the peaceful character of which very much surprised the Federal
forces when they occupied these works, after their evacuation in the spring.
On the 19th, General McClellan
having ordered McCall
's division to Drainsville, about sixteen miles west of Alexandria
, to cover reconnoissances in that quarter, and procure supplies, directed Brigadier-General Stone
to feign a crossing of the Potomac
from Poolsville, Maryland, and threaten Leesburg
, held by one of General Beauregard
's brigades, under Colonel Evans
He hoped by these movements to induce the evacuation of the place.
On the 21st, while General McCall
was returning to his camp at Langley
, General Stone
began crossing his division at Edwards's Ferry, and one of his subordinates, General Baker
, engaged Colonel Evans
in the forenoon.
During the day General Stone
threw over his entire division, and the battle continued until night, when the Federal
forces were completely routed, and many of them, driven over the steep banks at Ball's Bluff, lost their lives in the river.1
Upon receiving from Evans
immediate news of the conflict, General Beauregard
proposed to General Johnston
to march at once, with sufficient force, and cut off General Stone
's retreat, as the Potomac
, swollen by rains, was then difficult to cross.
did not agree to this, fearing that some occurrence might take place requiring the presence of all our forces with the main army.
's division, from Darnestown, Maryland
, moved to his support, General Stone
intrenched on the Virginia
shore, but did not succeed in recrossing until the night of the 23d and 24th.
Just at this time transports had been observed descending the Potomac
, laden with a heavy armament, reported to be intended for use against General Magruder
, who commanded at Yorktown
, on the Peninsula
, and a heavy force had, meanwhile, gathered north of the Potomac
, opposite to Evans
Seizing the opportunity, General Beauregard
proposed a resolute attack against McClellan
's extreme right, exposed by its salience in the quarter of Drainsville, in order to relieve Evans
and break through the enemy's plans; but the proposition was not assented to by General Johnston
's loss at Ball's Bluff was forty men. He captured fourteen