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[624] was not less than 1,000 men; of whom nearly 300 were killed outright, and more than 500, including the wounded, taken prisoners.1

Meantime, Gen. Stone had directed Gen. Gorman to throw across the river at Edwards's Ferry a small force, which made a cautious reconnoissance for about three miles on the road to Leesburg, when, coming suddenly upon a Mississippi regiment, it exchanged volleys and returned. Gen. Gorman's entire brigade was thrown over at this point during the day; but, as it did not advance, its mere presence on the Virginia side of the Potomac, so far from the scene of actual combat, subserved no purpose. After the disaster was complete, Gen. Stone, about 10 P. M., arrived on the ground from which our ill-starred advance was made; as did Gen. Banks at 3 next morning, and Gen. McClellan on the evening of that day. But it was now too late. No relief was sent while relief could have availed. Even McCall retired from Dranesville southward on the day of the fatal fight.

Col. Baker has been widely blamed for rashness in this conflict, and even for disregard of orders — it would seem most unjustly. The following orders, found in his hat after his death, deeply stained with his life-blood, are all the foundation for this charge:

Edwards's Ferry, Oct. 21st, 1861.
Col. E. D. Baker, Commander of brigade:
Colonel: In case of heavy firing in front of Harrison's Island, you will advance the California regiment of your brigade, or retire the regiments under Cols. Lee and Devens, now on the [almost rendered illegible with blood] Virginia side of the river, at your discretion — assuming command on arrival.

Very respectfully, Colonel, your most obedient servant,

Charles P. Stone, Brig.-General Commanding.

The second order was received on the battle-field, by the hand of Col. Cogswell, an hour before the death of Col. Baker, who had put it in his hat without reading it. It is as follows:

Headquarters Corps of observation, Edwards's Ferry, Oct. 22d, 11.50.
E. D. Baker, Commanding brigade:
Colonel: I am informed that the force of the enemy is about 4,000, all told. If you can push them, you may do so as far as to have a strong position near Leesburg, if you can keep them before you, avoiding their batteries. If they pass Leesburg and take the Gum Spring road, you will not follow far, but seize the first good position to cover that road.

Their desire is to draw us on, if they are obliged to retreat, as far as Goose Creek, where they can be reenforced from Manassas, and have a strong position.

Report frequently, so that, when they are pushed, Gorman can come up on their flank. Yours, respectfully and truly,

Charles P. Stone, Brig.-General Commanding.

How Stone expected Baker to “push” 4,000 men with 1,900, in an advanced and unsupported position, where the 4,000 might at any moment be increased to 10,000 or to 20,000, is not obvious. And why was not Gorman sent forward to come up on their flank, at any rate; without waiting for 1,900 men to “push” 4,000 beyond Leesburg to a good point for covering that place?

As to Col. Baker's reading or not reading this dispatch, it must be considered that he was at that moment engaged with a superior force, and

1 Gen. Evans, in his report, claims 710 prisoners, including wounded, and guesses that we had “1,300 killed, wounded, and drowned.” He thus makes our loss exceed by over 100 all our force engaged in the battle! He reports his own loss at 155 only, including Col. E. R. Burt, 18th Mississippi, killed. Gen. Evans says he had no cannon in the fight — which is true; for his artillery was where it could serve him best — by blocking the road from Edwards's Ferry.

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