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[441]

Pending the development of the enemy's purpose, about ten (10) o'clock A. M. I established my headquarters at a central point, McLean's farm-house, near to McLean's and Blackburn's fords, where two 6-pounders of Walton's battery were in reserve; but subsequently, during the engagement, I took post to the left of my reserve.

Of the topographical features of the country thus occupied it must suffice to say, that Bull Run is a small stream running in this locality, nearly from west to east, to its confluence with the Occoquan River, about twelve miles from the Potomac, and draining a considerable scope of country, from its source in Bull Run Mountain, to a short distance of the Potomac, at Occoquan. At this season habitually low and sluggish, it is, however, rapidly and frequently swollen by the summer rains until unfordable. The banks, for the most part, are rocky and steep, but abound in long-used fords. The country on either side, much broken and thickly wooded, becomes gently rolling and open as it recedes from the stream. On the northern side the ground is much the highest, and commands the other bank completely. Roads traverse and intersect the surrounding country in almost every direction. Finally, at Mitchell's Ford, the stream is about equidistant from Centreville and Manassas, some six miles apart.

On the morning of the 18th, finding that the enemy was assuming a threatening attitude, in addition to the regiments whose positions have been already stated, I ordered up from Camp Pickens, as a reserve, in rear of Bonham's brigade, the effective men of six companies of Kelly's 8th regiment Louisiana Volunteers, and Kirkland's 11th regiment North Carolina Volunteers, which, having arrived the night before en route for Winchester, I had halted, in view of the existing necessities of the service. Subsequently the latter was placed in position to the left of Bonham's brigade.

Appearing in heavy force in front of Bonham's position, the enemy, about meridian, opened fire with several 20-pounder rifled guns from a hill, over one and a half miles from Bull Run. At the same time Kemper, supported by two companies of light infantry, occupied a ridge on the left of the Centreville road, about six hundred yards in advance of the ford, with two 6-pounder (smooth) guns. At first the firing of the enemy was at random; but by halfpast 12 P. M. he had obtained the range of our position, and poured into the brigade a shower of shot, but without injury to us in men, horses, or guns. From the distance, however, our guns could not reply with effect, and we did not attempt it, patiently awaiting an opportune movement.

Meanwhile, a light battery was pushed forward by the enemy, whereupon Kemper threw only six solid shot, with the effect of driving back both the battery and its supporting force. This is understood to have been Ayres's battery, and the damage must have been considerable, to have obliged such a retrograde movement on the part of that officer.

The purposes of Kemper's position having now been fully served, his pieces and support were withdrawn across Mitchell's Ford, to a point previously designated, and which commanded the direct approaches to the ford.

About half-past 11 o'clock A. M. the enemy was also discovered by the pickets


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Occoquan River (Virginia, United States) (2)
Centreville (Virginia, United States) (2)
Bull Run, Va. (Virginia, United States) (2)
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J. L. Kemper (3)
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James B. Walton (1)
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H. B. Kelly (1)
Ayres (1)
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