full development of General McDowell
The violence of the firing on the left indicated a battle, but the heavy forces, reported by chosen scouts to be in front of our centre and right, kept me in uncertainty.
At length, near eleven o'clock, reports that those forces were felling trees gave me the impression that they were preparing for defense, not attack; and new clouds of dust showed that a large body of Federal troops was arriving on the field, and about to take part in the action.
These indications convinced me that the great effort was in progress against our left.
This conviction was expressed to General Beauregard
as well as the consequent necessity of strengthening that wing as much and as soon as possible, and my intention to hurry to it. Orders were accordingly dispatched at once to General Holmes
and Colonel Early
to march with their brigades as rapidly as possible to the scene of conflict marked by the firing; and to General Bonham
, to send up two of his regiments and a battery; he, Longstreet
, and D. R. Jones
, were also directed to feel the enemy in their front.
It was now evident that a battle was to be fought entirely different, in place and circumstances, from either of the two plans previously adopted.
Events just related had prevented us from attacking the Federal
army near Centreville
; or, later, engaging it between that place and Bull Run
, according to the second plan, suggested by General Beauregard
Instead of taking the initiative and operating in front of our line, we were now compelled to fight on the defensive, a mile and a half behind that line, and at right angles to it, on a new and unsurveyed field, with no