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[81] sight. This they did in quick order, although they had to cross an open field and get over three fences before reaching the house. We stayed at the house a short time, when, finding we were about to be cut off, we retired to the brigade under a fusilade of shots. This was the first musket fire of Second Manassas, and you may say that the battle had commenced, as the enemy were to be seen in several directions in our front. The officer, on getting back to Colonel Johnson, made his report, when the Colonel retained the man from F Company, and ordered him to go to the front as far as possible without being seen by the enemy and keep a lookout for them, reporting to him any body of the enemy seen approaching, and, in order to get along the better, to leave his arms. That man crept to the front, getting behind a brush on a slight rise. Here he laid down for several hours, observing during the time the movements of several small bodies of the enemy, mostly cavalry.

While lying down behind that brush an incident happened that has always bothered that man. He heard the quick step of a horse to his right and rear. On looking round he saw a horseman in full gallop, coming from the north and going along a small country road that joined the Warrenton pike at the Groveton house. On getting to a gap in the fence along the road, he wheeled his horse, passed through the gap, and made directly for the man lying down. It was done in such a deliberate way that it impressed the vidette that his presence was known before the horseman came along the road. He did not draw rein until getting almost on the vidette. He then asked if he knew where General Jackson was. On being told that he did not, he wheeled his horse and rode back to the gap, turned into the road, and was off at full gallop toward the Groveton house. That man was riding a black mare, and wore a long linen duster and dark pants. There was something so suspicious about his movements and dress that the vidette would have taken him to Colonel Johnson if he had had his gun. There was a squad of Yankees at the Groveton house, and when the rider reached there several of them ran from the front of the house and surrounded him, when he got off the horse and went with them to the front, while one of their number led the horse into the back yard and tied him. This was hardly done before a body of our cavalry charged up the Warrenton pike and grabbed the party. The vidette had seen that party coming along the pike a few minutes before, and could have warned the man riding the horse of the Yankees' presence, but a distrust came over him as soon as he saw him.

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Bradley T. Johnson (2)
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