The realistic touches of a personal narrative give a life and spirit to his picture, which any effort of a non-participant would necessarily lack.
He belonged to Ashby
's Cavalry and volunteered for the fight as aide to Colonel Hunton
, who tells in his official report of ‘the great service’ White
rendered ‘by his intimate knowledge of the country and his daring courage.’
, who was in command of the field until Hunton
arrived, says he ‘never witnessed more coolness and courage than this young gentleman displayed, being exposed to the heaviest fire of the enemy.’
His subsequent career as a soldier was in accord with its early promise.
He won promotion along with the praise of his generals, and as commander of White
's (35th Va.) battalion, takes a place in our history among the boldest sabreurs who followed the plumes of Stuart
and the Lees.
It is because he has supplemented his active participation with a careful study of the official reports (which many writers fail to do) that I regard Colonel White
as the best living authority as to the details of this battle, and will, therefore, quote from him freely.
Popular clamor at the North
for an advance upon Richmond
, which was lulled for a while by the disastrous rout of McDowell
at Bull Run
, revived in intensity three months later.
, who appreciated the magnitude of the undertaking more clearly than the political generals who were goading him to aggressive operations, had wisely utilized the interval to discipline and mobilize the Northern
hosts, which had rallied to the Union Standard
, into that formidable organization which became famous as the ‘Army of the Potomac,’ and he was now making preliminary reconnaisances with the view to a combined movement upon the Confederate
position near Manassas
The main body of his army was in the defenses of Washington, south of the Potomac
, and large Federal forces under Banks
were located in Maryland
, opposite the county of Loudoun
, within easy march of the fords and ferries of the upper Potomac, which led to roads running to Leesburg
It will thus be seen that Leesburg
was a point of prime strategic importance, the possession of which would make McClellan
, by menacing or passing Johnston
's left flank to manoeuver him out of his position, and this evidently was his aim.