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[352] Heintzelman's corps, to move rapidly on Greenwich, so as to reach there that night, to communicate at once with General McDowell, and to support him in any operations against the enemy in the vicinity of Gainesville. I moved forward along the railroad toward Manassas Junction with Hooker's division of Heintzelman's corps, leaving orders for Gen. Porter to remain with his corps at Warrenton Junction until relieved by General Banks, who was marching to that place from Fayetteville, and as soon as he was relieved to push forward also in the direction of Gainesville, where, at that time, I expected that the main collision with the enemy would occur.

The army trains of all the corps I instructed to take the road to Warrenton Junction, and follow in the rear of Hooker's division toward Manassas Junction, so that the road pursued by the trains was entirely covered from any possible interruption by the enemy. On the afternoon of the twenty-seventh a severe engagement occurred between Hooker's division and Ewell's division of Jackson's forces. The action commenced about four miles west of Bristow station. Ewell was driven back along the railroad, but still confronted Hooker at dark along the banks of Broad Run, immediately in front of Bristow station, at which point I arrived at sunset. The loss in this engagement was about three hundred killed and wounded on each side, the enemy leaving his dead, many of his wounded, and much of his baggage on the field of battle.

The railroad had been torn up and the bridges burned in several places between Bristow station and Warrenton Junction. I accordingly directed Major-Gen. Banks to cover the railroad trains at Warrenton Junction until General Porter's corps had marched from that place, and then to run back the trains as far as practicable, and, covering them with his troops, to repair the bridges as fast as possible. I also directed Capt. Merrill, of the engineers, with a considerable force, to repair the railroad track and bridges as far as possible in the direction of Bristow station. The road was accordingly put in order from Warrenton Junction to Kettle Run, during the twenty-seventh, and the trains ran back to that point early next day. At dark on the twenty-seventh, Gen. Hooker reported to me that his ammunition was nearly exhausted, and that he had but five rounds to a man left. I had by that time become convinced that the whole force under Jackson, consisting of his own, A. P. Hill's and Ewell's divisions, was south of the turnpike, and in the immediate neighborhood of Manassas Junction. McDowell reached his position during the night of the twenty-seventh, as did also Kearny and Reno, and it was clear on that night that he had interposed completely between Jackson and the main body of the enemy, which was still west of the Bull Run range, and in the neighborhood of White Plains. Thinking it altogether likely that Jackson would mass his whole force and attempt to turn our right at Bristow station, and knowing that Hooker, for want of ammunition, was in little condition to make long resistance, I sent back orders to Gen. Porter, about dark of the twenty-seventh, to move forward at one o'clock in the night, and report to me at Bristow by daylight in the morning, leaving instructions in some detail for Banks, who was expected at Warrenton Junction during that night or early in the morning. The orders for all these movements are herewith appended. General Porter failed utterly to obey the orders that were sent him; giving as an excuse that his men were tired, that they would straggle in the night, and that a wagon-train, proceeding eastward, in the rear of Hooker's division, would offer obstructions to his march. He, however, made no attempt whatever to comply with this order, although it was stated to him in the order itself that his presence was necessary on all accounts at daylight, and that the officer delivering the despatch was instructed to conduct him to the field.

There were but two courses left open to Jackson in consequence of this sudden and unexpected movement of the army. He could not retrace his steps through Gainesville, as it was occupied by McDowell, having at command a force equal, if not superior to his own. He was either obliged therefore to retreat through Centreville, which would carry him still further from the main body of Lee's army or to mass his force, assault us at Bristow station and turn our right. He pursued the former course, and retired through Centreville. This mistake of Jackson's alone saved us from the serious consequences which would have followed this disobedience of orders on the part of General Porter.

At nine o'clock on the night of the twenty-seventh, satisfied of Jackson's position, I sent orders to General McDowell to push forward at the very earliest dawn of day, toward Manassas Junction from Gainesville, resting his right on the Manassas Gap Railroad and throwing his left well to the east. I directed Gen. Reno to march at the same hour from Greenwich, direct upon Manassas Junction, and Kearny to march at the same hour upon Bristow. This latter order was sent to Kearny to render my right at Bristow perfectly secure against the probable movement of Jackson in that direction. Kearny arrived at Bristow about eight o'clock in the morning, Reno being on the left, and marching direct upon Manassas Junction. I immediately pushed Kearny forward in pursuit of Ewell, toward Manassas, followed by Hooker. General Porter's corps did not arrive at Bristow until half-past 10 o'clock in the morning; and the moment he found that Jackson had evacuated Manassas Junction, he requested permission to halt at Bristow and rest his men. Sykes's division, of Porter's corps, had spent the whole day of the twenty-seventh, from ten o'clock in the morning until daylight of the twenty-eighth, in camp at Warrenton Junction.

Morrell's division of the same corps had arrived at Warrenton Junction during the day of the twenty-seventh, and also remained there during the whole of that night. Porter's corps was by far the freshest in the whole army, and should have been, and, I believe, was in better condition

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Fitz-John Porter (16)
Joseph Hooker (16)
T. J. Jackson (12)
P. Kearny (10)
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Ewell (8)
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