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[284] on the track of Ewell, who had retired toward this point during the night. He arrived there at noon. The position was abandoned; nothing was left of the depots upon which he had relied to feed his army. Jackson's rear was at this moment crossing Blackburn's Ford, and Hill's column was seen in the distance proceeding toward Centreville. The Union general, believing that the Confederates were falling back to the northward upon Aldie, resolved at once to pursue them in that direction, and ordered a new movement accordingly. McDowell, who had left Gainesville and the main road to march upon Manassas, was obliged to change this direction for that of Centreville. Messengers were sent to call back Ricketts, who, as we have said, had been detached to Thoroughfare Gap by McDowell. Porter was ordered to Manassas. Finally, Pope, fearing lest Jackson should escape him, continued his march upon Centreville with Heintzelman's and Reno's corps, and suffered himself to be led more and more astray by Hill's manoeuvre.

While these movements were in process of accomplishment, Jackson took the position we have indicated, from Sudeley Springs to Groveton, while Lee, with the rest of his army, proceeded by forced marches upon Thoroughfare Gap. Toward evening, after a long, sultry day, the battle opened at several points at the same time. On the extreme right of the Federals, Kearny had reached Centreville, and attacked Hill's rear, which had just abandoned that position to join the remainder of Jackson's corps. Skirmishing was kept up in the woods until dark. On the extreme left, Ricketts' division still occupied Thoroughfare Gap all alone, when Longstreets' heads of column reached the entrance of the defile. The Federal batteries commanded all the passes, and for a time arrested the progress of the Confederates. The latter, promptly taking advantage of their numbers, sent a portion of their infantry round through a path which crosses the mountain north of the road through Hopewell Gap; they thus attacked the positions of the Federals in the rear, and compelled them to retire. Ricketts, called back by Pope at the same time, marched the whole night to join McDowell between Manassas and Centreville. The other division of this corps, King's, was engaged at the same hour in a fierce contest with the largest portion of Jackson's army.

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