accompanied by the batteries of Ricketts
The brigades of Howard
were still detained in the vicinity of the Warrenton turnpike
, where the road that the flanking columns had followed diverged to the northward.
The distance to Sudley
had proved greater than McDowell
expected and the troops had been delayed.
Learning from his scouts that the enemy was concentrating along the Warrenton turnpike
concluded that an attempt would be made to turn his left flank at the stone bridge; therefore, at half past 4, not long after sunrise, he ordered his brigade commanders to hold themselves in readiness to move at short notice, suggesting to each that the Federal
attack might be on his left.
A little later he was advised of the advance of the Federals
toward the stone bridge, and, by half past 5, that they were deploying in front of Evans
, who covered that bridge.
Concluding that the opportunity had arrived for an offensive flank movement on the Federal
left and rear, Beauregard
sent orders to the brigades on his center and right to cross the fords and advance rapidly on Centreville
, with vigorous attacks, while he held, with Evans
and their supports, the attack on the stone bridge to the last extremity.
This wheeling movement of his right to the Federal
left and rear, by his front line, was to be followed up by the reserves, which, without orders, were to move to the sound of the heaviest firing.
was to begin this flanking movement from the Union Mills ford
, on the extreme right, to be followed by. the brigades to the left, successively, at the various fords, as before enumerated.
Great care had been taken to instruct the subordinate commanders in reference to this movement, as they were all unaccustomed to command in battle maneuvers; they were also ordered to establish close communication with each other before making the attack.
At half past 8, Generals Johnston
took position on a high hill in the rear of the center, opposite Mitchell's ford, to await the opening of the Confederate
attack on the right, by which Beauregard
confidently expected to win a decisive victory by midday, and cut off the retreat of the Federal
army to Washington
At about the same hour, Evans
, from near the stone bridge, discovered a lengthening line of dust advancing from the north toward the Warrenton turnpike
, and, observing