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[286] put an end to the battle. When it had become completely dark, the whole of McDowell's column having crossed over toward Centreville, King brought his troops to the rear, and abandoned the ground where he had made so successful a defence, but which he could no longer hold without seriously compromising himself.

The action of the 28th left the Confederates in a much less perilous position than they occupied the day before. Jackson, strongly posted along the unfinished line of railway, saw not only his retreat assured, but his right flank entirely disengaged. Master of the main road, and knowing Longstreet to be at Thoroughfare Gap, he could join him the next morning. The Federals, on the contrary, had lost all the advantages they had possessed twenty-four hours previously, and their movements had been performed with so much confusion that on the morning of the 29th, when Pope had been able to ascertain the precise situation of his army, he was obliged to change all the plans he had formed during the night. The two corps of Heintzelman and Reno had actually pushed as far as Centreville, whither Hill had adroitly drawn them; and there was only Siegel's small corps with Reynolds' weak division in front of Jackson on the main road. That of King was in the rear, in the vicinity of Manassas. Porter, who, according to Pope's calculations, should have been at that place, had not yet passed Bristow station; Banks was behind him on Cedar Run; and Ricketts' division was endeavoring to effect a junction with McDowell on the side of Manassas. The capital point of Gainesville was still unoccupied, and it was now too late for the Federals to prevent a junction of the two wings of the Confederate army.1 While renouncing the idea of opposing this junction, Pope might yet reap another advantage. He held Centreville, Manassas and the Bull Run crossings; it was easy, therefore, for him to mass all his army on the north bank of this stream, while waiting for the important reinforcements which would no doubt be forwarded to him from Washington, to place himself once more in communication with the capital, and thus to oblige the enemy to come and attack him in a formidable position. In fact,

1 A glance at the map will suffice to prove this, notwithstanding the assertions of Pope, who, in his report, pretends that the position of Siegel and Reynolds separated Jackson from Thoroughfare Gap.

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