withdraw his army, however, was so abrupt as to be impracticable without giving the movement the appearance of flight, and involving the loss of valuable property; it was not executed, therefore, until the 18th or 19th.
Inwithdrawing from Mason
's and Munson's Hills, the Confederates
took their last view of the Federal
capital, and bade farewell to a post where soldierly enjoyment, under the exhilaration of successful daring, had been at its highest during days still pleasantly remembered as the festive period of the army life.
The positions we abandoned were excellent points of observation, from which the tents of General McClellan
's army might be counted; and the fact of our being so near the enemy confused him as to our plan of operations, for our position seemed to promise offensive measures on our part, and denoted both confidence and strength.
Under a bolder direction, the two hills would have been fortified and made central strategic and tactical points.
They were scarcely more than seven miles, in an air line, from Washington
, whence the Confederate
flag was clearly visible, and acted as a red capa
on the impetuous and imprudent politicians, provoking them to insist upon a premature attack.
Had the two hills been fortified and supplied with artillery, and the adjacent ground arranged for a pitched battle, into which the enemy might have been drawn in an attempt to seize them, the result to General McClellan
might have been made destructive, as, on his side, the ground was very bad, and unfavorable to the movements of troops.1
Such an attack was intended by him about the time the positions were abandoned.
The Confederate forces now took up a line of triangular shape, with Centreville
as the salient, one side running to Union Mills
and the other to the stone bridge, with outposts of regiments three or four miles forward in all directions, and cavalry pickets as far in advance as Fairfax Court-House.
The Federals followed with a corresponding advance of their outposts.
Afterwards, upon the closer approach of the enemy, in order to supply the deficiency of cannon, General Beauregard
devised a substitute in wooden logs, so shaped and blackened as to present the appearance of guns.
They were covered with a shed of brush and leaves, so as to escape balloon observations, and made quite an imposing array,