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[353] for service than any troops we had. General McDowell reported to me afterward that he had given orders for the movement of his command upon Manassas Junction at two o'clock at night, in accordance with the directions I had sent him, but that General Sigel, who commanded his advance, and was at Gainesville, instead of moving forward from Gainesville at daylight, as he was ordered, was absolutely with his advance in that town as late as half-past 7 o'clock in the morning. Meantime, beginning about three o'clock in the morning of the twenty-eighth, Jackson commenced evacuating Manassas Junction, and his troops were marching from that point in the direction of Centreville until ten or eleven o'clock in the day. If the whole force under McDowell had moved forward as directed, and at the time specified, they would have intercepted Jackson's retreat toward Centreville by eight o'clock in the morning, and I do not believe it would have been possible for Jackson to have crossed Bull Run, so closely engaged with our forces, without heavy loss. (See McDowell's report concerning the delay of General Sigel.)

I reached Manassas Junction with Kearny's division and Reno's corps about twelve o'clock in the day of the twenty-eighth, less than an hour after Jackson in person had retired. I immediately pushed forward Hooker, Kearny, and Reno upon Centreville, and sent orders to Fitz-John Porter to come forward to Manassas Junction. I also wrote to McDowell, and stated the facts so far as we were then able to ascertain them, and directed him to call back the whole of his force that had come in the direction of Manassas Junction, and to move forward upon Centreville. He had, however, without my knowledge, detached Ricketts's division in the direction of Thoroughfare Gap, and that division was no longer available in his movement toward Centreville. Late in the afternoon of the twenty-eighth, Kearny drove the enemy's rear-guard out of Centreville, and occupied that town, with his advance beyond it, about dark. The enemy retreated through Centreville, one portion of his force taking the road by Sudley Springs, and the other pursuing the Warrenton turnpike toward Gainesville, destroying the bridges on that road over Bull Run and Cub RunMcDowell with his whole force, consisting of his own corps, (except Ricketts's division,) Sigel's corps, and the division of Reynolds, marching in the direction of Centreville, encountered the advance of Jackson's force retreating toward Thoroughfare Gap, about six o'clock on the evening of the twenty-eighth. A severe action took place between King's division, of McDowell's corps, and the advance of Jackson, which was terminated by darkness. Each party maintained its ground. Gibbon's brigade, of King's division, which was in the advance of that division, sustained the brunt of the action, but was supported handsomely by Doubleday's brigade, which came into action shortly after. This engagement, and its result, were reported to me, near Centreville, about ten o'clock that night.

I felt sure then, and so stated, that there was no escape for Jackson. I accordingly sent orders to General McDowell, as also to General King, several times during the night of the twentieth, and once by his own staff-officer, to hold his ground at all hazards, and prevent the retreat of Jackson to the west, and that at daylight in the morning our whole force from Centreville and Manassas Junction would be up with the enemy, who must be crushed between us. I also sent orders to General Kearny to push forward at one o'clock that night, cautiously, from Centreville along the Warrenton turnpike, to drive in the pickets of the enemy, and to keep closely in contact with him during the night; to rest his left on the Warrenton turnpike, and throw his right well to the north, if possible across Little River turnpike; at daylight in the morning to assault vigorously with his right advance; and that Hooker and Reno would be up with him very shortly after day-dawn. I sent orders to General Porter, whom I supposed to be at Manassas Junction, where he should have been, in compliance with my orders of the day previous, to move upon Centreville at the earliest dawn, and stated to him the position of the forces, and that a severe battle would undoubtedly be fought during the morning of the twenty-ninth. The only apprehension I had at that time was that Jackson might attempt to retreat to the north in the direction of Leesburgh, and for the purpose of preventing this, I directed Kearny to keep closely in contact with him during the whole of the night of the twenty-eighth. My force was so disposed that McDowell, Sigel, and Reynolds, whose joint forces amounted to about twenty-five thousand men, were immediately west of Jackson, and between him and Thoroughfare Gap, while Kearny, Hooker, Reno, and Porter, about twenty-five thousand strong, were to fall on the enemy from the east at daylight in the morning, or very shortly after. With this disposition of troops we were so far in advance of Longstreet, that by using our whole force vigorously, we should be able to crush Jackson before Longstreet could by any possibility reach the scene of action.

To my great disappointment, however, I learned, toward daylight, on the morning of the twenty-ninth, that King's division had fallen back in the direction of Manassas Junction, thus leaving open the road to Thoroughfare Gap, and making new movements and dispositions of troops immediately necessary.

I submit herewith the reports of Generals King, Gibbon, and Doubleday, of the action of the evening of the twenty-eighth, as also a detailed report of General McDowell. The orders directing all these movements are also appended, and they bring the operations of the army up to the twenty-ninth of August. The losses in King's division, in the action of the evening of the twenty-eighth, were principally in Gibbon's brigade of that division, and numbered----.

Gibbon's brigade consisted of some of the best troops in the service, and the conduct of both

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Irwin McDowell (18)
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