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[179] forces under Kelley. The Confederate outposts, when again advanced, practically held the line of the Potomac, except in the immediate front of Washington and Alexandria. Especially was this the case at Leesburg, the county town of the fertile county of Loudoun, in the vicinity of which were several fords by which the Potomac could be crossed and from which a number of highways led to the front and to the left flank of the Confederate army at Manassas. A Confederate brigade, under the command of Brig.-Gen. N. G. Evans, who had won such distinction in the battle of Bull Run, was sent to that point, where, under the direction of competent engineers, fortifications were constructed covering the nearby fords of the Potomac and adding to the defensive strength of the position. Banks' Federal division was distributed along the opposite side of the river from near the Point of Rocks, where the Baltimore & Ohio railroad reaches the banks of the Potomac, to the mouth of Seneca creek. The pickets of the two armies were placed on the opposite banks of the Potomac almost to Washington, and thence southward they confronted each other about halfway between Washington and Manassas. This proximity of opposing forces necessarily led to frequent skirmishes and minor engagements, as the commanders of either army sought to gain information in reference to the movements of the other by pushing forward reconnoitering detachments. A mere enumeration of these encounters gives an idea of the activity of the outposts during this period.

On the 29th of July a skirmish took place with Evans' pickets at Edward's Ferry, when a Federal, force attempted to cross and ascertain what was going on at Leesburg; on the 5th of August another took place opposite Point of Rocks, some miles from Leesburg, when a Federal force attempted to cross; and again, on the 8th, at Lovettsville, northeast of Leesburg, to which a Federal force had advanced from near Point of Rocks with the same object in view.

On the 17th of August the Federal department of the Potomac, generally called the ‘army of the Potomac,’ was created, to include Washington and vicinity, northeastern Virginia and the Shenandoah valley; and on the 20th General McClellan assumed command of this department with his headquarters at Washington. On the 24th

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