., I started toward the battle-field; and, on reaching a considerable acclivity, was amazed to find that no vestige of our troops remained, excepting a score or two of straggling fugitives, who followed the tracks of those who had gone before. While returning to Centerville, a group of Rebel cavalry passed, who looked inquiringly, but did not question. Their conversation turned upon the chances of cutting off the retreat at Fairfax Court House. After seeking Mr. Waud, an artist from New York, who also lingered, I went straight to Fairfax. As we passed the church used as a hospital, the doctors came out, and, finding what was the condition of affairs, walked rapidly away. I do not wish to say that they deserted the wounded. They may have returned, for aught I know.
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