Hence the loud exultation of the Federal
troops, and the predictions, in the Northern
journals, of the certain defeat of the Confederate army.
On the morning of the next day, the 18th, the enemy was reported advancing on Mitchell's and Blackburn's Fords.
As the former was the only point even partially intrenched, and the latter had natural defensive advantages, General Beauregard
was gratified that the attack, as he had hoped, was made there.
His line now extended some five miles, from Union Mills Ford, on the right, to the stone bridge, on the left, as follows: at Union Mills Ford, Ewell
's brigade, with four 12-pounder howitzers and three companies of Virginia
cavalry; at McLean's Ford, D. R. Jones
's brigade, with two brass 6-pounders and one company of cavalry; at Blackburn's Ford, Longstreet
's brigade, with two brass 6-pounders at Mitchell's Ford, Bonham
's brigade, with Shields
's and Delaware Kemper
's batteries, and six companies of cavalry under Colonel Radford
; in the rear of Island
, Ball's and Lewis's Fords, Cocke
's brigade, with Latham
's battery and one company of cavalry; while Evans
's demi-brigade, with four 6-pounders and two companies of cavalry, held the left flank, and protected the stone-bridge crossing.
's brigade stood in the rear of, and as support to, Ewell
is a small stream running in this locality, nearly from west to east.
Its banks, for the most part, are rocky and steep.
The country on either side, much broken and wooded, becomes gently rolling and open as it recedes from the stream.
On the northern side the ground is much the higher and completely commands the southern bank.
Roads traverse and intersect the surrounding country in every direction.
About noon, the enemy opened fire in front of Mitchell's Ford, with several 20-pounder rifled guns, at a range of one and a half miles, to which we had no means of replying, with any effect.
But a Federal light battery, afterwards sent forward, was soon repulsed, with its supporting force, by Kemper
's battery, which occupied a ridge about six hundred yards in advance of the ford.
, in his work already quoted, speaking of the untoward incident we have alluded to, says (page 48): ‘We had the tables turned upon us by a sudden and rapid discharge from a battery near the ford, invisible except by the smoke of its guns.’
And he adds: ‘However, our 20-pounders, assisted by a battery ’