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[281] reached Gainesville, while Kearny and Reno were at Greenwich within supporting distance. The greatest portion of the Federal army was thus posted on the only road through which the two sections of Lee's forces could effect a junction, and it seems clear that Pope's troops had only to remain there to compel them to fight separately. In fact, during the very day that Ewell was struggling at Bristow, Jackson was allowing to his two other divisions the repose they so much needed around Manassas, and Longstreet's corps, directed by Lee in person, had made their bivouacs at a considerable distance from Salem. This corps, charged with escorting the baggage of the army and picking up all the stragglers, had not been able to march as fast as that of Jackson two days before.

The situation of the latter was, therefore, perilous. But Pope lost all the fruits of his movements the day before, by being in too great a hurry to gather them. The combat at Bristow on the evening of the 27th had made him aware of Jackson's presence at Manassas with a considerable force. It was evident that the latter would seek to maintain his communications with Lee through Thoroughfare Gap if possible; if not, more to the north, through Aldie. It was therefore the left wing of the Federal army which should have been brought forward, so as to dispute with him at least the first of these two lines, and separate him from his chief. Pope, on the contrary, thought that Jackson would throw himself upon his right, at the risk of being driven into the deep waters of the Potomac; he made all his dispositions to receive his attack on that side, and, even in his report, he blames the victorious Jackson for not having executed so strange a manoeuvre. This blunder made him abandon the important positions of which he had a chance to possess himself without a fight. In fact, not satisfied with recalling Porter, whom he ordered to proceed from Warrenton Junction to Bristow by a night-march, he brought back his entire left wing to the right. McDowell, with the three corps which had reached the intersection at Gainesville the evening before, was directed to start at daybreak for Manassas, availing himself of the Manassas Gap Railroad. Kearny was to join Hooker and Porter at Bristow for the purpose of proceeding toward the same point with them by another railway line.

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