orders, by daybreak, to every command in the lines, to be ready to move at a moment's notice.
At a very early hour in the morning of the 21st, Hunter
's and Heintzelman
's divisions of McDowell
's army, over sixteen thousand strong, moved forward from Centreville
by the Warrenton turnpike
Striking off to the right, about half-way between Centreville
and the stone bridge, they made a circuit through a difficult forest, guided by the trace of an old road, to the Sudley Springs Ford
, two miles above the stone bridge, with the design of flanking the Confederate
left and taking possession of the Manassas Gap Railroad, so as to cut off the advent of General Johnston
, most of whose troops, it was known, had not yet arrived.
moved his division down the Warrenton turnpike
against the stone bridge, held by the Confederate
extreme left, under Colonel Evans
, in front of whom he immediately deployed a portion of his force.
About 5.30 A. M., report of this latter demonstration reached General Beauregard
, who thereupon immediately ordered Colonel Evans
, and, with him, General Cocke
, to watch most vigilantly the movements of the forces confronting them, and, if attacked, to maintain their position at all hazards.
The surest and most effective method of relieving our left, General Beauregard
thought, was by a rapid, vigorous attack of our right wing and centre on the enemy's flank and rear, at Centreville
, all due precautions being first taken against the advance of any reserves from the direction of Washington
This proposed movement he submitted to General Johnston
, who fully approved of it, and orders were forthwith issued for its execution.
was to lead the movement, followed by Jones
, and Bonham
, with their respective reserves.
to be held in hand and brought forward whenever their assistance might be deemed necessary.
The enemy's extended line of skirmishers was now visible in front of Evans
, who threw forward the two flank companies of the 4th South Carolina, and one company of Wheat
's Louisiana battalion, which were deployed as skirmishers to cover his front.
An occasional scattering fire resulted, and for more than an hour did the two confronting forces thus face one another; the main body of the enemy, meanwhile, cautiously advancing through the forest, to take our forces in flank and rear.