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[81] Potomac, Goose Creek, and Gum Spring. The object was to facilitate the movement of troops in that direction, to cross the Potomac, and be prepared to oppose the enemy, should he attempt to advance by that way so as to reach the Manassas Gap Railroad, on the left of General Beauregard's position.

In one of these reconnoissances, made in force—Colonel Maxey Gregg, at the head of a South Carolina regiment, casually encountered a Federal command, under General Schenck, coming into Vienna Station, on a train of cars. A shot from a section of Kemper's light battery brought them to a halt, and, after a few exchanges, the Federals retired, and the locomotive escaped, leaving the cars, which were burned. This was the first hostile meeting, excepting the brilliant midnight dash of Lieutenant Tompkins against the Confederate outposts at Fairfax Court-House.

On the 4th of July the Confederate pickets, well in advance of Fairfax Court-House, captured a sergeant and a private—the latter a Scotchman, who chanced to be a clerk in McDowell's Adjutant-General's office, and whose duty as such was to assist in making up the army returns. They were taking a ride for pleasure, and, having come a little too far, were picked up by the watchful cavalry. The Scotchman at once stated his position, and, being sent to headquarters, was there subjected to a close examination, in which he spoke freely, and appeared, from his statements on matters already known, to be telling the truth. Thus was Mc-Dowell's strength, at that date, pretty accurately ascertained; and events verified the correctness of the information thus obtained.

The increasing forces of McDowell, the clamor of the Northern press for an advance, and the private reports from Washington, all now indicated an early attack by an army more than twice the strength of ours in numbers. And General Beauregard, in the midst of his various solicitudes, balked in his endeavors to procure the needed reinforcements, and grieved also at his unsuccessful attempts to induce the government to adopt his views, wrote the following letter to his friend, Senator Wigfall. It shows General Beauregard's unrelieved anxiety, and his determination, while wishing and laboring for a better state of things, to make the most of his limited means:

My dear Colonel,—I believe we are about to be attacked by the enemy,


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