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[355] and penetrating to the third before it could be checked. By this time Gen. McDowell had arrived on the field, and I pushed his corps immediately to the front, along the Warrenton turnpike, with orders to fall upon the enemy, who was retreating toward the pike from the direction of Sudley Springs. The attack along the turnpike was made by King's division at about sunset in the evening; but by that time the advance of the main body of the enemy, under Longstreet, had begun to reach the field, and King's division encountered a stubborn and determined resistance at a point about three fourths of a mile in front of our line of battle.

While this attack was going on, the forces under Heintzelman and Reno continued to push back the left of the enemy in the direction of Warrenton turnpike, so that about eight o'clock in the evening the greater portion of the field of battle was occupied by our army. Nothing was heard of Gen. Porter up to that time, and his force took no part whatever in the action, but were suffered by him to lie idle on their arms, within sight and sound of the battle during the whole day. So far as I know, he made no effort whatever to comply with my orders or to take any part in the action. I do not hesitate to say that if he had discharged his duty as became a soldier under the circumstances, and had made a vigorous attack on the enemy, as he was expected and directed to do, at any time up to eight o'clock that night, we should have utterly crushed or captured the larger portion of Jackson's force before he could have been by any possibility sufficiently reinforced to have made an effective resistance. I did not myself feel for a moment that it was necessary for me, having given Gen. Porter an order to march toward the enemy, in a particular direction, to send him in addition specific orders to attack, it being his clear duty, and in accordance with every military precept, to have brought his forces into action wherever he encountered the enemy, when a furious battle with that enemy was raging during the whole day in his immediate presence. I believe, in fact I am positive, that at five o'clock on the afternoon of the twenty-ninth, Gen. Porter had in his front no considerable body of the enemy. I believed then, as I am very sure now, that it was easily practicable for him to have turned the right flank of Jackson, and to have fallen upon his rear; that if he had done so, we should have gained a decisive victory over the army under Jackson before he could have been joined by any of the forces of Longstreet, and that the army of Gen. Lee would have been so crippled and checked by the destruction of this large force as to have been no longer in condition to prosecute further operations of an aggressive character.

Our losses during the twenty-ninth were very heavy, but no separate returns of killed and wounded for that day have been made to me. I believe, from all I could learn from corps commanders, and so reported, that our loss during that day was not less than six or eight thousand killed and wounded, and I think this estimate will be confirmed by the general reports, which cover the losses during the battles of the twenty-seventh, twenty-eighth, twenty-ninth and thirtieth August, and the first of September. My estimate of the loss of the enemy, reported to the Department on the morning of the thirtieth, was based upon the statements made to me by Gens. Hooker and Kearny, who had been over the whole field on the left. Gen. Hooker estimated the loss of the enemy as at least two to one, and Gen. Kearney as at least three to one of our own.

Every indication, during the night of the twenty-ninth and up to ten o'clock on the morning of the thirtieth, pointed to the retreat of the enemy from our front. Paroled prisoners of our own, taken on the evening of the twenty-ninth, and who came into our lines on the morning of the thirtieth, reported the enemy retreating during the whole night in the direction of and along the Warrenton turnpike. Generals McDowell and Heintzelman, who reconnoitred the positions held by the enemy's left on the evening of the twenty-ninth, confirmed this statement. They reported to me that the positions occupied by the enemy's left had been evacuated, and that there was every indication that he was retreating in the direction of Gainesville.

On the morning of the thirtieth, as may be supposed, our troops, who had been so continually marching and fighting for so many days, were in a state of great exhaustion. They had had little to eat for two days previous, and artillery and cavalry horses had been in harness and saddled continuously for ten days, and had had no forage for two days previous. It may easily be imagined how little these troops, after such severe labors, and after undergoing such hardship and privation, were in condition for active and efficient service. I had telegraphed to the General-in-Chief on the twenty-eighth our condition, and had begged of him to have rations and forage sent forward to us from Alexandria with all despatch. I informed him of the imminent need of cavalry-horses to enable the cavalry belonging to the army to perform any service whatever. About daylight of the thirtieth, I received a note from Gen. Franklin--herewith appended — written by direction of Gen. McClellan, and dated at eight o'clock P. M. on the twenty-ninth, informing me that rations and forage would be loaded into the available wagons and cars at Alexandria, as soon as I would send back a cavalry escort to bring out the trains. Such a letter, when we were fighting the enemy, and Alexandria was swarming with troops, needs no comment. Bad as was the condition of our cavalry, I was in no situation to spare troops from the front, nor could they have gone to Alexandria and returned within the time by which we must have had provisions or have fallen back in the direction of Washington. Nor do I yet see what service cavalry could have rendered in guarding railroad trains. It was not until I received this letter that I began to feel discouraged and nearly hopeless of any successful issue to the operations with which I was charged;

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